Three ports in three days



I’ve had it. I’m fit for nothing. All I seem to do is sleep. In fact, all any of us seem to do is sleep. Not just Mum, Dad and me, although Dad managed to doze off in mid-sentence at lunch today (!), but everyone on the ship. Maybe it’s all the time zone changes (clocks go backwards or forwards almost every time I put on a clean pair of underwear), maybe it’s all the good food, it certainly isn’t all the good weather (we’ve had precious little of that!). Maybe it’s the “three ports in three days” thing they keep doing to us. We’ve had that twice now, the second set ending yesterday, and today, I was fit for nothing. Seriously, I managed to be upright by half noon for lunch, then did the Sudoku of the day, then I needed a nap, woken by a pointless announcement (thanks, Nigel the Cruise Director), then a talk, then a trip to the Observation Deck to fail to spot the International Space Station pass by with the Shuttle attached (complete with missing toolbox nearby perhaps?), then change for formal dinner. SUPERB dinner tonight, thank you Gordon (F&B Manager*, sits on our table and buys us drinks!). Then internet research for Tortola tomorrow and emailage. Now it is 10.30pm and it is all I can do to keep my eyes open! I’m off to bed in a sec! Seriously, you think I sleep a lot at home?! That’s NOTHING to what I can get done on here! But, like I say, it’s not just us. Everyone is knackered beyond belief. There was a LOT of sunburn at dinner tonight, presumably adorning those who had fallen asleep in the sun, rather than in the shade!

Three ports in three days is actually quite stressful. For each port, you have to research where you want to go, book excursions or cancel them if you change your mind (unless they are weather-dependent in which case they get cancelled from under you and you have to make other plans), change money, worry about what to carry and what to wear (raincoat? Sun cream? Mosquito repellent? Welly boots? Trousers? Shorts? Bottle of water? Sun hat? Maps, port guide, credit cards, cash (various currencies or just the one?)), handbag or just pockets? It’s all very complicated! And that’s before you even get off! Then there’s arguing, sorry, negotiating, with taxi drivers, finding tour meeting points, making sure you don’t miss tour meeting times, finding your way around a strange town, shopping lists of things you need to buy, (of course, not so much of an issue as everyone who said they would email me a list of things to get for them, FORGOT! (Tali, Shirley?!)), the vagaries of the local weather – wind? If so, what speed? Strong breeze or force 9 (I kid you not, force 9). Sun? Strong or with enough shade/cloud thrown in? Fleece? Raincoat? Just t-shirt? Rain? Shower(s) or tropical blooming downpour (several of those, thank you very much)?

Anyone who tells you hurricane season ends in October, just punch them for me and be done with it. It runs throughout November nowadays, thanks to global warming and we have had miserable weather for much of this cruise. Now, I don’t really mind much what the weather does, but it affects the mood of everyone else on board and it can limit your enjoyment of a place when you’re too busy picking your way through the puddles to look up and admire the view.

How big is the town? Are there any sites to see? If so, how spread out are they? Can we do them all in the time available? Where are the posh shops? Where are the cheapy shops? Can we walk it or do we need a taxi? Where are we aiming for? Where shall we eat? How fit is Mum feeling today? How fit am I feeling today, for that matter?! It’s not easy, all this enjoying yourself, you know!

On board, you just carry your cruise card and your card key to your cabin. That’s it. That’s how you pay for everything – it just goes on your bill. So it’s much simpler.

But going ashore is quite a logistical exercise. After all, if you forget something, you CAN come back and get it, but it’ll take a HUGE chunk out of your already rather short day. So you need to get it right the first time. Get it wrong (trousers vs. Shorts) and you either freeze or sweat yourself silly all day. Sun hat/ sun cream – forget them and you get heatstroke in New Orleans and have to leave the jazz dinner early because the room won’t stop spinning. Insect repellent? Forget that, in Cozumel, say, and while you risk a few mozzy bites that itch for a day or so in some places, you also risk being bitten by smaller, much more cunning stuff in Mexico that itches for DAYS and swells into big pink mountainous blotches that itch so much you wake up in the night swearing. Sandals or closed toes? Which often seems to translate as ‘wet feet or hot feet’?
Ports are hard work. In fact, so much so that some people never get off. Ever. They get on in Southampton and they get off in Southampton. That’s it. And I can see why! It’s quite exhausting trying to “do” a place in one day and to do that three days in a row is really pushing it some. We’ve never had this “three ports in three days” thing before, and I think we’ll try and avoid it in future. It’s murder!

I’m not complaining. I’m having a lovely time. Really, I am! But I just thought you should understand that it’s not all cocktails and sunloungers. In fact, on this cruise, there’s been very little of either – we haven’t had the weather for it!

If I’m harping on about the weather, sorry, but when you book a Caribbean cruise, do YOU expect rain?! No, exactly. Neither did we! We’ve had some shocking weather and some bumpy journeys on this cruise, which we didn’t anticipate at all. Today was lovely, and, like I said, it was sunny enough on New Orleans Day 1 for me to get heatstroke, but it CHUCKED it down on New Orleans Day Two, Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios and blew Force 9 and cloudy in Cozumel. Look at the itinerary. Seriously. Not quite what we expected!

I can still enjoy myself in the rain. But here’s hoping tomorrow is a sunny day all the same. Like I said, personally, the weather doesn’t bother me one iota. In fact, I’m having a lovely time. Very relaxing. Talking of which, I’m off to bed. G’nite.

* Food and Beverages Manager, the one responsible for all the food on board.


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