Sunday, September 6, 2009

From Northern Ireland to Iceland on the Jewel of The Seas

Here we are already on Day Five of our cruise, docked in Belfast Northern Island for a few hours, after previous stops in Le Havre and Cherbourg France, followed by yesterday’s stop in Cobh Ireland, a small town sitting on a beautiful natural harbor that serves as the port for Cork.

We enjoyed walking around Cherbourg the other day, a core downtown area with pedestrian malls being only a 10-15 minute walk from the ship, and we got some good exercise yesterday in Cobh. What a hilly little town it is, with row houses painted in distinctive almost Caribbean-style colors as if to assert the inhabitants’ individualism. Cobh was an important embarkation point for a number of the two million Irish emigrants to the New World, from the Great Famine in 1844 right into the late 1950s.

In 1915 a German submarine torpedoed the passenger ship Lusitania not too far away. Survivors as well as victims were brought ashore to Cobh. That was the tipping point that caused the U.S. to enter World War I.

Cobh was also the last port of call for the Titanic on her maiden voyage. Today we’re docked across from the location in Belfast Harbour where the Titanic was built. It’s lucky we’re not superstitious as we set off after these encounters with two of the most famous disasters in maritime history for two sea days on the Northern Atlantic before arriving in Reykjavik Iceland 815 nautical miles away.

Late this morning we took a free shuttle into downtown Belfast. It’s a rainy and breezy day, and, being Sunday, most all of the shops are closed. We wandered around the front of the City Hall for a few minutes and then hopped on another shuttle and returned to the ship. We’ll save Belfast for another trip perhaps.

As to the ship itself, we’ve kept our expectations realistic, and they’ve generally been exceeded. We enjoyed a great dinner in the specialty steak house, Chops, last night, after a not-so-memorable dinner two nights earlier in Portofino, the Italian specialty restaurant. One of Portofino’s specialties is a filet mignon that they first marinate and then steam. Kathy unfortunately didn’t hear about the preparation before ordering, but we’re sure others rave about how “tender” it is. Our steaks in Chops, a large ribeye for me and a New York strip for Kathy, were excellent, not prime but nicely aged beef. We’ve enjoyed two quite decent dinners in the main dining room, there’s plenty of variety, so there’s no danger of our starving on this cruise.

We’ll involve ourselves in some shipboard activities on the sea days, space permitting. We tried out Team Trivia yesterday along with what seemed to be a couple of hundred other people, and met some nice folks.

Finally, so far at least the Internet connection on board seems to be working quite well for our little notebook. We walk down the corridor to the atrium, log on, download our mail, and log off within one or at most two minutes. At “only” 34 cents a minute it shouldn’t be difficult to keep in touch, although posting on the Wandering Warners will continue to be an occasional splurge. Addendum: I spoke too soon. We couldn’t connect as we left the port and the front desk is claiming satellite problems. We’ll hope this doesn’t become the pattern.

1 comment:

Kim said...

Sounds awesome! Ireland is number 1 on my list of places I'd like to go!