Tue, 25 Oct 2005

Cruise Envy

We pulled into St. Maarten/Martin (Maarten is governed by the Dutch; Martin by the French, collectively a single island in the Eastern Carribean) yesterday. The day before was a day at sea on the way to St. Maarten, and I had been avidly watching outside our verandah deck for storms, islands, constellations, and occassionally other ships.

On our port side (the side of the ship we're on) I noticed another cruise ship at approximately 10 o'clock (looking down on our ship where the bow is at 12 o'clock and the stern at 6 o'clock). This sighting was right before dinner at around 8pm. After dinner and evening activities, by 11pm, what appeared to be the same cruise ship was now at a 7 o'clock position.

We were literally cruising along at nearly 30mph. The captain had earlier stated (on the intercom) that he intended to make time on the first half of the journey to get ahead of Tropical Storm Alpha. As a result the top deck (Deck 10) which is most exposed to wind, was enjoying a pretty brisk breeze all evening.

When we first pulled up into port, we were the first cruise ship there. About a half-hour later, I noticed a Princess Cruise Line ship pull into the Phillipsburg harbor and eventually dock next to us on the starboard side. I glanced over and said to Christine, "I bet the children on that ship are saying 'I wish I was on the Disney boat'. Meanwhile I bet there are no kids on the Disney ship saying the opposite".

When we finally disembarked to visit Tintamar island on our excursion, I was struck by the sheer size of the Princess liner. It was nearly twice as wide as the Disney Magic (probably closer to 60% wider) and certainly at least 10-20% taller. Considering the laps I was running around the exercise deck around the Magic are a quarter mile, an equivalent lap around the Princess liner would clearly be a third mile.

I only half-convinced myself that the total number of people on board, the opportunity to obtain a particular shore excursion, crowding at events and pool decks still made Disney the better choice.

By the way, Tintamar was literally a paradise island. Clear azure waters, tropical fish, beautiful soft sand, carribean breeze, palm trees. We then returned to the ship, and after showering we headed into town to tour the shops and visit the French side of the island.

But by the time we returned to Phillipsberg (Dutch) from Marigot (the French side) I was thoroughly convinced Disney was a better choice: while they had arrived an hour later, their departure was at least an hour earlier! Our shore time was nearly ten hours, theirs less than eight. It seems the Disney Magic has a superior power/tonnage ratio based on the fact that we keep passing them on the open seas.

On top of that, prior to dinner, we slowed to approximately five knots to celebrate a Carribean Pirate's party on the top deck. Disney cordoned off a quarter of the rear of the boat, and turned the boat facing South so it could shoot off a fireworks display as part of the party. In the distance a few miles to the west, what should I see but what appeared to be the Princess liner? If any of their passengers saw our fireworks, I'm sure the envy was all theirs. On top of that, before I went to bed, the ship was much closer than it was only an hour prior.

Khan Klatt

Khan Klatt's photo