Written October 24, 2023, aboard the Viking Star, in the Gulf of Mexico.
We departed Fort Lauderdale harbor yesterday evening. The wind had been up all day so it was no surprise that there was a chop to the waves that grew to significant swells as we cleared the breakwater.
We were pursued by the Harbor Pilot boat, tasked with retrieving the Pilot who was aboard Viking Star to direct our exit from the channel. From our balcony we watched the small vessel gain upon us, crashing through the waves. It was amazing to watch the boat finally snug against our ship’s hull and then the pilot carefully time his leap onto the pitching boat’s small forward deck. Dramatic!
Earlier in the day we attended the mandatory ship safety lecture, unpacked, and took a moment to breath. One advantage of this mode of travel is that one need only unpack and pack a single time over the course of the journey.
We have never considered ourselves “cruise people”, but here we are on our 4th Viking Ocean cruise. The first was in 2018, 15 days, Puerto Rico to Barcelona Spain. The second in 2019, 22 days Buenos Aires Argentina, around Cape Horn to Santiago, Chile. And the third, last year, was 18 days from Barcelona to Buenos Aires.
The highlight of this 18 day trip is a transit through the Panama Canal.
Relative to other cruise ships, this one is small at only 900 passengers. Yesterday we saw the throng waiting to board the Regal Princess (3,600 passengers, 1,600 crew) and were thankful not to be among them.
Each of our cruises, this included, follows a set formula: No children, No casino, No dress-up night, All inclusive. The atmosphere is casual elegant. The service is expertly attentive yet friendly. This continuity suits us. “If it is not broken, don’t fix it.”
Our stateroom is attended twice each day by Guna from Bali, and Unray from Bermuda. Should we require additional assistance they are also available to us 24/7.
38 year old Unray (on the right) has previously sailed these waters and beyond as a passenger. He is certainly gaining a different perspective now.
Last evening Christine and I enjoyed a relaxing dinner. With consideration to the vessel’s motion and Christine’s tendency toward early voyage motion sickness, we ate lightly.
We also attended an excellent one-hour lecture by the ship’s resident historian, William Whobrey, PhD, on pre-Columbian civilizations.
Doctor Whobrey’s resume includes 25 years in the US Army, 20 years as an instructor and Dean at Yale University, and he is currently translating a medieval German saga. He will be presenting throughout the voyage, as will 4 other expert guest lecturers in the fields of geography, history, architecture, culture, and biology.
Later, Christine returned to our room to take a Dramamine and stave off nausea. I, however, attended a showing of the 2022 movie, “Avatar: The Way of Water”.
At over 3 hours long this movie that grossed over 2 billion dollars is a tour-de-force of animation. It is visually stunning in its realism. I found myself occasionally smiling as the water images that played out on screen seemed synchronized with the rolling motion of our ship.
I often have wondered what Wilbur and Orville Wright would say if they could see the current technology in aviation. Last night I had the same thought as I reflected upon Walt Disney’s 1928 ten minute animated short, “Steamboat Willie”, and the 1982 dawn of computer generated feature films, Tron.
While I’m on the subject: for those who subscribe to Netflix, I highly recommend “Love, Death, and Robots”, a series of animated shorts that are not kid appropriate.
Tomorrow we make our first port-of-call, Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Until then, Peace Everyone. Pete
PS. It is remarkable to me that these posts are read by folks from around the world. I can’t see who reads them, but I can see where they are read. Yesterday’s found itself read in 19 countries, posts from our most recent journey were read in over 50 countries. To my knowledge I don’t know anyone in Czechia! I read all comments and reactions. Time allowing I try to respond. Please know that I deeply appreciate you who follow us. Pete