Aboard the Silver Spirit, Day 2: Sunday, November 14
Okay, so all the solo travelers get together at a cocktail gathering last evening at the Panorama Lounge.
Preceding me into the room is a young (maybe 23) girl, who edges into the lounge and spots the “Solo” group—all 25-50 years her senior—sitting in a cluster around a coffee table. She takes one “Whoa no!” look and skirts back out the door.
But I’m a social guy, so I head on over. As it turns out, only six of us end up at the gathering…five women and yours truly. Introductions all around, chit-chat about nothing…seems like a friendly group. Eventually, our shipboard “International hostess” Isabelita, suggests that we all have dinner together and before I know it we are off to The Restaurant, where upon our approach the maitre d’ smells TROUBLE (mainly in the person of one member of our party, the infamous Liz…see later) and seats us in the farthest corner of the room, where none of the other guests can see us and none of the staff can even find us and of course the service is glacially slow. The dinner drags on for two hours, where the six of us mainly listen to two speakers—Liz and Mary (not me for a change)—regale us with stories, complaints, jokes and seagoing tales and where the six of us get to know a little about each other. Here’s the lineup, with names, approximate ages by my estimation, and domiciles.
Liz (48), a buxom babe from Houston, on her 10th Silversea cruise, LOUD and (her words) “crude and rude,”, but actually pretty funny in a bawdy and outrageous way, repeatedly describing herself as a hotelier (French pronunciation, please) and bragging about her world travels and her dinners with such luminaries as Joel Rubichon and Gordon Ramsey (when teased about her obvious crush on him, assures all of us…her words again…“no, I didn’t f— him”).
Karen (65), widow from San Diego, a professional singer who gave up her career to raise a family. She’s Liz’s regular cruise buddy who laughs hysterically at all of Liz’s antics. (Although the two of them are tight as thieves, she at least has the smarts to get her own private stateroom. One can only imagine what nine days and nights in a room with Liz would do to someone.) She’s all geared up for the karaoke night, and if they don’t have one, she’s going to create one.
Rachel (44), from Yorkshire in England, executive with a British version of an S&L. Married with two kids, but travels solo four times a year. Nice gal.
Wendy (74), widow, pharmacist from Wales. A pleasant woman who continually smiles and laughs at everyone’s stories, but barely says a word herself the entire night.
Mary (114), widow, a retired and very wrinkled lawyer from Northern Ireland, who was very witty at first, telling us all about all the important cases she has handled and important people she has met, before it got sort of tiresome. She’s doing a “back-to-back,” having completed a week on this ship before starting on our 9-day’er. She asks us all if we wanted to find a beach and go swimming on Martinique. The mental image of her in a bathing suit immediately gives me indigestion.
Since fate has thrown us together, I guess I’ll be seeing a lot of them. Isabelita has already planned a dinner for the group of us on Thursday, and tonight our sixsome has been entered in Team Trivia.
First night, and I actually live up to my promise to get to bed early. I head back to my room, where Harry has stocked my fridge with Miller Lite, have a cold one on the veranda, then tuck in. Ah, nothing like sleeping with the gentle sway of the ship and the veranda door open with the sound of the waves and the ship cutting through the Caribbean waters.
Got up early and went up to the Observation Lounge on the 11th deck to watch our entrance into Martinique harbor. Now this is more like it. The Observation Lounge is a beautiful space with an English clubby décor and a cozy library, floor-to-ceiling picture windows and a comfortable deck that offers a head-on view of everything. Absolutely first rate. I can’t imagine anything prettier on any other cruise ship.
The Spirit sails past a line of picturesque piton-like mountains and glides to the pier. Hey, looks like a pretty nice town. I say to Harry: maybe I’ll walk into town, or better still, rent a car and drive around the island. Un-uh, says Harry. Rental car agencies closed on Sunday. Shops closed, too. Which leaves me what option? Beach time with Mary? Looks like I’ll spend the day aboard ship and go sit by the pool. Un-uh, says Harry. Rain today. Oh. “Go explore the facilities,” he says.
After breakfast on the outside terrace (nice), the sun makes an appearance and I end up going to the pool for a hour. Observation time. So how does the crowd on this luxury ship stack up against my former mates on the Solstice, which you may recall was packed with government bureaucrats, wackos, beer guts and tattoos? Well, for most part it’s a much fitter group. And a tad older. They look a little richer, the women especially. Only two tattoos spotted so far. People from all over. Mostly Americans, of course, but also Germans (detectable by their Speedos), Brits (lots), Australians (a whole, whole lot), and Irish. As far as I can tell, only two kids on the entire boat.
Today will be a reading day. Until, that is, it’s time for activities: Port Shopping Talk With Philip, followed by Italian lessons with International hostess Carla, followed by Team Trivia, then my perennial favorite: Bingo! Tonight is Formal Night. I can only wonder what adventures await Tuxedo Joe tonight.