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Florida Guide > Other Activities

Cruising on Star Princess, Part 5

Mustering, meals and midnight strolls

The sun is setting low in the sky over Fort Lauderdale as we leave on our cruise around the Caribbean. We have the ports of Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and the private island of Princess Cays to look forward to, and we can’t wait! Mustering is over, and we have waved goodbye to Port Everglades, so we take a stroll around the deck before going down to our cabin to get ready for dinner.

We have lots of choices, but tonight we are going to eat in one of the main dining rooms, where you can dine when you like. This really suits us because there are just the two of us, as we have left our children behind this time – we feel a bit like naughty children, and we keep thinking we have forgotten something – them! This trip we have nobody to please but ourselves and we feel a bit guilty – but we have to admit it is something we are getting used to. After 28 years of child-rearing it is a strange sensation.

We get changed and stroll down to the restaurant where the Restaurant Manager asks us what sort of table we would like – just a table for two for us tonight, please we say – and she gestures to a waiting steward to show us to our table. I love dining on board ship. The food is always fabulous, and of a higher standard than anything on shore. I am eased into my chair, and a menu appears, then a glass of water and a basket of freshly baked rolls. It’s too tempting tonight to say no, so we indulge. We will just have to do a couple of circuits round the deck to burn up a few calories, but after all, it’s no good coming on a cruise if you are going to be paranoid about what you eat.

It’s difficult to know what to choose but I start off with a fruit platter – it’s not on the menu but we know from previous cruises that it is always available. For my main course I plump for a steak and ask for steamed vegetables to accompany it. They are not on the menu either, but are always available if you ask, and I prefer plain vegetables with my meals. Then all we have to do is sit back and wait, knowing that our stewards will be discretely watching, making sure we have everything we need. My fruit plate arrives and looks delicious, as well as beautiful – the various melon slices are fanned, and there is fresh pineapple, and strawberries and raspberries. Delicious, and just right as I don’t want a heavy starter. Paul chooses a fish starter which is equally delicious and beautifully presented.

We hardly realise our empty plates have been removed before our main course arrives. I am impressed by the steamed vegetables – cooked to perfection and a wide variety. Then it’s on to the desserts and it’s a difficult decision – but if you really couldn’t choose they would be happy to bring all of them for you to try!

Our meal over we decide to go and get some information about our first port of call, Jamaica. We have visited this beautiful island several times before and do not want to go on a tour this time, as we just want to find a beach so that I can swim. The staff at the tour desk are helpful and friendly and give us some suggestions of what to do. They are quite happy to advise and do not ‘push’ their organised tours. We normally prefer to ‘go it alone’ these days, as we have visited the Caribbean so often that we are familiar with most of the islands.

Tomorrow we have a full day at sea, so we decide to take a last stroll around the deck before we retire to bed. We push open the heavy doors on the promenade deck and feel the warm air on our faces. We lean on the railings and gaze at the sea below us, white surf tumbling away from the ship as she cuts through the waves. There is no perceptible movement, and the sea is quite calm. The night is a deep black velvet, with just a few stars to lighten the sky. On the horizon we can see more ships, their lights twinkling in the distance – one or two will be the ships which followed us out of Fort Lauderdale, and which we shall meet again at our ports. We just stand for a while, soaking up the warmth and the quietness. It is amazing to think that there are over 2, 000 people on board this amazing ship, as the deck is almost deserted. It’s lovely to be sailing across the Caribbean Sea again. It is a unique holiday experience, and being at sea is the part we love the best. We stroll past the stern of the ship and can’t resist spending a few moments watching the enormous power of the propellers, as they spew out the churning water, which stretches out behind us, like a giant frothy, lacy bridal train.

It’s time to turn in, so we walk down the stairs – no lifts for us after such a delicious dinner – and let ourselves into our cabin. Tomorrow we are at sea and there will be plenty to occupy us, plus time, too, to chill out.

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Page added on: 9 September 2008
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