Part 4 – Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale by Sea! (And the last!!)

Our next port of call was Norfolk, Virginia (goodness it has warmed up – 18 degrees) – to be honest I did’t know much about this area but when our ‘cruise guide’ arrived for the area we discovered that Norfolk is one of the oldest cities and again has endless history and battlegrounds. It is also the home to the biggest US Navy base / NATO headquarters and the worlds largest concentrations of warships, occupying 4 of the 7 miles of coastline.

Now we had planned to do the walking tour again, but when we berthed right next to the Nauticus Museum and the USS Wisconsin (one of the biggest battle ships built) we went right on in and bought the combo tour which included the Naval Base tour (by boat). The museum was full of port/naval history and after three really interesting hours here, including climbing around the Wisconsin, we dumped most of our belongings back on the ship (and grabbed a quick lunch).

Our tour through the port area and along to naval bases took two hours. There were 45 ships [including three submarines] currently in ‘port’ for either repairs, upgrades or transformations. Quite a lot of naval history and for the Veterans on board our cruise it was their perfect day out. Now a fun fact [just to prove I was listening!] we also got to see the aircraft carrier [USS Abraham Lincoln] used for Top Gun … it is [and Tom Cruise] in port as they are currently filming Top Gun II. I so hope the second movie is as fabulous as the first. And second fun fact is that it can travel at 45 knots if needed, so they can get enough wind speed to launch to jets!!

One missile equals the weight of one VW 😮

There was a small group of kids on a YMCA school camp while we were in the Museum, and the ‘counsellor’ spent her whole time telling the kids to be polite, keep quiet, no yelling, ‘are you listening to me’ etc, etc. She almost made more noise than the kids (approx 10yrs), although to be fair they did need a bit of structure!! It was more that all you could hear was her saying ‘don’t do this and don’t do that …. she needed to find another way! A couple of boys asked me to untangle something they were doing, and horrors they spoke to strangers!! Jason (not that he is reading this!) I feel that you would have been an amazing Camp Counsellor – maybe causing as much mayhem as the kids!!

As we returned to the ship, I confessed to the Police Officers that I didn’t have my passport on me. After nearly being arrested, we made great friends with the Lieutenant. We hope to visit him in North Carolina and have him visit us in New Zealand when he retires [in twenty weeks – not that he was counting!]. Norfolk Police have been the friendliest so far in America. We are now Facebook friends. I am gathering wonderful people on FB.

We had intended when we left home to spend some more time in this area [and had looked to house-sit over this side, but couldn’t get dates to work], but as the weather has turned, we decided to visit again in the future. You really need to be rugged up for the winter weather here, and we are just not equipped for the winter. You know if I was at home, I would have several pairs of shoes [well maybe a few more than that!!] to choose from if one pair got wet, but travelling like this I don’t. So the area referred to as ‘New England’ will just have to stay on my bucket list until next time!!

We do like this cruising business [a couple on board got a ‘certificate’ [really!] acknowledging 1,500 sea days!] – waking up in a new port every day definitely beats driving for hours, and I do like being able to unpack [and get used to a bed]. I tell you – you can’t complain though that it wasn’t enough time [in a city] when you booked yourself on a cruise. If you want to spend a lot of time in a city – don’t cruise – quite simple really!! And as for the weather – you can’t control that [and surprisingly for some people, neither can the cruise company!], so you just have to accept that the sun doesn’t always shine!

I have to say that on this cruise we do feel a bit like we are visiting a Ryman Village, not that that is a bad thing, just that it is noticeable [Mum/Dad, Auntie Kate, Patricia/Colin and Brian/Angela – I love you all xxxxxxxx]. We are certainly among the youngest on this ship and by a good few years. Princess are known for their more refined guests, but we hadn’t noticed this so much going up to Alaska. We actually didn’t pick the ship, more the destination (and it was a bargain!). With the American $$$ giving us such poor value against the NZ $$$, this relocation cruise was by far the cheapest way for us to travel.

I had a vision of a concert series at the Aotea Centre where they had Les and Sonia Andrews presenting a lunchtime concert [some of you gorgeous Front of House people will remember these!]. We had large number of older guests (well actually they all were!) turn up for these shows with walkers and sticks, and I remember thinking at the time that it looked a bit like ‘war of the worlds’ with all those walkers and sticks crabbing across the foyer …. I was reminded of that here on board, except there are are few more ‘mobility assist scooters!!!!! No offence intended, promise xxx. I know it is a bit like ‘welcome to our future’ and rest assured, I am making mental notes of how not to behave!!

I have read a few great books, but by far the two most moving and have been ‘The Orphan’s Tale’ by Pam Jenoff (she wrote The Kommant’s Girl and The Diplomat’s Wife), and ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ by Heather Morris (from NZ). Both these books are based on true accounts from WWII – their survival, their shared fear [and religion] the unimaginable horrors and ultimately love, combined with hope, make both these books compelling reads.

We watched ‘Finding Your Feet’ again, because it is just such a great film, and watched ‘Mama Mia, here we go again’ – it has got to be up there with the worst movie I have seen (and I loved the first one – not so much Pierce Bronsons singing though [thankfully, he didn’t sing in this one!]). The worst ever for me was La La Land!! We also watched ‘A Quiet Place’ – not sure if anyone has seen this but the suspense of this horror had me holding my breath. Emily Blunt was amazing! We watched this lying on the deck under the stars and I did wake up at night and think about this film, but reassured myself that we were safe @sea!!! And we did trivia [best score 16/20!], were entertained by some great shows, comedians and overall had a fabulous time meeting new people and seeing new things [and eating way toooooo much].

There was an on-board ‘navigation @sea’ seminar that we went to where you really get just how incredible these big ships are – from the way they plan each port arrival / departure, to their unparalleled safety – it is pretty amazing. He told us so many ‘fun facts’ [about fuel and tonnage?!!?!!?!] that went straight over my head – but I did remember that they have enough lifeboats on board for an extra 1,000 persons – just in case! Oh and also they have a fancy pancy stabilisation thingee so we don’t rock and roll tooooo much! It has been working had on this trip to counter 80% of the movement [not that it bothers us].

Roberto from Italy made the most perfect cup of tea on Day 12 of our cruise – Sharon this would be the first cup of tea on this cruise that I felt like sharing with you [well one I didn’t make!]! You know my pain, when the milk is overloaded – so glad I converted you tooooo!

Well we started out freezing in Quebec City and are now warm in Fort Lauderdale. We have gone from -6 in the Rockies/Alberta/Quebec City to 20+ down here in Florida. As we leave the cruise behind [and new friends] we head away on our two week road trip up through Florida and Georgia, to South Carolina where our next ‘Mr & Mrs Smith’ assignment awaits [after a wee road trip!].

I will be sure to keep you up-to-date of our adventures.


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