My Back? I’m WAY More Hip Than That…

February 20, 2015

So, as I mentioned previously my Doc did a great job with my back.  As my back problems wore away another unknown issue appeared.  There was continued pain in my low right side that was very distracting.  As the other issues subsided this one remained.  My Doc ordered X-Rays just before Christmas.  I brought the images home with me as the offices were closing soon after the images were developed.

Now, I certainly am no doctor and I don’t even play one on TV but, having seen a lot of my previous X-Rays and such, I have a pretty good idea of what I’m seeing and what I was seeing wasn’t good.  As I’m sure you know, bones on X Rays show up white… areas where there is no bone are black.  There was quite a bit of black where white should be.

My pain Doc looked at the images when I brought them in at my next appointment.  He said ‘Well… I’ve got good news but not much.  I know where the pain is coming from.’  It was my right hip and it needed to be replaced… soon.  He told me he was going to refer me to an orthopedic surgeon that he knew well.  They had both attended med school together and interned together.  Sounded great and the following Monday his office called to schedule me.  The appointment was set for that Friday. Nice… progress.

We arrived at the office building in the Medical Center about 3 or 4 minutes prior to the appointment time.  I waited for Stitch for about 5 minutes before boarding an elevator up to the fifth floor.  I entered the office 3 minutes after the scheduled time.  I signed in, gave them my ID, med card, credit card and took the paperwork to get it filled out.

I made my way to the chairs, sat down gingerly and began on the forms.  In no time at all I was told that they were cancelling my appointment because I was six minutes late… SIX MINUTES!!  When have you ever gotten into a doctor’s office and were seen on time?  Never happened here…  As I was rather upset I made my way out into the hallway where I waited for Stitch.  The elevator opened a bit later and Stitch looked at me rather quizzically.  Before she could say a word I told her what had happened.  She was more stunned than I was.  We headed home both unhappy with the treatment. I had gotten.

At home I called my pain doc’s office and I requested another referral.  They were upset with the way I was turned away and promised that I would get a referral soon.  Two days later I got a call with the referral. I wasn’t going to wait for them to call me so I called their office. Sadly, I couldn’t get in to see the new doc until yesterday, Feb. 19.

I think the wait was worth it. He’s young and very friendly.  I was standing up, bent at the waist, leaning against the examining table when he walked in.  He said ‘I don’t need to ask how you’re doing… you’re in pain.’  Yep… for sure.  I gave him the X Rays and within 3 seconds he said ‘You need a hip replacement… NOW.’  He looked at the X Rays for quite a while and he said that at least mine wasn’t the worst hip he had ever seen but it was a close second… and the worst he described as not even looking like a hip… he described it as looking ‘alien.’  So, my hip is one step above alien… at least I’ve got that going for me…  He has had 7 years as an ortho surgeon at Brooks Army Medical Center caring for wounded and injured troops coming home from war… he’s seen and done a bunch.

He wanted to get me in on Monday, Feb 23 but was unable to so, I’m scheduled for surgery at 1:30 PM on March 2.

He spent quite a bit of time with us and during the discussion he said that he had no idea how I was still able to walk.  It pretty much mysteries me, as well.  As he explained the surgery he also commented on my hip.  He remarked that the head of the femur had collapsed and that my ‘hip’ was nothing more than the exposed end of the femur rubbing against the pelvis with nothing in between… just bone rubbing on bone  Ugh.

He has great hopes for success and a dramatic reduction in pain level even on the day of the operation.  They will have me up and walking as soon as I am stable after recovering from the anesthesia.  I was hoping for local anesthesia and he was fine with that but after having watched the surgery in a video on YouTube I’m thinking I’d rather be asleep.  I don’t have a problem with the cutting, etc, but when the assistant grabbed the patients leg down near the foot and twisted it about 100 degrees to the outside and the dislocated the hip the associated POP was just a bit too much.

