Title- Cruising the Western Carribean on the Eurodam

M.S. Eurodam of Holland America, anchored at Half Moon Cay.

 

On a Friday night, the nine of us walked to a Peruvian restaurant near our hotel in Ft. Lauderdale and thus began our cruising adventure on the Eurodam. There was Pat's brother, Tom, Pat's brother Mike and his wife, Kathy, my cousin, Bob and his wife, Ginny, and in-laws to my nephew, Rob and Kathi, who moved into our Anacortes clan about six years ago.

Individually, we represented very different career paths, politically, we ran most of the spectrum from liberal to conservative and our life experiences could have filled nine quite different biographies. Yet, it was immediately evident that new friendships were forming, which was indeed the case. I think what helped is that we were all pretty good listeners and no one person talked too much.

Our restaurant, "Pikeos," was carefully chosen on a Google map for its close proximity to our hotel. It turned out to be a Peruvian seafood restaurant, and the portions were huge. It may not have been the wisest choice preceding a cruise, but it perhaps did have the effect of stretching our stomachs a bit in preparation for the week.

 

Don eating Paella

Don tackles an excellent seafood Jalea, which is the Peruvian version of Paella.

 

Our group at a Peruvian restaurant.

Our first gathering as a group at Pikeos restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale.

 

The check in at the port was efficient, but we were handed a letter explaining that we would start the cruise with four days of strong winds, which turned out to be gale force. We would be unable to get into our first port of Key West with such winds. However, the Captain and Holland America had been able to reorganize our ports, and we would hopefully see them all, although in a different order.

Our ship was docked in the very narrow, but busy, Intercoastal Canal, which runs from Southern Florida all the way to North Carolina. We could look across the narrow spit of land separating the canal from the Atlantic Ocean and see that the sea was indeed in a frenzy of waves and foam. In the canal beside the ship there was a steady flow of boat traffic, from kayaks, to impressive yachts, to large container ships which seemed to almost brush past us.

 

 

Rob and Kathi trying sushi.

Kathi tries to kindle Rob's interest in sushi, a noble effort. A container ship moves smartly and closely by the Eurodam.

 

A dole ship in Ft. Lauderdale.

A Dole ship, carrying fruit from Central America, moves down the canal. The salt streaked window highlights the windy conditions.

 

Stormy conditions leaving Ft. Lauderdale.

We left on time and as we emerged from the port entrance, the wave activity was felt in the ship in the form of gentle slaps and lurches. The ship's stabilizers kept it from rolling, but there was an underlying sense of movement. The next morning, the stormy conditions were evident, but smoothed out some as we approached anchorage in the lee of Halfmoon Cay.

 

Our first destination, Halfmoon Cay, has an interesting history. It is one of 700 islands that make up the Bahamian nation. It is still known by locals as Little San Salvador Island. When Holland America purchased the island as a private destination for its cruise ships it renamed the island Halfmoon Cay. However, its name and its place in history is much debated by historians. In 1492, when Columbus first arrived in what he thought was China, with his ships the Pinta, the Nina and the Santa Marina, the first island he found that had a protected bay in which he could anchor his ships he named San Salvador island. He spent about a week at that island, replenishing, exploring, and getting to know the natives, who were stark naked, very friendly, and quite intelligent. These natives are now known as Taino Amerindians, and they populated the Bahamas and Hispaniola Island (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic.) To the east of Halfmoon Cay is and island called Cat Island, and to the east of that lies an island called San Salvador Island. Historians are quite sure that one of these three islands, Little San Salvador, Cat Island and San Salvador Island, mark Columbus's first landfall. Each fits his description from his log well enough to comply, and he explored the neighboring islands during that week, so he probably visited all three. But we don't know for sure which is the real San Salvador Island.

While I was on Little San Salvador island, I talked with a local woman who commutes from Eleuthera Island to work on the island. I asked her what she thought about the Columbus controversy. "Oh", she said, "it was definitely this island where he landed. We all think that."

 

 

A tender in rough water at Halfmoon Cay.

A tender takes passengers for a day at Halfmoon Cay. This small island, owned by the cruise line, employees workers from the island of Eleuthera, 26 miles away, and provides passengers with a variety of watersports.

 

Boat going ashore in Halfmoon Cay

Approaching the inlet and dock at Halfmoon Cay, Rob and Kathi are at the left and right of the photo.

 

Group at Halfmoon Cay.

Ginny, Bob, Rob and Kathi pose on the beach at Halfmoon Cay. Although the wind continued to blow, it was coming across the island which gave protection to the stunning, white sand beach.

 

Ginny looks at the sting-rays.

We walked across the island to the stingray experience, which was closed due to the winds. However, the fish saw us and came over looking for a treat.

 

canon

A casual reproduction of the Santa Maria serves as a bar and as a reminder that Columbus probably anchored in this bay.

 

Kathy enjoys a walk on the beach.

Mike and Kathy explored the island on foot and found a nice secluded part of the beach.

 

Returning to the Eurodam on the tender.

Returning to the Eurodam on the tender.

 

Formal night.

Our first formal night with Mike and Kathy, Tom, Pat and Don, Ginny and Bob, and Kathi and Rob. We had a big table throughout the cruise and sat randomly so that we could converse with different ones each night.

 

An added surprise to the evening was the celebration of Kathi's birthday.