December 14, 2021

Disembarkation And Back Home

I am awake and up long before the 7:00 AM set on my alarm. A quick shower and pack the last few things in my carry on suitcase. I am scheduled to leave in the first group, but I decide to wait until after 4 or 5 groups have been called to allow time for those that are in a hurry to leave the ship. When the next group is called, about 25 minutes into disembarkation I head to the gangway.

No wait for the elevator. As the door opens on deck 4 there is a sea of passengers in front of me. There has been a malfunction of the gangway, and no one has left the ship yet.  Why did they keep calling for more groups to disembark? The new procedure of waiting in your cabin is designed to eliminate the jam of people in public spaces.

After about 30 minutes the line begins to slowly move. Passengers never fail to boggle my mind. One lady about 20 feet in front of me is trying to manipulate 3 large suitcases. You just want to tell here that is why they give you luggage tags and have you gather your luggage in the terminal where a ported can assist if needed. the line meanders to the terminal and into the baggage holding room.

Facial recognition works flawlessly for CBP. 10 seconds max. A long walk to the waiting shuttle bus.

The shuttle driver is to make 2 stops before reaching the main lot. She forgets both of them. I guess it is too early in the day for her.

On the drive home I talk to my children. Most of them still have a lingering cough and upper respiratory infection. Everyone around me has caught this bug, but so far I have managed to avoid it. It is so common and widespread, the thought has gone through my mind that I might be an asymptomatic typhoid mary.

Arrive home, turn the water and water heater on, unpack, wash all my  clothes, and I am ready for another trip shortly after lunch time. In reality it will be about a month and then the first time for me on The Odyssey of The Seas to Curacao, my favorite port.

Day 5 - A Day At Sea

The sun rises to a mostly overcast day. Temperatures are about 75, the same as the sea.  There were a few showers during the night, and more are expected as the day progresses. Very typical Caribbean weather.

Cruising at over 20 knots and with a 25 mph wind almost directly on our bow the decks are very windy. Unless clipped, towels blow off chairs, paper napkins easily escape peoples grip. It is impossible to walk around the bow of the ship on deck 5 and 6.

Everytime someone opens the door to the pool deck a hurricane of wind blows through the open dining areas on deck 11 including Chops and  the Windjammer Definitely a windy day.  

Despite the breeze and the accompanying 6 foot seas the ship is very stable. No roll and very little pitch.

I'm hooked on the french toast for breakfast in Chops. I order it again today. Still no V8, they have none on board. Yesterday they loaded about 20 cases of canned goods aboard while we were in Cozumel. I was hopeful. Something important, but not V8.

during the day I finish the last piece of fruit from my basket. All the same fruit is available in the Windjammer, but it is just more convenient when it is in your cabin. I continue listening to the book I started nearly two weeks ago. there is a chance I may finish it by cruise end.

This afternoon I have reservations for the ice show. Every available seat is booked, probably 90% of the passengers that made reservations actually attend. I guess average for a free show.

The skaters are, as usual, excellent. The circus theme, under the big top, is well done. One skater takes a nasty fall and slams hard into the wall. She quickly recovers and continues skating, to relief of all. I'm sure more was bruised than her pride.

I pack late afternoon. Having checked the weather at home my evening clothes will suffice for the short drive home. A last stop at the Schooner Bar, and a seat in the back of the theater for the farewell show. Neither is very busy. For most passengers this trip has come to an end. A lucky few dozen will be staying on for the next trip.

Much more of a party crowd than I am accustomed to on Royal, but as I have said many a time. Any day at sea is a good day providing your not having to work.

There are very few suitcase out in the hall as I return to my cabin. Mine is still where I placed it 4 hours prior. Another indiction that most passengers will carry off thier luggage.

We should be in Port Canaveral by about 6:30 AM.

December 13, 2021

Day 4 - Cozumel, Mexico

The ship is secured to the pier a little after 7:00. By 7:45 passengers begin to head ashore. The temperature is in the mid 70's, the sky partially cloudy. On the 7th deck, where my cabin is, there is a light breeze.

Plans have been made to have breakfast in the dining room about 8:30. Bill calls and he is on the way. My French toast is good, but not as good as in Chops.

Lynne shares that she went to the medical facility last night because of dental pain from a dislodged crown that had been reattached by her dentist a few weeks ago. Some magic potion seemed to dull the pain for the night, but had returned by the end of breakfast. She had been instructed to come back if needed, but not until after 11 this morning as the medical staff would be busy giving all crew members flu shots.

