Iceland Cruise 2019


Diary of Roger and Linda's Iceland Cruise - September 2019


091019 day 0 We drove our one day rental car from home today to the San Diego airport to catch our AA flight to Dallas and then to Iceland to begin our 16 day Iceland to NY cruise on Oceania with my sister Joanne & David, and our friends Kathy & Conrad.

 

091119 day 1 It was a long gruesome plane trip from Dallas to Reykjavik. We did have upgraded seat with additional 8” of leg room. We only had one bathroom for perhaps 75 people. Some times the line was up to 8 people long. The plane was loaded with seniors who could barely get out of their seats much less walk to the bathroom. It was amazing how long some would stay on the pot - up to 15 minutes. It was a 7 hour flight and we had a snack, dinner, and breakfast. The snack and the breakfast was not bad, but the dinner was equal to the worst food I have ever had on a commercial airlines. The carrier was American Airlines. We arrived at 8:45am 15 minutes early and were collected by the Oceania transport company after we picked up our luggage. It took about one hour total for our bus to reach our ship in Reykjavik. We began check in successfully, but cabin was not ready for nearly 3 hours. The buffet was open so we had lunch. Kathy and Conrad arrived and met us for lunch. There suite was ready so we spent 2 hours waiting for our non suite cabin. Our cabin was ready when promised at 3:00pm and we took our carry on luggage in and started unpacking. Twenty four hours since we were last in bed!! We slept for 3 hours and got ready for our first specialty restaurant at the Polo Grill. I had a glass of Argentina Malbec wine, caesar salad prepared table side, french bread, foie gras mushrooms in pastry appetizer, lobster & fillet mignon steak, asparagus, and key lime pie. All was very good except the pie which was too tart. The foie gras and lobster were the highlights of the meal. YUM YUM
The ship left our port at dinner time and traveled all night 200 miles to Isafjordour. The first 2-3 hours was quite high rough seas. I headed to bed fast to avoid sea sickness.

 

091219 day 2 Linda and I got up about 6:30 am and had breakfast at the 12th floor buffet at 7:30 am. Returned to room to prepare for our excursion. The 6 hour bus tour excursion we had booked was called “PIcture Perfect Iceland” a tour designed for photographers. It went off into the mountains on a some what scary two lane road that was undergoing repair in several areas. These areas were usually volcanic earthen roads with steep drop offs on both sides making me very uneasy. We stopped about 8 times for short photo opts. The first one was small herd of Iceland horses at very close range with nice mountain and farm house back drop. We continued on past several lakes and mountain look outs stopping for photo opts. We also did a couple of thermal pools similar to Yellow Stone NP in US We stopped at noon time at local town restaurant having fish soup and bread for lunch. The fish soup was best I have ever ate. We continued on to an ocean over look with a pretty light house taking photos and a short hike. Then through a residential area with pretty little houses painted all imaginable colors. Our last stop was at the Blue Lagoon bath and a industrial site that made electricity and hot water to transport to all the residence and business’s in Reykjavik. The cost of heating and electricity here is practically nothing because it is produced by underground steam from the Blue Lagoon area. The photo opts were great with blue turquoise water in geysers and the public pool. Unfortunately we were not able to take swim. Some of the excursions include serval hours at this location and swimming in the pool. Returned back to the ship arriving around 3:00 pm. We all ate the Grand dining room tonight. Food was good but not nearly as good as the Polo Grill.

 

091319 day 3 We got up at 6:45am as the ship headed into a long Fjord with a pretty small town at the end of it. We had a light breakfast at the buffet. Our excursion today called “Life and Culture of Isafjordur” a 5 hour photo bus tour with wonderful views of the small city, harbor where our ship the Rivera was moored, a nautical museum, several harbor and boat storage areas, a small church,and canyon man made wooded area with an impressive long drop waterfall and creek running through trees and shrubs with autumn colors on the foliage. The light for photography today ever changing was on and off with light rain showers, several rain bows, overcast, and broken clouds with back lite sun. The excursions have been great so far with very good friendly guides. Our unlikely guide today was a German 35 year old well educated family man. He claimed that he could cover his monthly expenses by only working 3 days per month. The people in this country are laid back and not out to make lots of money. Got back to ship in time for lunch at the buffet on the 14th floor. Rested most of the day trying to overcome the jet lag. Tonight we all ate at the specialty oriental restaurant “Red Ginger”. The food, atmosphere, and service was all outstanding. The duck salad, sole tempora, and the Teriyaki rib eye steak were really fabulous. So far Linda and my favorite specialty restaurant is the “Red Ginger”.

