Saturday, January 29, 2022

Moths to a Flame - Part 12, Rollin' Home


The trip back to the US from the lesser Antilles of the Caribbean is a solid two day voyage, and a great time to relax and enjoy cruising for what it really is: sanctuary.

It is about birds and flying fish. The wrong birds, it turns out but cool birds after all. I watched them on our way into San Juan as they flew alongside the ship into a strong, blustery headwind. They often flew close to the surface, between the cresting waves, flying in the toughs between the spray-capped peaks as flying fish, startled by the ship, would leap out of the water and soar along the wave line trying to escape the huge, blue hull that pursued them in the water. I saw the big, dark brown seabirds, with huge wing spans and long bright, beaks that looked like spears between the other islands as well, but not in the abundance we saw in the Atlantic north of San Juan. I watched them soar overhead, circle each other and then float easily, almost motionless alongside a cruise ship that was shoving its ninety-one thousand ton mass relentlessly through a protesting, cobalt-blue ocean.

I called them Albatrosses, not that I know what an Albatross really looks like, but it sounded right. I knew they weren’t forked-tailed Frigatebirds that soared overhead in every port. It was almost a given they were going to be Albatrosses, after all, that is what writers call them when writing about ships and the sea, right? The graceful birds would suddenly dive down into the ocean, just like on the television shows on PBS. The white, turbulent trail of bubbles and foam would dissipate before the birds reappeared on the ocean’s surface. They would take off immediately and rejoin the others in the hunt. Several of them would skim along the cresting waves and grab an occasional fish that leapt into the air. But they weren’t Albatrosses, they were Brown Boobies. Yes, Brown Boobies. Now you know why writers call them Albatrosses.

Perhaps one reason they’re so common north of Puerto Rico is because that’s the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean. Well, probably not, but when the captain announced the ocean we were passing through was over 16,000 feet deep just north of Puerto Rico, I had to research, why here?

This is what happens when I have two whole days without telephones and television and very limited Internet. With plenty of time to write whatever wanders through my mind, complete, coherent sentences would magically appear in my spiral notebook. I thought they were coherent at the time, but now I’m simply happy to have the abstract notes and tidbits that trigger memories all in one place. As I read them now, I often drift off in memories and unanswered questions. The second answer is the Puerto Rico Trench. It is the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean and full of long, floating patches of Sargasso sea weed.

I’ve often wondered why the land in our neck of the woods is flat. Florida, the Bahamas, even the parts of the Yucatan peninsulas are flat and featureless, while the islands south of us are typically mountainous, starting with Cuba, not all that far away. Except oddly enough, for the Cayman islands, which from what we saw, looks like Key Largo. Maybe the Puerto Rico Trench doesn’t have anything to with that either, but it does separate two major tectonic plates. Neat, huh? Just a few hundred miles further south and we could have earthquakes like Puerto Rico, and volcanoes such as the one on St. Vincent that erupted violently two years ago. Instead, we get flat, featureless, boring Florida.

Something else neat about the trench we can not see even when we pass over it. According to NASA, “beneath the trench is a mass so dense it has a gravitational pull on the surface of the ocean, causing it to dip somewhat. It also has a negative effect on the accuracy of navigational instruments.” Apparently it doesn’t bother the birds.

The weather was beautiful. Sunny, with the winds behind us in a following sea, the ship was perfectly at ease. We slept in, taking yet another tour of the boat after our late, late breakfast. 

Being fascinated by the open ocean, I stood on our balcony and watched the big birds flying alongside us for several hours and took hundreds of photographs. I deleted all but the few that weren’t blurry, keeping one or two that show they distinctly are not Albatrosses.

The telephone rang and we both looked at each other in surprise. It was Concierge services but the voice was broken and erratic. We could barely complete a sentence without popping noises and sporadic silence. She apologized and said she would send a technician to fix the phone. I know that’s what she said because ten minutes later, a technician knocked on our door with a new telephone set. The concierge called back on the new, working telephone because we had earlier asked for the room temperature to be raised a few degrees. The room controller didn’t work and couldn’t be adjusted by us, so again, they sent a technician to solve our problem. They were checking to see if the temperature was to our liking when they found out we had the telephone problem. We told her the room was fine. Thirty minutes later we had another knock on the door. The concierge sent us a complementary bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon for our inconvenience. The service from Celebrity is outstanding.

