Asia 2008:
Day 15 - At Sea


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Asia 2008: [Day 1 - Tokyo] [Day 2 - Kyoto] [Day 3 - Kobe] [Day 4 - At Sea] [Day 5 - Nagasaki] [Day 6 - Busan] [Day 7 - At Sea] [Day 8 - Dalian] [Day 9 - Beijing] [Day 10 - Beijing] [Day 11 - At Sea] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Shanghai] [Day 14 - Shanghai] [Day 15 - At Sea] [Day 16 - At Sea] [Day 17 - Hong Kong]

Monday, April 7: We had hoped that the river would be reopened when our next tidal opportunity (see explanation below) came at 3:30 this morning, but when we woke in the middle of the night to check the weather, visibility was absolutely zero -- we couldn't see a single thing but fog from our cabin balcony. So, the next morning we were still at the pier with the same view of the Oriental Pearl Tower, albeit an even foggier view than normal.
The update from the captain was that the river had been opened and that we were awaiting our opportunity to leave later in the morning. We knew at this point that we would no longer get to Hong Kong in time for our flights, but we didn't know yet exactly how late we would be. So, we spent some time online looking at our flight options, which were limited.
We killed time on the Lido Deck as the sun popped out from time to time, attempting in vain to cut through the haze.
Finally, at 10:00, the joyous news came that we were finally going to be allowed to leave. When we tell this story in the future, we'll leave out the part about delays caused by fog and slow-moving customs officials, and say merely that we were detained by the Chinese authorities. It sounds so dangerous and exciting. To leave our berth, we had a tug boat at the front of the boat ...
... and another at the rear of the boat. They both pulled us away from the pier and then pulled us down the river. About a mile down river, the tugs helped us turn around in place. With the river open, traffic was flying by us toward the sea until it was abruptly stopped for our giant ship to turn in place.
It was nice to bid farewell to the Oriental Pearl Tower, even as it was shining in the sun.
We were sad for the Crystal Symphony, but not-so-secretly glad for ourselves that our ship got to leave the pier first.
One of the bright sides of our unfortunate delay was that we had a nice, warm day to enjoy sail out. We were able to move from one side of the Sports Deck to the other to admire the sights of Shanghai.
We passed many groups of barges, tied together and anchored by buoys situated in the center of the river with traffic passing by on both sides.
We passed numerous ship yards, where ships were either being repaired or built anew.
This large brick structure is a water treatment facility. The only clue to its purpose is the series of fountains visible in the center of this photo.
This large clock tower further up river caught our eye.
When we approached this bridge, the ship's guide explained what "tidal opportunity" had meant earlier. Because this river is connected to the sea, it is affected by tides and the river level rises and falls.
As we passed under the bridge, we would have only a six foot clearance, so we held our breath as the tallest point in the front of the boat approached the bridge ...
... and again as the tallest point in the back of the boat cleared the bridge.
As we passed various ship yards, the workers on the ships often stopped what they were doing to watch the giant cruise ship pass by.
Families living on barges came out to wave, too.
We passed a Chinese diesel submarine on one side of the river, ...
... and a Chinese Navy cruiser on the other.
With the sun finally breaking through the clouds, the roof over the pool on the Lido deck was retracted.
We headed back to our room for a while to watch the river go by. Tom's GPS recorded the ship's every movement.
Tom won at Maersk when he spotted these containers on shore, and he was quite pleased with himself.
As we approached the Yangtze River, we went back up on deck. From this vantage point, we could see our balcony three decks down with Tom's faithful GPS still on duty.
Imagine our joy to finally reach the mighty Yangtze, which had its own shipping lanes for us to join. The lighthouse on the left marked the place where the Huangpu River ended.
With our riverside show over, we tried to beat the crowd to the Lido Restaurant for lunch, and got a shot of the last major sight -- a lighthouse in the mouth of the Huangpu River -- as we stood in the buffet line for our food.
The Yangtze River is large and with fairly foggy conditions still in effect, there wasn't much to see, so we spent the afternoon in our cabin. We got out our Tsingtao beer and toasted our friends John and Angie who had recommended it after their visit the previous year to adopt their daughter, Ava. Coincidentally, our ship had numerous families with daughters adopted from China 8 - 10 years ago, visiting their birth country.
Dinner this evening was our third and final formal night. We wolfed down our lobster tails (and even the extra one our waiter offered us), then enjoyed a plate of cookies while we waited for the big event of the evening ...
... the March of the Baked Alaskas!
This little show never gets old, and our waiter, Made, was happy to pose for a photo for us.
Unfortunately, this is the only photo we ever got of our hard-working assistant waiter, Gun.
Yummm, baked Alaska with cherry topping. Poor Tom never gets served this at home, but he probably would if he wore a tux more often.
At 5:00 PM, we learned that we would be arriving in Hong Kong around 12:30 PM, over 5 hours late, and too late for us to make our flight home. After a day of feeling quite sick as to how we would make our arrangements, we were finally told that passengers who had purchased their own flights would be allowed to make free phone calls from our cabin starting at 8:00 PM. So, we spent the rest of the evening trying to get through the busy signal for an outside line and finally got our flights changed for a mere paltry payment of $1400. Yay. A quick login to Expedia secured us a hotel room near the Hong Kong airport, and we sent a flurry of emails making work, child care, and pet care arrangements since we'd be arriving home a day late. The amusing thing in this photo is that even though Debbie books all of our vacations in her name with Tom as additional occupant, the cruise lines always put Tom's name as the primary occupant of the cabin. He is the man, after all.

The view from our room that evening was foggy and grey, like our moods.

Day 16 >


Asia 2008: [Day 1 - Tokyo] [Day 2 - Kyoto] [Day 3 - Kobe] [Day 4 - At Sea] [Day 5 - Nagasaki] [Day 6 - Busan] [Day 7 - At Sea] [Day 8 - Dalian] [Day 9 - Beijing] [Day 10 - Beijing] [Day 11 - At Sea] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Shanghai] [Day 14 - Shanghai] [Day 15 - At Sea] [Day 16 - At Sea] [Day 17 - Hong Kong]

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