Atlantis Alumni

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fun At Sea!

On the long trip from Greece to Naples we spent the day at Sea. We enjoyed a big brunch and relaxed at various pools onboard. Jim’s big event was the ‘splash’ party which he could probably describe best in the attached pictures. –Dan

The Soaked party is my favorite party on Atlantis cruises. Thousands of men just wearing their bathing suits, a few in clever costumes. Come prepared for fun. The water flies everywhere...out of the pool and the hot tubs onto the dance floor. Water guns add to the fun. - Jim

An Idyllic Day in Santorini

I have to admit that we dreaded the crowds of Santorini, the amazing volcanic caldera island which is one of the most popular tourist sites in Greece. But Friday we were pleasantly surprised on our excursion to the Perivalos Beach, which is on the other side of the island. We took a tender from the Celebrity Silhouette to a port, and traveled from there by bus to the beach. There were very few people at the beach compared to Mykonos. After paying for our beach chairs/umbrella we walked to a wonderful Greek seaside taverna called Charlina. This restaurant was the best we’ve been to in Greece on this trip. We started with a green salad, octopus and tender vine leaves stuffed with rice, accompanied by a tzatziki, the cooling mixture of yogurt and cucumber. Jim had a pizza and Dan loved his delicate grilled sea bass which featured a lemony dipping sauce. We washed all of this down with a strong retsina, which is our favorite Greek wine, but not to everyone’s taste because it is aged in pine casks. For dessert Dan shared his marvelous fondant au chocolat (admittedly a French delight) with Jim. After this lavish repast we trotted back to the beach and swam for the rest of the time at the black sand beach before our bus left for Fira, the capital of Santorini. There we walked to the cable car and took it down to the old port where another tender took us back to the ship. It was a marvelous day and we did not have to wait so long in the cable car line, because there were only two large cruise ships anchored before the island. Sadly, we now say goodbye to Greece; we certainly hope to return in the future. –Dan

Friday, August 30, 2013

Beautiful Mykonos

Although the landscape is parched and sere, both Jim and I always agree that Mykonos is the most beautiful Greek island we’ve been to. We returned to the island Thursday, and took a transfer by bus to Elia Beach. There we had a tough time finding rental chairs with a shaded palm-type ‘umbrella’ since the beach is so popular. After we left our bags on the chairs, we had lunch at the great Taverna on the beach. Some of the goodies we ate included taramasalata, Greek salad, octopus, grilled shrimp (what we’d call crayfish), and Retsina wine. After our big lunch we swam for a long time in the azure-colored sea. Jim brought along his goggles for snorkeling and took photos of humans, as well as fish. At four thirty we left the beach for Chora, the capital of the island. It doesn’t seem to matter how built up the island becomes, it’s still able to cast its magic on visitors. On the walk from the bus back to the tender, along the harbor, I (Dan) painfully stubbed his toe on a step. It’s been black and blue ever since. Moral of that story: don’t wear flip-flops until you reach the beach! Of course Jim wears flip-flops everywhere. We retuned to the ship to shower and change clothes, and then had cocktails for sunset at our favorite gay bar, the Kastro. It was packed with dozens of people having a good time. It’s the only bar in the town which actually plays classical music, unlike Babylon and others which blare loud dance music. Sunset, however, was not easily photographed, since a large Holland-America ship was right on the horizon before Jim’s camera. We had dinner at Niko’s, our favorite local restaurant and the only place we know where you can order spiny sea urchin (photo). We rambled over to a ‘gelateria’ (Italian for ice cream shop) after dinner. Then Dan returned to the ship and Jim decided he’d check out the big dance party at the Elysium Hotel. But by asking local folks he found out the hotel was on the outskirts of town; not only that, but the party cost $75 per person! So he decided to skip the dance extravaganza and instead bought Dan a lovely opal ring, to cheer up the poor creature who’d hurt his big toe. How’s that for true love? –Dan

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

70s Disco tea Dance Fun!

Another late afternoon "tea dance" happened Wednesday on board the Celebrity Silhouette. The theme was 70s disco music, which I remember well since I was working as a musician in those years playing many of the hits we danced to at the party. It was fun.

At Sea On The Celebrity Silhouette

We left the Greek island of Corfu Tuesday afternoon and began slowly sailing toward Mykonos, where we will arrive on Thursday morning. So we have a day at sea on Wednesday. On Tuesday evening, Rich Campbell (photo), the owner of Atlantis, invited guests who have sailed with him on four or more cruises to a cocktail party with an open bar and lots of tasty finger food. Mr. Campbell thanked his returning customers and announced two new cruise iteneraries for 2014. On Wednesday, the perfect weather in the vicinity of Greece meant that the pool area of the ship would be packed. I (Jim) staked out a lounge chair near the pool early on and enjoyed it throughout the day. The Atlantis team's most importamt member is a man named Malcolm. Malcolm is the cruise director for Atlantis. He works with the Celebrity cruise director and staff to insure that the cruise is enjoyable for Atlantis customers. One of the activities that Atlantis offers are pool side entertainments known as pool games. Today Malcolm, dressed in drag (photo) hosted a game called Project Runway. Teams of men are given white bed sheets and instructed to improvise an outfit. Celebrity judges comment on the resulting costumes and the audience selects the winning team (see photo.) It's a fun activity, just one of the many special aspects of an Atlantis cruise that appeals to me. This afternoon there will be another tea dance with a theme. This time the theme is 70s disco, so I'm about to put on my tie dyed shirt and join in the fun. It's really enjoyable and affirming to be among so many other gay people while we're all enjoying ourselves. There is nothing else like it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Greece: Sightseeing on Corfu

