Welcome Back … pour yourself a cup of coffee; perhaps, hot chocolate or a cup of my new favorite, chai tea. There are a few pastries for you to enjoy too.
Do sit in a comfy chair and let’s chat.
A little more music … hope you like my selection. I enjoy Spanish Guitar playing.
Let’s fast forward to New Year’s Eve …
If you’ve been on a cruise you know that they have at least one formal night. Formal night requires men to wear a suit jacket or a tuxedo if they’d prefer. Women are required to wear some type of dress or fancy suit.
In recent years, the formal dress code has lessened due to requests from former passengers on surveys done by cruise lines. The idea of wearing formal wear wasn’t pleasing too many. We live in Florida where flip flop and shorts are your formal wear so dressing up, if you’d like to call it that, is a nice change for us.
Tuesday, December 31,2019 was one of the two formal nights on-board ship. Tuxedos, gowns and bling were on parade from everyone including children throughout the evening.
Did I forget to mention children?
Yes, there were children – everywhere. We’d been on many holiday cruises before. There were never this many children. I think the European culture may have been the reason for it. They are very close to their families.
Did I mention that the ship was an Italian line?
Yes, it was. It had just arrived from Italy and docked at the Port Everglade in Fort Lauderdale for the first time.
Did I mention that 85% of the people on-board were from Italy, England, and China.
Yes, they were.
Did I mention they spoke Italian most of the time?
Yes, they did. Even when they spoke English it was indistinguishable. The accents were very thick.
One day, we were in our room when we heard over the in-room speaker, “Man overboard.”
WHAT the F—K?
We ran into the hall to get an elevator to the top deck since nothing was visible from our balcony.
The crew members were in the hall in their life vests looking oddly at us.
“We asked what was going on as we’d heard about a man overboard.”
“Did we need life jackets?,”I said.
In very, very broken English they said, “No man, only crew.”
“No man, only crew learning safety.”
HUH??? WTF … !!!
It turns out it was a safety drill for the crew.
Okay, back to New Year’s Eve …
The New Year’s Eve festivities were packed with more people than Times Square in New York City?
Yes, it was a mob scene. I’d only seen this type of crowd when on one occasion we’d decided to take the kids to see the New York City Macy’s Day parade. I’d never seen this on a ship before.
The New Years’ Eve ball from Times Square was going to be televised on three BIG screens on the top outdoor deck. There was going to be a buffet for everyone to enjoy after the ball dropped too.
After dinner, we went for a stroll on the top deck. It was around 8:00 pm. The air was warm with a soothing breeze. The sound of the waves crashing against the side of the ship was rhythmic. The salty air was a welcoming scent filling the senses. There were a few hours before the New Year would arrive. It was a nice time to reflect on the past year with all that we’d been through with our health scares. The wishes of a New Year filled with calmer days as part of our wishes to the sky of glowing stars above.
People were beginning to gather around the dance floor and big screen area. Seeing this, we decided to try to get a table. I’ve got bad knees making standing for too long uncomfortable. I thought a table would be the perfect way to enjoy watching the dancers and the ball drop. We were sitting, chatting and listening to music when a black couple asked if they could sit at our table. There were four chairs; two were empty. We didn’t mind so we gladly offered them to join us.
OH … you must be wondering why I mentioned their race?
Fear not, it will all come to be told.
I’m a bit chatty. I was always shy all of my life but when I started my handmade jewelry business it was important to interact with many, many people. I developed the skill and still seem to have it.
I enjoy meeting new people. I love learning about them as well as imparting some of my own info too.
His wife was quiet but answered me if I asked her a question. He was grumpy and grunted a lot. I’d asked his name and he just stared at me. She answered for him. Eventually, they gradually twisted their bodies in such a way that you knew they didn’t want to be involved with you. They were there for the seats.
Hubby got up to get a drink for us and asked if he could get them something?
They declined, looking annoyed that he’d asked.
Did I mention there weren’t any waiters to serve you?
Yes, there were no waiters. I’ve never been on a cruise where there wasn’t a waiter going around asking if you’d like a cocktail. It even happens at the pool. Where were they?
A few minutes later the husband (Mr. Grumpy) tells his wife, “I’m going to get a drink and I’m taking this damn suit off. He grumbled, he was tired of being in it”.
As he left, he coughed.
He was directly across from me. No covered mouth. No cough in the bend of his arm. No handkerchief to cover his mouth.
It sounded like a very serious congestion. He quickly blurted out that he didn’t have a cold. After he was gone, his wife said, “He has bad allergies. He’s not sick.”
Did my glaring look at him say he was sick?
But, I didn’t think it was allergies. My hubby has allergies. I know allergies. It was congestion in his lungs. He sounded like a rumbling earthquake.
He left and came back in a t-shirt.
As more people began crowding the area, I became concerned. I’m short – 5 feet. I’ve got bad knees so I don’t walk very quickly. I was getting a bit claustrophobic. I don’t like crowds or small confined spaces. Yikes, this wasn’t going too well for me.
The dance floor couldn’t be seen anymore. Dancing was no longer possible because you couldn’t get to the dance floor plus flailing arms and a lot of twerking was all around you. We managed one slow dance before this became a horror. When we’d returned to our table, a woman was seated in my chair. When I approached, she glared at me. I’d asked Mr. Grumpy and his wife if they’d hold our seats for us while we danced. She gave me a shrug as her answer. She shrugged again when I asked if she’d told the seated woman. The woman did get up but it was useless to see a thing unless I stood.
There was a river of people standing in every crevice which was overwhelming. I began to feel that our safety was at risk. A crew member passing by loudly told people to keep the aisle clear. No one listened. A feeling of doom covered me. I wanted to run screaming. No one cared about safety.
Another black couple in their mid 30’s stood near our table amongst the other people.
Again … I’ll clear the need to mention race eventually.
The beautiful young woman looked at me and asked, “Can I leave my iPhone and purse on your table while we dance and until the ball drops?”
Naturally, I said, “Yes.”
10 9 8 … the count down … 7 6 5 … people were yelling … 4 3 2 1 …
balloons falling, confetti, screams, and pushing.
Yes, lots of pushing with people getting angry because access to the screens was blocked by the crowds. Others were pushing to get to someone they wanted to hug and wish a Happy New Year.
We stayed among this chaos until midnight.
We told the younger couple they could take our seats since right after 2020 arrived we’d be leaving. As they approached about 15 minutes later, we got up. I introduced them to the other couple and wished them all a Happy New Year. I slowly and carefully turned towards the exit and was instantly stunned. The grumpy old man was all smiling with chatty laughter and super talkative to this young couple even before they finished sitting down.
I looked at my hubby and said, “It’s time to go.”
The saga with COVID 19 and Me will continue … come on back for the next chapter …
***** Part 1 – COVID19 and Me