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Margaret O'Leary

Age: 57

Occupation:Secretary

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Wind

Sailing Date: May 6th, 2002

Itinerary: Alaska

Margaret O'Leary

Sailing Date:  May 6th, 2002

WARNING:  This review is going to be lengthy - Marg is at keyboard and a bottle of cheap red Italian plus a pack of Du Maurier regular is at hand.

After months of planning and anticipation, our travel day had finally arrived.  The four Murray sisters, Jean, Nan, Jackie & Marg were headed off to our new adventure, a cruise to Alaska on The Norwegian Wind!

Everything organized, The Toronto Three spent the night before at Jean & Dave's, enjoyed a lovely meal courtesy of chef Jean and, everything packed, list checked five times, contraband booze safely snuggled in amongst the clothing and tickets in hand, we were whisked to Pearson, courtesy of the R.D. Tufts Limo Service. Even though none of us had slept really well, nothing was going to detract from our adventure. We were afforded good seats (for Air Transat, aka Air Sardine).  The movie was enjoyable and previously unseen by any of us (A Beautiful Mind).  Flying time passed uneventfully et voila, we were in Vancouver at 9:00 am (local time).  

Our luggage was collected in not so short order and a delightful free-lance ship-to-shore transfer person, Denise, greeted us and a handful of others from the flight. Her task was to transport the Air Transat passengers to the vessel via shuttle bus and return for more passengers arriving throughout the day on various other airlines. As The Calgary One was scheduled to arrive at 11:00 am local time and as this first transfer of the day was ready to go at 10:30 am or so, there seemed little point in all of us waiting at the airport for The Calgary One to arrive, so, the two wicked step-sisters headed off to the ship while Cinderella stayed back to wait. Sailing time was 5:00 pm. 

After kissing her sisters au revoir, sending them off to the Ball, clicking her heels twice and turning around three times for luck, Cinderella was instantly thrust into a Brother's Grimm Nightmare!!!!!  As any dutiful sister would do, she checked the nearest computer board to confirm the arrival time of Jackie's flight (via West-Jet). The word on the board was cold and menacing -  "CANCELLED"!!!!! 

She wildly cast her eyes over the rest of the board, struggling desperately to make sense of the nonsensical.  ALL flights from Calgary were CANCELLED!! The word was unforgiving.  It offered no alternative. It was final and unrelenting. Abject horror slowly but evilly started to seep its way into her very being as she staggered, blind with fear, to the West Jet counter. Alas, Prince Charming Roger, with whom she would have struck a profoundly intimate relationship before this surreal day closed, sadly confirmed the impossible. Indeed ALL flights, on ALL airlines from Calgary, had been cancelled.

The author can do two things here...continue on with the painful, step-by- step, day-long saga which would take another three pages, or cut to the chase. When has a true Murray ever been able to cut to the chase??

Nevermind, she will try........Calgary awoke to 30 cm of a continuing snowfall on that particular Monday morning, a spell, needless to say, cast by arch-enemy Voldemort! (oops, I spoke his name aloud).  Suffice to say that, between phone calls, rescheduled, cancelled, rescheduled, de-iced, delayed and in-air circling aircraft, Jackie and I spent the most horrendously stressful day pacing each of our respective airports until the 11th hour, when she finally arrived at 4:15 pm, well after the last transfer had left! " Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest one of all"?  Why it's Snow White, of course. The sight of her smiling face had miraculously turned her into the most beautiful Maiden in the Land.  (Just for a couple of hours, mind... ).  At 4: 26 pm, luggage collected, we promised "the best tip of your life" to the nearest available Prince Valliant, if he could get us to Ballantyne Pier in 20 minutes, a 40 minute drive and now rush-hour in the Kingdom. He promised he could! Climbing aboard his trusty white stallion, we underwent the "ride of our lives"!  He kept his promise!  We kept our promise!

