Cruise Blues – Part 3

IMG_3832With so many people on board, I was surprised that when I reached the 12th deck the line for the BBQ was small and orderly, the pool, extremely small and already filled up with kids and the band? Well the band was actually a DJ on an Apple Mac, surrounded by crew members all dressed up like Pan’s People. If you don’t know who Pan’s People are, you are either very young, or you’ve lived in America all your life and in both cases, you have missed out! The party was in full swing, the food was nice, cooked fresh in front of us and the atmosphere, for those who wanted to get down and dirty, was definitely party like. Time to grab a cheeseburger, some fresh BBQ corn, eat, then explore the ship. It was 4 15 PM on Sunday July 28th. Our next port of call was Juneau Alaska ETA Tuesday August 30th at 2 PM.

By 4.45 PM I was done. I’d eaten, I’d looked around the ship, had my hair blown in all directions by a sea breeze which was now at 20 knots, and was ready to relax in my room and read for a while before taking the time to further explore our vessel’s night life. I’d also discovered that there was a water dispenser in every corner of every restaurant, which were open 24 hours a day, and I was beginning to believe that the little Filipino man selling Aquafina to everyone who was interested, was actually a total con. I’d also figure out that the ‘soda plan’ $6.95 a day for all you can drink/per person, was another con. With soda priced at $2 a pop, you would need to drink at least 4 a day to get your money’s worth. Who does that?? Oh yes, I forgot, all the extremely fat and unhealthy people who just boarded this boat!

My room, my sanctuary, all the damn noise coming from left and right and above. This was no vacation, this was a survival course for sure! The family to my right were arguing, the chairs and feet above me were being continually dragged across the 12th deck, and without warning, while I lay on my bed, book open and ready to read, it actually started to vibrate, throwing me into total confusion and bringing on thoughts of a cheap Chinese brothels I’d heard about, you know, the one with the happy endings! I was shocked. Having no idea what was causing this, I stood up. Nothing. Complete calm. Back to the bed. Vibration! It would take me several hours to get used to this and it only happened now and again, but I never did figure out what was causing it. If any of you ‘cruise buffs’ out there have any idea, I’d be delighted to hear from you. No sarcastic comments please!

It was now 5 30PM. Time to eat? Oh no, wait, we just did that, right?? Well this is a cruise, are you not supposed to eat ALL the time? We headed upstairs, or was it down? In any event, the stairs were becoming a habit. It was the only way to bypass the girth on all the fat cruise people who hogged the elevators. With our evening about to become a drag, time passing as slow as possible on board this draconian form of transportation, we found ourselves in a seedy looking lounge towards the aft of deck 8. Are you impressed with my nautical lingo? As were entered, Sarah, an English-born lady with a scowl on her face that looked as if it had been permanently etched into her skin, was in the middle of announcing that evening’s movie tune trivia quiz. Whoo hoo! I cried. Entertainment!! We decided to sit down, and take part. What a mistake!

With 10 out of a possible 20 wrong, we came second. It was now 7 PM. Should we eat? It was still very light outside and the weather was excellent, so we decided to entertain a trip to the buffet whilst popping into the casino for a quick look round. Mistake number 2. Never enter a casino on a moving ship. The putrid smell of cigarette smoke along with and overwhelming desire to escape the continual ka-ching of the slot machine, leads to nausea and headache, in that order and all at once. After a quick exit, we decided, it must be time to eat! (Do you see a pattern evolving here?) Buffet time!

When I booked the cruise they told me on the phone that NCL is famous for its ‘Freestyle’ cruising. Just exactly what did that entail? Well, for those of you who don’t know, it means that you never have to dress up. You can go out to dine looking like you just came home from work or the beach or a jog. No tank tops, no open sandals and no swim gear, but other than that, anything goes! Also on the menu was free food, in all but 5 of the restaurants. The speciality restaurants charged extra to eat there, and I was soon to find out why. Well, as we entered the buffet there was an overwhelming desire to plunder, as shown by the many ignorant, overstuffed, carefree buffet goers who’d laid out the path in front of us. They were leading by example, the only question was, should we follow? Plate after plate was piling up in front of me, some vacationers taking three plates at a time and struggling to make it back to their tables without adding even more food to their stash. Remember folks, this was eat what you want when you want for the next 7 days. There wasn’t ever going to be any shortage of anything, but most of these people had obviously never received the memo.

Standing still for just a moment, it was hard to calculate where all this food was coming from, but it was east to determine where it was all going. I was looking at animals, hungry at that, walking back and forth again and again with mountains of food piled sky high into next week, all ready to devour and then return. It was frightening. I took some Indian food, some veg and a wee bit of chicken and made my way to a seat at the very rear of this buffet restaurant, closely followed by Wendy, my better half. We just looked at one another, puzzled, and together, we smiled with that knowing confirmation that THIS was not for us! It was now 7 45 PM, and as we didn’t drink, didn’t gamble and had no intention of eating anything else for at least 12 hours, we sat back and contemplated why on earth we’d actually booked this cruise and more to the point, how the heck we were going to get off ASAP?? Both questions resonated through the onset of the cold I was rapidly developing and both questions remained unanswered as the weather deteriorated, the noise increased and the thought of one whole week on board this tin can filled with obnoxious, tacky and self centered cruise junkies, festered deep into a soul that just craved privacy and calm!

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