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.

1 comment:

Ilse. said...

Love it, wonderful memories.