Going All The Way

On November 13th I’ll be reporting from Carnival Magic.

First a Gala Dinner to welcome Magic to Galveston, then 6 days to Mexico.

Late January it will be a second look at Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam.

Fast forward to April, and it’s through the Canal from Hollywood to New York on Crystal’s newly refurbished Serenity.

BUT FIRST

My new book; an inside look at two world cruises. The good, the bad, and the, well, strange. Available at all eBook sites

I took my first cruise from Los Angeles, through the Panama Canal, and around the Caribbean. The cruise ship was a small Greek ship called the Jason, but I must tell you, cruising then was entirely different than today. The cruise staff did most of the entertaining, most of the bands on ships had an accordion player, and customer service was a bit lax.

My cabin had a bunk on each wall with safety straps to keep you in bed in case of rough weather. The portholes had wooden covers that could be screwed on to keep that rough water out of the cabin. When I complained about the air conditioning in my cabin not working, the ship sent an engineer to check it out. A sturdy Greek woman with a hint of mustache appeared in full uniform. She had no command of English, and Greek was, well, Greek to me. Fortunately, we didn’t need much communication to get the job done. I held my hand to the vent and said, “Is warm!” She put her hand to the vent and said, “Is cold!” And that was that. As Aristotle once said, “It is the nature of desire not to be satisfied, and most men live only for the gratification of it.” Whatever.

As the Jason exited the canal into the Caribbean, we were pounded by some very rough seas, and she bounced around enough so that those straps and porthole covers came into play. I sat in the center of the ship on the Promenade deck, and, as advised, kept my eyes on the horizon. I wasn’t sick, but neither was I feeling well, and worse, I was hungry. They told us to eat dry chicken sandwiches which for some reason might stay in place after swallowed. On the Jason, everything was ordered from a desk just inside and off the main deck. I went up to the crewman on desk duty and asked for a dry chicken sandwich. He looked at me, said, “Please wait a moment.” He then opened a drawer, and from a height of about three feet, put most, if not all, of his stomach in the drawer. I passed on the sandwich.

That experience aside, a big attraction of cruising is the food. And there is lots, and lots of good food. With all that largess waiting, a good many passengers are wary of eating too much and gaining weight. I sat with one woman who looked at the menu and asked me what “grouper” was. I told her it was a whitefish that sometimes got as big as three hundred pounds. “Oh,” she said, “I’m really not that hungry.” Another tablemate ate a huge plate of pasta. After she finished, she was upset with the waiter. “I told him,” she said, “to give me a small portion.” “Well”, I countered, “there was a small portion in there.”

Today’s cruise guest has access to food 24 hours a day. Room service is always prompt, and the air conditioner will be adjusted to your liking. Nevertheless, no matter how luxurious the ships, most people who cruise share one single desire. One day, they want to cruise around the world!

I have been twice blessed in that regard, and what you are about to read is a diary of both of those blessings. Some of what I wrote will be a bit dated. For instance, all cruise ships now have access to the Internet operating 24 hours a day. Today’s passengers don’t have to seek out an Internet café at every port, and on a world cruise there are a lot of ports. But, you know, I think they’re missing something; that chance to interact with the locals and other travelers.

So hop aboard, have some laughs, and watch out for that reef off Egypt

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