So, a week from Monday I’ll have some guy I’ve only met once cutting a big chunk of my leg off and throwing it away.  Not something I had been expecting but I’m praying it will restore me to some level of normality.  We have a cruise scheduled for September.  Two of our very good friends will be celebrating their 50th anniversary on the Carnival Magic and we’ll be there to celebrate with them. Given how limited I’ve been on our past 2 cruises this one should be a joy.

I’ll let y’all know how the surgery went and keep you abreast of the recovery.  It’s sure to be an adventure!!

Ciao!!


A Life Update

October 26, 2014

Wow… it’s been a very long time since I’ve been able to, or even wanted to, sit down and write.  I’m sure that those of you who have been and continue to be my friends have been disappointed in my as I also have been.  It turns out that this fearless individual tends toward being an insular, improperly focused being.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this respect but this is regarding me… my failings… what few strengths I have and my stunning ability to let people down.

A bit more than a year ago Stitch and I were preparing to board the Carnival Magic for a wonderful week with a large group of our brilliant friends, The Crazies.  God had other plans.  For well over a month my back had been getting the best of me.  I was only able to walk with the assistance of pieces of furniture and counters to rely on to hold me up.  The pain was fairly remarkable.  I had been released from World Travel Holdings because I was unable to even sit long enough to take proper care of my clients.  I had a significant group of cruisers who were depending upon me and my physical frailties forced me to let them down.  However, I was still determined that we would sail.  I desperately wanted to join our friends, see the joy on Stitch’s face as she reunited with all of those who have made life so special to us and gaze for hours at the glory that is the Caribbean Sea.

We arrived in Galveston the day prior to the cruise and were to meet the folks for some cocktails, yarn swapping and comradeship.  After checking into the room at the Inn At The Waterpark I knew I couldn’t make it to the fun gathering scheduled.  I simply was in remarkable pain, totally drained of energy and constantly on the verge of passing out.  I begged Stitch to go and visit with everyone and let them know I would catch up with them onboard and she did.  She reported back and checked in on me frequently but is seems I was only getting worse as the night dragged on.

That evening I was unable to sleep.  For that matter, I could not even lay down.  All I could do was sit.  On occasions I would doze off fitfully for a few minutes only to awaken disoriented and racked with pain.

About 6 AM Stitch headed out to Pier 21, the place that we call ‘The Patio’, to view the arrival of the Carnival Magic.  I watched on my laptop as the lovely vessel arrived in port.  Shortly after the Magic was secured to the dock Stitch returned to our room and began assembling everything to board.  I was unable to stand, barely able to speak and, in general, a mess.

Somewhere around 9 AM I recall Stitch asking me if I could do it.  I told her I could but that I needed a few more minutes to gather myself up and that I would need a wheelchair to board.

Moments later she told me she wanted to go home.  She knew that I was in a sad state and would be highly miserable for the entire cruise.  Several months previously we had sailed on the Triumph from Galveston and  I was unable to leave the cabin.  That wonderful lady brought me my meals and tended to me like I was an ill child. What love and tenderness… simply amazing.

In reality, I didn’t want to have her go through that again. I was ready to tell her to go without me and I would extend my stay at the hotel for a week and we could head home when she returned to Galveston.  She cut me short with a call to one of our dear friends informing her that we would not be sailing.  One thing she said struck me deeply… ‘At some point you simply have to think about your partner.’  With that, I gave up thoughts of sailing.  We (she) loaded the car, checked us out of our room and we headed west to San Antonio.  It was a very somber atmosphere heightened by my massive sense of guilt.

The day after we returned to San Antonio I visited the Baptist Hospital Emergency Room where they did a CT scan.  The results were pretty clear. The L5 – S1 disk was ruptured and impinging on the nerves.  That was the primary cause of the stunning pain down my right leg.  So, we had a place to begin.

Stitch had already visited a doc’ office not too far away so we thought that we be a good place for me, as well.  Bottom line, they sucked.  They failed to respond to phone calls, never gave us the results of blood tests but call to ask me to schedule an evaluation for ALLERGIES!!!  I do have allergies but they had nothing to do with my inability to walk or function anywhere near normally.

