Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas
Caribbean Repositioning Cruise
Sunday, December 3, 2006
|2923-E Olney-Sandy Spring Road Olney, MD 20832 Phone: 301-774-4646 Fax: 301-774-3610||Send Me An Email To Comment Or Book A Vacation mailto:email@example.com http://www.lynx-travel.com|
|Miscellaneous New Orleans||New Orleans Musical Legends Park|
|Pascal's Manale Restaurant||Jackson Square|
|Brunch At Kabby's Restaurant - Riverside Hilton|
We had to be out of our cabins by 8:00 AM so even though dad called me at about 7:00 AM saying he was ready I just chilled out in my room until about 7:55 AM before heading to their room. We went up to the Windjammer Cafť for our last breakfast then headed towards one of the areas designated as a departure waiting area. While on the way to the Singing in the Rain Lounge we heard that people in wheelchairs were supposed to go to Deck 4 and the Centrum.
On the way we ran into Alison and Carol who had made their tour of the shipís various staterooms this morning. They pointed to Jon and Eric who were sitting with Clyde and Debbie. We said our ship good byes but we would see everyone in New Orleans before we left. When we got to Deck 4ís Centrum area we saw Alex and Maricel and sat down with them and waited to be called. I was certain it would take awhile since we didnít have a flight today and we had a lower category cabin.
While talking to Alex an old man overheard that we were from Maryland and proceeded to screw with me big time. He asked me if I heard that they would be no soft shell crab harvest from the Chesapeake Bay this summer. I freaked out completely and said that I hadnít heard this terrible news. Well, that just set up his punch line perfectly. He told me that it wouldnít be possible this year because somebody had dumped a whole lot of Viagra in the bay. I felt like a fish on the line that had bit hook, line and sinker.
Alex and Maricel were called to depart, then we saw Jon and Carol with the kids depart. The girl letting people depart started down the line of wheelchair passengers and started to let all of us depart before our departure color was called. We thought this would help us get out before the rush at our luggage area but we were wrong. I found my luggage right away then I found 4 of mom and dadís 5 bags but one bag eluded us. Dad and I walked up and down our area 10 times each at least without finding the final elusive bag. Our color area had been called and the orange passengers started taking luggage away. Again we thought that would help and we were wrong. I checked the red area just in case someone mistook orange for red but had no luck. I checked the area for luggage that didnít have tags and didnít have any luck. Finally, dad came across the last bag in the middle of the orange section in a place we had both passed numerous times. We think someone grabbed the bag and realized it wasnít there bag and returned it.
We got a guy to help us with all of our bags and headed to customs. I was a little worried because the ship television and literature claimed that we were only allowed one liter of liquor per person but I was pretty sure it was two liters. Also they said that we were only allowed $400 per person duty free but Iím pretty sure it is $800 per person. Either way it didnít matter, customs ended up being a Royal Caribbean employee collecting the forms without even looking at them.
We got outside the terminal and it was madness. A police officer running the taxi area saw mom in her wheelchair and had us go to a separate location across from the taxi line. I felt bad because I saw Alex in the long line and he had finally made it to the front. I mouthed I was sorry but noticed Maricel wasnít with him. She was halfway back in the line with the luggage. Maybe the police officer didnít see they had a wheelchair.
I was a little worried also about the amount of luggage we had fitting in a taxi but those fears were alleviated when I saw that 90% if the cabs were vans and Suburbans. I felt good when I saw Alex get his cab but realized nobody was going to help him. So I ran across the street to assist with his luggage. He pushed Maricel to the cab and told me he had the three red bags and one duffel bag by her wheelchair. I grabbed them all and took them to the back of the Suburban then picked Maricel up and put her in the back seat.
I found out later that Alex had made a slight error. They got to the Embassy Suites and Maricel told him they had four red bags and not three. He told me the story that evening and I apologized but he took responsibility remembering he had told me only about the three red bags. He quickly made it back to the cruise terminal which was only about six blocks away and found the bag. The police officer apparently wasnít very happy and it sounded like the bag wouldnít have been there if Alex hadnít high tailed it back right away.
We finally got a van and barely got everything inside. Apparently we got ripped off on the fare though. We found out that rides from the cruise terminal and airport are a flat $7 per person plus $1 gas charge. Our guy charged us $28 figuring we were as large as four people after two weeks eating on a cruise. We finally got to the JW Marriott on Canal Street though and checked in.
Craig was supposed to get into New Orleans at about 4:30 PM and we had dinner planned for 6:30 PM. We arrived at the hotel at about 1:00 PM or so. Dad called at about 2:00 PM panicked because Pascalís Manaleís restaurant finally called back and said they couldnít accommodate 10 people until 8:30 PM. He had got a hold of Alex and that worked great for Craig since he was having some delays in Atlanta but we couldnít reach the Willieís. Of course I thought he was overreacting like usual and he didnít settle down until Jon finally called him back.
