January 23, 2015
On Board the Prinsendam,
My kids say that our family doesn’t take vacations, we go on field trips. I may have slowed down a bit but days ashore are busy. On a cruise ship we have don’t have the choice of how long we stay so I try to make the most of a short visit.
All this shore activity means that we really welcome a sea day. It gives us a chance to rest a little and catch up on leisure reading. Well, that’s what I thought before we got on board. Sea days can be as busy as shore days. In a way they’re like going to college, with 45 minute periods and 15 minutes between. Most sea days have been so busy that I haven’t had time for lunch.
We have had a geologist on board who lectured on Pacific plate tectonics, the geology of the Panama Canal and South American volcanos. There was a lecture series by a British adventurer who biked from L.A. to Tierra del Fuego. There is a musicologist lecturing on tango. He shows us, with sound clips, how Tango evolved from the different immigrant cultures of Argentina, Cuban Habanera, Spanish Flamenco, Neapolitan folk song, African rhythm and Eastern European polka. There are lecturers on each port of call and food and wine experts from each area we visit. There’s a constant rotation of lecturers as we head around South America. You can even take Spanish lessons.
Then there are some lecturers and teachers on for the entire cruise. A Ti Chi instructor runs a class that Suzi goes to each ship day morning and a digital photography expert who runs classes in photography and processing pictures. I try to swim some laps each sea day and I find my reading, what of it I have time for, tending toward histories of the places we’re going.
My favorite sea day was officers’ day when the Chief Engineer gave a virtual engine room tour, the Captain and Hotel Manager, who’s been at sea for 40 years, did a Q&A (“What’s the best and the worst cruise you’ve been on?” “The best, last year in Antarctica, we had perfect weather, the worst, when my ship burned up.” The safety officer gave a presentation of Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and there was a demonstration of equipment, including a firefighting demonstration (This is the Prinsendam.) We got to taste the high calorie lifeboat ration biscuits.
There is so much to do that many days they haven’t gotten up a quorum to play BINGO. This is not my mother’s cruise crowd.
The entertainment has largely been to my liking, Nestor Torres Latin Jazz, Pete Neighbors Jazz Clarinet, the Alley Cats do wop and Graffiti Classics, a comedy chamber quartet. There’s something for everyone if you happen to be older than 50.
Tomorrow we visit Robinson Crusoe Island so I should go to bed but I’m staying up for the evening presentation by the Navigation Officer about the stars in the southern Sky. A sea day — a day of rest.