Pinocchio & Jiminy tripped over each other while seizing the luggage from the stallion, whereupon they "poofed" it into the air to mysteriously reappear in our cabin.  Flashing dazzling smiles and credit cards at the Seven Dwarves dancing attendance at the NCL counter, and happily waving Bon Voyage to Shrek, the carefree US Immigration Office, we breathlessly ran on board at 4:56 pm.

At that very moment, we spotted the two wicked stepsisters, having already enjoyed a leisurely and decadent lunch, feigning their mock relief at the sight of us, while we two virginal youngsters, suicidal with angst, looked behind us just as the last remaining gangway was pulled on board.

We were blindly led to our cabin, near collapse and helplessly watched, as the two very wicked and very ugly step sisters feverishly ravaged the contents of our suitcases until the purely medicinal liquid libation was found, whereupon they proceeded to pour the demon juices down our unaware throats, the plot, of course, being to keep us in our already stupefied state. Then it happened! In a heartbeat! We flew out of the "Brother's Grimm Nightmare and were instantly transported into "Alice's Wonderland". 

Our first cocktail hour was spent rehashing the stresses of the day, discovering in the end, of course, that the two eldest had endured the wait via osmosis of long-engrained sympatico sisterly-vibes, as painfully as the two youngest. It will be stated again, but for posterity, let this first time be marked, right here and right now. The very best of this adventure WITHOUT QUESTION will be of the four of us spending time together.  OK, enough of the sappiness...  let's move it on!

Yakity, yakity, yakity, yak!!!! We watched the port of Vancouver and the splendour of the Rocky Mountains, sulphur pits, luxury condos and spectacular Lion's Gate Bridge recede into the distance. A shower and change washed away all woes and we were off to explore.  Once upon a time, in far away land, there was a ship called The Norwegian Wind...

THE SHIP

The Norwegian Wind, built in 1993, now currently owed by Norwegian Cruise Line and their parent company, Orient Star Line, registered in the Bahamas (aren't they all?) was originally designed to be "stretched" at a later date, and in 1998 was literally cut into two pieces vertically, an additional mid-section inserted and the now three pieces welded back together to allow for more passengers, thus additional revenue. The Wind holds 1750 passengers and several hundred crewmembers, so the ratio is as generous as any luxury liner. 

This "stretching", while seamless to the aesthetic eye, resulted in wonkiness about the logistics such that several oddities occur, unsuspectingly.  Ok -ok, I can hear all of you saying that no Murray sister in the Universe has any sense of direction anyway, BUT the staircase that mysteriously stops at deck seven?? The pedestrian traffic flow through The Terrance Restaurant to get to the other side??  The banks of elevators (fore and aft) that do not necessarily go to the top?? The walk through of the Theatre, which in effect was a short cut, but if a show was in progress, was not available.  Oddly, as if a deliberate maze was fixed, all pathways seemed to take one though the Casino!! Go figure?? Took us three days, oh all right, five days, to acclimatize, in spite of the forewarnings.

The ship is 12 stories, er, decks high!!! The bottom three are crew and staff accommodations as well as loading/shipping/receiving/stowing areas. Decks four through eight were passenger cabins and medical stations. We were on six, cabin numbers 6249 and 6250 on Port side, just slightly to the rear of the mid section.  Deck six also seemed to be the main embarkation and debarkation deck, although seven was used for this purpose on occasion. Deck seven, mid-section was the Reception/Shore Excursion/Concierge area, while the rest of deck seven had cabins. Deck seven also had the first of the open outside areas, accommodating a jogging/walking track and the lifeboats and lifeboat stations.

Decks nine and ten were where all the action was and where we seemed to spend most of our time in the evenings!!!!  They offered the three major dining rooms, the casino, the alternative dining room, the casino, the well-appointed theatre, the casino, the lounges, the casino, the bars, the duty-free shops, and the casino.

