December 02, 2017

Day 8 - Saint John's, Antigua

After another incredibly smooth overnight passage we arrive in Saint John's under partly cloudy skies, a slight breeze and temperatures in the mid 80's. The stern of the ship can't be more than 200 feet from the nearest Diamond International store. It can't get much easier than this for the shoppers.

The Norwegian Dawn and the Crystal Serenity occupy the other pier. Antigua will do well today.

After breakfast I spend an hour walking the shopping area. What a pleasure compared to St Lucia. The vendors selling tours, taxis, and merchandise are friendly and polite. I expect their efforts will be better rewarded.

I now realize that the steady drone of a diesel engine I hear in my room is not either of the two main engines, which are turbine engines, but the axillary engine used to provide power when the main engines are not needed, or when more power than 1 main engine is required, but not enough to run both main engines. The sound does not bother me, and there is no vibration.

Today we are being refueled, or bunkered as the maritime industry calls it. I have seen this process a number of times, but picked up a detail that makes sense but I had never witnessed before. The oil barge has 8 storage tanks. Before the hoses are connected to transfer fuel several of the Serenade's crew remove 3 samples of the contents from four or five of the tanks. I must assume they are then analyzed before transfer can begin.

The main engines on the Radiance class ships don't use conventional bunker oil, but a much lighter fuel like kerosene, similar to what jet airplanes use. I can imagine how quickly the engines would die if they were fed the heavy bunker fuel consumed by most marine diesels.

The Serenade is one of several ships in the Radiance class. I have become to appreciate why this is a favorite class of ship for many frequent cruisers. She only carries about 2100 passengers, a small number compared to the Freedom's 4,000 and the Oasis class ships which approach 6,000. She has a relative large amount of public space, definitely more per passenger than most other Royal ships. The cabins are just a little larger, enough to be make them a little more comfortable. So far they haven't taken any of the public space and turned it into more cabins like has been done on the larger Freedom class.

Theater seating is comfortable, there is a separate room for cinema, there is an English pub in addition to the Schooner bar for nightly entertainment, and she carries the usual compliment of specialty restaurants, bars, shops etc. along with the enclosed solarium with retractable roof.

Both the Diamond Lounge and Concierge Lounge is on deck 13 with an outside view, and the Concierge Lounge also has additional outside seating, weather permitting. Of course neither lounge is large enough, and on this cruise the Hotel manager has decided to do nothing to accommodate all the upper lever Crown and Anchor guests. No ship is perfect, but this one has a lot going for it.

In all fairness I must add that if you are looking for zip lines, water slides, and wave riders, or ice rinks, this is not the ship for you. However there is a rock climbing wall, mini golf, billiards, and basketball.

The top tier party is scheduled for tomorrow, so I should learn how many loyalty passengers are on board. 25% of our passenger manifest is international, representing 36 different countries. This is higher than usual for Royal Caribbean cruises in the Caribbean.

I'm sure it's done every day, but the Concierge gets a good cleaning today. All the glass is cleaned and the brass polished. In a little mix up during the last refurbishment all the window curtains were removed, probably for cleaning, but never reinstalled. So if it is sunny, the sun is unbearable during happy hour in one lounge or the other. Was this an error, or was this a deliberate move to try and discourage use of the loyalty lounges? It will be years, if ever, before we learn the whole story.

All the cabin air handler filters are being replaced on my deck today. I don't know how often this is done, but I imagine every month or so. Yes, I had to look, and there is no mold lurking behind the closed panels as I saw on a ship of a different cruise line. A cruise line that I won't sail anymore.

The Norwegian Dawn also gets refueled by the same barge after they are finished with the Serenade. Yes their crew also drew samples from a couple of the tanks. I will probably always look for that step every time I see a ship refuel.

At 7:00 we begin our two and a half day trip back to Ft. Lauderdale. The ship is rocking a little tonight, not too obvious to me unless I stop and watch the self leveling billiards table. Each end of the table probably goes up and down four to five inches. The system actually does a good job of keeping the table level, level enough so the balls don't roll on their own.

The main entertainment tonight was David Howarth a piano showman from Southampton. He does a good job, but as often is the case the drums, and trumpets of the backup band are amplified so much, much of the piano music was over powered.

We will be cruising at just about 20 knots for the next two sea days.

No comments: