Cornerbrook, Newfoundland 

June 17,  2017

Last night we  were invited to a dinner in honor of friends Toby and Bob’s 60th anniversary.  Lovely evening.

Last year while we were here in Cornerbrook we did a long hike into the beautiful mountains here.  As we arrived, we could see the mountains with snow at the top.

We did a walk around town (very small), and did a hike on one of the many trails.  They have a very large paper mill here, it was once the largest and is still a big part of the economy.

Norm fell in love with this Newfie!

They did have a sexual health store!! 

We found a cool bar, Starlings, and I was initiated as an honorary Newfoundlander in the order of the Screechers.

Nice to finally be on land after 5 sea days! 

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At sea

June 16, 2017

Off the coast of Newfoundland.  Icebergs spotted in the distance.

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At sea

June 16, 2017

Off the coast of Newfoundland.  Icebergs spotted in the distance.

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At sea

June 15, 2017

Just got the word… Because mother nature caused us to  miss the next port, it is open bar tomorrow from 5-6:30!

Yay Insignia management team/senior officers.

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At sea

June 15, 2017

As we predicted, due to the weather on the crossing, we can’t make it to our port of St. Pierre et Miquelon tomorrow.  Another sea day tomorrow and we will be in Cornerbrook Newfoundland on Saturday.  Seas have calmed a bit but the ship still can’t sail at full speed .

Had a lovely ATW  coffee this morning and having a relaxing sea day.

And the quilt is coming along nicely!

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Atlantic crossing

June 14, 2017

We are on our third day of a 4 day crossing of the Atlantic to Canada and the US.  It is rainy and very rough so far.  Waves splashing  up to deck 10, Horizons lounge!  We are doing fine but many are seasick.  Art class, new Beauty and the Beast movie, casino, reading.  That is all.

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Cobh (Cork), Ireland

June 11, 2017

It’s said that Ireland’s second city is first in every important respect – at least according to the locals, who cheerfully refer to it as the “real capital of Ireland”.  It was badly hit by the recession but is now reinventing itself with stretches of waterfront and lots of bars and coffee bars.


The town center is walking distance from the ship so we set out to explore after breakfast.  Cobh was formerly named Queenstown from the visit of Queen Victoria who apparently wanted her name or title on every place she visited! The harbor here is the second largest harbor in the world, second only to Sydney harbor.  More than 100,000 passengers and crew come here every year.

There was one other ship here today and since it was Sunday we didn’t know what to expect to visit – what would be open. Since we saw the Titanic Trail and museum in Belfast, we wanted to do the “Titanic Experience” in Cobh.  First we were each issued a ticket with a passenger’s name on it.  I was Marcelle Daly, 30 years old, sailing alone in a 3rd class cabin (cost of the ticket  – $40 then, equivalent to $640 today) which was half of the yearly wage back then.  Norm was Roger Tobin, 22, traveling alone in a 3rd class cabin.  Most of the passengers who boarded here were 3rd class passengers. The Titanic sailed from Cobh as the last port of call before it hit the iceberg and sank.


We went through the guided tour as these passengers and didn’t learn our fates until the end. This was the original building that passengers came to when they got on the ship and the remains of the dock are original as are the windows and other parts of the building.  Here are some of the photos (some were taken by Father Frank Browne who disembarked the ship here and didn’t do the crossing).  He was an avid photographer and the photos he took would have all been lost had he stayed on the ship.  Many of the photos in Belfast and here are thanks to his work.


Very interesting perspective to add to what we saw in Belfast.  What we learned at the end: Roger was lost at sea and Marcelle survived.

Next door to the exhibition was a beautiful gift shop (Tregan) with lots of Irish sweaters, tweeds, jewelry and crystal.  Here’s my purchase:


Always like to contribute to the local economy!

We then walked up the lovely flower lined streets to see St. Colman’s Cathedral. It was started in 1868 and took over 50 years to complete. The spire is 300 feet tall. It is a French NeoGothic style and has amazing stained glass, marble carving and stonework.  It is one of the most beautiful we have seen (and well worth the walk up the VERY steep hill!)


I lit a candle for my mom…try to do it in every church we visit.  We miss her so.

Here are some of the sights in the town. 



We fell in love with these prize winning dogs!  And believe it or not, the building shown below is Wan Fu, a Chinese restaurant!


We chose to have lunch at Cuppacity – a pub/coffee shop around the main square. The Rob Roy was our first choice but they were not serving lunch. Had a great lunch – and this cup of coffee was bigger than it looks in the photo.


We walked some more after lunch and were surprised to find Kat, our fellow passenger and flutist, playing her instrument in this small pub and teaching a young girl! Even the dogs were mesmerized.


Our last stop was the Queenstown Heritage Center/Railway station.  I bought two beautiful knit jackets here at the Christy’s shop.  Here’s a shot of one of them:


Mark, you can come here directly from Boston, Adam – from Providence!


