This story really begins almost twenty-five years ago. Back then I was the quintessential globetrotter. I spent over a decade travelling the world with five of those years working aboard several ocean liners.
When my wife suggested that we do a Caribbean cruise as our winter vacation, I had one of those lightbulb moments – what if we did a cruise that went to all of my old favourite ports of call?
We decided on a Western Caribbean itinerary aboard the Ruby Princess, which is part of Princess Cruise Lines. The destinations would include Fort Lauderdale, Florida as our starter, especially as this is from where the ship would depart in Port Everglades. From there, the trip would include a private beach on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, and then St Maarten and St. Thomas. This would be followed by the Turks and Caicos, (my new favourite Caribbean destination).
Arriving in Fort Lauderdale, I recognized that most everything had changed from the way I remembered it, but time has a way of doing just that – all of the small docks, surrounding bars, restaurants, and tourist shops had given way to huge, modern cruise ship terminals. One stop shopping for everything from jewelry, duty-free shops, typical tropical gift shops and, for when you’re ready for a cool beverage by the pool there was the new hotel complex Margaritaville, which seems to be a very popular place.
Boarding The Ruby Princess left our eyes widened and our mouths agape. It was absolutely beautiful – stunningly decorated for the holidays and contained everything that one could imagine in order to keep guests entertained and pampered… and then some. A vast selection of restaurants, bars, and lounges provided enough sinfully delicious food and drink to last a lifetime. Meanwhile, a spa, a range of pools, and several sporting facilities assisted guests in working off the growing number of calories. Our cabin was small, as expected aboard a ship, but was entirely comfortable, cozy and tastefully decorated with a small living area adjacent to the bedroom and a small desk in between.
We thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the trip, from our island excursions to The Captain’s gala dinners. I mean, how often do you get the opportunity to wear a tuxedo in the Caribbean, unless you’re getting married.
Out on deck, watching movies under the stars while lounging in recliners, I hear: “Excuse me, sir, would you care for some popcorn? I’m thinking, does it get any better?
But before I have the chance to finish that thought the next crewmember comes along and asks if I’d like some milk and cookies. Right there – questioned asked and answered!
Yep, life is good on the high seas.