This post is really just a gathering spot for bits and pieces about our transatlantic cruise. For example, here is a picture of pallet after pallet of food waiting on the Lisbon dock to be loaded before leaving. There were lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. But we were surprised to see “sliced bread” as most breads and rolls are made fresh on board.
For the most part, the weather this November 2012 was pleasant. We had a little rain, but nothing to keep us inside. The early days at sea, however, were a little chilly especially if one was napping outside, so I took a picture of my bundled up bride. By our third day after Madeira, however, the temperature regularly reached the mid-to high seventies.
One of the little fun things on a cruise is to come back to your stateroom in the evening and find a little animal on the bed made from rolled towels. They even have made “towel folding classes” part of the itinerary. We have become a little jaded, but we think our crew this time did a particularly good job.
One can walk around the quarter-mile deck or exercise in the gym. There are fitness classes galore from calm Tai Chi and Guided Meditation to rigorous “Boot Camp Total Body Conditioning.” Or one can just use the gym and/or sauna on one’s own.
Classes are offered – and more classes – and more classes: origami, dancing, cooking, bartending, a life-saving demonstration, computer classes, photography classes. There are lectures. Professionals were brought in from the outside (one was a geologist and one was a new-age motivational speaker) but were not nearly as well organized or interesting speakers as two of the regular crew. One crew member hadn’t quite mastered varying his pitch and rhythm to keep an afternoon audience alert, but nonetheless gave a very interesting series of presentations on world fairs. The best, however, were lectures on the Punic Wars and Julius Caesar by a young man who had studied business administration and then sold pharmaceuticals for seven years before deciding his first love was travel. He took a job on the ship and was asked if he could come up with some lectures. He did such an outstanding job, we even found the Punic Wars interesting.
There trivia games each day. Sometimes they are organized around topics. On most sea days there were team competitions, and it was surprising how competitive some teams became. Our “team” was whoever sat down with us. We can boast we won three times.
Food is a major part of any cruise – something seems available at all times – but we tried to go for quality rather than quantity, looking for either favorite items or those we were less likely to have at home.
A small ship, the Maasdam did not have a big in-house troupe of singers and dancers, a blessing from our point of view. There were some good musicians and outside entertainers were brought in. There always seem to be magicians and jugglers, but this cruise featured Duo Acrobatic, an amazing acrobatic couple from Russia. Larry Linkin proved to be an outstanding clarinetist, and I enjoyed the parody songs of Sally Jones. John Joseph was a funny, if typical, New York comedian. Another great comedian, Garin Bader, was from Canada.
Our young college friend, Serra, will be spending a University of Virginia sponsored “semester at sea” next year. I noticed our Italian and Spanish guides were particularly good looking. I wonder if she will be as fortunate (I am sure her father hopes not).
For the young (and old) men of our acquaintance, I was constantly amazed that the European girls were able to get into their tight slacks and jeans. Then Michelle explained they put them on as children and grew into them.
I am sorry I did not have a camera when we went to lunch our fifth day at sea. Sometimes great memories come when least expected. We saw a small rainbow. But it was not a rainbow in the sky. It was a rainbow seemingly cast on the ocean in front of our table. The bow curved in close to us as though if extended it would make an oval reaching our seats. “New age gurus” for thousands of years have counseled us to “live in the present.” It is good advice to be conscious of the present, but I also believe past memories enrich the present. I shall never feel the same about a rainbow again.