Notes from Puzzle Palace

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

St. John's Newfoundland and New York City

July 1

St. John’s Newfoundland

Today we docked at St. John’s Newfoundland.  We pulled open the curtains at 8 am and saw we are much closer than we had anticipated.  This will make for an easy day of wandering around the town.  We’ve nothing exciting we want to do other than the usual puzzle hunting.  I think I should like to have a bit of Lobster for lunch so we will see what is possible.

About 1/2 hour after we woke, they came across and opened the doors for the balcony cleaning.  I had forgotten about this.  George shut the curtains again while I began to edit the first book on our cruise.  

Around 10:00 we decided to get up and go into the town for a walk around.  We got there in time to see the parade. It was short and sweet.  I think there was a band, the Canadian Mounties, a local police group, and some nurses.  When the parade went past, we decided to go take a look at the cathedral.  As always, I took some photos of the beautiful windows.  The church had a wooden ceiling, and a rather eager priest told us there were 14 feet between the ceiling and the stone roof.  

Of course it had some amazing windows.

Our next stop was to the Bagel Café for a bite to eat. We were told this place had good lobster, but there was none on the menu.  Instead, it was an all day breakfast place.  George had a chicken BLT and I had a touton.  I’d never heard of these before so why not.  It was a piece of fried bread covered in baked beans with a sunny side up egg and bacon on top.  They even gave some molasses to dump over all of it.  Now, I passed on the molasses, ate the egg, had some of the beans and cut off some chunks of the fried bread and dunked it in maple syrup. I was told to eat all of it in one bite, but I ended up separating my food. Ok. I’ll not pass as a Canadian I guess.  

From here we walked down main street to take a look around.  I had read that there were a number of local shops that sold puzzles and so we were on our usual hunt.  We found a few puzzles, some jigsaw animals that I liked, but they didn’t have a moose so we passed on those.  We found a cube that George thought might be a snake, but we weren’t sure. The shopkeeper told us it was like a  Rubik’s cube which we knew it couldn’t be but perhaps it was a checkerboarded soma cube.  For $12 we bought it. Turned out to be a snake as expected, but even worse, made in Thailand. So much for local.  

We wandered a bit and saw some interesting buildings. 

After a bit I saw a Tim Hortons and wanted a doughnut but because it was Canada day, they were closed.  So back to the ship we went.  

I spent the next hour packing and shifting and repacking.  All these puzzles really add up in weight.  We have 6 suitcases and each one of them is between 50 and 55 pounds.  There are also 4 carry-ons that we are taking.  I feel much better after doing this.  Now I know we can get home. Provided the flights aren’t cancelled that is. 

After the packing was done, we played a few games before heading down to dinner.  We brought a bottle of port to share with the table after dinner and made plans to meet again on Sunday.  

2 July

Sea Day

My excitement is building.  We have 2 more big sleeps and we will be home again in our own bed.  Today we got up early to play cards.  At 9 we had a game with some people we had just taught "Hand, Knee, and Foot".   The game was very quick, and when we finished, we returned upstairs to take a short nap before lunch.   

In the afternoon we watched a few movies and I finished packing. I should say, packing and unpacking.  This 50 pound weight thing is a real bother when you’ve been on a 6 month cruise.  I also bought 2 more suitcases to be sent via luggage forward.  I’ve been listening to the news and all of the flight cancellations that are expected so we decided it would be safer to send everything on ahead rather than take a chance on something happening at the airport.

We had dinner one last time in Toscana and the meal itself was lovely.  We had a table for 8 and I must say, I do not enjoy that as much.  You can’t talk to everyone at the same time, and the volume increases substantially as people try to talk over one another. As we did last night, we took our port upstairs and shared it around with everyone.  It’s a nice way to end a cruise and an even better way to not waste the delicious drink.

3 July

Sea Day

Today we woke up at a more normal hour, had a nice lie in and did some internet stuff. I ordered probably a dozen more puzzles and George worked on his current designing of one.

We had lunch in the Terrace Café again, and after went to play one last hand of cards with our friends. We will miss these folks and are very glad we made their acquaintance.  

It was a truly lazy day after that.  We know we will hit the ground running when we return home so we’ve been taking advantage of doing nothing while we can.  

Dinner this evening was a grand affair with 4 other couples to say our final goodbyes.  We really  have enjoyed the company of these folks and plan to stay in touch in the future.  Champaign, wine, and chocolate liqueur was shared by all.  It was a pleasant way to end the evening.

