Published: January 19th 2012January 19th 2012
Even the ladies favor a good smoke in Willemstad.
Two months after leaving Sausalito and driving 5500 land miles across the United States, it was time to start putting some nautical miles under our belts. We sailed out of Port Everglades at dusk on a balmy Florida evening. Our friends Mike and Sherry were watching us on the port webcam as we made our way out to sea. We called Ralph and Joann Acker who live in a nearby condo and they saluted us with a flag and flashlight as we passed by their building right at the harbor opening.
Fortunately we had two sea days to get settled into the shipboard routine, meet old and new friends and start focusing on the adventure which lay ahead. We immediately ran into many staff with whom we have cruised often. Luis Teixeira, recently promoted to F&B Manager, greeted us as soon as we boarded the ship. Franck Galzy is the very capable General Manager, while Ray Solaire is the talented Cruise Director. His assistant is Elda, our very favorite Italian. Carmen is still anchoring the reception desk. Regent has the highest employee retention rate in the industry, so it is no wonder there are so many familiar crew and staff
MICHAEL & JANET
Salt Lake City, UT
with whom we have crossed many waves in the past. I don’t know how they remember but inevitably we will be greeted by name even by crew members we haven’t sailed with for several years. And what is really scary is that the waiters remember my hankering for ice without my asking. Freddie is the Navigator and his wife Sally is also working on board. Captain Stan de Lacombe is the Master of the Mariner for the initial portion of this journey. We were with Stan on his first cruise as captain. On that voyage we were involved in an exciting sea rescue of a sailor in a storm south of New Zealand. It was quite a baptism of fire for a guy on his first day on the job.
We welcomed all of our Cruise Specialists guests to a party where we passed out tote bags, windbreakers and calendars. We have 13 in our group who are taking the whole 72 day cruise around South America. On board the ship there are 192 cruisers making the entire circumnavigation. Many travelers will be joining us for individual segments of this interesting journey.
As we cruised into the beautiful
CRUISE DIRECTOR RAY
In his Brigadoon Tartan.
port of Willemstad, Curacao, there was a party on the aft deck for all of the Seven Seas Society members. The port is easy walking distance to town and so that is what we did. The basis for the name of the island is somewhat cloudy. Some say that Curacao means “a place that is very curing due to the plentiful fruits and clean air.” Another tale is that the word means “grilled priest.” So maybe it wasn’t so curative for certain newcomers to the island. To me, Willemstad is like Amsterdam, but with sun. The buildings are exact replicas of those found along the canals of Amsterdam…tall and narrow with ornate roof lines. However, unlike Amsterdam, there are no “coffee” houses as marijuana is strictly prohibited in these islands. This former Dutch colony has one of the first synagogues in the New World and many European style fortresses line the entrance to the natural harbor. We used the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge to cross from one quarter to another. The bridge is built on a series of boats with a big engine at one end which allows for the passage of numerous tugs and sea going vessels bringing supplies
Just like Amsterdam
to the island’s oil refineries. After visiting the floating market and wandering the narrow streets we felt like we had just spent an afternoon in old Europe.
In Aruba we decided to take to the water on a sail and snorkel excursion. This lovely island is still trying to recover from the economic fallout of the Natalee Hollaway disappearance. We were the only ship in port that day. We were able to walk from our ship to the waiting catamaran and cruised halfway round the island. While the shore is lined with low-rise and high-rise hotels and water parks the surrounding waters are crystal clear and filled with colorful sea life. We snorkeled on a 400’ German ship which was scuttled by her captain in WWII to avoid having it fall into the hands of the Dutch. The Antilla was voted one of the top ten dive sites in the world due to its accessibility in relatively shallow waters.
So we enjoyed the warm weather and waters of the Caribbean before heading south to the continent of South America.
PS: As the news unfolds about the Costa Concordia sinking off the coast of Italy, we
are truly saddened by the events. Based on our years of experience on ships, we can only attest that the cruise industry has some of the most professional, well trained, hard working individuals we have ever encountered. Safety of the passengers and crew is the absolute top priority. Weekly emergency drills are conducted on board and the staff and crew are in constant training. Every ship we have been on requires all passengers to attend the life boat drill prior to departure. These drills are treated as serious business. We are terribly sorry about the loss of lives and injuries sustained and await the outcome of the investigation into this tragic accident.
There are more photos below