It was hot – 88 degrees at 5 p.m. – and muggy as Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Epic left the port of Miami for an 11-day TransAtlantic voyage. But that weather didn’t last long.
Within 30 minutes of leaving the harbor, a fearsome storm arrived, with thunder, lightning and heavy rain. The storm would batter the coast for three days, although the Epic would churn clear of it in a few hours.
But the change in the weather was immediate. The temperature dropped 20 degrees in 20 minutes. The leaden skies turned the normally aquamarine seas into the same dull color. And passengers in festive beach and cruise attire scrambled inside for cover.
So much for the tropical portion of the cruise.
Never again on the cruise would it be that warm, or conducive to sun-worshiping.
Too bad, in a way, because the Epic – the world’s third largest cruise ship – is outfitted for outdoor fun. There are swimming pools, hot tubs, waterslides, an outdoor theater, and many hundreds of beach chairs and loungers to accommodate the several thousand people onboard.
But you never know what you’re going to get on a TransAtlantic cruise. The weather determines that. Sometimes it’s as calm as a lake. Other times the seas will turn angry, and the wind, waves and rain will be merciless.
For several hours after we left Miami the rain streamed down in torrents. Visibility was near zero, and the captain laid on the fog horn for what seemed like a deafeningly long time.
Eventually we would leave the band of storms behind. The night arrived, the stars came out and a quarter moon sparkled overhead.
The plan was to steer the Epic on a course that paralleled the coast of Florida for a couple hundred miles, until we were past the Bahama shallows, and then steer out into the open sea, on a course that would take us east-northeast to Funchal, in Portugal’s Madeira Islands. Ahead of us were eight days at sea, until we reached Funchal.
That was the plan. But the plan would not last long.
NEXT: An unexpected emergency!
April 20, 2013