By 10 AM the drinking party was going strong at Senor Frogs, a popular spot just off the end of the pier. If I had any inkling of wandering over for a beer and some popcorn, assuming they still have the  complimentary snack to encourage more drinking, it was quickly discarded by the noise of the party.

I finally have the chance to try the pizza that has been reported to have been reformulated. The pizza is no longer in Sorrentos, but is part of the Cafe Promendade which also incorporates Ben and Jerry's and coffee service.

Thin crust, with several of the common choices such as cheese, or pepperoni. It is good, but my memory is not good enough to make a specific comparison to when I had it several years ago.

Back in my cabin for a few minutes, there is a knock at the door. It is the housekeeping manager making an inspection of cabins. Basically checking up on the cabin steward. I assure him that everything is in order and after checking some boxes on his form he moves on to the next cabin. I know this is often done, but this is the first time I remember being in the cabin at the right moment.

Speaking of injuries and the medical facility, while in the Windjammer yesterday one of the staff severly burned his hand while reaching to serve a passenger. He claimed he was OK, but a supervisor had him go to the medical facility for evaluation. I wish him the best.

The sun is out about 20% of the day. Most of the rest of the time it is cloudy except for a brief period mid afternoon when the heavens open up for about 30 minutes. Many passengers get an extra cooling off on the walk back to the ship. From the balcony I felt the rain was cold, but I do live in Florida so now anything below 75 is cold.

Just as the rain started an ambulance arrives at the gangway. The EMT's start to get out, but seeing the rain approaching they get back inside where they wait until the rain stops. Once they won't get wet they board the ship and return with a young man that looks like he could be a crew member. based on his dress.

I have no idea how much I walk everyday and decide to see if a phone app will tell me.  With my first attempt I am unable to get the app to register any steps. I am sure it is operator error of some sort so I move on to the Samsung app that is built into my phone. It just needed configuring and updating. Success. It works.

I deliberately take a walk outside on deck 5 to see what it says. 24 steps. Impossible, but I didn't count them. I walk a short distance, counting every step. 40. I look at my phone. It has added over 250 to the previous count. I am unimpressed. Maybe the other pocket. Still no where near a reasonable count. This sounded like a good idea, but my phone is not accurate enough to be meaningful. Before cell phones were so prevalent I had a mechanical pedometer. It was no better. Probably it is just me.

Back to listening to my book. For years I used some cheap earbuds that you keep after taking a tour and listening to the recorded audio in your choice of languages. I can't imaging they cost more than $1.00 for the tour operator.  I splurged and bought an expensive $15 set from Amazon. They do work much better.

I look off the balcony just in time to see a group of passengers returning form shore. One young female passenger is so drunk she gets back to the ship in a wheelchair. Her comrades carry her onto the ship. More what I expect to see on Carnival than Royal.

While in the Schooner bar I run into George, a fellow passenger I met years ago but haven't seen in probably five. He has sold his home and is now planning to live exclusively on a cruise ship. He currently is booked on the Mariner until June when he moves to another ship because the entire ship has been chartered by a group. Royal is transfering him to a ship sailing out of Tampa until he can return to the Mariner.  If I were to consider such a move, it wouldn't be on a ship that does 4 and 5 day turns. 

The show tonight is the first performance for a new cast of the show entitled "Gallery of Dreams". They do a good job and the lower level of the theater is 80% full. I can see no one in the balcony which is reserved for the unvaccinated.

As we head north from Cozumel the seas slowly build. Initially ship motion is barely perceptable, but eventually reaches the point that most passengers probably can feel it.

Tomorrow will be as a sea day as we head back to Port Canaveral.

December 12, 2021

Dsy 3 - A Sea Day

Saturday December 11. The seas remain at about 5 to 6 feet. The wind is at or stern at about 15 knots, slightly less than our 17 knots of progress towards Cozumel.

The skies are mostly clear, the sun bright and temperatures in the low to mid 70's.

It is a good thing I had no desire to dine in Chops as I learn they have been sold out since before we sailed. I guess that explains why they haven't been pushing the specialty dining. 

Compared to my last sailing a few more activites have been returned. Special merchandise sales on the promenade such as the cheap tee shirts and hats, discounted silver, a watch sale.  A  "diamond" sales pitch in the theater, oops I mean seminar. And the old standby, the  shopping guide sales pitch for Cozumel, our next port of call. I pass on all of them.