This was the second dress-up night for dining, and for the second evening in a row, we had the pleasure of meeting Dany and Seba for dinner. We had the option of dining at one of the upscale specialty restaurants, but we all agreed to dine in the main dining room again. 

Luh and David, great people and part of the memory

The service staff of the Millennium was without doubt, one of the best we have encountered, and that includes the SS Norway. David, our waiter, never missed a hint or gesture and by the second meal, had our quirks and tastes so well known we didn't have to ask for anything, it was already there, and Luh, our server, was even so comfortable with us she did the infamous dropped coffee cup routine not only on me, but on Seba as well. On our final night, Ilse asked them to "bend" the code a little bit and please remove the masks momentarily so we could finally see their faces and take a photograph. That is without doubt, one of the biggest drawbacks to the COVID procedures which Celebrity adheres to religiously; we don't get to see the faces of the people we meet.  

Tonight was lobster night, so once again, had a great dinner along with great company. We all retired to the lounge on the fantail where we were joined by several other musician friends of theirs, and their fiancées, and ended up listening to music and chatting until 1:30 in the morning. A really great day.

Our last day at sea was an indoor day. The weather turned rainy and windy, with one break long enough to hear a final pool-side performance by Dany and Seba, Supernova Duo. They performed “My Life is Going On,” the theme song from “The Money Heist.” the hit Netflix series, just for us. There could not have been a better note to end the vacation. Without a doubt, one of our best vacations ever.

Seba and Dany - SuperNova Duo - open our Home video, simply click on the photo!

As far as cruising? We’ve already started planning our next one.

Ft Lauderdale at sunrise - Welcome back to reality.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Moths to a Flame - Part 11, St Maarten


Philipsburg is our last port call of the cruise, and as usual, I wake up before daybreak. Instead of going up on deck to take photographs, I roll over and go back to sleep. This is our second visit to Philipsburg, St Maarten. We were here in 1992, long before they opened the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise Facility that facility allows four huge cruise ships to dock simultaneously just a mile down the beach from town. We arrived on the SS Norway back then and we went ashore on a tender, one of the smaller boats that ferried passengers between the off-shore anchored ship and the small dock at the edge of town. The costly, time strangling tenders are no longer required with the new facility.

SS Norway anchored at St Maarten - 1992 - The tender is alongside the ship.

I wake up to a barking dog. I roll over and groggily look at Ilse. She says “Is that a dog?” I opened the balcony slider part way and looked out at a hill just behind the cargo wharf. There are shipping containers stacked neatly the length of the dock. We are tied up just several hundred yards away from a small island-hopping freighter, the ones that are the life blood of all the Caribbean islands. A small, yellow tow boat idly motors between us. The dog barks again and I slowly focus on the top deck of the freighter I would have called a tramp steamer in the old days. I really don’t know what a tramp steamer is, but I imagine it would look something like this clunker that has a dog kennel just behind the bridge.

We dressed, went up top and ate breakfast, still not mustering the moxie to try coddled eggs, and returned to our cabin just as another less-than-pristine island freighter tried to negotiate the pilings between us and the wharf she had been tied to. Her anchor was still down as she tried to power away from the dock and I told Ilse there was a good chance the ship would ram the piling if he wasn’t careful. He wasn’t. The ship slammed against the huge concrete piling before the little yellow tow boat could push against his stern, and at full power, shove it around the stubborn, unforgiving piling. The anchor finally winched up and the boat eventually quit scraping noisily along the massive concrete pillar. I don’t know if the boat, on its way to some long lost pirate cove, would have actually collided with the mighty Celebrity Millennium, but I guarantee you the crew on our ship was watching closely, if somewhat helplessly, from the bridge.

Ilse and I walked down the dock toward security but I dawdled, taking photographs of a three-masted sailing ship, the Stad Amsterdam, tied up across the dock from us. A beautiful, nostalgic clipper ship geared to those who wistfully want to relive the golden age of sailing ships, she calls St, Maarten home-port. Most everyone stops to look at the beautiful ship as they head toward the security checkpoint.

A German cruise ship arrived earlier and docked at the other dock directly across from the black, magnificent sailing ship. It makes a great photograph as the new arrival, the huge German AIDA Sol, is painted with gaudy, goofy lips and extravagant eyes and eyelashes that go from the deck to the waterline, contrasts between a bygone era of primitive, survivalist exploration, and one of surrealistic entertainment that now dominates our coming future. A long, blue stripe representing hair, runs the length of the ship. It is quite a contrast to the sedate, serious schooner.

