Thoughts, quirky insights and experiences in my meandering life.

I Went on a Knitting Cruise

Symphony of the Seas, Labadee, Haiti.

No smirking in the peanut gallery, it is a real thing, created by Treena and her right hand man, Bob. They both work in the travel industry, and Treena wanted to open a yarn store when she retired. Bob said, why not now. So she did. Spin Me A Yarn in Etobicoke. For the brits reading this, don’t pronounce the k in Etobicoke. And then they put the two together, SMAY (Spin Me a Yarn) Knitting Cruises. Cathie, from my Monday night zoom knitting group, is a SMAY customer and told me about it. I was intrigued, and I inveigled my cousin Cathy to come along. What a lot of fun. My first ever cruise.

Miami Beach from the Symphony of the Seas, as we left port.

Cathy and I had an afternoon and morning in Miami and Miami Beach before we got on the cruise ship, and we stayed in the Art Deco area of Miami Beach. Not for the last time on this trip I was like a kid in a candy store. I love Art Deco.

And couldn’t stop taking pictures. Must have driven Cathy a little crazy.

In the afternoon we walked to the beach, Miami Beach! Quite honestly not somewhere I ever thought I would find myself. The politics in Florida scare me. I think Trump is the worst possible choice for president, but Ron DeSantis is a close second worst choice, now out of the race and back to being governor of Florida. The following is from Wikipedia, March 7, 2024. “DeSantis opposes abortion and has denounced Planned Parenthood.” “On December 15, 2021, DeSantis announced a new bill, the Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act, which would allow parents to sue school districts that teach their children critical race theory.” “Throughout his political career, DeSantis has opposed bills and judicial rulings upholding the legitimacy of same-sex marriage, and his political campaign has refused to clarify his position on the subject.” No my taste in politics. I could go on, but why, I can’t do anything about it, and there are more fun things to say.

Despite US politics, the walk on the beach was lovely.

The morning of the cruise we went for an extended walk from 20th Street to way down Miami Beach, from North Beach to Mid Beach and maybe a bit of South Beach. We walked down the activity trail next to the beach and back up on the road set back from the beach. It was a lovely day, warm and breezy.

How cool, to photograph the current rescuers in front of the Art Deco headquarters.

We broke the walk with a lovely latte, and then went in to use the bathroom.

And

Can’t get enough Art Deco:

Walking back up the street we saw the back of the Beach Patrol Headquarters

And

Had to go in to the Official Art Deco Gift Shop, and yes, I bought a few things. Miami Beach is in full rejuvenation mode and many of the old Art Deco buildings have been or are being renovated and brought back to their former glory. I really enjoy Art Deco, Art Nouveau and the Art and Craft style. They were all close together in time, such a creative time in history.

Just a few more pictures of Miami Beach:

As you can tell, Cathy and I have to up our selfie game. Actually, it is me that has to do that.

Back to the hotel, and then off to the boat.

We had a charmed time getting on the boat. No line ups to speak of, and we were in our cabin in no time.

A balcony is a must, and we slept with the door open, to the sounds of the ocean as the ship created waves.

Even before we met our fellow knitters and their friends, Cathy and I had gone down the water slide, twice. Kid in a candy shop time again for me. Such a hoot.

We did it on the last day aboard as well. We missed our chance to use the Flowrider: https://www.royalcaribbean.com/cruise-ships/symphony-of-the-seas/things-to-do By the time we looked into it the line up was loooong and it was hot. We played mini-put instead.

We met our group for sail away, and again for dinner in the dining room where three tables were reserved for us each night. By then we had seen an ice skating show, and after dinner we enjoyed an outrageous, but not sexist, comic. Adults only.

Have you done a cruise? They are a curious mix of everything being laid on with a spatula, and a hard sell. Let’s talk about the “being laid on with a spatula” first. Dinner in the dining room, a luxurious, three floor affair. You are seated, you have a changing menu every night of delicious food. You order, eat and digest. Yum. And the service is impeccable, tips on your cruise bill are mandatory. If you order a bottle of wine and don’t finish it they bring it back to your table the next night. They remember whose bottle was whose each and every time. You pay for each alcoholic beverage unless you buy the alcohol, fancy coffee and soft drink package. (Those that did buy that package were easy to distinguish around the pool areas, had to get their money’s worth) At the end of dinner you get up and leave. No bill.

All of the shows are included and there are endless ways to entertain yourself on board, games, trivia, gym, swimming (avoiding the people drinking Mai Tai’s in the pool), rock climbing. You can pop into the buffet day or night, or go the bistro on the “Buy Me” deck. So much to choose from and all included And the bars. Many of them. All themed.