Decks eleven and twelve contained The Spa, The Health Club, the BBQ-pit and wrap-around, outside deck areas for viewing/walking. The Sports Bar, located aft, even though boisterous and cafeteria style, afforded the "funky" type lunches of Quesadillas, Curries, Tapas, etc. More about food to come, AS IF we would skip over the food part!!!!

The Observation Lounge, totally encased in floor to ceiling glass at the bow of the ship was amazing.  From this vantage point the scenery was truly spectacular. It was also on this deck that the three trolls tried to lose me one day, but I fooled them. Hansle & Gretle style, I simply dropped bits of caviar and fois gras behind me, which led me back to the Observation Lounge. Ha! 

The crew were seldom seen but the staff of hustling and bustling servers, waiters, stewards and bartenders were a diverse and graciously good-natured lot.  We enjoyed bantering with many from the Philippines, Latvia and Rumania, some of whom send their wages home to benefit their struggling families. We have instructed all friends, acquaintances and family members that we prefer to be addressed by our new title.....Madam!

"They" said it had a plumbing problem. It did not, but for maybe twice, detecting the slightest hint of a sewage odour for a passing moment, and a couple of times, while brushing of teeth, figured either my breathe was "fishy", perhaps from the night before, or something was in the water. "They" said it was threadbare!  It was not! It was  continually being swabbed, painted, dusted, and cleaned.

In reality, it is a moving hotel.

So much to tell - so little time...hurry hurry Cinderella, before the memory fades...

THE CABIN AND CABIN STAFF

A week and a half before sailing, we were offered and instantly accepted a 13 Category upgrade from Inside steerage JJ to Outside Oceanview C.  Never having been ones to "look a gift horse in the mouth" but, still a little sceptical, it proved a true, no cost, genuine, dyed in the wool, no strings attached upgrade. While we would have, no doubt, had a wonderful time regardless, this new stateroom afforded us a window!!!! In addition, we now had a seating area, one pull out love sofa, one roomy tub-type armchair and a large Ottoman, extra storage space, and a window!  Not a porthole, but a true, full-fledged picture window!! I would guess it to be about 4.5 feet x 4.5 feet square.

Yolanda and Angel came in twice a day, bearing fresh towels each time, plushy and plumpy, but rather roughly hewn! The salt water perhaps?  The ice bucket was always full.  The bed was made up in the morning and the bed was turned down in the evening, with "jammies" sitting on top of the pillow, along with the foil wrapped chocolate.  The foil wrapped chocolate turned into chocolate dipped fresh strawberries on the last night. The window was always kept very clean.

We leisurely fell into a routine of ordering room service coffee around 7:00ish each morning, where we would gather together to plan the days activities. We would repeat this pattern at     tail hour before preparing for the evening, all the while enjoying the magnificent view of the inside Passage. The window and small seating area were much appreciated enhancements to our trip.

Even though the mattresses were just foam, the beds were surprisingly comfortable. While Jean & Nan's were separate singles, Jackie's and mine was made up as a queen, the two singles being placed together in such a solid manner that neither of us could detect the others movements.  Snow White was kind enough to not mention my snoring.  Did I mention it had a window?

THE PORTS OF CALL

Juneau (Wednesday, May 8)

