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Transatlantic Trip December 2023 - Days 11-16 At Sea; 17 debarking

Days 11 to 16 – at sea

 

While we gained an hour back four times while heading west, and the seas were mostly choppy under gray skies, there really wasn’t much cause to get outside. Day 12 was a brilliant day – sunny and seasonal, when I walked about the top decks and got a few pictures.



My general pattern was to be up and walk down to Taste for breakfast. Back to the cabin to grab the Chromebook and then either to the Solo Lounge or the Manhattan (where the crafters had a space for the morning) so that I could do some trip report writing. The Library on Deck 5 also doubled for the Internet help desk, so noise level varied there. I had lunch a bit later, usually between 1 and 1:30, frequently solo, before either finding that rare quiet spot to read, or retreat to the Lounge. Almost daily I hid a small yellow rubber duck, marked to commemorate the crossing. I found 2. At five in the afternoon the solo/single passengers gathered for cocktails and chat, with our NCL host Emir inveigling us to have an early group dinner, and subsequent dance/karaoke/show activity. I’d hang out and head down to Taste or Manhattan for the 3 nights I didn’t eat my specialty dining.



On the NCL Epic, there is one large eponymously named theater, where the dance-and-song presentation Burn the Floor or the Beatles cover band were offered (and I saw the former twice.) On other nights, a comedian or a magician might entertain. On sea days, it didn’t seem to have much activity during daylight hours. Other spaces, Headliners and the Spiegel Tent, hosted Howl at the Moon, the Beatles, Catholic Mass. In the Atrium, the central core of the lower decks, the General Manager and his staff would hold game show knockoffs, dance classes, group trivia. The casino was open, as were the shops. Unfortunately for me, very little of this appealed. [On my other transatlantic crossings, the daily itinerary usually included one or more lecturers, meetings with members of the general staff, discussions of travel options.]



The last few days we had particularly rough seas, with a storm kicking the Florida peninsula. We had sped up hoping to avoid this storm, and were about 150 miles off the coast on day 16. As the storm threatened to get worse as we were due to dock Sunday morning in Port Canaveral, the ship got permission to come in early, albeit we would not be able to debark Saturday. So sitting at dinner the last night, we looked out the portholes to see docks.

 

Day 17 – Port Canaveral

 

As my return across the state would be by rental car, and the reservation was for a noon pickup, I took my time. One last bowl of oatmeal, and a return to the cabin to finish the roll-on packing. It was warm, so the bomber jacket got folded up, the windbreaker insurance against a squall. I was due off with the final group at 9am, so moved down a flight to the Solo Lounge to sit and wait, chatting with other late departers. Several times we were advised to wait, as the departure area was backed up.

Once we were called, we passed through ship security to get officially marked off the ship, and several ramps took us to the room where we would find our luggage, based on tag color. Just as I reached the bottom of the last ramp, the security there held me and everyone behind me up, as the existing queue to exit encircled the perimeter of the vast hall. We finally learned that the facial recognition software used by Customs and Immigration had failed and was down, so everyone needed to be processed manually. When I was finally “released” at the ramp base, I found my larger roller and took the two to the end of the much shorter line, and began waiting my turn with an agent. All in all, the disembarcation process was horrible.

Cleared, I soon was outside, joining the confused crowd of both arriving guests and departing passengers. The rental car pickup was crowded, and after 20 minutes, when a driver offered to take me (and the two women from Tampa with whom I’d had dinner) to Budget, I didn’t hesitate. We were all clearing our final steps to get a car when two shuttles arrived, and probably 20 folk queued up. I was out in the lot, putting the bags in the trunk of a Cadillac coupe and programing up Google Maps.

The highway and the interstates were smooth sailing, with backups only near major intersections of the interstate system. As I reached Sarasota, I pulled off at UTC to shop at the new Trader Joes there, getting sufficient staples that I could bypass a grocery store visit until Wednesday. Once back at home, I found a white Mercedes in my driveway, so I parked on the street. After turning the water back on, throwing the water heater switch and unloading the 3 bags of groceries, I began unpacking and filling the washer. Five pm arrived, and I went outside to see if my walking buddies were around. My roofmates had returned from their cruise and were heading across the street to a neighbor’s Christmas party. They dragged me along.

The host’s sister had been using my driveway, so that problem was solved. I was able to catch up with the neighbors, was fed to stuffed, and relaxed. The rental got into the driveway once the guests had left, the laundry was run, and I was able to sit back and read emails until my eyeballs fogged over.

 

My synopsis: The cruise traveled a quarter of the earth’s circumference at the equator over 16 days. With the two additional days I spent prior to embarking, I saw another 20 new cathedrals. Just under 1900 pictures on phones and the Nikon, but only 20 pages of manual notes in the journal. This was my thirteenth cruise, sixth of 2023, third time on the Epic. This trip report just tops 11.8K words. And I was glad to be home.

Book: Cathedrals to the Glory of God
Cathedrals to the Glory of God

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