Our passage from Tampa to Key West is smooth and fast, we arrive over an hour early, but I get ahead of myself.
My cabin is on one of the lowest decks in the stern of the ship strategically sandwiched between the engine room and the main galley. The engines vibrate all night as we cruise at over 20 knots. The constant drone of the diesel engines is broken only periodically by someone dropping something heavy, maybe a full side of beef, or a full keg of beer in the galley above. I quickly return to a sound if not soundless sleep. Booking this trip only a month or so ago, I did not have a lot of options for cabin location.
I head to the buffet for breakfast. There is the usual cereal dispensers for cold cereal. One is labeled Special K, my favorite. Spoons are no where to be found, neither is skim milk. After asking several of the staff, spoons and milk are located in opposite corners of the buffet from the cereal. I settle into my chair to enjoy breakfast. Not Special K as I had expected, but something edible. Oh well.
As we approach Key West we are escorted by not one but two coast guard boats, each with 50 mm manned machine guns. Not that a cruise ship is a threat to the naval base where we will be docked, but our arrival gives them an excuse for an exercise.
Despite arriving about an hour early, passengers are anxious to disembark. Since we are docked at a naval base passengers can't just walk down the pier but must ride the complimentary transportation. Pictures are not allowed to be taken while on the base, but quite honestly, the entire base is much more visible from the ship than anywhere at ground level.
I avoid the congestion and wait a couple of hours before venturing into town. Nothing has changed since I was here a few weeks ago. The skies are mostly sunny, and with a slight breeze the 82 degree temperature is warm but comfortable. There is a Carnival ship at the main pier, but it leaves just as I am getting to town. Just Brilliance passengers and the regular tourists. I stay about an hour, have a local no name ice cream cone, and head back to the ship.
In the morning when we arrived the captain announced that our departure will be later than previously planned, and all aboard will be an hour later at 6:30 instead of 5:30, giving everyone extra time ashore. The detail he neglected to mention was the fact that the last shuttle from town arrives at the ship at 5:30, and that is the only way to return. How generous of the captain to remain in port an extra hour.
The concierge lounge is less crowded tonight, and of course with fewer guests we have the full compliment of staff, two bartenders and a server. Everyone is served by a few minutes after 5.
The ship departs before sunset. We head south westerly on calm seas towards our next destination of Cozumel. A little too far to make in one day, we cruise at 10 knots for arrival in about a day and a half.
Tonight's dinner will be in the Windjammer. Not only is the menu offering in the main dining room not exciting, once was enough for this trip. It carried a fancy name, but essentially the pot roast was delicious.
I catch the entertainment in the Schooner bar for awhile, then most of the feature show in the theater. A ventriloquist I had not seen before. Obviously a regular, he relates that he will be on 30 ships this year, flying all over the world going from one ship to another.
With the ship moving at just over 10 knots, the vibrations are minimal throughout the night. The beer kegs are still being periodically dropped.
Tomorrow is a sea day.