Day 2: A Newbie Cruiser
By Day 2, I was starting to wonder if I was going to enjoy the cruise at all. So far, it did not seem fun. I didn’t realize it immediately, but what I had happened was that was getting an overload of energy. I’m an introvert, so I draw my energy from quiet, and a cruise is like getting with the energy of a tidal wave non-stop. I had the same problem during Desert Storm, though it was a lot more gradual, so I didn’t really understand what was happening.
I got up at my usual time, and the Windjammer opened at 7:00 that day. I had to walk through the pool area, which was gorgeous at that time. The pool is open over the top, but the sides are closed off with big sliding glass windows, so I got to see the sunrise at sea.
This time I was able to cruise the entire buffet. They had pancakes, waffles, fresh fruit, the usual assortment of egg type products, and usually something international. One of the things that I found and got every day I could was fresh figs. I’d never seen fresh ones before, and they were green, sweet, and soft and squishy.
My feet still ached terribly, compounded by the fact I was wandering. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was looking for a quiet place to recharge. There isn’t any on a cruise. I did find a spot in one of the bar lounges that was not too bad at that time, so I would read, but people were everywhere all the time. Most of the places on a cruise are designed so people will pass through them. Even the library was an egress to cabins.
My recharging, as much as I could get, ended up being early in the morning until about 9:00 and then again from 3:00 to 5:30, and the periodic rounds on the walkabout deck.
First order of business of the day ended up being a session for first time cruisers. Each day, we received a “Cruise Compass,” which was four pages of events and information for the for the day. Many of the events were the kinds of things to get everyone to spend money, like ones from the spa. “Secrets to a Flatter Stomach,” “Wrinkle Remedies,” and “How to Look 10 Years Younger.” There are so many of them it’s hard to take all you want because some conflict with each other.
The first time cruiser was given by a man from Australia, and I’ll admit, I loved listening to the accent. The crew was international, so I got a lot of different ones during the cruise. Some of the things we learned:
- There were 3,100 passengers and 1,000 crew on board.
- Ship’s time was set by the port we had departed from. No matter what the time was at the locations we went, we were to go by ship’s time so we would get back before departure.
- How to navigate around on the ship, which included Entertainment Forward and Food Aft.
That day was also a Champagne Art Auction, the first of three of them. There I met up with two of the other women vets, who were also my table mates at dinner. The champagne was free, so I tried it out since I had never had it before (I don’t drink). It looks beautiful and tastes terrible.
The room was set up with rows of paintings from an international art gallery. It included paintings by Peter Max and Thomas Kincaid, as well as Autumn DeForest. We had half an hour to look before the auction started. It wasn’t like what I pictured an auction where everything was auctioned off. Interested people marked paintings they wanted to see on the auction, and the rest of the paintings that went up were selected by the gallery. There were also raffles for paintings (not worth the $35 appraisal fee) and free prints for attending. One of the women vets won a painting in the raffle, which later turned into an interesting trend.
At about 5:00, I found myself headed up to the spa because my feet were so bad and got a foot and back massage. That helped a lot, also because it was so quiet in the spa room.
Dinner that night was a formal event, so formal wear. I was nervous about this because I didn’t have confidence I would be able to dress to standard. Most of the women were better dressed than the men; one man showed up in a polo shirt. I survived it without anyone noticing my shoes (thank you!).
The kitchen staff now was starting to figure out that it was a challenge leaving milk out—that suggested to me that most people probably opted for the Windjammer rather than ask for dairy free. Dairy free often didn’t mean the meal was dairy free, but that they had to come up with an alternative. At the end of the meal, the waiter brought out a draft copy of the menu so I could mark what I wanted and give the kitchen time to figure out what to do. Of course, that menu got passed around the table so everyone could check out the next day’s meal.
The meals were an event in themselves. I really didn’t want to gain the average weight a cruiser gains (2 pounds a day, so 14 pounds), so I worked at not eating too much. The portions of the courses were generally pretty small compared to if I went to a local restaurant, so this was helpful. Some of my table mates ordered second appetizers, entrees, or tried two different deserts. Escargot was an appetizer on the menu every day, and almost everyone tried it at one point. I did not, partially because it had a cream sauce, but also because … well, snails.
The meal lasted two hours, and then it was 10:00 and my brain was shutting down. I came back to my cabin and discovered my statement room attendant had stopped by to leave something: