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Old April 19th, 2008, 07:14 PM
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Day 2 Alexandria – Apr.19
I have absolutely incredible news today from Alexandria… the self serve soft ice cream machines work now! I had the Raspberry.

The Jade spent the overnight tied up at the pier in Alexandria. There were a large number of passengers who spent the night in Cairo, to extend their ability to tour the Cairo area. This morning there were many buses at the pier once again, for all those who’d booked tours of Alexandria.

On our previous visit, less than a year ago, we did a major tour, so I made the decision this time to Freestyle – sleep ‘til whenever. I awoke, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, and set out to wander the area of Alexandria closest to the docks, on my own.

If your ship overnights in Alexandria as the Jade does, and you’re up for a bit of adventure, as opposed to the ship’s tour, it is possible. Just as you exit the ship you pass a small bazaar (shopping area) selling Egyptian souvenirs. Continuing on towards the bridge that exits the docks, to the left are many taxis waiting to offer passengers tours. It seemed here you could quite easily get a tour of some of the major sites in the brochure for a couple of hours for less than $20. Several offered me a one hour tour for $5. But, who knows if I would have been brought back to the ship for that price, or sold into slavery.

I had decided I was just going to let my feet do my touring, and be my guide. As I exited the gate for the docks, I had to show my passport (keep it with you, and keep it safe). Exiting the gate you immediately step into the hustle and bustle of Alexandria. First you pass through the gauntlet of livery drivers, offering horse and buggy tours. After saying no thank you 40 times, I found myself standing in the street, almost in the center of a busy traffic circle. Getting back to a sidewalk, I began to stroll. The first thing I found is there are no traffic signals. To cross the streets you simply have to estimate the amount of traffic flow, and its speed, and determine if you can get to the other side of the street without being hit. I think the Egyptian drivers view the pedestrians as entertainment; not real desire to bounce you off their hoods, but enjoying the frightened looks on your faces.

As I wandered the streets I found it interesting that the best looking buildings faced the main boulevards, but at each corner, if you looked off the boulevard, the conditions deteriorated quite quickly.

As you stroll, every building seems to have small shops selling something. Some of the store fronts are just kiosks, no larger than 20 sq. ft., but these are obviously the livelihood for many citizens. Each one you pass invites you to come in a take a look at their goods. It would have been easier to stroll if I was wearing a T-shirt that said No Thank You in BOLD letters!

However, it should be noted that I did not ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Mind you, it was broad daylight, and I’m 6’ 4” and depending on when I last ate, about 220 lbs. (since I’m in Egypt, make that 100 Kilos).

Wandering down several side streets it seemed almost each street led to another market or bazaar. If you’re not easily intimidated it can make for some interesting shopping, or just sight-seeing. It does also require a bit of a sense of direction. If you wander from the main street some of the side street markets do take some twists and turns. I left the ship about 10 A.M. and walked back onboard about 1:00 P.M. In the three hours I saw quite a bit, and said no thank you 19,203 times.

Returning to the ship I found many more of my fellow passengers onboard than the previous day. The sun was shining brightly, with temperatures in the mid 80s Fahrenheit, so I went out to relax by the pool. The “Waikiki Pool” area is amongst my favorite at sea. I’m not sure why, but it feels much larger and more wide open than those on other ships. There are two pool areas, and the one beneath the Bali Hai Bar, as well as the whirlpools on that side are clearly marked Adults Only. This pool has a nice “feature” water fall on one end. The other, larger pool, where children are allowed, has a large water slide.

The Pool Deck has a considerable number of tables and chairs, which is appealing to me personally, as I’m not a sun-lounger type (I feel I am going to be stretched out horizontally soon enough).

With the Freestyle 2.0 upgrades, all the sun-loungers have flip up signs to call for bar service. Though amusingly, one of the other writers, Jennifer Glatt, noticed one of the flip signs has a typo. (Well, I “to” was amused; the NCL Public Relations people probably not so much. ).

The pool-side waiters also carry spray bottles of cool Evian water to spray to cool off guests in the hot sun.

Considering that bottles of Evian are sold in the cabin mini-bars for $640 a bottle, I just take an empty bottle to the pool and have the waiters spray directly into my bottle each time they pass by.

Upon returning to my cabin this afternoon I found a letter of apology from the Front Desk Manager to Sam Sonite and I for our separation, along with a copy of the incident report. I understood from the get-go that NCL was in no way responsible for losing my luggage, and did everything they could, with many ship to shore phone calls, to locate Sam.

Sadly I think this is a problem faced by all the cruise lines sailing throughout Europe, with guest arriving from all reaches of the globe. It’s truly surprising to me that so many people’s luggage does arrive to its intended destination. Those of you who’ve been reading my cruise reports for some time know that I am the lightning rod poster child for air travel fiascos. Hopefully my record in this department reduces the odds of it happening to you.

This has now passed, and I’m now feeling great and so relaxed, I think I’m going to just open my closet doors and stare at my things for several hours.

The ship left Alexandria about a half hour later than scheduled due to some late arriving tours. Three more travel writers joined the group today as well. We met for cocktails, then enjoyed dinner in the Teppanyaki Room, the Benihana style Japanese restaurant (cover charge $25 per person). At this restaurant the entertainment provided by the chefs is almost as important to the experience as the quality of the food. The room seats 32, at four different cooking tables, and there are 4 dining times available each evening.

BTW… an important note, and savings, for those who like to dine early; in Cagney’s, Le Bistro, Papa’s Kitchen, and Jade Garden, if you dine between 5:30 and 7:00 P.M the cover charge is 2 for 1! So you can eat early, and eat often!

Tonight at 10:30 was another event held that is yet another extension of the Freestyle 2.0. It’s the “White Hot Party” held in the Spinnaker Lounge. There’s no cover charge for this event. Everyone is encouraged to wear white, and there’s “White Hot Party” T-shirts for sale outside the door, for those who didn’t pack anything white. I was surprised to find the room jumping when I entered.

The cruise activities staff created a very high energy atmosphere; they got very involved with the passengers instigating the fun, and it was obvious a great many of the passengers were enjoying it. I was taken by the size of the crowd in attendance after two very full and busy days in Egypt. There was even a “special” appearance by members of the bar staff, called the “Ship n’ male Dancers”.

Paul Baya

AnneMarie Mathews of NCL, and Armando DaSilva, Hotel Director

Sailing the port intensive, tour intensive itinerary that we’re sailing, some lines would scale back on the events and activities they schedule. This is most certainly not the case with Freestyle 2.0. In fact, there’s been so much going on throughout the cruise I haven’t found the time, or sometimes the energy, to check out all the entertainment options available. Simply put, it’s just not possible to do it all during the course of one cruise, even if it is a 13 day cruise. You really do have to “Chose to Whatever”.

I'm certain, along the way, reading this you've noticed my own typos and grammatical errors. Just please give me a bit of leeway, as I am writing many of these late at night, when returning to my cabin.
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