South American Cruise 2012 Update #1

Well, here I am documenting another cruise, this time to northern South America. The cruise starts (or has started as I write this) in Boston, MA and ends (for me at least) in Valparaiso, Chile some 18 days later. For some other people it ends some 33 days, I think it is, later in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Let me start at the beginning though.

Thursday, October 18th, Day 1 of the trip (The cruise does not start until trip day 3.)

The first two days of the trip are spent in a ritzy hotel in Boston. First though I need to get there. So, I was picked up by Airlink to be taken to the airport at 7:45 AM for a flight that did not depart until some four hours later at 11:45. The trip was uneventful and there was another lady in the car so it was quite interesting. Arrival at the airport was just a bit before 9:00 so the trip was quite quick. The other passenger in the car had never been in Terminal 1 before so I helped her find where to go and got her on her way to her Air Canada flight to Houston, Texas.

After that I went through all the security and customs stuff necessary to go to the U.S. and even still was at the gate by 9:30 with two hours and fifteen minutes to spare. At around 11:00 had had some lunch at the Tim Horton’s near Gate F65 where flight AC 358 would shortly be boarding for Boston. The boarding started at about 11:20 and was completed by 11:35.

The plane was pushed back from the gate right on time at 11:45 and headed for runway 6 Left for takeoff. That runway is the second one in for the 401 as you drive by the airport. The Captain came on and told us that there may be a few bumpy spots but otherwise things should be good. Lift off from the runway into the air happened at almost precisely 12 noon and off the flight headed towards Boston.

The plane took off to the east (towards highway 427) and after a couple of minutes of flying turned right to out over Lake Ontario and across it passing just north of Rochester, NY. It continued on just north of Syracuse and then just north of Albany and then started descending towards Logan Airport in Boston. The flight was not the smooth one the Captain had predicted though. There was much bumping and jolting and the seatbelt signs were on and off several times in the brief one hour period. Apparently the flight had to cross a high altitude high speed jet stream I discovered later which was the likely cause of the bumps. The entire distance to Boston is just around 600 miles or about 950 kilometers.

The plane had to fly all the way around the airport to get in line with the correct landing runway and ended up flying almost directly over the cruise terminal that the ship will depart from on Saturday. After all the excitement the plane landed almost on time but if anything just a few minutes late.

The fairly small Emperier 175 plane holds just under 100 passengers I think so getting off it was quick and after a quick “pit stop” I headed to baggage claim to do as the description indicates. On the way there I met a representative from Holland America and we both waited patiently for the bag to appear. It did seem to take a while for any of the baggage to appear but once it started to mine came shortly thereafter. Once it was collected the Holland America lady placed me in a taxi with a prepaid voucher and off I went on the approximately 10 minute ride to the hotel. 

The weather in Boston this day was about the same as Toronto, sunny with a high temperature in the mid 60’s F or around 20 C.

The Langham Hotel is housed in a building that was originally built in the early 1920’s as the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Sometime in the later 1950’s or early 60’s (not sure which at this point) a much larger modern office building was built just a few blocks away for the bank and the old building became available. The old building is on the National Register of Historic Buildings which means that it cannot be torn down or the exterior altered in any way. Apparently you can do what you want with the inside of most of them including this one. Many buildings in downtown Boston (and much of the rest of the city and its suburbs as well) are on this register which really limits what can be done with them. Apparently this building was the first building built in this style here and is the only one left in the Boston area. There was no one waiting to check in so the process proceeded quite rapidly and I was in a room (# 544) by 2:30PM. During the check in had had to sign a sheet that described the time there etc., which is not the least bit unusual, but on the sheet was the price Holland America was paying for the rooms which was $265 US per night. This is actually quite a bargain as the cheapest I saw on the internet a while back was something over $400 US a night.

The Langham Hotel Boston.
(the best picture I was able to get due to the tall buildings surrounding it.)

The rooms are quite stylish but not particularly special. It is an old world rather British style I think. I did not take any pictures of it, I guess because it did not seem all that different.  

After resting for a while I looked at a tourist map the woman at the airport had given me. It appeared that the hotel was close to many of the major attractions Boston is known for, especially the Freedom Trail which has much of the historical things Boston is known for located along it. The concierge at the hotel gave me an even better map and said that I could still do it that afternoon as there was still time and the weather was expected to deteriorate on Friday. So, I took his advice and took the short 10 minute walk up Franklin St., and along Tremont St. to Boston Common where the Freedom Trail begins. Boston Common was the first public park created in the United States if not North America. They have created a red line using a number of different processes, inlaid red bricks, paint, and others to follow the Freedom Trail along the sidewalk. It can be a bit confusing in spots but most of the time it was not too difficult and I had little difficulty tracking it. I did not go into most of the places but I did see them all. Here are a few pictures showing some of the sights to be seen along the trail.

The Visitor Centre on Boston Common which marks the start of the Freedom trail.
The red line marks the trail that you follow. It is not always this obvious though.

 

The Massachusetts State House, basically their state legislature.

The Old North Church, the oldest church building in the city of Boston.
This is where, on April 18, 1775, the two lanterns were displayed from the steeple
that effectively started the American Revolution.

The USS Constitution affectionately known as Old Ironsides.
(Note: It is not made of iron even though the British thought it was.)

The trail is about 2.5 miles long so this took several hours to do. I had spotted a McDonalds along the way so I made my way back to that and had supper and then back to the hotel for the rest of and the conclusion of day one.

One to Day 2!!!!!

Friday, October 19th, Day 2 of the trip (The cruise does not start until tomorrow.)

The weather deteriorated as predicted but the light rain that fell fell only as showers from time to time. Some places just west of Boston got some major thunderstorms later in the day but not the city.