4 July

New York City

This marks the end of our 196 day journey.  We made it to the end and I have to say, I’m ready to head back home.  When asked how I feel about the trip, a Japanese saying comes to mind: You’d be a fool not to climb Mt. Fuji once in your life; You’d be a fool to climb Mt. Fuji twice.  (But more on that when I have a chance to digest everything when we get home). 

We woke up around 5:30 this morning filled with excitement.  We are back in the USA!  Last night we were told that we would see the statue of Liberty at around 6:30 so I wanted to go up and see it.  We dressed and headed up to the 10th floor. After a bit I decided to go to 11 and we watched until I spotted Lady Liberty off to our left.  I went running to the side so I could get a good photo of it.  

This was an overwhelming moment for me.  I have never seen it before, and it is breathtaking.  This is what sail-ins should be. I wish all of them were this exciting for me.  I was also overwhelmed because I thought of my family who went to Ellis Island upon their arrival in America.  I can only imagine what my family thought as they came over and saw this impressive statue.  The tears welled inside me when I think of what is happening with the immigrants in the United States now.  It is such a shame that people have forgotten that America was a great melting pot built upon the backs of immigrants. 

There were mimosas, champaign, and bloody mary’s being sold on deck, and salmon bagels, and donuts being passed out. We had a few donuts, watched the Manhattan skyline for a while then returned to our cabin to watch from the comfort of our veranda.  

As we pulled up there was a comedy of errors with the dock hands.  A wooden platform had gotten loose and no one seemed to know how to control it.  We half expected it to be crushed buy the ship, but at the last minute a gent came up with an antiquated hook he found in some back room I’m sure and solved the problem.

At 8:30 or so an announcement was made telling us we no longer had to check our luggage through customs and we would be going through passport control in a few minutes.  We got dressed and off we went. It was a rather fast procedure.  Much much better than when flying back home.  I’m thinking we sail back to the US from now on.  

When all was said and done, we decided to go into the city for a walk around.  I wanted to see Rockefeller center and FAO Schwarz.  We found both, but since the toy store was closed we took a walk down fifth avenue.  We saw the coolest Lego store, but it too was closed.  We then walked on to Central Park.  Here we sat for a while enjoying the tranquility in the middle of the city.  After a while George started to get a bit grumpy and I realized that even though our bodies have caught up with the time change, our tummies have not. 

I loved the Apple Store.  Of course, I looked like a yokel when i took a few photos.

We took a walk and opted for a New York Deli. Sadly, the Hello Deli outside the Colbert Show was closed so we found a different one.  I had to laugh, we had a Modelo beer and a Philly Cheese Steak.  

By this time the toy stores were open.  We first went to the Lego store but there was a crowd control line around the corner so we passed.  FAO Schwarz was a disappointment to me.  I guess I had a different idea in my head.  It was nice enough as far as toy stores go, but I found no puzzles to speak of.  We did get a Rubik’s cube magic set to add to the Rubik’s collection of items we have at home.  

On the way back to the ship we picked up another duffle bag to hold the rest of our stuff.  I wanted to have a hot dog on the street as I’d heard about them and was told they are good.  NO, THEY ARE NOT!  I had this halal hotdog that I’m pretty sure contained no meat.  I ended up tossing it in the bin after one bite.  $5 spent on garbage.  

We walked back to the ship where we watched "The Out of Towers" with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn, then took a nap and then finished packing. 

Around 6 Leslie came on and announced there would be a 4th of July dinner in Waves and the Terrace Café so we opted to go there instead of the main dining room.  Grilled lobster sounds good to me tonight.  But to be honest, I’m looking forward to going home and cooking.  While there, we did see some of the fireworks that were being shot off.  All in all, it was a good way to return to the USA.

5 July

New York to Miami

OMG!  What a cockup! We were supposed to get on the bus at 6 am. Now, first, the paper about disembarkation didn't come until late last night, and then it was only after I called the front desk to find out when we were to get off the ship. They told me 7 am was the time they would start calling us.  I also read the paper and it said in large print disembarkation will begin at 7 am wait for your number to be called.  We waited.  Nothing was called.  Around 6:35 we got a call telling us to comedown or we would miss the bus.  Why did they wait until the bus was leaving to call us.  Well, we missed it.  Now what?  They said they would call a car for us.  

And here is where it all went south and I lost not only my cool, but my dinner from the night before.  I don't do stressful situations well at all. 50 minutes of no one knowing who was to get us the car later, I called an Uber.  $90 to get to the airport.  There was traffic as expected, but the driver managed to get us there within 45 minutes and there was curbside checkin.  Thank goodness! We would be able to make the flight after all. 