We have 4 sea days in a row now and it was pretty rocky last night both in the protected harbor and as we moved out to sea. We will see what the Atlantic crossing brings!

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Dublin, Ireland

June 10, 2017

Last night was the final night for Bojan, my favorite casino dealer  (so if you are reading this, please send me your email address, I forgot to ask!)  He has been on for 10 months so I guess he was happy to be leaving. All of the usual suspects will miss you!  Hope to see you “around the world”! 

Bojan 2Bojan

Dublin was our party place – we had an all day outing with Tanya, Drew, Shary, Rob, Tory and Bill – we had a van and a driver, Shea, who took us to all of our destinations. 

We started at the Guinness Storehouse, a must when visiting Dublin!  The experience has you make your way through a building designed in the shape of a giant pint of Guinness, big enough to hold 12.5 million pints.  Their story started 250 years ago and we saw the famous 9000 year lease for the brewery, saw how the beer is brewed, learned about some of their past and present advertising and of course had a proper tasting, followed by our complimentary pint in the top level Gravity Bar – with the view! I learned how to pour and drink it properly but am not a beer convert!


We then moved on to the Jameson Distillery on Bow Street.  Here we had a guided tour of the triple distilling that makes Jameson so smooth.  We learned about the origins and process, had a tasting comparing three kinds of whiskey – first, without knowing what they were.  The first was the Jameson, the second was Scotch – we later found out it was Johnny Walker Black, and the third was Jack Daniels. The purpose was not to say that one is better than the other, but simply to point out the differences in taste.  After the tour, we had complimentary drinks.  I took my Jameson with ginger ale and lime.  Pretty good for someone who never drinks whiskey!


Then it was on to our pub crawl.  Shary had done the research and chose the top 4 bars in Dublin for us to visit.  We started at the Brazen Head where we had drinks and a pub lunch.


We then moved on to the Temple Bar (since 1840), which is in an area that is called – the Temple Bar!  And it is full of bars, bands, singing, etc.  We had drinks and joined in the singing. The Temple Bar is the pub with the largest collection of whiskies in Ireland (over 500) and the pub with the largest selection of pub sandwiches (over 100) anywhere in the world.  They have also been awarded the title of “Traditional Music Pub of the Year” every year dating back to 2002.


Our last stop was the Palace Bar – we didn’t have time for the 4th one if we wanted to make it back to the ship.


We had a great time, and even though rain was in the forecast and a few drops fell in the morning, the day was glorious as they say in Ireland!

We walked past the famous Trinity College.  Here are some of the Saturday sights in Dublin – we will be back!


And, of course, a couple of signs:


Here’s the beautiful lighthouse as we sail out of Dublin.


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Belfast, Northern Ireland

June 9. 2017

This is our first time in Ireland! We have an enrichment lecturer, Jeana Rogers, on the ship now and she provided us with a great overview of Belfast and Dublin.

Ironic that we are here the day after the vote in the UK.  It’s one of the first things our guide, Jackie, mentioned.  The conservative party may reach out to the democratic unionist party in Northern Ireland to make a coalition to form a government.


We chose to take the “Titanic Trail” tour today. We drove a short way (only 12 people on this tour) through the city and Jackie pointed out various landmarks including St. Anne’s Cathedral and the Albert Memorial Clock. She talked about the history of the making of fine Irish linen in Belfast.  Sadly, the advent of cheap labor in other parts of the world has diminished the number of linen factories from 200 to just 1.

The flowers on this gate are made of gilded Irish linen.



This is a very industrial port but the docklands where the Titanic was built are largely defunct and the land is undergoing massive redevelopment.

The violence (the “Troubles”) has stopped since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, Belfast is  becoming a cruise ship destination and tourist site.  10 years ago only 23 ships came here. Now it is 88 with 100 expected by the end of the year.  It was once lumped with Beirut, Baghdad and Bosnia as one of the 4 “Bs” for travelers to avoid!

Jackie also mentioned that there were great arguments about sports teams here and so they decided to have a neutral sport – guess what it is….ice hockey!  They brought in players from other parts of the world and now are training their own.  But the first name they wanted for the team was unfortunate… Belfast Bombers!  So they renamed it the Belfast Giants and apparently they are doing very well.

The ship building company of Harland and Wolff has two huge cranes here, Samson and Goliath. 840 tons can be lifted by them.


We arrived at the Titanic site and our guide for that portion of the day joined us.  What a great, witty Irishman he was.  Colin entertained us with the history of the construction of the Titanic and its ill fated first voyage. 


We walked to the area that the Titanic was actually built. I didn’t know that most of the passengers boarded in Cherbourg and that the SS Nomadic was the tender ship that took the 2nd and 3rd class customers to the Titanic.  The Nomadic is the last White Star ship left (#422). It was built beside the Titanic and now is a tourist attraction after having many “lives” and other uses.


