October 26: After our full day in San Juan, we left for Barbados. This was our first full day at sea, so we had a lot to learn about how to find things and do things on board. The ship is lovely, and the attention to detail impeccable. We attended multiple lectures about the area we are visiting; the speakers are all experts and quite interesting. I will include names later, but today I am just going to tell some general ideas and impressions.
We learned about the European explorers; I remember in 4th grade geography studying all those folks and wondering what it would be like to sail into the unknown. What motivated them? Curiosity, profit, power, commitment to religion, probably a mixture. 2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the introduction of slavery to the Western Hemisphere; it was brutal and taken up to insure profit. The island of Tobago changed hands between the European powers 33 times because of its strategic location. When Isabella of Spain funded Columbus to come on his expedition, it was a lot like a venture capitalist funding a startup; it only takes one success to pay off a bunch of failures.
An ornithologist talked about wildlife we may see; a cultural anthropologist told us about voodoo and Santeria. The ship videos all the enrichment lectures so if we want to go back to one we missed or to listen to a session again, those are all available on our TV. The technology is very cool.
In addition to all the talks about the area, Roger and I went to a timely one called "cruise control with Barbara." She used to be a counselor with weight watchers, and now she has her own business as a life coach. She had a bag of tricks and tips for how to meet your own weight goals on a cruise. Quite timely right before lunch.
The ship is a great size; it doesn't feel crowded and the attention is spectacular. We ask to share a table when we go into the restaurant, so we are having great conversations at meals. There is a variety of restaurants with differing levels of formality; never stuffy, it feels just right.
On deck level 2 there is an outdoor promenade; 4 laps around makes a mile. Today was beautiful outside; hot, but comfortable for walking on deck with the breezes.
On Sunday, October 27 we had a day in Barbados, an island named by the Portuguese for its bearded fig tree. Barbados was the birthplace of rum, and it still has British connections. We had a bus ride around parts of the island with two stops, one at a sugar plantation home and one at an Anglican Church. Our tour was a little short on history, and so far I have only found out that the house from the 1600s and the train used to stop there. We did not actually go in the house but only made a short stop in the garden. Mostly the tour on the bus dropped us off at two stops for about 20 minutes each to take a look around, but at least we did get a look at the countryside. There were lots of sugar cane fields; evidently Barbados had tried different crops such as tobacco back in the early days before eventually landing on the profitable sugar.
Monday, October 28 is a day at sea. I got up early this morning and walked down on deck 2. Rog was still sleeping soundly after I came back, so I headed up to the "world cafe" for coffee. I was in need of water after my walk, and when I needed more I went in search of it. The world cafe is the buffet place to eat, so people are moving around all the time. However, the waiter in charge of the area where I was seated came over and apologized for making me have to stand up. I hope he was kidding; I thought that was hilarious. Good thing we went to hear about cruise control with Barbara. We will see if we can practice what she was preaching or if we roll off the ship at the end of our trip. Everything is delicious, and it looks beautiful and it is around all the time. This particular ship is on an around the world cruise; we are only doing 26 days, but some people are on it from London to London, maybe around 240 days. The cruise director told us that the ship is going for the Guiness world record of longest world cruise. We decided since this is our first experience with cruising that we would try 26 days first to see how we do. So far it is a matter of what is there not to like; however, I did talk with one couple who are traveling from London to LA. He is happy to be on board, his wife says after two weeks she is ready to go home. It seems that most travelers are doing a partial only, but there are a few doing the entire circumnavigation.
I met one of our lecturers on the promenade deck this morning; he and his wife were heading out when I was approaching the door. I asked them to please go ahead of me as I was lolligagging. Then we had a conversation about the word. They are from Montreal; he knew the word but his wife did not. She liked it. I told her that those of us from the south lolligag quite often.