FEBRUARY 17, 2015- It’s my birthday (Tuesday, Feb. 17) and I’m celebrating on the Cuba Cruise ship. Sailing around Cuba far away from Ontario’s deep freeze makes getting older pretty painless. It helps that the cruise is populated mainly with senior citizens, so I feel pretty young in comparison.
It’s a day at sea as Cuba Cruise/the Louis Cristal makes the voyage from Havana to Antilla. After a buffet breakfast, we run through the drill of what happens in an emergency and have to go to our designated muster stations wearing the life jackets stowed in our cabins. It’s orderly and proceeds in a timely fashion. We’re free to enjoy the boat at leisure once we passed muster with the captain.
I’m a cruise ship virgin, but I know as far as such ships go, the Louis Cristal is fairly small and much more petite than the behemoths I saw docked in Roatan earlier in the month. With the capability to carry 1,200 passengers and a staff of 400, she’s not tiny but of a size that makes it easy to befriend other passengers and get to know the staff.
The Louis Cristal, now registered as a Greek ship, has had many different names over the years since it was built in Finland and launched in 1980. Although it was destroyed by fire in dry dock in Sweden and completely rebuilt from 1990 to 1992, it’s still considered the same ship.
I check out the duty free shop and contemplate buying myself a watch as a happy-birthday-to-me present but as I haven’t worn a watch for decades, figure I’m unlikely to start now. And I need a new saddle and they don’t seem to have any here.
We roam the decks and even though all the passengers are onboard today, there are still plenty of places to sit in the sun and no lineups for food. I have talked to people who have been on big ships and they talk about crowds and line-ups, but no problem here. Even the small pool is free most of the time.
To celebrate my birthday dinner, we splurge and go the Alberta Steakhouse (you pay an extra $34.95 a person to eat here but the pampering and fine dining experience are worth it). It’s intimate with white tablecloths and soft lighting and three wait staff are catering to our every need. The beef here comes from Alberta so that’s no surprise. However, I’m betting the lobster tails didn’t come from the western provinces.
It is delicious, from the appetizers to the Caesar salad to the beef tenderloin. I am completely stuffed but there’s dessert to consider it and to heck with calories. It’s my birthday! We order desserts but just before they arrive, the waiters come out bearing a guitar and a birthday cake (it’s delicious too) and serenade me with a melody of birthday-related songs. They all sing really well, unlike the usual restaurant birthday serenades you might be subjected to.
So we get the cake and dessert – talk about having your cake and eating it two (as in two desserts). I swear I’m waddling as we had back to our cabin though it just may be the sway of the boat. Good thing there’s some swimming and snorkeling tomorrow to counteract the caloric extravaganza.