As we progress north the seas build as the winds have increased to 30 to 35 knots out of the East. Due to the long distances covered between most ports on this itinerary, we spend most of our time cruising at 19 or 20 knots. As our speed varies slightly, different areas of the ship vibrate because of harmonics from the engines and propulsion systems. Sometimes the vibration is significant in the dining room, aft on deck 2, other times the vibration is apparent in the Crow's Nest bar on deck 11 forward. Change the speed a fraction of a knot and the harmonics move to a new location. At times the vibrations are so intense I would question whether we have a damaged propeller blade.
Overall this ship is in excellent shape. Without question there is more comfortable seating here than any other ship I have ever been on. The theater seating is especially comfortable. Seating in all the dining areas is spread out and not crowded as on many of the larger ships.
Temperature control is a different story. It is a problem in many areas. The cabin system works fine, but most of the public areas are way too cold. Probably 65 or 67 at most. Complaints by many guests have fallen on deaf ears.
Of course service has been excellent with 85% of full staff and only 30% of passenger capacity.
It was a surprise for me to learn that tips for cabin stewards are pooled amongst all ships and divided between all cabin stewards equally. Just as surprising most workers have little input on which ship they will be assigned to when they start a new contract, but due to the pooling system, they will not suffer financially if assigned to a ship with less generous passengers.
This ship is expected to return to full staff levels in a few weeks, in time for the Alaskan season. I probably can safely conclude that this is my last cruise with such a low passenger count.
The entire ship is spotlessly clean and shows little sign of her age. Well except for clocks. There are no two clocks on the ship that show the same time, and none show the correct time. I hope not an indication of the maintenance of more critical ship systems.
We dine at Tamarind, one of the other specialty restaurants for dinner. The decor, the food, and the service is excellent. Only my beverage is wrong, actually for the third time in less than an hour. Unusual, but mistakes do happen. More often when you drink gin and club soda instead of the much more popular gin and tonic.
Many of the mixers come in 7 1/2 ounce cans instead of from a bulk dispenser as many ships use. A choice that should reduce errors.
The pool areas remain crowded during the last two days. The sun is bright and many people want their last sunburn.
Leaving the ship is a little different than most other lines. Passengers gather their own numbered luggage tags. Only 3 to choose from, which implies luggage will be divided into 3 piles in the terminal. Luggage does not need to be out until midnight. Easily the last chore of the evening.
As we near the west end of Cuba the seas begin to calm and it is smooth sailing the rest of the way to Port Everglades. We pass several cargo ships, a Princess cruise ship and a Carnival cruise ship enroute.
We dock on time. Being a Wednesday, the only other ship in port is the Queen Mary 2. A rare sighting in Florida as she often cruises out of New York.
Our group is called 15 minutes early. We walk off the ship directly to level 2 of the terminal. Once in the luggage hall, our bags are easily spotted and we continue our walk towards customs. Facial recognition works flawlessly, and there is no more than a 10 second pause in our walk out of the terminal. We are soon on the shuttle to the parking lot. About 30 minutes from cabin to entering the entrance ramp of the expressway.
Traffic is easy, and by 12:45 I am starting the first load of laundry in preparation for the next cruise in about 6 weeks to Alaska, also on Holland America's Eurodam.