Grand Cayman

Day six was an "at sea day." It was a very warm day and a typical Caribbean, balmy night. Our group of ten sit together for the evening meal . . . A very compatible group. It's fun sharing experiences of the day, even at sea days when we have "free time" and can choose to keep as active as we want, I find it interesting to see how others spend their time. The meals continue to amaze me. Each being a gourmet "Clearbrook like" meal including an appetizer and dessert. However there is a limit to the number of such meals one can consume, especially when breakfast and lunch are of the same quality with an abundance of choices.

Day seven, December 7 (by coincidence the day I finished reading the Pearl Harbor story of the tragic loss of the battleship, Arizona.) was a windy, stormy day, but beautiful with changing weather patterns. A weather system that would necessitate the cancellation of our scheduled stop at Montego Bay. I was on the top deck at dawn as we approached Jamaica and kept right on going! An hour later, the captain informed us that due to the rough seas we would not be able to tie up at the dock. We continued another couple of hours with the hope of docking at a nearby island, but that also proved to be a winner for the rough seas.

I was awakened about 2:00 a.m.last night with a desperate need to get to the bathroom . . . and again at four and six . . . and, well you get the picture. Ginny, thought this unusual and contacted the medical clinic. They said I should report immediately . . . no charge for treating this condition (other medical attention is cash, and not covered by insurance.) By noon, since this would also turn out to be an "at sea" day, I gave in and went to the clinic. I soon found out that they do not take this sort of thing lightly. Not that they were terribly concerned for my personal welfare, rather (understandably) for well being of the other four thousand people aboard (about evenly split between guests and staff.). At this point I remembered what happened to a few ships last year that experienced a serious outbreak (of something.) But, it was too late for me.

The examination was thorough and I found myself face-to-face with the doctor and his diagnosis. I had diarrhea. The standard treatment for Ginny (who was feeling just fine) and I, included a 72 hour quarantine to our cabin, sterilization of the cabin and all our clothes . . ."Please sign here."

A vision of similar return trip from Panama 50 years ago came to mind. Debby, our first born, was just learning to walk and provided what brief enjoyment we experienced on that trip. It was a rare privilege for me, and enlisted man, to visit my family on the officers side of the deck. One of the rules was that you could not sit on the end of the lounge chair . . . a rule that made no sense to me. In those days and to a lesser extent, today, body language often gave away true inner feelings, and I was removed to garbage detail on the ships stern In those days garbage was simply thrown overboard and the cans rinsed. . . Not a pleasant job. My partner and I found what we considered to be a reasonable solution and which fit perfectly to my current frame of mind: just toss the remaining full cans overboard. They would sink quickly and no one would know the difference. We made a hasty retreat after looking aft and observing three garbage cans, in perfect formation, bobbing in the water.

So, as I signed the form committing myself and Ginny to our windowless prison cell for the remainder of the trip, my demeanor gave no indication of true feelings. I envisioned a sign posted outside our cabin, warning people to stay away. I thought of how my shipmates would frolic in the Cayman Island sunshine and I would never be able to swim with the stingrays. Suddenly I no longer suffered with diarrhea. I didn't even mention to the doctor that he might have a much more serious mental case on his hands if he followed through with his "treatment" plan.

By now Ginny was off enjoying another gourmet dinner and I was waiting for the phone to ring or the exterminators knock on the door announcing the enforcement of my sentence. It never came. My plan was complete: enjoy Sunday night football and resume living. And so it was!

Note: The next day Ginny did receive a phone call asking for me. When told that I had left, the comment was simply: "I guess he must have discharged himself ." True: in more ways than one

Swimming with the stingrays really did happen. My expectation of snorkeling off the white sandy beach in the clear blue Caribbean waters didn't happen. Instead we were taken to a small sandbar six miles from the mainland, inhabited by 136, well behaved, very hungry stingrays. Apparently they are content to remain captives of the tourist industry, as long as free food is provided and guests don't step on their backs, in which case they might activate the stinger. They do seem to enjoy having their soft tummies rubbed and will gladly have their picture taken in your outstretched arms. I don't think they appreciated having the guide show off their private parts and going into detail about their reproductive system. While it was an enjoyable experience, I couldn't help but compare this to an animal zoo, where life is good . . . not natural . . . like life aboard the Splendour of the Seas . . . especially if confined to two hundred square feet of windowless cabin.

Click here for more stingray and Cayman Island photos.