Elevator Bank

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.

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Elevator Bank
Elevators on Oasis of the Seas

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.

favorites from the gallery

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?

Abstract Cruise Photos

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
West Palm Beach
Florida on the horizon at night

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.

The Trail
The Trail
A trail from the stacks as we navigate south to the Caribbean

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.

Leaving Falmouth

Leaving Falmouth
A long exposure creates light trails as we leave port

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).

Hot Tub
Hot Tub
The hot tub overhang on deck fifteen

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.

Over Dock
OverDock
Watching people board

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.

After Hours
After Hours
Bar stools after the bar closed late at night

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.

Port Side
Port Side
A place and time to do very little

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.

See more travel photography here in the gallery

Cloud Animals

When crossing the Atlantic, we’d see these singular clouds. They’de float by like big animals casting reflections on the water.

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A passenger watches the sunrise in the North Atlantic aboard Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas
Sunrise in the North Atlantic

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.

seascapes from the gallery

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?

Morning Starbucks

A state of confusion is normal for me, at least until I have my morning Starbucks. And this where I get it on a ship.

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Morning Starbucks
The eye candy of design and architecture aboard Sympnony of the Seas

There’s a lot to sort out in this image; art, mall, elevators, and a window looking out, to name a few. This is on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas. What makes it confusing (at least to me) is that everything is on a different deck. I think they should rename it Skyscraper of the Seas. I’m just saying.

more architecture photography

I took this from deck seven on my way back from a morning walk around deck fifteen. The Starbucks is on five. There are so many decks it’s hard to keep track of where to go, which is why I need a morning Starbucks.

Evening in the Park

The other night we hung out in a tree-lined park with outdoor cafes and listened to live music by candlelight. And to top it off, we were a thousand miles from land.

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Evening in the Park
The scene at night in the Central Park neighborhood on board Symphony of the Seas

The Symphony of the Seas has six neighborhoods, and Central Park is my favorite. There are upscale restaurants with outdoor seating. At one end is Vintages, a wine bar where somehow, I end up at least once a day. In the afternoon, there might be one or two patrons, and you can sit at an outdoor table, and watch folks stroll by.

more night photography from the gallery

There are way too many choices; neighborhoods, restaurants, nightclubs, sports, shopping, and bars. Speaking of which; there are at least sixteen different bars, and I had a plan to try each one. I’m only halfway through, and it’s not looking like I’ll hit the goal. But rest assured, it’s not for lack of trying.

Leaving Miami

Taking pictures from a ship is like standing on a tall building. The vantage is nearly as good as a drone but without the need for an FAA license.

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Leaving Miami
The view of Miami Beach from the deck of a cruise-ship leaving port

I took this onboard the Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas as we left Miami on a three-day cruise. There were high winds on that voyage, and we had to skip one of our ports. The other port was Nassau where we did dock safely and enjoyed a day exploring.

more relating to cruise ships

Perhaps because of the rough conditions, I got a few good photos using the perspective of the ship that I wouldn’t usually get. Then, on the final morning, we arrived back here to Miami at sunrise, and I got a few last photos from the top deck. After that, it was back to ground level.

Cruise Ship Leaving the Port of Venice

This was taken from a water taxi as we passed a cruise ship leaving the port of Venice. I’ve been on several cruises and the port of Venice is the most scenic I’ve seen. This was not the ship I was on but if you look close you’ll see all the passengers lined up along the rail. They’re looking out at the city of Venice.

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Cruise Ship Leaving the Port of Venice
Cruise Ship Leaving the Port of Venice

I was on an even larger ship that left a few hours later and the scene must have looked similar. There were so many people standing on one side that the hull tilted towards the city. It was the most amazing feeling; the ships are so large it never occurred to me that the weight of the passengers could make it tilt.

The procedure for docking a cruise ship in Venice involves being towed by two or more tugboats. The tugs are massive machines. There is one that pulls from the bow and one or more that guide the stern. Because they move so slow you have a perfect vantage of the city. I stood on the thirteenth deck and looked down upon the rooftops. It was one of the highlights of the cruise.

more images of boats

In any case, this was just a random shot with an interesting perspective. It’s one thing to stand on the top deck and look out, and quite another to see it pass by from the water level.

Signs at Sea

When sailing you find yourself looking for signs at sea. Any kind of sign will do; weather signs, signs of land and signs of life. Open water doesn’t have the familiar frames of reference, so unconsciously our minds are pre-occupied with building one.

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Signs at Sea
Signs at Sea – when at sea we look for signs of life

This is not news to anyone who sails. The frame of reference for a sailor is different. Sailors know how to read signs and surely there are many more signs that we’re not even aware of.

This was taken as I sailed on a cruise ship towards Venice. To the combination of clouds, water and land on the horizon I added birds from another image. They were not in the original but for me they completed the scene.

more seascape images

The idea here is that these are all signs at sea. Chances are you’re much better than me at reading them.

What I Saw in My Mind

Walking to the train one morning in Vancouver I noticed this cruise ship at dock. It arrived a few hours earlier and was preparing for another voyage to Alaska. A common site in the summer but nonetheless it looked awesome in the morning light so I took a few photos; this is what I saw in my mind. Let me explain…

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What I Saw in My Mind
What I Saw in My Mind – From Vancouver BC

I spent a lot of time on this photo to make it look like what you see here. The original photo didn’t look so pretty. It had a lot of distractions, including other boats and a parking lot in the lower right. So I manipulated it to make it look like what I thought I saw. What we perceive is usually different than what we see. In other words, we perceive what we want to see and have a tendency to screen the rest; so this image is now closer to what I thought I saw.

At the time I only noticed the boat, it stood out because it wasn’t there the day before. I also noticed the soft light of the morning sun reflecting on the side. I thought to myself that it was an awesome scene, but when I looked at the image later there were other things I didn’t remember seeing, like the parking lot for instance. Rather than get disappointed and throw it away, it became a challenge for me to see if I could replicate my initial impression.

more images from Vancouver

To my way of thinking the practice of photography is an expression of art. If I just want to record an event I snap a photo with my phone. But “photography” can be more than that. That doesn’t mean it should always be manipulated, but it should tell a story. In this case I did indeed manipulate it so that I could convey the story what I perceived in my mind on that summer morning in Vancouver.

Cruise Ships Are Like Spaceships

On the last day of our three-day trip I got up before dawn to walk around the top deck of the ship. This walkway seemed like a portal on a space ship. I think cruise ships are like spaceships, at least like the big ones in the movies. In my mind a proper space ship has facilities to take tourist to different planets. Then at each location they probably dock on he dark side of the moon and take little excursions to the planet. You never know, truth can be stranger than fiction.

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Cruise Ships Are Like Spaceships
Cruise Ships Are Like Spaceships – Taken before dawn on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas

Anyway, taking pictures of a cruise ship seems to work out better in the early morning. During the day and late into the night the decks are always crowded. But because everyone is up partying so late it’s a guarantee there are few if any people up early. That’s when you can get all those architectural details they build on to the ships; like these colorful arches for example.

Also, in the morning the crew is usually washing the decks and the sheen of wet surfaces enhances the light with reflections. Having said all that, I suppose the real trick is waking up early. Since this was the last day and we were scheduled to get off early I had to get up; I might not be so eager otherwise. About a half hour after this we pulled into the Port of Miami and I saw more cool things I wouldn’t normally see during the day.

more architecture from the gallery

Maybe one day I’ll get up early and we’ll be pulling into the dark side of the moon, and then I’ll know I was up partying way too hard.