August 25, 2018

Two Days at Sea

We spend the next two days at sea, headed towards Miami where most passengers will disembark. We will take on fresh provisions, and a fresh group of passengers.

The seas remain relatively calm with waves reported at less than 2 meters, actually I think they are less than 1 meter most of the time. We pass through several showers during the night but as of Friday afternoon, none during the day.  The sun is very hot as there is barely a breeze on deck as the winds are on our stern at 20 knots, just about the same as our forward speed.

I watch the hot glass artists for a time, and then spend the rest of the afternoon listening to an audio book, an activity I don't usually find time for. 

The sky lounge is less busy tonight, a trend that I usually see on every ship. As the cruise progresses fewer people attend happy  hour.

The singers and dancers perform again Thursday night. In general most would say better than your average production show on Royal ships.

Friday morning is the Captain's corner in the main theater. Speaking to the popularity of Captain Kate, there is barely an empty seat anywhere in the theater. A few tidbits to share. 

After graduation from the maritime academy Kate worked on banana boats. The spiders, and snakes were too much and she wanted to get on a cruise ship. She did not get a single response to any of the hundreds of resume's she mailed out. Realizing a change in strategy was needed, she rewrote her resume and applied for a bar tenders job even though she had no knowledge of the work. Anything to get off the banana boats. Disney contacted her, said she was over qualified for a bartender's job, and hired her in a low ranking position.

I had assumed like many that the "H" on the foredeck was to indicate a helicopter pad, while it is true that a helicopter could land there, it really is there to indicate the hover position for a helicopter to lower a basket.

Also there is no requirement for removing passengers from a ship by helicopter, there is a requirement to be able to bring someone onto the ship in certain situations. 

The important knowledge I learn at sea.

Back to a little more about our captain.

With Disney only having two ships at the time, Kate did not see many opportunities for the future and moved to Royal Caribbean where she worked her way up through the ranks. Three years ago she accepted her first Captain assignment with Celebrity.

Over an hour of Q&A with not a single stupid question. Kate McCue, and her hairless cat Bug Naked, are raising the bar for cruise ship captains. They both have a large following on instagram. (I think I may have said facebook earlier.)

This afternoon, Friday the 24th, there is a matinee show in the theater. If I counted correctly, this is the 7th show they have done this week. The usual number for a 7 day cruise is 4, two performances of two shows.

I know some of you have ties to this detail, Kate's first time on a cruise ship, at the age of 12, was on "The Big Red Boat". She told her father she wanted to run the entertainment. I guess being a ship's captain qualifies.

We encounter a few showers late in the afternoon and evening.

Tomorrow is turnaround day in Miami. I could get off the ship if i wished, but don't and won't.

Wednesday August 23, St Maarten

I am sure I have spelled St Maarten several different ways. I think they are all acceptable, but the purest will point out the subtle differences in the meaning implied by each spelling.

We arrive in port early, soon joined by The Allure and the Caribbean Princess. Overnight we passed through several very heavy rains, or at least that is what I am told by fellow passengers. Being oblivious to the outside world is one of the advantages of an inside cabin.

While in port we receive fuel from a barge that moors alongside for several hours. I don't know how much fuel we take on but can assure you it is a lot more than I would want to pay for. Increasingly more stringent air quality standards require the use of lower emision fuels. Years ago ships used the lowest quality oil with resultant high levels of pollution.

Most new ships on the order books for delivery in the next 10 years are being equipped with turbine engines instead of diesel engines and will be powered by LNG, liquified natural gas, instead of bunker oil. This ship has turbine engines, and uses a much lighter fuel than bunker oil, and consequently is one of the cleaner ships as far as pollution is concerned.

I don't make it to the Lazy Lizzard, a favorite watering hole on the waterfront, but do pass by during my 3 hour catamaran cruise along the coast. The air temperature is very comfortable in the low to mid 80's, but the sun is very hot. There is evidence of the hurricane damage from last year, and many of the resort hotels have not yet been repaired.  Our guide tells us that all tourism other than by cruise ship is greatly depressed.

One of the features of the Solstice class ships is the Hot Glass Studio on deck 15. Until about 6 months ago it was sponsored by Corning Glass works and was strictly "watch  the demonstration".  Now the show is operated by Hollywood Glass Studio, Hollywood, Fl. For a fee, guests participate in the making of a glass object of their own choosing. Other objects are for sale and they have packing materials and boxes to assist passengers getting their purchase home safely.

Guests are still encouraged to watch the artists. Personally I think this is much better than the prior arrangement.

We leave port right on time. We are again the first ship to leave, followed by the Allure. The seas remain the same at 1 to 2 meters. The skies have scattered clouds as we begin our journey northwest towards Miami.

The officers reception is tonight for select guests. Select meaning probably 30% of the passengers that have attained a higher status in the Captains Club, Celebrity's loyalty program. The room is over packed, but the staff does an excellent job of keeping drink glasses filled and tempting everyone with an endless supply of appetizers.

Tomorrow is the first of two sea days.