Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Snorkelling... or not

Initially, I'd signed up to go on a snorkelling shore excursion.  My parents had signed up for it too, so we were going to go for a snorkel together.  (I'm pretty sure it also included a drink with rum involved.)  But I haven't snorkelled in years -- indeed, I haven't been in an ocean or sea, since... well, ... now that I think about it, I was technically in the ocean in Santa Barbara, when I flipped my kayak a few feet from shore.  But I haven't attempted anything in the swim, snorkel, or dive arena since that cruise in the Mediterranean, when (on an excursion involving a much smaller boat), I jumped into the water and floated there for a bit while someone took my picture, just so's I could say I swam in the Mediterranean.  But that was ages ago and I didn't like it all that much.  (I kept getting mouths full of saltwater.)  I haven't had a really POSITIVE ocean/sea experience since Fiji (omg, the ocean is SO BLUE over there), and that was way more than a decade ago.  So I figured this particular excursion would be a fairly decent way to reintroduce myself to swimming in something other than a pool.  I went through all my supplies, upgraded my mask (to come closer to my eyeglass prescription), upgraded my snorkel (because snorkel tech has really improved in the interim), and even got myself a shorty wetsuit (thanks, Merete!) so that I would have gear that would give me the best possible chance of a pleasant time out in the water.

But when my parents had to take a pass on this port (as, hopefully, they'll be joining us in the next one), I slightly revised the plan.  A small group of folks I'd (sort of) met on the internet had planned to privately charter a boat to go snorkeling, and I wanted to go in on this instead.  Two reasons:  first, it was cheaper than the excursion offered by the ship; second, it was a smaller group of people, and when I'm alone, I can "work the crowd" better in small groups.  This gave me a reasonable chance at getting to know these folks -- even MORE reasonable, as we'd had an informal get-together the other day, and I'd managed to remember at least 4 names, and a couple of the faces that went with them.

Of course, the ship's snorkel excursion left at 11, while our private one was scheduled for more like 8:30, right when we docked.  I had a good long think last night as to how early I'd have to wake up, and how to best organize the process of getting dressed for the excursion (swimsuit and shorty), applying sunscreen and DEET (sunscreen can go on pre-wetsuit, DEET can't), and eating breakfast (probably best done before putting on the damn wetsuit, as I'd have to take it off for a pre-trip bathroom break) in the least amount of time.  Considering all possible scenarios, I set my alarm for 7:00 a.m., and ordered room service breakfast (might as well use some of these "all-inclusive" features I'm paying for) for 7:45.

Which is how I found myself, at roughly 8:00 a.m., doused in sunscreen, wearing a bathrobe, enjoying some tea and toast, with my hand in the drawer just reaching for a swimsuit, when the ship's captain came over the loudspeaker and told us that due to high winds and waves, he can't safely dock at Grand Turk, so we're just going to have another sea day.  Terribly sorry and all, but safety first.

I so heartily agree with the whole safety first thing, I'm not going to argue.  (And, indeed, the part of me that was nervous about snorkelling rather enthusiastically suggested that I really didn't want to have my first experiment with it in over a decade in choppy seas.)

In any event, I was surprised to hear about all the other things the cruise staff quickly added to the daily schedule, in order to fill our time.  These included a wine tasting ("nominal" fee of $50) and a martini tasting (somewhat more nominal fee of $15.50).  There's a rum tasting too -- don't know the fee for that, but I'm sure there is one.  This surprised me because the last time I was on a cruise ship that had to skip a port, the ship made up for it by comp'ing everyone a free drink.  (Which did, in fact, put us in a happier frame of mind.)  Now, sure, some folks might still be hung over from the couple HOURS of free drinks the other night (the Captain's Cocktail Party), but it does sort of irk that this cruise line's attitude toward skipping a port is, "Terribly sorry.  Here are some more activities for which you can give us money."

I'm not falling for that.  Since I was all sunscreened up anyway, I went out on deck, sat in a lounge chair (amazed by all the people breaking the rule about Don't Reserve a Lounge Chair with Stuff -- supposedly enforced by the crew threatening to remove your stuff if you're not there with it), and had a read.  I'm now off to find food, which, I'm guessing, is not a really difficult task.

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