December 17, 2016

Two Days At Sea And Home

After leaving St Maarten we have a two day cruise to the Port of Miami. The first day is sunny with temperatures in the mid or low 80's, winds about 13 or 14 knots on our stern, and the seas very slight. The next day is the same except the skies are cloudy and the temperature reaches a high of 76. As we turn Westerly the ship begins to rock a little, the first time on the entire cruise.

There are the usual trivia sessions and sales in the shops, and several more glass shows. Nearly every lounge chair is occupied, sometimes by people using towels as blankets. Eddy, the cruise director, gives a presentation about some of the unusual aspects of crew life on the ship. One tidbit I learned is the "Noname Bar" in Cozumel is the goto place for crew members of all ships from all cruise lines. I had heard of the Noname before, but didn't understand its popularity across cruise lines. Eddy is from Wales, started as a DJ on The Rhapsody of the Seas about 10 years ago, and since has worked on 20 different ships for 6 different cruise lines.

The captain also gave an hour long presentation about the ships chain of command and various cruise planning and execution procedures.

Both were followed by questions from the audience. One passenger had seen oil barges refueling the ship in two different ports and wanted to know where the ship refueled its nuclear reactors.

The best question was posed to the captain. He had spent quite a bit of time explaining the training process to become a captain or senior officer. The guest wanted to know what was the training process for the autopilot. I won't comment except to say that I am not creative enough to make up such stories.

Earlier in the cruise I had indicated that some of the passengers were a little stuffy. This hasn't changed, but there is a group of about 20 of us that has taken over half of the bar every night during free cocktails. Obviously we are all frequent cruisers, and about half of them are Royal customers that are on Celebrity because of the better itinerary. Surprisingly on the west coast it works just the opposite, Celebrity customers go to Royal Caribbean for the better itineraries to Australia and New Zealand.

I also learned why there was such a mess at the port when we left Miami two weeks ago. Since it was the weekend after Thanksgiving many workers took a long weekend and there were not enough personnel to clear the incoming ships and process all the passengers and their baggage in a timely fashion. The same problem occurred in Port Everglades. Something I will try and remember for future cruises.

For quite some time Royal had been preparing to cruise to Cuba. They spent about 50 or 60 million refurbishing the old Nordic Empress, renaming her The Empress Of The Seas. Yesterday I received an email from Royal indicating they have finally completed all the legal stuff and cruises to Cuba are now available. Not that I am a fan of Castro, nor believe in Cuban politics, I might just go so see what they are presenting to the tourists.

I am one of the last passengers scheduled to disembark the ship. That is what the shuttle bus operator told me to do. I will let you know how it all works out. I am scheduled to be back at the Burger King in Orlando at 5:30 Sunday night.

I need to vacate my cabin at 7:00 so they can begin preparations for the next manifest of passengers, about 50 of which are staying on and doing a back to back cruise. I have a leisurely breakfast and then go to the Tuscan Grille to await my call for disembarkation, I'm in group number 31 out of 33.

By 9:15 I am one of the last passengers to leave the ship, my luggage is found within a few minutes. Customs clearance is speedy and I proceed outside to find my bus. A representative directs me to a bus waiting area. After about 30 minutes I board the bus and begin the trip home. The skies have drizzled on and off since we were approaching Miami, the excellent weather ended with the cruise.

There are about 20 of us on the bus, and we stop in Fort Pierce to pick up a dozen more arriving on a bus from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. I arrive at the Orlando "Burger King" at 2:15, and at home before 3:00, 2 ½ hours early. Despite some of the delays and inconveniences, taking the bus is more economical and less hassle than driving. I will take the bus again in the future. In six weeks I board The Oasis of The Seas.

Pictures have been posted. They are located with all other travel pictures and are accessed from the main blog page.