August 29, 2018

August 28 - Sea Day

We continue in a south easterly direction headed towards the ABC islands. During the night the easterly winds have increased to 30 knots, and the seas have increased to "moderate" or 2 to 3 meters. The skies are mostly clear and there is a chance of some liquid sunshine today.

Speeding along at 20 knots and our stabilizers extended, the ship barely exhibits any motion. There is an occasional creak and moan, but very minimal.

The second test of WiFi trivia is held this morning. 60 players were successful.  As each question is completed the app indicates the correct answer and the number of guests that choose each of the multiple choice answers. When rolled out as a finished product the intention is that any guest can play from any  location at any time.  There has to be a new revenue stream here somewhere.

The guest vs. staff archery challenge wasn't even close.  One officer got 3 in a row, the best any passenger did was one. All arrows remained in the atrium, and no one was accidentally pierced.

The grass really greened up from the rains the other night.  Looks better than my grass at home, if fact the might even be more of it.  I have no clue as to what type it is, but is similar in texture to golf course greens.

Our magician was not as good as the one last week. I have yet to make any of the late entertainment. By 10 I'm ready to call it a day.

Seas calm a little as we get further south and east. Our expected arrival in Aruba is 8:00 AM.

August 27 - Sea Day

I start my day with a trip to the buffet for breakfast. My usual bowl of cereal and glass of juice. Everyone is talking about the storm we passed through during the night, waking most passengers. The thunder and lightning was intense, with no delay between the two, indicating the storm was very very close.

By sunrise the skies were clearing and the day began with temperatures very comfortable in the high 70's or low 80's.

The cruise critic meet and mingle is in the sky lounge this week to accommodate the large crowd. Same format as last week. An introduction of many of the officers, a few words from the cruise director and from the captain. We learn that Bug Naked awoke the captain during the storm. I'm still OK that I missed it.

Trivia, that old staple of entertainment has been taken to a new level on the Equinox. They are testing a system where guests use their phone, ipad, or other device to enter answers. Connected by wi-fi, questions are displayed on your device, there is a time limit to answer, and scores are compiled automatically. The opportunity to cheat has been reduced, no more stalling for time by asking the question to be repeated. I expect this system will be rolled out to all Celebrity ships in the near future. What does the cruise line get? Better control of the key chains and more data about their customers. Is there a fee to play trivia in the future?

I take the complimentary galley tour, not because I haven't done any before, but just to see if anything is any  different on Celebrity. My first impression is that the galley is more crowded than most that I have seen. The galley tour itself takes about 10 minutes, the next 30 is primarily a sales pitch  for speciality dining.

I find a comfortable table on deck 5 by the atrium and spend a few hours writing.  The keyboard and phone works pretty well. Of course the editing functions are much more limited than with a laptop, but that would not matter much if the author could type. The convenience of not lugging around a laptop so far outweighs the shortcomings of this approach.

I don't consider myself a technology leader, and have been surprised by the number of people walking by that see what I am doing and stopping to ask questions. I am definitely not alone in having fingers that are too big to use phone keyboards.

There are quite a few more little kids here this week, and a fair number of teenagers. Most are well behaved. Running up and down the hall ways has been limited to daytime hours. One boy, I would guess about 7 or 8 years old, has mastered the game of elevator.  He pushes both the up and down call buttons, and then as any elevator arrives he just reaches in and pushes all the buttons without getting on. As soon as the elevator leaves he pushes the call button again. This kept him occupied, for quite awhile.

The skies remain partly cloudy, the seas calm, and the air temperature rises throughout the day. We are headed in an easterly direction along the northern coast of Cuba until about 9 PM when we pass Guantanamo and turn south. As we enter the Caribbean the ship begins to roll a slight amount as the waves are now on our port side instead of on the bow.

Formal nights are a thing of the past on Celebrity. What historically would have been labeled formal night is now "Evening Chic". For men the suggested dress is a "button shirt, comfortable slacks, or designer jeans". Of course suits and tuxedos are acceptable as well. I would estimate about 35% of the men are wearing a jacket or better compared with about 15% last week. And yes there are a few shorts and sleeveless tee shirts.

Tonight's schedule allocated 45 minutes for pictures with the Captain. After an hour and a half she is still greeting guests and smiling. Definitely  a very popular captain.

Tomorrow is another sea day.

August 26 Key West

The passage through the night is smooth and uneventful. We arrive in Key West, are quickly cleared, and passengers stream ashore for the day. 

We are docked at the main dock, just a few minutes from Duvall Street and all there is to offer in Key West.

I decide to take the Old Time Trolley tour. Our driver is excellent, not for his driving, but for his stories. Actually his driving is good also. I had done the Conch Train tour here in the past, but this tour is much better. Definitely worth the few extra dollars. When we get to the famous marker indicating the southern most point in the US. He stops the trolley bus, and asks the hundred or so tourists that are waiting a turn to take a picture to please stand back so the people on his bus can get a picture.  They oblige, and everyone that wants is able to get a picture of the buoy from the bus without strangers in the picture.

There is little evidence of any damage from the hurricanes last year. Key West was spared for the most part, but the southern edge of the city was buried in six feet of sand form the storm surge. Cleanup was prompt and efficient.

I'm back on the ship for lunch. The Majesty of The Seas arrives shortly after noon, again to a waiting ambulance. Like it or not I am just much more aware of medical vehicles. Unrelated, while I was on  the trolley bus I get word that my grand daughter has been discharged from Neonatal Intensive Care and is now growing at home. It  won't be long before she will be able to cruise.
I forgo going to the Sky Lounge at 5:00 when it opens to enjoy our departure from port on the fordeck, or helipad. One never knows the criteria for such invitations. About 75 are in attendance. Skies remain mostly clear and the seas calm as we begin our 1080 nautical mile journey to Aruba. As Key West fades in the distance behind us we are asked to clear the deck and must return inside.

Most of our entertainment this week will be a repeat of last week shows. Even the headliner comedian is here for 1 night before departing in Key West.

I catch the early show at 7:00 then head to the Oceanview Cafe for dinner. Maybe 100 other passengers, several officers, and captain Kate share my preference for the buffet over the dining room.

The captain shares a story from last week.  While in port at the same time as the Harmony, she invited captain Johnnie to the Equinox for dinner. He was impressed with the food, and even though his ship is much larger, conceded that she has much larger and nicer quarters.

This may be the end of an era. Every ship I have ever been on has had a piano bar, including this one. the only thing that has been missing both last week and  this week is a piano player. Progress? A change for the better? You decide.

The next two days are sea days as we head to Aruba at 20 knots.