July 18, 2019

July 14th Return home

The alarm is set for 7:00. Our scheduled departure is estimated to be between 8:10 and 8:20. Gail is doubtful she can make it down the gangway, thru the terminal and out to the bus. Her "bug" has taken a toll and she is very weak. We decide to take advantage of wheelchair assistance and just need to get her to deck 5 forward to the gathering place for those passengers needing assistance.

After a brief stop to sit and rest. We make it. Shortly her name is called and we begin our exit. A crew member takes her as far as the elevator, then a shore person takes her from the elevator to baggage claim which today is the first group of luggage as we enter the big hall. I arrange for a stevedor to take our bags.
We continue on our way to customs where we barely pause long enough to open our passports.

Within less than 20 minutes we are getting off the bus at my car in the parking lot.

Home, unpacked and all the clothes are washed. Gail sees her doctor the next morning. The Z pack has worked and he finds no indication of any serious lingering issues.

In a few days life will return to normal and we will be ready to travel again. Hopefully without an unwanted "bug".

Though disappointing, things happen and one just needs to roll with the tides and deal with what cards you are dealt. Tomorrow is another new day.

July 13 A Sea Day

By early morning the temperatures are already in the low 90's, the skies clear, and the sun very hot. The seas have calmed to nearly flat. The ship is cruising at near top speed of over 23 knots headed back to our home port of Port canaveral.

Gail is still unable to get up for breakfast so I make a trip to the Windjammer. Rest is most important.

I catch an Aqua shown in the morning, and watch most of the Broadway production Greece in the afternoon. I miss the last 5 minutes because nature is calling and I don't dare wait until the end of the show.

No dining room again tonight, it is just too much effort when one doesn't feel well.

After dinner our bags are packed and set out in the hall. I make a last trip to the lounge to say goodby and leave a tip for the concierge host. No late night partying for these passengers

The seas remain very calm. Tomorrow morning we will be berthed in Port Canaveral, disembark the ship, and drive home.

July 12, Cozumel, Mexico

As always, Cozumel is busy. Besides The Harmony, The Liberty of The Seas and two Carnival ships are at the international pier. There are probably a couple more ships at the downtown pier.

After a quick breakfast of pancakes at Johnny Rockets, I plan to head into town. Just a slight problem. The safe won't open. It just keeps beeping and displays "error".

My third call to maintenance. First for the flooded shower, and then the next day the head wouldn't flush., and now the safe.

Security arrives within 5 minutes and the safe is quickly opened. I verify it now works and head to breakfast. I will bring something back for Gail, she is too sick to make it to beakfast on her own.

To ensure that the pancakes are hot I ask that they microwave before serving.  It works, the pancakes are warm enough to melt the butter.

Soon I am on my way into town. I wander the shops looking for a decent price on a certain brand of vanilla for my daughter. I will tell her this was the only reason I took this trip, but she knows better.

I settle on $12.00 USD. Much better than the $30.00 USD for the same brand in Costa Maya.

Some pop corn, one of my favorite snacks, and a bloody mary at Senior Frogs before I head back to the ship. Shopping mission completed before noon.

They have built a new security checkpoint here, or maybe I just don't remember. ID check, xrays, or manual pat down in my case, and I am on my way.

I meet Kelly and Ann on the way down the pier, they are headed out for lunch. Her cold is pretty much gone, but she has a lingering cough.

Lobster is on the menu tonight, but I don't see any being served.  I settle on the cheese tortelloni. Gail manages some baked fish. Right after dinner she heads to bed for the night.

Back in the Diamond lounge I meet a neighbor from my community in Clermont. I also learn some of the diamond plus benefits have disappeared. Specifically access to the suites lounge and coastal kitchen that was available on some ships.

It is also being rumored that a pedestrian bridge is being built from NCL's private island to cococay so they can pay to use the facilities. Personally I am very doubtful.

I visit with Ann for awhile while listening to Kelly do his Neil Diamond set. No longer staying up to close the bar, I am asleep before 11.

