August 20, 2018

Sunday August 19, A Day at Sea

Today is a sea day. I slept like a rock, probably a little longer than usual, because of my short night the day before. 

The Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle is the first activity of the day. About 50 passengers attend, but most impressively nearly every ship's officer.  I meet our captain. A little bit of a surprise for me. Very young for a captain, I would say about 40 at the most. Shoulder length hair, which is a little unusual. No visible tattoos like many with a sea background. Excellent english, with a very friendly and outgoing personality. Born, raised and educated in the US. And most surprising, wearing heels? Yes our captain is Kate McCue  one of the youngest captains in the cruise industry and the only US born female captain. She has been a captain for Celebrity for several years, and boarded the Equinox this week after returning from time off.

Our hotel director is also a lady, Jill Anderson from the UK. Is Celebrity  headed towards having a fully female staffed ship?

The weather today is perfect. Clear sunny skies, temperatures in the mid 80's, a relief from what we have had in Florida recently, and seas with only one or two foot waves.

The Captain Circles party is held in the Sky Lounge. The usual free drinks and recognition of the top cruisers. Music for dancing,  but no sales pitches which are often the case.

The dinner menu is mostly fish or seafood, so I return to my usual habit of dinner in the Ocean View Cafe. the selections are varied, and there is plenty of seating.

Tonight's show is the singers and dancers. I really should say acrobats as they are more acrobats than dancers. The audience is not disappointed in the show.

No late night activities for me, I'm in bed early. Tomorrow we arrive at our first port, San Juan at about 3:30 PM.

Saturday August 18 Off to the pier

It has been a long summer but I'm finally headed back to the sea for 16 days on Celebrity Equinox, back to back on a 7 day and 9 day cruise. The first week will take me to San Juan, Saint Thomas and St. Marten.

Packing was postponed until Friday for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the arrival of my first Grandchild, Eliza born Tuesday afternoon. Small as expected when born about 5 weeks early. A full head of dark hair that I am sure must be one of my genes. She will remain in very capable hands at Winnie Palmer NICU for a few more days. The cruise lines won't let here cruise yet anyway.

My alarm is set for 3:45 AM, a ridiculous time to be awakened for any reason. I arrive at the "Red Coach" bus terminal a few minutes early. There are half a dozen other passengers waiting. I quickly learn that our bus will be leaving "a few minutes late". I assume a bus coming from Gainesville is the reason. Finally about 40 minutes after our scheduled departure time we board the bus and are on our way across the 528 headed to the turnpike. the bus from gainesville? It never did arrive, nor did any other bus. I must now conclude the driver overslept or there never was an intention to leave at the scheduled time.

The full size bus has only 3 seats across and seats about 30 passengers. The seats are plush, and recline more than most reclining seats. Personally I don't find them very comfortable as the head rest pushes my head forward. It is not adjustable.

I think I fall asleep within 5 minutes, and sleep for about an hour.

We make several stops on our way to Miami. At West Palm Beach and Port St Lucie we litterley stop at the service plaza on the turnpike to discharge passengers. Maybe a 60 second pause. At Ft Lauderdale we pull into the airport and everyone is discharged at one location regardless of which terminal they need to go to.

We soon arrive at Miami International. No traffic delays and with minimal delay to discharge passengers I think we arrive on time.

The next challenge is to  find Supper Shutttle. The terminal is nearly empty. I find a Shuttle kiosk as instructed but there is no one around.  Soon a taxi driver stops looking for a fare.  I ask and he says there are more kiosks further down. I start walking. The next kiosk is also empty, but I see another. Finally a human. I give him the reservation information.  He calls, and after about 10 minutes I am on the way to the pier.

There are also several passengers for the MSC Seaside.  As we near the pier area we can see a Royal ship, and two Carnival ships in addition to the Seaside and the Equinox.

The driver goes to the Seaside first. traffic is its usuall in Miami, vVery congested. As the driver starts on his way, he has no idea how to get to the Equinox. We tell him it is the next ship down the pier, but he doesn't believe us.  He tries calling his dispatcher, no response.  He then draws the attention of a traffic control officer as he is blocking traffic. He is again told the Equinox is at the next berth.

Once at the pier everything moves smoothly. I am added to a new "list". People that refuse to walk thru the metal detectors.  The list description is a little misleading. I didn't refuse, but explained that I have a pacemaker and they directed me not go through the metal detector. I am again labeled for life, but not as bad as some labels I probably carry.

I don't remember if this was the case the last time I was on the Equinox about a year ago, but this time  passengers are offered a glass of champagne as we board. A tradition that is always seen in the movies, but rarely practiced by the cruise industry today.

I head to the Sky View Lounge on deck 12 to await the opening of the cabins. I send final messages to Adrienne at work, and call my other daughter Alyssa. A long time tradition to let them know i am safely aboard.

Instead of fighting the crowds in the Oceanview Cafe for lunch I stop at the Mast Grill. Seating is plentiful as only a couple of other passengers have found this alternative location for lunch.

A cheeseburger and a glass of water and I am nourished for the balance of the day. Unfortunately, I managed to splatter bright red ketchup on the front of my white shirt. Of course spot remover and laundry detergent are in my luggage which won't arrive for hours. I head to a rest room and wash out 95% of the ketchup with hand soap at the sink.

Soon it is announced that our cabins are ready. I unpack my carry on stuff and store my valuables in the safe. I meet my cabin steward, Wilson, the same cabin steward that took care of me last year.

I reacquaint myself with the ship, it appears little has changed. I attempt to locate my table in the dining room, but they are not set yet. The menu looks good, and I decide to go to the dining room tonight.

The last passengers are boarding at 2:30, just minutes before our muster drill. We are the first ship to leave Miami as we head out to sea with clear skies and calm seas.

Unlike Royal, there is no cocktail party on the first night, or on the night of a captains party. The pork chop I order for dinner is good as are the sweet potatoes and green beans. I splurge and have a pastry for desert.

Again unlike some other ships there is both an early and late show tonight. A comedian that boarded today in Miami. His show is good, and the theater is mostly full.

The ships orchestra is playing dance music in the atrium as I head to the cabin to call it a day and settle in for a much needed night's sleep.