We tried another office, different doc, who refused to treat me for pain.  We pretty much begged to be referred to a pain clinic and they said they would look around and try to find one that would nor require an MRI as all we had was the CT scan that I had to pay $1200 out of pocket for.   About a week later, I got a call from their office and they referred me to my current doc’s office.  It has been a long, very long and painful process.  I had 10 steroid shots in a period of 3 weeks which did afford me major relief from the pain associated with the sciatic nerve but left major discomfort in my lower back and into my right hip.  The doc diagnosed this as ‘facet joint’ arthritis.  To test out his thoughts I was given injections or local anesthetic directly into the facet joints.  It worked.  The next step was to burn the nerve endings closest to the spine to hinder their ability to transmit the sensation of pain to my brain.  Sadly, because it is a fairly pricey procedure we had to await approval from the insurance company.  Six weeks later it was on.

In preparation I had done a fair amount of research into lumbar ablations, as the operation is called.  Tubes are inserted into your back through which electrodes are passed and positioned directly above the nerves.  Electricity is passed through the probes and the nerves are burned.  The effect is not immediate but, once again, the local anesthetic used helped short term.  I felt pretty good by the time we got home, a mere 10 minutes later.  Much of the pain returned the next day as the shots wore off but there was already a noticeable difference in my pain levels.  As time wore on things continued to improve with the exception of a large area in my right hip that I was pretty positive was arthritic.

I had been scheduled for a follow up six weeks post ablation.  That day arrived this past Friday.  I was amazed to find out that the core of the problem was not my hip but muscles in that area.  The muscled were spammed and had apparently been that was for well over a year.  In short order I was given a ‘trigger point’ injection that was a combo of local anesthetic and more steroids.  All I can say is… amazing, simply amazing.   The majority of the residual pain is gone.  For the first time in well over a year I can walk with only a minor limp.  My endurance is way down but, with the help of our wonderful pooch George, I’ll be coming back.  Friday afternoon I was able to take George for a walk.  I was so overwhelmed by my ability to manage such a simple task that when we arrived at our front door I was in tears.

I had become convinced that I would spend the rest of my years in horrible pain… that it was just my lot.  I had researched minimally invasive laser surgery but the price was $80000 of which our insurance would pay $6000 because the procedure is still considered experimental.

My new doc is a Godsend.  He’s intelligent, listens, understands and is committed to bringing relief.  If anyone is in our area and needs a contact number let me know… also, he’s a major Spurs fan!

So, that is where I’ve been… or not been… for quite a while.  I’m hoping that we’ll get back into cruising soon though likely not with Carnival because of their new draconian restrictions on smoking on balconies… but that’s a story for another time.

‘Til then… y’all take care of yourselves and one another… we’re all we’ve got.

One love…

Mach


The Back and Why… and a bit more…

January 31, 2013

The human spine is an amazing thing. It bends, twists, takes amazing shocks and loads and still manages to keep us upright… most of the time. When I was in college, at the age of 17, I hurt my back… more precisely… my back got hurt. Now, I’ll leave the ultimate cause to your imagination but suffice it to say that it involved an exchange student from Denmark named Anna Ashland, a stage and a pretty nasty impact. The result was that I was unable to stand without assistance, could not bend over in the least and was in tremendous pain. Two girls, who were my very good friends, demanded that I visit a doctor and they escorted me there to insure my compliance. The gentleman’s name was, are you ready for this??? Dr. Trembly. Yep… Trembly. Not a very confidence inspiring appellation for a physician. He confirmed what I was already aware of… I, actually Anna, had hurt my back. Without an x-ray or any other diagnostic assistance that was the best he could do… hurt back.

