Monday, April 16, 2012

cuba on the horizon

We are somewhere between Florida and Cuba.  If I could see over the horizon, I could see Felipe and his Child Bride tooling along in a vintage convertible.

I am not in a vintage convertible.  But I am on an old cruise ship.  That seems odd for me to say.  This ship (Voyager of the Seas) had just been launched when I started my second stage of cruising at the turn of the millennium.

Back then, it was a giant.  Today it is nice, but there are far larger ships.  All of them big enough that they cannot fit their hefty sterns through the Panama Canal.  At least, not until the new canal is dug.

But it is big enough to keep me occupied for its 16-day crossing to Barcelona from New Orleans.

We are now on day three.  So far, I am not really into the swing of this cruise.  My one foray into trivia competition was less than satisfactory.  Picking trivia team members is almost as important as picking good dates.  Half of the team was delightful.  The other half -- less so.

And the food is nothing to write home about.  Though, I guess I am.  The dining room food on ships is the type of fare you would expect to find at a political fundraiser.  Cheap meat tarted up as nouvelle cuisine.

But, cruise ships do have good food.  Usually, in their specialty  restaurants.  My favorite is Chops – a steak house that can rival the best.  But this ship is Chops-less.  Instead, the Voyager offers an Italian restaurant (Portofino) with adequate food.

The chief reason I cruise, though, is to meet new people.  And that has been an unqualified success.  I have met people from Australia, Canada, the United States, England, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Italy, China, Vietnam, and Sweden.

Most of the Europeans and Asians are treating this repositioning cruise as a commute.  Come to think of it, so am I. 

The choice is a reflection of a relaxed lifestyle when The Crossing meant 5 or 6 days on board ship with people you would like to know.  Rather than being crammed into an aluminum tube with a mob of strangers and being hurtled at 500 miles per hour through the atmosphere.  The retro feel of this ship is enough to keep me coming back on cruises.

And, of course, the ship is big enough that when I want solitude, it is easy to find.  I brought enough reading material to keep me occupied until Dubai.  And I have put it to good use.

What I forgot to bring was my Spanish language study material.  It would have been a great opportunity to study -- without excuses. And to then apply my new skills in the three Spanish ports.

Instead, I will read my Economist, eat some linguine, and chat up the Europeans with their collapsing welfare states.  That should keep me amused for the month.

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