March 07, 2019

Two Days At Sea

I survive my first night of late dinner. The seas are extremely calm with barely a ripple. I make the Windjammer just in time to get a waffle with strawberries. At 10 I meet my family for the cruise critic meet and mingle. Few passengers have bothered to register so Royal has reduced the best raffle prizes from three full sized bottles of wine to 6 oz bottles. I am not a wine winner but do win a travel bag that I pass to my daughter.

I complete my request form for a bridge tour, galley tour, theater tour, and a lunch with the officers. Of course I have done all these before, but one never knows what tidbits I will learn, and they are always activities held on sea days not port days.

The rest of the day is spent on a combination of writing, walking, or listening to an audio book. Some may have observed that a nap in the lounge chair may have been in order at times.

About 5:30 I change and head to the Concierge Lounge where I am to meet up with the family.  Everyone arrives by 6:30, Eliza is allowed in even though she and her parents are not technically supposed to be. At 14 pounds she doesn't take much space and won't drink anything.

At 7:30 it is a quick trip to deck 5 for Eliza's picture with the captain, and some group photos of the entire group. No revenue for the photo company or Royal as our free coupons will cover more than what anyone wants.

Tonight is formal night, and even I am wearing a jacket and my favorite cruising tie, one covered with clowns. The waiter and his assistant are much better rested tonight. We are not the last table to leave the dining room, but next to last.

We all go to the 10:15 show of Paul Boland, the man with 1000 voices. Though a show definitely designed for a more mature crowd, my children acknowledged they knew 75% of the songs or people he impersonated.

Tonight we set our clocks forward 1 hour, the only clock change we will make on this trip as most of the US will have switched to daylight savings time while we are gone.

The seas remain very calm as we continue south easterly at about 18 knots.

When I wake, about 9, the skies are mostly cloudy, a few drops of rain are felt, but shortly the clouds give way to blue skies and sunshine. By afternoon the south easterly wind has increased, and the seas have incresed to 5 or 6 feet. We are headed almost directly into the seas, so the ship is very stable but the breeze across the deck is brisk and some spray is keeping much of the walking track on deck 5 wet.

The top tier party is at 11. 38 Pinnacle, 156 Diamond plus, and 289 Diamond passengers. The top cruiser has 1967 points.

I quickly change clothes for lunch with an officer. Last week there were only about 8 attendees. Karen really pushed this week to get better participation. I got no less than three invitations. Her efforts were successful, about 40 attend.

I am seated with the photo department manager, Carolee, and the Shore excursion manager.  The food was typical, the conversation fun. Coincidently I learned Carolee was on the Freedom on the same cruise I was on that left Port Canaveral three times the same evening, having to return to port twice because of medical emergencies.

Adrienne has learned her dive excursion has been cancelled because of lack of participation. Not surprising considering the demographics of the passengers.

Eliza has decided that a trip to the beach is in order. Adrienne is now confirmed on a dive in Bonnaire later in the week.

While looking at the Aruba map trying to decide which beach to go to, a couple from Holland assist, and suggest a beach at one extreme end of the island.  Adrienne isn't sure so I introduce her to Frank who has a time share in Aruba and has spent a lot of time here in the past 35 years. His recommendation, a beach on the opposite end of the island!

Everyone decides to pass on the show tonight. We try to go to dinner a few minutes early, but they are slow seating tables. In the end we are again one of the last tables to leave.

Half an hour of listening to Chester and it is off to bed.

The ship has had near negligble motion the past two days. In the morning we will arrive in Aruba.

March 4 - Turnaround Day

We arrive in Port Everglades under blue skies with a gentle offshore breeze. The seas are almost flat. The air temperature is to be near 90.

In addition to disembarking and boarding new passengers, today there is going to be a USCG inspection before passengers are allowed to board. 

The first passengers start leaving @ 7:15, before 8:45 they are calling for all remining passengers to get off the ship. As one of 60 consecutive cruisers, we leave as a group by 9:00. Within 30 minutes we are back on the ship, but unlike other times we are confined to the  Vortex lounge until about 10:30.

The inspection must have gone well, boarding of regular passengers begins at 10:45, only 15 minutes later than usual.

There are a large number of upper level Crown and Anchor passengers booked on this cruise. I expect the lounges to be packed.

Several passengers go to the Windjammer, gather food, and return to the concierge lounge to eat. A behavior I haven't seen before. With no servers, and no support staff I don't see the benefit of all the extra work.

In addition to the usual provisions, a half dozen rolls of carpet are brought on board. Considering this ship is 16 years old, she is in good condition. A testament to ongoing maintenance.

My oldest daughter Adrienne, her husband Steve, my son Scott, his wife Melinda, and thier 6 month old daughter Eliza, and family friends Pann and Terry will be boarding shortly. They had ben told by Royal that boarding would be delayed by the inspection.

While I await thier arrival, I venture to the spa to see how badly the scales are broken. Much to my satisfaction it still reads less than when I boarded over a month ago. Would the cruises lines be successful selling cruise travel as a weight control program? It seems to work for me, but the final verification will be when I am back home.

I wait at the railing for my arriving family and friends. The plan is to let them store some of thier carryon luggage in my cabin prior to when they can access thiers. I had forgotten how much extra stuff one carries when traveling with a baby. Carriers, diapers, strollers and of course clothes, but at least they are small clothes.

It is a struggle to get to my cabin as rooms are still being cleaned and the hallway is filled with suitcases for incoming passengers. We manage, some of the luggage is temporarily stored and we head to the windjammer so they can get some food.

At 3:15 it is time for the usual muster drill. My station is in the theater, and I grab a seat near the back in my assigned eating area. One thing you don't want to mess with is the crew and the muster drill. This part of passenger safety is taken quite seriously. You won't be tested to see if you know how to fasten your seatbelt, but verification of attendance is very important. 

One passenger didn't want to understand this. Just as instructions begin I hear an argument between a passenger and a crew member. I couldn't understand most of what the passenger was saying, but when he turned to walk out of the theater it becme quite clear.

"Sir, you cannot leave."

"I'm leaving."

"It is mandatory that you attend the muster drill."

Within seconds two additional security officers and a ships officer were on the scene. The passenger was escorted somewhere, where I do not know. Maybe to face the captain, maybe to the gangway and put off the ship. Whichever, this is not the way to start off the first few hours of a vacation.

I was wrong about the lounge, it is busy, but not overcrowded. I have a couple of drinks with Adrienne and Steve, and then return to the cabin to clean up for dinner. Dinner at 8:00, usually the time I am nearly finished for the evening.

The dining room correctly has the reservation I made last week, 4 different cabins linked together. Our waiter is Hurry, the same waiter I had several weeks ago.

After dinner I walk thru the Schooner Bar, Chester has a good crowd, often unusual for the first night. Scott and Adrienne want to play a game of pool, but the tables are both busy. I wander back to the cabin and go to sleep on a full stomach.