The Cooking Escape

 

I had 10 ladies coming for lunch. It’s my turn as hostess once a month. I spend a week fretting over the menu. I spend three days vacuuming the house and scouring toilets. I spend a day shopping for the ingredients, hoping I won’t forget one and have a catastrophic fail. I spend two days cooking. I spend the evening before setting the table, as fancy as I can make it. When my guests arrive, they wander into the living room to enjoy the appetizers, and discuss all the really good gossip, while I thrash around in the kitchen, warming the soup and stir-frying the fenugreek. By the time I sit down with them at the table, I’m all sweaty, stressed out, and crabby.

This year, I decided I would make life easier.

I went on line and found Cloudchef, who would send me a chef. He would do the planning, the shopping, and the cooking.

I scrubbed up the house, and set the table. When my guests arrived, I sat down with them to listen to the good gossip while the chef bustled in my kitchen. Pretty soon he announced lunch was ready, and we sat down to enjoy it.

While we ate, the chef cleaned up the kitchen and slipped away.

I was not sweaty, not stressed, and not crabby.

Heavens, why didn’t someone think of this years ago?

My guests all enjoyed themselves, and the meal was astoundingly delicious, way better than anything I could have prepared. I got to hear all the good gossip. When I went into the kitchen to get the coffee, all the pots and pans were gone and the counters clean. All I had to do was load the dishwasher with the plates from the table.

It was one of my most successful dinner parties ever. I will definitely hire Cloudchef again.

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PLACES NOT TO GO

Day 15. It was over. Our cruise had stopped in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We were assigned a collection point, the ice skating rink, and were to be there by 10:15 am.  We had another lovely breakfast of ham and cheese omelet, beans, yogurt, croissant, orange juice, tea. Took the tea to the open deck and studied the skyline. San Juan looks like an American city, with high rises, and the usual slightly decrepit buildings around the dock. It was hot, but not too hot. A nice sunny day for the people who were not flying out today. Nearby we spotted another docked cruise ship, so there could be 6,000 people at the airport. Two shiploads of passengers leaving, and two shiploads arriving. Maybe 12,000 people in total, since cruise ships don’t hang around empty in ports overnight.

 

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Time to head out.

First we collected Roberta and took her to the mobility-challenged lounge, where a host of crewmembers were on hand to wheel her off the ship, onto the buses, and to her gate at the airport.

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We settled in to our seats at the rink, and watched some terribly pressing American issue about something or other on CNN. The announcers were adamant and serious, so we know it was something of urgent national importance.

When our number was called [29] we paraded down the halls, over the gangplank, and into a huge empty hall. A half hour ago, this hall had held all the luggage, but we were the last group off the ship. We were to find our luggage by number. There on the wall near the back of the hall was number 29, and beneath it, tidy lines of luggage. We found ours immediately and joined the line for the customs checkpoint.

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The whole luggage thing was handled extremely efficiently. 5,000 pieces of luggage, [some of us only carry one suitcase], and anyone could find theirs inside 2 minutes. Unless they were very dull or expected to be waited on. We did hear a couple of plaintive wails of “I can’t find my luggage!” and a patient response, “What is your number? 22? Look over there, at the last two bags under the 22 sign. Are those yours?”

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After the luggage pickup, we were funneled to the bus station, where lines of buses waited, and our waiters from the last few days handled luggage and directed traffic, wearing their waiter uniforms.

Once settled onto a bus, we looked up, and there we were, right beside the ship. An hour has passed, and we had travelled about fifty yards to a parking lot in the shade of the ship.

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At the airport 20 minutes later, we were dropped in front of the terminal at the appropriate spot for us to make our plane connection.

This was the end of Royal Caribbean’s responsibility for us. We paid to be transported to the airport, and they did so with efficiency and good grace.

Now, we were the responsibility of the airport, or the airline, or somebody, but we don’t know who, but for the next section of the program, it seemed nobody was in charge. Everything went downhill from the moment we stepped into the airport, until we stepped onto our plane five hours later.

