Monday December 22, 2008 we tied to the dock at Grand Turk, Caribbean islands. We sailed from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on the Seabourn Pride departing Saturday about 5:00 pm on a Christmas in the Caribbean to arrive at this island.

The ship was built in 1988 in Germany and is 439 feet long with a 63-foot beam. Her top speed is 18 knots driven by 10,000 horsepower diesel engines. She has room for only 212 passengers and the crew numbers almost as many as the passengers so the service is excellent as is the food on board.

We have a suite amidships with a small balcony on the port side. For ship cabins this is large and we have enough room to put everything away. After the required drill with life preservers on there was a cocktail party on the upper deck and that was followed by dinner. We were in bed early, tired from all the activity and travel. The seas were relatively calm with a slight roll, but not uncomfortable. We were at sea until today at 2:30 pm when we arrived at this island.

Seabourn has a Catholic priest on board so we attended Mass Sunday morning. A Paulist priest from New York, Father John Collins was asked to make this trip by the cruise line since it is over Christmas.

We laid around on Sunday after breakfast on the stern. The food and service is wonderful. There is a turquoise sea churned up by the propellers as we move along at about 15 miles per hour. The air is warm, but not uncomfortable and the sun is out. It is very pleasant. That night was formal dress at dinner so all the men, including me wore tuxedos and the women dressed accordingly as well. There was a reception for the captain and crew and introductions. I survived the formal occasion, but it’s not my favorite experience on a cruise ship.

Grand Turk Island is part of the Turks and Caicos, which consists of about eight main islands and another forty small low lying ones. This is the capital of he islands. The Turks and Caicos is a British Crown Colony. There are some 4,000 full time residents here. The island has reef which drops some 8,000 feet and diving is a special treat here. This area was a slave trading area and one where pirates operated. It is said that more then 1000 wrecked ships are sunk around here. Today we walked the long dock to the tourist buildings selling everything you can think of. The island is only a few miles long and a mile or so wide. A hurricane in September devastated most of the buildings and vegetation here, as original buildings made of wood were one hundred years old. Moses is a retired policeman who drove us around in his van giving us all of the local information. A big friendly black man he knows everyone and knows all the local history as well. After buying a tee shirt we returned to the ship where we had dinner and went to bed early again.

There are an interesting group of passengers on board. Some people so elderly they are bent over and use a walker or a cane and others who are middle aged. The young people seem to be traveling with parents and family, as there are a number of family groups on board. Most are on board for two weeks sailing through the Caribbean and then back to Florida. About forty of us get off after a week and fly from one of the islands back to the United States and then to our homes. The rest continue on the cruise. One woman Lita talked to was in her late seventies or early eighties with brown wrinkled skin and a continuous cigarette in her mouth while holding a drink She spends six months a year on Seabourn cruises and the rest of the year at her home in Texas. Most of these passengers, including us, are Seabourn veterans who have sailed before with this line.

What’s ironic is what I discovered after boarding the ship. Before we left I wrote a letter to the CEO of this line complaining that their website would not allow seven day cruise passengers to access their personal tour information. The CEO had the marketing director call me to tell me they were sorry, but it couldn’t be done. After we moved into our suite I discovered the couple in the suite directly across the hall from our is the CEO and her husband who are on this trip. She remembered my letter when we met and seemed apprehensive, but I’ve restrained myself and have been good.

We left Grand Turk around 5:00 pm and sailed on for St John. Today the seas are rougher with white caps and more movement to the ship. We will be at sea all day and night arriving at the next destination tomorrow. This will be another day of reading and lying around. Since the entertainment is at 10:00 pm at night, we miss it as we are in bed before that. Another report to follow.

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