Friday, October 5, 2007
Cruisin' away from the rustic life
Traveling from Vancouver, B.C., to Los Angeles, CA, on a giant cruise ship was never my idea of a really good time.
Until we actually did it.
Yes, it is conspicuous consumption.
Yes, there are a lot of people of a certain age on board.
Yes, we spent a lot of time discussing or consuming food.
But, man, was it fun!
First, a few technical details.
We sailed on the Norwegian Cruise Lines' Pearl from Vancouver to Los Angeles, with a stop in San Francisco, in the company of Pat's cousins Kathy and Brenda, and their husbands Dennis and Jim. (I consider them all my cousins-in-law, and good friends).
The ship is about one year old, longer than the road between Camp Connell and Dorrington, and taller than most buildings. Just think HUGE. The pictures, which are not in any particular order, will give you an idea.
It was not terribly expensive, considering the food supply, so long as you kept your bar bill (that's extra) and casino visits under control.
Our cabins, called "mini-suites," were about the size of a hotel room, slightly narrower but with quality everything, a stocked mini-bar, sofa, desk, television, phones, and a balcony overlooking the ocean. Cheaper cabins are available, but we were living it up.
At one point in the cruise we all hung over the balcony rails and watched the whales spouting off.
We sang to them.
Sorry, but I was too excited to take pictures.
I can't recall how many restaurants there were on board, but I assure you we never found them all, despite our best efforts. The women did discover a cafeteria converted into a chocolate buffet around midnight one night.
We ate at a steak house one night, an Asian place the next, French the next and haute cuisine the next, with other meals on the rear deck or in other parts of the ship.
The guys bowled (they have four alleys), worked at the slot machines, drank beer by the pool, while other people swam or soaked in the hot tubs, used the running trck, played tennis or basketball on the top deck. A few people even tried the rock climbing wall, or shuffleboard. We all shopped, gambled, visited the art gallery, ate and gawked like everyone else.
We saw the Second City Comedy Show, an excellent magician (with attractive young wife in bikini who, unfortunately, kept disappearing). And Pat and I took a dance class to learn how to Line Dance. Picture us doing the "Boot Scootin' Boogie" with about 20 Japanese women tourists.
Mostly, we just stared at people and stuff. There were a few thousand peple on board but it never seemed really crowded except when getting on and off the boat. There were a lot of people over 50, but an equally interesting group of families and younger people, particularly Asian tourists.
The crew was led by tall distinguished Norwegian men named Lars or something similar, had a good representation of women officers, and the majority of the support crew came from the Phillipines and Romania, with a smattering from everywhere else including a nice man from Bali named Iwayan (ryhmes with lion).
When we stopped at San Francisco for the day I was the tour guide, no tips please, so we hopped a trolley car to the Cable Car stop, then took that to the top of Nob Hill for pictures and views. We caught another cable car down the hills to the waterfront, where the sea lions (even as loud and stinky as they are) were the hit of the show.
But it was the ship (don't call it a boat) that was the star of the cruise. It was really magnificant. A tour without leaving the dock would have been a treat.
The cost was about equal to a few nights in the Ahwanee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, but we moved across the ocean and were treated to real luxury not faded glory.
Consider this: some day you may need to choose an Assisted Living Facility, but you could simply stay aboard a cruise ship and be housed, fed and cared for (they have a doctor on board) for less money.
I would do it again, just as soon as I get off my current diet. I look like Mister StayPuff and need to haul a few cords of wood before the snow gets deep.
But now it is nap time. And it is snowing outside.