Now and then, without warning, the view from a cruise ship can be over the top. This is why I like booking a room with a balcony.
The Oasis of the Seas was just leaving the dock at Cozumel, and everything came together. As the ships leave, smaller boats are returning to dock after depositing their tour groups. By six in the evening, all the ships have departed, and the little towns and villages become sleepy again. That’s why I think Cozumel is the closest thing to Margaritaville.
My apologies if this image seems overly saturated. I’ve desaturated the colors a couple of times because it doesn’t seem realistic. Every now and then that happens. More and more I pay attention to the levels of color saturation while I’m taking the picture, and sometimes it’s quite high. Then I have to tone it down in post-processing because it can look fake. This is one of those cases, but I’m still not sure if it’s enough.
Ocean Drive in Miami Beach on a Monday night. And the later I stayed, the busier it got. I repeat, it was Monday.
But then I shouldn’t be surprised, because when I’m on vacation, every day is Saturday and most of the people in South Beach are on vacation. So it could be Sunday, Monday or Tuesday night and the place is still going to be full of life.
As I look at this photo, I wonder why they had two TVs set up outside? I get it with TVs in restaurants, but to set two up on the sidewalk seems a little extreme. It’s not enough that we are continually communing with our phones. I’m as guilty as anyone. But maybe it’s a good idea to get unplugged, if even for a couple of hours while we eat. Perhaps I’ll try that tonight, as long as there’s nothing important on.
We walked down the road looking for a place to chill and found a quiet little beach bar with tropical beverages. It was our third stop, and it was a charm.
It’s called the Blue Angel, and it’s about a mile south of central Cozumel. If you’re in the area, you can’t go wrong. It’s a resort and dive shop, and from what I could see, very laid back. There were half dozen cruise ships in port, so this is a spot to get away from crowds.
We’ve had a problem with red tide in Florida, so it was refreshing to see so many fish in the clear turquoise water. There were divers and snorkeling which we lazily watched all afternoon. It’s the kind of place I could waste away in Margaritaville. I can envision myself napping in one of these hammocks half the day and the other half looking for my lost jigger of salt.
They have it all wrong because I think ice cream is the real gateway drug. And besides, it’s highly addictive.
I want to be in Barcelona at La Rambla on a warm night having an ice cream cone. I can be clumsy with food, so I got a small cup instead. There’s something about walking around with ice cream; for the time it takes to eat, reality gets suspended, and you have not a care in the world.
We were walking back to our hotel after spending time in the gothic quarter, and I was randomly snapping photos of people and vendors. For me, this captures some of the magic of that night, and believe me; there is always a bit of magic here. But now looking at it again, I think it might be time for ice cream. Not that I’m addicted or anything like that.
Walking back to the ferry late at night I stopped in St Marks Square to capture reflections. To get this shot, I held the camera right above the water.
Nowadays, days I use a Playpod which is similar to a tripod with a small base you attach to the camera. The first time I saw it I didn’t know what to think, but I’ve had it for a few months now, and I take it everywhere. I like doing low perspective shots, and the Platypod excels at that, and it saves both time and the camera body. Before, I would use whatever I had in hand like a strap or iPhone to prop the lens up, and that takes time and patience to get it right. But the Playpod it’s like having a mini tripod at ground level.
Anyway, we had a late meal along the canals and walking back there were fewer people than during the day. The next time I go back, I’ll probably sleep all day and walk around taking photos all night. And you can be sure I’ll be carrying my trusty Platypod.
Having only one night, we had to find the best tapas in town. Fortunate for us it was just around the corner. In Barcelona, that’s any corner.
I really don’t think you can go wrong, but Bo De Gracia was especially right if that makes any sense. There were quite a few things we ordered, but I remember sardines and olives the most. My wife doesn’t generally like sardines, but we both had to split the last one. And the fresh green olives have a taste and texture I’ve never experienced in America. It was all washed down with a local Spanish wine that complemented everything perfectly.
But I’m a photographer, so I had to pick up the camera and take this quick shot from the bar where we sat. The only people here were us and this couple. Probably because it was early in the evening. Around nine or ten is when these places start to fill up. By “these places” I mean the worlds best tapas bars around every corner of Barcelona.
