A Birthday, The Captain and an Uninvited Visitor
For the next few blogs of this travelogue, I will not note specific days – but special instances, moments and events. I have taken note of your many wonderful emails regarding itinerary, the ship itself-Celebrity Equinox and of course the food- all in due time my friends.
Let me begin with a very birds eye tail. As mentioned in previous blog, my stateroom is the ultra luxurious “Royal Suite”. The suite at best can sleep four individuals be it both the master bedroom and the living rooms convertible King sized bed. Throughout my cruise, many a passenger have asked if they could have a tour of our suite- of course they can- why do you think I brought the tickets and all that change for. ( just joking ) However, on one unspecific morning I woke to find an uninvited visitor lounging on my private veranda. My brother was still fast asleep but I could clearly see a shadowy figure walking back and fro on the outside terrace. I was ready to call ships security when I boldly took a peek from behind the closed living rooms silk avocado tinged curtains. I was amazed at what I saw. It was not very big, and it was not very stout- and I came to realized I had nothing to fear or cry about. For there laying on the lounge, at a foot plus three- was a hearty little sea-bird – who had found its way to my cabin and seemed ready for morning tea. (See photo- can you name this type of sea-bird?)
The Itinerary: An 11 day Ultimate Caribbean Cruise aboard the Celebrity Equinox. Starting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, our cruise will sojourn to Grand Cayman; Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Belize City, Belize; Cozumel, Mexico and a return back to Fort Lauderdale. A very relaxing, picturesque and historic voyage.
TheCaptain: Even on a cruise, mail is very important. You may receive several notes and messages per day, usually found outside your state room in your mail bin. This mail can be the daily newsletter regarding activity highlights, invites to seminars, dinner reservations, world news, etc. On one specific day of the cruise, I was to find an invitation not in the mail bin, but awaiting patiently upon the suite’s coffee table. For a very brief moment I paused before opening the white Celebrity Equinox adorned envelope that was inscribed with my name and below that – “Invitation to Dine”. I curiously pulled out the message inside and read- “Invitation to Dine with the Master of the Vessel at the Captain’s Table”. Three things quickly went through my mind, 1. I was glad I had gotten a haircut a week before; 2. Had brought along my new grey Ralph Lauren sport jacket, and 3. Are they sure they have the right person?? At exactly 8:30pm, now dressed in my evening finest, along with my brother Harvey, and nine other passengers we are ceremoniously paraded from deck 4 down the glass central stairway to deck three among a whirl of “who are they” from those already dining. I overhear an: “is that the President of”, “is she that movie star”; “is that large man in grey- is he the King of – ” ME?? I’ll never tell! We all finally make our way to a large dining table situated at the far end of the Silhouette Dining room where our host greets us, the ships Master of the Vessel – Captain Panos. Captain Panos and I are old friends having met three years ago on the Celebrity cruise ship – Summit. “My friend Mr. Howard -welcome” he exclaims as he gives me a hearty handshake and then greets the rest of our dinner party. Conversation is fast, friendly and fluid and the table quickly becomes instant Celebrity companions, making several toasts, discussing past adventures and upcoming travels. Our menu tonight consists of: Colossal Tiger shrimp cocktail; Pan Fried Macadamia Nut Crusted Sea Scallops; Tomato Watermelon Salad; Young Spinach and Frisée Salad; and a choice of three entrées including: Loup De Mer – grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass; Seared Duck with fried wild rice; or “Celebrity’s Signature” Beef Tournedo- medallions of beef tenderloin, ragout of morel mushroom and pearl onions, and roasted red potatoes served in a black truffle sauce. Desserts-Pastry Chefs Special Selection. Tonight’s wine pairing: Clifford Bay, Sauvignon Blanc and Ross Estate, Shiraz-“Lights Out”. Captain Panos has been a wonderful host, our dining companions have been a joy to be with, dinner is delicious and memorable and I leave the Captain’s table feeling rightfully so – a celebrity!
The Birthday: Birthdays are important milestones. My brother Harvey, who is accompanying me is turning 60 years of age during this cruise. I must admit he does not look it. Regarding milestones- Harvey celebrated his 40th birthday on a cruise in Venice, Italy. Twenty years later, another birthday celebrated this time on a Celebrity Cruise Ship and Celebrity has gone out of their way to make this celebration “ultra special”. The day of his birthday-November 13th, our cabin is decorated in “Happy Birthday” finery and of course – breakfast is served in bed. Birthday cards adorn the suites entrance door. Another special invite from the Captain of the ship – in honor of Harvey’s birthday, a morning tour of the Equinox’s bridge with Captain Panos himself – a wonderful honor! Mid day is spent in the luxurious Solarium with its relaxing lounge-chairs, duel bubbling hot-tubs and revitalizing indoor pool. Evening- and what is a birthday without a birthday dinner- here on the ship that takes place in one of the ships three specialty restaurants-Tuscan Grille. 6pm, and a throng of passengers await at the entrance on Deck five to be seated at this luxury rustic Italian/steak eatery. The birthday recipient and I are directed to a central table overlooking the aft windows with a breathtaking vista of the sea beyond. From selections of made in-house pastas to choice corn-fed steaks – Tuscan Grille is a perfect choice to celebrate any special occasion. It is with special thanks to the staff and crew of not only Tuscan Grille but that of Celebrity Cruise Lines for making my brothers birthday a most memorable event. By the way Harvey also enjoyed his “Birthday Cake” and a rendition of “Happy Birthday” surrounded by new found friends and of course- me- his little brother!!
Next: Of Recipes and High Sea Secrets