Inside, there were possibly 6,000 people from the two ships, all dragging suitcases, with a plane to catch. Nobody directed traffic. Once again, the Brits came to the rescue. They formed a queue. It is what British people do. They line up, and they tell other people what they think they are lined up for, so others can join in the correct line. There was only one line, and it snaked here and there but held together. I spied a washroom at one point and slipped away to use it, as who knew where the next one would be. Actually, I had three hours to use it, because the line barely moved. I had packed granola bars for Heathrow, fearing we might get trapped there in a food-free zone. This was the feared food-free zone. There was not a scrap of food, or beverage, in the San Juan airport lobby. After four hours of inching along, all the children had a melt down. At the security line, they had dispensed with the wand-and-pat-down gate and simply put everyone through the full body scan.

We finally made it to our gate at five minutes to boarding. But of course the plane was delayed, so we had a dried-up tuna sandwich at Starbucks before we lined up again. We had an extra hour of delays.

San Juan was the most disorganized airport we have been to. Total carnage. Two ships in port, 6,000 passengers going somewhere, and they seemed to be caught by surprise. The last chaotic airport we were at, someone from the airline got up on a table and made announcements and directed traffic. Nobody did that here. We have made a note to never again take a cruise that begins or ends in San Juan.

After an uneventful flight, watching Eat Pray Love and wondering how a sappy lump of celluloid [or digital] sugar could be so popular, we arrived in Toronto. It was close to midnight but we were back in Canada so we indulged in a hamburger and fries.

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One more flight and we were home.

 

 

And that’s a wrap.

It will be a busy year, so our blog will lie dormant for a time, until we go on the next Transatlantic. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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St.Thomas the Yank

 

 

 

 

Day 14 Our last island to visit is St. Thomas. Because it is an American island, we have to go through Customs, which is brought onto the ship and staged in the dining rooms for our convenience. To avoid bottlenecks, the 3,000 passengers were given staggered times to be at their allotted Customs stations. Our time was 6:00 to 7:00 am. Sadly, the Customs guys didn’t think it was necessary to show up on time. Something about a work-to-rule. Our line stretched from the dining room, past the elevators, and half way down the Promenade. Still, we started moving at 6:15 and were done by 6:40. We were in the line for Canadians and Americans. Eiric and Rune were in the line for foreigners, and they had to wait for a couple of hours.

 

After a hearty egg breakfast to keep us going all day, and a chocolate croissant just because, we went on shore. $8 for a taxi to take us downtown, and if you like, for $20 a person I can take you on a tour of the island. We weren’t too keen on sitting in the back of an air-conditioned car looking through tinted windows while the driver said, “On your right is the blah blah, on your left is the blah blah.” Although there would be a guaranteed stop at a factory making something, with a gift shop.

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As this is an American island, there was much less pressure to shop, tour, and spend. We found the same bamboo clothing store, only the t-shirts were $2 cheaper than in St. Maarten. Margaret, who claimed everything on St. Maarten was cheaper, must not have shopped for yoga clothes.

 

We found the street market, with wares the same and slightly different from the other islands. Way at the back of the market was the fruit market. Or, the fruit stall, and a pathetic effort it was. Contrast a fruit stall in the market in Madeira,  on the left, where they have to import everything, and this stall, in the country where they grow it, on the right.

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Time to try the much lauded diamond stores. I went into one offering a free gift for showing up. The saleswoman showed me chocolate diamonds, slightly brownish and set in a brownish gold. Very nice, and I did not dare to ask the price. You know what they say, if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford to buy it. She moved on to regular diamonds, sapphires, topaz, spiraling down in price until she hit the $25 table. I thanked her and headed for the door. Wait a minute, what about my free gift? Oh, yeah. Slipped my mind. Here it is. She gave me a small silver palm tree. Note that every door on the street was a jewellery store.

