What Happens on a Cruise, Stays on a Cruise - Part 1
Updated: Jul 15
She picked up the inimitably crispy strip of streaky bacon, so smothered in maple syrup that it now cascades off the bacon as she plumps it into her mouth.
'They certainly know how to do bacon here' Lemara thought as she looked out the window from the table in the restaurant. It was approaching 10:30 in the morning, and the hotel's guests seem to have all set their alarm clocks for the same wake-up time. As they all turned up that minute for breakfast like only London's buses can. The restaurant was now charged with that excitable American accent.
At one table, a young lady was enamoured with her girlfriends' matching glittery sandals. And when she too was gifted the same sparkly pair, the entire restaurant almost became hearing impaired. 'She's a pizazzy one!' Lemara surmised.
Lemara herself had only made it to breakfast some five minutes earlier and was like a 'dog with two tails' to find a vacant window seat. The restaurant, on the second floor of the hotel, overlooked the runway at Fort Lauderdale International airport. Coffee, bacon, bright sunshine and a bit of plane spotting. It was a little halcyon moment after a gunshot decision saw her booking a last-minute cruise and flight just over twenty-four hours prior. A storm perusing the northeastern coast of the Caribbean towards Florida in a fit of ill-temper, caused their plane to divert to Philadelphia where they spent the night, in the airport.
A waitress now made her way around the tables announcing breakfast will be closing shortly and enquired if there was anything she needed.
'Another pot of coffee and milk, please.' was her reply. Not sure why as she was languorously nursing the first cup. And she should definitely only ever have one cup of any hotel's coffee. She had, on numerous occasions, pondered on the intentions of a hotel's brew, as it was like no other. The penetrating aroma, sufficient to send her cannonballing off any wall. Do all hotels purchase their coffee from the same coffee farm? Or was there some dirty secret employed when making their coffee? She wondered.
Just then, another aircraft took to the sky. Lemara herself had landed only a couple of hours ago. In all essence, she should be in England to attend her university graduation the following week but the lure of a seven-night cruise around the western Caribbean - much more arresting.
The second pot of coffee had since arrived. And as Lemara poured herself another cup, a figure materialised in the corner of her left eye. She took a sip, and as she did, glanced in the direction of the character.
Sat, two tables away was a Thom Browne clad guest keeping his cup of coffee company. A coy smile emanated across her face as her eyes surveyed him. Like an adhesive, his gaze held her attention, but it was insufficient to avert her interest in the Boeing whose wheels were now courting the runway outside. Satisfied the pilots had satisfactorily romanced the landing, she glanced back at her supplementary interest. Her view now blocked by the waiter at his table. Lemara chose this exact moment to make an exit.
In a deliberate attempt to evade the queues at check-in, Lemara chose to board the cruise ship just inside closing time.
She had made her way to Fort Lauderdale cruise port, checked in, boarded the cruise ship and was making her way to the lifts, when a voice from behind, greeted, 'I see we've cross paths again!'
Thinking there was no way the address veiled in an American accent could be aimed at her, Lemara continued walking. Nonetheless, she took an inconsequential glance backwards and found herself halting dead in her tracks. It was none other than her Thom Browne clad guest from breakfast. Inexplicable, but once more, a smile emanated from her face as if she was glad to see him. And she was, she just wasn't sure why. He looked to be about five feet, eleven inches, dark hair, (he at least ticked two boxes) not bad looking but not overly gorgeous either. Enough to entice her interest, gosh he even made arm candy status.
'It must be fate,' he said with a smile as he caught up with her.
'Why is that?' asked Lemara as they stood opposite each other outside the lifts.
'There I was desperately scribbling messages to be passed onto you at the restaurant, only to look up and discover you had left.'
'Maybe you shouldn't be scribbling messages to strangers in a restaurant.' She teased.
'Maybe so, but here we are now, on the same ship for the next seven days!' He responded. As they exchanged sentences with ease.
'By the way, I am Harry, I am from Maine!' as he extended his right arm to her. (Lemara would soon come to realise it was customary on cruises that country of origin was as crucial as her name when introducing one's self to others. It was some badge of honour, and the further away you came from, the better. Further someone with an English accent like herself with a ship decked out with mostly Americans garnered much interest.) 'I couldn't help noticing you in the restaurant this morning.' He continued.
Let me guess, was it the way I drank the coffee? Joked Lemara.
No, it was the way you held the coffee cup! He mocked.
They both burst out laughing!
Harry and Lemara continued their tête-à-tête blissfully unaware of the congregation now gathered around them for the elevators. It was the blaring announcement that came over the ship's intercom reminding guests to attend the muster drill at their respective stations in thirty minutes, that drew their attention.
With the area around the lift becoming congested, Lemara suggested they take the stairs, to which Harry obliged. Her room was another two floors up on deck seven. Besides, it offered the opportunity for them to continue their banter.
'This is me!' She pointed out as they came to room 7007 towards the derriere of the ship.
'I'm above you on deck nine in room 9088, pointing upwards with his key card in his hand in a decidedly evocative manner.
'Have a safe journey!' Lemara jested as he turned to leave.
Harry gave a little wave and walked on.
As if by intuition, Harry stopped and turned around the exact moment Lemara stopped fumbling with the key card to look back at him.
'Listen!' he quipped as he came swaggering back to her side. 'If you don't already have dinner plans, would you like to join me?'
'I may well do' she bantered, in her devil-may-care mood.
'So that is dinner at eight, I will come and collect you' he declared.
Lemara raised an eyebrow and smiled - she liked how he had just called all the shots.
He turned to leave but not before chivalrously aiding Lemara with her Carlton into her room, and their hands brushed against each other as he did so.
Those hands have definitely not shucked any oysters or potted any lobsters, Lemara mused.
As she closed the door behind her, her eyes journeyed directly to the large porthole ahead flooding the stateroom of Floridian sunshine. The bathroom and a wardrobe housing a shopping bag and bathrobe occupied the left-hand side of the room. On the right side of the room, just next to the porthole was a desk and chair. An interactive large-screen television and a proportionately lit circular mirror above the desk surveyed the room from their mounted wall positions. The queen-sized bed with its pillows embroidered with a single letter of the alphabet indulges in reminiscence of the cruise line's origins. Although one of the smaller sized category staterooms, it was no bonsai and the minimalist decor and timeless palette of lily-whites, ecru and nut browns aided the roominess.
As she walked to the window, a ship's horn sounded, and then another and then another. By the time Lemara got to the window, the horns of five cruise ships were blaring in the port outside, goodness it was clamorous.
Lemara walked back to the bed and threw herself face down across it, contemplating what to wear to dinner with Harry.
The multicoloured, mini skater girl dress was her first thought, but then she digressed. Is that dress saying too much? And if she thought that dress was saying too much so was the deep v-neck, fitted red dress with gold buttons. Lemara settled on a pair of black trousers, black heels, crocheted three quarter length beige top and gold scarf around her neck. She was satisfied the ensemble was comfortable but sufficiently sassy for the first night onboard the ship. But more so the unexpected and now highly anticipated date with a guy she only glanced eyes on hours before in a hotel's restaurant.
It was nearly twenty-four hours since she last slept. Jet lagged, Lemara closed her eyes, thinking, she would rest them for a bit.