Thursday, November 6, 2008

Random Thoughts from our Vacation

Here are some of my observations and thoughts from the past two weeks on vacation - four nights in New York City, 7 nights on the Caribbean Princess, and three nights in San Juan:

* New York City subways are not disabled friendly. New York City tourist sites are very disabled friendly.
* I could spend a lot of time at Ellis Island reading the displays. Impressive place. Unfortunately, I had only 90 minutes onshore.
* The New York Public Library genealogy room works really well - I wish I had had more time.
* Taxicab fares are pretty high everywhere.
* The Brooklyn cruise ship terminal is hard to find - our taxi driver got lost.

* The food on the Caribbean Princess was pretty good - variety, quality, quantity. We ate at the Horizon Court food court every breakfast and lunch, and in the Palm Dining Room for every dinner. The maitre-d' in the Palm Dining Room helped Linda plan her meals for the next day to avoid her allergies.
* We loved the Anytime Dinner option - perfect for genea-cruisers with scheduled events in the evening.
* The Caribbean Princess had a norovirus outbreak on the previous cruise. By law, they had to serve everyone everything for three days - we couldn't touch anything but our plate. We didn't know until later that some of the crew had the virus early in the week.
* Our cabin was "rocky" - we were on Gala deck (14th level) in the back. The seas were rough during the "at sea" portion of the trip. The room itself was fine - we had twin beds pushed together, a balcony, and a door just wide enough for the walker.
* TV channels on the cruise ship were sparse - no US networks or cable channels (except for ESPN, some entertainment channels, CNN International and BBC World Service). We did get to see the World Series games on ESPN somehow. There was little American news on CNN International, except for Obama worship.
* Getting 3,000 people off a cruise ship is a big logistical challenge. We all had a gathering time, and then a wait to disbark, then a wait for customs, and a wait for immigration. After we got out, the taxicab service was great.

* The WG/TMG genealogy conference had excellent organization and speakers. Bob Velke and his folks worked really hard to make this succeed, and they were successful!
* The venues used for the conference were poor from a seating standpoint - but if you want a cruise conference, that's what you get.
* The WG/TMG conference speakers were top-notch - I was impressed by their friendliness, knowledge levels and presentation skills. I learned a lot.
* Too many Americans are overweight, and have no qualms showing it off at the pools and the restaurants. Myself included.
* The Master Genealogist software is really complicated and seems to have a long learning curve.
* Genea-cruisers are really friendly and love to share - I appreciate the many conversations I had with many of my fellow cruisers. Name-tags are really helpful.
* I was surprised by the number of genea-cruisers I didn't meet - I saw many faces at the cocktail party that I didn't meet in person during the conference.

* St. Kitts is a really poor island with very friendly people. The roads are narrow and they drive on the left.
* Antigua is bigger, fairly poor, and very friendly people; they also have narrow roads and drive on the left.
* St. Thomas has more residential areas, better roads (drive on the right) and more day trip opportunities. There were "slackers" around the tourist shopping area.
* San Juan, Puerto Rico is cosmopolitan, most people are bilingual, the roads range from poor to good, and the hotel rooms are expensive. The bus system is free, and taxicabs are fairly expensive (e.g., $15 for a three-mile trip).

* It was really good to get home again and sleep in our own bed, even though we woke up at 3 a.m.

Have you had enough of my cruise comments? Back to genealogy research ... soon!


Bill West said...

Sounds like you and Linda had a great time, Randy!

Welcome home!

familytwigs said...

Well I had a great time. The only problem is I couldn't smell the sea.
What a great trip! Thank you for sharing.