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A while later, we were walking down an alley and a cordial, fifty-something American man stopped me and said he had seen my shoes on Oprah. Yeah, right, I have been wearing these sandals for a few years. Not exactly haute couture. Then he nodded toward Dale and said if that guy hadn’t bought me blue earrings, there was something wrong with him. I did not point out that I was wearing studs with a blue stone. He said come with me and I will take you to a good place to get those blue earrings. Just tell them the shoe guy sent me to get a free bottle of water and a crappy free gift. I asked why I would want a crappy gift. He said it was the same gift all the other stores were offering, but it was more fun if he said it was crappy. Since it was hot, and the bottle of water sounded like a good idea, we followed him down the street, around a few corners, and to a store. I asked why he was sitting in a shady lane so far away from his store. He said all the other people stood in front of their stores trying to drag you in. He felt it was better to meet customers somewhere else and escort them in. He had a good point. Those door hawkers were quite off-putting.

So we got to the store and I told the saleswoman that I was here for the bottle of water and crappy gift. Another couple were also in there, drinking their bottle of water and considering the diamonds.

The lady produced the water, a tiny stubby bottle, but it was cold and wet, so thank you. Now she hauled out the tray of diamonds. Then the sapphires. Then the topaz. Then the local stones.

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Push, push, push. The prices, excluding the diamonds, spiraled down from $400 to $25. I kept saying no thanks, they don’t suit, can I have my crappy gift?

 

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She dragged her heels and piled up tray after tray of jewels until she exhausted her supply. By then I was wavering, considering the earrings, but hanging on to the counter for strength to resist. Resistance is Futile, if she hits a $20 tray. One last tray of shiny things later, she gave up and produced the free gift. It was a metal spacer for beading. So if you were a beader, it was a good gift. If you were not a beader, it was crappy. I wonder if the quality of crappy gift rises on the crap scale relative to how much you spend.

 

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And that is St. Thomas. Nothing much to see here,

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folks, unless you want diamonds.

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Back on the ship at noon. Nothing like a swim and a hot tub without sand in your pants. Many people were already back on board. Many people were asleep on the pool deck lounge chairs. I guess it was a hotter day than most. Usually, there are only two or three people in the pool at any one time. Today, the pool was packed. It looked like a commuter bus: people standing elbow-to-elbow all around the perimeter, one hand on the pool ledge in case the bus lurched, and a few taller people standing in the middle. There was not even room to tread water, if you were short. Not that the pool was very deep.

This was the last night, and our suitcases had to be in the hall by 11:00 pm, so we packed, dressed casually for dinner, and went to get Roberta, who had managed to pack by picking up something every time she got off the bed all day long. Lucky for her, she had a balcony room, so she had at least been able to sit outside and stare at the view.

Last dinner with Rune, Eiric and Roberta. Margaret had already gone.


We talked about our next cruises, and we said we thought we’d do the Transatlantic again, in Fall 2014. Brilliance of the Seas has a route that stops in Iceland, and looks tempting. Rune and Eiric both recommended Brilliance over Legend, a slightly smaller ship going at the same time on a similar route.
Chilled pineapple and lychee soup with coconut, roast turkey, Bailey’s Crème Brule. We talked about how Roberta was going to manage at home, where she had a dog that needed to be walked. She was determined she would not ask for help. She had been able to call her daughter on the phone, who had cried when she told her story. Her daughter lives in Denver, Roberta lives in Las Vegas, and so the daughter can’t help much.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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St. Maarten Has No Fields

Day 13 Today we got up early and went straight out to the open decks to watch the ship dock. Remember, this ship is a quarter mile long, and 12 stories high about the water line. It is massive. There were a couple of docks waiting, forming a u-shape. The captain drove up to the docks, then turned 180 degrees and backed in. And I thought parallel parking a Corolla was hard.

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After a hearty and leisurely breakfast, we sauntered out into the heat and sunshine. St. Maarten is the smallest dual nationality island in the world. It is 16 miles long and 4 miles wide. One half is Dutch, and the other half of the island, St. Martin, is French. Not being in need of a croissant, we thought we would stay on the Dutch side.

