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Destination Unknown


This ‘N That by Nicky De Lange

A few months ago, some good friends suggested we go on a cruise together. These are fun people, so we quickly accepted.
Next we discussed where we wanted to go. Since we’d done the Western Caribbean route out of Galveston a few times, we opted for the Eastern Caribbean this time. After some consideration, we all agreed on an Eastern Caribbean trip out of Fort Lauderdale. This was decided upon back in July.
We picked a cruise itinerary that included St. Kitts, St. Thomas and the Bahamas. Nice tropical beaches, beautiful scenery, balmy breezes. The perfect eight-day trip.
This was all decided and booked, including onshore excursions, by early August. We got our flights to Fort Lauderdale arranged. We agreed to arrive the day before the ship sailed, just in case of delayed flights. You never know . . .
All of this was PHH – Pre-Hurricane Harvey. We weren’t too concerned about tropical storms and hurricanes since we weren’t leaving until October. July, August and September are the months you need to worry about. But October? No big deal.
Our first casualty was St. Kitts. The cruise line had some minor technical problem with the ship’s ability to get up to top speed, and it would take too long to get to that part of the Caribbean. We were all disappointed, but these things happen. The company substituted Puerto Rico for St. Kitts.
We’d all been to Puerto Rico several times and were not too thrilled about the change but decided we’d make the best of it.
We were so trusting. Then along came Harvey, the hurricane that stomped most of the islands we were planning to visit. St. Thomas was the first to go. According to the weather forecasters, it will be a while before that island will be up and running again. We felt let down but what can you do about a force of nature?
We still had Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. By that time Harvey was history. We figured that was the big storm of 2017. Over and done with. And then along came Hurricane Irma.
Suddenly we didn’t know if we’d be able to sail from Fort Lauderdale. And even if we could, would anything in Irma’s path survive the storm?
To our surprise, the port of Fort Lauderdale came through the hurricane with minimal damage. Our cruise would still sail from there in October. Unfortunately, slightly behind Irma was Hurricane Maria. This was a category five storm and it wasn’t messing around. Maria blew away our stop in Puerto Rico.
On tonight’s weather report, the news was bad. The island has no power at all and only about 10 percent water service. All the roads are blocked. Local officials were predicting it would be several months before electricity was fully restored. We now had to scratch Puerto Rico off our itinerary.
The newest destination is Haiti. And that’s still up in the air, as Maria is aiming full speed ahead in that direction. We’re quickly running out of islands.
Meanwhile friends who know we have a cruise planned for next month keep asking us where we’re going.
I just look at them, dazed, and say, “I really don’t know.” I do know all future cruises will be in late fall, winter and early spring!

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