Posted by: Gary Guertin | November 27, 2014

5. Nico’s Birthday Cruise – Last Days –Nov. 22&23, 2014

Hi All,

We were awaken on Saturday morning, Nov. 22 with an announcement from the Captain that the winds had reached a little over 30 knots and that he could not safely dock at the Key West port, an open port (no reefs to stop the waves from hitting the docks).  It meant we would have an open day at sea before docking early Sunday in Miami.

Nico spent the day at the Lab, and up near the pool:


You may ask why was Nico up at the pool if he is not in his swimming suit?  The answer should be clear:


You guessed it, the ice cream center, the pizza bar, the hamburger grill, and the soda center are all up on the pool decks and Nico seemed to want to go up there from time to time, lol.

Nico also spent at lot of time in our cabin:


You know why; to watch the Disney channel:


We got through the day and as evening arrived attended the last Disney stage show (which included most of the Disney characters), and finally our last dinner.  You saw the first nights dinner photos, here are the last nights dinner photos:




Needless to say, even though it’s sometime between 9 and 10 PM, Nico looks like the freshest of the three.  It couldn’t be that Misu and I are getting old, lol? 

Before going to bed Nico wrote his last post:

NICO’S CORNER:  My last day was fun, although Key West got canceled.  I went to the lab and played some cool games.  I went to a show and then I had dinner.  Today didn’t go how it was supposed too but it was still great.

The next day we got through customs without any problem:


dropped Nico off with Dirk, went home, and crashed.  It seemed like Nico had  a great time, and we hope he never forgets his first cruise with his grandparents.  Nico gave us his final thoughts:

NICO’S CORNER:  The cruise was amazing, very fun and AWESOME.  I want to thank my grandparents for this.

As for Misu and I, we have recovered, but it appears it’s going to be awhile before we’re off again.  Every time we cruise it seems like coming home to our apartment, our family, and are friends, becomes more enjoyable than the last time (even though we love cruising and hopefully will be going out again).

Until the next cruise:

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu, Papa)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | November 25, 2014

4. Nico’s Birthday Cruise – Nassau –Nov. 21, 2014

Hi All,

On day 4 of the cruise we stopped at Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas.  Nico knew of Atlantis on Paradise Island, and as we neared the port he saw it from the ship:


We arrived at the port:


The three of us headed out for Atlantis, but first had to stop for the welcome signs :




From the port we got an excellent photo of the Disney Wonder:


We grabbed a water taxi for Atlantis and on the way passed many of the celebrities’ houses that are located on Paradise Island, such as:


After getting out of the water taxi we had to walk thru an outside mall called “Paradise Village”.  Here’s Nico and Misu in the Village:



As we passed through the Village, one or the other, Nico or Misu, mentioned that they hadn’t had a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cone in a long time.  Needless to say the Atlantis Hotel could wait:


We finally got to the hotel and as you all know, Misu and Nico had to drag me into the casino:



They did let me get a picture with Nico in one of the beautiful lobbies.


And, of coarse, the king with his servants:


We were very lucky because we no sooner got back to the ship when a heavy rain storm hit us.  The rest of the day we just rested and when 10 PM rolled around at the dinner table Nico was his usual live self:

DSC08369  We put Nico to bed soon there after, but did get his input for the day:

NICO’S CORNER:  Today was a exciting day.  We went to Atlantis and in a casino.  We had lots of fun at the Bahamas.  Thank you so much!

Susy and I were not done at 10 PM, and tonight was our favorite night aboard the Disney ships; the Pirates of the Caribbean Party and the fireworks display all on a large stage on the top decks of the ship.  Here’s the large screen above the stage (which has Disney movies all during the day):


Susy got right into the spirit of the party:


Now I’m going to do something new for the first time.  If you want to join us at the party I’m going to link you to YouTube, so in the first video you can get a flavor for the party and in the second video you can see Mickey and then the fireworks (I’ll warn you the fireworks are long so you can cut it off when you’ve seen enough).  Here goes, put your curser on any point of the title below, hold down the control key and left click your mouse or alternatively put your curser on the title below, right click your mouse, and chose “open hyperlink” from the menu that opens and click on it:  (I do not know about your email versions, but after posting this, I simply put the curser over the two video titles and it changed to a hand.  When it does you just have to left click once or twice and the YouTube video pops up.)

