Saturday, April 4, 2015

Cruise time!

Grab this related post Widget!
After knocking around on land for a week we were ready to get our cruise on! We had heard tales of possible 30 foot swells, so we'd booked an inside cabin in the middle of the ship. The day before boarding, however, I called Holland America and inquired about possible upgrades. When I was offered a bigger stateroom with a large window for less than $100 we decided to take our chances and said "Hell, yes!."

By mid-afternoon we were aboard.

Our stateroom was bigger and nicer than we had imagined. We unpacked and wandered around to get our bearings on what was where. There were about 15 other folks from Cuenca on this cruise and we randomly bumped into many of them. That first night we watched the production show with the onboard entertainers and were nostalgic about our daughter performing on just such a stage with her first job out of college.

Our first full day was at sea. We quickly learned not to go to the Lido buffet during prime time. As was repeated throughout the entire cruise, too many of our fellow passengers behaved as if they were death row inmates and that every single meal was to be their last, pushing and breaking in line to pile plates with food. I kept thinking, "They'll bring out more; you can get another plate and come back." It was bizarre.

We also discovered that morning a spot where we could always be guaranteed separation from at least 1190 of the 1200 passengers--the gym. The Lido may have been swarming like a kicked ant hill, ah but here, just a handful of exercisers. We kidded ourselves beforehand saying we would kind of "ease into" our two weeks on board, but that just isn't how we roll. No, after breakfast and our workout I'm off for a tour of the ship's kitchen--Cynthia's at a Champagne Art Auction--we're taking dance lessons. What the heck--we're here to have fun!

That night is the first of three formal nights, and I must say Cynthia was stunning.

We had a big day lined up for our stop the next morning in Puerto Montt. This is the Chilean lake country and several of us planned to rent cars and take in as much scenery as possible.

The smell of smoke is something you never want to wake up to on a cruise ship. I lay in bed waiting for the "go to the lifeboats" alarm, then looked out the window and saw we were already at our destination. Turns out there were major wildfires nearby that sadly kept us from going ashore. Oh, well, an unexpected sea day-----.

Our next stop, Puerto Chacabuco, was by no means “picturesque.” The little town is frankly a dump, but it’s the last possible place for a cruise ship to stop before heading into glacier country. We hired a taxi with another couple and went off into the countryside. It was quickly evident that whether in a big tour bus, a van, or a taxi, there was one route everyone took, so we were glad we chose a more frugal option.

The terrain at times looked like Ecuador—Italy—Switzerland, with very green (it rains every day) and unfamiliar vegetation. We stopped at a waterfall

and a couple of scenic overlooks

before ending up in the town of Coyhaique for lunch and an hour walk-around. Not an outstanding tour but it was good to get off the boat and briefly see a different part of the world.

The scenery at day's end was really special from the Crow's Nest bar.

Before dinner many evenings Cynthia and I would drop by the Martini Bar. We drank more martinis on this cruise than we have in our entire lives! Why? Because each night there was a $3 special on two different cocktails and, while listening to the piano/violin duo who played each evening, it was a fun and inexpensive way to sit around being "sophisticated."

We went to bed early since rough seas were correctly predicted. It was a fitful night with high seas, lots of rocking, opening and closing drawers, and a banging medicine cabinet door.

The next morning was more of the same. Room service delivered our standard coffee/tea order. A couple of minutes later it crashed to the floor—broken dishes, spilled coffee—oof. Once we headed into the fjord passages things quickly settled down and we enjoyed a quiet day learning to cha-cha, going to Dutch High Tea, and seeing an old ship wreck

and our first glacier.

Another sea day. What does that look like for the Staton's? Oh, the usual--yoga in the gym—late breakfast—cooking demo in the Culinary Arts Center—long mid-day nap—relax in the hot tub—light lunch—hang out in stateroom reading.

Here’s something interesting for us about ship life—you get lots of mail every day! Over the last five years we’ve gotten maybe ten pieces of mail in Cuenca, so it’s awesome to find items in the “mailbox” outside our stateroom all throughout the day.

Another thing: having everything done for you is quickly addictive. Coffee is delivered right on time each morning—your room is always clean with fresh towels in the bathroom—no food to prepare (or even think about)—for sure no damn dishes to wash. You don’t even really have to plan your day; you only choose what someone else has already arranged for you.

Big hike planned at our stop tomorrow. Let's pick up the narrative there next time.

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