Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Civility lives!


In the past decade—particularly over the last two years—we've all asked ourselves if Civility is dead, if caring, graciousness, and good manners are now lost in the mists of time. I am fortunate enough to live in an area where I experience civility on a daily basis, but frankly, I'd truly begun to wonder if Longwood and Lake Mary (Florida) were oases in the wilderness.

I am happy to announce that after my recent cruise, I can say that my personal optimism about people in general has been justified. Civility not only lives among members of the cruise ship crew—who are, of course, trained how to behave—but among the passengers on board. And among the people we encountered on shore. 

Example:  Evidently Royal Caribbean trains its people to make a special effort to greet those who are alone, particularly the elderly. Every time I went to breakfast, I was not only wished a good morning but asked if I needed coffee, juice, could they carry my plate, etc. One young man even raced to a different floor to find me a paper cup for "to go" coffee. The servers in the dining room went out of their way to provide what our fussy eaters asked for at dinner, even scaring up crême brulée on a night it wasn't on the menu. Another amused the girls—adults too—with napkin folding and little fun tricks. Everywhere we turned, someone was willing to go the extra mile. (We were, by the way, aboard Majesty of the Seas.)

This attitude did not end with crew. Graciousness ruled everywhere. People complimented perfect strangers on their clothes, laughed together at little incidents, held elevators, went out of their way to be helpful. For example, holding a place in line for me at Guest Relations so I, clearly a senior citizen, could sit in comfort while I waited. And then there was the lady who saw my cane while at the Mexico in a Nutshell museum and made sure I got safely down a steep ramp.

No, of course things were not always idyllic. For example, Cassidy, almost 12, and two young friends encountered a drunk on an elevator. They were ordered off the elevator by the young drunk's companion in no uncertain terms, but it seems likely the companion did so to protect the children from something they should not have to see or hear. At least that was Cassidy's interpretation, along with speculating that the drunk's brother was also trying to protect him from being seen in that condition. (Evidently, one can drink at 16 in Mexico, and the young man had taken full advantage of drinking legally.)

I have, however, saved the best story for last. Here, copied from Facebook, is Susie's story of how our cruise started—or almost did not start at all.

So lemme tell ya what happened today..... Mike almost didn't get on this cruise.
We were checking in at the cruise terminal in Tampa, 90+ minutes from home with no traffic. The boarding cutoff deadline is 3:30p, boat leaving at 4p. At 1:30pm Mike realizes that he BROUGHT HIS EXPIRED PASSPORT, not the new one. He's not allowed to board at all without a valid passport. We freak out. There's no time to go home and come back. Who can we get to go to our house, grab the passport and run to Tampa???
Lionel to the rescue! But he's in Winter Park and not answering his phone! Finally Mike reaches Lionel who goes and gets the passport. We now have just over 90 minutes till they pull the ramp away from the boat!
Lionel hits lots of rain and holiday traffic causing delays. Mike is insisting that we go on without him. My mom is hungry and upset. I'm crying. The girls are keeping it together..... Finally...... we reluctantly go on board and hope for the best.
3:17p...... mike texts that Lionel is not there and is in traffic. Doesn't look good.
3:30p..... We're at the muster stations and I tell the girls that evidently he's not going to make it. We are so sad, guilty, upset, concerned. Everyone around us is excited about starting their vacations! Not us.
3:40p I've heard nothing from mike and the deadline has passed. I'm assuming that Lionel will be Mike's ride back to Orlando. How will we get on without him?? What will he do for 5 days? Back to work? Who will interpret for us gringas in Cuba and Mexico??
Back at the check-in where he'd been for 2 hours, several customer service people got personally involved in his saga. As Lionel frantically pulled up at 3:35pm, they radioed the gangway people to hold on. A security guard outside grabbed the passport from Lionel thru the car window and hopped on his bicycle to deliver it to another guy at the entrance who then ran it up the stairs yelling "I got it! I got it!". It was like a relay race!
Stamp, sign, photo, run!!!!
3:46pm Mike texts me a photo of himself inside of the ship! We are ecstatic!!!!!!!!
We ran to meet him and the ship set sail. Whew!!!!!!!!! What a roller coaster way to start a vacation! We're so glad to all be together......

Tense moments? You bet. But what a relief when Mike made it. He says they pulled up the gangway the moment he was aboard. (Frankly, looking back, it was more like a scene in a movie than something that was actually happening.) So a special thanks to Royal Caribbean for being so helpful under difficult circumstances.

~ * ~

Mugging it up in Savannah (7/13/18). Riley, center; Cassidy, front right.

Below are some of my photos from our cruise. Susie took great photos of back streets in  Cuba where few, if any, of the passengers found their way. (Courtesy of Mike being at home in a Spanish-speaking country.) At the moment she is in Savannah again, where the Citrus Singers are performing for QuestFest, a national conclave of Girl Scouts. When she gets back, I hope to get some of those Cuba photos to pass along (many taken by young photographer extraordinaire, Riley). 

Susie, Tampa Bay, still grinning over Mike making the boat.

Would you believe Hailey's lunch? Olives, pickles & French fries.

Military helicopter checking us out in Key West - making sure our ship hadn't been taken over by terrorists?

We were blown away by the treasure at the Atocha Museum in Key West. It was found in 1985, three years after I moved to Florida, and was a huge story at the time.  Long-time treasure-hunter, Mel Fisher, offered the state a third of it but Florida claimed it all. Eight years later, the Supreme Court declared the entire treasure was his. It's the single greatest treasure ever found, and not far off the Key West coast. If you're in Key West, don't miss this! Here are some examples:

Necklace & earrings
Gold & emerald crucifix
Gold chains
Silver ingots
Solid gold
Grapeshot (not from Atocha)
These bows are the "before & after" of treasure-hunting - how all items looked before cleaning

Went to a restaurant for a cooling drink & encountered a 2-footed crumb vacuum

Doing the tourist thing - that's Riley hidden behind Cassidy

Havana Harbor

Eastern Orthodox cathedral, glowing on the Havana skyline

Odd dragonfly that flew on board in Havana

Ancient fortress guarding Havana Harbor

Sand painting at Mexico in a Nutshell, Cozumel

Chichenitza - one of c. 20 ¼-size replicas of Mexican ruins (Mexico in a Nutshell)


Flyers at Mexico in a Nutshell
  We were told the man at the top represents the sun, and the four flyers represent the four seasons, the four directions, and the four elements (earth, air, fire, water). The men kept circling all the way to the ground, accompanied by a drum being played by the man at the top while spinning the square with his feet.

For someone like me, who walked the real ruins on a previous trip (when I was younger!), Mexico in a Nutshell was a perfect tour. I heartily recommend bypassing shopping and the beach for this well-done peek at Mexico, past and present.

The "swansong" of our cruise

~ * ~

 To view the Citrus Singers' new video, click here.

For a link to the re-edited version of The Courtesan's Letters, please click here. 

For a link to Royal Rebellion, Book 4 of the Blue Moon Rising series, click here.  

For a link to Blair Bancroft's web site, click here.

~ * ~ 

Next week (hopefully) - a new series on Characterization

Thanks for stopping by,


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