Wednesday, December 1, 2021

​Moths to a Flame – Part 1, The Inspiration

Like moths to a flame, we are once again drawn to spending time on the only place on earth you can see the dark blue of the world’s oceans: the world’s oceans themselves. We are again going cruising, even after having been dismayed and discouraged by the debacle of our last cruise back in 2014, where for a daily cost of almost five hundred dollars a day, we were fed food that was just plain awful. My wife and I had decided to reenact our memorable first cruise aboard the old Norwegian Cruise Lines Sunward II twenty-five years earlier, but things have changed. Out of four main dining room meals, we sent three of them back as inedible. We unbelievably lost weight on a cruise, a holiday Christmas holiday cruise at that! If it had not been for custom made pizzas and pasta on the Lido deck, we might have starved. Obviously we’ve changed cruise lines for our upcoming cruise.

Ilse with the M/S Sunward II, Nassau, November 1989. Our first Cruise.

We met two young, talented musicians from Patagonia during that otherwise lackluster cruise, a delightful, married couple who sang and played guitar. We had friendly chats with Dani and Seba between sets and ended up watching them whenever we had the chanceWe enjoyed their personalities, and we loved their music. We have followed them as SuperNova Duo on Facebook ever since, even through the trials and tribulations of the Covid epidemic which has altered our entire world. 

We watched them from thousands of miles away as they did a tour with Disney Cruises, and later, after Covid struck, when they were at home in Bariloche in the beautiful, snowy mountains of Argentina.  

They announced earlier this year they were coming to Florida with Celebrity Cruises, doing the mandatory quarantines and reassignments off the Florida coast. They were booked on the Celebrity Millennium, headed to Alaska. That’s when our deep seated wanderlust decided to flare up yet once again.

Ilse on the tender "Little Norway" approaching the S/S Norway, St. Thomas, USVI, 1992

An Alaska cruise had always been on our to do list, at least until 2014 when our desire to cruise was prematurely extinguished. I began to study the Millennium. She appears to be an older, medium size ship at around two thousand passengers. She’s perfect for us. No way are we getting on a ship that engorges – and disgorges – five thousand passengers at a time. We decided to pursue the possibility of cruising Alaska, one of our two bucket list cruises - the other is a full transit of the Panama Canal - perhaps in a year or two after the world has stabilized enough to get back on a boat. Covid restrictions and precautions are absolutely paramount to us, we have absolutely no desire to contract the disease. Period.

We were curious about the Millennium's itinerary and when the winter schedule announced the ship was being re-positioned for eastern Caribbean cruises, we decided to finally treat ourselves to a long overdue cruise. We carefully selected a ten-day cruise with lots of open ocean time and several ports we haven't yet visited. 

We also researched Celebrity Cruise Lines and we liked what we found. While many of the changes we’ve come to dislike or avoid are now industry wide standards, Celebrity appears to offer more of our style and relaxation for a more inclusive, higher but still reasonable cost. The extra cost drink packages – and especially WiFi packages, can still blow an unsuspecting cruiser’s budget out of the water, so to speak, but the regular fare, passage services and amenities seem far more in line with what remember from past cruises.

George at Ocho Rios, Jamaica, M/S Seaward, 1993

We have long avoided the “Private Island” beach day where you eat hotdogs and get sand in your bathing suit. We got off the ship for the beach picnic on our very first cruise way back when, but we have no need to compete with the multitudes who stampede ashore for a day of fun and sun. Those stops are a great day to do on-board stuff as the ship is practically empty. No problem, the Millennium doesn’t have a stop scheduled for the subsidized alternative to a real port of call. Our first stop will still be in the Bahamas, but in Nassau. We don't need to disembark in Nassau. Been there, done that, got the straw hat. 

In San Juan, Puerto Rico, M/S Star Princess, 2004

Then we head to old San Juan where we will get to do want we want, COVID restrictions not withstanding. We simply ran out of time during our first visit there and decided to come back someday. Believe me, that’s so much better than wondering what to do after being ashore for an hour amid the jewelry and perfume shops that define the boundary of your security. Been there and done that, too.

Beach Day in Eluthera, M/S Crown Princess, 2012

So we get to cruise and occasionally watch the flying fish while we sit on our balcony and wonder about the phenomenal colors of the deep ocean. In the evening we get to listen to two talented entertainers who are going to wonder about the two enthusiastic, old people sitting in the back, clapping and smiling, and think, “Do we know those people?”

Ilse with the M/S Norwegian Sky, Nassau, 2014 

We'll get the chance to tell them in person they were the spark that got us back doing what we love.