The seas remain under 6 feet. The skies clear of storms, and the temperatures in the upper 80's.

Tomorrow is a sea day as we cruise back to Port Canaveral.

July 12, 2019

July 11, Roatan, honduras

The captain has decided to continue to operate on ship's time despite the fact we  have crossed  two time zones. Much easier for  him and the crew, but dangerous for passengers that rely on a cell phone for the time.

We arrive before 7 local time, but ships time is two hours later.

Roatan is a very small port, but is in the process of enlarging the land area, I assume for more shops.

If you are not taking an excursion there is little reason to get off the ship here, I don't.

My sore throat is lingering,  but not getting worse. We forgo the dining room for the Windjammer. It is obvious why there are so many empty tables in the dining rooms. The Windjammer is very busy.

The theater is only 70% full for the singers and dancers production show.

Two passengers are paged several times as we are ready to leave Roatan. An indication that the captains clock plan caught someone that didn't make it back to the ship on time.

As we leave on our course for Cozumel, the wind and seas have picked up to about 3 or 4 feet, just enough that occasionally you can feel a very slight motion to the ship.

July 11, 2019

July 10, Costa Maya

We are tied to the pier long before I open the curtains. The skies are clear and sunny, and the seas calm.

Royal's Empress of The Seas, the smallest ship in the fleet, is also berthed in Costa Maya. A village of 2000 now over whelmed with 6 or 7 thousand visitors.

A brief visit ashore to say we have been there. No purchases, not even a drink. On the way back to the ship a Carnival ship arrives to add several thousand more tourists.

The dining rooms are even more empty tonight. There are many tables available on all three decks. The few speciality restaurants I pass also do not appear to be very busy.

Another perfect day comes to an end as we head to  Roatan , Honduras. Again cruising on calm seas under clear skies.

July 9, a sea day

The seas remain calm and the temperature in the mid to  upper 80's.

The Top Tier Party is combined with the Captain's reception which is open to all guests, it is poorly attended with only about 300 in attnedance.The top cruiser has 1400 points, a little more than double my count. There are 62 pinnacles, 106 Diiamond plus and 231 Diamonds on the ship.

The crowd in the Diamond club remains very manageable and the service prompt. The Windjammer buffet is a different story. There are often waiting lines to enter, and seating hard to find.

Reserved seating for upper tier guests solves any seating problem in the Aqua theater.

The pool decks remained packed all day as to be expected.

There are  many empty seats in the dining rooms each night. I can only suspect that many of the families just go to the buffet.

The skies are sunny and the seas calm as we head for our next port of Costa Maya Mexico. 

July 10, 2019

Monday July 8

The ship arrives in Cococay before 7:00, passengers begin to leave by 8:30. skies are overcast with a very light breeze. temperatures are in the high 70's or low 80's, a much enjoyed relief from the Florida heat of late.

I haven't been to Cococay in 3 or 4 years, since before  the pier was built. It was strictly a tender port, and not a friendly one as the slighest seas made tendering too dangerous.

This summer Royal has mostly completed a transformation of the small island from just a beach stop to what I will call a carnival stop with a water park, zip lines, water slides, etc. all to be enjoyed by the guests for a fee.

Many of the walkways are now paved in very colorful bricks. I am sure the colors are of significance, leading to certain attractions.

A couple of nice things Royal did is provide shade and seating on much of the pier.  They also provide continuous shuttle service for those that need or desire it. Less than an hour of exploring is enough.

My cabin is very spacious, significantly larger than the interior cabins I am used to. Storage design is very functional. Shower drains, maybe not. The shower drain did not work properly and the entire bathroom flooded with an inch of water.

A call to maintenance, and hopefully a permanent fix has been made.

The weather remained overcast all day, but I don't think there ever was more than a few drops of rain. 

