February 08, 2019

Friday Feb 8, St Marten

The skies are sunny, there is a nice island breeze. Temperatures are probably near 80, the same as the surrounding ocean. We are the only cruise ship in port today, usually there are three or four. What a difference. The docks are not crowded, there is no line for the water taxi.

There are three large private yachts here. The largest is about 200 feet and has at least 5 decks. She is being reprovisioned, boxes and boxes brought by vans and carried up the gangway one by one.

The middle sized yacht soon leaves port. I only see a few crew members handling the lines and pulling in the gangway.

The smallest of the three, maybe 100 feet in length is painted a high gloss black, more shiny than the fanciest black limo you have ever seen. She sports a helicopter on the top deck and looks like a yacht right out of a James bond movie. Maybe she is.

I get all my emails as soon as I have cell service in each port. I learn that my brother passed this morning. Not an unexpected event as he was fighting a losing battle with brain cancer. That's two losses this week. As bad news like this often comes in threes, I wonder what is next?

My task for the day is to stop and see Nick at the Lazy Lizard, and purchase some Bananna Rum for my youngest daughter. I was surprised to learn that Nick bottles the rum himself, not using a commercial bottler. I expect that would be near impossible to do in the US.

Despite my maturity and failing body, one part that still  works remarkably well is my ears. I over hear a middle aged couple sitting several tables behind me at the Lazy Lizzard. They are not from the cruise ship, they did not come by yacht, but by boat.  What boat they did not say. They will probably stay about a month, but plans are not too firm as they continue on a round the world venture. The gentleman is so impressed with his food that he orders a second plate. I believe it was calamari.

A simple cheeseburger and diet coke for me. Much better than what is available on the ship.

Either some of the crew missed the life boat drill the other day, or needed additional training as several lifeboats are launched today. They do  their usual running around the harbor and then are brought back on board.

This was  our fifth island stop in just as many days, unusual for a Caribbean cruise. Deck 13 is almost unbearably hot this afternoon. Either the AC has malfunctioned, or more likely has been turned off. The lounges are full, but not over crowded.

Neither my waiter or assistant are in the dining room tonight. Within several minutes I am given several excuses. First they have been given the day off because they are "employees of the month", next I hear they are sick and quarantined, third I am told they have exceeded the maximum number of allowed working hours. The third is most plausible, but I will probably hear an official reason tomorrow night, that is assuming they haven't just jumped ship.

The pasta is not nearly as good as several days ago. The sauce lacks flavor, and appears to have been watered down.

When I return to the Concierge lounge the AC is working, and the noise level is tolerable.

For the next two and a half days we will cruise at about 18 knots on our way back to Port Everglades. Most passengers will disembark  and then I will begin an eleven day cruise to four different Eastern Caribbean islands with a return call to St Kitts.  I will learn how many other passengers are staying on the ship on turn around day, I am already aware of quite a few. The seas are forecast to be under two meters, essentially flat.

Feb 7, St Kitts

We arrive in St Kitts and passengers begin disembarking before I awake.  The Captain's forecast for today is for overcast skies and rain. I think he has his days confused. Yesterday he forecast clear sunny skies, and there were showers much of the day. Today as I look out the skies are mostly blue with an occasional whispy cloud.

I grab a  quick breakfast in the Diamond Lounge and head ashore.

We are sharing the dock with the Celebrity Summit, and there is another ship anchored in the harbor using tenders. She is too far out for me to identify but I believe she might be a Windstar ship. 

Workmen are busy constructing a new pier, I suspect which will hold two ships, and probably of the oasis class size. I would guess scheduled for completion next year. The streets are clean, and the shops more than plentiful.

I find it very ironic that I needed to travel thousands of miles to answer a question I  had 16 months ago while visiting Canada on the Vision of the Seas.  I am sure you all remember, but on the pier were hundreds of sections of large pipe. I asked and asked, but at the time no one was able to tell me what they were for. Now that has changed.

While ashore this morning I was having a conversation with a passenger on the Summit that turned out to be from New Brunswick, Canada. He tells me the pipe was purchased to build a pipeline to transfer oil bearing tar sands to a refinery near Montreal. Due to inability to secure all the required permits etc, the project has been temporarily halted. Locally this was a very sensitive topic as the halt put the jobs of thousands of workers at risk. Subsequently no one was willing to discuss the subject with anyone, especially an outsider like me.  Who would have guessed that I would find the answer sitting on a park bench in St Kitts.

As I return to the  ship a group of our cremembers are wheeling carts of provisions to the Summit. I can't read all the labels, but many boxes of asparagus are transferred. I hope they haven't given away too many limes. FYI the Summit is sailing out of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Our ship is being refueled today. The process takes most of the day. I belive there are refineries here, but I am not sure. There are definitely a number of large storage tanks, and at least one oil tanker is moored nearby.

I take a peak at tonight's menu. Why do they do this? Three of my favorite dishes on the same menu, while last night there were none. I will wait until I arrive in the dining room to decide.

Cleaning and maintainig a ship is a never ending job. The past two days all the carpets on decks 13 and 12 were shampooed. A process that appears to work quite well as the carpet now looks nice and fresh.  One crewmember sprays a detergent solution on the carpet, giving extra attention to any stained areas. I can't imagine anyone would ever spill a drink. This is followed by a standard carpet shampoo machine with strong suction and I assume a water rinse.  When all finished, fans are used for drying. I didn't get it, but I heard one guest complaining to the concierge host that cleaning the carpet made it dangerously slippery.

Today all the lights are being repaired in the Vortex lounge.  In additional to replacing  burned out general lighting, some of the spotlights had failed as had several strobe lights over the dance floor.

The only entertainment in the theater tonight is the love and marriage game show. I expect the Schooner bar will be busy. 

I resolve my dining dilema once I reach the dining room. Lasagna and braised beef but skipping the accompaning potato. No appetizer and no desert as usual. 

With no entertainment tonight, I return to the Diamond lounge. It remains packed until closing at 8:00. I then head to the Schooner bar.

Thee was a decent sunset tonight, of course I don't have my camera and don't take pictures. The seas remain calm as we head to St. Marten at about 8 knots.