By the time we get through security, a second German ship, the AIDA Perla, has docked alongside her sister ship. They must be related, they are painted identically. The Perla, while quite a bit larger than the Sol, is to me, just as gaudy and quite honestly, goofy. Ilse and I walk across the concrete wharf to get a better photograph of the two ships and stop to talk with a couple walking slowly from the newly docked ship toward the port exit. They sailed from Hamburg, Germany, on a thirty-eight day cruise and will visit the Dominican Republic and Cuba before returning via Lisbon. We laugh and chat for ten minutes – mostly them, my German is not up to par these days – before saying goodbye. Everyone remarks what a small world we live in.

Ilse and I decide to catch a mini-van or jitney so not to wear ourselves out too early by walking the mile into town. There is a designated waiting area for vans and taxis in the cruise terminal, with passengers, most them looking at maps or guide books, from all three ships milling around. We join the queue at the port exit and find it is well organized. The vans are stacked up one behind the other, taxi cab style. When we have six people waiting, the honcho waves for the next van and asks our destination. He loads us so the closest people get off first. Ilse and I are in the very front.

All the other passengers are German from the same ship as the people we talked to on the pad. They are considerable younger than we are and we remember all other civilized nations except the US and Canada, get a basic thirty day vacation as a minimum so this is common everywhere else but here. We’re number One! We’re number One! Damned socialism! We end up chatting with them, masked of course, and exchange pleasantries before we get out of the van.

The fee for the interesting, toot-filled trip through town was seven and a half dollars. When I gave the driver fifteen dollars, he smiled and gave me back seven and a half dollars. “The fare is for you both,” he said. I begin to wonder if I’m dreaming about the way the world should be. It is a pleasant surprise.

We walked through the old dock area and the boardwalk, taking photos of the old landmarks we had seen many years before. Ilse haggles with a street vendor for a swimsuit cover-up, settling on a price less than half the original asking price but still twice as much as it was worth. When I asked her why she paid the price, Ilse smiled and said “They have to make a living, too.”

We stopped and asked for a local drug store as I needed band-aids for a nasty little whack on my shin from being careless on deck. I ran into a deckchair that had been pushed into the walkway and really banged the devil out of my shin. Blood running down to my shoe type stuff. I cleaned it up but we couldn’t stop the bleeding and we used up the meager supply of first aid stuff we brought with us within a few hours. I wouldn’t go to the ship’s medical center for attention unless it was imperative to do so. But, so far so good, and we found an Israeli-owned store – it is indeed a small world – a few blocks from the beach that had what we needed and two and a half dollars, we were good to go. We decided to walk back to the cruise center, enjoying the warmest day of the trip.

One of the shops caught Ilse's eye, especially since she's a yoga instructor. A store had a row of yoga pants mounted on mannequins on display on the sidewalk. The very first form-fitting pair of pants was one with snowflakes and reindeer. "Where did you get those?" "Why, in St. Maarten, of course!"

A cat was sitting in the walkway at the security checkpoint. It looked as if it was checking the ID cards as well as the several uniformed guards who leaned on turnstiles and waited for the few straggling passengers. I smiled at the guards, but instead of showing them my ship’s ID card, I bent over and presented it to the cat, which in perfect cat fashion, looked at the card, then slowly looked up at me and meowed. I said “thank you,” to the cat – and showed the card to the guard just to be safe.

The guard said, “You want a cat? Take this one.”

We went back to the cabin, ordered drinks, went out on the balcony and put our feet up. We were looking down into the almost clear water, it was almost a milky blue, when a huge sea turtle surfaced right beside the boat. I went inside grabbed a camera, and when I got back, there were two of them! They stayed beside us for several minutes before diving out of site. If we had been in St, Croix, we would have seen them underwater.  

The heliport is opened for the departure from St. Maarten, but Ilse passes and I went back up to see if I could catch any unusual shots. One single gentleman I had chatted with several times a day, older than me, was complaining bitterly to a steward that it really wasn’t much of a party. The steward, serving free drinks to the passengers watching the dock disappear as we pulled out, didn’t have an answer. The complainer was originally from Belgium but now resides in Florida, and was simply being petty. I couldn’t help but butt-in. “I didn’t even know there was a party, my friend,” I said, “Would you like to dance?” My grumpy friend put his empty margarita glass back on the server's tray and climbed back down the stairs. I glanced back at the steward. You could see the twinkle in his eyes above his face mask.

