We knew it was going to be a rough night when the captain- in typical understated fashion- came on the intercom and said it ‘might be a little choppy this evening.’ Sick bags appeared by the elevators, and the crew sealed off the lower exterior decks in anticipation of the storm. Throughout the evening, the swells became more intense, with huge waves lifting the Jewel into the air then crashing it down until it landed with a huge shudder that shook the hull and made the staircases and rivets creak disturbingly. Later that evening, after a few screwdrivers (vodka orange) we ventured out onto the pool deck. It was like a hurricane, with the wind howling, the trash cans and deck chairs blowing around the deck, and the waves in the pool sloshing around violently, a chlorine infused mimicry of the ocean waves below. In fact, most of the water ended up on deck before they had a chance to drain the pools.
Though the ship was equipped with stabilisers- large wing structures extending into the water from the hull, these were (bizarrely) only usable in calm weather, as they had been known to break off in rough seas, costing the cruise line $50 million, according to the staff.
Luckily that night was 70’s night in the Spinnaker Lounge, so we dressed in our flares (bellbottoms for you Americans) and headed up to Deck 13 at the bow, which was experiencing the rough sea’s worst (or best, being intoxicated as we were and enjoying every minute of the wild weather). Upstairs outside the Spinnaker, a crewmember was desperately trying to seal a door that was refusing to keep shut in the gale, making us wonder what kind of weather the Jewel, which normally cruises the Caribbean, was built to withstand.
The band played all the classic disco tunes, from Stayin’ Alive to Dancing Queen. It was quite an experience trying to boogie while being thrown around the dance floor, much to the amusement of the retirees sipping their cocktails. The gravity became really intense as the bow reached the bottom of each trough and then lifted us a dozen meters into the air, leaving the seventies hipsters nearly weightless as we reached the top of the wave and descended into the next trough. It was quite a night, and as we stumbled back to our cabin, we were not out of place with the other off-balance passengers, turning green and clutching the stair rails.
Down on Deck 4 in the middle of the ship, where our ‘stateroom’ is, it was a bit better as the pitching and rolling was less extreme. Still, even though our cabin was on the inside, we could feel the crash of the waves striking the hull, and several large waves during the night made us wake up in a cold sweat.
The inevitable downside to turbulent drunken carousing is turbulent hung-over-ness as we discovered the next morning. Still we kept our breakfast down.