Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cruise: Day 6 - Heading Home

Somewhere out the veranda window and over the horizon is Cuba. It was on the other side of the ship on Monday, and close enough to be seen. Today, as we work our way up the Mexican coastline on our way back to Tampa, it is invisible. We’re making 21 knots, but as with every other speed we’ve traveled at, the motion is not discernable. The only way to gauge our speed is to step outside and listen to the sounds of the ocean sliding by eighty feet below us.

It is in that way that I noticed the relatively slow pace that the ship took on the short trip from Roatan to Belize. We had only a few miles to go and all night to get there, so the entire trip was done at a sedate ten knots. With a good current, I could match that speed in my kayak. Not for long, of course.

The approach to Belize is not the same as the other ports. The water is shallow, apparently, and the ship had to slalom its way through a channel. We slept through most of that - it was only apparent when the cruise director found the short walk from the bed to the bathroom was suddenly much more downhill than expected.

My first impressions of Belize came when I stepped out onto the veranda and was greeted by bugs, high humidity, and ugly brown water.

Nothing throughout the day did much to change that impression.

I had not planned on leaving the ship to even go to port, but the lure of a fifteen minute boat ride on the powered catamaran that was being used as a tender changed my mind. Basically, my feet only touched Belize long enough to get off the tender, look at the same “mall” stores that we have seen at every stop, and get back on the boat. It was worth it, though, just for the boat ride. If I wasn’t a flying guy, I’d have a boat.

Being one of the first to get back on the boat, I went straight to the seat I wanted. It was right up front, and it was the only seat that had access to an open window. I had the camcorder with me and wanted to get some video of the immense Carnival Legend as we motored our way back out to it. A few minutes after I got situated, a family of three got onboard.

The child was a florid-faced, red-headed, twelve-ish year old porker who was clearly used to having things his own way in more places than just the dinner table. He decided that he wanted to sit where I was sitting.

“Dad, I want to sit there!”

To his credit, Dad informed him that there was someone already there, myself being of so little import to Young Sir Porkbelly as to be beneath notice.

“So tell him to move. He won’t care.”

Again, to dad’s credit, he was quite able to discern from one look at me that I did, in fact, care, and I think he may even have picked up on the not-so-subtle look that indicated that even if I hadn’t cared before, I damn sure wasn’t moving now.

As I was later to see as more people got on the boat, not much of anyone was thrilled with Belize.

As we sailed away later that afternoon, the waters of Belize offered up something no other port had: a glimpse of a dolphin cavorting alongside the ship. I also saw a few more of the flying fish that I had seen a day or two before. Once I get back to the Land of Always On Internet, I have a list of things I want to Google. Flying fish is one of them. Because I always want to know how things work and why they work that way, I’m curious as to what the Darwinian benefits are to a fish that can briefly fly just above the surface of the water. Perhaps they prefer bugs to other seaborne delicacies. But are there that many bugs out over the sea?

I’ve also spent a lot of time trying to figure out how things work on the ship. How do they feed so many people in so brief a time? How do the lifeboats get from being snugged right up against the ship to the water’s surface quickly enough to matter? And then there are the truly mundane questions like just how many pianos are on this thing? I know of at least five, but I’m betting that there’s at least twice that.

As we pack our bags for tomorrow’s arrival, there is one last question: how in the world are they going to get 2,200 people off of this thing?

I’m afraid that the answer is going to be “with a great deal of difficulty.”

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