A top tier event is held in the Star lounge. Not for Diamond and above as in years past, but only for Diamond Plus and Pinnacle. At most 60 passengers attend out of the 200 invited. Champagne or punch, or whatever if you ask. 

A gentleman that arrived 15 minutes late,  downs two double bourbon on the rocks in less than two minutes, then gets up and leaves in the middle of the event. Behavior of society hasn't improved. Why did I let him sit at my table?

The new procedure for complimentary drinks for Diamond and above is that depending on your level you can have your alloted number of beverages from most any location at any time of day. The servers are supposed to ring up each drink to keep track. Well having just reviewed my account I can tell you that often does not happen. Possibly a cash tip to the server with your first drink, and the next ones don't get rung up?  I doubt anyone from Royal will be reading this.

As I anticipated, Barbara is the top cruiser with 1905 points. There are 310 diamond passengers, 167 Diamond Plus, and 25 Pinnacle. World wide Royal has over 17,000,000 crown and anchor members.

I felt the piano player was decent the other night, so I go the the Schooner bar to pass time before the show. Disappointment. Exactly the same set as before. another passenger asks the bartender, and yes he does exactly the same thing every single night. Probably one of the reasons I enjoy Kelley Goodrich so much.

The vocalist show from the Phillipines, "Goddess" is good and also gives me the opportunity to eveluate a new set of sound reducing earplugs I purchased for such occasions. My inaccurate sound level meter app in my phone peaks the audio at 105 dba. The earplugs lower the level substantially, but unlike the inexpensive foam plugs I have used for years does not alter the tonal quality.

As we turn more south after passing Cuba, the seas drop to about 2 feet. We are expected to arrive in Cozumel about 7:30 AM.

Day 2 - Mariner of The Seas

Before sunrise we have pulled into the pier at CocoCay. Provisions for the days consumption on the island are off loaded. At 8:00 AM passengers begin going ashore. A large percentage of passengers want to sit in the sun or play on the beach or water park. I have already decided to stay on the ship.

The Symphony of the Seas shares the island with us today. I am sure there is space for everyone, but the peace and quiet of the ship is more enjoyable.

The balloon is not tied down to the ground today, a first for me. But it is not going aloft either. It is tethered about15 feet off the ground. It makes for better photo ops that way, but no revenue.

The weather remains beautiful all day. A light breeze with temperatures about 75. A NCL ship is anchored a few miles away for their private island experience. No pier for them, they have to tender to shore as Royal used to do before building the pier here.

Real breakfast this morning in Chops Grille. Another Pinnacle Club benefit. French toast made to perfection. I run into Bill and Lynne and we make plans to test the champagne later in the day, so upon returning to the cabin I ask my room steward to please ice the champagne. 

A couple hours later I am back in the cabin and I see that he has brought the ice, but the entire counter is covered with water and beginning to run to the floor. A quick investigation reveals a small hole in the bottom of the bucket. The water leaks out as fast as the  ice melts. 

The bucket is quickly transferred to the sink, and 2 bath towels later the counter is dry. Fortunately nothing of significance was damaged. I am glad I returned when I did.

Bill and Lynne have a suite, so of course we plan to drink the champagne there. I am eager to see what I am missing. Parts of the cabin are identical to my standard balcony, but there are some significant additional amenities.

The first is that there is a real lighted doorbell in the hallway. The closet space is about 50% larger. The bath includes a very deep tub with sides so high many people, including all of us, would find it very difficult to get into, and nearly impossible to get out of. Of course they have a real spacious shower compared to the tiny round one in my cabin. The bed, and sofa are identical to my cabin, but of course the counter tops and coffee table are quartz or marble, not imitation wood laminate. In addition to chairs, the balcony has heavily padded loungers. Yes very nice.

The Champagne is better than we expected it to be. We finish about half of the bottle and I leave the rest for them to enjoy. I think afternoon nap is in order.

Having found the Diamond lounge quite busy yesterday, I decide to go to the Pinnacle Lounge just after 5:00. An adjustment for Covid, the Pinnacle Lounge is temporarily located in the Library. A small windowless space tucked off to one side of the entrance to the Star Lounge.

Of course everthing is always at the other end of the ship. I get some exercise that way. In walking down the cabin hallway to the fore elevators I pass the Medical team dressed in what passengers describe as Haz Mat Suits going in and out of a cabin. Obviously at  minimum someone is in quarantine as a safety precaution for some reason.