Our dinner was very special as this was the first evening we ate with Dany and Seba. We didn’t leave the dining room until 10:30 in the evening. A wonderful way to wrap up our final port call of the trip.

We have two glorious days at sea ahead of us on our return trip to Ft Lauderdale. A perfect vacation.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Moths to a Flame - Part 10, St Kitts


Not much I can say about St Kitts, we didn’t get off the boat. The incessant rain squalls made going ashore a real test, even for the die-hards who were determined to ride the old sugar mill train around the island. With the huge Celebrity Equinox docked next to us, we had created a wind tunnel that occasional roared down the pier, blowing umbrellas back over the heads of tenacious passengers headed toward the security gate at least several hundred yards away. Every time the wind-lashed rain subsided, people would make a mad dash for shore but many got caught between the ships by gusts that could almost knock them over. They were all soaked to the skin, regardless of what rain gear they had on. Many had absolutely nothing but the ship’s courtesy umbrellas. Many passengers just gave up on the umbrellas and plodded forward anyway, dragging their useless, collapsed umbrellas behind them. They looked like they had been sprayed with fire hoses. Ilse and I put our feet up and watched dryly from several stories above.

Several stories above us, several Frigatebirds soar easily, effortlessly, sometimes hovering motionless directly overhead in the stiff wind between the ships. I’m surprised as the five or six birds are obviously using the weather to their advantage, but I can’t help but wonder what it is. We’ve seen them in every port we’ve visited and they usually stay with us until we are well out of port. English sailors called them Man-O-War birds. Most passengers on our boat simply call them  “birds.”  

It had been a gray, dismal morning as we approached St Kitts at daybreak. Heavy rain showers were scattered across the entire horizon and the weather after breakfast did not improve. Two men sitting on the huge concrete, anchoring pillar, in the harbor fifty yards behind our boat, sat huddled together against the foul weather, waiting for the ship’s lines to be thrown to them. I lost track of them for a few minutes in one of the rain squalls even though they were wearing yellow raincoats. There was no way to get on or off the pillar except by boat, and with the waves crashing constantly against their open, concrete, man-made island, I couldn’t help but wonder if they had on life vests. They were out there for over an hour and were drenched three times.

Getting to St. Kitts was different from the other overnight cruises. I watched our position during the evening and noticed the Captain was just killing time. The distance from Antigua to St. Kitts is less than sixty-five miles, so we sailed away from St Kitts for several hours before we turned and sailed back toward the island. The first time I looked we were thirty two-miles away, then thirty-eight miles, then after we turned around, we were down to thirty-three miles from our second-to-last island visit. Secure in the knowledge we were finally headed toward the right island, I went to bed.

Our balcony was protected by the Celebrity Equinox moored across the pier from us. Our sister ship was taking the brunt of the tropical storm force winds blasting the other side of the ship, but also oddly creating a strange wind tunnel between us that relentlessly rain-whipped the passengers who tried to walk on the pier. A great time to read and write, and occasionally tour the boat to see if we had missed anything.

Reviewing my notes from our visit to Antigua the day before, I decided – don’t ask me why – to add up the population of the five cruise ships simultaneously docked yesterday in St Johns. The cumbersome Seaview can carry five thousand, two hundred passengers, which is quite an impact on a town with a population of only twenty-two thousand people. The rather small Grandeur of the Seas carries another one thousand, ninety two and the even smaller Saga Spirit of Adventure, another boutique cruiser, only carries nine hundred and ninety nine. The smallest was the Azamara Quest, the pinnacle of boutique cruising. She only carries six hundred, ninety passengers. Add that to our capacity of two thousand, two hundred and thirty one and you have well over half the population of this port city, which is larger than most ports. If we had been full, as is usually the non-COVID case, there would have been almost eleven thousand oddly dressed tourists wandering around the town falling off sidewalks or taking tours to a short-lived, prepaid trip to nirvana of some sort. Just a different view of the cruising industry and why it has become so important to certain Caribbean countries.

Ilse stops in front of a painting of a tree in winter in one of the main foyers. She doesn’t have to say a word. I take a photo of the artwork which is mounted upside down. We wonder how many people notice the playful exercise in observation. Even better, while strolling forward toward the heliport, we met a steward, busy rearranging his cart after servicing a cabin. I stopped to look at a large color photograph of a young girl wistfully, almost tearfully looking back to her left, hanging next to his cart.“

"Do you know what she is looking at?” asked the young steward.