Our budget only allowed for two excursions, the first one being the Jet-Boat Whale watching at Juneau (Dolphin Tours, but booked through NCL).  Juneau was the first port of call and while quite chilly (45 degrees or so) it was a clear and sunny day. We were two hours late getting into Juneau due to some tide fluctuations. We were bussed to Auke Bay, about a thirty-minute ride, which also afforded a view of Juneau, population 30,000. What we saw of Juneau itself was not much to look at, but you can imagine the beauty of the surrounding scenery. It is accessible only by boat or by plane and nestled in among mountains and glaciers.  The boat accommodated 30-35 people and was well enclosed. It would have been cosier but for the thick-blooded, heathen Northern Scots sitting in front of us, who wanted their window open all the time. While a little early in the season for whales, we did spot two Humpbacks, well, actually only their tails and from a bit of a distance.  It was a little disappointing, but I must say that the crew, especially the Naturalist on board, pulled out every possible stop to see more. They were in constant communication with other tour boats and trading sighting locations via radio throughout the entire time, which was extended by 30 minutes or so due to their enthusiasm and determination.  However, we were delighted to see Harbour Seals, Bald Eagles, Sea Lions and the most frolicking school of Orka Porpoises, who entertained us royally as they playfully swam along side, darting underneath the boat and coming up on the other side!  We were treated to an unexpected snack of smoked salmon on a bagel and hot tea/coffee. On our return, we stopped for a beer (Alaskan Brew of course) at the Red Dog Saloon, a "must see" fun spot, teaming with atmosphere, even though tourist generated. We did a bit of shopping (saving most of that for Ketchikan) and headed back to the ship. The weather had turned colder and a hefty wind made the walk back to the vessel a little challenging.

SKAGWAY/HAINES (Thursday, May 9)

We were in Skagway the next day and off to the White Pass Railroad for our second excursion. Weather was still cool and now a little overcast, but not enough to impede the magnificent view of the Pass. Before the tour, we stopped in at the White Pass Train Station...it has lots of great photos of the gold rush period and train memorabilia.  WARNING - Do not buy the wooden train whistle there! As our journey continued, Snow White (aka The Wicked Witch of the West) took great delight in gleefully pointing out the continuing and steady price decline of the item at each and every shop from there on, laughing insidiously and tauntingly, until finally at Ketchikan, she climaxed, finding my US $6.00 purchase for US $1.00 !!! Bugger off Jacq! We had chosen the afternoon trip on the advice of others who suggested the mornings tend to be misty. It was also suggested that we sit on the left-hand side of the train for better viewing, but found that it didn't really matter. Once the summit is reached, the double seats are "flipped" over and passengers are requested to switch sides for the descent, thus allowing everyone equal viewing.  On the way up, we waved our best wishes to a hearty group of 12 guys (loading 24 cases of 24's) who were spending a stag night in a cast-aside railcar, in celebration of their buddy's upcoming wedding.

At 3-1/2 hours, the trip is a little long only in that the motion of the train on the return proved to be comfortably lulling, almost enough to induce sleep. The historical significance and points of interest might have been a little more enthusiastically imparted by the unexciting narrator, but overall, would not have missed it and will always recall it with some sense of wonder. The railway is an engineering feat that was accomplished in very little time, at very high risk and under extreme weather conditions. Perhaps a lesson in what man will do to follow the quest for the money.  A definite "must do". The town of Skagway, population only 600, but swells to 2000 in tourist season, for me, was the epitome of how a small gold-rush town in Alaska would look, and wished there was more time to explore. Each shop on the main streets has the façade of an old mining supply store.  While we did dock at Haines later that evening, we decided to forego and just enjoy the ship's activities

GLACIER BAY (Friday, May 10)

Glacier Bay is what Alaska is all about!  The weather was warmer, 55ish, and it was a bright and gloriously sunny day, where we were able to get on deck and enjoy the wonders of nature. On arrival into the Bay proper, the vessel, sort of at a slow and gentle idle, performed a 360 degree, four hour turn around to permit maximum, all angle viewing.   Although the glaciers were not as large as I had anticipated, their untouched splendour and ice-blue colourations are breath taking. They rewarded our  "oos and ahss" of appreciation with several bouts of calving.... sights and sounds not to be missed.  First you hear the booming sound of ice as massive hunks melt away from the main body, then you see the precarious slide into the waters below ending with a thunderous splash!

The waters in the Bay are filled with dredges of ice floes from the calving, such that when viewed in unison with the crystal blue/white backdrop of the glaciers and the white cloud sprinkled blue sky creates a blanket of serenity for which there are few words.  AWESOME!!!