My mind wanted to go do something while waiting but my body was enjoying just doing nothing and watching some college football. Craig finally showed up and we went and got mom and dad to go to the lobby bar to wait until it was time to leave.
We left a little early and got to the restaurant pretty quick. I had a beer and dad had some oysters while we waited. Alex had rented a car and they drove the Willieís to the restaurant with them arriving about 10 minutes after us. Craig finally got to meet everyone we had been eating with for the last two weeks.
Of course we had been boasting of Alison and Ericís eating habits but we might have picked the wrong restaurant to prove this. I think they freaked out a little by dad eating raw oysters. Carol was constantly amused by mom and Ericís on going conversations. We finally were seated in a private room at about 8:40 PM. It took about 20 minutes though before somebody came in to wait on us. There had been a mix up with two waiters each thinking the other had our room. It wasnít a big deal as we all just recapped the cruise with Craig.
Debbie and Clyde had taken us to Pascalís Manale once when we had come to New Orleans a few years ago. I absolutely love this place. Unfortunately, Clyde and Debbie had babysitting duties and couldnít make it this evening with us. We all ordered and the food was great again. Like in most restaurants mom ordered the most expensive thing, the filet mignon. Most of us got the Barbeque-Bayou Shrimp and Alex and Maricel got some pasta.
We enjoyed the waiter we finally got. He was definitely from New Orleans with the Cajun accent. He explained that he could tell what part of New Orleans you were from your accents. I couldnít always understand him and he was telling us about the real Cajun- Bayou people that he couldnít even understand. We asked him about the hurricane and it ended up the restaurant was in an area that had about five feet of standing water. We were in the Garden District and last time we came we had taken the street car but it hadnít run since Hurricane Katrina to this area. He told us it wouldnít be up and running until probably 2008.
Well this is when things got funny, at least for some of us. Pascalís Manale is about 100 years old and invented the barbeque shrimp meal. Unknown to Carol and the kids was the shrimp was cooked with the heads on and brought to the table that way. Again, after telling Craig that Alison and Eric ate everything on the ship, we found one of the few things they had no interest in. I really wished I had a video camera when they brought all the bowls of heads on shrimp into the room.
I looked at Alison and she was sitting near a wall and she backed up as close to the wall as she possibly could get. Carol and Alex just had blank looks of disbelief that the shrimp came with their heads on. I really had a bunch of jokes I wanted to pull out at this time but thought it would be the final nail in the coffin on their meal if I went with the jokes. Plus I might have ruined their appetite for any type of meat from then on and I didnít want to do that.
Jon on the other hand jumped right in and started pealing away. Carol and Alison did finally end up eating a few shrimp and Carol admitted they were great. Eric was a harder sell though. Since mom ordered the filet mignon and wasnít eating it I gave Eric some. He did finally eat one shrimp though, so that was good.
Jon was pretty funny, they had two bowls of the shrimp and he had to peel every one of them. He looked like he really enjoyed the shrimp and he reminded me of people back home when crabs come. You enjoy them so much that you just kind of are quiet and workman like while opening and eating.
Well we finally finished our last supper together and got ready to leave. I figured he would do this because dad is just an incredibly nice and generous man. He had given his credit card to pay for the entire meal for all of us before we were seated. He figured we invited everyone so he wanted to treat. Everyone argued in vain that they wanted pay but I knew dad wouldnít have any of that.
We exited through the kitchen which allowed us to avoid the stairs. The kitchen was huge, way bigger than you would have thought be looking at the outside of the building. Unfortunately we had to say good bye to our new friends which was sad. We really enjoyed everyoneís company and definitely will keep in touch. Carol joked as I said good bye to her that she wished she had a recording now of what mom and Eric had been talking about for the last two weeks. We really lucked out with the switch of families after the first night on the cruise. We couldnít have asked for nicer tablemates.
Alex drove them all back to the Embassy Suites and we got a cab back to the JW Marriott. Again, my mind said, ďGo out to Bourbon StreetĒ and my body said, ďThis bed is really comfortableĒ. Craig was asleep in minutes and told me the next morning it had never even crossed his mind to go out. God weíre getting old.
This is it, our last day of this vacation. We had reservations to meet Clyde, Debbie and two of their grandchildren along with Marshall and Joan Sokol for brunch at Kabbyís in the Hilton Riverside. Marshall and Joan were supposed to meet us last night also. They cancelled again at the last minute today about a half hour before we were to meet. It was weird because when I got back to the room Marshall had left a message in my room, thinking it was dadís about an hour before we were supposed to meet asking if we needed a ride. Oh well, their loss.
We got a cab to the Hilton and dad cracked me up by saying he couldnít believe how many people in New Orleans where Saints football jerseys. I had to remind him it was Sunday and the game was in about one hour at the Superdome. They were probably going to the game.
