The Val & Kit Mystery Series

Friday, May 1, 2015

Roz Says: Don’t Beam Me Anywhere, Scotty—I Want to Stay Right Here

Passenger Log from Emerald Princess . . . Cruising Western Caribbean, Stardate April 2015

Agendas for days 1 through 7 of the cruise are pretty much the same: wake up with plan to walk around the promenade deck, have a sumptuous breakfast, find a perfect spot to relax at one of the three pools on board, have a sumptuous lunch, go ashore when we are in port, and then have a sumptuous, dressy dinner and see a show. In between all these activities there should be naps.

I love cruising. I love floating around the Caribbean with approximately two thousand complete strangers. And even with so many fellow passengers, I am impressed that there are many times when I feel like the only other people on the ship besides me are the captain and a poolside waiter from Slovenia (or Latvia, or Moldova) who brings me fruity drinks with paper umbrellas and bunches of cherries. It’s amazing to be served dinner in an Italian specialty restaurant by a Russian girl named Anastasia, overseen by a maĆ®tre d’ from Pompeii. It’s delightful to chat with a real live Cuban in, of all places, the cigar bar. It’s interesting to be seated for dinner between a defense contractor who just returned from Saudi Arabia and a high school principal from Columbus, Ohio.

A word about the captain. Even though we had at least three written invitations left in our cabin to join him (and a few hundred other people) for cocktails, we never did quite make it. But I heard him make several announcements (in an attractive Italian accent), and I saw his photograph at various points around the vessel. His bio on the website said his hobby was boating. So I figured that since he apparently couldn’t get enough sailing, he must know what he is doing up there on the bridge.

Although I’ve cruised before, there is always something new to learn. This time I learned you should forget about using Wi-Fi on your cell phone unless you plan to send AT&T or Verizon, or whatever service provider you are indentured to, a check for about a thousand bucks. You are in the middle of the ocean, people; there are no towers close by. And, as a comedian at one of the shows pointed out, if you miss your peeps back home so much, you should have brought them on the cruise with you.

Going ashore is totally optional, of course. Many passengers like scuba diving, or dolphin watching, or getting their hair cornrowed. We prefer to save our energy for that walk around the promenade deck and mainly go ashore only to shop. We’ve even been able to reduce that activity to a bare minimum, since all the islands we visited sell similar stuff. About being docked: there is something magnificent about seeing four or five ships anchored in the azure water like giant behemoths spewing forth hundreds of tourists into tender boats, or directly onto the pier of those islands that are accommodating to their guests.

The evening entertainment on our ship was fabulous, crammed with singers and dancers who would be at home on Broadway. One of our leading lady soloists could give Alicia Keys a run for her money any day. On one past cruise, I was awed by an illusionist, from India, who stopped by our table at dinner and briefly introduced himself. A few seconds later he moved to another table, from where he waved my watch in the air at me. How’d he do that? What was even more amazing was that the lady at the next table who had witnessed me getting ripped off still managed to be relieved of her own watch.

Inevitably, day 7 rolls around. It’s far too quick and we haven’t accomplished all we planned, particularly that walk around the promenade deck. But it’s back to dry land for me, my focus now on the desert as Patty and I begin our wrap-up of Palm Desert Killing, our latest Val and Kit mystery. Reluctantly, I say good-bye to the beautiful Emerald Princess and all who sailed on her. I take with me fond memories of the nice people we met, all the laughs we had, and eating enough food to sink a cruise ship.

Roz and Mike on the Emerald Princess, giving the sign of Quatro Strong for a dear young man and close friend.