Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Home From the Cold - A Caribbean Cruise Pt. 4

by Kal-F

The Universe Dining Room is on Deck 3 and 4 of the ship. Each deck has a special name; from top to bottom: Sky, Sun, Spa, Lido, Verandah, Empress, Upper, Promenade, Atlantic, Lobby, Main, Riviera, and Zero; so while there are actually thirteen levels, the number thirteen is not used. The Medical Centre is said to be on deck Zero, the bottommost deck and the second deck, Riviera, is counted as deck one.

At 8:30 p.m., we step out of the cabin and head for the see-through elevators. As we rise we see that the Lobby Deck is teeming with people all dressed to kill, some posing for pictures standing within set backdrops that show various tropical scenes.

We step off the elevators at the Atlantic Deck and squeeze our way past another throng of people posing for more pictures and inspecting the duty- free jewellery and fragrance shops. These are probably the people who have have dined earlier because they don't seem to be in any hurry to go anywhere. We walk past the Galaxy Dining Room and head to the aft of the ship to the Universe.

Everyone is already there except for Pam and Trevor. At the head of the table is Papa Smith, the father-in -law to Shelley. His name is Robert. That is also the middle name of his three sons, all of whom have other names beginning with the letter R. All of his sons still live at home, including the two who are married, so when a letter arrives addressed to Mr. R. Smith there is a family conference to decide who will open it. On Papa's right is Mamma Smith, who is probably in her late 50s but doesn't look a day past 35. She doesn't say much but see her come alive when music, any type of music, starts to play. She's up and moving and man, can she move her body!

Across from her is her second son Robert, Shelley’s husband, a handsome young man with a big dimple in his chin and a ready smile, and like his mother, hardly says a word. This evening, however, he actually speaks but in such subdued tones that Shelley, who's sitting beside him, has to translate for the rest of the table. Beside Shelley is her brother Barry, freshly arrived from Miami where he is going to university. Barry did not turn down the offer to go on the cruise when he discovered that his parents would pay for it.

Barb and I are greeted by the others as we take our seats opposite each other. We sit and while awaiting the arrival of Pam and Trevor trade stories about our experiences so far. Shelley has already discovered room service and has vowed to exploit all its benefits. By the end of the trip the workers know her voice intimately. She doesn't even have to give her cabin number. Barry has already spent time in the internet cafe and by the end of the trip they are almost about to offer him a job there.

Soon everyone is turning their glances towards the entrance as we wonder where the final two are. Papa Smith, a man of routine who goes to bed at 7:00 p.m. and awakes at 4:00 a.m. so that he can be the first to arrive in his office at 6:00 a.m. five days a week, glances furtively at his watch. He is too much of a gentleman to start dinner without them. When they finally arrive, Pam, cheerful and bubbly as always and Trevor, decked out (no pun intended) in the best outfit that I've seen him wear in years, so much so that I have to look more closely to recognise him, the mood at the table suddenly changes to one of eager anticipation to the fare that is about to be served.

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