Many years later I would discover that the disk between the L3 and L4 vertebrae had ruptured and was as little use as a week old child’s balloon… nearly completely deflated with no bounce left at all. So, since then (and that’s a long since…) my back has been an issue off and on, more on than off. Unfortunately, it was becoming ‘on’ when we boarded the Carnival Triumph. Anyone who has ever boarded a ship understands the process of wending your way up the boarding gangway to the deck where you set foot on the ship. At Galveston this can be a fairly lengthy process and copious amounts of patience required. Proceeding up the ramp I was distracted by an increasingly deep throbbing in my lower back but I was rather sure that it would vanish given a bit of rest.

We made our way to the elevators just forward of the Lobby and were soon whisked off to Deck 9, the Lido Deck, where our cabin was positioned. I chose that particular location because it was VERY close to the Lido Deck pool area, the buffet and the area that we Crazies often claim as our ‘Situation Room’, a central gathering place where fun is piled upon nonsense and we can all park knowing that other Crazies will be along shortly. The cabin was perfectly placed.

We wandered the ship a bit and I noted the rather garish tiles adorning the pool and hot tubs. The same style appeared at the aft end of the ship as well. Not my cup of tea but, hey, the pool held water, the hot tubs were fairly hot and folks were on vacation and having a great time.

Allow me do digress for a moment, won’t be gone long, and offer kudos to the embarkation staff at Galveston. What had previously been a rather painful process has become rather easy and approaches graceful marred only by the number of guests given priority embarkation. The VIP lounge area is a bit small in light of Carnival’s new $49 buy-your-way-to-VIP program. This program, dubbed ‘Faster To The Fun’, allows folks who would normally have to wait to board with those who had not cruised sufficiently to earn VIP status, to make their way to the ship with those of us who rank as Platinum guests or above. The consensus was that no one in our group approved, in fact, several expressed their disappointment with Carnival for giving up the privileges that cost of tens of thousands of dollars to earn for $49. I have to agree.

OK… I’m back.

We grabbed a bite to eat, chatted with our friends and prepared for Sail Away. Our cabin, being on the starboard side and facing the dock, was the perfect spot to observe the event. We knew that the Safety Drill would be upcoming and, given the worsening state of my lumbar region, we made our way to our muster station early. As always, the drill was conducted professionally with the staff demanding attention and quiet as it progressed. If you allow your memory to drift back one year the incident involving the Costa Concordia must stand out. For reasons that were stunningly wrong the ship ran into a massive outcropping of rock that tore a huge hole in her hull. No safety drill had been conducted prior to the event. The tragic consequence was 30 confirmed dead and two who remain missing to this date. I am a FIRM believer in the importance of the safety drill.

Following the briefing we made our way forward and back up to our cabin as we awaited the moment when the lines holding us fast would release, the thrusters would fire and we would be on our way.

I’ll be back with more soon. Thanks for stopping by!

Ciao!!

Mach


I’m back… and my back…

January 30, 2013

Allow me to apologize for being missing the past few days but I’ve been quite busy since returning from our cruise and a bit out of sorts. My back has been giving me fits and really put a damper on our fun on the ship and in the ports. More on that later.

For now, let me make a few notes regarding the Carnival Triumph. First, certain parts of the ship are brilliant. The Lobby is extremely well done and tremendously tasteful. The bar is very centrally located and staffed with wonderful folks who pour a drink like they don’t own the liquor… very generous, indeed. The show lounge forward is also very nicely done with excellent acoustics, wide isles and comfortable seats. Both of the dining rooms are beautiful and, although I was only able to eat in the Main Dining Room one night, I can attest to the fact that the service was excellent. Now, a few other points… room service was non-existent. Since I wasn’t able to move about a great deal and our dining room was in the aft end of the ship I thought that I would use Room Service from time to time. There was no room service menu in our cabin, 9271… Lido Deck balcony, and the menu on the TV feature two items… a grilled cheese sandwich and a Caesar Salad… and attempting to order that way failed miserably. That’s it, end of discussion. I called Guest Services asking about a replacement menu and was told to call Room Service and they would let me know what was available and so I did… five times over the next several days and never once did I get an answer. Believe me, these calls weren’t at peak times… 10 AM is hardly peak for any dining venue… and despite how long I was on hold no one ever answered. I was on hold for over 20 minutes without response. An additional call to Guest Services generated an assurance that I would get someone on the next attempt. Nope… no one home. I’ve let some of the folks at Carnival know about my disappointment but haven’t yet heard back from any of them.

