Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Eastern Caribbean Cruise 1998

March 21

Our bus arrived at MacDonald’s at Davis Blvd in Naples early and Mary and Bill dropped us off. The trip to Ft. Lauderdale was comfortable and fast as my new M. Binckey book, “Evening Class” was engrossing. Port Everglades Terminal was bustling with activity, and it was a motley collection of humanity dressed in every conceivable costume. Lived up with their baggage in sneakers and hats of every description, they patiently waited to board.

The moment we boarded they snapped our picture and took our carry-ones and a steward led us to our cabin. Our steward is Andy. Everyone uses first names and the crew is either Filipino or Indonesian, but very polite and helpful. Our cabin is on a deck, outside, just above the restaurant deck – comfortable with sofa and double bed and adequate storage space.  A bottle of champagne from our travel agent was in our cabin #884 and a bowl of fresh fruit. Luncheon was being served at a buffet until 4:15 so the first thing we did was find a restaurant and have a little sustenance. We chose Shy Deck and took our lunch out in the sunshine. This ship is huge and it takes awhile to discover where all the facilities are and the best way to access them. A lifeboat drill at 4:15 was revealing. Those lifeboats have motors and food and water – very reassuring. They seem to work.

By this time it was time for dinner at 6 o’clock. Our table was assigned and we were disappointed to find ourselves at a table for four instead of eight. We informed those in charge and it will be rectified by tomorrow. We had two delightful widows from Ft. Meyers as dinner companions – Norma from Michigan and Anne from New York. Both live in a mobile home park in the winter. John asked the waiter for olive oil and ended up with a bowl of olives. We had a good laugh before correcting him. It was his first tour and he was trying so hard to please. Our dinner was superb: pineapple soup, arugula and spinach salad, roasted snapper and pineapple sherbert. Then we went to a show in the Admirals Lounge. It was very New York nightclub, but then they introduced the social crew. After that we danced to the Guy Lombardo Canadian Orchestra. There were eleven pieces and they were excellent. John and I visited some of the other lounges – one had a string quartet, one had a four-piece Caribbean band. They were all lovely and a hard choice to make. However, since I’m not drinking we went to our cabin early. It was a good thing as John called at 3 a.m. to find out about drumming and noise, which the staff came and investigated. They stopped the party below us and we were off to sleep.

March 22

Sunrise out our window and a quiet sea awaits our docking in Nassau. After a hearty breakfast we left the ship for a tour of Nassau. It is very disappointing as it is badly neglected. We visited Parliament Square where all the government offices are and even these buildings are in disrepair. Everything needs a fresh coat of paint. Work in progress at the docks is half completed. We visited the straw market, which was full of cheap junk. The Anglican Cathedral was the only beautiful building we saw. It is called Christ Church and we attended part of a service. The people, predominantly black, were very well dressed – no women in shorts or slacks and most wearing hats. The men were nicely dressed also and the stained glass windows are gorgeous. We know why we only spent four hours in this port. On our return to the ship we had lunch and went to Mass at 1:15. Many attended – about 250 or 300 I’d guess and a Benedictine monk said Mass. We rushed to a talk on jewelry and then high tea with a great combo playing. We are really tired and try to catch a catnap before the Captains Champagne party at 5:15. After cocktails, dinner at our new table was terrific. Our new dinner companions are Jo and Ingrid from Long Island, N.Y. who taught German at Hofstra University and Mary Anne and Henry from Syracuse, who are now permanent residents of Tampa. He was an environmentalist, who had an accident when someone mislabeled chemical containers he was using, which caused an explosion that seared his arms and ruined his lungs (cyanide).  They were both great company and were looking forward to the dinners for the balance of the cruise. We took in the show, which was terrific based on Hollywood famous music and people. The costumes are fantastic. Then to bed as we too tired to dance. Another night we had to call to stop the partying below us by the kitchen staff.

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