Our ship left Half Moon Cay under cloudy skies. No sunset pictures for me.
It was windy–meaning choppy seas. I estimate 2-4 foot swells with small whitecaps. Yes, you can feel the ship sway through the water. I stopped the Dramamine a few days ago and, knock wood, no queasiness.
If there was a show, we didn’t see it. After dinner Helaine and I walked to the casino where I redistributed most, not all, of my winnings.
There is no shortage of eating opportunities onboard. We had sushi at a small stand between the casino and theater last night. There is also pizza available 24 hours a day at the cafe at the aft end of the ship. There are freshly baked sweets in the same area. Cofffee, iced tea and juices are available and served without charge.
Some ships have ‘extra cost’ restaurants. Not this older ship.
Helaine and I have discussed the cost of this cruise more than once over the last few days. It’s really quite reasonable. Here’s my guess. The cruise itself is a break even situation for the line. The real money is made in ancillary sales. This ship–all cruise ships exist to be stores.
From the time you board until your disembark there are things for sale. Sometimes they are items you can’t get on land–not always. They are always priced high. We have heard, more than once, of 4-figure bar bills! Not being drinkers has its advantage.
The ship has a crew of staff photographers. They are visible any place people aggregate, whether it be the entrance to the dining room or theater or the gangway while in port. They print every photo and cover a large open area with them. They are sold at outrageous prices.
There are also shops selling watches and jewelery and knick-knacks. It’s tough for me to make a judgment call on price, but experience says no bargains. The ship also sells, or actually resells, shore excursions, cellphone service and Internet access.
I don’t hold any of this against the cruise line. This is their business and they are entitled to make money.
On the other hand, I am distressed with the cruise business and its removal of assets from US rules and taxes. This ship is registered in the Bahamas. Others are registered in Panama. The ship’s officers are Italian. The remainder of the crew is a virtual United Nations of the seas reperesenting dozens of countries–not the U.S. Other than a few entertainers I saw no American staff. None.
Make no mistake–this ship and dozens more like it would make nothing without US passengers and ports. Virtually every passenger boarded in the United States and is an American resident. If there was a distress call it wouldn’t be the Bahamian Navy coming to our rescue.
As I remember, even the owner of this cruise line personally left the United States for tax purposes (please correct me if I am wrong).
Back to the trip… after breakfast we headed to the pool deck to watch an ice carving demonstration. With a few hand tools one of the kitchen staff transformed a huge block of ice into a pair of love birds atop a heart. He attracted quite a crowd and plenty of photographers and videographers.
We’ve just gone for the galley tour. Years ago there were galley, bridge and even engine room tours. Now, post 9-11, the other two are out but the galley tour persists. I suppose it’s tougher to poison a ship full of people than steer us into rocks.
It is astounding to see the method to the madness of service a few thousand guests. Even though first seating is only a few hours away there wasn’t that much hustle and bustle going on. As Helaine pointed out, if we’re having guests there’s plenty of action two hours before!
Back in the room Helaine is packing for departure. We’ll be in Jacksonville early tomorrow morning and hopefully through customs and at the airport in time for our 12:55 PM flight to Bradley.
This was a wonderful vacation. It’s not for everyone. We made a list of our friends who are ill suited for cruising. It’s a long list. For us it’s nearly perfect.
My next post from dry land.
Oh–I almost forgot. Carnival has towel animals. Each night when we get in after dinner Andy, our room steward, has fashioned one or more towels into some sort of critter. Last night’s was probably a cat–we’re not 100% sure.
We’ve been on lines that didn’t have towel animals and missed them.