Untouched by humans, except for the tourist laden cruise/tour vessels, who can look but not touch, and who must follow a myriad of very strictly enforced rules and regs while in the Bay, we were pleased to learn that the USA is respecting and protecting this environment. Upon entering Glacier Bay, at the southern end, a U.S. Forest Ranger is tendered aboard and remains with the ship until tendering him back to his home base on the ships departure from the Bay.  His job is two-fold.  He ensures that the rules are being followed to the letter.  He also gladly and knowledgeably answers any questions the passengers may have about the Bay. 

A bit of hysteria occurred among the passengers when someone pointed out a seal, some distance off starboard, lazily sunning himself on a floe. Their hushed squeals of childlike excitement turned into a downright frenzy of euphoria, when, shortly after, a bear was sighted in the frigid waters. With only his head visible in the water, the brown bear was swimming at top speed and we watched in utter fascination as he moved from starboard to port, right across the bow and only a few yards in front of the ship!!  The local bears were only just beginning to come out of hibernation, so all considered this sighting a special treat.   

Other than a few seagulls swooping down to pluck bits of stolen sweet rolls out of a passenger's hand, no other wildlife was seen in the Bay.

What a glorious day!

KETCHIKAN (Saturday, May 11)

Although Ketchikan had been in a five-week drought before our arrival, it truly did stand up to its reputation as being the Rain Capital of North America!!!  We awoke to an all-dayer of belting down, non-stop, relentless, driving rain whereupon the Wal-Mart ponchos were dragged from our suitcases, unsheathed from their plastic cases, and donned, not being removed until, like drowned rats, we straggled back to the ship several hours later, all souvenirs in hand.

Ketchikan is charming, population 8,000. It seemed that each and every shop owner and local who we encountered, went out of their way to make our visit special. You bet, they want you to leave the money behind, but they were all so very gracious about it, you were almost happy to do so. The Creek Street area is touristy but also another "must do"- set on a canal.

Don't shop there, however, unless you are seeking something unique, such as in an artist's boutique. The main souvenir shops (can't miss'em) have the same merchandise for half the price. We did rather enjoy Dollys Place, merrily  balanced on the boardwalk above the canal.  Dolly was Ketchikan's, much loved, very busy madam. At three bucks a pop, she was bringing in 75 to 100 dollars per day in her prime!

Ketchikan is very pretty.  The homes and shops are brightly coloured and welcoming, perhaps deliberately, so as to off set the dreariness of every day rain.

It appears to have developed a cottage industry in knitting/sewing and embroidering shops who offer their wares internationally, on-line. Jean had occasion browsed through a store or two in that vein.

The rain-forest oddity also offers several tours of which we were unable to avail ourselves, but which would be of most interest.

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!

The food, the food, the food!!!!!   Where does one begin????

Being casual by nature, the concept of free-style appealed to us from the beginning.

The freedom of eating when, where, and with whom you wish was an added consideration that we felt would remove any time-pressures if we were enjoying other activities.  

There are two main dining rooms, The Terrance and The Four Seasons, each offering breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Each of these rooms is large, perhaps seating as many as 400 diners, both well appointed and both having magnificent floor to ceiling views. As with most restaurants, some tables are better situated than others. We seemed to go through a bit of a run where we were being seated near main service stations that were a little noisy.  When asked and if possible, the Maitre'D will try to change your table. The wait staff is busy but accommodating, efficient, but fun. There is a most definite hierarchy in place in all dining rooms, from bussers to wine-stewards, to junior servers to room managers to Maitre'D's and each person seems very aware of their raison d'etre.

The food is not haute cuisine, but most certainly more creative than anything at my home table. A typical breakfast would offer fruits, sweet-rolls, cereals, eggs of any variety, bacon, ham, sausage, porridge, French-toast, waffles, pancakes, omelettes, Eggs Benedict, etc, etc. Typical lunches and dinners consisted of salad, soup, appetizer, entrée and dessert courses, selections far too lengthy to list.  The portions are not huge but can be mixed, matched, duplicated and re-ordered, such than no one could ever walk away from a table without groaning   Desserts are not their area of expertise and can be hit and miss.

