Our delayed departure also delayed dinner by ½ hour. Our sea pass cards had one time, the compass a different time, but no explanation until you showed up at the dining room where they had a hand written note posted at the entrance. I didn't mind as this gave me a chance to have a drink before dinner.
Usually early dining is the busiest, but tonight the main dining room was about 30 percent empty. Possibly because of passengers that canceled because of Matthew, or just an unusually high number that chose to dine elsewhere. I'll probably know better later in the week.
For the past several years I have used my time dining, but this time I chose regular early dining. Unlike every cruise I have ever been on, the staff was not at the door to greet passengers and escort them to tables. Eventually I found my seat at my table for 8. I say eventually as since I had no idea where my table was, I asked, a mistake on my part. I was sent to the wrong part of the room, but eventually managed to find my table, in the corner at the extreme back of the dining room. Six seats remained empty.
The menu has changed a little from what I remember. Probably of most significance is that shrimp cocktail is now only available on 3 of the 7 nights. Not that I care, but many passengers do. Just another little cost containment measure? I can't verify this as fact, but have been told they can find shrimp cocktail for you if you ask firmly enough. I wonder when they will get to the point that guests are asked to bring food with them?
After dinner the Diamond Lounge is less than 50% full, while usually it is impossible to even get in the door. The Diamond Lounge is reserved for Crown and Anchor members of Diamond level and above, and only for those over 21. Carlington, the Diamond Concierge, is kept busy checking sea pass cards, and asking people that don't belong to leave, mostly teenagers. The wait staff is doing their usual excellent job, and there is an abundance of appetizers for those that want them.
The only show the first night begins at 10:15. I guess I am beginning to show my age as I am sound asleep by then, having dosed off while watching the Presidential debate.
As we left port the ship rolls and pitches a fair amount. After we are several miles out to sea the stabilizers are deployed to control the roll, but the pitch continues throughout the night. Being on deck 8, I am easily reminded why I prefer the lower decks. In the morning the captain tells us that the seas are running 12 to 14 feet, and we have about a 25 mph wind on our stern quarter. The Ice show has to be canceled for the safety of the skaters, and the belly flop contest for guest safety. The seas are expected to subside by late evening as we move further South.
The captain was accurate, by dinner time the seas have subsided to a three or four foot chop. Tonight's show is "Once Upon A Time". One of the shows that has been running for years and years. I usually skip it, but decide to attend as it probably has been a year since I have seen it. I arrive twenty minutes before show time, and seating is plentiful. I choose an aisle seat about a dozen rows from the stage. The show hasn't changed a bit, and probably I haven't either. I dose through much of it. No piano bar tonight – off to the cabin and another good nights sleep.
Tuesday morning we arrive at Labadee. The skies are mostly sunny with temperatures expected to reach the middle 80's with a light breeze from the North. Apparently this part of Haiti has suffered little from the hurricane, I see no evidence of any damage. There are several reasons for this, Labadee is on the North side of the island and the South was where Matthew was centered, and this part of Haiti has not been stripped of all trees as much of the South has. I take a short stroll ashore but return to the ship in about an hour. Even though the pier can accommodate several ships, we are the only one here. Royal tries to schedule it that way.
The Diamond and Concierge Lounge are like a homecoming, there are about 20 passengers that I know from previous cruises. There should be one more, but Bruce's father passed a few months ago. Yesterday afternoon he was buried at sea in a private ceremony for the family led by the Captain and his staff. With proper paper work and procedures this is perfectly legal and a service than Royal Caribbean can provide but does not advertise. My condolences to Bruce and the family.
One drink and then off to dinner. Many of my favorites are on the menu tonight, so I will actually have to make a choice. Yes they would bring me multiple entrees if I chose, but I choose not to.
I haven't heard the piano player yet, but will tonight. At this point I don't even know who is playing. Kelly, my favorite pianist is on the Adventure of the Seas this fall.