Kabbyís was great. It might be hard to believe but I was pretty good on the cruise about not overeating. I blew that rule today. Brunch was outstanding. Some of the high points were my seafood omelet with lump back fin crab and crawfish, crawfish mashed potatoes and bananaís foster. I did limit myself to one dessert since I made a pig of myself with brunch.
Clyde also was really good on the ship but he went to town at the buffet. Debbie even did a good job. They had a really good 4 piece band called the James Riversí Movement playing during brunch. They played lots of Jazz and Blues. They got one of the waiters up to sing a rap song with them also. James Rivers played a little of everything it seemed like including the bagpipes. Heís the first black person Iíve ever seen play the bagpipes and he was really good. You just always think of pasty white guys from Scotland when you think bagpipes.
Making things even more interesting were a couple of groups that were having a blast singing and dancing. There was one bachelorette party and a group called the Red Hat Society. This was a group of ladies over 50 that would go out once a month and have a good time. Most of them wore red hats to explain the name.
We hung out for a long time listening to the band before we left. We said our good byes now to Debbie and Clyde. The cruise was officially over. Kabbyís had a sports bar and we watched a little of the Redskins Ė Falcons game. When we started watching it was 14-0, by the time we left it was 14-10 on the way to at 14-24 loss. Itís been a crappy year but Iíve missed a good portion while on this trip and my Germany trip so it doesnít hurt as much.
We left the Hilton and instead of getting a taxi we walked over to Harrahís Casino. We should have taken a taxi. Craig lost $50 and I lost $100 playing blackjack. Craigís $50 lasted way longer than my $100. I donít think I saw one face card or ace the whole time I sat at the table. I never won two hands back to back and believe I only lasted about 15 hands overall. We quickly left and just walked back to the hotel.
It was really cold this weekend in New Orleans. I ended up almost running momís wheelchair the 6 or so blocks to the JW Marriott because I had given her my jacket. Our heart patients, Dad and Craig were way behind me and crying about how cold it was. They also blamed their blood thinners. We all need a vacation after this vacation to recover because after spending a couple of hours eating Craig, mom and dad needed a nap.
Craig didnít bring the extra bag he was supposed to so I went out to buy one so we could get our entire things home. Fortunately, Canal Street had about 4 discount luggage stores right across the street from the JW Marriott. I bought a giant suitcase and came back to the room to repack for our flight home tomorrow.
Craig was already asleep so I finally made my way down to the French Quarter. I walked down to Jackson Square. I stopped at an art gallery that had some cool bronze blue crabs but they were really expensive. You really want to spend money down here because you know what they have gone through. The proprietor wanted $300 for a three inch long blue crab and $700 for an eight inch blue crab. That was way more than I could pay after how much Iíve already spent in these last two weeks. I really felt bad but I just couldnít afford them.
I made my way to St. Peters Church and Jackson Square to take some pictures. There was way fewer vendors than there used to be around Jackson Square. I donít know if it was the cold weather or there werenít as many vendors around since Hurricane Katrina. It was probably a combination of the two.
I wandered around the French Quarter for a couple of hours before heading back to the hotel. I must have past Craig on the elevator. Dad and he had just gone down to the lobby bar. They were hungry again. Dad went up to get his jacket and of course mom was hungry again also.
I wanted to try and get dad more oysters since he loves them so much. I had a taxi take us to the Acme Oyster Company but they had a line outside and it was too cold to wait in an outside line. We went next door to Dickie Brennanís Oyster House. I had a bowl of gumbo and Oysterís Rockefeller that were both great.
One funny thing was when we walked in to the restaurant we saw Scott and Lisa the newlyweds that swam with the Sea Lions with me. We said hello and found out they were heading home tomorrow also. We walked back to JW Marriott again in the cold. We had to stop at a store for Craig, mom and dad to warm up even though this was only a 4-5 block walk. Craig bought some feather boas for Maddie and Emily. At least I think the second one is for Emily. David wouldnít look good in a feather boa.
I got them all back to the hotel then went back down to Bourbon Street to have a few beers. I couldnít come to New Orleans and at least have a couple of beers on Bourbon Street. It was about 10:00 PM and since it was Sunday and cold there werenít many people out. I had one beer at one bar and two at another before heading back to the hotel.
That is it, the end of the vacation. Iíve had a great time and Iím glad we got mom out of the house to do something. I think dad is ready to go on the cruise again next year with Jon, Carol, Alison and Eric. I think Maricel and Alex tried to book a handicapped room for the cruise but it wasn't available. Dad told me to keep an eye on the travel agent rates again. Check back in this spot next year to see if we take the 2007 Baltimore to Tampa repositioning cruise.
Return To Day At Sea December 1, 2006
Return To Departing Baltimore November 19, 2006