Our Excellent Solar Eclipse 98 Adventure

... by Mel Bartels

go to Part III - The Eclipse

Part II - Island Hopping Through the Caribbean

The cruise itself was a lot of fun, each day visiting a different island, starting in San Juan, then US St Thomas, then French Guadeloupe, then US Grenada, then Venezuela, then Aruba for the eclipse, finally returning to San Juan. Our boat, holding 2,600 passengers and 900 crew members from over 40 countries, was in great shape, only four years old. Decorated in a Hollywood theme, we spent hours exploring.

St Thomas harbor: our boat, the Fascination, is to the left; the Dawn Princess is to the right

Carbo Falls, Guadeloupe

yours truly, Mel Bartels

banana trees in Grenada

the island of Aruba, center of our land lubber eclipse viewers

just one of our wonderful midnight buffets

our hero, the Captain

We managed to find a very dark night time observing area just in front of, and below, the bridge. At night, lights were turned off so that the bridge crew's night vision was not impaired. Steve Swayze brought a eight inch telescope, and we delighted in views of the Eta Carina Nebula. The Southern Cross rose just before midnight. Though the Large Magellanic Cloud was a few degrees above the horizon at our lowest latitude of ten degrees north, a constant haze at the horizon dimmed the view to a couple of bright fuzzy patches in binoculars. The night time temperature, in the low 70s Fahrenheit, made our midnight viewing and midnight buffets, a T-shirt affair. But in exposed areas, the constant 25 knot wind was a real pain. We did find one small spot in our night time observing area, where if you stood just perfectly, the wind was entirely absent, yet if both arms were fully extended, the wind blew each hand in a different direction!

Food and service were unbelievably wonderful. Our greatest dilemma, faced several times a day, was selecting between the many menu items. A tough job, but someone had to do it!

  • go to Part III - The Eclipse