Why do we call it a bank of elevators? My guess is that at one time, only banks had lifts. Rest assured, this is no bank.
Royal Caribbean ships have elevator banks that are functional, stylish and serve as a showcase for hanging art. No two banks are the same which is not only refreshing but helpful. Helpful, in that, on some of the larger ships, it’s easy to get disoriented. Having distinct elevator banks helps with getting your bearings. I can’t tell you how many times I forgot whether I was at the front or back of the boat. Unless you’re up top or by a window, it’s almost irrelevant, but knowing which direction to walk for a meal is an acquired skill.
Also, each night the crew replaces a floor tile in each elevator with the name of the day. So not only do you know which part of the ship you’re on, you’re reminded the day of the week. Little orientation hist never hurt anyone. Anyway, if memory serves me, this was at the back of the Oasis of the Seas, or was it the front?
Over the holidays we jumped on a last-minute cruise of the Carribean. Living in Florida, these kinds of things are easy to do, just find a cheap ticket and drive to the port.
The ship was Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, which is one of the worlds largest. We’ve sailed on a couple of her sister ships, so we already had a good feel for the layout.
I took a few photos that are of a more abstract nature than typical holiday snapshots. Here is a collection with descriptions of each.
West Palm Beach
On our first evening at sea, we sailed down the east coast of Florida from Cape Canaveral. The lights on the left are from West Palm Beach if I’m not mistaken. The first day is always a good time to look out to sea and decompress from life on land.
Here is another shot from the first night, looking to the back of the ship, as the smoke from the engine trails out. These first two shots are long exposures that were stabilized on the balcony railing.
We departed Falmouth, Jamacia in the evening after a very windy day. All day long I wondered how the captain would pull out in such conditions, but as the sun fell so did the wind, and we departed quite easily. I created this long exposure as the ship slowly moved past the dock. The jiggling of the light trails was from my unsteady hand as I held the camera (not necessarily from the Jamaican rum one may be obliged to try).
There are large hot tubs on both sides of the upper deck that protrude out from the sides of the ship on deck fifteen. I didn’t manage to try them out for myself, but that didn’t stop me from taking an architectural shot from our balcony five floors below.
One lazy pastime when leaving a port is to sit on the balcony and watch others board the ship. In Labadee Haiti, there are musicians and dancers on the dock as well. Here I’m aiming directly down at the pier as a passenger walks to the gangway.
The perfect symmetry of the bar stools caught my eye as I wandered around the decks at night. This is one of the outdoor bars that had closed for the evening.
I snapped this as we left our last port of Cozumel. Another pastime for me is to sit on the balcony and read or listen to music. No agenda, no schedule, just free time to do anything or nothing at all.
Isn’t it funny how we anthropomorphize all things? Here are some defiant colors against the angry Mediterranean.
I do it all the time with animals, but between you and me, I think most animals have emotions, so it doesn’t seem like such a stretch. However, sometimes I do it for the weather or inanimate objects; then I’m surely projecting my own feelings into the world. The sea can’t really be angry, can it?
As we journeyed out into the North Atlantic, things got worse. There was a hurricane a long way off that roiled the ocean. The winds across the deck were seventy-five miles an hour, and the swells fifty feet high. At that time I looked out at sea from the comfort of a massive cruise ship and tried to imagine myself on a small ancient craft crossing the ocean in the midst of a storm. Admittedly I had feelings, but I’m pretty sure the sea had none at all. And that was maybe, just a tiny, bit, scary.
When crossing the Atlantic, we’d see these singular clouds. They’de float by like big animals casting reflections on the water.
The clouds change the color of the water surface which plays tricks on your eyes. It looks like the sea has variations of light and dark patches. However, when you’re out in the middle of the ocean, the only thing that changes is the light hitting it. That took me two days to figure out.
There’s a lot of free time on a long crossing, enough to look up and see what shapes the clouds are making. Between sitting by the pool and sitting at the bar, I did manage to have a little extra free time. In this case, I could see an elephant sitting down with his back to me. But that’s obvious, right?