The port consisted of an official building, with a couple of drink and souvenir stands. Beside it was the water taxi stand, to take us to the town across the bay. $8 return. Everything on these islands is done by coloured wristbands. Yesterday a coloured band marked us as paid-up tour people. Today’s band marks us as paid-up taxi users. Important, as a number of people opted to walk into town, and many changed their minds at the end of the day and took the taxi back to the dock. Tickets were only sold at the dock end and wristbands were checked there on the return trip.

A few minutes later we are in downtown Phillipsville. There is not much here except several streets of stores, and every two steps someone leaped out at us yelling that we could buy their tour, get a free gift, or please come into my store. I had noted on the Diamonds map that there were two stores of interest, the Crocs store and a store selling yoga wear made of bamboo. By the time I found these stores, I was in no mood to shop as I had been screamed at for ten blocks.

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It was actually a relief to step into a store where there were two salespersons and no customers. The bamboo yoga clothes lived up to expectations. People on the ship had been telling me to buy the bamboo sheet sets; they were the softest thing ever slept on. They were also $179. Sorry, I don’t think the package will fit in my suitcase. Shopping here is in American dollars.

No stop on an island is complete without a walk on the beach.

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This one was inches from the stores, lovely white sand, waiters scurrying around with drinks, and many rentable lounge chairs. No sitting down without paying.

After passing seventeen diamond stores, we found the television store, but did not see Margaret inside. A little further on we found the local street market. Many booths crowded together, no high-pressure sales, and at least 20 booths all selling the same merchandise: necklaces, bags, hats, t-shirts, dresses. I kept seeing the dress I had liked yesterday for $25. Here it was also $25. Toward the back of the stalls, further from the beach, it was $20 and then $15. Well, I didn’t really need it anyway.

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We looked for indications of the Dutchness of the island in the construction or the décor, like lace curtains on the windows. We only found a sign welcoming the Dutch Royal Family to town.

You can only take hot, humid weather and relentless sales pitches for so long. We went back to the ship at noon. Spend a lovely afternoon by the pool.

Dinner was another treat with Rune, Eiric, Margaret and Roberta. We picked Roberta up at her cabin to drive her down. She had gone to the spa for a hair wash because she could not manage it herself with her leg.

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Margaret reported that she did not buy a television, because they were just too big and heavy to carry. She gets off the ship tomorrow and takes the ferry to her winter home on a nearby island.

Rune looked worn out. Too many long nights in the casino, or maybe he was losing his $25 float too early, and then just imbibed for the remaining hours. He was off his oats, and declined the standing order for champagne, which had arrived and sat in an ice bucket between their two chairs.

Eiric, on the other hand, was all gooey-eyed, having spent many hours in the diamond stores today searching for the perfect gift. He explained that while he cannot be with the most beautiful girl in the world, without causing her to lose her job, on the next trip, he would get on the ship as being in an existing relationship, and so they could be together. I think he will be spending a lot of time on ships.

Eiric could not drink the entire bottle of champagne himself, so he took it down to the casino with him, making himself the most popular guy down there.

Factoid: 12,000 meals a day are cooked and served on the ship. There are 3,000 passengers, and 1,500 crew. 120 chefs prepare the meals, and some hapless sous chefs peel 1,200 pounds of potatoes a day.

Roasted peach soup, roast beef with beans and potatoes, chocolate sensation.

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WELCOME TO MY ISLAND

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Day 12. When we woke up, the ship had docked at St. Kitts. We had a leisurely breakfast of eggs to sustain us until supper. We don’t like to waste time on shore sitting at a restaurant for two hours waiting to be served. The only time we eat on shore is if the shore excursions lecturer has recommended a particular dish that you cannot get anywhere else. Since our shore excursion lecturer told us next to nothing, we had no designs on the local food. Nor did we have any excursions selected.