Tuesday morning we arrived in Corfu and then took a bus tour of the island. We visited a very old monastery that featured a wooden, painted ceiling, countless icons and the warm wax candles always lighted in Greek Orthodox churches, even on hot days! Outside the church and other buildings of the monastery there were many cats sunning and napping, and Jim took some great shots of a mom-cat with her frisky kittens. On the same side of Corfu there was a bay and beach with beautiful azure waters, so typical for Greece. We traveled to high mountains and Jim bought a bottle of the local kumquat liquor. We later stopped in a town to have mezzes (snacks) with the local dry red and white wines, which are not exported. These treats included bread with salami, feta, cucumbers, a stuffed fig leaf and different breads. Jim also ordered lunch in the taverna, a salad with feta and tomatoes, and a plate of fried calamari. Corfu is a large, unique Ionian island with much natural greenery, unlike many of the other island chains in this part of the Mediterranean. We arrived back at the ship around 3 PM and plan to attend a large cocktail party tonight for all those passengers who have taken cruises with Atlantis more than four times. Often at such parties they announce their future plans, which can be tempting or not. –Dan

First Visit to Montenegro

Monday we arrived in Kotor, Montenegro, which is situated in a collection of beautiful fjords and mountains. Though it was cloudy for a good part of the day, we had little rain. Our excursion took us via bus coach to Budva, where we saw the Medieval, walled city and then had lunch and swimming time on a nearby beach, one town away. The guide pointed out some of the similarities of her country, Montenegro to its neighbors, including a common language, Serbo-Croatian. What is known as ‘Montenegran’ is actually a dialect. The mountains are magnificent and Jim swam in the Adriatic. Monday evening, while the ‘dog tag tea dance’ party was going on (another of Jim’s favorite activities, Dan read a novel by Maeve Binchy). Our ship, the magnificent Celebrity Silhouette departed for Corfu, Greece --Dan

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Return to Dubrovnik

We sailed into Dalmatia and the beautiful Croatian Republic on Sunday. Picture mountains coming down to the sea, and foliage of palm trees, bougainvillea, cypress and more. The last time we visited this walled city was before the terrible Serbian War in 1991. Then, the medieval and Renaissance city was bombed. Now it has been totally restored and one would never know that it survived a war, which was worse here than World War II. My guide on the cable car/town tour mentioned that life was better under Tito and his socialist brand of Communism. Then everyone had a guaranteed job and the standard of living was higher. Then, as now, tourism was the main industry and 80% of the population of around 48,000 people survive by that means of livelihood. While Dan was on the bus tour, Jim visited the Dubrovnik Sea World and enjoyed seeing underwater animal life. Today (Monday August 26) we are in Kotor, Montenegro. —Dan

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sailing Out of Venice

Today we sailed away from Venice around 5:30 PM. It was fascinating to see the city from so high up, on the huge Celebrity Silhouette, which holds 3,000 people. Looking down on the rooftops of the old city was a unique experience, and soon the ship passed by the Lido, headed out to sea. We met some fellow passengers at one of the bars before going to the dining room where we were seated at a table with couples from North Carolina, London and Annapolis, MD. After dinner Jim caught part of the show in the theater, but Dan returned to our stateroom. Tomorrow Jim turns into a seal again, heading underwater at the Dubrovnik Sea World. Dan will be on a land excursion, so stay tuned for our adventures in Croatia.—Dan

Photos of St. Marks vicinity of Venice taken from the top deck of the Celebrity Silhouette as it sailed past the historic area.

Last Dinner In Venice

Photo: Dan at the Ca' D'Oro

Yesterday afternoon’s adventures in Venice included a visit to the famed Ca’ d’Oro (House of Gold,) a beautiful palace on the Grand Canal. Then we headed by boat back towards our hotel. Dan departed the boat to explore the Correr Museum, on St. Mark’s Square. This vast museum includes apartments of the Hapsburg Emperor Franz Joseph (since Venice was part of the Austrian Empire by the early 19th century,) a museum of cultural artifacts from the earlier Republic of Venice, an archaeological museum and a painting gallery. After a short rest at the hotel we headed out to our last dinner, at Il Galleon Nuovo, on the Via Garibaldi in the Arsenale part of town. The food was authentic Venetian, which is very tasty and piquant, perfect for folks who love seafood. We started with a Spider Crab, which has a unique flavor and is common to Venice. Then Dan enjoyed the cuttlefish in its ink with polenta and Jim had a fish fillet with vegetables. This meal was again enjoyed in an outdoor setting. –Dan