CUBA CRUISE 2019: Part 5 - At Sea & Arrival in Cienfuegos

Deck 5 w/ other ship-11-42-04

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Just after daybreak, I was up on Deck 5 to witness the start of this new day. Off to the starboard side there sailed another, larger cruise ship. It may have been the one that was moored next to ours in Havana, but I could not be certain.

This would be a whole day at sea, giving us more opportunities to participate in onboard activities. 

The night before, after leaving Havana we found that a LGBTQ meeting was to occur on Deck 9 in the Living Room lounge. There we made the acquaintances of several couples, including two women from Manchester, England. None of us had met the others until we rendezvoused in the Living Room. Over the next several days, many of us met regularly getting to know each other and sharing time together.

After leaving Havana, we also attended the evening’s onboard entertainment in the Cabaret Lounge. There we enjoyed the performer's guitar playing of music from countries around the world before calling it a day. 

With a full day at sea, other diversions were in order.

 Another early breakfast, an exploration around the ship, and then attending a health seminar in the spa. While there I worked out in the gym in an attempt to keep ahead of weight gains from all the meals we enjoyed.                                                                                                             Windows Cafe Buffet where we had most of our meals

Every afternoon, of the many onboard activities, there was trivia. The attendance for the trivia games grew daily, as teams formed to compete for prizes. Geography and music or performers were usual topics, where the moderator would give clues and teams brainstormed for correct answers. We never won, but we did have answers to a few of the harder questions.

Over the course of our days at sea, I also found time to continue reading Oliver Twist.

By this time on the cruise, the captain would make announcements starting with one that informed us that a few passengers had developed some gastrointestinal illnesses. He informed everyone onboard to frequently wash hands with soap and water and to use the sanitizers that were placed throughout the ship. Obviously, the ship did not want to have a major outbreak of sickness. These announcements became daily reminders. Stu had one day that he was not feeling at his best and quarantined himself in their room, just to prevent any possibility of spreading an illness. After his day of rest he was back to normal. During our cruise we did hear of another ship sailing in the Caribbean that did have a large scale outbreak onboard which, we were told, eventually discontinued that cruise, returning to port. Thankfully the Azamara Journey maintained a healthy environment.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Cienfuegos, Cuba arrival

By the time I awoke this morning at 6 am, we were already approaching Cienfuegos which is on the south side of Cuba. With the sun rising, it’s long stream of golden light spreading over the waves, I observed the ship maneuver toward the dock. Soon after docking, the captain announced the procedure for disembarking. 

After passing through the security checkpoint and exchanging money, we met our guide, Luda and driver, Alejandro, for our private tour to the old colonial city of Trinidad, one and a half hours from Cienfuegos.

Our ride, a Kia van, was the newest vehicle we ever rode in while in Cuba, but with air conditioning and spacious interior, we rode in comfort on the way to Trinidad.

Sugar cane plantations were prominent in the Colonial development around Trinidad which brought substantial wealth to the country. Along the way, from a hilltop location, we enjoyed the panorama where Luda pointed out plantation locations including more history of the area. From a nearby, higher hill, a zip line stretched down to our hilltop. It was fun to watch several people zip along ending steps away from our observation place and got me excited about our own upcoming zip line adventure in Labadee, Haiti.

Still not in Trinidad, we stopped at one of the plantation properties that was anchored by a 7 story bell tower. Around the property was a market with an enormous variety of lace work and embroidery -primarily table cloths but also aprons, dresses, skirts, shirts and many other souvenir gifts. The old plantation house is now a restaurant, although we would be lunching in Trinidad. Elsewhere on the property we were able to use a sugar cane press that was used in Colonial times. 

I was game to climb up in the bell tower with Luda accompanying me. On the upper levels, low cross beams required stooping while ascending and descending the old wooden stairway. Unfortunately I did not duck soon enough under one of those beams, skimming off a bit of my scalp. Ouch. I hardly hesitated and went on to the top. From the top, I was rewarded by expansive views all around the valley and down upon the market below.

After arriving in the town of Trinidad, we walked the old cobblestone streets as Luda gave a history lesson of the town while pointing out important buildings. We stopped at an establishment embellished with an assortment of antiques where, relaxing under flowering Japanese Jasmine trees, we enjoyed listening to a quartet of musicians while drinking cancháncharas, a sweet Cuban alcoholic beverage. 

Continuing our walking tour, we passed the town square and nearby, at Sol Ananda we relished a delicious lunch set amidst a room furnished with antiques. Even the dishes and 

tableware were vintage. Throughout the building, other rooms were similarly furnished with antiques from many eras.

We visited the nearby museum where Luda works, entered an artist’s studio where he was working on a huge mural in preparation for an upcoming event. Other interesting and creative art was intriguing. 

Luda lives in Trinidad, so we continued back to Cienfuegos with Alejandro, enjoying the late afternoon drive through the country before entering busy city and back onboard before 5 pm. 

This evening the ship hosted a White Party on the pool deck, where white, of course, was the color of the night. A buffet dinner with a band and dancing highlighted the affair, although we all choose to not participate.

                                                                   It had been a very full day, but with one more day in port, we would have even more discoveries before continuing the cruise.

Beautiful lace and embroidery work on display along with inside out dolls.

u © Donald E. Kline 2012