January 14, 2024

Jan 12 - Return to Tampa

Tampa is a small port. I think at most they can dock 3 cruise ships. We are tied up to the dock long before I awake at 5:30.

I pack my carry on and we head to the dining room for breakfast. We have lots of time to kill.

Often I avial myself of wheelchair assistance for disembarkation. With the high demand for the service on this ship and the fact that the ship and port are smaller, I elect to forgo that convenience today.

The ship is cleared by authorities early,  and disembarkation begins. Our luggage tag number is called just after 8:00, nearly 40 minutes before the anticipated time. The walk up the gangway to the terminal, across the terminal, and down to the luggage hall is long. With a few stops I make it.

There are no lines for having our passports checked. They do not have facial recognition, but do have 6 or 8 agents manually checking. 

Now it is time to see how well valet service works for retrieving my car.

The valet stand is clearly labeled and is a few steps away just outside the terminal door. I hand the attendant my ticket, a runner heads off to get my car. Within 2 minutes my car is waiting with the trunk lid open ready for our suitcases. I step off the curb into my car. Definitely worth the few extra dollars!

I take a few minutes to plug my home destination into the GPS and we are on our way.  As often is the case, GPS takes me a different way than I would go. But she usually knows more than I do, especially about current local conditions.

It is a gloomy day with fog, low clouds and a light misty rain. Traffic is heavy as would be expected on an early Friday morning. We are guided to I-4 to get out of Tampa and then take the back roads to Clermont. Must faster than the major highways.

We are home by a few minutes after 10:00, the water is turned on, the heat turned up, and laundry started.

In conclusion, a very enjoyable trip despite the cold rainy weather. I verify that it was just 10 years ago that I had last sailed on the Constellation. Looking at the condition of the ship today would give no indication that she is as mature as she is.  I say mature as I avoid the "O" word.

Jan 11 - Sea Day

The skies are overcast and rain occasionally falls. Not a day for the sunworshippers.

The dining room is busier this morning, but the delay is only a few minutes at most. I try the pancakes this morning. Like with nearly everything else, the staff  does a good job.

The last "beyond the podium" presentation about interviews with the Hollywood greats  is at 10. This is followed with the cruise director interviewing the Captain and the Hotel Director. A new format that has replaced the Q&A with  the officers. Personally I don't feel it was done very well. It was totally scripted by the CD and it came across as a bragging session of how great Celebrity is.

Today is the last cruise day, tomorrow it is back to daily reality. I am supposed to be at a train show Saturday and Sunday, but I will be prudent and skip it with my leg issue, and instead consult with my primary care physcian as to the best course of action for a complete and speedy healing.  In reality, it is much better today than it was when I boarded the ship.  In part because I have learned what not to attempt to do. I normally favor my left leg as it has had issues most of my life. Now suddenly I have had to reverse strategy, favoring my right leg. Not an easy change.

The afternoon is filled with trivia and a musical murder mystery. Absolutely hilarious.

By Noon time the special procedures because of the norovirus outbreak have ceased. I guess the cruise line doesn't care if you get sick now as you will be home before any symptoms appear.

Prime rib is my choice for dinner in the main dining room. As with nearly every choice I have made, it was excellent. Definitely much better than the dining room food on Royal.

After dinner, we enjoy live music until 9:00 and then I must pack. Luggage should be out by 10:00.

I set my alarm for 6:00 so we can go to the dining room for breakfast. Our scheduled departure time is 8:45 but we must vacate our cabins by 8:00.

The forecast is for showers and cool temperatures when we arrive in Tampa.

Jan 10 - Costa Maya

By the time I see the light of day we are docked in Costa Maya. The Carnival Jubilee, a new LNG fueled ship out of Galveston with about 6,500 passengers, shares the dock with us.

We are in no hurry, and head to the dining room for breakfast. Busy, but not packed. Again I have cell service. An excellent feature of my shared T-Mobile plan. I say shared because it is really my daughter's and she shares with me. Effective coverage is provided in several hundred countires around the world. It is rare I don't have cell service while in port.

We decide to walk into port. My leg is still sore, but I have learned what moves I can make and what not to do. Oh, and how many drugs to take and how often. The benefit of being prepared for many contingencies. The port area is crowded. We browse the stores, watch passengers playing with the dolphins, and catch the "flyers" decend from the 75 or 80 foot high pole. Always a spectacular sight, but nothing I would ever dare to do.

The weather is perfect. Sunny, a little breeze and no rain predicted. I ride the pier shuttle into port, but walk back. Hot and tired, but the leg survives.

Fried chicken legs and corn on the cob for lunch in the buffet was excellent. I couldn't have asked for it to be prepared any differently.

Ironically, while here in Costa Maya I get an email from my daughter asking if we would like to join her in December on a cruise to Cozumel and Costa Maya. The answer will probably be yes, but I need to check the calendar more carefully once I am home before making a  firm plan. We have been asked to organize the train club Christmas party, and that will come first.

Service is slow again in the lounge before dinner. Our server has been working since 6:00 AM, called to extra duty to fill in for a fellow crew member that left the ship in Cozumel, scheduled or unscheduled was not shared.

The beef tenderloin, carrots and green beans are excellent. 

A brief pause for some music in the Grand Foyer and then to see Gabriel, an illusionist, in the main theater.  His show is excellent, a little more grand than most magicians. His card manipulations are excellent, his disappearance from the stage effective, and his escape from a straight jacket while hanging from his feet above the stage quite dramatic. He is booked on the ship thru March. With more equipment than most headliner entertainers it is not surprising that he is booked here for an extended period of time.

In overhearing other passengers it sounds like Holland has cut out most of it's live entertainment much the same as Carnival. 

There are a number of passengers here enjoying a discount on their fare compliments of the casino. But I can assure you they are paying for that discount by making heavy gambling contributions. Making the casino non smoking has not hurt their business. In fact I would argue that it has helped significantly. Everytime I walk thru, the casino is packed.

Most passenger behavior has been good. Much better than on ships with a younger crowd. But of course there are exceptions. Riding in the elevator with the hotel director a passenger took the chance encounter to complain strongly that the water glasses in her cabin were not changed often enough. Of course it never occurred to her to ask the cabin steward.

Separately I did learn that two of the dozen or so young children on the ship are the 9 and 13 year old daughters of the hotel director. Originally from eastern Europe they now reside in Pennsylvania.

The seas remain under 5 feet and the ship is quite stable as we head towards Tampa at about 18 knots. By dinner time the skies have changed from being mostly sunny to solid cloud cover with a few showers. Tomorrow will be our last "gulf" day.