 

091419 day 4 Had breakfast this morning at 8:30am in the main dining room. Eggs Benedict and Swedish pancakes with syrup and strawberry jam. YUM YUM I spent the sea day lounging, diary writing, attending interesting live lectures about the area we were visiting ,and of course eating. The seas were a bit rough today and I was on the edge of nausea more than once. My sister Joanne was too ill to attend breakfast. We ate all 3 meals today at the Grand Dining room with a stern window view of the prop wash in the Atlantic ocean This relatively small ship named the Riviera is very nicely outfitted with beautiful paintings (some rare and quite valuable) in most all areas. The ship holds 1250 (double occupancy) passengers and 800 staff members. The ship is 100% booked but is not congested at all compared to other ships I have cruised on. The max speed of ship is 22 knots. Maximum draft is 25’. It was christened 2012 in Barcelona Spain. Oceania keeps it maintained in like new condition.

 

091519 day 5 Had breakfast at the usual time 8:30 am in the Grand Main dinning room. I tried 2 poached eggs on avocado toast with a seasonal fruit platter this morning. I attended an enrichment lecture by guest lecturer Dr Ken Battie. He had some very creative video of various locations in Greenland which he had previously visited doing various research projects. This is another sea day and we are now cruising along the coast of Green land entering Prince Christian Sound and a fjord. It is a sunny day with `5 mph wind and in the low 50’s feeling more like 32 F. I open the patio doors occasionally to take photos of the cliffs covered approximately 1/3 of area with snow or glaciers. Several small ice bergs are floating in the strait. The first fjord we entered was very scenic with mountains on both sides, several glaciers, a waterfall, and numerous ice bergs There was nice opening at the end to turn the ship around and returned back out taking about 1.5 hour to do the up and back. We ate at Jacques tonight named for the famous chef on TV Jacques Pepin. I had foie gras with candied cherries, crab salad, lobster Thermidor, and the French version of our cream puff. I ordered a very nice bottle of French full bodied red wine. The food and service was to die for. I rate this restaurant number one of the 3 specialty restaurants we have tried. However all 3 of them have been excellent. I can not understand why anyone would prefer the Grand Dining Room to all 3 of the Specialty ones. I suggested trying to get into one of them tomorrow night but Linda wanted the Grand Dining Room again for tomorrow night.??

 

091619 day 6 We are anchored in the bay out side of Qaqortoq Greenland this morning. We will be using shuttles to go into town, We have no excursion today and plan on walking around town in the cold 38 to 46 F weather It turned out to be a wonderful sunny day with no wind. The town was quite scenic with multi bright colored houses adorning the hill sides. David had his electric scooter carried off ship by ship hands and he was able to walk off on his own down the gang plate. We walked around town a couple hours visiting shops. The fur shop had some high quantity merchandise; seal purses, bags, hats and coats. They also had Arctic Fox and Walrus articles. There was a scenic small stream coming down the mountains through town into the Fjord. The meat market was interesting to me; selling marine mammals meat (leopard shark, cod, seal, halibut, and walrus), game, birds, fish, local berries, Suaasat soup made with seal meat the traditional national dish of Greenland. After our 2 hour guided tour led by Kathy we returned on the tender back to our ship. I had lunch and then mostly slept for two hours before dinner with Joanne and David at the Grand Dining Room.

 

091719 day 7 We arrived in Paamiut, Greenland this morning around 8 am. It was sunny and mid with a temperature of 34 F. We had breakfast all 6 of us together in Grand Dining Room. Linda really makes the waiters tow the line with numerous coffee refills. The captain advised that the tender drop off points have lots of ice and advised that people with physical impairments reconsider weather to go on shore. We decided to wait until afternoon when perhaps most of the ice will be melted. We decided to have lunch in the Wave Grill which has all kinds of gourmet sandwiches including Kobe beef hamburgers and lobster-fillet beef rolls. The lobster-fillet beef roll was only average. After lunch we jumped into the tender for a ride into the small town of Paamiut. It was smaller than last town we visited. The houses were all painted bright colors again and were situated on very steep slopes with long steps up to the house. Several houses were partially supported on stilts. Many owners had large ocean going boats sitting on supports parked on their property. We ate at our 4th and last specialty restaurant tonight at Toscana which has Italian cuisine. My rating on this restaurant is 3rd/4th tied with Polo. My fresh asparagus coppa salad was awesome. The other soups and salads I tasted from companions was also very good. I ordered Fettuccine Cioppino which was OK. The shell fish - claims and mussels were small and not high quality. The lobster in the soup was excellent. I tried two pasta dishes others were eating and I considered them near inedible as they were cooked way too aledente. My cannelloni desert was quite good. The service not bad but not as good as the other three restaurants.