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Our ship was docked on a long narrow dock beside another cruise ship from the P&O line. The two ships created a wind tunnel and noise echo chamber. Down on the dock, looking up, it was like being trapped between skyscrapers.

Since we had already cleared customs on the ship yesterday, it was simply a matter of strolling down the gangplank. The entrance to the town was a pleasant building featuring a local group of musicians playing local music. These guys had been playing for a long time, and they were good.

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Past the entrance was a shopping village featuring, ta da, diamonds, and not much else. Everywhere, men with plasticized maps accosted us, offering an island tour. We bought one from a low-key guy who didn’t hassle us. $20 each for a two-hour tour in a covered, open-sided bus that held 23 people. We met at 11:00, and when the dust had settled, the tour had lasted three hours. But I am getting ahead of the story.

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We were, in taking this tour, supporting the local economy, instead of supporting the cruise line, which had offered similar tours, on nicer buses, for considerably more money. Our driver laughed like Eddy Murphy, which caused a couple of Australian women to howl with laughter every time he laughed.

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We began with a drive through the poorer part of town, shabby buildings, overgrown lots, and fishermen gutting fish on the beach. Along a bit further were the University of the Caribbean in Medicine, the Ross University of Nursing, and a veterinary university. It seems like, when all the Caribbean countries divvied up the education pie, St. Kitts picked the health wedge. We drove past the hospital where Roberta would now be having surgery, and thought it looked pretty good.

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We drove up the mountain past the ‘flying flowers’, which was a tree full of birds, through a rainforest, to the mandatory shopping experience. This one was a batik factory. A lady explained the intricate process of creating batik, applying wax and dye in layers, like painting a Ukrainian Easter egg, and then boiling down the finished piece to remove the wax and reveal the finished design. The results were colourful and quite beautiful. They were also expensive, due to the labour-intensive nature of the work. Sadly, we have seen similar designs printed on cotton in many cheap stores at home. So if you bought oneImage of these works, when you got home, people would think you had just picked up something at Walmart. 

Our tour now went to the rich half of the island, so we could see the island’s biggest building, the Marriott Hotel. Further on was a vista where we could see both the Atlantic Ocean on the left, and the Caribbean Sea on the right.  At this photo stop, and the others that followed, there were tents of local merchants selling stuff. The same stuff at each one, as I discovered later. Beer, water, pop, clothing, jewellery.

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Our driver took us to a beach belonging to a fancy resort. We are allowed to swim here, and if we choose to swim, the driver will come back in an hour to pick us up. It looks like nobody brought a bathing suit, which was mandatory, so we all passed on the swim and settled for walking on the beach long enough to get sand in our toes. We stepped into the water to say we had done it. Nice and warm. The sun was scorching hot. We of pale skin fled back to the bus.

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Although the ship was not leaving until suppertime, we went back for a shower and rest. After we watched the ship leave the dock, we went down to the infirmary to see if we could spring Roberta for dinner. She was just being discharged, wearing a cast from crotch to ankle, with crutches, and a ship wheelchair.

We escorted her to dinner, as she appeared a little hopped up on drugs, and with her leg stuck straight out in front of her, maneuvering the wheelchair required finesse. Dale had the finesse. Until we got her to the door of the dining room where our waiter Michael stepped up and took firm charge. Between him and his assistant, they got her into a dining chair with a flourish of linen napkins and much clucking and hovering.

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Roberta regaled us with the story of her adventure over dinner. She had been ferried to the hospital with two other sick and injured passengers early in the morning. The nurses, perky in white uniforms with red caps and sashes, did not seem to understand the concept of caring for patients, and instead lounged at the nurses station talking, and mixing up the patient files.  Every time someone attended to her, they did so using the wrong name and the wrong ailment. She had to keep correcting them. There was no soap at any sink, so clean hands were not high on their priority list. The doctor examined her knee, decided yes, the kneecap was broken, and no, she didn’t need surgery. He drained the fluid off the knee and created a half-cast, which held the back and sides of her leg straight, but left the shin and thigh exposed. The whole business was held in place by elastic bandages. Much better than surgery.

