This cruise was a dream, not a nightmare

The Way I See It

by DON WEST

Please excuse my absence this past week, but Bobbye and I took a week off for a much needed getaway. It was something that we had been planning for some time, however, that trip became too expensive and timing was not in the cards. We had hoped to take a cruise to Hawaii, but ended up on a trip to the Caribbean. No, we weren’t on the ship that caught fire, and our trip was uneventful, mostly relaxing, and thoroughly enjoyable.

It was my first cruise since 1969 when I cruised the Caribbean courtesy of Uncle Sam’s Navy. Then we cruised on an aircraft carrier, 20 men crammed into a room just a little larger than the cabin we had on this last cruise. We did not have to eat off of metal trays, and the food and coffee seemed somewhat better than when our cook, “fenderbelly funderburg” whipped up those delicious beans and Spam casseroles.

This cruise ship was pretty spectacular, touted as the second largest cruise ship in the world, 15 decks tall, weighs 138,000 tons, carries a crew of just under 1200 and can accommodate over 3,000 passengers. The last conventional class aircraft carrier, the John F. Kennedy displaced just under 81,000 tons and carried a combined crew of 5,500 men, including the aviation personnel. Both ships can cruise at 30+ knots.

I did note that on our first night at sea, when retiring for the evening and flipped through the channels, that the movie playing just happened to be Poseidon. As one strolled around the beautiful ship, there were many vantage points, several overlooking what is called the “promenade deck”, and I did take note of the glass elevators and made a mental note of The Poseidon again. We did make a trip to the most forward part of the ship that we were allowed and re-enacted the now famous Cajun voyage of the Titanic. “Mais, its almost lik yu flyin’ Rose.” Near that same area of the ship there is an observation deck where one can peer through some tinted windows into the area where the pilot and staff drive the ship. That’s changed a bit over time, since now they drive this behemoth with a joystick. I took special interest when we pulled into Jamaica, assuming that the tugs would come out to meet us and bring us to the dock for shoring. Well, was I surprised when the captain just threw that thing into reverse and backed it right along side the pier without any assistance.

Along with several dining rooms, snack bars, sandwich shops, and coffee bars, there are also a number of “watering holes,” so one never has to wonder if it is five o’clock somewhere, even if it is seven in the morning. Spas, swimming pools, saunas, whirlpools, a nine-hole Putt-Putt course, rock-climbing wall, basketball courts, shuffleboard, game rooms where you can enjoy bridge, scrabble, or your choice of card and board games, and a full arcade for the kids and a casino for those who dare. Our stateroom had a balcony where we enjoyed morning coffee, Bobbye read, and we watched sunrises and sunsets.

When I made my cruise with the Navy, I was paid to linger about and watch the sunsets while enjoying my mug of coffee, and savoring the warm breezes of the tropics. This trip came with no paycheck, but if you save your nickels and pennies for your entire working career, you too, may someday be able to enjoy a similar experience. The very last cruise I took in the Navy was aboard a destroyer, and we took a little trip from Norfolk, Va., down to Ft. Lauderdale for a weekend. As soon as we tied up to the dock in Florida, the ship promptly began to sink. I had the weekend off, and friends were picking me up, so I hurried off the sinking ship like a rat. When I returned on Sunday, someone told me they stuffed mattresses in the hole, and sealed off that compartment. We had spent two days bobbing around like a cork in a storm off Cape Hatteras, N.C., on our way down the coast and it must have knocked some rust off the bottom – thus the leak.

Nothing like that happened on this last cruise, and as a matter of fact, as we were de-boarding around nine a.m., there were people lining up to board as the ship was scheduled to pull out that very afternoon on a voyage reversing our itinerary. It reminded me of that destroyer, as we were a Reserve training ship, and every weekend, the part-time sailors were lining up to make their maiden voyage – dreaming of coconuts and bikinis.

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Posted by on Feb 21 2013. Filed under Editorial Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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