Rough Going Can Visit the Most Dependably Smooth Voyage
By Ken Rossignol
MIAMI, FLA. — It’s all about the bass – is quite the tune for many pop singing groups with some such as Home Free really able to pull off great renditions. With a cruise, it can be all about the ride.
For a recent trip on the Celebrity Reflection from Miami to Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and St. Kitts in early March, the first two days felt as though we had left Southampton for a winter crossing in the North Atlantic to New York. That course would have been the same course that the Titanic took one hundred and five years ago. Ironically, Celebrity had booked me to delight the passengers with talks about the Titanic, Piracy and the Bermuda Triangle. What could go wrong?
First, it was the weather. It was cold, blowing everything but snow, waves smashing against the side of the ship in the best fashion of one of my spooky stories about the infamous Bermuda Triangle. Rogue waves came to my mind one night in the wee hours.
Since I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay and take rocking and rolling in stride, I have to confess that I like the variety and the old Ocean Liner character that sailing into a moderate strength storm can provide, to break up the monotony of endless days of sun and flat calm seas.
I know only too well from watching Pirates of the Caribbean about twenty-five times that “flat calm” is something to be avoided. That is when provisions and water run low and eventually wither. It’s the worst that can happen short of a British Man O’War appearing on the horizon.
That isn’t what happens on a cruise. The ship is packed with bread and water. They have a bunch of other edibles and refreshments available too in case you have a mind to eat and drink your way to the next port.
For our trip from Miami to San Juan, the rolls and rocks kept at least half of the landlubbers on board in their cabins. The upside of that is that one won’t have to wade through crowds at the wonderfully appointed buffet on the Solstice-class ship, the Reflection. The weather also forced the ship to slow down to lessen the beating the passengers were taking.
The Reflection handled it well but the downside was there were fewer folks to wander around the glitzy shopping mall on the ship and visit the liquor store where my books were sold. I’m glad that most ships always put my books in the liquor store as it makes a great scene setter for the reader to take a nip before diving into my novel.
There were also fewer passengers available without green gills to attend my first lecture on the Gems of the Caribbean.
As a result of the ship taking a slower pace, the arrival time of about 2:00 pm was set back to about 6:30 pm, meaning that getting off the ship for a tour or sightseeing was basically fruitless as the ship was leaving by 10 pm.
With all the trips to the Caribbean we have been on over the years, this kind of cold and rocky weather was expected leaving from New York or Baltimore and shocking to encounter when leaving from Miami.
Some people just don’t take the Bermuda Triangle seriously.
Having crossed the Atlantic from Europe on two other Solstice-class ships, the Eclipse, and the Equinox, anticipating the nuances on this newest Celebrity ship – we looked forward to the voyage.
There are few superlatives available in my thesauruses to adequately describe the Reflection. So I won’t try. For anyone that is going to book a cruise and hasn’t been on a Celebrity ship, don’t bother. Take a cruise on one of the mid-priced lines and have a good time. There really isn’t such a thing as a bad cruise unless you were on the either the Ark or the Dove which set sail in November of 1633 from the Isle of Wight in England and finally arrived on an island in the Potomac River over three months later.
After taking an average cruise you will be ready to select a Celebrity ship. Check them out, there are loads of destinations. There are other lines which will do just as well, including Azamara, Holland-America, and Seabourn to name a few. However, you will never make me eat my words of advice to book Celebrity. They just do it very well.
The essential point is you can pick your cruise line, you can pick you ship but you can’t pick your weather.
Professional seamen tell me that eating saltines is helpful. Another swears by taking his Dramamine the night before unsettled weather moves in. The people who all wear a patch behind their ear are not part of a religious cult – the patch supposedly has calming affects. The best advice is to stay away from anyone who is seasick. Those green-gilled folks can influence you to suffer from the same malady.
Get up and get around the ship, enjoy your time and relax. Once you find a nice chair on the promenade deck, plug in your ear buds and get lost in one of my books, you’ll forget all about the heavy weather.
Our weather changed the night we left San Juan. No longer did the stateroom rock you like a baby in a cradle. I missed it. Even the huge waves slamming against the hull during the night left my dreams simply devoid of violent and sudden thrusts.
By morning, it was all about the bass.
Sunshine, gentle music floating from a Caribbean band on the pier greeting passengers alighting for a visit in Phillipsburg or perhaps traveling to the French side of the island. Vividly blue Great Bay with pure water, sandy beaches and unfettered access to free beer in the jewelry stores as my wife shopped.
The rest of the cruise was all about the bass – with ‘all of the junk in all the right places’.