When I woke up and looked out the window, I wondered if I'd somehow gotten onto the wrong ship the day before. I thought I was on the Seabourn Pride, but across the pier was what seemed to be our ship; there was even a Seabourn sign at the base of the gangplank!
The mystery was solved when we entered the Veranda Café for breakfast. It was actually a rare meeting of sister ships – the Seabourn Spirit ...
was joining us at Antigua, where, on an earlier cruise we had "hopped on a bus." However, this was Peep and Flo's first visit, as well as that of Flo's cousin Cedric and nephew Jerome, who visit during the holidays.
We previously had sailed the third sister ship, the Legend, several times, the first being a trans-Atlantic crossing. However, these 208-passenger ships are being replaced by a new fleet of larger (all of 450 passengers), more modern ships, in particular including many veranda suites. (We later sailed the Sojourn in the Caribbean, and more recently the Quest on a Leaf-Peeping Cruise.)
In fact, this cruise was one segment of the Pride's Farewell Tour, before it was transferred to Windstar Cruises as the Star Pride, soon to be followed by the others as the Star Spirit and Star Legend.
Seeing these ships side by side gives a misleading impression of the size of most cruise ships today.
Our stop at San Juan provides a more realistic comparison. Our 208-passenger "mega-yacht" is dwarfed by the 2,984-passenger Carnival Valor. However, our 1.3 passenger to crew ratio as compared to their 2.5 gives some idea of the difference in service.
... If the all-inclusive fare, including gourmet food, gratuities, and all beverages wasn't already advantage enough. Not just espresso and cappuccino for which some others now charge, but also bottled still and sparkling water and top-shelf alcoholic beverages and wines, including real Champagne whenever you wish. Along with caviar if you also wish.
Even disregarding these factors, an earlier cruise revealed other drawbacks to such a large ship.
Arriving in Puerto Rico as we did during the holiday season, it was somewhat jarring to see shoppers searching for Navidad – Christmas – gifts along an outdoor market in their shorts.
The Christmas tree on Plaza de Armas continued the disconnect.
Although the music on one side of the square was non-seasonal,
the other sides were soon decorated – with a living ornament for the Christmas tree
and two more as poinsettias!
Although we had visited Puerto Rico several times, initially on our honeymoon, this was the first time I had considered the rather unusual usage of the names Puerto Rico and San Juan, at least when translated.
When Christopher Columbus on his second voyage landed on the island in 1493, he named it, in the fashion of many Caribbean Islands – Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Saint John, Saint Thomas – after a saint; "John the Baptist" or San Juan Bautista. (This voyage, Columbus being more confident in what awaited him across "the ocean blue," upped his command a little – to 17 ships and more than 1,200 men!)
The settlement that grew up on the site called the "Rich Port," or Puerto Rico, was officially named, following the tradition of giving a town both its formal name and that of the island, San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico.
Evidently a saint being both in the name of the island and the port proved too confusing to the residents, who in general reversed the usage, so now the island is the Rich Port and the city is Saint John. One would think that the port area where residents lived – after all, they did understand the meaning of Puerto – would be fairly obvious.
Then I realized how many today can't distinguish biweekly from semiweekly!