(June 6, 2006)
Read about the other days:
DAY ONE – Departure
DAY TWO – Key West, Fla.
DAY THREE – Cozumel, Mexico
DAY FOUR – Belize City, Belize, and Xunantunich Ruins
DAYS FIVE and SIX – A Day at Sea, and Returning Home
We woke up at 7:30 a.m., with the ship tied up to the pier at Key West, Fla. The entire island is smaller than the city of Seminole, Oklahoma , where we live. Key West is touted as the “Southernmost point of the United States,” even though it’s not. Hawaii is much farther south. It’s also not the southernmost point of the continental U.S., since it’s an island. So I guess that “southernmost” thing is just to excite tourists. However, it is connected to the continent by US Route 1, which gets there by several long bridges. It’s just 90 miles from Cuba .
Juan Ponce de Leon was the first European to visit Key West, in 1521, and Florida became a Spanish colony not long afterward. A fishing and salvage village with a small garrison was established there. The Spanish named it “Bone Island” (Cayo Hueso), and that’s where the name “Key West” came from, in a poor anglicization of the words. Great Britain took control of the island in 1763, but the Spanish got it back in 1783. It wasn’t until 1815 when the island was sold to a Florida man, and a few years later, the newly-formed United States took control of Florida, thus gaining the island.
Anyway, Marline and I dressed up (a little), and walked to the nearest shop that sold cigarette lighters — we hadn’t found any on the ship. Also, I bought a Coke , since we’d skipped breakfast on the ship.
We easily found Whitehead Street, and walked east-southeast into the island for five blocks. There, we found the Monroe County Courthouse just where we expected it, and entered to fill out our application for a marriage license. That cost $93. For an additional $30, we had the deputy court clerk perform our marriage. It was short, sweet, and to the point. We said our vows, exchanged our rings, kissed, and were declared officially married. The license will be filed in the courthouse, and a copy will be mailed to my post office box within a few days.
The nice lady who performed our marriage also took a picture of us with my camera, and then we stepped outside where I set my camera on a sign and used the remote control to take several pictures of Marline and I with the courthouse (actually the Lester Building ) in the background.
After that, we took our first stroll as a married couple, continuing down Whitehead Street until we were obviously past the “touristy” spots, and then took other streets back toward the ship.
Marline kept freaking out because there were roosters everywhere in Key West. Being from the Bronx , she wasn’t used to that. It didn’t strike me as strange, since I grew up in the American South, and have seen many barnyard animals running wild in my years. Once, as we strolled down the sidewalk, a rooster stepped from between two parked cars, and planted himself in between us. Marline nearly screamed, and ran to the other side of the street to go around the rooster. I’ll admit I was being a little mean. I pointed suddenly at the rooster and told him, “Go over there, she’s scared of you.” Apparently worried about my sudden movement, the bird rushed out into the street toward Marline. I think she still hasn’t forgiven me for that.
We took streets southwest and northwest, zig-zagging back to the ship, which was docked near the west end of the island.
Just as most of the passengers were exiting the ship, we got back on and had breakfast at 9:45 a.m. (in the WindJammer Café). We changed clothes, because Marline’s wedding dress and my polo shirt were getting too hot for the weather.
We quickly made our way back on shore. Just a quick note: each time we left the ship, we had to show our “SeaPass,” the card issued by the ship. We scanned it in a small electronic machine, and the crewmember standing behind the machine could see our head-shots pop up on his screen, so he’d know we weren’t using someone else’s card. Each time we re-boarded the ship, we had to show the passports to the government employees on the dock, since the ship was about to leave the country, and we again had to scan the SeaPass as we entered the ship. The ship’s computer thus kept track of how many passengers were on-board and how many were still unaccounted for on shore. To my knowledge, they never left a port without a passenger, but then it might take a while for gossip to circulate among 2,500 passengers.
Back in Key West, dressed more comfortably, we walked around the more touristy spots, going through several shops, and looking at the goods. As it turned out, nearly every destination we visited had very similar merchandise, including the foreign countries: sunglasses, T-shirts, souvenir hats, shoes, swimsuits, alcohol (not so much in Key West, but especially in Mexico), and jewelry, ranging from the very cheap and tawdry to the expensive and (for most people) unaffordable.
In the Key West Museum of Art & History , we looked around a little and saw a nature movie that focused on the flora and fauna of Key West. As it turned out, the movie (and attached gift shop) were sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or very similar organization, and the end of the film began going on and on about religion. We left early, and the lady that ran the shop said, “I’m not sure why, but everyone always leaves before it’s over.” Nothing against any particular church, of course, but please don’t try to TRICK me into your religion. Thank you. At a nice little shop advertised by a dog , we bought Marline a pair of sunglasses, because she’s not used to the bright sun we have down here in the lower latitudes. (But, as it turned out, I wore them most of the time, since my pretty blue eyes need more protection from the sun.)
As we walked back to the ship, we found a Wendy’s where Marline purchased a Frosty dessert beverage. Fortunately, I found Mr. Pibb in the restaurant. You see, on our ship, and in most of our ports-of-call, there was no Dr. Pepper , which happens to be my favorite drink. I was feening, and Mr. Pipp is close enough.
We also found a nice Anglican/Episcopalian church , which we entered.
Back at the ship, there was a long line to re-board, since everyone waited until almost the last possible moment. We soaked in sweat and put ice cubes down our shirts to stay cool, and finally made it back on the ship at about 2 p.m., skipping lunch.
We stayed on the pool deck until about 4:15 p.m., which was crowded, as the Enchantment pulled away from the dock at Key West, heading into the Gulf of Mexico, on her way to Cozumel.
After showering away the chlorine, we used Marline’s Sony video camera to take a video tour of the ship, hoping to show it to friends and family later.
Then, after supper in the WindJammer, I took pictures of a Carnival cruise ship that we were passing.
At 9 p.m., we were treated to a wonderful show in the Orpheum Theater, put on by the ship’s singers and dancers. It was a broadway-style show that Marline loved. I’m personally not used to such shows, so it took a while to get used to it. I’ll admit that the singers and dancers were well-trained, and the show was enjoyable, even though we sat in the balcony where other people’s heads blocked our view.
Then, at 10:15 p.m., we trooped over to the Spotlight Lounge for the “Battle of the Sexes” game show, in which I participated. The rules of the game were set up kind of like “Family Feud,” with the men against the women. I was part of the men’s team until one of our answers was rejected for the stupidest of reasons. The lady running the show said “chocolate” was not “candy.” We’d already given the answer “candy,” and so didn’t say “chocolate,” and lost that round. I thought to myself, “If this lady doesn’t even know that chocolate isn’t candy, then I don’t want to be a part of it.” I sat out the rest of the game, which the women eventually won.
After that, there was a round of karaoke in the Spotlight, which wasn’t horrible. We later sat talking in the Schooner Bar, where I could smoke (smoking was limited on the ship, but not too badly that I felt like a prisoner, unlike on an Amtrak train.)
Just past midnight, we visited the Viking Crown Lounge at the top of the ship (Deck 11), where some crew members dressed as the Village People put on a show. The place was packed with teenagers (and some adults) trying to learn the “electric slide” and other silly dances that shouldn’t have been invented in the first place. Cool.
After a VERY long day, we returned to our stateroom and fell into a deep sleep.