Posted by: Gary Guertin | July 28, 2015

3. Viking Cruise – July 25th-27th – Amsterdam

Hi All,

I left you at the end of Post 2, with us not going out Sat. July 25 because it was raining so hard.  Well, thank the Lord, or somebody, because Amsterdam had one of it’s worst wind storms ever.  A tree over 6 feet wide was blown over right in front of the hotel and 6 cars were smashed. Thank goodness no one was hurt.

On Sun. July 26th we started our day at the breakfast patio of the hotel, how’s this:


Since it started out a nice day we decided to walk to Susy’s #1 priority to see in Amsterdam ‘The Van Gogh Museum”. Here’s Susy way out in front to get to the museum, and in the meantime we can look around at a typical street view of this area:



This area where the hotel is located is noted to be the richest area in Amsterdam, and for the city you can feel the wealth here.  We finally reached the area which is known as the museum quarter.  In the next photo you will see straight ahead and far away is the famous Rijksmuseum, the largest and most important museum in Amsterdam.  It has the largest collection of Dutch artists and most extensive collection of Dutch artifacts. On your left (the circular building) is the back of the Van Gogh Museum where we are going today, and next to us on the left, out of the picture is the Stedelijk Museum:


Since no photography is allowed in the Van Gogh Museum I can’t show you any of the masterpieces.  This museum has the largest collection of Van Gogh’s in the world: 200 paintings, 400 drawings, and 700 letters of his and his friends.  I will show you one of his famous “self portraits” and one of the house he lived in:




OK, they are only street signs, but what do you expect from me, the real thing? 

Let’s move on to Mon., July 27th and certainly our favorite day in Amsterdam, because we were going to see Dirk’s family: Carla (his mom), Nico, (his uncle), and Riek (Nico’s wife).  Susy and I were invited to the famous “Amsterdam Leidscheplein” or the “American Cafe”.  This is were the artists, the rich, and famous of Amsterdam have stopped in to have tea, eat, or drinks for many years. Here’s the “Familia”:



We had over two hours of “catching up and looking forward”, oh, and a little wine and somebody must of had tea, lol.  I also want to show you a shot of the inside of this cafe which has been around for many, many years (I didn’t get from when) but Nico said it was in it’s original decoration:


Leaving the family, Susy and I just stepped out the Cafe door and there was a canal touring boat, so since it was early we decided to take a one hour tour of the city.  Since this post is getting very long I’ll just show you a lot of pictures with few words.  OK, let’s go, first a houseboat, since many of Amsterdam’s people live on their boats, paying taxes based on the size of the boat and the time they will be parked there.  Many have been there for years:


This is a typical street scene from the canal:



Look at the white little balcony (in the street behind) right above the houseboats two double (white) front doors.  That little white building is the narrowest in all of Amsterdam, and probably Europe.  I think our Captain said 4 1/2 feet wide (I could be wrong, but not by much).  Speaking of the Captain here he is sharing his tour guide comments with his little “digital” friend, the computer with the tour in three languages:


A lot of new high rises are beginning to appear in Amsterdam, not to the liking of the old city dwellers.  Here’s one where the apartments run into the millions of dollars:



The Captain said I had to show the next photo, the hottest night spot in Amsterdam.  You are nobody unless you show up at this “night playground”:


Another typical street scene from the boat:


The National Opera House:


A look down the canal as we are nearing the end of our cruise:


And finally Susy in front of our cruise boat as we finished our day’s tour:


Now, having finished our tour, all you red blooded men (and boys) are going to say where is the photos of the famous “Red Light District” of Amsterdam.  It is precisely for the point that I hope my lovely grandchildren (Love You Two) are now following my posts, so therefore I will try and maintain a higher level of intellectual exchange with yourselves (ha, ha).  Stick around men, I’ll try and get RLD pictures the next time I come.