The Italian restaurant, Trattoria, was a smaller room, perhaps serving 200 and was open for lunch and dinners only.  Strangely enough, although we ate there a few times, I cannot recall having pasta, probably because it is a main staple at home. It was in this room that we noted the one and only "off" experience of the cruise.  The room was unusually busy and frenetic. Diners were waiting too long for service, yet the servers were scrambling madly. Something was amiss!!  That's when the invisible ship's officers became visible. Other than a money-making photo-opportunity with the Captain, the high-ranking officers were never seen. When the brass walked in the room, a large man with a serious scowl, accompanied by a slight, female petty officer, he stood, for a full five minutes, studying each and every station, table, server, diner in the restaurant in an effort to determine where they problem lay. He barked something at his minion and they marched out.  Within five minutes, she had returned with a little army and had taken over as Maitre'D. Whatever had gone wrong in that room had been addressed and rectified by NCL at the first possible opportunity.

The Sport's Bar is the fourth restaurant.  As boisterous as any sport's bar, we often had lunches there as they prepared imaginative ethnic meals where we would sample different taste treats.

The Pizzeria and BBQ Pit can duo as 6.  They were for the very casual pizza/burger/fries meal, but only open in good weather.  We did not have the opportunity to partake at either of these venues.  Oh no - we missed eating somewhere?

Le Bistro is the alternative upscale restaurant, and for a $10.00 per person upcharge we made reservations for the Mother's Day Sunday evening meal.  The room is very intimate, with no more than 10 tables and having an inside exposure, offered no window view.  To compensate, it was elegantly decorated with a refined hand. It sparkled with crystal and silver.  The china was Lamoge. The flowers were fresh, almost as fresh as the charming Richard, our personal host for the evening.  Grilled Pacific Salmon and flaming crepes-Suzette were the order of the day. A wonderful end to a wonderful week.   

The Highlights:

 ·      The porridge, delightfully authentic and served with brown sugar and hot cream.
·       The escargot, suitably awash in a heavily garlicky/buttered, sopping up sauce.
·       The lobster tails, grilled to just done perfection
·       The Beef Wellington served medium rare, but with a duxcelle that would torment Jean before the evening was over. 
·       The rack of lamb, rare inside and encrusted with crunchy pistachios outside
·       The Woodland          soup, served in its tasty little bread bowl.
·       The grilled salmon luxuriating in a light Sorrel sauce
·       The Osso-bucco, falling off the bone and sweet marrow melding     throughout
·       The Caesar salad (there should be a salad somewhere here)
·       The sushi/satay appetizers in the Observation Lounge
·       The Chocoholic Buffet at midnight, outrageously decadent

To quote one of the entertainers, on opening a show,  "Why are you people here, you haven't eaten in 20 minutes"?  "Get back to a dining room."

Special thanks need to be inserted here to our own Personal Food Guru, Nan, who kept us alerted to the daily fare, and especially to the hours of restaurant openings and closings, lest we miss a meal!J   We all offered our combined commiseration at her not attaining the Eggs Benedict Nirvana that she was so salivating. With such vigilance, how was this missed?

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT!

Steve was the Cruise Director. Among others, his staff included our favourites, Carrie, a real go-getter whose antics we enjoyed thoroughly and Bruce, a little more laid back but the perfect straight man for Carrie.  

We first met this dynamic duo at an afternoon horseracing event held in the Stardust Lounge.  Later, Carrie regaled us with a wicked impersonation of our very droll, very monotone Captain that nearly had us on the floor with laughter. They greeted us at the 50's Sock Hop, featuring Elvis impersonators and hula hoops, and the "Who wants to be a Millionaire"? event. They excel at interacting with the passengers and much uproarious hooting and hollering always seems to follow them.

