Friday, January 25, 2013


We returned on Sunday from our first Caribbean cruise.   While the cruise was very relaxing and we came back totally refreshed, it was weird in so many ways that I want to share a bit of the experience for those who have never done anything like this.

First,  the positives of the vacation. We had a great time with perfect weather, especially considering that it was 10°F when we left Denver.  It was wonderful being at sea for a whole week as we were virtually unplugged except for brief email checks. Our stateroom was spacious and very comfortable with our own private balcony.

Now, for the more interesting stuff.  Our cruise was on the Ruby Princess - a great big floating city that houses over 3,000 passengers and 1,150 crew from 43 different countries.   Somehow, when I was making reservations for this trip, I didn't pay attention to the size of the boat but instead concentrated on when and where it was going.  So it was quite stunning upon arrival to digest the scope of the ship.  There were 17 decks, and we figured out that the ship was about as long as five city blocks.  Initially, this was off-putting but we realized that we would be on this vessel for a week so somehow had to come to terms with the enormity.  And we did.  While I don't think that I will ever take another trip on such a big boat again, it was interesting and entertaining to observe.  With so many people all around us, there was no pressure to talk to anyone and we could be as anti-social as we wanted to be (which resulted in exactly zero conversations with other passengers).  There is great anonymity in numbers, which actually made the experience more relaxing.

It was a challenge to find quiet and restful spots on a ship with so many people, but we were up to the task.  We found the Sanctuary, which, as its name suggests, was peaceful and populated by crew called Serenity Stewards who were available to meet your every need.  For the privilege of quiet, we had to pay what the cruise line called "a nominal fee" and what I call twenty bucks for half a day.  Even though it seems odd to pay for quiet, it was well worth it, particularly when we would walk by the always crowded pool areas where some awful, depressing and very loud band was always playing.  Not to mention the throngs of people by the pool, many of whom should never - and I repeat NEVER - put on a bathing suit.

For reasons that escape me, we had two television sets in our stateroom that were literally about six inches from each other - one faced our bed and one faced our sofa.  There were only a handful of channels with one of them being a station that played old Love Boat reruns almost 24-7 (now if that doesn't sound like hell, then what does?).  I never realized when I watched Love Boat decades ago that it was a Princess line ship, but the cruise line still seems very proud of that fact as evidenced by their constant showing of this very dated show.  Of course, the big difference between then and now is that the Love Boat Princess ship carried 600 passengers and the Ruby Princess was about five times as large.

Here are some photos with some commentary that will hopefully give you a little bit of a flavor of the trip:

The Vegas-like decor of the Ruby Princess

More gaudy decor

Ruby Princess Exterior

Why we sought out the Sanctuary

View of beautiful St. Martin from Fort Louis

I took a picture of the beautiful turquoise water in St. Martin, only to realize that Nude Guy was quite delighted to pose for my photo at the edge of the nude beach while facing the regular beach.  Quite a surprise.

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