Posted by: Gary Guertin | January 21, 2013

2. Caribbean – Brazil–Key West

Hi All,

We’re on our way, and I have a lot to tell you on our first day at sea, Sunday, 20 Jan. 2013.  Yesterday we stopped at our first port, Key West so I’ll cover that first, then cover the cruise to date.

Most of you know Key West, but here is some interesting facts.  Key West was purchased from Cuba (which is closer to Key West than Miami) in 1820.  Because of it’s location it is full of history since it’s discovery by Juan Ponce de Leon, the Spanish explorer, in 1513.  Since then it has been the home of such diverse groups as Bahamian sponge divers, Cuban cigar makers, refugees, wreckers, Yankee seafarers, military personnel, fishermen, artists, writers, and eventually (yours truly)  tourists.  It’s most famous resident is Ernest Hemingway, who lived there almost 30 years.  It also, during it’s early years, was a hangout for some of the Caribbean’s most notorious pirates.  Apart from it just being a fun place to visit (the local residents are just laid back and “fun”) it is known for its bright evening sunset.  The locals like to assemble at their favorite spots and watch the sun go down, listening to street musicians, and sipping their favorite drink.  It’s worth the visit just for one sunset in Key West.

Having been to Key West many times Susy and I decided just to walk around the port since the ship was berthed right in the center of town on Mallory square.  Here’s three views of Key West looking off the ships side, first forward, then straight across, and finally across the back of the ship:




This last photo is of one of the favorite sites for local residents to watch the sunset, it full of people later in the day.  We have to show our port sign:


Key West is a vibrant port during the day, and this next photo shows Susy heading out to look for her favorite haunts:


Of course she always finds them:


I have to stop here and tell my first local story:  Susy was looking to buy some wine for the cabin, so she stopped in front of this local lady, who was sitting in a chair in front of her shop and asked her where the nearest liquor store was.  The lady looked at her with this big smile and said “ I don’t know lady, but when you find it come on back and I’ll be glad to share a drink with you” (so is the typical Key Western).

We had some fun taking pictures in front of one of the local Cuban stores:


I’m going to leave Key West with one of the views from the port, unfortunately not the beautiful sunset, but just before it, looking at the sailboats and the basin:


This is what “cruising” is all about.  Now, as to our cruise and its first days, it’s been great aside from the fact that Susy and I are still a little under the weather. Getting aboard the Maasdam has been like being away from home for awhile and returning to greet old fiends.  The first night we ran into one of Susy’s old piano bar friends from our 2011 Med. cruise, then she ran into another that same evening from the casino.  She was walking down the hallway yesterday when she met some others from the 2011 cruise who said “we saw Gary at breakfast and knew you were aboard, but sleeping, since you never show up until after lunch”.  She couldn’t believe it, that these traveling companions even remembered she sleeps late.  Now like most every day situations Susy already has a fight with Holland American.  We all know that piano bars are meant to be: places where people come in, sit around the piano and chat.  Well the piano bar player on the Maasdam decided he wants to change all that, so he took away the bar stools from the piano, handed out music sheets, and wants everyone sitting in the lounge to pay attention to him and sing along or just listen. He doesn’t say it but he doesn’t want people talking when he is performing.  Susy and her piano bar friends have rebelled.  They refuse to go to the piano bar, and have already complained to the Cruise Director.  So far they have lost their fight, but there is more to come on this one.

Finally I have to show you our first night’s dinner photos so we can compare with the end of the cruise:



Next stop is the Grand Cayman, Monday, 21 Jan. 2013, but only for a few hours, so we probably won’t even get off.  Until next time;

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)


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