The Jean-Ann Ryan dancers, a troop of top-notch performers, enthralled us with as professional a Bob Fosse/All That Jazz type show, every bit as upbeat as we have seen on Broadway or in Toronto theatres. They were amazing.   Other entertainers, such as Steve de Pass should have special mention.  Of the "shows" that we saw, we would consider them first-rate. Jean & Jackie availed themselves of a few other shows while Nan and I spent, and the operative word here is, "spent", some quality time at the Casino, a venue that I'm not sure should be under the heading of entertainment! Perhaps masochism is a better descriptive!

NCL is reputed to have the best entertainment in the Wonderful World of Cruising, a fact to which we would all agree!   From art auctions, to trivia games, to libraries, to sports activities and programs, to spas, to tours, to Internet access, to TV in your cabin, it would be hard to imagine being bored at any time.  You can be as busy as you wish, or not!

SPECIAL MOMENTS

·       Most definitely first on the list would be the Champagne that Don & Janice arranged to send with their best wishes for a great cruise. We were all very touched by their gesture and toasted the first bottle to their honour, knowing their hearts were with us. Just wish I could have "crashed" it into the bow of the ship, but they wouldn't let me!   The second bottle was hoarded away for our private     tail hour the next evening, where we had a weepy reminisce and toast to Mom and to the entire Murray family and then to the entire ship, and then to the entire Universe.......OH, BROTHER!!! 

·       Next in line, with apologies to Jean, was watching her turn green, no really, I do believe she actually turned a mild shade of mint, at being offered, 'round mid-night of the first evening, an appetizer.  It was just an ordinary appetizer, flaky and warm and served on an attractive silver tray by this particular Bar's very attractive hostess. The mere sight of more food, caused Jean's hand to fly to her mouth, jump to her feet, cry out her apologies to her better practiced sisters and flee the room for fear of, shall we say, emptying her contents in public view.  Nevermind, she stoically soldiered on and acclimated rather quickly after the initial indoctrination.

·       While nothing came to fruition, but perhaps worth a mention, I did become engaged twice on the cruise, both times to staff members of The Wind. Sadly, the older, more experienced, Keith, a womaniser of some fame, would always revert to his mantra, while rolling his eyes, and in his lovely Island lilt,  "Well, it's a long story", when confronted with his indiscretions.  Equally sadly, the younger, but vibrant Lichardi, wanted 10 children! Jackie tried to negotiate 5 kids and a dog and cat, but he was adamant. 'nuff said!!

·       On the last evening, ship heading back into Vancouver, we were taken home by an amazing school, no, schoolyards of Porpoises. Unlike the "baby" ones we had encountered at Juneau, these guys were big, strapping, fun-loving blokes, just a 'rippin and  'playin along side the ship in huge numbers.  It was as if they were enjoying that final, beautiful sunset as much as we.

·       Every moment of every day that we spent together.  Sharing our loves, our heartaches, our hopes, our dreams, enjoying the ease of being together within an aura of non-judgemental love... OOPS, GETTING SAPPY AGAIN. Stop it Marg.

ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END:

It seemed that it had only just begun, and now it was ending with some bitter sweetness holding all of us together until the last moment, helped along by some twist of logistics that had us waiting in the same airport boarding area for each of our homeward flights, only 1/2 hour apart.

It was precisely during that time, that my Old Prince Charming, Roger, who had held my hand so gallantly, just one week before, started to announce the boarding order of Snow White's West Jet flight to Calgary!

He said, "Welcome to West Jet Flight 29, now boarding for Calgary", " For those passengers wearing sandals, you will be boarded first" "Next up will be those with runners, sneakers, or any other type of Sport's shoe".  "Next in line will be the shoeless". "After that, everyone else wearing any other kind of shoe can come on in".

On hearing his words, we all exchanged knowing glances. It had started off as a Fairy Tale just as surely as it was ending as one!.

Next stop, Belize!!

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