 

091819 day 8 We were docking at Nuuk, Greenland when I got out of bed at 6:45 am this morning. Had breakfast and lunch on ship. I tried at gourmet hamburger split with my sister at the Waves Bistro for lunch. It was excellent. They have about 4 different hamburgers and I want to try them all before finishing the cruise. YUM YUM After lunch we too the complimentary shuttle bus to downtown Nuuk. The small capitol town of Greenland has only 18,000 inhabitants. The buildings again were painted bright colors similar to the structures in Denmark. Joanne has been looking for #8 knitting needle the entire trip, but again struck out in Nuuk. I can tell you that I would not ever consider moving to Greenland has it is too remote, cold, and void of any cultural stimulating activities. Dave came with us with his electric scooter. He walks off the ship ramp and the crew hand carries relatively light weight scooter. We had to consult ship representatives to find a shuttle bust that would allow the scooter on board. Joanne and I had no problem lifting the perhaps 50# scooter on and off the bus. The roads and a few sidewalks were smooth enough for handicap scooter travel. I was very skeptical of this scooter, but it worked out to be quite an effective aid for David’s mobility. We toured the town about 2 hours view churches, monuments, residential area, and monuments and then returned to ship. I seem to be tired every afternoon after these excursions and slept for a couple hours in our room. The rest of the group, usually does high tea, lectures, and or group team trivia game which they have every day. Kathy was able to negotiate 5 more specialty restaurant reservations for us, so tonight we did “Jacques” again. The French cuisine my favorite was again delicious. I bought another bottle of red wine, a Zinfindel from the Russian River area in the US. I am the only wine drinker in this tea toddler group. I have been buying one bottle every 3 days at approximately $100 + or - per bottle. Of course they add $19 for gratuity, so I am spending about $40 per day for wine - not too bad.

 

091919 day 9 Got up at 6:45 am my usual time. This is the first of two sea days of our transit across the Labrador Sea to Sydney, Canada. Had breakfast with the group at the 12th floor buffet. I am beginning to walk up and down all the stairs on the ship to try for some exercise and calorie burn off. David and I took a cooking class today at 10:00 am called “Essential Pasta”. There was a head chef instructor and two sou chefs. The work stations had two students each. The ample sized work stations had; a nice granite top great for rolling and cutting pasta, a hand crank type pasta maker with roller and two cutters, two induction type burners, all ingredients were set on counter before each dish was ready to prepare, every imaginable cooking tool was provided except knives, a small sink with cold water, and several, frying pans and pots. We were given fancy white aprons and had to wash our hands to commence with the class. When the leader lectured and demonstrated how to make an entree two overhead cameras provided live video on two overhead monitors. The set up rivaled that on the best TV cooking shows. We did 3 different entrees; Fettuccine Alfredo, Shrimp Pasta Primavera, and Rigatoni Alla Porcinie Salsiccia. We got to taste all of them and they were all delicious. The class lasted 2 hours and we were given white wine and recipes at the end. I have been making pasta for 20+ years, but stilled learned some new tricks and procedures

I returned to room for rest and proceeded to get a nauseous fatigued feeling which lasted all day and into the night. I even skipped dinner and watched Pepin TV cooking shows in the room. I felt too week to walk up to the 14th floor to get a coffee ice cream malt.

 

092019 day 10 Woke up feeling weak and hungry. I felt good enough to have breakfast with the group in the Grand Dining Room. It was another sea day so I attended a lectures show about Sydney Nova Scotia history in the show room. Next I attended another cooking demonstration comedy show by the ship head chef and his lead chef. They both had heavy accents; Indian and Italian which I could not even understand a word of. The sea started acting up again with white capped angry looking waves attacking the ship. I headed for bed not feeling well. I called Joanne and she brought me two medications that she was taking. By dinner time the motion had subsided a lot and the medication seemed to be working. I attended dinner in the Main Grand dining room with the group and all was well. I was even able to drink wine again.

