November 05, 2018

Day 8 at Sea

This morning I awaken to another gorgeous day. The temperature is 73 at daybreak and will rise only slightly during the day. There are a few scattered high clouds, but otherwise the sun remains bright. The wind of 20 knots is directly on our stern, and with the ship moving at about 20 knots there is no apparent wind across the decks.

During the night the ship had altered its course 90 degrees to the south for a short period of time, an unusual maneuver that escaped all but the most astute passengers.  Our stacks are equipped with heat reclamation heat exchangers. Over time these can become covered with soot from the exhaust, which if not removed could become a fire hazard. Last night was cleaning night, but to prevent any of the dislodged soot from falling on the ship decks, the ship was turned broadside to the winds so any soot would fall in the sea, not on the ship.

The captain claims, and I have heard the same from others, that this ship is 25% more efficient than ships built just a few years ago. The heat from the exhaust is used to produce steam which feeds a steam generator. The hull shape has been tweaked to reduce drag along with an air bubble hull lubrication system which reduces friction between the hull and the water. Much of the lighting is LED. Even the digital projectors are laser instead of incandescent. More passengers per ton of ship just adds to the efficiency.

The cabins are the most functional designed I have ever encountered. Notice I did not say the largest. Actually the inside cabins are smaller than on most other ships, but this is easily offset by functionality.

We are now over halfway across the Atlantic, headed in a westerly direction towards Port Canaveral. We were partially informed of the process that will take place during our first port of call in the US.  All passengers must disembark to be processed by customs. Once the ship has reached a zero count, the coast guard will board the ship to make an inspection. Since this is the first time this ship has been in an American port, the inspection is expected to be lengthy.  When the inspection is completed, and assumed the ship cleared, passengers will be allowed to reboard.

The only problem with this is that there are limited facilities for over 5000 passengers to wait in at Canaveral, and there is not much within walking distance for passengers to do. I like many passengers had just planned to stay on the ship for the day. Wrong! 

Of course leaving the ship a day early, and for many passengers closer to home, is also a possibility, but each passenger would encounter a $70 to $90 convenience fee to leave early.  I'll just add that of the 40 or 50 countries I have visited by cruise ship, the clearance process is the most cumbersome in the US. 

The seas remain light to moderate at under 10 feet. The roll is perceptible but very minor, but even a minor motion of the ship results in cancellation of the Aqua shows scheduled for the day.

The ice in Studio B has been melted and the water drained, and is being refrozen today.  An interesting process, water is added in very thin layers by watering the area much the same as you would sprinkle your lawn with a hose, slowly building up the inch and a half thickness.  If just flooded and allowed to freeze there is the risk that the water would slosh as it froze, resulting in a rather uneven surface.

The pools are finally open today as are the water slides that were closed for repairs since we left Barcelona. With a relatively "mature" crowd on board, there is little wait for things like the zip line, flow rider, water slides, etc. The lines for the free drinks, well on somedays hundreds of guest are waiting for the doors to open.  The staff has done an excellent job of keeping the glasses full, and the appetizers are the most lavish I have seen since the Amsterdam sail away parties.

We again tonight turn our clocks back one hour. I think we will do this just one more time, the night before our arrival in Port Canaveral.