Sunday, December 25, 2011

Chasing Rainbows - Cruising Across The Atlantic Ocean

I wrote this post over one month ago but have been gradually catching up on my blog over the past few weeks. Today is Christmas and since I am sitting in the Delta SkyClub in Nashville on a 3-hour mechanical delay, I thought I would put the time to good use. Merry Christmas everyone!
While the first week of the cruise was busy with port calls, for the final seven days there was not a speck of land in sight. While wary of turbulent waters, I looked forward to this time to catch up on my writing. I discovered a desk tucked back in a quiet corner of the library on Deck 5, where I could work undisturbed for hours. There was even a window looking out to the expanse of blue stretching to the horizon.
Other than my writing, our ship offered plenty of diversions during our days at sea. The daily program was filled with activities divided into four categories: Our World, Food & Entertaining, Technology, and Wellbeing. I attended talks by the two guest lecturers - Warren Salinger, who worked in international development and whose seminars focused on globalization; and Dick Magaldi, a retired police commander and sea captain, whose talks covered diverse topics like diving for treasure, piracy, and maritime history. However, while both were good speakers, their lectures were always rushed and jumped from topic to topic a bit irratically, so after a few tries I moved on to other things.
In addition to the lectures, every day there were cooking demonstrations, computer classes, spa seminars, jewelery seminars, gambling tournaments, trivia challenges and many, many more activities to choose from, almost all free to attend. We also took the behind-the-scenes kitchen tour, getting a glimpse at how the culinary staff prepares over 6,000 meals each day.
Greg & I developed a routine of getting up at 7 or 8am, working out in the gym for an hour (walking on a treadmill or using an elliptical machine is interesting when the ship is rolling), then eating breakfast in the Lido Restaurant (buffet-style). We usually split up to do our own things until around 5:30pm, when we'd regroup for dinner. Since we were assigned open seating, we could dine in La Fontaine (the more formal dining room) any time between 5:30-9:30pm. However we preferred to be seated by 6pm, as service was not always expedient and dinner sometimes stretched to almost two hours. But the food was consistently delicious!
After dinner, we had to choose between seeing that day's feature film (mostly new releases) in the small movie theater, or catch the early musical performance in the Showroom at Sea. Often we did both, watching the movie first, then catching the late show at 10pm. We also celebrated Greg's birthday during our crossing. I made arrangements to have surf & turf on a night when it wasn't being served as well as a custom-made red velvet & chocolate birthday cake. The waitstaff even sang Happy Birthday in their native language, Bahasa!
I really enjoyed the variety of entertainment that was offered. The in-house performers were all very talented, from the Adagio Strings (an all female string quartet that played in the dining room), to the pianist and guitarist who played in the bar, to the house band "HALCats" and the stars of the Showroom at Sea. While the cast shows were entertaining, I especially enjoyed the guest performers: Tom Sutton (comedian), Passionata (Flamenco Fusion dance performance), Julian Gargiulo (pianist), Livewire (husband & wife Celtic duo), and Jay White (Neil Diamond impersonator). The crew show on the final night was also original and entertaining.
We were very fortunate to have good weather for the crossing. Sometimes there were swells that caused the ship to roll a fair amount, but generally it was quite calm. During the entire week at sea, I only had to take Sea Calm (meclizine) twice and that was just to combat the dizzy feeling; I never actually got sick. In fact, on the couple of days that it was extraordinarily calm, to the point that you almost couldn't tell you were on a ship, I was unnerved by the lack of motion!
After experiencing cool nights during our port calls, the warm & humid air during the crossing was a pleasant surprise. While skies were often overcast, sometimes the sun would shine and the glare on the water was almost blinding. One morning it was raining off & on while we worked out in the gym (on Deck 8 facing forward) and I saw a brilliant rainbow off the bow of the ship, thus the title of this post. All in all it was a great cruise and if you're looking for a mix of port calls and relaxing on a ship (and have about 15 days to spare), I would highly recommend a transatlantic cruise.

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