It was February 2005, so almost two years already. We flew to Fort Lauderdale, where we stayed in a really yucky 6 Motel. It was all that was available at that late date! But it was only a few hours, so it was okay.
The ship was absolutely gorgeous - a two-year-old vessel with an Italian company called Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC Opera was our ship). There was brass and glass and mirrors everywhere, and diligent young men keeping everything beautifully polished. Every announcement was made in 5 languages. The food was amazing. The evening entertainment was so much fun. One day DC got to spend the afternoon with a bunch of old pro baseball players who were on board to give baseball tips and tell their old stories. Of course, I had plenty of books with me.
All of the pictures of our room are paper pictures, and not having a scanner, I am left with the digital ones. I posted several of them yesterday.
If you want to be treated like royalty, check out a cruise. We met people who had been on so many. I'm not sure we'll do it often, but it was certainly a treat. I had prayed that we would have cordial dining companions, and the Lord answered that prayer so beautifully. We were placed with two other couples. When we bowed our heads to pray for our first dinner, we found out that they were Christians. What a blessing! We were able to pray before every meal, taking turns. One of the guys was a former pastor who was now a chaplain in a hospital. His wife was a psychologist. The other couple were hard working folks from Atlanta. It turned out that all of us had been going through some similar stuff with our families. Isn't God amazing?!
We looked forward to dinner every evening, not even for the food as much as for the fellowship. Every night we'd come armed with stories of our day off the ship, or a subject to discuss. We laughed so much that our waiter, a young man from Indonesia, told us the crew called us "The Happy Table." Since we prayed for every meal, he asked us one night, "You pray for me, too?" We assured him that we would.
The morning and noon meals were served cafeteria style on deck. As you've always heard, there's WAY too much food and it's really good! I tried so hard to eat sensibly (at least we never went to the midnight buffet!), but am still trying to get off the weight I gained that week. Unfortunately, we didn't discover the work-out room with the view until the last day. We sat in the same area every meal so that we could be served by this other great young man, who was from an island off of Africa, the name of which I cannot remember (I have misplaced my journal with all of these details). His English was not as good as the Indonesian waiter, but we became acquainted and enjoyed him so much. All of these young men are from very poor countries and are away from their families for 10 months of the year as they send home most of their earnings. We were privileged to see pictures of their children, whom they miss terribly. The watermelon carvings were amazing!
We were at sea for two days before we entered our first port - San Juan, Puerto Rico. We didn't get into the city until it was dark, which was a bit intimidating. It was such a short stop and we didn't see much, and almost wished we'd just stayed on board. The next stop was St. Thomas. It's a beautiful island, but very popular with cruise ships - there were 5 docked there that day, so we were among many tourists shopping. We picked up some t-shirts and a gold chain for me - their claim to fame is gold jewelry. We did hit a beach for a couple of hours that afternoon. The beach picture on yesterday's post was on St. Thomas.
The next stop was St. Croix. This was my favorite spot of all the ports of call. It is small island that has not become so famous to cruise ships. In fact, an old man on the street told us to go home and tell our travel agents to try to get more ships to stop there. We told him that would ruin St. Croix! We spent the morning in town, then went on a tour of an old Dutch plantation which grew sugar cane in its day. It is now a museum, and that was an enjoyable visit. The flower and fauna pictures on yesterday's post were from there. Here's one more. The beautiful beach picture yesterday was taken at St. Croix. Here are a couple more taken there.
The final stop was Nassau, Bahamas. It was the only cold, drizzly day. It is famous as a place where Oprah, Michael Jackson, and other "stars" like to spend their time. They can have it. Give me St. Croix or Kona, Hawaii any day!
The time spent between stops was so relaxing and enjoyable. We often sat on the deck and watched the wake as we read or snoozed (second picture on yesterday's post). You could, of course, sun on the deck by the pool, which I avoided because it was too crowded and because I don't swim. I preferred to find spots not too many people had found.
If you didn't get enough to eat at breakfast or lunch, and just couldn't wait until dinner (hah!), you could go to an afternoon tea. It was so lovely the one day we went - talented musicians strolling around the deck as you could consume thousands more calories on gorgeous pastries.
Before dinner and sometimes after, as we waited for the evening show in the ship's theater, we would gather in one of the waiting areas to listen to a wonderful Rumanian trio. There were all sorts of choices of musical style to choose from, but we couldn't tear ourselves away from this group. The electronic violin and electronic keyboard were played so beautifully while the contralto sang wonderful old songs, my favorites such as Moon River. Her accent was delightful and her voice was luscious.
All told, it was a wonderful week. We'd like to try another one someday, maybe to Alaska.