August 28, 2022

Day 5, The Drive Home

We are all ready to disembark the ship. Elevators are packed. I finally ride up to go down when I see a space for two on an elevator going the wrong way. The younger passengers lug suitcases down the 4 flights of stairs.

We all get to deck 4 at the same time. It is a madhouse. The line to the gangway winds all over the ship. Around the staircase, through the art gallery, back to the lobby and then through the dining room, back to the lobby then finally outdoors.

When we finally get in the terminal, passengers without passports, and there are hundreds, are being held aside. Those with passports pass through a facial recognition stop and are quickly passed without even a glance at our passports.

As always the shuttle bus to the parking is as far away as possible. We wait about 10 minutes for other passengers, there are only 3, then we leave.

The drive is short and quick, directly to the parking lot avoiding the residential tour we took on departure. I take Alyssa and James home, and then continue to Clermont.  Glad to be home I slowly begin to unpack. Another cruise in a little over a month. Seven days on The Harmony Of The Seas.

Day 4 At sea

The skies are partly cloudy and the seas calm as we head north towards Port Canaveral. Back to Giovanni's for breakfast. At most there are 4 people in a dining room that can hold 150 or more.  The food and the service is perfect.

The Captain's corner is well attended. We learn a few more details about the medical evacuation several days ago. Our course was determined to avoid several patches of heavy lightning, not a good air space for helicopters. A return to Port Canaveral was in the plan as option B if there were any issue in executing a helicopter transfer. Most decisions were made by medical and shoreside teams.

The ship is full with about 4200 passengers or 110% of double occupancy capacity. Since many cabins hold 3 or 4 passengers, sailing at over 100% is very common in the cruise industry.

Yesterday I had the misfortune of having to deal with customer relations. I was due a $50 on board credit, but it did not show on my account. The front desk person had copies of the  email confirming the credit, but was not empowered to make the correction herself. That needs to be done by the finance team.

After typing away on her keyboard for 20 minutes I was told that the credit should be applied by midnight. Yes, she was correct. In fact they called my room at 11:30 PM, awakening us, to tell me the oversight had been corrected. 

The broadway show Greece is playng in the theater this afternoon and again this evening. The afternoon show is well attended, surprisingly by many people bringing plates of food into the theater. A new experience for me on a cruise ship. Other guests eating pizza and various other items while watching a show.

To help put this in perspective, the beverage staff does not even push drinks in the theater like was common pre pandemic.

Dinner food was good, the 3 cheese tortelini was actually served warm. Of course my drink order was incorrect, but some things never change.

After dinner we head to the photo gallery to pick up our free photo. Ordering is easy, but it won't be ready until after 10:30, unlike most ships where they are printed and available in minutes.

The group has elected self assist and will carry all of our luggage off the ship instead of waiting for an assigned disembarkation time. I was promised someone will help me with mine.

Packing here is much easier than at home. Just keep putting things into the suitcase until the cabin is empty. No decisions to make. Luggage is packed, and tomorow it is back to reality.

The seas remain calm, as they have been all week, as we head north at 8 knots. A Carnival ship has been shadowing us since we left Nassau. Obviously headed to t he same port.

August 25, 2022

Day 3 Nassau

We dock at the extreme outside pier. The Disney Wish is next. A Carnival ship fills a third berth.

The weather forecaset is for temperatures in the mid 80's but a "feels like" temperature in the low 100's. A trip to several breweries and a distillery is planned. I have no interset and will enjoy the empty ship more.

Breakfast in the dining room as Alyssa wants eggs benedict. Surprisingly the room is nearly full, the service and food good.

Others head for town. A few walks around the ship with stops at the Solarium and window shoping in the shopping area. A review of pictures taken the previous evening reveals at least one good image. Within a few hours it is time for a nap.

A message from those ashore reveals the heat and humidity is higher than anticipated, eliminating any guilt I might have had for not going with them.

Everyone gathers for cocktails before facing the dining room for dinner. Not to make it more difficult for our waiter, but just to give everyone a different view, we mix up the seating. Surprisingly it does not phase the staff, well not apparently anyway.

An old fashioned had to be made 3 times before it was anywhere near correct. I had to send back my drink because it was wrong. My Chicken Cordon bleu was slightly above room temperature. It obviously has sat somewhere for 25 minutes before being served. Again the head waiter stepped in to help address the issues. The beverage  manager was required to fix the old fashioned problem.  For the third night we were nearly the last to leave the dining room in spite of many others arriving after us.

Our guess was the dining room was about 70 percent full. Other than a staff that did not work together as a team, it was not obvious what the shortfall was, but there definitely was one. Our waiter is nearing the end of his fourth contract, so lack of experience should not be the problem, but there definitely is one in this part of the dining room.

After dinner a set of Jazz music, and then some latin music before retiring for the night.

Tomorrow we head back to Port Canaveral. A four night cruise is so short.

