Friday, June 27, 2008

Life Aboard the Ship

There were four “at sea” days. Add that with the time in the morning and evenings we were in Ports and we were spending a lot of time on the boat.

Background music: Some of their music choices were a little odd. We both enjoyed eating breakfast on the back deck of the ship because there were always seats and I wanted to be outdoors whenever possible. While eating Breakfast we were treated to house and dance music. While I was OK with it, it didn’t seem your normal fair for the other passengers. The other place was while exercising songs such as “Never-ending Story” played.

Food: There were 5 free restaurants and 5 restaurants that had extra cover charges. We ate lobster, scallops, steak, and cheesecake and a bunch of other tasty food at the included restaurants, and there was always the buffet too, so we never felt the need to eat at any of the extra charge ones. We had looked at the menus for them a few times and came real close to paying the $15 cover for the all you can eat sushi until we realized that even though we were in the middle of the sea the fish probably wouldn’t be that fresh. The normal restaurants had the same service of about a 3-4 star restaurant. (Put the cloth napkin in your lap, bring over dessert silverware on it’s own plate, clearing the salt and pepper shakers to serve dessert.) Since we were on a “Freestyle” cruise there were no set times for meals so we ate at some odd times since our internal clocks were so messed up. Everyone says you gain weight on a cruise. I figured I would loose the weight before so that after the cruise I would be back to the same weight. If you never want to gain weight then just loose the weight before. The memory of the extra exercise will keep you from over eating. Also when I did over eat for breakfast one day I was sluggish that day in the city we were visiting (A cardinal sin in my book) so while I enjoyed all the variety I could not bring myself to gorging. However I did always order appetizers which is something I usually don’t do. But with the appetizers usually being fresh tropical fruit it was just my way of fighting off scurvy.

Shows: Every night there was a show at 8 and 10PM. They ranged anywhere from a really bad comedian to juggling, magic, and dance shows. It really set it up so that every night was felt like a date for my wife and I; going to dinner and a show.

Old to young ratio: One of the stereotypes of cruises is that everyone is old. While the population on the ship was defiantly older than me I think there is a misconception about the number of old people. See, everyone is moving around the ship a lot. It only takes a couple of old people moving slowly to clog a hallway where a lot of people are trying to squeeze by. All the passing people will think that the number of old people is higher than it really is. Personally since I work with studying the actions of older adults at work I thought it funny and a good way to study the migratory patterns of older people when the famous word “Bingo” is heard over the intercom.

Nationality: Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) you would think would come from Norway. Apparently, they did at one time but their headquarters is in Florida and they accepted dollars on the ship. However the ship itself was registered for Nassau Bahamas, I’m guessing for tax reasons. Most of the crew officers were from Canada. Most of the service crew were from the Philippines but there are some from everywhere. (For some odd reason most of the spa crew were from South Africa.) As far as the guests on board, from the polls they did during the shows it seemed a pretty even split between USA, Canada, and the UK. Spain, France and Mexico came next with a whole host of other counties finishing off the list.

Light: We set sail on the summer solstice so the days couldn’t get any longer than they were. We never crossed over the Arctic circle so we still had a sunset between 10:30-11:30 and sunrise between 3:30-4:30 depending on how far north we were. However, it never did get dark. We always had that glow of just right after sunset that would rotate on the horizon to the sunrise position. I witnessed this because I wanted to see the Aurora Borealis. It was not until I got home that it is best to see that in the Spring and Fall, not during the Summer.

Activities: They had special rooms you could reserve on the ship. We had fun playing the Wii they had on board. We also both took our first crack at singing karaoke and realized that yes, both of us sound much better singing along with the songs instead of singing them. Other things they offer to kill time are seminars and such. The annoying thing is that everything leads to an up-sell. Example, exercise seminar leads to pitch for personal trainer and detox wrap. All raffles you had to be present to win so they could try to sell jewelry or spa services. Every disembarkation they wanted to take your picture to sell to you. Before the nightly shows they sold bingo and raffle tickets. At the pool waiters went around trying to sell drinks. It seemed like they knew they had a captive audience and they used it to their advantage.

Room service: Our room was cleaned and straightened twice a day. I’m not sure why they did it more often than a hotel but every night when we got back from dinner or the show we would find a copy of the “Freestyle daily” that gave the schedule of the next days events and a towel animal (elephant, penguin, snake, they were all pretty creative.)

Formal attire: two nights that we were at sea were considered optional formal attire. I can see why they do it, why go to any trouble to present yourself good when stuck on a ship. That could get ugly quick with 2,300 guests. It still felt weird getting dressed up to walk around the ship and go to the same restaurant you went to for the past 3 days in normal clothes. I know L. likes the way I look dressed up and with my casual job does not get to see it much so I consented. Of course there were photographers out in force to take pictures. I felt like people from 100 years ago getting dressed up just to go strut around the promenade and show off your finery.

Hot tubs: After each of the longs days biking and most of the other days too we ended our day in the hot tub. They did not close until 11 and it was still light so we enjoyed them. It was odd that the whole pool area was deserted at night since the pools were heated but we enjoyed having the place to ourselves.

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