 

092119 day 11 We arrived into Sydney, Canada on time at 7:30 am. The temperature is more civilized here in the high 60’s. We got up at 6:45 am to get ready for our city walking excursion at 8:30 am. We had to use the transport via tendors this morning and seas were quite rough on the tender. Our short 2 hour walking excursion included mostly 2 old family houses completely restored. The guide was good and we got a good understanding of how the people lived in those old days in 1700 and 1800’s along with some history of the times. The ride back on the tender was extremely rough and I almost got seasickness. I slept all afternoon feeling bad when I got up. I called Joanne asking her to bring sea sickness and nausea pills along to dinner. I only had appetizers for dinner and survived without getting real sick before the pills kicked in. I think I may have to take sea sickness and nausea pills on all future cruises. I may decide to take. The pills did work well and I felt good enough to attend the broadway music show at 9:30 pm with the Allens. I did have a hard time staying awake. We all enjoyed the show.

 

092219 day 12 We over slept in this morning and did not eat breakfast with the group. Got up around 9:00 am an had breakfast at the buffet on the 12th floor. I studied the Halifax city map and took off with Linda at 10:am for the city formal gardens. It was a beautiful sunny warm morning in the high 60’s. We started the walk along the water front about a 1/2 mile walking on a wooden floor wharf along the bay. It was Sunday and lots of you families were out enjoying the day some having lunch There was large indoor farmers market near the ship, I was about a mile to the gardens mildly up hill. I decided that I better buy a hat to protect my bean. It cost $18.50 Canadian and my credit card cost was $16.08. The exchange rate right now is about 15% in Americans favor. I took lots of photos at the gardens. There were lots of young college students in the area lounging in the gardens and even studying. We walked leisurely back to the about 3 miles total and met Joanne and Dave at the ship buffet for lunch. Joanne and I have been splitting the gourmet hamburgers. I went back to room and slept 3 or 4 hours getting up in time for dinner at the Red Ginger Specialty restaurant. They seas were getting rough again so Joanne gave me more pills for sea sickness and nausea. I was too tired for show so I immediately went to bed again.

 

092319 day 13 Got up feeling good (no sea sickness) at 6:30 am to Linda’s disgust. She loves to stay up late reading and sleep to the last minute in the morning. We are not compatible companions at all with our sleeping habits. I usually write in my diary for 15-30 minutes before leaving for breakfast. The ship is still cruising to Saint John (Bay of Funday), New Brunswick. The eastern sky has a nice sun rise. We will be docking around 11:00 am. We left at 11:45am on our city excursion with Joanne and David. I did not realize that it was for handicap only and had extensive power ramps for scooters and wheel chairs. Our first stop was the local public Market. Joanne bought me a jar of maple syrup cream and some cookies that also had that awesome intense maple flavor cream in them. YUM YUM The girls missed lunched on the ship, so they purchased some egg salad sandwiches on delicious whole wheat bread. The bus drove on to neighborhoods where many old and new coal, lumber, and ship building barons have lived past and present. We also drove and stopped at the famous location of the Bay of Funday and the Saint John River where the river actually change directions during periods of incoming high tide. Linda and I have been there before on our cruise with Rey and Alan about 8 years ago. There were no kayakers today. You need to be an Olympic grade kayaker to handle the 10’ waves that are produced from the tide and river action. It was a short 2.5 hour excursion and we returned to ship about 2:45 pm. David took another cooking class that I wanted to take, but I was too tired. I slept until dinner time. Linda talked us all in to going to the 12th deck buffet. It was very good tonight. I had lobster grilled to order with hot butter on the side, a sushi roll, and some fresh fruit. For my 2nd course I had 4 pieces of King Crab that was quite tasty with some nice cock-tail sauce. Desert was salt caramel gelato ice cream.

