February 01, 2020

January 31, Turnaround Day

The ship arrives long before sunrise. Being a Friday there are only a few ships in port. Over 100 passengers, including this one, are staying on the ship for the next cruise. Gail is returning home to attend a wedding.

We are escorted off the ship to the luggage area, find suitcases and are quickly process by CBP in just a few minutes. Being in front of the thousand other passengers has its advantage.

The bus arrives just before 10 and is soon on its way. 

After a brief wait I return through security and board the ship. Being an "In Transit" passenger I am able to skip much of the processing steps that regular passengers go thru.

My daughter, her husband Steve, and friends Pann and Terry are boarding today.  Pann and Terry have been in Ft Lauderdale for a couple of days having just completed a tour in Cuba.

Adrienne and Steve are driving from home, about a four hour drive.

The traffic was heavy, and the number of private planes parked at the airport was large, all a result of the SuperBowl being played in nearby Miami.

During the life boat drill the Goodyear blimp passed nearby. Advertising that always appears at major events. Some passengers grumbled thet they couldn't take pictures as passengers are always asked to turn off phones and put them away during the drill. I am sure others just ignored the instructions and took pictures anyway.

If the first few hours are any indication of what is ahead for the next 10 days, I may be in trouble.  I was  almost crushed  by a motorized scooter as the woman backed out of the elevator and crashed into the wall 10 feet away just as I jumped out of the way. No apology, I'm not sure about a dent in the wall. I think a little practice driving, and exhibiting a little caution would be in order.

A few minutes later a woman was wandering down the hall, obviously dazed, she said she was OK and just looking for her friends cabin. The biggest issue was she had no idea the cabin number. Trust me, the 1000+ cabin doors all look alike.

As I wait for an elevator another passenger goes by several times yelling with a foul mouth about how poorly the life boat stations are located, and how bad the cabins are laid out on the ship.  With a suitcase in tow she refuses offrs of help. Cabin number are all sequential, and multiple signs are available to help people fing their cabin, but that didn't matter. It was obviously thought to be more productive to just walk about yelling at everyone how bad it was.

Hopefully tempers will subside.

Adrienne shares with me that she stopped at my house to look for the pocket watch that I apparently forgot to bring. It is not on the counter where I though I left it. A check in my suitcase and it is exactly where I packed it. Well almost exactly. In the right suitcase compartment, but in the middle of a stack of papers clipped together.  Papers that were thick enough that the watch wasn't to be found the first two times I looked. Lost time recovered. I guess it is reassuring that I didn't forget to pack something, unpacking is a separate issue.

The seas are slight, but there is a long period swell of 5 or 6 feet that imparts a gentle roll and pitch to the ship as we start our journey towards St Thomas.

I had made reservations for the 5 us for dinner each night several days ago. When we arrive at the dining room, it becomes obvious that communication got lost. Now I know that is a simple lapse in memory on someone's part, but I have to relate that when we approached the dining room, the crew member no only remembered us, but that there were 8 of us and where in the dining room we sat. Oh yes, that was a year ago, and he wasn't even our waiter, he just worked in that area of the dining room.  Incredible.

A terrible thing to do, but after dinner it is directly to bed.

The next two days will be sea days.

Jan 29, 30 2020 Sea Days

The southern Caribbean is as flat as glass as we head north. The skies are clear, the sun bright. With an air temperature of 80, it is impossible to ask for better weather.

There is a new twist to the egg drop contest. First contestant's drop their contraptions from deck 6, then from deck 10.

All but 2 of the eggs survive.  Judging is done by 5 or 6 random observers instead of by the entire audience with the activities director spending an hour calling out random scores and then just making his own decision. A much better process.

"Balloon man" was the audience favorite. A four foot high human shaped balloon constructed of dozens of small balloons.  Being large and light it slowly tumbled to the stage, delicately carrying its cargo of a fresh egg to a safe landing.

Formal night, with lobster being served, the dining rooms are busy. Tonight we not only have yet another wait staff, but are seated at a table in the dining room on deck 4 instead of deck 5.

Of course no lobster for me, the three cheese tortellini with blue cheese sauce is a new twist on an old favorite. The new sauce is excellent, the blue cheese adds a delightful tangy flavor.

In years past, Royal would change out the entire menu periodically. Now the approach is to continually make small adjustments. A much safer approach.

Throughout the night the seas remain very calm. Some of you may wonder, but the earthquake near Jamaica has no effect on us at sea. Even if there were a tsunami, there wasn't, it would not be felt on a ship in the open ocean.  

Of bigger concern for world travellers this week is the outbreak of a new strain of flu in China which is proving to be quite deadly. With an unusually long incubation period, it is spreading panic, if not the actual virus, worldwide. A Costa ship with about 7000 people aboard is being quarantined in Civitavecchia as I write. Air flights are being cancelled, and borders being closed in a futile attempt to contain the outbreak.

The seas remain very calm our entire last day at sea. The temperatures are ideal at about 80. Yes, more baked sunbathers today. Most often those passengers from the cold north that don't respect the power of the Caribbean sun, or just don't care.

For most passengers it is time to pack the suitcases, verify boarding passes and say goodbyes. The ship will dock before sunrise, and passengers will begin disembarkation about 7:00 am.

One of the benefits of being Pinnacle is that we are escorted directlly to our luggage before all the other passengers that have luggage to claim. 

For those of you that read my last post, you probably noticed it was filled with a tremendous number of typos. A product of my big fingers trying to type on my phone. Usually I use a keyboard, but wasn't yesterday. The worst part was that it was posted in error when I accidently touched the send button. No easy way to fix it from here, so you just have to live with me.

Tomorrow is turn around day day for the crew, their busiest day of any cruise.