February 13, 2020

Feb 10 - Back to Port Everglades

The ship docks long before sunrise. By 7:30 the chip is cleared by customs and border patrol. A little later than the planned 7:00 AM clearance, but not as late as it could be. I gather with other Pinnacle passengers in the Schooner Bar. A few minutes late at 8:00 AM we are led off the ship. Quick and easy with no delays. Within 15 minutes I am sitting on the shuttle to the parking lot.

The long drive home begins. Just as I enter the entrance ramp for the expressway, the check tire warning light comes on. No place here to address it.  Within about 10 minutes it resets itself. Three weeks of sitting in the colder weather is probably the cause.

Despite two stops, I am home by 1:00. By 4:00 when I leave for train club meeting, all the laundry is finished and ready for another trip. The refridgerator is replenished with milk and fruit, and I am ready to return to life on land for 6 weeks until my next cruise.

Feb 8, 9 Sea Days

As we leave St. Maarten and head North West towards Florida the weather remains ideal.

The seas are running about 5 feet, just enough to impart a little motion to the ship. To quantify "little" the bubble level in my phone shows a maximum change of .2 degrees from one extreme to the other. Yes, there are passengers complaing how rough it is.

One of the fun activites is the egg drop competition. Passengers build a "contraption" to safely drop a raw egg to the Centrum floor without cracking or scrambling the egg.

There are only 5 entrants this week. Trash bags, empty water bottles, straws, and ballons are common building materials. One by one the eggs are dropped the 25 feet from deck 6. They all survive intact!

Next challenge. Repeat the drop from deck 10. Probably about 65 feet. One by one the entrants are announced and the 3, 2, 1 countdown from the crowd looking for an egg to make a splash landing. They all survive again. 5 perfected egg drop contraptions.

In all honesty, most of the participants have competed on previous cruises and have learned from previous disasters. Occasionally the rules are ignored but who is looking. The competition is for a key chain.

As we near the end of the cruise conversations drift towards future cruises and who is going where. The most concerned are passengers booked on trips to China. They have no idea whether the trip will procede as planned, or whether they should even go. The spread of coronavirus is a big unknown.

Ships are a bad environment for the spreading of contagioos disease, only made worse by the demographics and fraility of the large number of more senior passengers. With the coronavirus spreading quickly and little known about the new strain of virus, there is concern. The Golden Princess remains quarantined in Japan, and The Spectrum in New Jersey.

The lounge is relatively empty tonight. I have no guess as to the cause.  Even the noise level never exceeds a tolerable level.

This is the last formal night, and I also  expected the dining room to be very busy. It wasn't. I again have the tortelonni with blue cheese sauce. Very good. I might even try to make this at home. I share the bottle of wine from my cabin with everyone at the table, a gift from Royal.

There is a full moon reflecting off the water. The seas are calming a little. A lovely evening to be sailing the seas.

For the past 36 hours we have been shadowing the Celebrity Reflection. We both left St Marrten about the same time and are due in Ft. Lauderdale Monday morning.

By night fall she is out of sight.

Today is packing day. Everything returns to a suitcase and placed in the hallway to be taken off the ship.

I have some unopened soft drinks which I will give to Alex, my cabin attendant.

I attempt to watch the parade of flags, national flags carried by a representative of every nationality in the crew. Usually about 60 countries. There isn't even standing room.

Around noon we pass The Symphony of The Seas headed in the opposite direction. The skies are darkening and the wind increasing. Rain is coming. The pool is emptying, the lounge chairs being vacated.

Another ship passes, this time a Carnival ship. Just as quickly as the skies darkened, they clear again, and the sun returns. The sunbathers are spared nature's cool bath and can return to sunburns.

By  late afternoon the seas have increased to 6 feet or more with waves hitting the starboard bow. The ship rocks the most it has in three weeks. Just enough that the drunks walk straight, and most other passengers look like they have been drinking.

In case you have the impression that dining is elegant on cruise ships, tonight during dinner the guests danced with the staff, not just any dance, the chicken dance.

Tomorrow morning we will be pulling into Ft lauderdale. The end to a good 3 week cruise. By 9PM the seas have calmed, and luggage is pileing up in the corridors.