The weather was not behaving according to the forecast. Only the general direction was correct. For the rest there was too much wind, too much swell and too much rain. When the ship came out of the lee from under Haiti, while exiting the Windward Passage, it became a bumpy ride for about 2 hours. When we turned North West into the Old Bahama Channel, it became a following sea & wind; then peace and quiet descended on the ship once more. However it remained with us for the whole day and the remainder of the night while we travelled North of Cuba and into the Straits of Florida. Luckily this was the last day of the cruise and then all the guests focus is on the activities inside. Disembarkation talk, crew farewell, last minute shopping. Plus the unsolvable problem of getting the contents of three suitcases into two and all those things together keeps a cruise passenger happily occupied during the last day. Not everybody of course, we have another 115 who will travel with us back to San Diego having booked a back to back. If you have the time that is a great idea, as the cost of flying can come quite close to the cost of booking the additional 14 days. The coming cruise is even longer as we are now adjusting for our arrival in the Alaska sequence, which means that we are doing three more ports on the way back. Puerto Quetzal, Puerto Chiapas and Corinto in Nicaragua. The last one will be of great interest to me as I have not been there since 1979 when I was a cadet on a containership. I was there just after the revolution had taken place and the place was still full of gun toting liberators, all dressed in blue coveralls, trying to maintain law and order while at the same time not having a clue how to do that. The Statendam has been there before and although the economy is coming up, there is still a lot of poverty. Thus we have started a donation program again with collecting clothing and anything else that guests and crew might want to donate. When we get closer to the visit we might be able to do a bit more, for an orphanage or old folks home but that will depend on the attitude of the local officials.
Today we finished also our bridge painting project, or better said bridge spraying project. All the consoles are now back to their original blue color and it has lightened the bridge up considerably. I am almost finished with my “bridge hole “covering project. That is relocating display frames over drills holes left behind from where other display frames used to be. I am a great believer in double-sided tape as that does not leave holes behind, when you have to remove an outdated sign again. To give a touch of history to it all, there are now photos of all the Statendam’s of the past hanging there. It gives the pilots something to look at while they are waiting or getting bored watching me doing my own thing.
We passed today the Celebrity Infinity and the Westerdam both going southbound and both heading to Cartagena. After that it will be the Panama Canal and that shows that the spring migration of the cruise ships to Alaska is on the way. After tomorrow we will be one of them and there will be a few more following from Holland America and from Princess. There are already one or two ships up there. The season was opened this year by the Crystal Serenity. The nice thing about an early visit to Alaska is that the snow is still covering the mountains and most of the time down to the water’s edge. A pristine winter wonder land to look at. The bad thing is that you have to get there first and with the last of the winter storms that is not always a pleasant journey. We will arrive near the end of May and that should mean that most of the nasty weather is out of the way. At least I hope so. As well that there is hopefully no bad weather in the Gulf of Alaska that might not get to the Inside Passage but it can send heavy swells over to the entrance of Strait Juan de Fuca. Still, that is a month away.
Tomorrow we will be in Fort Lauderdale and the weather forecast is good, little wind in the morning and a dry day. It is Navy week in Fort Lauderdale thus there will be a lot of tourists milling around, apart from the guests for the three cruise ships in port. Plus we have our USCG inspection that was postsponed from last time San Diego.