We left St Thomas on Wednesday evening, heading for Half Moon Cay, in the Bahamas. At dinner the captain came on the intercom and announced that he was in touch with the parent company, the Hurricane center and several other touch points to keep up to date as to what Hurricane Noel was doing. At the magic show on Wednesday evening they asked us to take a moment and be thankful that we were safe and sound even though the hurricane might affect our final port stop on Friday. Thursday dawned bright and beautiful. It was an at sea day, with the second formal dinner that evening.
By now we automatically headed to the dining room for breakfast because we loved the food, the atmosphere and the fun people we got to sit with and learn about.
I must make note here that we did use the stairs most of the time we were moving around the ship. Only when we had four or more flights of stairs to ascend or five or more flights to descend did we use the elevators. It was always fun to use the outside elevators because that gave us a gorgeous view of the ocean as we moved up or down. By now, we pretty much knew our way around the ship and could find or stateroom port or aft whichever direction we were headed. Our meals were just two or three flights down and the shows every evening were three or four flights down. The lido deck, where the swimming pools were, were four flights up - we walked those about 50% of the time and cheated with the elevators the rest of time (usually up for elevators, going down we would hoof it). We didn't even look for the exercise room!!
Thursday morning after breakfast we headed for the pool on the port end of the ship. It was sooo fun. The swimming pool was in constant wave motion because of the movement of the ship that day. We had pretty much gotten our sea legs but could tell the waves were higher because the normally calm swimming pool was in constant movement from side to side. The pool was tiled up and over the edge of the swimming pool and then there was about a four foot ledge and then about an 18 inch wall all around the swimming pool. Because of this wall the water was actually about four inches deeper than the swimming pool and we sat on the edge of the pool itself and had to hold on to dear life as the water sloshed back and forth in wave fashion. FUN! We swam and then went and enjoyed the hot tubs - hot tubbing in the sunshine in the middle of the atlantic as we headed back towards hurricane Noel. We laid out in the sun, with our books and a cold drink and enjoyed. The morning was spent reading and swimming and soaking and then we headed back to our room to change for lunch. Afternoon found us doing a mile walk - three laps around all of deck three - enjoying our balcony and wandering the ship; Again there were alot of options but we didn't want to join in - we just lazed and relaxed the day away. We just enjoyed being with each other. ...smile
I got all fancied up for the formal dinner - this time in my sparkly black blouse and long skirt - I actually dared wear heels tonight - the ship was moving all over the place but we were moving in time with it now!! The first formal night they served us crab legs and tonight I chose the lobster tail...delicious!! After dinner we went and had a really nice picture taken. We listened to the music in one of the lounges and danced some. The show tonight was another song and dance production by the dancers and was lots of fun to watch. We have learned to get to the shows early to get a seat...earlier to get a good seat! They announced tonight that unfortunately due to Hurricane Noel, we would not be docking at Half Moon Cay on Friday but rather would head directly back to Florida, hugging the coastline of Cuba and then on home on Saturday.
Again they mentioned the deaths caused by Noel in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic - at that point I decided to call my dad and let him know we were doing okay still. I knew he would be following the storm track and be wondering just where we were. It is sooo awesome to turn on your cell phone in the middle of the ocean and have service!! It will be interesting to see how much they charge per minute for those calls. But it was worth it to let family know we were still enjoying ourselves.
The seas were really rough that night. I awoke several times in the night hearing the creaking and groaning of the ship as we traveled through the tail of the hurricane. We stood by the railing of our balcony watching the waves as they pounded against the ship - all afternoon and evening Thursday and again on Friday. Interestingly enough from Thursday afternoon on, we could see other ships heading the same direction as we were - for such a huge ocean all the ships were headed the same direction at the same time - trying to get back home safe and sound. By Friday morning I think the Hurricane has turned back into a Tropical storm and then later Friday afternoon as it sped past the Carolinas it turned back into a hurricane again. At lunch time on Friday we talked to a young couple from San Diego - she had been really sea sick and the medicine they gave her helped that but just made her sleepy. They had slept the whole morning away. Again - I am so thankful that neither one of us suffered any ill effects from the movement of the boat. I think that there were a couple of passengers that fell and injured themselves due to the wind and waves also. We traveled 1079 nautical miles from St Thomas back to Ft Lauderdale - most of it under heavy seas. Friday it was cloudy - but still warm. We went up to the pool for a while but it was stable - no fun!!
We wandered through the stores and picked out the pictures we wanted from the night before. One of them had a scratch across it so they told us to come back that evening and they would have it reprinted for us. I bought the scrapbook pages to go in my scrapbook - they were on clearance for only $6 - even in the middle of the caribbean I can find clearance sales.
As we were eating lunch with the couple from San Diego and an older couple from Canada they announced over the intercom that there were porpoises playing off the bow of the ship. We were in the middle of lunch and couldn't leave so we missed them...darn. That evening the family sitting ahead of us at the show were talking about it and their 22 year old daughter said she was one of the first to see them and they played for about 30 minutes - diving and dancing and jumping - wouldn't that have been fun!!
