We are just waking up and early risers are already walking their laps on the Promenade Deck just outside our window. But the shadows are wrong. By some convention everyone walks counter clockwise. (On our other world cruise, I tried to break this convention by walking the other way when we crossed the equator. It got some laughs but no other takers, convention is convention.) On our last world cruise, the shadows through the curtains passed from my side to Suzi’s side. But on this cruise the shadows are going the other way.
When we leave the cabin we automatically turn left to get to go to breakfast, but we should turn right. Our cabin is almost identical to the one we had last time, but it’s on the other (port) side of the ship, not starboard. So, while inside we are very familiar with the layout, when we leave the door we are confused.
Very early this morning I felt a shudder on the ship. I was confused then too because the ship has azi-pods and we do not normally feel cavitation. It turns out that we were 90 miles from the epicenter of an Earthquake near Puerto Rico. The captain, who has been at sea for 51 years says this is only the second earthquake he has felt on a ship. The first one was in Alaska in 2003.
Having three sea days before hitting our first port of call was a wise decision on the part of the planners. It gives us three days to shed the stress of starting the cruise, packing for four months, making arrangements for bills, house watching, pets sitting, Christmas. Not to mention the added stress of the bungled embarkation and luggage load in. I used the three days to get my back in shape, swimming laps, walking deck laps (a little later in the morning, thank you) and treating myself to a massage.
Today on my shipboard walk, the Beaufort force 6 winds carried spray away from the bow wake creating just a fleeting glimpse of the hint of a rainbow. As I walked, I caught flashes of color off to my right. Occasionally I stopped and tried to capture one of them with my camera, my constant companion on my daily walks in Sitka. I always caught the spray a second too late, if you look closely you may be able to see a slight residual of the color.
These three days give everyone (well almost everyone, there are a few grumpy holdouts) a chance to calm down, get reacquainted with old friends and get into the rhythm of a long cruise. Of course, there were the formalities of the opening reception where Captain Mercer introduces his officers, we have the “fair winds and following seas” toast (with ginger ale for the officers, so the Captain says) followed by the gala where I, again, take pictures of the photographers (and of Suzi).
When we did this last time, we felt like we were crashing a private party. So many people do this every year or every other year. This year we’re part of the party. When we get on the ship a banner reading “Welcome Home” meets us and the staff greets us with “welcome back.” And many of the staff are the same people we had met on the cruise two years ago, although how they can remember us after two years of rotating passengers, is a puzzle to me.
The start of a cruise like this is kind of like a high school reunion. Some people we know by name, some have faces that look familiar but we can’t place. A lot of them remember us by name. Suzi says “I am more memorable than I have memory.” There’s lots of catching up and some sad and awkward moments.
“Hi, and how are you and your husband doing?”
“Oh, so sorry for your loss.”
Some of the table talk is about complications of filing a tax return as a single person for the first time. Two widowers who started cruising with their wives are now rooming together on this cruise. Other tablemates who we met in 2015 on the South America cruise said that a couple of their friends, who we also met, could not make this cruise for health reasons but they are reading this blog. You know who you are and your friends from Arizona say hi!
I had my personal moment of melancholy when I put on my suit that I had cleaned and stowed away after our last world cruise two years ago. I guess stuff can get in under those plastic cleaning bags. It had a good deal of long, white, cat fur. A reminder of our ragdoll cat Matzi, who, after 17 years, died last May. I always felt Matzi wanted to come with us when we left him in the care of others. From somewhere in this multi-dimensioned universe Matzi is sending me a message. It makes me smile.
For us, well our stuff is all stowed, our cabin as organized as we ever get, my world map is on the wall and we are ready for our first port tomorrow.