9 May –Wednesday– Hertz picked us up at our townhouse in Orlando and took us to their office where we got our rental car for our one-way road trip to Port Everglades. We spent the night in Miami, where we had dinner with my cousin.
10 May –Thursday– Phoned the Ship’s Agent, who asked if we could meet him at the South Gate of Port Everglades at 11 A.M. We took the rental car to the closest Hertz office where they shuttled us to the South Gate. They gave us passes after we showed them our passports. The agent picked us up on the other side of the gate and took us to the MV Ocean just in time for lunch. They moved the ship in the early afternoon to a dock with a gantry where they both loaded and unloaded containers. Interesting to watch the organization. They weren’t done with this process until late. We actually left Port Everglades at 12:30 A.M. on 11 May.
11 May –Friday– At Sea. All meals have been excellent. Captain M. arrived yesterday at Port Everglades, flying back from Germany where he had been on a 4 month-vacation. His replacement returned to Germany. He is the only German on the ship. The crew is Filipino with one officer being Ukrainian. The Captain took us on a tour of the ship. Very interesting.
12 May –Saturday– At Sea. Rain. Lots of Rain. The sailing is smooth. The Captain let us spend some time on the bridge. The navigation equipment is very sophisticated. Did 12 “Nice and Easy” sudokus. The DVD cabinet has hundreds of DVDs. Saturday is the traditional kitchen cleaning day, so we had soup for lunch. Breakfast is always cereal, juice, eggs and meats and tomatoes, with really good coffee. I am eating too much. Our shipmates (The other 2 passengers) went swimming in the salt water pool. The working language of the officers and crew is English. Our cabin (Pilot’s cabin) is spacious, over double the size of a cruise ship cabin. There is a separate bedroom with 2 single beds and a large living room with 2 couches, 2 chairs and a table. There is a TV and DVD player and a fridge. We have a forward and port porthole in the living room and a forward porthole in the bedroom with an excellent view of a container.
13 May –Sunday– St. Thomas–Mother’s Day–No cruise ships in port. There is a small market with purses, shirts and touristy stuff. Probably re-supplied the vendors through one of the containers on our ship. The transportation on the island is either taxis or safaris. You can go short distances (maybe less than 2 miles) for $1 and longer distances for $2. Safaris are open seating in the back of a converted pick-up truck. Actually not bad. The island has many duty-free shops, but my experience is that you can buy most goods cheaper in the U.S. We ate lunch ashore at Pizza Hut (We had a craving for pizza) and spent $22 including tip for the same thing that you can buy at Pizza Hut in the U.S. for $16 including tip. It was very hot and since we are not beach people, we came back to the ship and did some laundry.
14 May –Monday– St. Croix– Tried to get into Christensted at 10 A.M. Taxi never came after repeated tries. We waited until 1 P.M. and went into Christensted with our shipmates. The taxi didn’t come until 1:45. It cost $10 per person for the taxi ride to Christensted. It cost $9 per person to return. We walked around Christensted for several hours. We all had a banana daiquiri ($6 each.) St. Croix is very expensive. The town is quaint and picturesque. There are big tarpon in the harbor that feed from the generous people at the cafes along the boardwalk.
15 May –Tuesday– At Sea–The weather was a little bit rough, but not objectionable. Because we were a little bit early for Point Lisas, Trinidad, the Captain stopped the boat & allowed us to fish. We didn’t catch anything, but the crew caught maybe 15 bakas (Filipino word) 3-5 pounds each. They promise us dinner on these fish at a later date. In the evening, we played ping-pong.
16 May –Wednesday– Point Lisas–A very industrial area of Trinidad and about 45 minutes by taxi to the biggest town. The taxi driver was not very good, but we did get to see a part of Trinidad. Spent the evening on the bridge. It was very interesting navigating between Venezuala and the islands of Trinidad near Port of Spain.
17 May –Thursday– St. Vincent–Arrived early (6 A.M.) and left at 11 a.m. We walked into the village. The customs agent at the port offered us wax apples. We went to the nearby bakery and returned with apple pies, which we gave to the customs officers. So far there has been no problem entering or exiting the ports using the ID given to us by the ship.
17 May –Thursday– Barbados–Arrived late (4-5 P.M.) Walked at first & then took a cab to a restaurant area about 20 minutes away. Lovely island. There is wi-fi in the cruise passenger terminal about 1000 feet away from where our ship berthed.
18 May –Friday– At Sea–Time to go onto the bridge–read a book, sudoku, etc. The other couple frequently checked the anchor at the front (bow) of the ship. This was part of their exercise routine. They also used the pool.
19 May –Saturday– St. Thomas–2nd stop. We didn’t go to the top of St. Thomas because the cable car was closed. Again there were no cruise ships. Bought a number of books, magazines & DVDs in anticipation of the next few days. The other couple went to the nearby beach. Because they are German citizens, they were taken to the Immigration office by the very rude Immigration officer. I apologize for the U.S. for the way that they treat our foreign visitors!
20-21 May –Sunday and Monday– Days at sea returning to the U.S. (Jacksonville). The Captain & crew are great. Sunday night we had a Bar-B-Que on deck. Dancing & karaoke. There is some real talent in the Captain and the crew. The food is terrific and plentiful.
22 May –Tuesday– The trip down the St. John’s river to our dock at Tallyrand is beautiful. It takes several hours to get from the outside down to the dock. Wonderful experience. We disembarked early (2 days) at Jacksonville, even though we could have stayed on the ship to Port Everglades. Our home in Orlando is so much closer to Jacksonville. The Hertz shuttle picked us up at the gate and took us to their office. We were on the road to Orlando by noon.
Overall View – We took this particular freighter trip because we wanted to experience this type of travel on a shorter basis, not knowing how we would like it. It was a great experience and I would recommend it to everyone. But, this trip is not for everyone. There is no elevator. Entertainment is what you make it. The crew is absolutely great. The Captain is constantly working to make the trip comfortable and interesting. The difference between freighter travel and the cruise ships is that you as passengers are not part of a cattle drive. There is no casino, no over-priced shore excursions, no over abundance of mediocre food, but rather good wholesome, well-prepared food. The cabins (suites) are spacious. The cost is a little bit less than cruise ships, but I feel that the value is greater.