Nico’s Birthday Cruise – Nov. 19 – 23, 2014 – Pirates Party 1


Nico’s Birthday Cruise – Nov. 19 – 23, 2014 – Pirates Party 2

I would appreciate some feedback on how these video links worked and if you want to see more in the future.

Until our next and last post for this cruise,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu, Papa)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | November 24, 2014

3. Nico’s Birthday Cruise –Castaway Cay –Nov. 20, 2014

Hi All,

Day 2 of the cruise found us at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas.  As with Teresa, this is the island were Misu rests, while Nico and I explored the island.  Here’s Nico checking out the beaches before we left the ship:


The ship is all decked out for the holidays (huge Christmas tree in the Atrium), so when we departed the ship we found Xmas decorations on the island first thing:


Nico introduces us to Castaway Cay:



I might remind you if you want to see the pictures enlarged you just have to click on them.

Nico’s first request was to visit Pelican’s Plunge, the famous water tower on the far left beach.  The tower has been moved since Teresa was here, and now they have built a viewing platform right in front of it, so I could get some great videos and pictures of Nico.  Hold on to your hats, because Nico went down it, not once, not twice, but THREE times. Here’s some shots of his experience:


Nico in front of the tower, above, and in line at the top, below:



Out of the shut, above, and into the water (look at how happy he was), below:


We spent a lot of time at the beach, then back to the boat.  I caught Nico in front of the Disney Wonder:


We spent the rest of the day wondering around the ship.   Nico visited the Ocean Lab where he played some computer games, and then later he and Misu played Disney Trivia (you’ll here more about that when we return from the two of them).  Dinner was great because even though Nico wanted to go to a late movie, he gave up at 10 PM and asked to go to bed. What made it great was our special dinner guest:

DSC08303 (1)  Yep, Mickey Mouse and the waiters put on a special parade.  That picture was taken from our table.

We’ll finish with:

NICO’S CORNER:  “Castaway Cay was really fun.  I went on Pelicans Plunge 3 times.  I had a amazing time and I loved it.  Thank you Gagu and Misu!”

That’s it for Castaway Cay, now it’s on to our second port, Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu, Papa)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | November 23, 2014

2. Nico’s Birthday Cruise – Miami – Nov. 19,2014


Hi All,

Today we sailed on Nico’s first cruise from the Port of Miami.  The day is over and Nico is sound asleep at 10 in the evening after having a full day and almost falling asleep at the dinner table ( we’re on the second dinner shift starting at 8:15 PM).  Now you’ll see why!!

We arrived at the port at 1 PM right as planned and we took this family boarding picture which has been our tradition since Gigi, then Teresa, and now Nico:


As soon as we got  aboard, we took Nico on a tour of the ship, the play rooms, the pools, etc., and you know where he stopped us first?  The free pizza shack,  and here he is, clean plate and all (we won’t tell Gigi and Dirk how many he had, lol):


While we were up at the top of the ship, Nico wanted a picture in front of the Miami Port, so here it is:


Next was the Emergency Drill, one of Susy’s favorite past times,lol, and then we pulled away from the pier, and Nico was sailing for the first time:


Nico couldn’t get over the fact we were sailing out to the Ocean.  It was a very exciting time for him.  Soon it was time for the first big show of the evening; “The Golden Mickey’s” and here’s Misu (alias Susy) with Nico waiting for the show to start:


The show was great ending with Mickey and Minnie Mouse dancing the finale.  Soon after it was dinner time, and here are our first dinner photos:



Mickey Mouse was every where, even the ketchup showed him:


Well as you can see Nico, who said he wanted to stay up till midnight, finally gave up at dinner, probably due more to the excitement than the physical activity.  I did get him to contribute to the post, so here it is:


My first day on the cruise was very fun.  I ate ALOT of treats and saw 2 movies.  The play was very nice and inspiring.  I love being out at sea, especially with my family.


