December 02, 2016

Aruba and Curacao

We arrived in Aruba this morning to perfect weather. Temperatures in the low 80's, mostly sunny skies, and a nice 11 knot breeze from the NE.

The first passengers are off the ship shortly after 8:00 AM, and some have started to return by 9:30. Even though it is such a nice day, I decide to stay on board and take pictures around the ship, check my email and post my ramblings about the first few days of the cruise. Visually the harbor area has changed little since my first visit here in the spring of 2012. There is a large commercial building that still sits empty, there are small areas of construction that seem to progress at a snails pace, and most importantly the tree that grows out of the sandbar on the ocean side of the harbor still looks like it will float away any minute but somehow looks very healthy and remains year after year. There are at least three drilling platforms just a mile or two off the coast. Something you would never see in the U.S., but now that we have elected a new president....

A few passengers remain on board, but not a lot. There is plenty of room in the Solarium, and all around the main pool. I am tempted, but go to the pool nearly every day when I am home. All aboard is 7:30 this evening. I don't know if that is late enough to entice passengers to dine on shore, but probably not.

Many of you are aware that my three children live near me in Florida. This week we are scattered about the globe. I just read an email that my son arrived safely in Japan where he will be spending about a month on a work assignment. My oldest daughter, Adrienne, is somewhere in the Caribbean on The Majesty of The Seas, and I am here in Aruba on the Eclipse. My youngest daughter, Alyssa, has been left all alone in Florida. Well not exactly alone as she is the common communications point for everyone whether it be phone calls, emails, or text messages. How things have changed since I was a youngster.

I head to the dining room by 6:00. Again I find I am the only guest at a table for 8. In fact my waiter did not have a single guest to serve, instead of eating by myself, I went to the buffet after asking to change my table assignment for the balance of the cruise. I feel bad for George as he is a good waiter and is not a factor in guests not showing up at his tables. I wonder what he does for several hours with no guests to take care of?

We pull out of port precisely at 8:00 pm headed to our next port of Curacao. Only having to travel less than 75 miles, we idle along at 6 or 7 knots.

We arrive in Curacao before 7:00 am in a heavy rain. The forecast is for 50% rain today. Fortunately by mid morning the skies have cleared, the temperature is 85, and there is a slight breeze to make the humid air feel more comfortable. Many passengers disembark and walk to the shops. Surprisingly few take any tours. I heard from other passengers that many tours are canceled because of low participation and not meeting minimum bookings.

The weather remains near perfect all day. The dining room is only about 60% occupied for dinner, I expect a result of many passengers electing to dine in town with no concern about making it back to the ship. Tonight I am one of 3 guests at a table for 10. The others are originally from the UK, but now live in Vancouver, BC. Certainly an improvement over dining alone. My basic change in attitude about dining in the buffet instead of the dining room continues to make sense, and I am sure I will return to the buffet on some of the remaining nights.

Our entertainer for tonight is a magician originally from Townsville, Australia, currently lives in the US. He has appeared on the Penn and Teller show and other venues around the globe. His show is excellent. A side note is that Townsville is a small coastal town that was an unexpected port of call on my world cruise earlier this year. Our welcome there by the local residents was one of the warmest at any port where I visited. Kitt was aware of the unscheduled call of The Amsterdam even though he only gets back to Townsville every few years.

When I return to my cabin I find I am locked out. My key doesn't function. This has become an old habit when I cruise. Off to guest relations to get a new key.

Friday morning in Curacao finds the weather about the same, expecting a 60% chance of rain. Temperatures are in the mid 80's and the wind has shifted to the south, coming from the ocean. Many passengers stay on board today, having done their touristing and shopping in Curacao yesterday. Passengers are scheduled to be on board by 4:30 with a departure scheduled for 5:00 PM. I go ashore for about an hour.

The Eclipse is a very modern elegant ship. The dining room glistens with lots of chrome and crystal. The sky lounge is very bright with white leather seating. Of course the view extends from forward to back on both sides of the ship. The theater is what you would expect, but the cushions and seat mechanism are broken in most of the seats. An obvious case of inadequate design. The clientele is more upscale and reserved than what I find on Royal ships. Actually I might even say that some of them are rather cold and stuffy. As an example, only 2 people volunteered to sing at karaoke last night and the dance band in the Sky Lounge later in the evening drew a handful of listeners but no dancers. The piano player often plays to a near empty lounge. Even trivia attracts only a few participating teams.

My cabin is quite comfortable and spacious. This is one of the few ships where they still put a piece of chocolate on your bed each night when they turn the covers down, and I must say not just any chocolate, but dark chocolate.

Celebrity does give me some recognition for my status level with Royal Caribbean. (Both brands are owned by the same corporation, but operated independently.) A two hour cocktail party, 90 minutes of free internet use, one bag of free laundry service, and a number of discounts on additional purchases like spa services that I never use. No fruit baskets, bottles of wine, or cheese plates, but a lovely vase of yellow and red roses that haven't wilted yet.

Dinner tonight finds the table now set for 8 instead of 10, and eventually 5 guests arrive. Everyone orders, and from that point conversation is dominated by two people, the rest of us are unable to get a word in edgewise. Definitely back to the buffet.

Our main show entertainment tonight was Savanna Smith. An excellent singer that can usually be found doing the rounds at various Las Vegas venues.

Tomorrow will be a day at sea, then we will stop at five ports in the next five days, as we start our journey North towards Miami.