We Got a Few of My Favourite Things

The last of eight observations on a recent Caribbean cruise,
with apologies to both Toby Keith and Oscar Hammerstein II.

Favourite question and answer on an island tour:

Fellow traveller: Are the roads always busy like this?

Guide: Not sometimes.

Second-favourite question and answer on an island tour:

Me: What’s that black bird?

Guide: A blackbird.

Favourite unasked/unanswered question on an island tour:

We hear about China’s gifts: for Antigua, a cricket stadium that can hold 20,000 people, or about one out of every four Antiguans; for St. Lucia, an elementary school; for Grenada, social housing to help replace the 97% of the houses that lost their roofs to Hurricane Ivan. I didn’t hear about even one gift from Canada. As fellow Commonwealth members, what have we done?

Favourite history lesson on an island tour:

Nelson’s Dockyard is the oldest working Georgian dockyard in the world. It was built by Georgian.   

Favourite restaurant name:

Grace Before Meals (St. Martin)

Favourite sign seen from a taxi:

The Happy Shop — Self Service (St. Martin)

Favourite sign seen on foot:

Don’t relieve yourself indiscriminately here. (Antigua)

Favourite plain-language sign:

Don’t piss here. (St. Lucia)

Favourite art-appreciation moment:

The ship’s common areas are adorned with modern art. This stairwell landing has shiny, pink, mirrored-glass letters spelling ‘swan’. The explanatory plaque enjoins me to appreciate its ‘wit and irony’. And I do. Truly.

Favourite stowaway:

A pigeon we apparently picked up in Curacao. With a two-day non-stop sail back to Fort Lauderdale, we wondered how his missus was handling his disappearance and whether he was stuck for the duration.  How far can pigeons fly,anyway? This is the sort of situation that makes you miss ‘free’ internet access, as opposed to pay-as-you-go access, and that brings into sharp relief one question: Is the answer worth 55 cents/minute to me?

Favourite new marine life:

Flying fish (They really do fly!)  

Favourite new bird:

Brown booby    

Favourite (and first!) non-human primate seen outside a zoo:

Mona monkey (Grand Etang National Park, Grenada)  

Favourite new mantra:

No problems, no pressure.  (Henry, our guide in St. Lucia)

Favourite riff:

Canadians have time to learn metric because they never took the time to develop a cuisine. Think about it: You’ve never seen a Canadian restaurant. You never hear anyone say, “I feel like Canadian food.” I don’t know what they’re eating up there, but I have a theory. The country is bigger than the US and yet there are only 1/10 as many people. I think they’re eating each other. (Tony Daro, American comedian)  

Favourite superstition:

The one that eliminates a 13th floor. Wheezing my way up from our cabin (Deck 6) to the buffet/walking level (Deck 14) several times each day, I give thanks every time that this climb is just seven flights, not the eight it might have been.

Favourite swimsuit:

Given the demographic of our cruise, my new favourite swimsuit is one I didn’t see: the Victorian-era bathing suit. Maybe it should be mandatory for anyone 60 or older.

Favourite infrastructure:

The 548-foot (!) swinging (!!) pontoon (!!!) pedestrian bridge spanning St. Anna’s Bay in Curacao; built in 1888 (umm…), restored in 1939 (well, OK) and again in 2006 (whew!).

Favourite comment heard on the ship:

I was so tired last night I didn’t even turn on my book.

Favourite sound heard on the ship:

The creaking at night as the ship rocks and rolls with the waves.

Favourite mental image:

Spontaneous farewell hugs between passing ship’s crew members and departing guests.

Favourite lesson:

How do you spell ‘shameless politicking’? S-e-q-u-e-s-t-e-r.  I learned that in the two-hour Customs line as three border agents tried to do the work of six.

Favourite cruising contrast:

An Affair to Remember, a 1957movie playing on the homeward-bound airplane, showed a romantic transatlantic cruise, huge staterooms with high ceilings, steamer trunks filled with one-use outfits (no mix-and-match here), and oodles of space between the dining room tables. What aspects of today’s ships that we take for granted will look impossibly spacious and elegant in another 50 years?  

Favourite email:

The one from the cruise line the morning after I get home, offering me a deal on another cruise. Yes, the selling never stops.

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8 Responses to We Got a Few of My Favourite Things

  1. Jim Robertson says:

    Good summary, well observed. Your on-board observations frequently follow on other cruise itineraries. Thankfully we have not experienced the two hour customs line….

    We did bring an osprey, from a great distance south, almost into New York City on one cruise.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – An osprey? That beats our pigeon! Re the Customs line, I guess the new budget proposals plan to undo all sequestration cut-backs, so the borders should be back to normal. But the wait was a good reminder to travel now – the older we get, the harder it is to deal with these wee bumps.

      • Jim Robertson says:

        We usually use “self-disembarkation” which means we take ourselves, and baggage off the ship on our own, unaided. That means we are off the boat first, usually by 8am at the latest.

        I suspect we beat any long lines that way.

        But I gather you managed to time it very well with the “sequestrations”.

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Jim – I think we’d do it that way another time. We don’t queue very gracefully anymore, if ever we did!

  2. Jim taylor says:

    you found far more interesting signs than i did, although i went to several of the same islands. maybe it’s your bird-watching expertise.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – I hesitate to claim any expertise in bird-watching – but I am interested, and interest counts for something. As for the signs, I attribute that to the ‘eye’ that supports my editing.

  3. Dave Moryas says:

    Loved the post – sorta like a sports highlight reel of your cruise!

    Our cruise director did a stand-up routine similar to this on our last day aboard during the disembarkation briefing. He delivered many of the silly and often inane questions he gets in his line of work.

    For example, when he was serving on a ship cruising the Mediterranean he was asked by a lady from Texas: “Is that the same moon we see back home?” His answer was priceless: “No ma’am, that’s the European moon – slightly smaller, stays up later.”

    Loved the whole cruise review series – thanks.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Dave – Ah, the European moon! Just that little bit more sophisticated than the New World moon… Glad the series worked for you – it was fun for me too. Of course, it reminded me that I haven’t quite finished with Scotland yet!

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