When we went through security, we had to stand in the line.  I gave the cruise our TSA and global entry numbers but they didn't make it onto the tickets. There was a lady in front of us who brought a piggy bank full of coins onto the flight and it needed to be opened and all the coins dumped out.  The only problem was, it was a very thick plastic bank and the scissors weren't strong enough to cut through it.  The next young lad wanted to keep his water bottle so he had to go through security again so he could dump his water and keep the bottle.   This of course took up a lot of time.  Why were we being checked?  Because my Tumi backpack has the flight approved computer safe" pouch that had a computer in it. Apparently it's not a thing in the USA.  I honestly didn't know. I've used that bag all throughout Asia and never had a problem with it.  Eventually we got through and headed to the lounge.

Well, the day just keeps getting better doesn't it.  We have first class tickets and no lounge access.  I don't understand US airlines.  I've never not had lounge access with even business class tickets.  We could get in if we have a platinum American Express card, or pay to enter.  George teased about when we get rich, we can pay for it.  I told him I'll never be rich enough to pay for a credit card, or a lounge.  One could argue that perhaps that is why we can afford to take long cruises.  You know, with the price of the cruise, the least they could have done was to get lounge privileges.  Oh well.  We went to a bar to get a beer and a glass of wine for less than the cost of one person to enter the lounge. Now before you judge me for day drinking, read the above again and tell me you wouldn't do the same. 

While in the bar the waitress yelled at me for being in a closed area that had no indication that it was closed.  Fine.  I'm leaving before I explode again. We went to the waiting area and George went over and got us a drink from the same grumpy waitress.  I relaxed.  All we needed was to get on the plane. The waitress told him he was breaking all of the rules when he took the glasses away from the bar. When he later returned them, he gave her a tip of 50%.  Her smile suddenly came back.  She too was having a bad start to the day. 

Great news!  I'm writing this while sitting on the runway.  Even better news, we are in the air.  The stewardess came by with a big smile and a laugh and thought George was a lush when he ordered drinks for both of us.  

We are now at 20,000 feet with a drink in hand and watching Clifford the Big Red Dog as homework for the weekend that is up and coming.  The documentary being done on us is being produced by Jennifer Schweitzer who is an amazing documentarian (can I call her that?) and her husband is along for the ride.  I heard he produced this film so we thought we should watch it.  I resisted at first because I've read god knows how many Clifford books to my bug when she was a child but I am glad we watched it.  It's a funny movie.  Well worth the time.

I'm human.  I've many faults as do all people, but my biggest one is a lack of calmness when problems arise.  I lost my cool today.  More than once.  I'm embarrassed to admit I posted on facebook that I hated the cruise line earlier today.  At that time, I did. I jumped the gun.  But more on that in a future post.  The complete lack of communication was too much for me.  I've calmed down now that we are in the air.  I shall wait to give my opinion on the entire cruise, staff, management, etc. until we get home.  True to my nature, when I post my thoughts, I won't pull punches.  But do give me a few days to get home before I write my final report.  Today was just a bit too stressful for me.  

And I promise, I won't complain about the child behind me who is kicking the seat.  

We landed in Miami about an hour ahead of schedule. When I felt the descent begin, I texted the kid and told her we would be early.  As expected, she got there just after we got our bags.  It's good to be home.  I've missed our beautiful house and was thrilled to make dinner in my own kitchen. It was great to watch a movie on a screen that is large enough for me to see the words on it, and I am so glad to be back in our own bed again. 

I hope you enjoyed traveling along with us as much as I enjoyed the trip.   I’ll now return to my puzzle blogging, but will return to travel posting when it is time for us to move to Italy, and on our next cruise in December.  Until then, Happy Puzzling and Smooth Sailing.


  1. Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories of the trip. We missed this one maybe 2023? Last one on Oceania World was 2019. Thanks again

  2. Thanks for sharing and taking us along on your ATW adventure!!! Loved reading your blog along the way - it certainly was a wonderful experience! I will look forward to reading about your move - -

  3. I have enjoyed all of your blog posts so much! Thank you for sharing, as my husband and I 'saw' so many places with you and your husband, each time you made a new post!

  4. We ALL appreciated your blog and how well written it was…Made us feel like we were cruising with you! All the best in Italy and look forward to your upcoming blogs in that new life adventure👏🥰👏

  5. We loved meeting you! My knee is healing from my accident in canada. Doctors galore for a bit. I will call you before you leave to Italy so we can get together.. Tried to email the ladies list...must have wrong address. Till then...welcome back.