Because today was another at sea day, because the port at Half Moon Cay was closed the ship scheduled extra activities. They had tours through the theatre and tours through the kitchen which would have been really interesting. The kitchen tour was way way crowded so we ended up eating lunch instead. The ship put on an extra production Friday afternoon at 4:30 that was fantastic. It was a combination show by the magician and the piano player/singers. Totally entertaining. We went right from that to the dining room for our final supper on board the ship. It was special to say goodbye to our friends that we had shared dinner with for the whole week. Each evening they had served a special drink in cute Holland America Shot Glasses - each night had been a different color. That evening as JodiBeth came around - she said there were only six colors and so tonight (day 7) they could choose whatever color they wanted. Since we hadn't gotten any of them (I don't think there is any way you can make a virgin rattlesnake!) all six of our tablemates chose a different color and after they drank their drink they presented us with our own set of six Holland America Shot glasses. I will always remember Joe taking his shot glass and some ice water and his linen tablecloth and washing out his shot glass for us!! FUN memory! I haven't the slightest idea what I will do with the set - I've got them displayed in my curio cabinet for now - probably I will take them to Zion's market next summer and give them away again! we'll see.
We got pictures of each other and our wait staff - after dinner we headed off to the stores to pick up our picture and check out the bargains (!?) on gold chains by the inch. They had some beautiful chains and I got a 30 inch 18 carat gold chain for $2 an inch. I have put the locket my mother gave me a few years back on it. It is the locket my dad gave her when they were dating - it has pictures of each of them when they were 18 and 19 years old - It needed a nice chain - Ed bought him a gold chain necklace too - and I got a free bracelet that is so pretty. We wandered back over to the jewelry store (the chains by the inch were sold elsewhere on the ship) and we found my emerald earrings to match my necklace. They are small and dainty and what is really nice is that they don't bother me at night so I can just leave them on 24/7 - that way I won't lose them! Then we headed back to the Vista Lounge for one final show. It was alot of fun. They let us bring cameras tonight and Ed got some pictures of the winners of the All Star Cruise Contest. There were some really good singers. A 60ish fellow came out to sing and when he opened his mouth and started to sing we were sooooo amazed. He was good - I could have listened to him for hours. Then the activity director came on with his top 10 weirdest questions he has been asked by cruise members - like Do these elevators take you to the front of the ship? Or "Is the water in our toilets fresh water or salt water?" or "Does the staff go home every night?" I wish I could remember all ten of them!
We could have gone up to the Northern Lights Lounge at 11:30 pm and 'rocked till we docked" but old fogies like we are we headed back to our cabin to pack. We extended both suitcases to their limit and atuffed the big bag we got from St Thomas plus our computer bags and managed to get everything packed - we set our main suitcases outside our stateroom door where they were picked up sometime in the night. Saturday morning we got up and showered and dressed and headed up to breakfast about 7 am. We docked safe and sound on a sunny day back in Ft
Lauderdale and they called each deck, one at a time to disembark. With computer bags and my big pink bag in tow we headed off of the ship and were guided to the bus that would take us to the airport. Once we got to the airport we went to the local phones and called our hotel to pick us up (long story made short - when we booked the cruise we were given an airport to ship and back package - so even though we stayed an extra day at the Hampton Inn in Ft Lauderdale we let them take us to the airport and then we took the free shuttle from to airport back to the hotel. We arrived with all of our luggage at the Hampton in by 9:30 am and figured we would just drop off our luggage since they wouldn't have our room ready for us but lo and behold they did have a room ready for us that early in the morning. We made arrangements to go on an Everglades tour about noon and just relaxed till then.
The tour picked us and another couple up from the hotel and headed to the Everglades park. We got to go on an airboat out into the everglades and see alligators and birds and iguanas in the wild. We got to watch a man go into a cage full of alligators and prod one out of the water and then explain why he can stick his hands and head into the mouth of an alligator and not lose them. Finally I got a chance to hold a baby alligator. You will notice I have a firm hold on his jaw!
We headed back to the hotel and for supper walked over to a near by mall looking for a red lobster - we couldn't find it but found an old 50's style hamburger joint and enjoyed fish and onion rings - no crystal or three sets of silverware - we are heading back to reality now.
Sunday morning we got up at 4:30 am to head for the airport. Our flight was a nonstop flight fron Ft Lauderdale to SLC - Ed was upgraded to first class so he let me sit in first class all the way home while he sat back in coach for the five hour flight. Bless his heart - he is so good to me!!
It was good to get home - the weather has even been nice for us! What a treasure trove of memories I have from the trip!!
I will be home until December when we head to New York state for one or two weeks while Ed works back there. But we will have the weekends to do something fun! Like go see the
Christmas Tree in NYC