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May 24, 2012 / rafinmd

Day 7, Wednesday, May 23, Newport, RI

When I woke at 5 the transition to daylight had begun but it was still very foggy with drizzle. The fog slowly dissipated as we made our way up Naragansett Bay, and we had clear visibility as we dropped our anchor about 10. Newport is a somewhat challenging tender port as we anchor about a mile off the shore and wake restrictions for much of that distance making it optentially a 4-hour process to get everybody off the ship. The process was helped a lot by using 2 shorside vessels as tenders, the Aquideck Ferry and the Amazing Grace. Our port time was also extended from 6 to 8 PM to give people time ashore.

Having booked an afternoon tour I opted to go on my own first. Tender tickets were to be given out at 9:15. At 8:45 there was a long line. I went up to the Windjammer, and the announcement that tickets were available came about 9:10. By the time I walked down to Centrum I walked right up and got tender number 5. Number 1 was called about 10:15 and my turn came just before 11. This is the first time I had used the roof level of the tender and it was a beautiful ride this morning. I was on shore about 11:30.

A trend seems to be developing that when I am on a cruise in New England I run into my next ship. On the Crystal Symphony last fall (Montreal-New York) I encountered the Jewel of the Seas in both Bar Harbor and Boston. That was actually the first time I had seen the ship in person and got me in the mood to set sail in January. As we were tendering into Newport today I was stunned to pass by a familiar vessel docked at Bannisters wharf. I will sail the tiny (96 passenger) Grande Caribe in July to several New England islands. Today it was nearing the end of a cruise from Jacksonville Florida to it’s home port just up the bay. I walked over to the ship and the Captain came out to meet me. He told me that they had been in Baltimore Monday. He will be in Command for my July 17 cruise as will the current cruise director, both of whom I know quite well. We chatted for about 10 minutes.

After lunch I took a short walk around Newport and returned to the tender pier at 1:30, only to learn that my 1:45 Rose Island tour had just departed. I was offered a seat on the land half of the land and sea tour, which took a drive around the Island. It was not my day for touring. Immediately after a brief stop at Fort Adams our bus broke down and the 5-minute stop became a half hour. The replacement bus took us on some very scenic streets past great ocean vistas and stately “cottages”, playgrounds of the super rich for the past century. We did not go past the Breakers but I’ve been there several times and the cottages we did pass were equally nice.

While the day started out pretty ominously, the weather turned beautiful by midday. My ride back to the ship was in perfect conditions.

As dinner ended today we were just leaving Newport with a perfect sunset.

Today’s headline show was the Happenings. This appears to be the original vocal group from the 1960’s singing sixties rock music, including some of their hits like See You in September and Go Away Little Girl.

As today’s parting shot, just being in Newport today is a reminder that money isn’t everything. Many of the families in the cottages lived rather tragic lives. As I recall, the builder of the Breakers died rather suddenly after living just a couple of years in the house. Several others were lost on Titanic, including John Jacob Astor, and several members of the Widener family, the benefactors of the Harvard Library.



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