She asked them to get the ambulance to take her back to the ship. This could not be done. She asked them to call her a cab. Yes, this could be done, but the hours ticked by and nobody called the cab. She got a little strident until a doctor said he was going that way, and could drop her off in his car. She came close to being left on the island.

Margaret says she is going shopping for a television set tomorrow, as St. Maarten is the cheapest island for shopping, and she is getting off in St. Thomas to take the ferry home. We thought a TV might be a bit big to maneuver off the ship and onto a ferry, while dragging a wheeled suitcase, but she said nonsense, they are not that big because they are flat.

Roberta is disappointed because she cannot get off the ship with the wheelchair and all the problems related. She really wanted to go ashore and buy a fridge magnet for herself. She always buys a fridge magnet wherever she travels. Margaret said she would get one.

Chilled apple and cinnamon soup, pork loin with Brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes, ice cream.

The ship is travelling at 4 to 7 knots, as it is 40 miles to the next island and we have 12 hours to get there.

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Missing in Action

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Day 11. Hot and humid by 9:00 am. We are creeping closer to the Caribbean at 24 knots.

 

A word about the television service. When we left England, we had several channels, BBC and other British stations. As we have moved across the ocean, stations have dropped off and others appeared, in French, Spanish, Italian, and other tongues. Some days there are hardly any stations other than the in-house What-is-on-Today activity show, the view from the bridge, the navigation map, and the weather channel. As we get closer to North America, American stations are showing up. But you don’t generally come on a cruise to watch TV, unless you are sick like Margaret was. 

 

 

We dressed up in our finest, as it is formal night, and went to the early ice show. The skating rink is one-sixth the size of a regular rink, so the skaters have to be careful and use the available ice surface wisely. We could hear them breathing when they got close. We could also hear their blades swooshing on the ice, and I found that, although it has been a while since our kids were in hockey and I had to go to arenas, the sound of the swooshing was comforting, like a little slice of home. The eight skaters were ex-Olympians and world champions, professional skaters all, and they produced a glittering ice show. 

 

 

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Dinner with Eiric, Rune, and Margaret. Roberta did not show up. We land in St. Kitts tomorrow. Margaret told us she has a winter home on an island near St. Thomas, and she will be disembarking there to take the short ferry home. So she only has two nights left with us.

Eiric was even more in love.

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Spinach dip, tortilla chips, cheese something, something else for a main, chocolate mousse. Sorry, sometimes things blur together. I will try to do better next cruise. Maybe slip a tiny notebook and pen into my evening bag.

It was hot on the outside deck at 8:00 pm. We turned out our light at 10:00 pm and discovered the message light on our phone was blinking. We had a message from Roberta. At the end of her dance class, she had stepped down the stairs and missed the last step. She had fallen and broken her kneecap. The medical staff had decided she needed orthopedic surgery, so she would be taken to the hospital on St. Thomas tomorrow.

Yikes! Poor Roberta, on her first solo holiday and disaster strikes! How do you cope with a broken leg on a cruise? How do you get surgery in a foreign country and get back to the ship before it sails at 6:00 pm?

 

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BOOM AND BUST

 

Day 10.  The Windjammer Buffet is designed to feed 3,000 meals at a sitting, with no line-ups. It is free-low, with the day’s selections repeated twice on each side, so four repeats, no bottlenecks. Once you have your plate full, you sit down at a table with other people, and let the conversation roll. You never know who you will get, and it is not a lifetime commitment, so no worries if you get a born-again Fundamentalistacalian, or an angry blogger, or a single-track mind on some obscure topic. Most of the people were interesting and amiable. Some were just interesting.

 

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It was a beautiful day again, and we gave Tai Chi another stab. This time, we made it through to the end. We are not sure if we got all the moves, but we ended with the final bow, so it looked good to us.

