Dubrovnik, Croatia

Posted on 7/7/2007 2:26 PM local time

We gathered for dinner last night, our first gathering for dinner on the ship, and of course, it was an excellent meal. Our server/waiter’s name is Viola. She is Polish and she is both funny and an excellent server. (She works so hard that you never notice the food and drinks appearing on your plate an in your glass. It is almost magical.) On this first night actually dining on the ship, I started with the Pear Ballini soup, which is served cold, but is actually quite good. For the main course, I had a shrimp diavalo, which was outstanding. For dessert, I had the Princess Love Dream Boat, which is a heart shaped serving of chocolate mousse, my absolute favorite. And because I could, I had a second helping of dessert, this time vanilla bean gelato.

After dinner, Jen, Jason and I roamed the ship for a while. We went to the basketball courts at the top of the ship and played a game of Horse. This after a few shots of Tequila, which made the game interesting. Even so, we didn’t go to bed late and after the basketball game, we gradually made our way back to our respective rooms and went to sleep.

I was up at about 7 AM and headed for a quick breakfast with the family before we headed to the tender to the city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. We dropped anchor about a mile or so outside the city, in the old port and so we had to take a tender in. The ride was about 20 minutes and we managed to make the first tender. The cruise staff did an excellent job of managing lots and lots of people. We never had to wait in a line. Things moved very smoothly and before we knew it, we set foot on Croatian soil.

Dubrovnik is an impressive city. It is very old, and is completely surrounded by a wall. Parts of the city were shelled during the civil wars in the 1990s and you’ll occasionally see structures that have been shelled and never been rebuilt. But for the most part, the city is absolutely beautiful. In it’s day, it was the only major rival to Venice, which resides a couple hundred miles northwest. We took the tour of the city walls. It cost 7.50 Euro per person. You climb steps up to the wall and can then walk the wall around the entire city. It’s roughly a 1.5 mile walk and it took us 2 hours to do it. I took something like 200 pictures and some of the views of the city and the ocean (with the ships in the background) are truly spectacular. The walls are very old and in some places, the stairs are very steep, but I had an amazing time getting a birds-eye view of this old city.

After walking the wall, we wandered around the streets for a while. I saw all that I wanted to see, so Dad and I grabbed a tender back to the ship while Mom, Jen and Jason stayed in town. I was back on the ship by 11 AM and headed for the fitness center, where I squeezed in a cardio workout as well as a decent abs workout. There was only one other person in the fitness center with me the entire time that I was there.

At noon, I headed out to one of the pools on the ship. I picked my spot, and planted myself there for four hours, soaking in the sun, drinking Sprite and an occasional Mai-Tai, and munching on hot dogs and fries. They play music at the pool and I occasionally listened to my iPod or read my book. It was a very relaxing four hours, and this pool got steadily more crowded as more and more people returned from their journey’s to Dubrovnik.

I had a massage scheduled at 4:15 PM, a regular “Swedish” massage, the first of 4 that I have scheduled. I was at the spa at 4 PM and at 4:!5, I was ushered into the treatment room for my massage. My arms and my ab muscles were pretty sore from an intense arms and shoulder workout the other day, but I was too embarrassed about this to tell the masseuse. The massage was great. It was a full body massage and though at times it was painful, I felt pretty relaxed when it was all over. I have to say that 50 minutes goes very, very fast when you are laying there. My next massage is first thing Sunday morning and that massage is a sports massage. Hopefully, my muscles won’t be as sore then.

Tonight is the first of two formal nights on the ship, so after my massage, I headed back to my cabin, showered and then dressed in my black suit with a black tie and shined shoes. The family met in my parent’s suite for a drink before heading down to the dining room for dinner. Of course, everyone was dressed for dinner, and many of the gentlemen were wearing tuxedos (my Dad was wearing one!). The waiters were dressed formally as well, and in a way, it was like dining at the Rainbow Room. The ship left the port of Dubrovnik at about the time dinner started.

We had a very nice champagne with dinner and I started my meal with a blue crab quiche. Jason and I also shared a smoked duck appetizer with jam and it was excellent. It was the first time I’ve ever had duck and I very much enjoyed it. For the main course, I had two filet mignons, both of which were excellent. I cleaned my plate. For dessert, I had the chocolate mousse again, of course, as well as a chocolate soufflĂ© that our server recommended.

After dinner, we all met up in the Adiago bar for drinks. I had a shot of Patron as well as a shot of Jaeger. Jen, Jason and I bar hopped to another bar, Crooners, for one more drink, and then we wandered the upper decks of the ship, looking for a dark place to see the stars. We found one just outside the fitness center toward the very front of the ship. There, the stars were everywhere. The Milky Way was clearly visible, spilling its dusty light across the sky. We saw 2 shooting stars and a couple of satellites. It was very warm and comfortable out, even for 11 PM.

After that, we headed back to our cabins to call it a night. We are heading to Corfu, Greece tomorrow, and Greece is in the Cairo time zone so we had to turn our clocks ahead before going to bed. That means we are now 7 hours ahead of Eastern time, and 10 hours ahead of Pacific time. So for friends reading this in Santa Monica, Pam, CJ, and all you others, when it is 8 AM there, it’s 6 PM here.

Tomorrow, we are in Corfu, Greece and I am planning on staying on the ship in this port and taking the day to relax and soak up some sun.