“No, not really,” I answered. “What do you think she is looking at?”

“I know what she is looking at,” he replied. “Go to the other side of the ship, in the same position as this and you will see the answer.”

Ilse and I walked across the next passage and down the corridor to the same position, exactly across from where we were. A photograph of a young man, obviously by the same photographer, looking back remorsefully to his right hangs in the exact spot. 

We wonder if there are more Easter Eggs, as they are called, on the ship. We are not impressed with the art available in the ship’s art auction, but then again, we don’t cruise to buy art, but we are always curious as to how the ship’s decorators pick their choices for display. Most of the ship’s artwork and photographs are generally bland and unobtrusive, but there are some nice art pieces in the stairwells and foyers.

The rains subsided by late afternoon and by the time we cast off had drifted away completely. Staying aboard has been a relaxing, if uneventful, day and we decided to go top-side to watch our departure. A huge refueling barge that has been alongside us most of the day, casts off and slowly lumbers away from the docks.

Laughter and even plans about visiting echo between the two huge Celebrity ships. Crew members are yelling greetings to one another across the narrow gap that separates us. Many crew members have crewed together, and we found out later, there are even family members serving on several different Celebrity ships. We watch one young girl, dressed as a room steward, standing, talking on a cell phone as she vigorously waves to someone on the other ship.

As we silently move away, Ilse mentions we didn’t get to see any mountain tops while we were here, they were shrouded in clouds our entire stay. As if they were required by the tourist industry, a rainbow appeared just for our departure. Ilse takes a marvelous photo of Nevis Peak, on the nearby island of Nevis that sums up our memory here. Perhaps, some time in the future...  

After dinner, Ilse and I headed toward one of the normally mellow lounges amid-ships, and found people dancing in the lounge and corridor, but there was no music! A host slipped a headset on Ilse and one on me and gestured to dance, which we immediately did. We love to dance and the music was great. Once we had the headsets on, everything made sense and everyone was having a ball. The music played disco-style with no breaks or interruptions and finally after about the third or fourth song, I took off my headset and asked what the different colors beaming from the earpads meant. He explained the control knobs on the head set and showed me the volume and music selection options. There were different colors, one for each of the several different stations available. I laughed out loud, but no one heard me, they were all still dancing. Even Ilse, who had her headset set on blue, listening to oldie Rock and Roll. Mine was set on red. I was listening to Rhythm and Blues. We had been dancing for ten minutes to different music! We probably looked like idiots, but it didn’t matter, we were having a great time.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Moths to a Flame - Part 9, Antigua


Saturday morning breaks as an absolutely beautiful day. The sun shines over the town of St Johns as we slowly approach the docks in the protected harbor. It is day six of our cruise and the weather is perfect. There are already two ships at the docks, one comfortably tied to our right, and another that appears to be floundering off to our left. The one to our left is the huge Italian MSC Seaview and her thrusters are churning up the harbor into a coffee-colored anomaly in the usually blue Caribbean Sea. Exactly the opposite from the pristine waters of St. Croix. I have watched her for at least ten minutes and she hasn’t moved more than a few feet.

The small island in the US Virgin Islands just a stones throw from St. Thomas is St John. It is not St Johns. St Johns is the city on the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, where we are. Those who read my stuff know now I’m a stickler for getting things straight because I don’t like people smiling while they think “This clown thinks he knows what he is talking about” while I make a fool of myself. I have heard the name of the island pronounced Antigwa and Antigah. I decide to ask the locals I meet onshore and ask how the natives say it. People may still smile at me but at least I know I lined up my ducks.

We tie up while the Seaview still hasn’t fully straightened out and wonder if her massive size has created a problem. That does not appear to be the case, though, as she eventually ties up alongside us in a comedy that could have been from Benny Hill. High up on the forward hull, a service door is open and the officers are yelling at the rope crew far below on the dock. There is confusion about which big, heavy line goes over which cleat, and the Italian crew, yelling as loudly as they can, with their heavy accents, only get shoulder shrugs from the confused dock crew far below. 

Finally, lines get switched to the crew’s satisfaction and all goes quiet in the man-made canyon between the huge ships. The Millennium is ready to discharge passengers by the time they finally get settled next door. Again, it is time for us to go to breakfast.