 

When we hit the pool deck at 8:30, it was already hot and sticky, and we got the last two chairs in the shade. We began wondering if the Caribbean is the vacation place for us.

 

We noted that apart from napping, reading was a big pastime on the pool deck, more popular than swimming or hot tubbing. There seems to be an even break between reading books and e-readers. There was no demographic preference here. People of any age were using e-readers. The Kindles and Kobos seem to not be troubled by glare, either, whereas the iPads have to be turned just so, or read in the shade.

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The shopping lecture was top of my list for the day. I have never been to the Caribbean before, well, once twenty years ago where we went to a resort and stayed there, so wandering around an island town would be new for me. On our Baltic cruise, the shopping expert told us what to shop for in which ports, and what not to buy, and if it was safe to shop at street stalls or not. I expected no less from this cruise. Help me out here, folks, I’m a newbie.

 

Well, the place was packed because the guy said he was going to be tossing Free Gifts into the audience, and there would be a Free Draw for a Wonderful Free Gift. He generated a sickening amount of fake enthusiasm as he threatened not to toss out the Free Gifts unless he heard Noise.

 

This guy was not really promoting shopping in the islands and supporting the local economy. He was selling diamonds. There would also be Swiss watches and exotic gemstones, but mostly it was diamonds from Diamonds International. Did I mention you would get the Best Deals in the World here on diamonds? And besides that, they had diamonds. For an hour he talked of nothing else except buying diamonds on each of the three islands we would be stopping at. He also mentioned Korite Amelite, mined in Alberta and sold only in Alberta and the Caribbean. He said it would be cheaper to buy it in the Caribbean than in Alberta. I guess shipping it from Alberta to the Caribbean does not cost anything. What an irritating hour. I stuck it out because I kept hoping he would tell me about the local arts and crafts. No luck. Diamonds or Bust. Did I mention that people come from all over the world to buy diamonds here? Did I mention that people on cruises are desperate to buy good quality diamonds at a reasonable price? Oh, there is a store selling Crocs, if you want some good footwear, and another store selling bamboo clothing, the softest clothing ever, and you can get some wonderful yoga duds here, but never mind that, you want to buy Diamonds. Royal Caribbean should be ashamed of themselves for not providing a more balanced shopping overview.

 

The next lecture, down in the basement, was much better. A Neurologist gave a talk about sleep and the brain. She said if you have a big problem, and you have gathered all kinds of information in your head, and can’t wrestle it to the ground, go to bed. While you sleep, your brain will organize all the information for you in categories and subgroups. When you wake up, the solution to your problem will be there waiting for you, all shiny and clean. Hence the expression ‘Sleep on It’. 

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Margaret was at dinner tonight. She had been missing the last couple of nights as she had a cold. She got room service instead. Roberta was using the purse I gave her, and had it stuffed full. Eiric had been for another massage, and he now had the look of a man falling in love. It was interesting to watch, and to listen to him talk about her in the briefest of terms, like he wanted to keep this special feeling to himself, unaware it was oozing out of his face. He had a dilemma. He was a passenger, she was crew, and never the twain shall meet or she would lose her job. All he could do was keep going for massages, and keep talking to her.

 

Eiric and Rune like to gamble, so they went off every night after dinner to the casino with a small set amount of money to squander, and a few drinks to be dealt with. Each day at dinner they had a few laughs about who lost, and who won, and which other players got drunk and played poorly. I think they stay up very late, sometimes almost until dawn.

 

Cold red pepper soup, corn bisque, cod and veggies, pork in prosciutto, mascarpone and blackberries, cheese platter.

 

 

 

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Tonight’s concert was a violinist named Craig whom we saw on the last transatlantic cruise. He played a violin encrusted with Swarovski crystals. He switches to a regular violin after a couple of numbers, as the gem-studded one is heavy. He played a range of music, from Guns and Roses, to Celtic, to movie tunes, to Riverdance. We loved him last time, and we loved him again this time.

 

 

 

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