Now, a few bright points. Our Cabin Steward, Roberto, was excellent… kudos to him… and our Cruise Director, Jen, was brilliant as was the ACD, Mel. Stitch and I went to the Welcome Aboard Show, as we always do. Mel came out for the last 15 minutes of the presentation and we both recognized her immediately. She was John Heald’s assistant on Blogger’s Cruise 5. She was of tremendous help to me several times and joy to work with! As we were gathering ourselves up at the end of the show she appeared in front of us sporting a huge smile and saying, ‘Do you remember me?!’ Certainly! Big hugs were exchanged all around and we chatted for a bit before she had to dash off. We ran into her quite a few more times and each time she was a pleasure to be around.

I hate to cut this short but I need to get ready to help people plan the vacation they’ve always dreamed about. I’ll be back soon with more!

By the way, I see that there have been a bunch of folks requesting membership at Cruisin’ With The Crazies and I just reviewed and approved a bunch. If I didn’t get yours please feel free to leave a note here and I’ll make sure it gets taken care of.

Thanks for stopping by!

Ciao!!!

Mach


The morning of…

January 19, 2013

Anyone who knows me knows that I NEVER head to the port the day of the cruise… never. I tell my clients exactly the same thing. I can’t think of a thing more disappointing than getting to the port and watching your ship disappear over the horizon. It happens all too often, too.

When we we were headed to NYC for the inaugural sailing of the Carnival Dream our flight was cancelled. A cracked windshield on the Boeing 737-400 grounded the bird and changed our arrival time in New York from 9:50 AM to 7:50 PM. Had the flight been on the day of the cruise the vessel would have been at sea for well over 5 hours. Yep… I’m a believer in arriving a day early.

So, here I am sitting in a Marriott hotel 40 minutes away from the port relaxing and blogging rather than in a car fretting over traffic and such.

I am also watching for our ride to appear on the ship tracker web site, http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/, which will allow me to gauge our departure from here permitting us to arrive at the port to in time to welcome our cruise ship home. It’s a tradition for our sailings from Galveston and we have the perfect vantage point to enjoy it. If you have ever seen the Galveston Cruise webcam you’ve seen our haunt (http://www.galveston.com/cruisecam/). We call it ‘The Patio’ and it’s hosted many Crazies events including Stitch’s and my wedding so the spot has a special place in our hearts.

A ship’s quiet trip to the pier is an impressive thing to behold. Moving at perhaps less than 3 miles per hour the massive floating resort ghosts by, rotates silently and glides sideways until fast to the dock. Stunning.

So, as I comfortably await our departure from the hotel my thoughts go out to all of those folks who are yet to pack up and get on the road in our direction. Yep… I arrive early.

As I type this I see that the Crown Princess is making her way into the channel that hosts both cruise terminals in Galveston. From her current location it will take about 40 minutes to make port. I’ll be watching.

My next report will be from the deck of the Carnival Triumph. You can be sure that my laptop will be accompanied by a Drink Of The Day and a massive smile. Today, we’re going cruising!!!

Ciao!!