We exit the ship as painlessly as before, swiping our guest cards on the security station and watching our beautiful profile photos pop up on the security monitor. We stop to stare at the canyon created by the two giant ships before we amble through the de rigueur security station. As we get our bearings, we meet a woman we had met earlier in the elevator as we headed out. Nicely dressed in a blue, business-like pant suit, the woman who appeared to be about our age, complained endlessly during the short elevator ride about being charged by the pound for her luggage. I noticed she had everything with her, several carry-ons across her shoulders and towing a huge suitcase as she exited the elevator.

When we met her again, she was standing at the curb in a taxi-pick up area, staring up the street as a ship's officer stood quietly behind her, his hands behind his back as is common with European men. Ilse and I felt sorry for her as we expected she had to make an emergency trip home for some family reason or another. After we re-boarded later, we were told she had been thrown off the ship for using profane language toward one of the ship’s crew.

It is Antigah. Ahn-tee-gah, with the accent on the tee. We asked the security guards at the dock, and even though they stared at me like I had six heads, one of them finally laughed and said. “We call it Antigah, but we hear everything you can imagine. Have a good day.”

So, we did.

Once we left the dock area and stepped into the real world, reality reached out and slapped us awake. Christmas decorations have been surprisingly sparse in every port we’ve been to. It appears COVID has dampened enthusiasm everywhere. This is a busy town, but when I look back at the docks, I see why. There are two more cruise ships lining up behind the Millennium to dock. I strain to see where they are going to put them. There will be five cruise ships docked here at the same time. The locals are gearing up for the rush of tourists.

This may not be the forum to air my opinions about the lack of leadership in most third world countries, but in the thirty years we’ve been coming to the Caribbean islands, not much has changed. Most cities in the hurricane belt are just as crappy as they were the first time we were here. This is our first time time in Antigua, but St Johns is no exception. Within a block of the shopping zone, you can easily slip off the curb into a three foot deep hole with weeds growing out of it. There is no standard for anything here, especially safety, The sad part is they are no different than most other Caribbean port cities, although several towns, such as Nassau in the Bahamas, Willemstad in Curacao, and Oranjestad in Aruba would rate better than average. The average here is subpar by almost all American and European standards, so caution, extreme caution, has to be used when just strolling or walking, looking at the local sights. We dodged pipes sticking out of the road and sidewalks as well as pipes sticking out of walls at eye level. I’m sure the areas and resorts built especially for the tourist trade are designed to make foreigners feel at home, but if you decide to go au natural in the port towns, be forewarned. I tripped over a stub pipe sticking out of a sidewalk in Philipsburg, St Maarten, even though I was watching where I was walking! I missed falling hard on the pavement by mere fractions of an inch.

We decided to walk to St. Johns Cathedral, the Anglican church that dominates the town. In the hustle and bustle of street vendors and shops, we stopped and asked a local policemen who quite proudly gave us explicit directions to the church, although we were only three blocks away. The church is undergoing reconstruction so the main entrance had two-by-four timber laid across the steps to warn people to use a different entrance. Ilse and I wandered through the tombstones, looking at the dates that go back several hundred years before finally spending ten minutes in the church itself. In my opinion, visiting churches is an acquired taste, but this one’s history draws many visitors.

We wandered back through town using different streets, but decided it was time to kick-back on ship and enjoy another great lunch. The continuous beep-beep of the local traffic is again part of the atmosphere as everybody here seems to know everybody else, which is cool. Just mind numbing.

I take a photo of a sailing sloop, probably thirty-two feet long or so, with its broken mast forlornly drooped across the stern. It is swinging slowly around its mooring buoy. She’s several hundred yards in front of the newly arrived Azamara Quest, one of the newer, smaller, boutique class cruisers fast gaining popularity in the cruising world. The disabled sloop just in front of her belies the story of someone’s broken dreams, not just a broken mast. That would be a story of its own.

I glance up as an Airbus with its wheels down, flying just off the side of the ship, throttles back while I’m daydreaming about the sloop. Airliners coming from who-knows-where begin to approach the airport, their flight pattern parallels our dock. I count seven in a ten minute period as I sit with my gin and tonic, my feet propped up in absolute, decadent pleasure. Perhaps someday we’ll fly in to one of the islands, but for now, the Celebrity Millennium will do just fine.

Tonight turns out to be one of those memorable nights that go in scrapbooks. We finally had dinner with Dany and Seba of Supernova Duo.

It also was a full moon. A Caribbean cruise with a full moon should be on everyone’s bucket list.