Staircase down to the Buy Me deck, aka deck five

Ah, the Buy Me deck. It was a strange mixture of very expensive items, including high end jewellery and alcohol, and tat, often overpriced. Not too much in between. And lots of ways to entice you to buy buy buy, which of course is universal. More of that in a bit. It was hard to avoid, it was a major through way from forward to aft, some other decks were blocked by theatres, ice rinks and by the smoke emitting from the casino. So strange to be around smoke, we have such strict laws in Ontario. Apart from the Buy Me deck, which also included the Excursions Desk, there is the Customer Service Desk. So even if you tried to avoid the Buy Me area but had an issue with a charge on your account you had to go there. On another deck was the Next Cruise selling area. What better time to get people to commit to another cruise holiday with Royal Caribbean than when they are on a very enjoyable cruise? And deep in the ship, deck two, where the conference area is, is the Loyalty desk where you can become a member of the Crown and Anchor Society. Now, this is my first cruise, which as I said, was a lot of fun, and I have never been to an all inclusive resort, or many resorts of any kind, so all of this is likely to be par for the course. But all new to me, and interesting to observe, a combination of sheer enjoyment and a cynical mind.

Our first day was a sea day, and we were in class at 10 am. We began by correcting mistakes, we had had homework where we intentionally made mistakes which were to be corrected. Except I didn’t. I had been willingly enticed into a jewellery promotion for a free bracelet, and off I went with Sherry to stand in line to claim it. Get the bracelet free, and buy the first 5 charms for $5, US. After that each charm was $5. I got one for Cathy as well, whether she wanted it or not. It was her birthday after all.

The bracelet in question

It took almost 1.5 hours. Later I found out I could have gone after class! So annoying. Not so lucky with the bracelet being given away by the jewellery store. It was a time limited giveaway that afternoon and I missed it. For those that did manage to get one, when you went back to get a charm each day (theirs were free) you had to go into the jewellery store. Clever. And they had a plan for buying things on “tick”, aka payment over time.

So, back at the class. I missed fixing mistakes, but not the big reveal. At the end of the class Treena unveiled her what we were to knit, a mobius cowl, i.e. a cowl with a twist, and showed us an ingenious way to cast on 200 stitches, and then double them to 400. You knit from the centre out on both edges at the same time. Very clever.

Karen modelling Lambert’s Smooth Sailing Cowl, designed by Treena
Ingrid having fun
And me being delighted. The yarn was hand dyed for the cruise by L’il Red Kettlehead. Catching a Wave, blue, and Stripes Ahoy, white. Very soft and cushiony.
Treena tutoring us on the cast-on in the hour before dinner, when we would meet for drinks.
Cathie, who got me into this. Happily so.

Getting the hang of it.

Very focused. Wish I had taken more pictures, but I too was trying to get the hang of the cast-on.

This picture pulls at my heart strings. Mike holding the yarn for his wife Norma to wind. Just like my dad used to do. Doesn’t he look like a pro?

Cathy’s birthday was on our first full day on board. Treena and Bob had this photograph taken of our table that night and gave it to Cathy at the end of the cruise. I think it is a lovely one. Treena and Bob are on the right, Kayleigh and Ron are the couple in the middle and Norma and Mike are on either side of them. There was a chorus of singing by the waiters and many other cruisers besides our own tables.

Day two and three were excursion days. I can’t say I have “been” to Jamaica, but we did have a very good guide for the hour journey to Swimming with the Dolphins, and the time we spent with the dolphins was magical. I realized as we interacted with them that they probably see humans as a the means to an end, getting lots of treats. For each time they did an action that was requested they received a fishy treat, which they insisted on if they felt it was delayed. Just like training Tucker, but they are way more successful. We both thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and the dolphins seemed very happy to perform. We couldn’t take pictures, but we took them of other groups.

Notice the cooler, full of treats

Hard to stop taking pictures

And

The matriarch was 60, usually they survive to 20 in the wild, and she had a baby at 55! She had separated a baby from its mom, and they had to isolate her to get the baby back to mom. So they decided she should have one of her own. She had been in a travelling show and then brought here. It was probably her only baby. I asked if she was retired, but our guide said she was still very happy to perform.

Try as I might I could not find a pair of dolphin earrings, that I think would have been a big seller at the cove, but no luck anywhere.

I am sad to say that the excursion at Labadee was not as enjoyable. Labadee is a cruise company developed resort, not really for Haitians, and we did not know what was misery was developing for Haitians at the time. Both Cathy and I signed up for the Snorkel Safari. But sadly, as Cathy said, it was snorkelling in a graveyard. The reef was dead. I saw a small amount of pale yellow brain coral, lots of dead coral and few fish or crustaceans. Not the cruise line’s fault, we humans really have soiled in every being’s nest.

Just to lighten the mood, more pictures

Loved that balcony

And

Approaching Falmouth, Jamaica

Aren’t we relaxed:

No doubt we are related

Despite my sometime cynical observations I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am very glad I went. Thank you Treena and Bob for a great experience, and Cathy, for coming along for the ride.

The last picture is the whole gang of knitters. Sadly there wasn’t enough time to get to know everyone. One participant preferred not to have her picture published, but this is such a great shot I had to make it work.

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4 Comments

  1. Patti Smith

    Fun to read of your knitting cruise adventures! I hope this is only your first cruise!

  2. Kathie

    I really enjoyed your trip and photos. Thanks, Kathie

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