I don’t know when I’ll be able to post these so the dates you see them will not be the same as when I write them, but at least I’ll post them in sequence.  Tomorrow is the first stop at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island.  Nico and I are planning to go to the beach, but we’ll have to wait and see how the weather is.  Until then,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu, Papa)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | November 17, 2014

1. Nico’s Birthday Cruise – Nov. 19 – 23, 2014

Hi All,

This one Susy and I are really looking forward too.  We are going on our grandson, Nicholas Mathis’s 10th Birthday cruise.  Some of you may remember we took Teresa (Nico’s sister) on the same cruise back on May 2-6, 2013 (you can scroll down to see my posts from Teresa’s cruise).  The ship is the same, the Disney Wonder (as you can see in my new heading above), and  the itinerary is the same, except in reverse.

Here’s the itinerary:

Cruise Itinerary Nov 19 to 23, 2014 - 001

As with our first Disney cruise with Teresa we’re going to have the great reading pleasure of having Nico join me as a guest writer.  Again your going to get a second view of this cruise from the recipient on his first cruise.  Introducing Nico’s Corner:


I am so excited for the cruise!  I’m really thankful that my grandparents let me go on this cruise.  So if it weren’t for them I would not of been here. Thank You,  Gagu and Misu!


That’s it kids.  My posts from here on will depend on my guest writer, who may be a little busy, so until then:

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu, Papa)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | November 16, 2014

6. Susy’s 49 Birthday Cruise – Ft. Lauderdale, Nov. 8, 2014

Hi All,

AUTHORS NOTE:  WordPress, the web master for my blog now sends you a complete post with the post notice email.  If you want to read only that post quickly it’s there, but you should know that by clicking once on the blue title, it will take you to my blog web site where you can not only see that post, but any changes I have made to it, or the site, and scroll to older posts or cruises.

Let’s get started with the last post on Susy’s Birthday Cruise.  I want to cover the cruise from start to finish in order to fill in some photos and information I have missed in previous posts.

First some pictures from our departure on Nov. 1st:

723  739

Above Susy and I at the sail-away party with FT. Lauderdale in the background. Next our first nights dinner photos:



Now let’s go around the ship, the MS Westerdam, 935 ft. long by 106 ft. wide.  The Westerdam holds 2125 passengers and 805 crew, moving at a max speed of 23 knots (26.45 mph), and is a 82,000 tons ship. 

First “Susy’s Suite”:





That’s a hot tub (with shower) and separate shower on the left.

Most of the rest of the ship is like all of the other Holland American ships, a casino is a casino, a theater is a theater, and a dining room is a dining room, but here’s some of the original art that you found on the Westerdam:

DSC08176  DSC08175

and the pools (the middle one with retractable roof):

DSC08152 DSC08168 

To wrap up the cruise I want to say it was great for me too see Susy so happy.  There’s no doubt that in addition to the pleasure of cruising, meeting Julz and Will (especially Susy and Julz at the Blackjack table) made this cruise a great one.  As I finish this cruise post I want to show you our last dinner pictures again so you compare how we changed. In a short cruise like this you won’t see much, I gained 10 lbs, but you can’t tell (lol) and Susy looks as lovely and happy as when she left.



and finally as we go thru customs at the end of our 24th cruise, we can only think of the next one; Nov. 19th with Nicholas (Nico):


See you next on “Nico’s Cruise”,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu, Papa)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | November 11, 2014

5. Susy’s 49 Birthday Cruise – Half Moon Cay, Nov. 7, 2014

Hi All,

Although the title of this post is Half Moon Cay, Nov. 7th, 2014, I want to first back up to Thursday, Nov. 6th, a day at Sea.  It was a normal day except Susy and I were really looking forward to the evening because we were going to celebrate two birthdays at the Pinnacle Grill and after.  First I have to introduce you to our new friends.  Susy, as usual, was having a quiet night at the Black Jack table early this week when she started talking to a lovely young lady from South Carolina.  It became clear immediately that Susy had met another “party animal” and for the rest of the cruise the two met nightly at the Black Jack table and made life miserable for the casino staff and especially the casino manager.  That lovely lady was Julia Alexander, better know as Julz or by Susy as “Honey Julz”.  Susy to Julz became “Mama” and needless to say I became “Papa”.  So now you know, we have adapted another daughter.  Julz was accompanied by her boy friend of 8 years, William (Will) Beasley.  Will is a great guy, quiet and shy like me (lol), so the four of us got along great during the cruise.   Susy and Julz had a very happy time together and both agreed they made each others cruise one of their best (I have never seen Susy laugh so much).  This leads me to Thursday night at the Pinnacle, because we had invited Julz and Will to dinner to celebrate Will’s birthday, Nov. 6th, and then play Black Jack to midnight when it became Susy’s birthday.