One drink in the lounge and then off to dinner. The service was as good as the first night. Surprisingly there are quite a few empty tables again tonight. After dinner we catch the ice show that we missed the previous night, there is plenty of room for all the "standby" passengers, like me, that don't have reservations.

After the show it is off to the Schooner bar to catch Kelly. He is playing an early set which ends at 8:15. We visit with Kelly and Ann for a bit until they need to get a bite for dinner. When he comes back at 9:15, he will play nearly continuously until way after midnight.  Ann is good, but fighting a cold. It was a pleasure to see them again, it probably has been two years.

The seas remain flat as we start on our day and a half cruise to our next port. Temperatures remain in the low 80's during the day, and a little cooler in the evening.

Tomorrow is a sea day.

Sunday July 7, 2029

The drive to the port is very leisurely, and unventful. No accidents and no traffic jams.

The off site parking lot has improved their procedure. Stop and your reservation is verified, or I assume if you haven't prepaid, you depart with the appropriate funds. Move on to the next stop, an area covered with canvas tents. Your luggage is unloaded and taken to the appropriate bus depending on your ship. Park your car, and walk back to the waiting bus. After a few minutes the bus is nearly full, and we head to the port and our awaiting ship about 3 minutes away.

Security  is swift, despite the fact I can't pass through the metal detectors and need special screening. Upstairs to the checkin area. The barcode on the set sail is read, a picture is taken and it is off to the ship.  Less than 40 minutes after arriving in Canaveral I am sitting in the Schooner bar waiting for the cabins to be opened so I can unload my carryon luggage. Brief calls are made to the kids to let them know I am safely on board.

There are some kids on the ship, but not nearly the number I expected. Maybe they are just hiding the first day, I will find out by the end of the cruise.

On the Harmony, all the muster stations are in interior spaces, mine is in the  dining room on deck 5.  The Diamond club or concierge lounge as I often call it, opens at 4:30. It too was used for a muster station, and the room needs to be cleaned before opening at 4:30.

Mohamed Sayeh, the Concierge, told me earlier in the afternoon that the lounge will not be overly busy. He was correct, it did not fill up. A rare ocurance, especially on the first night which is usually the busiest.

I have early dining, which usually means 5:30 or 6:00. On this cruise early dining in the main dining room is 5:00! It will be OK, that makes it easier to attend early entertainment.

We are a few minutes late. Waiters are no longer showing guests to their tables, they just direct you in the general direction.  When I find table 720, a waiter asks how many in my party, and I say 2. He takes the table number and moves it from a table set for 8 to a table for 2. I wonder where the other 6 passengers assigned to table 720 are going to  sit?

The dining room service was near the best I have ever encountered. Very friendly, accomodating, and very attentive. The head waiter even stopped at the table at least 3 times!

There were a few showers in the afternoon, but I escaped them all.

Somehow I managed to misplace the list of booked entertainment. By the time I had Mohamed print me a new one, I missed the first ice show. Oh well. there is always another day.

The seas remain essentially flat as we head to Cococay, our first stop. We are to expect a few showers overnight.

July 06, 2019

Going to Sea in July

I just couldn't wait until October to be back on the high seas. I have booked the Harmony of The Seas for the week right after the fourth of July Holiday. I know better than to cruise in July and have never done it before. Shoot me now! I expect the ship to be loaded with families and kids on summer vacation. Most will be well behaved, but with passengers numbering over 5,000 there will be more than a few brats.

Regardless, someone is looking out for me. Even though I booked a guaranteed inside cabin, I was upgraded to a larger oceanview balcony. Two firsts for me. A meaningful free upgrade, and on my 74th cruise, the first time I will be sailing in a balcony cabin.

Our first port of call will be Cococay, Royal's private island that they have turned into a very popular carnival attraction with waterslides, ziplines, and other sources of revenue. More of that later after we have visited.

Many bottles of wine, a spacious cabin, and 24/7 access to the Concierge Lounge to escape the bratty kids, and it is going to be a lovely week. It should even be cooler than it is in Florida.