December 10, 2015

Vision Of The Seas - Day 9 & 10

Day 9 - We arrive at George Town, Grand Cayman on time in mid-morning, anchor off shore and tender to the port. We are one of four ships in port, two Royal Caribbean ships, One Celebrity ship and the Zenith currently owned by a French company but previously sailing under the Celebrity and then the Pullmantur Brand of RCCL. 

Each tender carries about 250 passengers, and it appears there are at least three tenders serving each ship. The dock, tour staging areas and the local shopping area are quite crowded.

I don't remember ever having taken a shore excursion in George Town, so several days ago I selected "Land and Sea". A semi submarine boat trip combined with a bus tour of the island.

When I returned to my cabin last night there was a note on my door, and a phone message. The boat had mechanical problems and would not operate. I could either cancel the entire trip, or take just the land portion with a 50% refund. I elect to take the land portion.

The temperature is about the same it has been for days, in the high 80's, but unlike during our previous ports the wind is very light so it feels much more uncomfortable. I have about a 45 minute wait before the tour bus departs.

Our first stop is at the "turtle farm" where turtles are grown for meat. They don't export any, as their entire production is consumed locally.

After a 30 or 45 minute visit where everyone is given the opportunity to hold a turtle about the size of a dinner plate, and to browse the always present gift shop, we return to the bus for a 2 minute trip to the "Tortuga Rum Cake Factory". The samples are very good, but "factory" should have been spelled "sales store". Tortuga Rum Cake products are found all over the islands and on may cruise ships. I think it would be impossible to produce them all in the back room of this retail outlet, but maybe they are.

I may have discovered the Karma of all the "time" issues I have encountered. Possibly my time is up as I am definitely headed to "Hell" now. We drive on to our next destination. Yes, "Hell" really is the name of the town. We can buy postcards and mail them from the post office. Of course there are many souvenirs touting the towns name. Hell was pretty much as I expected, but much smaller.

The rest of our excursion is uneventful. The speakers in the bus are so distorted I don't think anyone is able to understand what the driver is saying. As I head back to the ship on the tender, I consider there may have been a reason I never took, or don't remember having taken this tour before.

Tonight, dinner is the one that many passengers have been waiting for. Finally lobster tails are on the menu. Obviously I am in the minority by choosing prime rib. The menu is quite different with only three entrees being offered. It is labeled as a Holiday menu. They have prepared a special cake for desert which is quite good. Even though this is the only time lobster has been offered in the dining room, guests may have as much as they want. It is not uncommon to see people have two or three tails.

I do have to add, that our table is seated and served correctly, again by Warren. Four of my table mates are new, while two of them I have dined with earlier in the cruise.

I learn that Adrienne's troublesome gall bladder has been named "Griffin" by her friend Amie. Griffin won't be around long as 24 hours after we return to the port of Tampa her surgeon will remove "him".

Day 10 - At Sea – We proceed north westerly around the western tip of Cuba, and west of the Florida Keys. The weather is definitely cooler, probably in the mid to high 70's and the skies are mostly cloudy. We did have a shower earlier in the morning, and the decks are still wet.

After breakfast I attend the captain's corner where the top officers are asked many questions from the passengers. It is obvious there are many seasoned travelers as there are few of the usual silly questions like "does the crew go back to port every night to sleep?"

As the day progresses, the seas lay down to almost perfectly flat. Since I have a credit balance on my shipboard account from the canceled tour of the previous day, I decide to have a steak from the specialty restaurant "Chops" for dinner.

There is next to no line waiting to be seated tonight. I am whisked off to the same table as I have had the last several nights. This time I am the 5th person to arrive. Within 10 minutes the last couple arrives and we soon order dinner, and all are served together. At the last dinner of the cruise it is apparent that Dan has made some progress with the dining room staff.

My tenderloin steak is perfectly prepared, and we enjoy our last dinner together. We say our goodbyes and I give everyone this blog address.

Dan stops me on the way out of the dining room. I express my compliments on the improvements I have seen in the last few days. A smile comes across his face as he confides he has kept his dining room staff every night until 1:00 AM to give them additional training. Obviously it has worked, and pretty much provides proof that the feedback of a guest can make a difference.

After dinner I go to the Schooner Bar for an after dinner drink. Adrienne, Steve and half a dozen friends are gathered to play musical trivia. I am absolutely no help, but they get many correct, but not enough to win the coveted grand prize of a plastic Royal Caribbean key chain.

I stay for a while chatting with Steve #1. This is Steve #1 because he concedes that he might be a day or two older than I am. I am Steve #2, and Adrienne's husband Steve is Steve #3, the youngest of the Steve's. There were a few other lounge guests that claimed to also be named Steve, but I am doubtful. The declarations may have been a result of the brief discussion that maybe there should be a "Steve" cruise.

Very uncharacteristic for me, but I actually did 99% of my packing in the afternoon before dinner. Shortly after 10 I retire to my cabin for the night. Tomorrow morning it is back to reality. Drive home, unpack, and begin final preparations for my next cruise.