Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ahoy from the Atlantic aboard "Celebrity Equinox"


10 November 2009 – 6:49am, ship’s time

And now we are truly in the Atlantic: Gibraltar fading away to aft on our starboard quarter. Captain Apostolos was good to his word that Celebrity Equinox would pass through the “Pillars of Hercules” around 6am. Alfredo and I bundled up against the wind, comforted by a cup of coffee and joined by Orion and Mars overhead in a cloudless morning sky. “The Rock” loomed in its perpetual guardianship – a blacker spot against the blacken sky – while passengers exercised a predictable futility of photos. Scurrying to port we caught the tiara of lights around the Spanish towns of NAME and NAME which adorn the crown of Africa. “What’s on the other side,” a woman exhaled between puffos of her pre-breakfast cigarette, here on the port quarter smoking deck. “Gibraltar,” we chimed which elicited an “Oh” and another drag. We all filter our priorities in different ways.

Today, in many ways the cruise truly begins: the first sea day. Marseille, Barcelona, Mallorca and Cartegena are all behind us: lovely ports but merely prelude to our Maiden Crossing – still a ship’s true First Maritime Communion. Now, Equinox is one with the lineage of those ships about which I’ll speak over the next week.


13 November 2009 – 6:56pm Ship’s Time, mid-Atlantic

Just in from walking the decks – the warm (South) North Atlantic breeze making for an un-Novemberly stroll. Today, people were sunning and listening to Salsa music on deck: no bullion in sight nor heavy steamer blankets against the non-existent chill.

Tonight – mid cruise formal, and my tux lays ready for donning to my left on the bed. Outside our port-side port hole, the ocean streams by. Tomorrow – my lecture on the “Golden Age of Liners” (ie, just before ‘til just after WWII) is scheduled for 3pm. Today’s talk on “Titanic’s Sisters” was enthusiastically received: almost a full house. Thank God (Neptune?) for other Trans-Atlanticophiles such as me – perfect audience.

Tonight, another hour back, so another hour to be rocked to sleep by the creak of the hull; the wash of the waves – dreams of “what to do tomorrow between coffee and lunch and strolling the deck, and – what comes next?” Sigh – all too soon, land-based rhythms will return. But for now, I am grateful for the respite.

Event the Internet is down for the moment here in the middle of glorious nothingness: nice to know that’s still possible.

More anon

14 November – At Sea

I have found my spot: deck five promenade, starboard side. Book in hand, steamer rug (ok, pool towel) wrapped around my ankles, and the sound of the Atlantic’s relentless massaging of our keel and my psyche pouring its watery balm. Give me a deck chair and a tome to steer her by and I am a happy sailor.

Now – if I can just resuscitate the tradition of 11am boullion around the decks (maybe with a shot of vodka thrown in to make it a “bull shot”) and the world will have achieved – albeit briefly – a perfection of essence.

I always wax poetic at sea.

Today, my third lecture – “Four Funnels: The Golden Age of Liners” was enthusiastically received. Standing room only and lots of questions. My comments about the S S United States and her deplorable condition at the Philadelphia Navy Yard elicited a spontaneous and patriotic round of applause. Learning can be fun, and I have a captive ocean-bound audience of maritime students. Day after tomorrow – “Liners to Love Boat” complete with video footage from I Love Lucy and an episode shot aboard the S S Constitution.

Working on my book daily – Ship Shape -- and contemplating a day when we can be at sea more (and make it pay) and on land less.