Monday, May 30, 2011

Cruising (No...On A SHIP)

Posts will be made from a number of locations over the next couple of weeks, and I'd be somewhere between overly optimistic and a flat out liar to promise one every day. Not that many would notice, but since Friday's entry I've set sail onto the open seas and am on a break from the everyday obligations of home. While I won't be on the ship above (that picture was taken in Honolulu a few years ago) it's similar: a fairly good-sized vessel with a passenger capacity of 2,000 and a crew of 1,000.

Some of the crew from a "casual" dining room, one of five or six places available

While aboard a cruise ship you have three basic assignments: eat, sleep and enjoy yourself. I suppose there are a couple of others, like bathing and making yourself presentable before going to the dining room and maybe not getting so drunk you make a spectacle of yourself, but that's not much work, either. I was raised with the habit of proper personal grooming, and I dropped the drinking habit a couple of decades ago. That leaves the basic three, and I'm in favor of them all.

There are always scheduled activities aboard ship - usually a couple of dozen a day. There are also on-shore excursions in each port, tailored to the interests and physical ability of everyone aboard - from trivia quizzes to shuffleboard to rock wall climbing - although a few more involved things are at an additional fee - massages and facials, for example. The important thing is that at sea or in port you're free to do as much (or as little) as you wish, activity-wise. Naps and catching up on some reading are always high on my list.

Cruise ship travel (from the USA, anyway) is overall one of the better dollar-value vacations you can take and not lift much more than a finger. Basic costs are from around $110USD per day for an "inside" (no window) cabin. That's $1,650 for 15 days. You're fed gourmet meals, entertained, waited on hand and foot, cleaned up after around the clock, and the scenery is all around you at no additional cost. With airfare, $50 per day hotels and $15 per day for food and beverage a two week trip to Thailand begins at $2,300. That's only a thumbnail comparison and there are other costs involved for either trip, but that gives you an idea.

Rain in the distance, taken from mid-ship one afternoon

Ship features vary, but there's always at least one casino, a movie theater, Jacuzzis, swimming pools, a library, an internet cafe or two, a handful of lounges and places to have a drink and 24-hour room service - all included. There's entertainment of the organized variety - musicians, song and dance, shows - and more casual things like crew members demonstrating how they fold the towel animals you'll find on your bed each night, along with the next day's schedule and a piece of chocolate.

Monkey business and other animal fun with towels

The crew is, without fail, both gracious and accommodating. It's their job. They don't get paid much and are more or less contracted captives for the term they sign on for, but true to the cultures they hail from (mainly Indonesian and Filipino, in this case) they're very pleasant folks to visit and joke around with. While I should tell you up front that they're not allowed to - ahem - interact with on-board guests privately it undoubtedly happens. I've heard stories from a few of them, such as the waiter above with the white glove from a past cruise that I still get email from occasionally.

Anyway, I'm here... but I might not be here here every day. I'll do what I can.


Michael Lomker said...

I totally agree. I usually go on Carnival since they are so inexpensive. Ten years ago I was able to get balcony rooms for about that price but I'm sure things have gone up a bit. It's really wonderful to sit out there on the balcony and read for a few hours. Whether you're into bustle or relaxation, there is always something to do on those ships.

krobbie said...

A well deserved rest considering you recent schedule and the needs placed upon you.

Have a bloody good time.

Cheers to you my friend,