Monday, May 19, 2014

docked and loaded

Cruising and I have a complex relationship.

I love boats.  Sailing.  Motoring.  Being on big boats.  Anything that puts me on top of the water.  And if you throw in some exotic destinations and a few new interesting personalities met on board, I am hooked.

The food?  It’s moderately good.  Banquet food.  You know, the type you would receive at a political dinner.  Nothing you would find at a good restaurant.  Unless, you book dinner at one of the specialty restaurants.  The food always justifies the hefty surcharge.

And the cabins?  Far too many people have concluded that they will be assigned to live out their otherwise-disappointing existence in Rose’s sitting room.  Too many times watching Titanic.  (But I am being redundant.  Once is too many.)

In reality, cruise ship cabins will remind you of your college dorm room.  That is, if you rent an expensive cabin.  If you end up with a run-of-the-mill cabin, you might want to re-read 1984.

On this cruise, my cousin and I have opted for a larger suite.  It is quite nice -- as you can see from the photograph at the top of this post.

What you cannot see is the bathroom.  When I started cruising, the shower in the cabin’s bathroom was barely large enough to hold a much-thinner version of the current Steve.  This cruise, we have a double-sink bathroom with a large Jacuzzi bathtub.

The ship has another clever solution for the challenging hotel shampoo bottle.  For its suite guests, the cruise line has opted for the same solution used in high school boy’s locker rooms -- with a girly twist.  Though, I do not recall that conditioner had even been invented the last time I frequented one of those shower rooms.

We also have a wrap-around deck large enough to sponsor the type of house parties that could get a fraternity kicked off campus.  With our fellow cruisers, we could probably attract some guests.  If we served Geritol.

Get this, I even have a packet of personal stationery -- just the thing to write appreciative mash notes to the captain in the hope that he will invite me to dine at his table.  My reply on the next sheet of personalized stationery?  “I didn’t pay good money for this cruise to dine with the help.” 

So, here I am on board Holland America’s Noordam.  All settled in following our life boat drill.

It was the life boat drill that got me thinking.  What type of people come on cruises -- other than the obvious answer from this photograph: very old people.  Obviously, they are people who feel comfortable in a regimented society.  There are enough rules on board the ship to make a federal regulator’s heart skip a beat.

Times to eat.  Times to gather for tours.  Times to get on and get off the tour bus.  Times to meet other people for dinner.

But, even a libertarian like me, can work out his own destiny by choosing my own places to eat, not going on ship tours, and simply ignoring the phalanx of rule-shouters.

We stay in port in Barcelona until 11 PM tonight.  That gives me a full day to share more treasures with you. 

Now, I need to go get my dance card filled.  To dance the dances I choose.

(P.S.  The internet on board the ship takes too much time to load photographs.  And the Starbucks I am now sitting is was just as bad.  From here on out, I may post only essays.  The photographs will have to wait until I return to Mexico.)

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