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At Sea, Caribbean

Day at Sea 1/5 Sunday, March 16, 2003
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Cruising by Cuba

Newsletter Front

Ships position: 23 deg. 8. N, 083 deg. West. 11 knots wind from the southeast. Moderate seas, 4-7.5 feet. We're currently passing by the western edge of Cuba, which is a very mountainous island covered by a lush green escarpment. I awoke this morning to the sound of a spinning class on the floor immediately above me (I usually make sure it's only cabins, but the ships layouts weren't very accurate online. The good news was that everybody was tired of spinning after about a half hour, so quiet prevailed after that. One of the nice advantages to having a balcony is that you can listen to the waves which is so relaxing as your watching the world cruise by.

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Tour of the Ship

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My first order of business was to do a photo shoot of the major public areas on the ship. With a slight overcast outside, the inside atrium was full of people, trying to make reservations for tours. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of restaurants, but a bit concerned that I might not even get to sample them all. The decor is well appointed throughout the ship, with murals, stained glass, artwork, and a variety of sculptures. The Windjammer Bar and Cigar Room was exquisitely decorated with plush and very comfortable leather seating and a fine wood paneled walls. The entire area is very classy, with all the fine cigars in a humidor and even ship models under glass. At night when it's a piano bar, the room comes alive. I like the fact that it's close to the Dazzles Disco, so that people tend to group in one area of the ship, instead of being spread out.

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Above Decks

Around noon, even with a strong breeze flowing over the decks and an overcast sky, the pool deck was completely full of people and quite loud. With the ship proceeding at about 20 knots it was even a bit chilly even though it was 75 degrees outside. I was very impressed with the Great Outdoor Cafe, which had plenty of space in two levels for breakfast and lunch. My main complaint with the ss Norway is the lack of space for eating lunch. On the Sun, it is better planned with lunch served in both the Great Outdoor Cafe and a small area above the pool area.

Overcast Afternoon

With brief periods of rain, the day was overcast and even a bit chilly. Wind across the upper decks forward was 35 knots. Most of the pool area and tanning areas are protected by wind shields, but other areas are like being in a wind tunnel. Lunch was at the Great Outdoor Cafe. Even during their busiest times, there was always a place to sit. The food was good, just right for lunch. The best place to spend the afternoon is on deck 12, in the Observation Lounge, which is completely surrounded by eight foot windows giving you a great vantage point to watch the ocean (and weather) around you. By mid afternoon the ship had already traveled 360 nautical miles and was in the Yucatan Channel which separates the western end of Cuba from the Yucatan Peninsula (of Mexico).

Atrium is Wired for Wireless Network Access

I brought my iBook down to the Atrium to see if indeed, the ship was wireless. To my surprise, there was a wireless system in place (with no WEP), however the clever program required a login no matter how you connected to the network. At $.75 a minute, typically with a 5 minute minimum, I'll wait for an Internet cafe at one of the islands-- it's a great way to sample some of the local culture, since most are bars or coffee shops.

Formal Night

This was the "optional" formal night aboard ship. A number of people wore nice dresses, suits and ties, which a few exceptionally dressed in tuxedo's. I met Ray the concierge down in the Atrium in late afternoon to introduce myself and try and arrange some meetings with the Captain and other staff. Ray was most helpful, very courteous, and obviously knew his job quite well (unlike the staff at Public Relations down in Miami). Within a few hours, I had a bottle of champagne in my room with a fruit basket and some chocolate covered strawberries. Nice touch, thanks Ray ! After getting dressed up in my tuxedo, I proceeded down to the Atrium once again for a photo op with the Captain, and after a few complimentary glasses of champagne (and a Melontini) went to dinner at the main restaurant.

Dinner

Our waitress, Ramona Stanciu from Romania did an excellent job, in fact, was the best wait staff I have experienced on the ship thus far. The main dining room does not require reservations, and is not a "fee" restaurant like some of the specialty ones a few decks higher. The food was quite good. For desert, I really did not want anything, so Ramona brought out a plate with "Nothing" written in chocolate, and then brought out a wonderful chocolate syrup covered cake. Thanks Ramona ! A very good dinner.

New Year's Revisited

After some obligatory martini's at Windjammer (the piano bar) went to Dazzles Nightclub for a reenactment of New Year's. A number of the staff were there, and it was a good and less formal way to meet them. Unlike the previous night, the lounge was full of people and dancing went on until the wee hours of the morning. The Jell-O shots were finally ready as well I bought a tray of those and was passing them out.

Additional Photographs: Day at Sea 1/5

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Photo Highlights from this Day photos. for all photos, please click on the < or > as indicated above. There are as many as five sets of photos for each day of the cruise.

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