The Lounge is empty with only two other passengers there. Barbara I remember from many cruises ago, possibly back to my Monarch days. She is often the passenger with the most points at t he top tier party. If you have any question how she does it, this is her 16th of 17 cruises back to back on The Mariner.

It is the Windjammer for dinner tonight. Italian night so it is pasta with Bolognese sauce. At the entrance to the Windjammer the galley has made a large ginger bread village display complete with running train. How did they know I was going to be here.

I  have reservations for the show at 10:15, but go to the Schooner bar. After a set or two I decide the prudent think to do is sleep, not stay up for a show.

All day I have had in my mind that we would be in Nassau tomorrow. Not true. Cozumel is our next port. We will pass to the North of cuba tomorrow, a sea day.

Seas are about 5 feet, but no motion is felt by most of the passengers as we run at about 17 to 20 knots against a strong current, but with an equally strong following sea.

December 10, 2021

Dec 9, Prior to and Day 1 on Mariner of The Seas

Covid protocols require covid testing within 48 hours of departure time.  Being able to secure testing at a local facility exactly when needed appeared to be problematic so I have been using supervised home testing. 2 days until departure so it is time to test.

"Due to a connectivity issue we are unable to provide test results. Please try later." Same results hour after hour. I soon learn AWS (Amazon Web Services) is having severe issues affecting customers worldwide. I had no idea that Amazon provides about 1/3 of all internet services. If they have an outage, the effects can spread worldwide. Just out of curiosity I tried to connect to Amazon shopping services. Shut down as were many streaming services and Alexa functions.

The next day I try again. Works as it should. No delays, no error messages, and in less than 30 minutes I have my printed negative covid test in hand. Packing is essentially complete.

When exiting by the front door to take my luggage to the car I notice a hole in the ground in the planter. I thought it was caused by a burrowing animal, but never
saw the tell tale paw prints. Having seen no activity the hole was filled in a few feeks ago. Suddenly, with a little expert advise, I realize the hole is caused by a broken sprinkler line.

A work order  is  submitted moments before I head to the ship. There are advantages to living in a community with an HOA that takes care of lawns, hedges, sprinklers, and painting the outside of my house.

The drive to the parking lot is uneventful and I am soon on the shuttle bus to the ship. The terminal is much busier than when I was last here 10 days ago. There is a backup at the first checkpoint, but it only lasts a few minutes.

My entry to the ship from the gangway takes me past my life boat station. I pause again to complete the safety briefing on the app. I complete it but the app refuses to acknowledge that I have done it. The same as it did earlier at my house. I check in, and am told they are having lots of similar problems with many passengers today.

Just inside the ship is the dining room hostess stand. Time to use my influence and change some dining reservations. Sorry it can't be done. The earliest they have a table for 3 is 8:30. That is too late for all of us.

With only a glass of milk for breakfast I head to the Windjammer for lunch. It is packed! With a few tables blocked for "social distancing", empty tables are scarce. I finally secure one and grab the fixings for a small ham and cheese sandwich. Oh I should say the staff serves me the ingredients to make a sandwich.

Cabins are not ready yet so I head to the Crown Lounge.  Bill comes by. He and his wife are in a suite, so they are given immediate cabin access. He shares his woes of covid testing using CVS. Initially they gave him bad advice and told him to get tested 3 days before the cruise. He did, then I saw him and raised the probability that it would not be acceptable for cruise ship boarding. He went back and got another and I think maybe a third test. After several trips to CVS and numerous phone calls to them, finally on the morning of departure he got a phone notification that they had tested negative.

Not quite there yet though. When they were boarding they ship they had a difficult time with the port staff as his personal information such as name and date of test was not on the same screen as the results. A situation that could be easily faked. After much discusssion Bill prevailed and he and his wife were allowed to board.

I head to the cabin, they have been ready for about an hour by the time I get around to heading there. A little smaller than on the Independence, but at least the balcony door works smoothly. On the desk is plate of cookies, a basket of fresh fruit, 6 or 8 cans of soda, four bottles of water and a large bottle of champagne.

I find my suitcase about 100 feet down the hall. I also meet my cabin steward. He greets me by name.  It's amazing. I don't recall him from a previous cruise, but he may have seen me go in or out of my cabin. He offers to bring my suitcase, but as he already has two in tow, I thank him and take it myself. He has enough to do today.