Here’s Julz and Will:


and the four of us:


Needless to say, we had a wonderful night and when Susy and I got back to the cabin about three in the morning, I played the video of all our family and best friends wishing her a Happy Birthday.  Wish you all could have been there, because she was so touched she actually shed some tears.  I can’t thank you enough for your contributions because believe me it made her birthday.

We were only going to be at Half Moon Cay from 8 AM to 2:30 PM, so since Susy and I had been there several times we passed going ashore.  Of course it had nothing to do with the few bottles of wine we had during the last evening and the fact we finally got to bed at four AM.

I did get a few shots from the ship:





I didn’t see the famous Pirates Ship bar so can’t confirm it’s still there.  Susy and I ended her wonderful day again in the Pinnacle Grill.  Here’s a few photos:

DSC08177  DSC08183  DSC08185

and finally, a photo of Susy before going to bed with her “witch hat”.  This hat was given to her by Leo and Alicia Operti at her “29th” birthday. She was wearing it so it would give her 20 more years of love, health, and happiness.


That’s it for Susy’s 49th birthday.  I want to finish this cruise with one last post in a day or two because I was just able to restore some photos I took on day one.  In addition, I want to show you some photos of the Westerdam since it was our first cruise on this ship.  Until then:

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu, alias Papa)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | November 9, 2014

4. Susy’s 49 Birthday Cruise – Philipsburg, SM, Nov. 5, 2014

Hi All,

The third and last main port “we” visited was Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of the island known as Sint Maarten or St. Martin if your on the French side of the island.  The island is the smallest land mass in the world (37 sq. miles) divided between two governments, 21 sq. miles governed by the French and 16 sq. miles governed by the Dutch.

Susy was not up to going ashore (too much partying), so I struck out on my own and was lucky to find a hot spot and get off the second post to you.  As I’m writing this on our last day at sea, it will now be Saturday, Nov. 8 before you see more posts.

Let’s look at Philipsburg.  The port:

DSC08085 DSC08091 

As I started out to the port I first encounter the ships port sign:


The Dutch side of the island may be smaller, but economically it is visited by most of the tourists because it was first established as a duty free port.  Philipsburg is only four streets wide and a mile long but manages to captivate most of the island visitors.  Let’s look at the port from the entrance:


Just to show I was there:


A map of the island:


As I returned to the ship I got this photo of some of the hill side homes:


and as we sail away a look back at the port:


Tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 6th, we have a day at sea and then on Friday, Nov.7th our last stop, Half Moon Cay, the Holland American island, on the big day, Susy’s birthday.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | November 8, 2014

3. Susy’s 49 Birthday Cruise – San Juan, PR, Nov. 4, 2014

Hi All,

Our second port was San Juan, Puerto Rico.  We have visited San Juan twice, first in November of 1989 via the “Costa Carla” and again in Aug. 1991 via the “Costa Riviera” with the Operti’s and the Rodney’s.  How about this:

1991 St Thomas 24 to 31 Aug (14)

and how about those “tans”?

Back to the present, San Juan’s old city hasn’t changed much since we visited last 23 years ago (neither have we, lol).  Since I wasn’t writing a blog in 1991, I’ll briefly cover some history of Porto Rico.  San Juan was founded in 1521 by Ponce de Leon and is the oldest city in U.S. territory.  Considered the Gibraltar of the West Indies, the “Old City” is famous for its many forts (5) and city walls, seen from the ocean as you enter San Juan’s harbor.





