Our ship made its first of 5 ports of call today on the island of St. Maarten. A small island of approximately 38 square miles it is cooperatively divided between the Netherlands and France. One island where the residents may freely travel without border restrictions, but each side has wholly separate power generation, water desalination, and infrastructure. A telephone call between residents separated by a few hundred feet incurs international call rates. One thing that the political border could not contain was the fury of Hurricane Irma. Category 5, and with sustained winds of 240 mph, nothing in recorded memory has been her equal here for sheer destruction. It has been over 6 months and twisted metal, collapsed buildings and destroyed vessels are everywhere. I have chosen to highlight the islands beauty rather than the challenges that remain for these good people. Tourism is their lifeblood and fortunately it is returning, witness 3 cruise ships in port today. One of those vessels is the behemoth Royal Caribbean Oasis Sea at over 5 times the gross tonnage and 6 times the passenger capacity of our ship, it was a sight to behold when she discharged her 6,000 passengers!
We continue to familiarize ourselves with our vessel and fellow passengers. While swimming in the “infinity pool” (its end is plexiglas and seems to hang off the end of the ship, inviting a swim into infinity) we met George, who in the 90’s lived just a few miles from where I grew up. Small world.
The ship has an excellent gym. I and a few fellow passengers were there this morning at 6am. I suspect we will all be regulars at that hour. Breakfast follows for me, courtesy of room service.
Last night we dined in “The Restaurant”, which is the ship’s general dinner venue. It is elegant and “5-Star” by our estimation. That experience was exceeded this evening in the more intimate “Chef’s Table”. I have included an image of the menu and wine pairings which are themed and change daily. The cuisine and service were impeccable!
We are beyond sight of land for the next 6 days as we cross the Atlantic. Gazing in any direction confronts one with the stark demarcation of sea and sky. It is unambiguous and uninterrupted. Little else in life can lay claim to such unyielding clarity.
Peace Everyone. Pete