This day I took a ride on one of the trolley tourist busses that there seem to be many of in Boston. It took about two hours and I saw many of the sights that I had already seen on the walk yesterday but it also showed me some of the sights that were farther out such as MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) across the Charles River in Cambridge, MA. I also saw the original Cheers bar from the TV show of the same name, a very quick view of Symphony Hall where the Boston Symphony and Pops orchestras call home and the Esplanade with the Hatch Band shell where the Pops Orchestra performs on July 4th each year. It kind of reminds me of the time the Pops played in Brantford however many years ago that was. One other spot that was pointed out was the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel where more of the cruise people were staying. There were about 20 of us at the Langham Hotel.

Here are a few pictures from the tour.

Symphony Hall (it is the best I could get).

This is the Fenway Park baseball stadium. It is 100 years old and still in use!

The dome in the middle beside the windshield wiper is the best know part of MIT.
(The Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

The Hatch Shell and the Esplanade where the Boston Pops orchestra performs in the summer.

The trolley I was in.

The tour also showed the spot where the famous “Tea Party” took place. It was not far from the hotel so I went back and looked at it later.

I also went back and looked at Boston Common again and a nearby cemetery where Paul Revere is buried.

Paul Revere’s grave.

John Hancock’s grave.

This is where the Boston Tea Party took place.
This is a new museum. Apparently the old one burned down a couple of years ago.

After all this was completed I went back to the hotel and stayed there getting ready to depart tomorrow. This included visiting the cruise representative who was there to confirm details and times for tomorrow.

One other thing that happened this day was that the USS Constitution was taken out for a sail to celebrate the 215th anniversary of its launch (to the day). On the trolley tour we saw them getting ready to move it but I did not actually witness the event itself. Apparently this is done 6 or 8 times a year. The ship is still considered an active US Navy ship, the oldest one in any navy in the world and has a complement of 65 navy personal assigned to it full time. It should also be noted that it has to be towed as it does not have an engine of its own (needless to say considering how old it is).

Saturday, October 20th, Day 3 of the trip, Day 1 of the cruise.

Today, the luggage had to be ready by 9:00AM and we had to be checked out by 10:30AM with the bus to the pier departing at 11:00. All these times pretty much happened as planned and the 20 or so of us headed to the Black Falcon Cruise Ship Terminal which was about a 10 minute drive south through Chinatown and the Seaport District passing the Tea Party sight along the way.

The luggage went with us on the bus and upon arrival had to be picked up and identified by each passenger (you know, security and all that stuff). Port security is not quite as tight as airport security but it is still annoying enough. It was handled well here so it was no too bad. It looked like the Boston police were doing it.

There was no line at the check in for the cruise so things happened rapidly and there about a 10 minute wait to board the ship which I was on by noon. Lunch was on the ship with the inevitable restrictions relating to the Norwalk virus in effect at the buffets. We unlucky people who got on in Boston have to suffer through these restrictions until two days after the ship departs Fort Lauderdale, FL on Wednesday. The current predicted date is Friday, Oct 26th at noon as that is 48 hours after the embarkation of the people arriving in Fort Lauderdale.  These restrictions relate only to the buffets and require that the ships staff, wearing gloves of course, handle all the food which you ask them for and they place on a plate and then hand the plate to you. Same goes for drinks, you tell them what you want and they fill the glass or cup and hand it to you. This is even more difficult as these ships no longer use trays so you need to be an octopus or make multiple trips to get everything you want. This is a problem even without the Norwalk restrictions.

There was the mandatory emergency drill at 3:15 and the ship sailed at about 3:45PM. There are a large number of Germans on board so some of the more important announcements are being done in both English and German.

The weather cleared as the morning progressed into the afternoon and it became quite nice as the ship departed. Here are some pictures taken as the ship departed Boston.

This is a three picture panorama of Boston and the part of its harbour the ship was docked at.
My ship was docked in front of the two you can see on the left.
If the ship was still there you would not likely be able to see it from here.
The hotel I was in cannot be seen in this picture since it is only 9 stories tall
and is buried in amongst those tall skyscrapers just slightly to the right of the centre of the panorama. 

This is Logan International Airport where the plane I was on landed on Thursday.

I decided to try the dining room this night (last night as I write this) just to see what people I got stuck with this time and much to my surprise I got a small table (a table for two by their definition) all to myself. Surprise surprise!!!!! Apparently there are more people getting on in Fort Lauderdale so I will see if it holds up after that. There are other tables for two that do not appear to be being used at present as well.

After dinner I spent some time working on this and then went to bed. On to tomorrow!!!

Sunday, October 21st, Day 4 of the trip, Day 2 of the cruise, At Sea.

As noted above today is an “at sea” day, the first of two before arriving at Port Canaveral, FL on Tuesday. The weather is mostly clear with a few clouds and a high temperature in the mid to high 60’s F or around 20C.

I am still in the same time zone as home so at the time the church service at our church was in progress this morning I was working on this. It seems to me it was the part about late Friday and Saturday that was being created at that point.

Tonight is the first formal dress night of four over the 18 days of this cruise and with my own table in the dining room I just might go.

As of noon today the ship was located approximate 160 nautical miles southeast of Atlantic City, New Jersey. The weather is expected to stay about the same or improve slightly with slightly higher temperatures as the ship sails farther south.

On the top of the next page are a couple of pictures taken just over two hours ago in the Rotterdam Dining Room.

This very dark picture shows the view I have from my table of the dining room.
The one above is close to how it actually looks.
The one below shows it much brighter than it looked to the eye when it was taken.

Well, that is all for now! The pictures are somewhat larger than in the past so I hope they do not take too long to load. I will make them smaller in the next update.       

More to come soon!!!


Originally sent as Update #1 by email from the ship: October 22nd, 2012
Web Page Created: July 1st & 2nd, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 7:38 PM