Mach


Preview Part Deux…

January 16, 2013

So, we had a great dinner of roast chicken with amazing veggies on the side. I have to admit, I’m a pretty good cook but pale in comparison to the cooks on a ship. The food ranges from quite good to amazing and never disappoints. Let me present our options for dinner on the first night of the voyage…

Starters:
cream of sun ripened tomatoes
tropical fruits
fried chicken tenders, marinated cucumber and lettuce
heart of iceberg lettuce with a variety of dressings
beef and barley soup with diced root vegetables
gazpacho andalouse

Main:
pan seared fillet of tilapia
sweet and sour shrimp
chicken à la grecque
linguini with italian sausage, bell peppers and mushrooms
grilled tofu steak

And from the ‘Comfort’ menu…
tender braised beef brisket in gravy

The Gazpacho is amazing as is the Sweet and Sour Shrimp. I’ll likely have the Linguini as a starter backed up by the Gazapacho with the Shrimp as a main course. I’m not a big dessert guy BUT since they’re offering vanilla crème brûlée on that night I may have to indulge. As it will be a long day I’ll probably also have to have an espresso… perhaps a double… to keep going and enjoy the excitement.

We always do the Welcome Aboard Show. It’s great fun and really sets the mood for the cruise. I love the inflatable Carnival ship that serves as the background. The music and dancing is so upbeat that it gets one pumped and ready for the adventure to come.

The Triumph looks like a lovely ship and, as I mentioned previously, I’m sure I’ll explore her extensively. The main dining rooms and the aft lounge always draw my attention. It seems that Joe Farcus put a great deal of effort into the details in those areas and I find it to be wonderful fun ferreting them out.

I’ll also spend time preparing for sunrise and sunset. Both are stunning experiences but the sunset at sea can be a thrill. Have you ever heard of the ‘Green Flash’? If not, you need to become familiar with it. On rare occasions when the sky is perfectly clear and the horizon uncluttered the sun will do something amazing as she settles into the sea… the last few rays of light sneaking above the line that keeps the sky from the ocean flash an brilliant green. Very fleeting but unmistakable green. I’ve seen a green flash five of six times in my life… that’s all and I watch for it! Stitch witnessed her first green flash on board the Carnival Ecstasy just a couple years ago. Try to catch one… it will be burned in your memory forever.

So, on Tuesday we will make port in Cozumel. We’ll dock at Puerta Maya, Carnival’s own port on the island. It’s rather new and still under construction. The original port was destroyed by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. There was virtually nothing left. Now, the port bustles with activity when ships arrive. The port area by itself has a number of attractions but we never make the day there. Our normal haunt is Nachi Cocom. It’s an all inclusive resort near the east end of the island and is a treasure. No more than 100 guests are permitted per day and they wait on you hand and foot. It’s quite inexpensive, the drinks are stout and the food is wonderful. What more could you ask for? I’ll tell you… you could swim with dolphins. It has been Stitch’s wish for a long time to swim with dolphins and I decided to make that wish come true. The swim happens at Chankanaab National Park, well known for their excellent treatment of the animals and protection they afford the coral reef there.

Cozumel is a lovely place rife with exotic foliage and friendly folks. As opposed to some other ports of call, the vast majority of people you meet will be natives, many descendants of the Mayans. Don’t forget to give ’em a bit of grief over the world not ending recently.

Following Stitch’s dolphin fun we’ll likely take a cab to downtown San Miguel. San Miguel is the town that most folks refer to as Cozumel. It’s busy local when ships are in port and stocked with venues to spend some tourist dollars and dollars are very welcome there! We might pick up a few souvenirs or a bottle of liquor or two. We might even drop by the local Margritaville for a quick cocktail and a t-shirt or something. We sail fairly early from Coz, 3 PM, so we won’t have a ton of time for hanging out but I’m sure that my wonderful wife won’t mind a bit. She will have ticked one off her bucket list and have memories to last the rest of her life.

Having returned to the ship we will, as always when we visit Coz, gather at the rail somewhere on the ship to witness the always entertaining ‘drunk run.’ Without fail, some folks who have had a tad too much fun will come staggering down the pier, arms flailing wildly, trying to get the the ship before she shoves off from the pier. Most of the time they’re successful… occasionally, they’re not. Regardless, it’s always fun to observe.

