The poor weather earlier in the cruise were a distant memory as we arrived in Portland to another wonderful day. Today we would be taking a Craft Cruise Excursion visiting the Maine Fiberarts Center followed by 3 yarn shops with some time for a local lunch. This was going to be a busy day.
As we were leaving the ship – we ran into the outgoing Captain who was kind enough to pose for a selfie with Judy. Captain Jeroen would be leaving the ship today as he recently moved to Maine and this was a convenient drop off point for him.
Craft Cruises chartered a beautiful 40 passenger motor coach that was waiting for us at the end of the long walkway outside the small cruise terminal. Future cruisers note: It is at least 600 yards from the ship to where the tour busses assemble, so if you have any mobility issues, you should make arrangements for a wheel chair. About half way to the cruise terminal there were some golf carts available to ferry passengers the final 300 yards or so.
On the way off the ship, Judy posed for a photo with another officer, John, who we knew from the World Cruise.
Once our group was assembled outside the cruise terminal, we boarded the bus and headed off to Topsham, Maine, which is very close to Brunswick where the Navy used to have a Naval Air Station that was home to P-3 Orion Anti-Submarine aircraft.
Our first stop was the Maine Fiberarts Center, (www.mainefiberarts.org) which is a small facility that hosts rotating exhibits dedicated to the fiber arts. They support basketry, beadwork, clothing design, crochet, embroidery, felting, knitting, lacework, needlepoint, quilting, spinning, weaving and more.
Katharine Cobey, who wrote the book “Diagonal Knitting”, was here today and she was available to sign her book. She also demonstrated her diagonal cast on technique, a video of which will be posted HERE when I have more internet bandwidth available.
Our next stop was Halcyon Yarn, 119 Commercial Street, in Bath, Maine, about 30 minutes away. Halcyon Yarn is a huge shop that is in a standalone building with very high ceilings and several connected rooms. Halcyon is named after one of the owners first name which came from a bird in Greek mythology who built her nest in the midst of a storm. They specialize in natural fibers and support a large weaving community in addition to knitters and crocheters.
One room is bright and cheery and used for demonstrations and classes. Another room has rows of floor to ceiling shelves holding a wide variety of yarns. In the central section, there are books, patterns and knitting supplies, along with more yarn along the walls.
While most of the people in our group were busy moving around the shops many aisles, Gretchen, the daughter of the owners, demonstrated a felting technique in a room off to one side. It was very easy and they had some books and kits available for purchase.
We spent a little over an hour in the shop before getting back on the bus and driving a few blocks to Kennebec Tavern for lunch. Kennebec Tavern was wonderful with a commanding view of the Kennebec River. Their menu has a wide variety of choices, from Lobster Rolls to Reubens and everything in-between. They were able to serve our entire group of almost 40 people, who all ordered off the menu, and provide separate checks in less than an hour. Highly recommended. They prefer that large groups arrive by 1100 to beat their normal lunch rush and get better service.
Thirty minutes after we left the tavern, we pulled into the parking lot in front of our next shop, “Mother of Purl” yarn shop in Freeport, ME. While not as large as Halcyon, it had a large selection of yarns from Indie dyers and Maine artisans. They focus on practical yarns that can be used for shawls, baby clothes and gifts along with other projects. Business partners Susan and Patty were on hand to greet us as we arrived and passed out small gifts to everyone as they entered the store. A very friendly “Shop Dog” patrolled the store and tried to engage everyone in a game of ball toss during breaks from their shopping. We spent about 1 hour here before getting back on the bus and heading back to downtown Portland, 20 minutes away, for our final shop, KnitWit.
KnitWit is located in downtown Portland at 247A Congress Street and was the smallest shop on our tour today. Located less than 1 mile from the ship, it’s an easy walk downhill for some in our group who wanted to stretch their legs and enjoy the wonderful weather on the way back to the ship. KnitWit has a wide selection of yarns from local dyers including One Lupine and is the flagship store for Quince & company yarns made in Biddeford, Maine. The shop is very cozy and friendly and was a wonderful way to finish a busy day of yarn shopping.
We all piled back onto our bus and were back at the cruise terminal a few minutes later. Security was in the cruise terminal so there weren’t any X-rays in use on the ship.
Unlike in the morning, golf carts were not available to ferry passengers part of the way back to the ship, so keep that in mind if you have mobility issues. On further reflection, it may have seemed further than it was as compared to some other terminals where you have to walk some distance thru large cruise terminals before you get to the street.
We were scheduled to have three of our tables hosted by officers this evening. When you mention this to many people they assume you mean one of the ships deck officers. From my experience, this rarely occurs, but is always possible. You normally get one of the officers from one of the other departments/areas: Front Office, Spa, Medical, Shore Excursions, Housekeeping, Security etc. One of our scheduled officers was a no show but we enjoyed the company of an officer at two of our tables. Another treat is that they will provide complimentary wine for guests sitting at their tables.
Lilliana, from the Spa, was our guest. She is from Venezuela and provides cosmetic treatments including treating wrinkles and other procedures. This is her first contract with a cruise line and she is enjoying her new work environment very much.
Holland America’s fried chicken hasn’t been one of my favorite dishes over the years. I always order it with great expectations that it will be wonderful but am usually disappointed. I am pleased to report that the fried chicken on the Zuiderdam was outstanding – crispy, tasty crust and tender chicken. Judy and most of the people at our table ordered the Bacon Wrapped Scallops which also received rave reviews from everyone.
Jesse Kazemek was the headliner in the Vista Lounge. Jesse is an outstanding Beatles cover artist who can play any number from the Beatles songbook with skill and enthusiasm. His wife joins him on stage for a few songs and she has a wonderful voice in her own right.
After a short break, many Filipino members of the crew performed traditional songs and dances in an outstanding variety show. Since it started at 11 pm, most guest were long gone, so attendance was light, but for those who attended they were rewarded with a wonderful show.
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