The Diamond lounge is full long before sailing time so I head outside to watch sailaway. Half the lines are removed and a man comes running towrds the ship. He is expected as the crew gangway is still in place. Just as he steps on the ship the gangway is removed, and in a few moments we are underway, I think right on time. 

After a walk around the ship, and a brief stop in the cabin I head back to the Diamond Lounge. A table is leaving just as I arrive and I am able to share a table with with a couple from Indianapolis that entered the lounge right behind me.

Knowing that the dining rooms are packed tonight, I decide to just go to the Windjammer. The selection is varied as always. I settle on a small piece of grilled chicken, and about an inch and half long piece of corn on the cob.

An hour of watching "finish that tune" and it is time for the headliner show. A comedian that is pretty good, but I must acknowledge that having been up for 18 hours I may have dozed once or twice for a few moments. It was never acknowledged, but he looked an awful lot like the late arrival on the ship just before sailaway. Maybe his twin.

The seas are very calm as we head south to CocoCay our first port of call. Our expected arrival time is just after 6:00 AM.

December 05, 2021

Dec 3, 2021 Back Home

Running at full speed thru the night we arrive in Port Canaveral just before noon. There is a new procedure in place for Royal that they have been testing for several months and have now decided is going to be standard practice.  Historically they ask everyone to evacuate their cabins as soon as possible, and gather in a public space awaiting customs clearance and disembarkation.

Now passengers are asked to wait in cabins, and when disembarkation time arrives, go directly to the gangway, this works much more smoothly for the passengers, but does eat into the time the crew has to prepare cabins for the next cruise. This turnaround is going to be extremely tough on the crew. The next cruise will be leaving late.

We disembark about 12:30 and are quickly thru customs, to the parking lot, and on our way home. With facial recognition, passengers don't even need to show passports. A process that historically could take hours, now take mere seconds. Some parts of our government do work.

As we are looking forward to disembarkation, we are informed by the captain that the evacuated passenger is stable in the hospital. He reiterates that it was NOT covid related in any way.

A few days to do the laundry and I will be on the Mariner of The Seas December 9th.

Day 4 Nassau

We are one of 5 ships in Nassau today. Us, The anthem of the seas, Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady, A Carnival ship, and a three masted sailing vessel from Norway, the SS Stratsraad Lehmkuhl. 

The Stratsraad Lehmkuhl is a beautiful ship with graceful lines. Exactly what you would expect of a ship built in 1914. The young sailors on board are partying hard.

Many of the piers are under construction, and the sound of jack hammers fills the air all day long.

The others go into town to do some sight seeing. I elect to remain on board. The ships crew is practicing many safety skills today, launching a number of the lifeboats and responding to a "practice drill fire" somewhere on the lower decks. The ships emergency horn is sounded several times, but as always during the drills passengers are told to ignore them. Probably the entire exercise lasts 2 to 3 hours.

Last night there was a wedding in the Crown Lounge. The couple had met on this ship, planned their wedding for last year but like many events it had to be rescheduled to this year because of covid. The wedding party probably consisted of 10 to 12 guests.

I have lunch in Johnny Rockets today, primarily to spend some of the remaining nonrefundable on board credit. Even though we are in port, it is quite breezy, and keeping track of my paper napkin is a challenge.

At 3:00 it is off to the theater to see the broadway musical Grease. The cast does a good job and recovers quickly from from a scenery change glitch midway through the show.

After the show it is obvious that we did not leave port on time. The captain had announced we were delayed for a medical emergency. I don't know if it was the alpha call at 2:00 or as rumored by some passengers an incident that occured during a shore excursion. Regardless we were not leaving on time.

The captain soon appraised us of the situation again. We were waiting for a medical evacuation plane from the US. and its earliest arrival time would be about 10 PM. Never any details on the passenger other than we were told it was not covid and that the patient was stable.

Dinner in the dining room was again excellent even though we were seated at yet another table. Even though the dining rooms on decks 4 and 5 were often empty, our dining room on deck 3 held the first seating of traditional dining, and it was only after those tables were cleared was there room for any of the my time diners.

The head waiter not only brought the savory bites that are so well enjoyed by everyone, but he brought a special dish, not on the menu, that is a tradition of his home country of the Phillipines. I enjoyed 3 cheeze tortolini, a personal favorite for years.

After dinner the orchestra in the Star Lounge was playing several sets of jazz including Dixieland Jazz and Jazz cabaret. The captain joined part of one set playing the trumpet.

