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Monday, November 28, 2016

Day 2, Eastern Caribbean on Celebrity Reflection (At Sea)

Relatively quiet sea day as we continued south through the Caribbean toward San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

Slept late, until about 10:30, as I had been up late working the night before. Had breakfast at the buffet. 

Tried walking around the promenade deck, Deck 5, but discovered the front and back ends were blocked off to passengers and that a smoking area had been set up in part of if, all of which made it unsuitable. Went to jogging track on Deck 15 but found it hard to maneuver through because it was so crowded and so only walked around once.

Had lunch in main dining room. Sat at tables between other people but none seemed overly inclined to socialize. Discovered on the way out that the ship was being decorated for Christmas. 

Spent a couple of hours working on the laptop in a funky little area Deck 7 midships called the Hideaway. Then, went back to room and worked a little longer before changing into trunks. 

A little after 4 p.m. went to the Solarium to sit in the hottub and chatted with five Canadians and three Brits, Abe, Nigel, and Amy, the latter travel professionals on a fam tour. Then went and sat in the sauna at the spa for 15 minutes.

Had dinner in the main dining room with two Canadian couples (Gene and Rosemary, Wayne and ??) and a Finnish couple (Tom and Martina), and enjoyed our time with them all very much. 

After dinner went to Ensemble Lounge to listen to a Beatles tribute musician and continue chatting with Tom and Martina. 

Picked up some cheese, olives, two pieces of coldcuts and some bread and butter from the cafe and was back in room by midnight, where I ate, drank wine, and worked for a couple of hours. 

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, sauteed mushrooms, coffee. 

Lunch: Seafood brochette (three shrimp and a scallop), iced tea, chocolate mousse, coffee. 

Dinner: Escargot; Caesar salad; rack of lamb (rare) with mashed potatoes, broccoli, and carrots; coconut sorbet. 

Drinks: Two glasses Tapiz 2015 Malbec (pre-dinner and nightcap), one glass Kendall Jackson cabernet sauvignon (dinner), one glass Pernod and water (after dinner). 

* Keep an eye out for one-day promotions on cruise ships. Ours today, for example, was offering a c. 50% or more discount on bottles of wine -- $20 each for bottles priced at up to $45 each in the dining room -- which passengers could then drink in their staterooms or take with them to the buffet (but not the main dining room).  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Day 1, Eastern Caribbean on Celebrity Reflection

Arrived early at Miami Cruise Terminal via shuttle from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, c. 10:15 a.m., due to it being able to leave about 20 minutes sooner than expected and a quick drive south on I-95 through a corridor dominated by palm trees, industrial parks, and self-storage facilities (tipped driver $2 for two bags handled).

Celebrity ground crew was very efficient and we got our suitcases check curbside in just a couple of minutes before heading into the terminal itself (tipped baggage handler $2). Went through security consisting of metal detectors and baggage scanners without any delays and then took escalators up to the second level for check-in. Took a little longer for me than for a regular passenger, as usual, because I show up with a letter from the corporate office rather than a ticket, but was still very quick. Got in line behind maybe 20 people, waited about 15 minutes, and were then some of the first people to board the ship, about 11:30. 

Got to explore ship and take care of a number of things before it got crowded, to include finding out how dinner reservations work, checking out the fitness center (which I never use), checking out the sauna in the spa (which I always use), visiting with one of the Park West Gallery art auctioneers, etc.

Mandatory safety drill at 3:15 p.m. These are much less onerous than they used to be, as muster stations now include places like the theater rather than outside, and as wearing or bringing life vests is no longer required. 

Right after the drill went to Celebrity Central, the small theater where I will be giving my presentations, to meet with Activity Manager Charlotte. Went to her office to discuss which lectures will work best, when I will be giving them, etc. 

Departed Miami Cruise Terminal at 3:30 p.m., as part of the 48-hour voyage to San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

Lunch: Vegetarian Indian meal of rice, dahl/lentils, curried cauliflower, roti bread, spicy pickle, and ice tea. 

Dinner: Escargot; forest mushroom soup; prime rib (rare) with mashed potatoes, green beans, and carrots; dulce de leche (very much like creme brulee).  

Drinks: Five glasses champagne/brut (three probably about half full), one glass Kendall Jackson cabernet sauvignon. 

* Bring with you onto the ship anything you will want or need for about half a day, until your luggage gets delivered to your stateroom. 

* Carry a bunch of $1 bills to use as tips with baggage handlers ahead of boarding, for room service wait staff on board, etc. We usually bring between 50 and 100 of them just to be safe.