After a pretty hectic week of activities we were both pretty exhausted. We had finished packing the night before and just needed to take care of the last details of shutting the boat up, making sure we had everything and the all important last trash run.
We were on the dock and waiting for our driver to pick us up at 7. Unlike the last trip north to Ft Lauderdale, there was very little traffic. Susan had planned on 3 hours of travel, that would put us right at the Everglades Cruise terminal just as they opened up reservations. With zero traffic on the road we got dropped off a little after 9AM.
The registration doors opened at 9:30AM and we were some of the first through the system. For some reason it’s much faster to check in for a boat than an airline. We did need to wait until 11:30 to begin boarding. The chairs in the lounge were very comfortable and we had things to read while we waited. The checkin line was pretty steady, it never looked like there were more than 10 people in line at any one time.
At 11:30AM we started boarding. First up was the “Welcome Aboard Photo”, our first chance to spend additional money with the cruise line. We quickly found our room and unpacked our carryon items. I hit my first snag of the day, I had left my sunglasses on the seat next to me in the waiting area. A walk back (like a salmon swimming upstream though the crowd) to the seats. Rats, no glasses. A quick check with the check-in agents also didn’t turn up the sun glasses. Looks like I’ll be hitting the gift shop for some new ones.
While I was off searching, Susan had gone to the top deck and gotten lunch started. By the time I got back there was a Bloody Mary waiting for me. The food was very good, we were both very pleased.
Back in our cabin our checked items had been delivered. We did the last part of our unpacking and took our first nap of the cruise. We are in the aft part of the boat, so we can feel the engine vibrations, Susan said they were like the magic fingers beds. Needless to say we both slept very well.
I was startled awake by the announcement system going off, it was time for our safety drill of the cruise. Soon the lucky people of life raft 17 were assembled and accounted for. After a brief lecture we were released.
Our boat the Nieuw Amsterdam is pretty new, launched in 2010. So she has bow thrusters that easily pushed us off the dock. The channel from the Everglades Cruise Dock out to the ocean is pretty narrow and the Coast Guard was busy keeping boats out of our path. There was not a lot of clearance on either side and we watched boats get bounced around pretty good in the wake.
We were soon out of the channel and turning north. North?, hey that’s the wrong way, we should be going South. There is a large mooring / anchoring area ahead and we move along side. The Captain announces that there has been a medical emergency and we may be heading back to port to let the person off the boat.
On the starboard (right) side of the boat is a retractable platform that would allow tenders to on/offload people. About 30 mins after the announcement a small fire / rescue boat pulls along side to the now extended platform. (A cool center console with a pair of 250 HP Yamaha engines) They offload a small group of people with medical equipment, including one of those portable EKG machines.
There are a few more announcements by the Captain that there are medical people aboard and he will keep us posted.
About 30 mins after the Fire / Rescue team arrives, their boat pulls along side. They load luggage aboard and a family member. Next is someone strapped into a stretcher carried by 6 people. They move smoothly like they’ve done this lots before and move the patient aboard. The rescue boat moves off and the Pilot boat takes it’s place. The pilot jumps aboard, gives a big thumbs up and they head off.
The Captain announces that we will be underway and will be in Half Moon Cay about 9AM, an hour late. Not a big deal since it’s just a beach day.
Susan heads off to the spa and I go out on our balcony to read a real “dead tree book”. It’s nice to sit in the sunset, there is a nice breeze with the motion of the boat.
There is something a little weird about the boat. It’s got a pretty decent vibration going on. If I was on the Quo Vadimus I’d think that I had a prop slightly out of balance. It may be due to the Nieuw Amsterdam having azipod drives. These are propellers on a mount that does a 360 spin. They can act as forward propulsion, or as side thrusters. With these mounts and a bow thruster the Captain can move the boat sideways.
We’ve noticed the vibrations all over the boat so it’s more than us being closer to the engines.
We got changed into dinner and headed to the “Manhattan Restaraunt” for dinner. There was a slight wait for a table for 2, we waited in the bar next door. There was duo with a cello and a piano playing, they were very good.
Dinner was beef carpachico and NY Strip for Susan, I had “Les Halles” french onion soup and the shrimp and grits with andouie sausage. Their version was less okra more shrimp and it was wonderful.
I’m always amazed with the logistics of a large restaurant and this was no exception. Two people at the front desk, three people to run guests to tables. A wine steward, a person to take orders, a drink person (I was drinking beer), food delivery and someone to clear. Topped off by two visits by the section manager to see if we were happy.
There were tray after tray flying by with food (and we were at the back of the place, who knows what it looked like closer to the kitchen.
I got key lime pie to go since I was pretty stuffed. (I think being stuffed will be a recurring theme across the next 13 days).
On the way back to the room I stopped by the central office. There in the Lost and Found bin was my sunglasses. Some kind shipmate had turned them in during the afternoon. Yay! I will have sunglasses for our beach day at Half Moon Cay.
Towel of the day was a walrus with googly eyes, Susan got a good picture with Pig.