cruise ships

Back from the Bermuda Triangle

Mark Twain once called Bermuda his favorite place to visit. Here’s a view of the ocean en route there.

 

Earlier this month, I returned safely from my son’s honeymoon cruise to Bermuda and the Devil’s Triangle, but it felt a little strange for more reasons than one.

First of all, I never embarked on a cruise ship before without visiting the Caribbean. Because my soul is so attracted to those islands, I suspect my ancestors are from there, but I wouldn’t dream of taking one of those DNA tests to find out.

I always believed it’s more important to focus on where you’re heading in life and less on where your ancestors have been. Do you really want to head back to the Stone Age or the Middle Ages?

Bermuda is a very nice place. Mark Twain once said of all the places he traveled to on earth, it was his favorite destination. And he visited hundreds of locales on world tours so he would know. As I said, Bermuda is nice, but for Twain to be so impressed, I think he must have visited a different part from where I landed.

The Carnival ship, Sunshine, took us to King’s Wharf. Once we disembarked, we were greeted by two tugs. Faithful and Powerful. I have to confess, as a photographer, I’m a sucker for boats and ships. If it floats, I want to photograph it. That includes everything from the lowly tugs docked in King’s Wharf harbor to the United States Coast Guard’s training vessel, Eagle, which I was once privileged to photograph when docked in Key West.

I was so enamored by the two tugs tied up not far from our haughty ship that I got lost in the moment capturing them on film. Well, it’s not really a film camera. I just don’t want to be negative.

Fortunately, my two grandchildren, James and Brian, who are closer to men than children, came to fetch me, and we followed the road to the beach where everyone else on ship was already scrambling like lemmings.

James (left) and Brian (right) pause after rescuing their grandfather from some buccaneers in Bermuda.

Let me tell you about this road from the cruise ship to the sea. They have these green feet painted on the sidewalks, and even if you never look up, you can still arrive at the beach if you follow them. You’ll have more difficulty seeing the ocean once you arrive because the view is mostly blocked by beach chairs and umbrellas.

It wasn’t till I was back on ship that I realized even a drunken sailor could find his way to the beach and back though I suspect these green feet were more for tourists who were already half in the bag when they disembarked.

What little I saw of Bermuda was quite charming. Before the main beach, there’s this not-so-small side beach that butts up against the wall of an old fort. Scattered around the beach, but mostly along the wall, are miniature sailboats with sails painstakingly painted in incredible detail. Most depict nautical and tropical scenes, but one even portrays the Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli. I was thrilled at the discovery, but I doubt few of the hordes that descended on the beach even noticed them.

The Birth of Venus is one of several scenes artistically depicted on small sailboats in Bermuda.

One thing did surprise me about our port of call. Just beyond the reef was a treasure trove of sea glass. My son and daughter, before reboarding, had taken their share of booty and donated a generous portion to my wife. She decorates her shell wreaths with them and sells them in galleries and art shows. Anyone lucky enough to own one of her wreaths is a lucky person indeed.

Maureen’s shell wreaths are so popular, she has difficulty keeping up with the demand.

There was another strange thing I found out on the cruise. None of the dining rooms on the Sunshine open out onto a deck where sunshine abounds. All you can see is a fuzzy view of the ship’s wake through large glass panels. I felt part of a surrealistic Dali painting, looking out at the ocean much like a goldfish staring from his bowl.

This view of the ocean through a wall of glass was more than a little disappointing.

Maybe it’s a growing trend in cruise ships, but I find it disturbing to spend a ship load of money and not be able to feel the sun and breeze on my face while savoring my omelet and morning coffee with my mermaid.

The other thing I found intriguing was at the aft of the ship on deck nine. There a swimming pool occupies the center of the deck and is shouldered by a couple of bars. The puzzling thing is that high above the pool is a huge movie screen. During the day, you can watch a videotape of all kinds of tropical fish, some darting and others swimming lazily. Funny thing though. I never saw any sharks.

I still have yet to find someone who can explain to me why a sane person would spend thousands of dollars to go on a cruise then sit in front of a TV screen you can watch at home for free.

Out on the ocean, you can watch videos of fish in the sea. How bizarre is that?

It doesn’t get any better at night when they play pablum-puking movies, trying to appeal to the masses. Again, I wonder why an intelligent person would spend two hours absorbed in a movie screen when the most spectacular view on the face of the planet is on either side of the ship.

One thing I immensely enjoyed about the vessel were the two or three areas where I could enjoy a cigar while soaking in a view of the ocean. To be sure, I did take advantage of that. I was certain as I savored my Kristoff Maduro that I saw a ship flying the Jolly Roger not far off the starboard bow. And that was after only one margarita.

Before you go on a cruise, I recommend you do three things. Get in touch with my wife, the mermaid. She can find you deals that even travel agents don’t know about. In fact, she could save you so much, you’d fear Blackbeard would return from the dead to get his grubby hands on some of that money you save.

Two, check out the ship you’re thinking of calling home for several days. If you can’t eat outside, reconsider. There’s something about the ocean breeze on your body that makes your food taste twice as good.