Day 2 August 23, 2022

I am awaked by an announcement from the captain. Our arrival at Coco Cay has been delayed several hours due to the medical evacuation the previous evening. We are cruising at 20 knots in an attempt to reduce our late arrival as much as possible. He also shares the transfer was successful and the passenger is recovering.

By 10 AM many passengers have left for the beaches, but the Windjammer is still packed. We head to Giovanni's for breakfast. An area reserved for Pinnacle guests. Historically just a seating area during breakfast hours, but now a full service breakfast area just for me.  Food and service is excellent, and the room is nearly empty. Probably undiscovered by other priority status members.

I elect to remain on the ship. Somehow in the past few days I have twisted my right knee. Extra walking is not the prescription for quick healing.

With nearly everyone on the prvate island, the Windjammer is nearly empty for lunch. I put together the ingredients to make a ham, turkey, and cheese sandwich.

Temperatures are in the mid 80's, cooler than back home in Florida.  Some time on the balcony, more time in the Crown Lounge, and some time sitting by the solarium pool and the day quickly passes.

Tonight is formal night for dinner. I was even convinced to wear my suit, a rare event. I drew the line at flip flops though. My flip flop bow tie that is, compliments of Marilyn a number of cruises ago.

A short conversation with the head waiter as I get to our table. He is very aware of the problems the previous night before a word is spoken. He was observing as he should, that is part of his job.

Everyone is nicely dressed. Top award goes to Greg in his Army dress uniform. Very sharp.

Both the food and the service was much better tonight than the first.  With about an hour before the production show, many group pictures are in order. Face it, it is rare that I wear a suit.

The singers and dancers were good, but I will concede I may have dozed once or twice during the performance.

It is a short hop to Nassau, our port of call tomorrow.

August 24, 2022

August 22, 2022 Independence of the Seas

This started as just a simple 4 day cruise for Lynn and I with my eldest daughter Adrienne and her husband Steve. By the time we boarded, my youngest daughter Alyssa and her husband James and family friends Stephanie and Greg also joined us. Other friends are on the Disney Wish and will meet us in Nassau.

5 homes, 8 people and many suitcases requires multiple cars and some planning to all arrive at the ship on time. We all arrive at the McDonalds near the parking lot for a coffee and rest room stop within a few  minutes of each other. First hurdle mastered. 

Parking is painless and we are soon on the shuttle bus. The shuttle from the parking area to the ship takes us through residential areas near the port that I had never seen before. We have to make a stop for some Carnival passengers first. That explains the unfamilar route.

We arrive at the terminal precisely at our designated boarding time. The process is quick and easy. Such an improvement now that everyone has a scheduled boarding time and much of the checkin process can be done by the passenger. There is some good that came out of Covid.

Speaking of Covid, I was a victim about 5 months ago. A very mild case but covid none the less. Recently I have gone through a series of sinus infections and a stuffed up head, three rounds of various treatments and my doctor shares this is another common long term effect from covid. Congestion and non descript sinus infections that just won't clear up.  So be it, life could be worse. Breathing may be over rated anyway.

We are soon enjoying lunch in the Windjammer and await the opening of cabins so we can stow our carry on luggage.

Lunch and luggage out of the way and we take a tour of the ship. The busiest of any ship I have been on in two years, but still not at 100%.

The first stop is at the dining room to try and change from early dining to mytime.They are willing to do it but warn us about the ramnifications of some recent changes.  MyTime dining is now from 6:45 to 9:00, a much later starting time than historically, and a much shorter duration.  The lines are usually long. I elect  to keep our table in the main dining room despite others wanting a later dining time. I decide the early time is the lesser of the various evils.

Royal has never fully endorsed the concept of "My Time Dining" and this is probably their next step to kill it.

Dinner is so so at best. Food fair, service less than attentive. I should have seen the warning when the head waiter gave me his card as soon as Lynn and I were seated still awaiting the arrival of the other 6. A card with the mesage to call him if there were any problems. He Knew.

At the conclusion of diner we become aware that the ship is headed north instead of south. Not a good sign. No announcement had been made about pirate attacks, mechanical issues or other emergencies.

Soon we learn that we are enroute to meet with a coast guard  evacuation helicopter from Jacksonville. We head North as the helicopter comes south, an attempt to reduce the meetinging time as much as possible. A passenger needs immediate medical attention.

From personal experience I know the cruise line wants to get rid of any medical liabilites as quickly as possible. How and why the decision to airlift a passenger instead of just returning to port for transfer I can not figure out.

The passenger was lifted to the helicopter about 10 PM and still needed to make flight and land somewhere.  Had we just returned to Port Canaveral we probably would have been tied to a dock by 8:00 or 8:30. Of course I don't know any other factors that are considered in the decision. Definitely above my pay grade.

Major entertainment tonight is the ice skating show. I still find it amazing how skilled they are at performing on such a small peice of moving ice. The theater is nearly full but not overcrowded. The show is excellent.

The cabin  is quiet and a good nights sleep concludes the first day.