All good things must come to an end.
The ship provides us with lovely thick quilted bathrobes to wear to and from the pool or the spa appointments or just around the room. DH and I wear them around the room all the time since we can’t adjust our air conditioning and it’s cold enough to keep meat in there. I’ve gotta admit, though, we sleep like the peaceful dead.
So today, I was going to get up and put in two miles walking around the deck. We ordered tea and juice at 6 AM to get us started. We drank the juice, got back into bed to drink the tea because it was so cold in the room, and fell asleep.
So now it’s 7:10, I’m awake again but in a dreamy, dozy, lazy way, so I have brought you all out on the balcony with me to enjoy the morning. We are headed back to Miami. Tomorrow we debark and fly home. Today, we linger in luxury. The air is soft and balmy, but there are lots of clouds. Two thunderheads are growing tall enough to catch the morning light; pale rosy towers sailing above the gray. There is a long swell in the ocean, but no whitecaps yet, so the ship rides with an easy, sleep-inducing rocking. Ah, and now comes another thunderhead colored buttery yellow. I could spend whole days just watching the clouds.
Yesterday we were in Grand Cayman, and my darling niece had arranged a snorkel trip for us. We got off the ship and onto vans and drove across the island to a private dock where our captain greeted us and led us down to our vessel. Oh My God it was PLUSH! There were four levels to scatter out on. There were two bathrooms and six beds. There was a little kitchen with a refrigerator full of food. There were six giant coolers full of iced juice, soda and water scattered all over the boat. There were beanbags to sprawl in on the top deck. There was a hanging basket chair which I took advantage of!
There was a captain and a cabin girl and a marine biologist deckhand and a professional photographer. I had a fascinating chat with the marine biologist Who had left England and gone to Cayman as part of a scientific project to study endangered shark species. When the funding for the project was cut, and he lost his job, he stayed on the island, working as a deckhand here and there, and volunteering with the shakr project whenever he could. They are tagging and tracking sharks. He said that the tiger sharks are the most fragile and one nine-footer was so groggy after being tagged that they didn’t think it would survive. So he got in the water with it and kept it moving, with one hand on its snout to hold the mouth open, and another hand on its back to push it along. The really dangerous part of this was that other sharks sense a sick or wounded relative, congregate, and eat it. And all their studies are done at night when the sharks are the most active. So there he is, swimming in the dark ocean with a nine foot long piece of bait. Is that dedication or what? After about an hour, the shark perked up and swam away, and he scampered back on deck. I wish I had time to gather more of his stories.
Later, when we were snorkeling, he showed me a goldentail eel, and coaxed it completely out of its den with a bit of squid. Scary and beautiful!
Before we got to Stingray city, the cabin girl gave us a lecture all about stingrays, using a little stuffed toy ray named Fluffy for demonstration purposes. “Pet them here, not here. This is the only part that is dangerous. This is how they swim,” etc. (The big friendly ones are female. The little shy ones are male. The babies are born live.) and when we got to the sandbar, our marine biologist, who knows most of the rays by name, coaxed “Sprinkles” up into his arms so we could pet her. She really liked him and lay quiescent while all these stupid tourists patted and stroked her pebbly back and her silky underside. Then we got pieces of squid and hand fed the rays for an hour. It’s a transcendent experience, to be able to interact safely with such gentle, alien creatures. Most of the females were about five feet from wingtip to wingtip, dark on top and white on the bottom. They don’t have teeth, but the do have hard grinding plates, so you want to keep your fingers out of their mouths.
Then we went to Starfish Cove with the classic white beach framed by swaying palms. This was when I took over the sling chair and let everyone else frolic in the salt and sand while I lounged in lizard-lazy ease.
And that took up pretty much the whole day. Back to the dock, back to the pier, back to the ship and I had an hour to get ready for our early seating formal dinner.
And now, a day at sea. We have to pack. (We had to buy a second suitcase to hold all the souveniers. We have to do whatever it was that we haven’t gotten around to yet. Use up that last coupon for a free boat drink. Pick up a final few trinkets at the shops. And then, on Saturday, the madness that is disembarkation where they get four thousand people off the ship in the morning so they can get another four thousand people back on the ship in the afternoon for the next cruise.
At a party for returning customers, we sat next to two guys who had been on 79 cruises. The one guy leaned over and whispered to me, “We’ll cruise on anything with anyone. We’re cruise whores.” For a minute I thought that was how they paid for the their trips. Then I realized that he meant they had no loyalty to any one line or locale. They just like being at sea.
Yes, so do I.