The first sea cruise that Louise and I were ever a part of started from our winter home in Orange City, Florida on January 16,1988. My brother Elwin picked up my sister Zenobia, Louise and I along with our luggage at 6:30 on Saturday morning and drove us to Deltona, where we met forty four other people and got on a bus that took us to Miami.
We had made arrangements, for the trip, the previous Spring, before we returned to Michigan. Helen Amos, the tour director for the Great Lakes Club of Deltona, took care of all of the arrangements through the Southern Comfort Travel Service.
We arrived at the Carnival dock early in the afternoon and immediately boarded the CELEBRATION, the ship that was to be our home for the next seven days and nights.
I will not go into detail regarding our experiences on board that ship, however, there are some things that deserve to be mentioned, so that we will not forget them. I will get to them, as time goes on.
We departed from the Port of Miami, as scheduled, at four o’clock in the afternoon and were at sea until six PM on Monday, when we arrived at San Juan, Puerto Rico. During this fifty hour period, at sea, we passed along the northeast coast of Cuba as well as the north shore of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We were always within view of the coastline. We covered a distance of 1058 statute miles, at a speed of approximately twenty one miles per hour.
We were a little disappointed that we arrived at San Juan after dark and then departed before daylight, the next morning. However, Zenobia, Louise and I took a night club tour and saw a super Fliminco show at a very beautiful hotel, in downtown San Juan. We would like to have seen more of Puerto Rico.
We departed San Juan at two o’clock AM and arrived at St.Thomas at eight o’clock the next (Tues.) morning. We took a conducted tour of St.Johns and St.Thomas. It was in St.Thomas that we bought the duty free booze that we brought home with us. That evening, at five thirty, we left St.Thomas and arrived at Phillipsburg, in the Dutch Sector of St.Maarten, at seven o’clock on Wednesday morning.
That stop at St.Maarten was, to me, one of the highlights of the trip. We took a conducted tour of both the Dutch and the French sectors of the island. The tour was hosted by a real sharp native lady who told us many things of interest about the island and it’s people.
If the people, in the United States, who complain about their lack of opportunity, the alleged inadequacy of our welfare system and the violation of their civil rights, could see the things that we saw and would believe what they saw, perhaps they would get up off their dead asses and try to take advantage of the opportunities that we have that those beautiful people do not and never have had.
At five o’clock on Wednesday evening we left St.Maarten and started our trip, back to Miami, arriving at about seven o’clock on Saturday morning. The return trip was essentially the reverse of the trip out. We passed the Eastern end of Dominican Republic, about noon on Thursday and the North Central Coast of Cuba at about noon on Friday.
There was never a dull moment aboard ship, especially at meal time. The three of us were seated at a table, for six, with three of the greatest ladies that a person could ever hope to be associated with. They had, apparently, been friends for some time and were traveling together, on this cruise.
There was continual laughter all through the meal and no one took offense if they happened to be the one to get the brunt of the joke. I sincerely hope that nothing ever happens to break up that relationship. Such a meeting of personalities so seldom occurs that it is a real treat to be a party to the event, when it does happen. We shall never forget those three beautiful ladies.
As I say, there was never a dull moment aboard ship, there was trap shooting, bingo, pie eating contests, snow frog racing, gambling in a fully equipped Casino from 8:00 AM until 3:00 AM the next morning, except when we were docked, in port. There was, at least one, stage show per day, in the Astoria Lounge, and these were not just shows. They featured excellent, professional talent.
The meals were outstanding and the food was available at just about any time, day or night, and it was all included in the price of the cruise.
One night, while enroute between islands, Louise, Zenobia and I were roaming about the ship, looking for a way to get to a place so that we could look out over the bow to see where we were going, when we came upon a person who appeared to be a member of the ship’s crew. He had on a white uniform, but no cap and seemed to be very casual. I asked him if he could tell us how to reach the place that we were looking for and he said, in very broken English, “come I will show you”. He lead us to an elevator and took us to the proper deck and directed us where to go. He was very kind and we thanked him as we would any other member of the ship’s company.
It was not until a few days later that we discovered that we had been in the area of the crew’s quarters and the man that we thought was a seaman was the ship’s captain, who had apparently just been taking a stroll before retiring. Later, when I found out what had happened, I would like to have apologized to him for not showing the proper respect for his authority, but how do you approach a man who is in complete charge of a 47,000 ton vessel and the welfare of 2,500 people?
I was however, disillusioned about one thing. In all of the advertisements that I had seen, on TV and in brochures, about these cruises, they featured an enormous spread of seafood, hors d’oeurvers, rich pastries, etc. That all lead me to believe that I would be able to make myself sick any time that I wanted to. Such a display I did not find. They did have a display of such things about midnight, one night, and then ate it all up.
If there could be anything that I would comment on, as far as the conduct of the cruise was concerned, it would be that the ship was too large. They are trying to accommodate more people than can be, effectively, taken care of in the time span allowed, whether it is on board a ship, in a hotel or where ever it might be.
There is another thing that I am forced to comment on that has nothing to do with the ship, it’s owners or it’s operators. I probably should keep my opinions to myself but, in this case, I can’t.
I feel so sorry for the many fine Jewish friends and business associates that I have, because they are, through no fault of their own, categorized with some of the most rude, inconsiderate and even uncivil, people in the world. I cannot imagine why there were so many of them on this cruise but they made their presence manifest and their conduct disgusting. If you were pushed about, in a crowd, or crowded out of a line, you could be sure that it was one of them that did it. They would have one of their clan go to the Astoria Lounge, far in advance of show time and stand guard over groups of the best seats and tell others, that came on time, that the seats were taken.
I am fortunate not to have grown up and lived in proximity to such people. I sincerely hope that my many fine Jewish friends are, in some way, able to divorce themselves from the slobs that we encountered on that cruise.
Our debarkation was uneventful, as was our bus trip back to Deltona. We arrived about three thirty on Saturday, all pooped out but looking forward to the next trip, what ever it might be.
I want to mention some of the details of the ship that took us on this cruise.
The MS CELEBRATION was built in 1987 by Kockums AB in Malmo, Sweden.
Overall Length.......................732' Overall Width........................104' Maximum Draft.........................25' Fuel Oil Capacity..............2,473 Tons Fresh Water Production.......600 Tons/Day Total Lifeboat Capacity.....3,170 persons
WHY IS A SHIP CALLED SHE?
- BECAUSE There is always a great deal of bustle around her
- BECAUSE she has a waist and stays
- BECAUSE it takes a lot of paint to keep her looking good
- BECAUSE it’s the upkeep, not the initial expense, that breaks you
- BECAUSE she is all decked out
- BECAUSE it takes a good man to handle her
- BECAUSE she shows her topsides, hides her bottomsides
AND, when coming into port, she always heads for, the BUOYS
I also found that the “Trench of Cuba” is 24,000 feet deep and if I should discover any other trivia, you may be sure that I will get it to you.