From Where I Sit – Now We Know

We’ve been hearing about how much people enjoyed their cruise ship vacations. The destination or specific cruise line chosen didn’t seem to really matter. “You should try it, you’ll love it. Oh, yeah, we go every year.”

Remember mom asking, “If all your friends were jumping off a bridge would you jump too?” Apparently the answer is yes because we booked a Western Caribbean cruise. How else would we know for sure? The free drink package had our travel agent doing cartwheels.

I’m writing this the day after our return from a seven-day cruise on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam ship. When people ask how we liked it I say, “The jury is still out.”

That particular ship is mid-sized with about 2200 passengers and about 900 staff, largely Indonesian and Philippine. It is not a kid ship or a party boat like some of the others. It’s well appointed and places a strong emphasis on safety and hygiene.

There is much to be said of taking seven days to simply relax, read, enjoy a beverage, move when the spirit moves you. There is no shortage of activities to fill one’s days and nights. Yet this Type A didn’t feel the need to tear from one place to another so as not to miss anything.

The food was delicious and abundant and prepared by world-class chefs. Our dinner companions were a little, well, old. The youngest at our table was eighty-two. We brought the average age down slightly. Don’t get me wrong?I have nothing against old people. One day I hope to be one! I pride myself on being able to talk to anyone and I did. This couple, not knowing a word of English, emigrated to NYC from Holland fifty-eight years ago. Like most immigrants of then (and now) they worked hard to build a life from scratch. The other couple was obviously wealthy and well traveled. Unfortunately they spent most of their second week aboard in sickbay.

Speaking of which, I thought I would simply put mind over matter and convince my head and gut that the gentle swaying of the boat was nothing, nothing at all. About an hour in, I knew that was hooey. A nap helped but by evening I was popping a little miracle pill for motion sickness. Only one day was unpleasantly choppy.

The weakness of our Canadian dollar took the shopping wind out of our sails, er sales despite all the talk of tax-free, duty-free shopping. I did however come home with a pair of 14k tanzanite studs and pendant so all was not lost. A clearance sale on board near the end of the week netted me a distinctive Valentino handbag?oh, yeah.

At the ports of call, the best part was taking in the incredible, indescribable turquoise blue of the sea. (God doesn’t make junk.) The worst was the shopping. It’s almost as though they saw us coming.

So while this wasn’t the best vacation ever, it certainly wasn’t the worst either. And now we know, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites..

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