I’ll be touching on more soon but I ‘work’ today so I’ll likely have a few things to chat about in that regard. So, for now, thanks for visiting and I’ll be back soon.

Ciao!!!

Mach


Preview…

January 15, 2013

Been there, done that… yep. The only new thing on this cruise is the ship. We’ve been to Progreso and Cozumel many times. Does that matter? Not in the least. For us the sea is the destination and the ship is our hotel on the sea. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m going to be thrilled to be back in both ports. Progreso is one of my favorite spots period and I have a treat for Stitch in Cozumel so the ports are a big part of the voyage but the focus is the voyage itself.

Having been in the midst of what was essentially a mutiny on a cruise by a large number of misled guests I make doubly sure that my clients understand that ports are not guaranteed. You might miss ’em all and you’re still bound by the contract and the cruise line has no further obligation. Certainly, they always make an effort to ease the pain somewhat but, trust me, if you miss a port you aren’t getting your money back. Cruise lines don’t cancel port calls lightly. There are a number of factors to consider here…
A) Fuel… they remain at sea and the ship needs to move. A typical cruise ship burns one gallon of fuel for every sixty feet it travels. Obviously, it’s cheaper to be in port than at sea.
B) The passengers… every guest has a plan associated with each port. The vast majority of guests will debark and revel in the fun and adventure each destination has to offer. Some look forward to remaining on board and having the ship much to themselves, kind of like being king or queen of a small almost unoccupied country!
C) The crew… these folks work seven days a week, often 12 to 14 hours a day and their only break happens when the ship makes port. If the ship has to stay at sea everyone suffers.

In light of the above and to avoid major disappointment, as I said, the sea is my destination.

Each ship is fascinating so that’s a plus. A brilliant gentleman named Joe Farcus designed the interior decor for the vast majority of Carnival ships… 22 of 25 to be precise, and he had input on numbers 23 and 24. The ships have a somewhat Vegas tone but each has a theme. The focus of the Triumph, the vessel we will board in less than 4 days, is ‘The Great Cities of the World’. As you might imagine, the tinge of the public rooms varies… Rome; Paris; New York; Tokyo and so on. One of my favorite exercises is watching for the design cues throughout the ship. Some are subtle, some more obvious but all are wonderfully well executed. If you give a bit of thought to the construction of these floating resorts you’ll understand that the construction costs are stunning! Almost everything you seen on board is a one off… nothing that’s visible as decoration was mass produced… not one thing. The carpeting was designed for the specific ship, the upholstery was designed for those specific seats, the lamps, the shades, the wall hangings, the color of the fabric… EVERYTHING is specifically designed and produced for that single ship. Amazing. The ship itself is a worthy destination, one that’s often overlooked.

Give all that, I still certainly want to be able to visit the ports. As I said, we love Progreso. Why? Because it’s atypical. What’s there? Nothing you’ll see anywhere else. There’s no Hard Rock Café, there’s no Senior Frog’s, no Margaritaville. What you WILL find there are shops, restaurants and bars owned and staffed by locals. These are some of the best folks you’ll ever meet. Our hangout is ‘Buddy’s’… a great spot on the Malecon owned by one Remko Sterk. He wants to sell me the bar and that’s under consideration! Buddy’s is quite a bit different than most spots in Progreso. Buddy’s rocks. Buddy’s is a little oasis with a massive beach and two dollar margaritas, and one dollar Coronas and service out the butt. Yep… you park on the beach and the waiters come to you, take FANTASTIC care of you and seem thrilled to do it. Free shots are part of the package along with the cleanest restrooms in town… important when consuming a significant number of beers or cocktails!! Visit Buddy’s and tell ’em Mach sent you and you’ll be treated wonderfully well.

As happens, dinner is drawing near and I need to depart for the evening. I’ll be back tomorrow with Cozumel and more ship stuff. In the mean time, wishes for sweet cruising dreams to everyone and hopes that we’ll meet on board someday.

Ciao!!!

Mach