How I Wound up on Another Cruise
By Rhea Albert

I really wanted to go back to Paris having only been there twice.  Checked the airfares – yowza even in steerage.   At the same time I bit the bullet to have my house painted...Double Yowza especially after the contractor found over 200 shingles that had to be replaced.

So now that the bank account has taken a serious hit, thought a cruise would be nice.  And voila: the cruise, even paying double as a single was LESS than the airfare to CDG.  Didn’t have to think twice booking w/my favorite on-line agent in Houston.

So back to the NCL’s Gem for the third time sailing to Halifax, St. John, NB, Bar Harbor, Boston and Newport out of NYC.  So easy to take the LIRR in and grab a cab to the port.

For the third time I chaired Cruise Critic’s Meet & Greet held aboard and nicely attended by officers.   This also gave our group a chance to meet in person, and exchange info to share transportation in ports for those not taking the ship’s excursions. 

The Gem has two main dining rooms, a buffet topside, snack-type café plus 6 specialty restaurants with French, Italian, Sushi, steakhouse etc cuisine...Plus room service. Plus the one night Chocolate Extravaganza.  Food is subjective so all I will say was there was a lot of it.  My all-time fave was the chilled mango soup. I bring my own coffee, though, as theirs is intolerable.

Since I had VIP status I also received other amenities and daily platters of I managed to waddle off the ship is a mystery!

On to the Ports:

The weather was Indian Summer for October and it was gorgeous in all the ports save for one inclement day in St. John. There were a few connected buildings that were so interesting; one being City Market which carried Dulse, a red algae. Harvested off of rocks in the spring & fall, thoroughly rinsed and dried, cooks use it in salads, grain dishes, soups – anywhere one desires a sea-salty flavor. I’m lazy –I’ll just purchase the regular sea salt!

Most people go to Peggy’s Cove in Halifax.  Living on L.I.with our gorgeous beaches,  it didn’t appeal so walked up to the Citadel & later took a ferry over to Dartmouth.

Bar Harbor is such quaint town with whimsical touches as seen here. Even though the government closed Acacia, I managed to have a 1-1/2 hr free ride out to two scenic spots passing the Park on Island Shuttle which is subsidized by L. L. Bean. Hey, wait a minute.... I have an account at LL Bean so guess this wasn’t a free ride after all!

In Boston where I’ve been before, it was catch up time with friends who picked me up and a little touring before a divine lunch at the Boston Club (think Union League in New York)

The final port, Newport was a long tender ride in & a 3 block walk to the very well laid out Tourist Office where I purchased tickets to two mansions - The Marble house owned by William Vanderbilt & Cornelius Vanderbilt’s The Breakers.  One could take a trolley or bus which was so convenient w/a $6 all-day pass.  Wow – what opulence save for the dated kitchen & bathrooms.   Using the audio device, I learned that the Breaker has 70 rooms & over 350 doorknobs which is a weird factoid.

Thus we come to the final night saying good-bye to new friends from Munich, and a few U. S. States.  However, I do see a Germany trip in my future.

This was a lovely respite from the vagaries of everyday life (who doesn’t like to be treated like a queen?) but now when I throw my bath towel on the floor, no one picks it up!

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