 

092419 day 14 We arrived at Bar Harbor around 8:00 am. It was very over cast and cloudy in the morning. Had to visit the 15th floor lounge for emigration screening at 8:15 am. Had a light breakfast at the buffet. About 10:30 am it started clearing up and we all got on a tender for shore. This harbor is very beautiful with many tree cover islands and tree covered shore lines. The huge bay is full of lobster traps and boats of all sizes and use. By 11:00 am we had full sun. We walked through town and had full sun. Continued the walk along the bay shore line where many old mansions were seen and photographed. After 1-1/3 mile in Joanne and David wanted to return to town and have a Maine lobster lunch at Geddys a popular cafe luncheon spot with high ratings and recommended by the locals. We all ordered a special 1-1/4 steamed Maine Lobster with clarified butter, clam Chowder, Corn on the cob, and fresh Blue Berry Pie. YUM YUM That lobster, clam chowder, and blue berry pie was the best of the entire trip. We got a tender ride and returned to our ship. I headed for the room and slept until dinner. We dined at the Polo Grill on the 14th floor which impressed me much more this time. My Veal Chop with Lobster Nuberg was excellent. My desert of homemade marshmallows with 3 different sauces for dipping. YUM YUM

 

092519 day 15 We arrived in Boston this morning and were docked by 8:00 am. It was beautiful day in the low 70’s. Had breakfast with the group and got on the shuttle around 10:00 am to ride down town to Faneuil Hall Market Place. It was only about a 1/4 mile from the bus drop off to this location, but our phone gps worked sporadically among the tall buildings. Finally found it, after a 1/2 hour of fumbling about aimlessly with our hopeless technically impaired devices. We walked through Quincy Market area a bit drooling over the fancy looking deserts. Joanne got sick with upset stomach and wanted to go back to the ship. We navigated back to the bust drop off place. We went into Legal Seafood Restaurant and 3 of us ordered lunch. A shuttle bus came and Joanne jumped on it. David and I had another lobster dinner which was very good. Linda had their excellent clam chowder and avocado toast with smoked salmon. As David was not interested in going any further on the Freedom Trail walk, we 3 also got on the shuttle return bus to the ship. Linda was very disappointed that we did not get a nice scenic hike on the Freedom Trail. I worked in my room the rest of the afternoon on my diary and photos for the website. We had dinner tonight at the Toscana Italian Specialty Restaurant.

092619 day 16 The ship sailed all last night, today, and again tonight toward our destination in New York. David and I took another cooking class at 4 pm and of course we tasted or ate all that we cooked as it was excellent.. I highly recommend the cooking classes on this ship. We celebrated Linda’s birthday which was tomorrow, at the Red Ginger tonight. The watermelon duck salad was again excellent. We all ordered a desert, but Linda’s nicely decorated chocolate birthday cake came before we received our desert. The cake was so good, that we all cancelled our other deserts. The entire Red Ginger waiter staff all joined us to serenade Linda with her Happy Birthday song. Linda enjoyed herself allot ending a very nice 16 day cruise with friends.

 

092719 day 17 We arrived at our destination this morning at 7:00am at the New York Cruise Terminal. We got up early to have breakfast onboard ship before we were asked to vacate our shipboard at 8:15 am. We waited in a lounge until our number came up to disembark. We collected our bags in the emigration building at 9:30 am with little trouble from authorities and were directed immediately to our transfer bus for a ride to the Newark Liberty York International Airport. The drive took about 1 hour mostly on major highways and through a scary long tunnel under the Hudson River. The scenery was mostly industrial and lots of water ways and marsh land. Unfortunately the wait at the airport for our plane was 5 hours!! I took special precautions to avoid long lay overs, but did not realize that our ship arrived so early and that we would be forced into early disembarkation. My airfare was booked through the cruise line and this detail slipped passed me. Fortunately the oldest and 5th largest airport in America did have a lot to do and see in the newest terminal C. It was full of computer power stations and comfortable seating areas suitable for computer laptops, ipads and smart phones. Many upscale restaurants and bars all with ipad ordering and payment procedures which was incredibly detailed on all the products for sale. You could have the food from any restaurant delivered right to your ordering location wherever it may be in this terminal C. The interior decorating was just awesome. We had Ramon Noodle bowls from a restaurant a 5 star oriental restaurant called Kaedama. Most of the stores had very nice current products for sale.

 

All and All this was a fun trip with my wife, sister, brother-in-law, and two good friends Conrad and Kathy. The culinary experience both eating and cooking were superb.

Greenland was my least favorite country visited and I do not think I would go there again. I can not figure out why anyone would continue to live there in this cold treeless baron large country with little cultural activities to make life more fun?

 

Last updated on September 29, 2019