Friday, June 12, 2009

Days at Sea

The cruise was punctuated with days at sea. This is a reflection on several, rather than individual entries.

A school of dolphins came up next ot the bow of the ship and dove out of the water. The water was so clear that you could see the school as they swam underneath the surface and than as they broke the surface of the water. They are such stunning creatures and as they say --- they are the sailor's friend (thinking of documented cases where Dolphins have carried swimmers back to shore who were in danger of drowning) Early in the morning there is a sort of ground fog -- only there is no ground! The sun burns this off and soon we were surrounded by stunning ultramarine waters. The sea changes color here, possibly in response to sky and sand beneath. It moves between ultramarine, cobalt and shades of aquamarine. It was wonderfully relaxing, and after a good swim and some time to read (I brought along Bryson's Short History of Everything) we had lunch at the Burger Bar -- This was the first burger I have had in some time. Indeed the cruise allows you to have all the stuff from home in addition to experiencing as much as you like of the countries you are visiting.

Kathy and I took a nap in the afternoon and I am spending a bit of time now reflecting on the experience of being on board this ship. It is easy to see why so many people choose to vacation on a cruise, especially those who have medical challenges, honeymooners or people with children. There is a pharmacy and doctor on board, diets can easily be accommodated, people are around to assist with wheelchairs, and you can retire to your cabin at any moment, and there is a staff providing activities for younger children through teens.

1) You carry your hotel with you wherever you go.
2) People really keep track of you -- so that you have a sense of being safe. They would track you down if you did not show up at the appointed time.
3) People are checked on board each time you return to the ship so that bring guns or explosives aboard would be difficult.
4)The crew is taught to meet your every need. Our stateroom attendant comes several times a day always exceedingly polite and asking if we need anything.
5) Someone is here to do your laundry.
6) You can use U.S. currency at the ship stores where prices are quite competative.
7)All your food is covered (except for liquor and sodas)
8)If you are a person who gets easily bored this would be a great way to travel -- if I wanted to participate there are things to do every moment.....gameshows, casinos, video games, dance lessons, massages, beauty appointments, and in the evening lots of shows.....including a piano bar with a torch singer.
9)Shopping --- this cruise not only has shops aboard, but also arranges shops in the towns they visit which are sort of approved ---

A lot of these events are not too appealing to me --- but I can think that some cruises would appeal --- like if they had tours focused on history or archealogy with everything focused about the places we would see, and tours of the local museums, Architectural buildings, churches and mosques. I think these cruise ships must have arrangements with local merchants -- because so much is always about shopping, whether it is on board or in a bazaar or other market. This cruise hits the highs at each spot since you are not in port overnight anywhere you really have to choose just one experience. For example --- You could choose to see an overview with the Pyramids and the famous Alabaster Mosque -- or a tour in Alexandria itself, but there is no possibility for doing both. On these sea days there is always a lecture in the morning about the next port-of-call.

This is fine since these are things I would never have had the opportunity to see and truthfully you only could experience a place in some depth if you committed a minimum of several months to it Ideally to be able to see the museums architecture and historical sites with alacrity would take several days in each destination. This trip we haven't done the art museums or cathedrals --- which was something we did the first time we came in 2003. I think this trip for Kathy is about being in a place and seeing the whole of it, and encouraging her nephew's curiosity about the world and its culture.

Matt is a birght young man who was raised in small town Oklahoma, with all that is equally wonderful and terrible surrounding that. It has been a while since I was around high school students, but he reminds me why I enjoyed working with these students. His warped high school humor has always been a favorite of mine, perhaps part of my character that never really matured. I think about my own experience at his age and remember that I often was so concerned about how I appeared that it limited my explorations.

There is only one real frustration -- at all of these ports of call there are not good accommodations for handicapped people. Kathy is determined (within the realm of possibility) to do everything --- In order to go on the Nile cruise for example she climbed down 35 marble stairs and once aboard up and down a series of 5 more in order to have this experience of Egyptian culture. But she missed the Mosque becuse of the number of stairs and their unevenness. It seems that these governmnets should put lifts in these locations. In France some of the museums had put lifts on the stairs themselves -- thus in no way altering the integrity of the original construction.

These were relaxing days and gave us time to rest up for the each days coming activity.

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