I’m going to close here.  Tomorrow, Tues, 28 July, Susy and I plan to just rest and get ready for the cruise.  On Wed. 29 July we will board the Prinsendam, and spent that day getting settled aboard the ship, so some day soon after that you should here from me again.  The first port is Eidfjord, Norway on July 31th.

Until next time,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | July 25, 2015

2. Viking Cruise – July 22-24 – Amsterdam

Hi All,

As I write this post, we are safely tucked away in a lovely hotel in Amsterdam trying to get up enough energy to get out and see the world.

Here’s how the story goes from our departure out of Miami until today.  We started out on an Iberia flight to Madrid which left one hour late.  This would not have been a problem except we had a connecting flight one hour after we were supposed to arrive in Madrid.  There’s a long story about our arrival in Madrid which Susy will be happy to tell anyone who mentions Iberia Airways, but needless to say it wasn’t a happy experience, and after a 11 1/2 hour delay we finally got our connecting flight to Amsterdam.  We started out well (even thought we were in steerage class) as you can see:



In steerage class you don’t have a great choice of Champaign, but since it was free and wet, who could complain. 

We finally arrived late in the evening of the 23rd of July and checked into our hotel, and that’s when we received our first good news of the trip.  We were being up-graded to a mini suite with a small living room, bed alcove, and floor to ceiling windows overlooking one of Amsterdam’s many canals.  As a matter of fact, the junction of several canals.  You can imagine that Susy and I immediately headed straight for the bar to celebrate, and here’s our toast to you from the beautiful Wyndham Apollo Hotel in Amsterdam:


And now you start to get a view from our lovely hotel bar, which is right next to our room on the same level (this is that evening, I’ll show you more during the day later):



The next day, Friday, the 24th, and today, the 25th, we have just spent lounging around the hotel and getting use to the time change.  As you will see it’s hard to get up and leave such a beautiful location, and not only for it’s beauty but it’s peacefulness.  Have a look:




Our room right in front, the center one:



As is our custom when traveling Susy and I take a picture of each other every evening at dinner, just to record how the day has gone.  We won’t burden you with all those photos, only for the first and last nights of our trip.  This will give you a sense of how the trip went, as it does to us daily.  Here’s the first night:



Getting up this morning and looking at the view out our window:


We thought we would be going out for a long day of touring today, but just after I took this photo a bad rainstorm blew up and we were “forced” to stay at the hotel and have another peaceful day.  What a life!!!! 

That’s it for today, I’ll be back to you in a few days, as we see how the weather develops.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | July 18, 2015

1. Viking Cruise – July 29, 2015 – Itinerary

Hi All,

As you can tell from the header and the title of this post, Susy and I are off again.  I have titled this cruise the Viking Cruise, because as you will see from the itinerary below we are sailing into Viking land, including Norway and Iceland.  Holland American officially calls the cruise “21-Day North Cape & Spitsbergen Explorer”, so you see why I renamed it the “Viking Cruise”.  The cruise starts July 29th, but we’re leaving next Wednesday, July 22nd (my birthday) to spend the time touring  the Amsterdam area.  Susy is very excited because Amsterdam’s museums have some of the most important art works in the world. 

OK, let’s look at the cruise which, as I said, starts July 29 aboard the MS Prinsendam.  This ship is “supposed” to be the crown jewel of the Holland American fleet and its smallest.  It only holds about 800 passengers, and past travelers have nothing but praise for the service, etc..  I’ll cover it with photos and facts at the end of the cruise.

The itinerary:

Intinerary - Viking Cruise 29 Jul - 19 Aug 2015 -001

Sorry to be so late in getting this post out, but the trip was virtually finalized last night (we had some options to extend the trip which were rejected).

My next post should come some time after the 22nd when we have had some time to look around Amsterdam.

If you are viewing these posts for the first time and want to follow us, you can sign up with your email to get notices each time I post (in the right hand column under “Follow Blog via Email”).  For everyone, if you have any comments or questions, just hit “leave a comment” at the end of each post.

Until the next post:

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

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)

Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.