October 06, 2017

Day 4 Rockland

No alarm this morning, since there is no early tour today. I sleep until a little after 8, and deliberately walk outside to get a feel for the weather. The navigation channel which usually provides some basic information such as ship's time, temperature, wind, etc. is mostly non functional. The time has been indicated as 00:35 for several days now, and weather conditions are never displayed.

There are just a very few high wispy clouds in an otherwise blue sky. There is barely a breeze, and the temperature is already closing in on 70. It is going to be another perfect day.

It was a very short cruise from Portland, and at one point we were moving at 4 knots on calm seas under a bright full moon. I guess we are anchored about 2 to 3 miles from the boat dock used by our tenders.

There are only a handful of passengers having breakfast in the solarium, one of those venues that often remains undiscovered by passengers. I have a ham and egg sandwich on an english muffin. It is served hot, and is all I need.

I return to the room and pack my camera, phone, and a jacket just in case. If one is not on a tour the tendering process is to get a ticket in the Schooner bar, and when your lucky number is called you may proceed to the boarding area on deck 1. This process does a good job of relieving the congestion that often occurs in the stairwells. My wait is about 40 minutes.

On many other ships, the higher level loyalty members are given priority tender service. Not here. We also don't have priority seating for the shows, one of those little perks that cost Royal nothing, was appreciated by the guests, but has been eliminated.

While waiting for my tender I turn my phone on and am pleasantly surprised that I have cell service. I send off a meaningless message to my daughters.

On the tender ride to the dock, we pass 100's of lobster buoys in the harbor, and also pass the Rockland lighthouse. A number of boats are anchored in the harbor, but there are more empty buoys than ones with boats attached. Probably the boats have been pulled for the winter.

A number of locals were handing out maps, answering questions, and otherwise greeting passengers as they came off the tenders. As I walked main street I found the majority of the shops and businesses were closed. A handful of restaurants were open, all pushing lobster in one form or another.

Unlike many ports I visited there were only one or two cabs working the dock area. I just got the impression that the economy is suffering here. If I were a store owner, with several thousand tourists coming to town for the day, I think I would at least open the doors. Why not?

Yesterday in Portland, security was very strict to reboard the ship. Passengers were unloaded from buses outside of the port area, we needed to show photo ID and Sea Pass to enter the port and then went thru the usual X-ray screening, pat downs, etc. Of course this was all repeated once we got to the gangway on the ship.

Rockland was much more friendly, just a crew member checking sea pass cards before boarding the tender, then the usual check on the ship.

Once I reboard the ship I find my room steward shampooing the carpet in my cabin. I wouldn't have described it as dirty, but I did notice a few spots that looked like shoe polish. I imagine they will be all gone when I return later. I leave my jacket and grab my laptop to go the the concierge lounge to write. There are a few other guests here, one couple enjoying a bottle of wine they brought from their room.

I have been told that the Top Tier reception is this evening, but as of the moment I don't have the usual invitation that is in the room when I embark the ship. Other guests haven't gotten theirs either but have been told by a friend of a friend that it was tonight.

A couple days ago there was a lunch for the Pinnacle members in the Izumi restaurant. It appeared there were many guests in attendance, I will try and find out how many when there is a top tier reception.

One of the two elevators that serve deck 11 has been out of operation for a couple of days. Monday when I was riding it to 11, the car stopped and the doors opened, but the elevator car was about a foot above where it should have stopped. Fortunately a passenger noticed before stepping out, and no one was injured. The entire elevator was shut down for a few hours, today it is operating only between decks 1 and 9.

Late in the afternoon a lobster boat was working within 20 yards of the ship pulling and resetting lobster pots. The catch appeared to be good with 10 to 20 lobsters being removed from each pot.

When I return to my cabin late in the afternoon, there is in fact an invitation to the top tier party tonight at 7:00 in the main theater. Why it is scheduled during dinner I can't explain. I tell my waiter that I need to be finished with dinner by 6:45. He does an excellent job in serving me quickly and I head off to the reception.

A few interesting facts are shared. Royal will be starting service out of San Juan this week with the next scheduled cruises. This is much sooner than many would expect, but as the captain explained this is the best thing they can do to help get things back to normal. Give us the opportunity to spend money there.

On this cruise there are 220 diamond level cruisers, 100 Diamond Plus, and 39 Pinnacle, actually less than I would have guessed. The staff here has a much more positive attitude towards the Crown & Anchor members and has made arrangements to have enough space for all those that wish to visit either the Concierge Lounge or the Diamond lounge. When I was complimenting the loyalty ambassador he told me that the main office heard loud and clear that many of the cutbacks they were trying to implement was not well received by the customer.

The captain explains that so far there have only been a handful of ships to visit Rockland, that may explain why the reception was less than what I expected. Unfortunately for those residents that see the benefit of cruise ships calling on Rockland, they may be disappointed in the future as few passengers on this ship would rate the stop very favorably.

Tomorrow is another tender stop, Bar Harbor, ME. I have an afternoon excursion around Bar Harbor and to Cadillac Mountain, so there is no need to set an alarm tonight.

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