There is an outline on the sidewalk of the actual placement of the bow of the Titanic and also of the path it took before meeting the iceberg.


These are the buildings that housed the architects. There was no electricity then so the roofs are arched and all windows. Below them is a timeline of the construction.


We then went to the dry dock and Pump house.  It is the birthplace of the Titanic.  This has largely been left intact since the Titanic arrived a century ago.  We had tea and scones here, then Colin led us through and down into the actual dry dock. He explained how they used the dry dock to build the ship.  Very interesting.



We then spent a couple of hours in the Titanic Belfast centre.  The star shaped building has the points that are as tall as the front of the Titanic.


And by the way, they film Game of Thrones in the Titanic Studios here.


The Titanic center covers the construction through the launch, the sinking, the aftermath as well as myths and realities.  It is an interactive museum and includes a lot of video and even a ride that shows the building of the ship.  If you saw the movie Titanic, you will recognize some of the exhibits, too.

Model of the shipyard and the center (opened on March 31, 2012 marking the centenary year of the launching of the ship), the first class cabin and staircases, and a third class cabin.


The lifeboat.  The iceberg tore a 340 foot opening in the hull and the ship sank in 2 hrs 40 minutes.  The launch was delayed by 3 weeks which probably led to the accident as the icebergs came further south by then.  The Carpathia ran into the lifeboats almost by accident and picked up the survivors.


The museum is really wonderful and you could really spend even more hours there.

Colin told us if we remember one thing it is this:  The people in Belfast said “well, it was OK when it left here….!”

After our tour we chose to stay in town and explore.  There is lots of beautiful architecture and the Crown Pub is a lovely example of Victorian design. Unfortunately there was a long wait for lunch so we ended up at The Washington Pub where we were waited on by a Canadian who lived in Atlanta, and is now in Belfast for 5 years and getting his citizenship very soon.


The opera house:


City Hall:


A Guiness of course!


Some of the other interesting buildings:


And, of course, a couple of signs:


And a black cab!


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Lorient, France

June 7, 2017

We happen to have two Irish performers on board right now, so with his usual creativity, our cruise director, Ray, instituted St. Paddy’s Day in June last night in Horizons at 10:30,  complete with the green beer and shamrock cocktails.

One duo is called “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” – Tabitha and Adam – Adam is Irish. They did a lot of Irish music and at one point Ray joined in.


Our Irish comedian, Billy Boyle, also told some jokes – we had heard most of them at his prime time show but there are a group of Irish travel agents on board and they yelled their appreciation!

We were warned about high winds and a rough night at sea which would start around 9:45 PM.  And, at 9:46, the first huge wave hit right on schedule.  Pretty accurate, Captain! We rocked all night and as a result were about an hour late into port.  Slept like babies though.

The sail in was beautiful and the weather is a high of 66 today.  Just lovely.


We hadn’t been in Lorient before but did not book an organized tour as we knew the town was walking distance from the port and we love to walk around the European towns and have a leisurely lunch. Most of the time we log about 8 – 9 miles and prefer walking to taking the shuttles as long as walking in the port area is allowed.

Lorient is in the province of France called Brittany. It is deeply infused with Celtic culture.  It was independent until the 16th century.  Many Bretons continue to regard France as a separate country, but few support Breton nationalism.

Lorient was the original home of the French East India Company.  After 1820 there were no more maritime trade activities and Lorient became a military port. During World War II, a submarine base built by the occupying German forces placed Lorient at the heart of the conflict.  It was the headquarters of the Battle of the Atlantic and was heavily bombed in 1943 and left in runs.  Lorient was rebuilt with the design by architect Georges Tourry but very few of the old buildings remain.

Norm’s quest was to find some new walking shoes, which he did, and mine was to find new bathing suits.  I brought 3 on board and they are all so old, they are stretched out.  I was successful in finding 3 new French ones and immediately threw away the old three. (no photos!  I only photograph jewelry and aprons!)

After that, we did have a nice lunch on the Place Aristode Briand which was rebuilt after the war and was the gateway to the city.

We then walked to the historic area and saw what is left of the old buildings in the town.

The old hospital is the first picture, now the Hotel Gabriel with its French gardens. The two windmills  were used to grind wheat to make the “sailor’s bread” or “sea biscuits”. One of the mills was converted into a navy observatory in the 19th century.  A high narrow window was created to allow for a lookout to gaze at the sky every night and calibrate the precision mechanisms of the navigation instruments.


After the Cote d’Azur, this is France’s most popular resort area.  Many people come here for the beaches, clliffs, rock formations and offshore islands and islets.

We have a sea day tomorrow, then we will have 3 days in Ireland! Another time change tonight.

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