The medical passenger leaves the ship, and we finally are underway about 7 hours late at 10 PM. We will cruise at full throttle, 24 to 25 knots, to get back to Port Canaveral.  We do not know all the circumstances, but knowing how close Nassau is to Miami, the passengers realize the passenger would have been able to get shoreside medical attention much sooner had the ship left on time and just diverted to Miami instead of waiting for a medical evacuation plane.

This incident is exactly why I always strongly suggest that one travel with a passport even when it is possible to travel with just a photo ID and a birth certificate. Without a passport the medical evacuation by plane would have taken much longer, possibly days longer.

The seas are quite calm. There is a light headwind as we travel North, and we also have the ocean currents of the Gulf Stream pushing us back towards our home port. Expected arrival is about noon time.

December 02, 2021

Day 3, CocoCay

I awaken to the sound of the bow thrusters as we are pulling into the pier at CocoCay. The skies are partly cloudy, temperatures in the mid 70's. We arrive right on time at 7:00 AM. The Anthem of the Seas is due in shortly. Yesterday the captain said it would be a tossup to see which ship actually arrived first.

At 8:00 the ship is cleared for passengers to disembark and enjoy the private island. Many things are included with the cruise fare, but you can spend hundreds extra for a private cabana, and slightly less for a ballon ride, a zipline,  jet skis, or a water park.  The wind is too high for the tethered balloon. In many visits here I have never seen it off the ground except in pictures.

I accidently run into the others at breakfast. They are headed for the beach. We had made earlier plans to meet at the end of the pier at 11:00. I'll decide soon whether to even get off the ship or not.

At 10:00 The Anthem of The Seas arrives, and they begin to disembark just as I make my way to our gangway.  The pier is crowded and the locals operating the shuttle vehicles are totally disorganized. I take 15 minutes making the 10 minute walk to the island.

As I am waiting for the others at our designated meeting place the heavens open up with a very brief but wet shower.  It only lasts for a few minutes but if you were not prepared by being in a swim suit, or lucky enough to find cover it was enough to get one wet.

The others arrive and head to the beach chairs, yes the complimentary ones.

With no interest in sitting on the beach I wander over to the tram station to take the tram around the island. Probably a 30 minute trip that goes past all the popular places. Designed primarily for people like me it is easier than walking, but not faster.

I head back to the ship and my morning shower even though it is after noon. A quick lunch in the Windjammer and then time to finish yesterday's blog.

The windjammer is nearly empty. More people went ashore than I anticipated. Good for those that remain on board.  All the pools are near empty and the promenade is devoid of passengers. The Windjammer food seems to be a mixed bag. The selection has been cut back from past years, and with limited passengers I have yet to find more than half of the serving stations open. Room capacity is controlled by the staff scanning your seapass card as you enter and exit. Some tables are blocked from use to provide more social distancing. Even with these restrictions there is never a line to enter the Windjammer.

Last night was formal night, I think I spotted one tuxedo and a few suit jackets. No formal dresses at all, pant suits at best. At the other extreme, on a previous night, a grown woman was wearing what the girls described as a onesy. A single piece bodysuit that enclosed her from head to toe. It could have easily passed as a panda bear halloween costume. Yes, this was in the dining room.

We depart CocoCay about 4:30. Just after we leave port a waterspout is spotted directly in front of us. The captain tells us why he is making some unexpected turns.

The dining room accomodates our desire to dine earlier than 6:45 as we have reservations for the ice show at 8:00. We are promptly seated. There are just 5 of us this evening as the two others are dining at Giovannis, one of the specialty restaurants. We also inform our staff that we have show reservations. It totally works, we leave the dining room in just over 45 minutes. the wait staff in the dining room has been very good. 

The chicken cordon blu was good. Unfortunately they did not have the ingredients for cherries jubilee.  Another item that does not exist on the ship is cream cheese. Fortunately gin suppy appears to be more than adequate.

Absolutely no rumors of any illness on the ship so far. There have been a few injuries including one gentleman that recieved a large gash in his arm as the elevator doors he was holding for someone in a scooter closed on him. A behavior we all have participated in.

12 stitches, many steri strips and lots of glue he is doing fine. The passenger has nothing but praise for the medical staff. 

We also have one and a half service animals on board. I say a half because no one is convinced the second dog is a legitimate service animal. Historically this has been an area that was greatly abused by passengers, but prior to the pandemic the cruise lines began clamping down on false service animal claims.

