Ahoy, mates! I just returned from a fabulous Caribbean cruise and chocolate treasure hunt. It’s going to be hard for me to pick out the highlights since every day was jam packed with fun and excitement. But, here we go.
We sailed out of Galveston, Texas on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas; a truly beautiful ship. Day 1 was spent getting settled in our cabins, finding our way around the massive ship, and, of course, eating. We found our assigned dining room table and just knew immediately that the service was going to be good. Actually, it turned out to be exceptional. When Arlene from the Philippines introduced herself, we all liked her. Nur from Indonesia was an absolute wonder. Then I saw Chocolate Baba on the menu, and I thought it must be a divine message because my family calls me Baba. Of course, I ordered it and found it was a wonderful rum-flavored chocolate cake; my first of many tastes of rum on this trip.
Day 2 we were at sea and my group of 10 split up to pursue various onboard activities; Ping-Pong tournament, rock wall climbing, and on-deck surfing. I spent most of my time shopping and found a nice assortment of Caribbean-made chocolates in one of the shops on the Promenade Deck. About dusk, we were just leaving our staterooms to see a show when Capt. Aris Medina (wonderful, sexy Venezuelan voice) announced over the loud speaker from the bridge that they had spotted a small boat, apparently in trouble. He said that maritime law required us to offer help. The next two hours my family watched a rather dramatic rescue from our balconies. We were skeptical as to why people in a small boat would be in the middle the sea; they were just a speck on our horizon. We all wondered if they might be pirates! Capt. Aris did an impressive u-turn with our big ship to get closer. Our security team boarded a motorized life boat and approached the small boat slowly and carefully, shining a spot light on them and speaking to them over with a bull horn. They eventually pulled the little boat alongside and told us it was crammed with 11 people trying to escape Cuba. They had drifted for several hours and were desperate and desperately hungry. The waves had kicked up and it took almost an hour for all of them plus our security team to leap on the rope ladder dangling from the ship and board safely. We watched the last security man write a big black OK on the small white sail of the little boat and cut it loose. The Cubans were not allowed to bring any of their belongings on board with us. Security stored the life boat, and Capt. Aris assured us the Cubans were taken care of, but again according to the law, we had to drop them off at our next port of call; Cozumel, Mexico. I felt very sad watching the small white sail that said “OK” drink into the blackest darkness I’d ever seen and then completely disappear. The show was over for us; the Cubans were sequestered somewhere on the ship. That was the last we heard about them. I said a prayer for their safety and happiness.
I will always wonder what happened to those 11 souls.