spikesgirl58 (spikesgirl58) wrote,

Panama Day 17 – Aruba, Jamaica, oooh, I wanna take ya…

Weather - sunny, but very windy. 27 C with calm seas

Oh, what a day! We started by sliding into port at about 6:30, our earliest. We had a departure time on our excursion of 7:50, we hurried ate breakfast and returned to the cabin to get everything packed. TBG had gotten up in the middle of the night to charge the underwater camera. This was our only dive chance the entire trip and he didn’t want to miss it.
The economy of the island hovers about 2%, which means just about everyone works and it should the contrast between it and the Central American countries. Tourism is their top business and they have to import just about everything from the mainland, which in this case is Venezuela or the ocean, including all their drinking water.

We boarded a bus for De Palm waterpark and it proved to be a good choice. It was a very clean and self- contained island. We found the snorkel area and were the first ones in the water. The tide was going out and it was a little rough, but the fish were incredible. I tried to find a book or anything on Caribbean fish, just so I could understand what I was seeing, but no can do. The most amazing was one that looked like stained glass with a red tummy and tail. As I lost the camera the last time, I let TBG use it and he got a few good shots. It was hazy because of the sand, but still a lot of fun. Even better, the dive shop operator gave me a peacock feather (they have a pair of pet birds) and I know there will be some happy kitties back home.

We got out and rested as at 11, someone would take anyone interested out past the border buoys and over the coral shelf. Sparky was our designated bag protector and dozed the morning away. TBG roamed the island and waterpark while I read. At 11, we headed back over, got special vest (we all had to wear life jackets) and splashed around until the guide showed up at 11:30. It was just the two of us, so we headed out. Sadly. The combination of being tired from swimming for half an hour waiting for him, the swim before, and not being in shape took its toll , and the waves proved too much for me and I had to head back. It was good, though, for the guide only had TBG to concentrate on.

We had some lunch (hamburgers or hotdogs with fries – typical park food, but it was included in the fare) and lazed around. We visited to gift shop and I picked up a couple more things. Then it was time to head back to the ship. TBG offered to haul everything back while we paused at the dock shops. We both bought a couple of things and happily made our way on board. It was time for a shower and a nap before Chef’s Table tonight.

Chef’s Table is a special dinner limited to between 10 and 15 people. We don white jackets and are lectured on proper galley etiquette and then taken down into the gallery for apps and champagne. Sparky was a little worried beforehand, but was thrilled to find everything tasty and wonderful. Thankfully, they gave us a menu afterwards, so I don’t have to remember this. The apps were: Halibut Ceviche with lime, grapefruit, celery, and fennel, Lobster Papaya skewered on lemongrass with a sweet chili sauce, Tempura Coconut Shrimp with Thai sauce, Roasted potatoes wrapped in a blini and filled with sour cream and black pearl (HA!) caviar, and pumpernickel Crostini with three cheeses, rosemary and truffle scented honey. The champagne was Nicolas Feuillatte Brut from France.

Then we took off the jackets and headed back upstairs to Sterling’s for dinner.

Our first course was Wild Porcini mushroom Risotto. Accompanying this was a Anthillia Donnafugata, a crisp white wine from Italy. Then we had the sorbet, strawberry with cracked pepper, and topped with Grey Goose vodka. By now, I’m stuffed, but along comes the Entrée, Double Impact Surf n Turf (lobster tail, scallops and filet mignon), with turned vegetables. Thankfully, I was able to pawn my lobster tail off onto the guy beside me, a lovely chap, Dave, from British Columbia and managed to do justice to my plate. This course was accompanied by a Cabernet Sauvignon Don Maximiano, Chile). Surprisingly, I favored the white over the red.

Then came the cheese course (oof) of Gorgonzola was warm walnut bread with a balsamic glaze and port wine reduction. I managed to eat the little slice of fig cake and sampled the dish, but could do no more.

Afterwards, that was followed with Errazuriz Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc – Chile) and dessert. It was an iced Amaretto parfait with vanilla plums and a brandy snap tuille (a cookie). They pulled out all stops for this was the chief baker’s last Chef Dinner, for he was retiring. Wait for the pictures and you will see what I mean.

Our Executive Chef stayed with us for most of the meal, Jeremy Snowden. He hailed from Liverpool and was a hoot. He was probably the most personable of all the chefs we’ve met and loved a good story, as does Oscar Perego, the Maitre d’Hotel. They had us laughing all night long. Dave had spent time with Chef and ordered a round of Drambuie to toast him. The night was going on and on, but I could tell that Sparky was getting restless, as was I. We excused ourselves, took our long stemmed red roses, group photo and autographed cookbooks downstairs.

Between all that food and wine and the day’s activities, it didn’t take sleep long to come. We do seem to have picked up the port side rattle, but nothing was going to keep me awake. Tomorrow is a day at sea, one of the two left and I, for one, am pretty happy about it. Sweet dreams, everyone!
Tags: aruba, cruising, food, friends, travel
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