OUR TRANSATLANTIC CRUISE - Out To Sea - Now What?
Although we did have one sea day in between Cartagena and Madeira, we were now embarking on what I consider the coolest part of our transatlantic crossing - the crossing itself! Six days at sea, with nothing but water as far as the eye could see (and then some!). Each day the captian would announce our position and tell us about the weather. He'd also announce the depth of the ocean, which ran as deep as FIVE miles! I'm sure the thought of being on the open seas and not being able to see land was a little disconcerting for some, but it didn't bother me a bit. It was rather amazing to think that we would sail for day after day over this vast body of water. What was even more amazing was thinking about the earliest transatlantic travelers - those who set out in a ship MUCH smaller than ours, and much less well equipped, with no real idea of where they were going or what they would find at the other end. I guess you had to be part adventurer and just a little crazy to sail back in the days of Columbus, or even the Pilgrims - yet they did it and survived to tell the tale. As fascinated as our friends are to hear about our transatlantic cruise, imagine the response Columbus got when he returned to Spain after discovering the New World!
You might wonder what we did to fill the time during these six long days - and they were indeed long - each night for five successive nights we would 'fall back' so that by the time we reached our final destination, Ft. Lauderdale, our body clocks would be set to Eastern Standard Time. (We'd previously 'fallen back' one hour in between Cartagena and Madeira.)
Somehow our days just seemed to fill up, or maybe I should say to sail by. No rushing, no hurry, just a pleasant routine: up around eight o'clock for a light breakfast, then an hour on the treadmill. After a shower we might stop by the internet cafe to check our email, or attend a wine tasting, or a bourbon tasting, or take a tour of the kitchen. Every day we were on the top deck of the ship for the Hot Glass Show - both of them. I don't think I'll ever get tired of seeing that molten glass being colored and shaped into objects of beauty. The skill and craftsmanship of the glassblowers was amazing! Their knowledge of how the glass will (should!) respond, knowing just how much to blow, just how long to re-heat the piece in the oven before working it again, just what colors to apply, and where to apply them - it was an amazing experience every single time!
Although the weather was very mild, and there were quite a few people out by the pool - although very few actually IN the pool, we didn't spend much time there. Art did relax in the hot tubs after his workouts, but for whatever reason the hot tubs weren't very hot - just lukewarm, and when even I say the hot tubs weren't hot enough, you know it's true! I'm not one who particularly enjoys being as hot as most people do in a hot tub, but these hot tubs weren't even as hot as I like my bubble baths!
One afternoon we met for drinks and snacks in the cabin of our friends (and fellow Louisvillians) Dan and Judy. They had a balcony, so we were able to enjoy the ocean views in a very relaxing way, wine glass in hand - what a life!
During our sea days I also took two of four computer classes being offered for Photoshop. I needed to learn how 'erase' grafitti from a wall or remove an annoying power line from an otherwise beautiful landscape. The classes lasted an hour each and cost $20 (each), which I thought was a little pricey considering we were all a captive audience, but once again I think the cruise lines are doing whatever they can to supplement their revenue while still keeping base prices as low as possible.
There were also two champangne brunches during our sea days, replacing the midnight buffets of earlier years. I did like the idea of the brunch much better than the midnight buffet, and although the brunch was complete with ice sculptures, I missed seeing them being carved as I had on previous cruises.
Each cabin on the Solstice has a nice large flat screen TV, and there were various channels to watch - one being a view from the bridge. There were also channels devoted to each port we stopped in, and giving information about the ship and some of the programs. We received other channels too, depending on what satellite we could pick up - CNN, MSNBC, a special version of CBS just for Celebrity. The channels changed over the course of the cruise depending on which satellite feed we were able to receive. There were also lots of free movies and the nice thing about the system was that you could pause a movie for up to two days, then pick up watching just where you'd left off! I watched about half of the first "Twilight" movie, and although I'd read the book and knew the story, I wasn't very impressed with the movie. I wasn't surprised that it was so dark (literally), because, you know, vampires can't take the bright lights, but the movie seemed sooooooo slow, and just dragged on and on. Luckily I had plenty of other things to do and didn't feel obligated to watch the entire movie.
The Solstice also has a 2 story library, but the books I found there weren't very interesting. On the last day of the cruise, when everyone was trying to make everything fit back into their suitcases, the library was filled with books people had brought with them to read on board, and most of the books I saw then looked much more interesting than the ones stocked on the shelves.
At various times and locations there were music performances - a string quartet, an acapella group, a guitarist, a swing band and an accordianist were the performances we saw, and maybe there were a few more we missed. There were also some basic language classes as well as a lecture series on archaeology, and a few movies offered in a larger, theater-type setting.
Of course eating and/or drinking was always an option - but I missed having snack foods readily available. I quickly learned to stop at the ice cream bar for a bowl of M&Ms to snack on later, and to wrap up some cheese slices along with a few pieces of fruit to take back to the cabin. I still would have liked something crunchy - some potato chips or pretzels, but these were only served at the bars with drinks. I guess I really didn't need those extra, empty calories anyway.
All in all we both really enjoyed this cruise. We never felt bored, altho I do think there could have been more activities offered, especially on the sea days. Perhaps if we'd had a balcony we would have enjoyed just sitting in the sun, reading or napping, but even without our own balcony there were still plenty of places to relax, in or out of the sun/weather. A transatlantic cruise had long been a dream of mine, and I'm so happy that we had this opportunity. We'd both do it again - we're already looking at the schedules for next fall!
There are more photos from the cruise and all the ports we visited on our FLICKR PAGE, as well as a few videos on our Our YouTube page.