We get to Studio B for the ice show early and have our choice of nearly any seat in the house. My favorite is seated in the last row behind a narrow counter, providing a place for beverage glasses.

As the show is about to begin we learn that two of the performers were injured earlier in the day. Too short of skaters to do the show,  each of the remaining skaters spends a few minutes on the ice doing their thing. All finished in less than 20 minutes. No word on the injured skaters condition. Unfortunately stuff happens and you do your best. They could have just cancelled everything.

We head to the Star Lounge to listen to the orchestra playing Dixieland Jazz. Very enjoyable and no ear plugs required. The Captain is waiting to join the band for a number or two, but we leave before he plays to catch Tyrone Hawkins, a comedian, in the main theater.

After another good comedy show it is back upstairs to the Star Lounge to hear the last 20 minutes of Jazz Cabaret.

The others were headed to partying on the balcony. I went to the cabin to sleep. It did not take long.

The seas remain calm and the winds light as we head a short distance to Nassau.  So short in fact that many ships making this jaunt will either just sit motionless in the water for hours, or will cruise in circles to use up time. We are expected to pick up the pilot about 6:30 and should be in port by 7:00. Tomorrow is another day.

December 01, 2021

Day 2, At Sea

We continue slowly on our course south along the coast of Florida. By 2 PM we are off shore from Boca Raton heading south at the blustering speed of 5 knots. The captain is deliberately following the coast line so passengers have a view in the distance.

Our passenger count is about 2400 out of a maximum of 4600 if all berths were occupied. There are very few children on board, and 99% of passengers are vaccinated. A requirement of the bahamian government for ships calling in the Bahamas.

At many times the ship almost feels deserted. At lunchtime, during a walk down the promenade, I encounter more staff and crew than passengers. 

In what has now become the norm, I encounter a couple in the Diamond lounge "working from home". In one overheard conversation, "I have to work one more hour today to get my time in."

By midafternonn the sun has become very hot. Most passengers are on the sundeck, many getting a sunburn. I have a reservation for the ice show later in the week, but will try to see it today on a standby basis.  Reservations are required for all shows, and at least for the ice show each passenger is restricted to one reservation.

A few tidbits picked up during the Captain's Corner presentation. Royal has returned 18 of it's fleet of 26 ships to service.

Nassau is one of the most challenging ports to enter and exit.

Sorrentos pizza receipe was reformulated. I have yet to sample it.

Tomorrow the water temperature at CocoCay will be about 77 degrees, not much different than the air temperature.

The plan for the ice show is foiled by a mechanical failure. No show today, maybe tomorrow.

The Diamond Concierge, Grecia Guillen Roca, is from Manilla. Very personable and makes a point to visit with many of the guests in the lounge. At one point she was promoting Royal's world cruise in 2023. I suggested she should line herself up to work that cruise and she became very excited  at the prospect. 

The sun sets as we were passing off the coast of Miami. A beautiful sunset behind the Miami high rise buildings. A sight not caught on camera.

The Hotel Director and the captain made a pass thru the lounge to greet everyone. both employees have been with Royal for many years.

We wound up at a different table for dinner. We learned that they were using the dining room for one seating of main dining and then using it for my time diners. Depending on how quickly tables turn, or how many no shows there are for the main seating, determines where we might be seated. Regardless the specially requested savory bite rolls made it to our table. My sliced tenderloin was excellent as were the dishes served to others.  

Because of special procedures being implemented in the face of the covid pandemic, many activities have been curtailed. Food sevice in the Solarium has ceased. The very popular parade of flags for all the nations represented in the crew has been suspended. There is no Captain's reception and no photo ops with the captain. Many games just don't exist anymore such as crew vs passenger water volleyboard, the egg drop. and stair golf. Some day, things will return to normal.

The headliner entertainer tonight is vocalist Daryl Williams. Another headliner I do not remember from any previous cruise. He has an excellent voice. My guess is that the theater was 50% full, the most I have seen yet.

Thinking of entertainment. The piano player that usually rides up and down in an elevator as he plays has been sequestered in a little alcove between the two aft elevators banks where he can still be heard through much of the promenade.

Directly to bed at the conclusion of the show. Tomorrow we will spend the day in CocoCay, Royal's private island. we have heard that the Anthem of the Seas will also be there, adding to the competition for the best beach spot.

The seas remain calm as we head east during the night.