Finally, forget about the big screen TV on the back of the ship and go to the upper deck where you can feel the sun on your face and the sea breeze in your hair. And remember to bring your own cigar if you want to blow smoke rings at passing pirate ships because you’re not getting mine.

                                                Bill Hegerich 

                                                The Uncommon Mariner 

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Captain Billy Jacks Parrot Revolutionizes Cruise Ship Industry

JANUARY ODYSSEY116

Most of you may remember a few short weeks ago, I hosted Captain Billy Jacks Parrot, giving him the opportunity to tell you about The Bare Bones, a cruise ship he was refurbishing for those looking for a real pirate adventure.

Well, Captain Billy just returned to port late this afternoon with an update on epic changes he’s making to the whole cruising concept. You may remember the fantastic changes he’s already made to the dress code, the Sign and Steal Card, and the Liquor package.

Captain Billy tells me that on a trip to the Western Caribbean this past week, he’s made a number of other revolutionary changes, but like a pirate he was adamant about telling you first hand. So I’m turning this post over to him. Am I crazy or what? I hope he’s learned the fine line between bawdy and proper by now, but with all the wenches on board The Bare Bones, I doubt proper decorum  was foremost on his mind.

 

“Avast! Mates! I see ye be back visitin’ with me old friend, The Uncommon Mariner.  He be kind enough to let me speak with ye about a subject near and dear to me heart! And we ain’t talkin’ rum or wenches either. I be’s talkin’ about The Bare Bones. A Pirate cruise ship fer anyone lookin’ fer a rollickin’ good time. If ye got a pirate heart, me cruise ship’s the one ye want to book passage on, mate.

            One of the big changes we made this last time out was in gambling. If it’s one thing a pirate likes more than rum or a pretty wench, it’s gambling. Wanna stop a sword fight that’s going hot and heavy? Just throw a pair of dice out on deck.

            First off, we kept the slot machines, table games, and roulette. And we give ye a thousand doubloons and a hundred pieces of eight to bank roll ye. Moreover, to give ye a fair shot at winning, half our dealers are wearing two eye patches. And we don’t confine gambling to a stuffy casino either. Ye can gamble outside on any of our decks. And there’s plenty of places to sit. That’s why we call them deck chairs.

            Speaking of entertainment, this might be a good time to let ye know we’ve done away with some forms of amusement ye find on other cruise ships.  There’s no phony art auctions. Ye know what I be talkin’ about. Ye bid or buy what they call an authentic print or painting, only to find it’s a copy of a copy of an exclusive print or painting, meaning fifty million other landlubbers have had the same piece of ship hanging in their bathrooms at home fer years.

            Movies. Ye should be havin’ too much fun to even think about sitting in a dark room watchin’ movies. Why ye could be doin’ that at home. But Captain Billy has made some concessions, so ye will find movies aboard The Bare Bones. Mostly pirate movies. We’re kind of partial to them onboard our ship especially those with Jack Sparrow. No relation to Jacks Parrot, mate. But if ye want to be admitted to the theatre, ye better follow our dress code. Eye patch, tricorn hat, and plastic sword.

            After much discussion and arrrghuing , me crew decided to eliminate other forms of entertainment that were also pretty lame. Trivia. Listening to Lawrence Welk’s rendition of elevator music. Lectures on underwater basket weaving. So we now offer a whole ship load of fun seminars by experienced Corsairs. (That’s just a fancy word for pirates… we charge more when we use words like that. We also call them seminars instead of lessons for the same reason.) So here they are, mates!

            How to sharpen yer sword. How to speak Pirate. How to draw a pirate map. How to walk the gang plank. How to git yer hands on someone’s booty. How to keep someone’s hands off yer own booty. Especially important if yers is oversized. How to sing like a mermaid. How to train parrots to talk. How to roast parrots that refuse to talk. How to catch crabs. How not to catch crabs from other passengers. How to carve nautical scenes on yer wooden leg. How to stop strangers from carving nautical scenes on yer wooden leg. 100 Things ye never knew ye could do with yer hook. (Yer wench is gonna love number 69.)

            Speaking of entertainment, you’ll be glad to know the swimming pool is manned with lifeguards. That’s mainly because the bottom is lined with pieces of gold, and they ain’t takin’ their eyes off it. Except maybe to eye some of them wenches… but that’s jest to make sure they don’t need mouth to mouth respertation or whatever the hell that thing’s called when they lock lips. And if ye decide to take advantage of our pool, we got instructors who will teach ye the fine art of doing cannon balls. Cannon balls should be mandatory on all cruise ships.

            As ye can see in between wenchin’ and rummin’ me shipmates have been hard at work makin’ the Bare Bones yer ultimate cruise ship. We have several additional modifications planned when me crew and me take ’er out on the high seas this coming week. Till then me friend and compatriot The Uncommon Mariner will keep ye posted. I want to thank him fer lettin’ me apprise ye of our revolutionary updates. Smooth sailin’ out there on the High Seas!  – Captain Billy Jacks Parrot

 

                                                           Bill Hegerich

                                                  The Uncommon Mariner

 

**** The Uncommon Mariner and Captain Billy Jacks Parrot share culpability for the content of this post.

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