We try to complete our Group Tours with a Cruise to give our clients a holiday, with a bit of fun and sightseeing thrown in. We board the ms Zuiderdam and check into our Verandah Staterooms for a wondrous cruise.
There’s something about cruising that gets my mind and body into relaxation mode. Many think that you have to be well off financially to cruise, but these days, cruising is for all, whether it be a 3 day familiarization cruise out of Sydney or a 104 day world cruise visiting 50 ports along the way, the prices per day, are not all that exorbitant.
Departure or arrivals at dockside are busy times until you are on the ship. Some ships carry over 5,000 passengers which makes embarkation or disembarkation, a very involved and active process. When immigration is involved, that adds to the confusion and paperwork, required to be completed by each of the excited passengers. All are looking forward to a calm ocean and lots to do. Ships’ staff make sure there is plenty to do or, if you like, nothing to do. I prefer an even mix.
Although our departure pier is not too far from our Times Square accommodation, we find out that at 10:30 on a Saturday morning, New York is still alive from the night before. Our 8-minute drive becomes almost an hour. There is bedlam at the cruise wharf as there are 3 passenger ships changing over passengers on the one day. However, without too much problem, our suitcases being cared for, we board before mid-day and await our 8:00pm departure. The other two ships cast off around 4:00pm so we have a free departure and are able to view the lights of New York as we head out to sea.
The statute of Liberty is floodlit and stands out from the darkness as we cruise on by. Some keen photographers were complaining that the movement of the ship and the darkness of the night meant they were getting light flares on their camera shots. Shutter times and aperture settings were played with to get the right exposure for a good photo of “the lady”.
During the first few hours of a cruise, orientation is important and many are found just wandering about, to see just what this ship has to offer; what packages are being offered in the spa, are the classes worth attending? does the shop have good bargains? etc. Many passengers get lost for a time but all find their way to the dining rooms without too much hassle. It is said that passengers put on 1.2 pounds of weight per day on a cruise so they want to prove that fact. It is not unusual to see a grossly overweight person ‘pigging-out’ at 4:00pm or even 11:00pm
For the first time, we chose to purchase a package that gives us access to the spa facilities from 6am to 10pm almost every day of the cruise. Massages are expensive on a cruise and the cost of the hydro for two of us is less than one 90-minute massage for one person. There is a large pool with air and water jets to massage the body, a couple of steam rooms and a dry sauna, and a lazy boy bed that is heated to give you 20 minutes of relaxation to end your self-treatment. Membership numbers are limited and so there is no waiting around to use the facilities. I’m sure we will give these facilities a good workout.
There are 5 or 6 restaurants on board this ship for just 1600 passengers. But they are well used. Scenic has organised a lunch when the 60 of us can get together to keep that Aussie Spirit and new friendships going, just in case you haven’t met up with fellow travellers while wandering around lost.
After a good night’s sleep, (I think the most we have had in a night on this tour), we keep to our exercise program and are in the gym for an hour. A walk around the 3rd deck turns out to be a winter walk and we move into the gym out of the cold. The gyms on a ship are there to encourage people to change their lifestyle and to take off that 1.2 pounds of flesh gathered the day before. However, always be careful of costs that can come around when you go to the ‘health and fitness’ lectures that are available. There are many ‘unfounded’ new programs being trialled on ships and what better way to conduct that trial than amongst people who are on a cruise and trying to change their lifestyle? We got ‘dudded’ one cruise and we returned the miracle product the following day.
Our first day is a ‘sea day’, which is a great time to take a nap in the morning and a nap in the afternoon and enjoy doing nothing the rest of the time. Yes, we used the hydro package twice, once in the morning and then again at the end of the evening. The stage shows on a cruise are always well done, and the one last night was the best I had seen on any of the cruises we have been on previously.
I managed to say “no” to the evening dessert at dinner. Now that’s a plus and worth many brownie points.
Tomorrow, we are down to do a ‘duck’ tour of Boston; an interesting way to see a famous city.