7/11/16. (Actually its pretty quick, going at about 18 knots day in, day out.) We are almost in the Caribbean after 8 days at sea without a sight of land (except if you were up in the wee, small hours when we went past the Azores). And it has been fun! We are enjoying cruising the second time round.
Our activities have been more “structured” than on our only previous cruise in that we have taken part in a quiz each morning (forming a team with Pat, Susan, Mick and Mick – we came joint 7th out of 77 teams over the 8 days of the competition which pleased us enormously) and then playing bridge most afternoons (unless it clashed with a film that we wanted to see). Initially, the bridge was not quite so successful as the quiz, partly because there were some seriously good players (regularly playing 2 or 3 times a week at clubs) and partly due to our ineptitude, but in the last two days we have fluked a 1st and a 2nd in our “half” of the draw. In addition, we have both been taking an early morning “constitutional” around the jogging track after which Christine has gone to mass at 8.15 each day while Stephen has had a leisurely breakfast.
For the first 3 or 4 days we found the ship very crowded because the autumnal weather kept most people below deck but as we have travelled south the temperature has improved and now the sun loungers on deck are in short supply as the Brits attempt to turn lobster pink en masse.
The cruise is completely sold out so there are 3,600 passengers on board and a huge majority is British. The next largest contingents are Americans and Germans and then a smattering of others, although we did hear someone say there are more than 60 nationalities on board (including crew).
A surprising number of people we have met are using the cruise to get across the Atlantic to their winter homes in Florida and, like us, will cruise back in the spring. We have been staggered by the number of “veterans” we have met – many have taken more than 10, 20, 30,…. cruises. One lunchtime we sat next to the ship’s loyalty program manager who told us that there are over 1,000 members of the Diamond Club (70+ nights on Royal Caribbean cruises) and 29 members of the Pinnacle Club (700+ nights)!
Much to Christine’s delight we have had an extra hour in bed on 4 nights as we put the clocks back. She is not looking forward to this aspect of our journey back to Europe in April as we will lose an hour on a regular basis!
Every day at noon the captain gives an update on our progress. A few days ago he told us that he had altered course to avoid a storm in which the wind was blowing at 60-70 knots. Even though we passed 500 miles to the south of the centre, walking on the deck was still challenging at times because we had winds of 35_40 knots and waves of 3 or 4 metres. The ship’s movement was noticeable but not dramatic thanks to the deployment of the stabilisers. Seasick bags were placed at various points around the ship and we heard that one or two people were unwell but thankfully we were not affected (Christine has been dosing herself on Stugeron throughout).
Tomorrow we reach our first port of call in St Maarten (the Dutch half of an island shared with the French). One of the main attractions seems to be the shopping (groan!) but we are hoping there will be something else of interest – even if it is only sitting on a white sandy beach gazing at the blue sea!