We docked next to that Carnival cruise ship and Susy and I started out to tour San Juan:



As you see on the harbor promenade there were many vans and trains, so we jumped aboard one of those vans and took a one-hour tour of the city.  We first passed one of the most beautiful marble buildings I have seen, the capital building of Porto Rico:


Our driver said the marble has never been cleaned.  The first stop was a row of life size statues of all the US presidents who have visited Puerto Rico.  Susy stopped to pose for a photo with JFK:


Actually the “Old City” is separated from the new city by a bridge which is famous because it is legal to jump off it, which many PR’s do from time to time:


We took a short drive through the new city and headed back toward the old city, stopping along the coast for some pictures.  This coast line is beautiful, but you can see why it was so difficult for enemy ships to approach the old city of San Juan.  This coast line is a surfers paradise, with waves up to 42 feet high at times.  Here’s some looks at the coast:




As we entered the “Old City” it was forts and walls:



San Juan has it’s “ocean front” poor town.  Our driver said no one would go down into that area unless they lived there, to dangerous.


Toward the fort at the point of the harbor, behind is its graveyard.  Susy and I stopped for a photo:


On the way back to the ship, we passed through the old city streets to our cruise pier:



The day was rainy so our tour in the van was pleasant and we got to see a lot more than when we had previously been in San Juan.  One of the interesting stories the driver told us was that Puerto Rican’s hated the U.S. when it first came under its control because the Spanish and U.S. negotiated and signed the treaty of transfer of control in Paris and no PR’s were asked to participate or attend.  This went on for many years, but today there is not so much hatred because PR’s do not (I said do not) pay any US federal taxes, but have access to all federal handouts (i.e. food stamps, etc.). Not bad!!

On to Sint Maarten, Wednesday, Nov. 5.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | November 5, 2014

2. Susy’s 49 Birthday Cruise – Grand Turk, Nov. 3, 2014

Hi All,

First I have to bring you up to date with our Birthday Cruises.  I told you “Nicholas’s 10th Birthday cruise, Jan. 28th thru Feb. 1st, 2015”, but it’s been moved up to Nov. 19th thru 22nd, 2014, so Susy and I will just get back from this cruise and have to be off again with Nico.  Actually we’re happier because we get to have him on a cruise earlier.

Now let’s get back to Susy’s 49th Birthday Cruise.  I have to tell you that I don’t know when I’m going to post this because this is Susy’s cruise and she says we will not buy internet time on the ship.  It means that when we get into a port, if we have time and find a Wifi hot spot, we’ll catch up with postings, email, etc..  We sailed out of Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, Nov. 1st on the Westerdam and spent all day Sunday, Nov. 2nd at sea heading for Grand Turk (the capital island), Turks & Caicos, a string of islands where, in the 18th century, many pirates stashed their booty.  It was located right along the major trade routes to Europe, and was a frequent stop for seafarers.  Recently, Grand Turk became the landing site for John Glenn’s (the first American to orbit the earth) space capsule, Friendship 7.  Glenn said, as he spotted the coral islands “it must be paradise”.  There was an American Air Force base on the islands and Glenn actually stayed there after he splashed down just off the coast.  In space history it’s known as “Splashdown at Grand Turk”.  Today the islands draw visitors from around the world to its miles of pristine white beaches and world-class snorkeling spots filled with beautiful reefs and abundant marine life. 

Finally let’s look at some photos from our stop over in Grand Turk Island:

The port from the ship:


Just a narrow island with no hills or mountains.  Next the Port Terminal from the ship:


and the boat disembark sign:


Since this is Susy’s cruise I’ll be showing a lot of her, beginning with her new hat in front of the entrance to Grand Turk Island:


A welcome sign:



As we entered the port we stepped into a 14 acre shopping plaza:


Susy likes all the shops, especially the ones with “cool fronts”:


As I said Grand Turk is where John Glenn splashed down after being the first American to orbit the earth.  On Grand Turk we found this plaza to commemorate his “Splashdown Grand Turk”:


Even I got a picture with John:


On the way back to the ship, one last good-bye from Grand Turk:


A quick look down the beautiful beaches:


Finally, Susy and I climb on-board our ship for another night of good food, wine, and with luck, a winning night at the casino:


I’m finishing this post after us stopping in our second port, San Juan, Puerto Rico.  I will try and post it at our next port, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, tomorrow.  If I do get a chance it probably will be my second and only post until we get back next weekend, Nov 8th.  Sorry I can’t keep you up-to-date, but access to the internet is tying my hands.  Susy says I should stay cool and enjoy her cruise, which I can tell you we BOTH are.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

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