Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day Fourteen - Norwegian Jade - Day at Sea - Friday, June 29, 2012

Today we are at sea sailing back to the port of Venice, Italy.  This gave us the opportunity to sleep in.  With nothing planned for the day, I am looking forward to relaxing.  We went up for a late Breakfast and to hang out at the Garden Café Buffet.  I took the opportunity to start in on a new book, having finished reading the book I started on our last day at sea.  I chose “Party of the Century: The Fabulous Story of Truman Capote and His Black and White Ball” by Deborah Davis

 Our ship, the Norwegian Jade, is an interesting ship.  When built, the ship comprised the third in a series of U.S. flagged ships operated by NCL America for the Hawaii market. At a cost of over half a billion US dollars, the Pride of Hawaii was the largest and most expensive U.S. flagged passenger ship ever built. Her design was originally planned to be a sister ship to the Pride of America, utilizing parts from the Northrup Grumman Shipyard and the failed Project America series of ships. Later NCL America decided that it would be better to enlarge the Pride of Hawaii and make her a sister ship to the Norwegian Jewel. After delivery to NCL, she joined the Pride of America and Pride of Aloha as the final ship in the NCL America fleet.

On April 11, 2007 NCL announced that Pride of Hawaii would be withdrawn from the Hawaiian market in February, 2008 and subsequently redeployed to Europe for the summer. In a press release, NCL's CEO,  cited substantial 2006 losses that had been caused by downward pricing pressure in the Hawaii market following the addition of Pride of Hawaii to the fleet, as well as an increase in the amount of foreign flagged competition entering the Hawaii market from the west coast as the reason for the vessels redeployment. NCL did not commit to sending Pride of Hawaii back to Hawaii until the other NCL America vessels reach an acceptable level of profitability. On February 4th, 2008, "Pride of Hawaii" departed from Pier 2 in Honolulu for the last time. 

After several repositioning cruises, name change, new livery, and an added onboard casino, she made her debut in Europe. Despite the changes, "Norwegian Jade" maintains much of her original Hawaiian themed decor. Tropical flowers, Hawaiian landscapes, and Hawaiian names are throughout the ship's public spaces. Additionally, Matson menu inspired artwork and a large statue of King Kamehameha grace the main dining room. "Norwegian Jade" is currently based in Europe year-round. There is little chance that she will ever return to Hawaii, as it would be difficult to regain her former US registration. November 2011: The ship will undergo a dry dock in Marseille in France for two weeks. The ship will receive new carpets and tiling throughout and the hull will be repainted plus the usual annual maintenance will take place.

Having the Hawaiian theme and décor throughout the ship is a little disconcerting on a Mediterranean vacation.  I feel like while we were on land, I was vacationing in Greece but once I was on the ship, I was vacationing in Hawaii. It was like having two vacations in one.

I spent most of the day reading and quickly finished the book on Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball and started my third book, “Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles.  The book description from  The New York Times bestselling novel that "enchants on first reading and only improves on the second" (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

This sophisticated and entertaining first novel presents the story of a young woman whose life is on the brink of transformation. On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. With its sparkling depiction of New York’s social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike.

If you are seeing a pattern here, I love reading about New York City and its celebrities, artists, writers, intellectuals, politicians, society and the city itself.  I’m especially fascinated with the time period from the Gilded Age to the end of WWII.

We dined tonight in the Italian restaurant on board and had a delightful dinner.   

We then went up to the Spinnaker Lounge on Deck 13 to enjoy the orchestra playing the music of the Big Band Era.  It was then time to return to our stateroom and pack our luggage.  All luggage is required to be placed outside our stateroom door by midnight.  Tomorrow we disembark and say goodbye to the Norwegian Jade in Venice. 


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day Thirteen - Katakolon, Greece - Thursday, June 28, 2012

 Today we docked in Kratakolon, Greece on the mainland of Greece. Today we chose the “Best of Olympia” excursion.   This excursion took us to the archeological site of Olympia – birthplace of the Olympics.

We visited the Temple of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and we entered the Olympic Stadium through a long tunnel-like passage constructed in Roman times.

We continued on to the Olympia Archeological Museum where we saw many of the great finds from the area, including the Head of Hera, the statue of Hermes of Praxiteles, ornaments from the Temple of Zeus and many other priceless pieces.

We then drove through picturesque villages and unspoiled scenery to Magna Grecia Farm, lying in the heart of a traditional agricultural region. We visited the Olive Grove an learned about how the harvest and process the olives.  We then enjoyed a typical Greek Snack and some Greek Folk dancing.

 It was then back on the bus and back to the town of Kratakolon.  We walked around a bit, bought some snacks for our day at sea tomorrow and then headed back to the ship.

It was interesting today as we looked done at the sea from our Balcony.  The water was full of Jelly Fish.  Hundreds of them. This was something I’ve never seen before in my cruising experience.

 Tonight we again dined in the Main Dining Room and then headed up to Deck 12 for the Ultimate Chocolate Dessert Buffet.  Maybe I’m a dessert snob but I could have backed rings around their chocolate offerings.

Tonight and tomorrow we are at sea traveling back to the port in Venice.