Thursday, November 19, 2015

Random Post-Vacation Thoughts

We've now been back from our vacation for four days, enough time for me to get back into my usual routine of being sour and pissed off about most things. Just kidding, actually ... the level of cynicism is creeping back up, but I'm still enjoying the last vestiges of the vacation high.

Over the last two days, I've showed you a representative few of the 500-odd pictures I shot during the cruise; today, I thought I'd share a few random thoughts about the trip. If you don't care, you can go someplace else and come back tomorrow for the announcement of the Left Cheek Ass Clown for November ... otherwise, read on.

Some people are turned off on the idea of a cruise vacation because of the cost, which can seem high when you look at it. But consider this: for the period of your cruise, all of your food, non-alcoholic drinks, and entertainment is paid for. There are other ways to minimize your costs, one of which is your selection of cabin ... Agnes and I always go for a room with a balcony, because we like to occasionally sit outside in privacy and enjoy the sea air and the sound of the waves going by. If you're good with sitting outside on the public decks, and realize that you really don't spend much time in your cabin except when you're sleeping, you can get a cabin without a balcony, or even an inside cabin without any outside view, which is much cheaper.

The real expense of a cruise comes from all the extras they try to sell you once you're on board and a captive audience. If you can discipline yourself to minimize visits to the bar, not buy a lot of stuff (especially jewelry, as I know to my despair) in the onboard shops, and be selective with the shore excursions you sign up for and the shopping you do in overpriced port shops, it can be a vacation that isn't exactly cheap, but is preiswert (as we would say in German - good value for the money).

If you enjoy people-watching, as I do, time on a cruise ship is about as good as it gets. There were over 3,000 people on board the Caribbean Princess, and they provided an interesting cross-section of humanity. Most people were cheerful, happy, and polite; a small number were grouchy, impolite first-class ass clowns ... but on a ship about 950 feet long, with a beam of 120 feet and 13 public decks, you can avoid them easily enough.

On most cruise ships, dining is done in a traditional way, with passengers assigned a specific table and dining time for each meal, so that you see the same people and are served by the same wait staff each time. This doesn't appeal to us, which is why we like the choice offered by Princess (and I think some other cruise lines are experimenting with it as well): you can have "traditional" dining, or you can sign up for "anytime" dining, in which you show up at the dining room whenever you want and then have the option of waiting for a private table or sharing a table with random passengers. We have found this to be a good way of meeting a wide range of interesting people (and a few bozoheads, too, but you pays your money and you takes your chances). Early in the cruise, we shared a table with a young couple who turned out not only to be from my home town of Pittsburgh, but who were graduates of a neighboring high school (albeit a few years after I'd left). We had a very enjoyable time talking about the home town then and now.

The cruise ships evolve and change over time as the lines remove things people don't seem to want and add new things they do. One of the things that's changed for the worse (in my opinion) is that the onboard library (which is free) has greatly shrunk in order to accommodate an expansion of the Internet Center (which is not). On our previous cruises, I enjoyed spending time in the ship's library, which had large, comfortable chairs with wide, flat arms designed to provide a good, stable writing surface; now, those chairs are gone, replaced with smaller, less comfortable chairs and lots of computer terminals. Bummer. On our first cruise, the ship (it was the Coral Princess) actually had a "Writing Room" equipped with small, window-facing desks at which you could sit and write letters or keep a journal (which I do when we travel) ... now, the Writing Room is gone, as nobody seems to write any more, except on a screen. Sigh.

Well, Dear Readers, those are a few of my observations. I'll share some others with you in the future, but now I have to get ready to go to work so that I can pay off this cruise and start saving for the next one.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for the naming of the Left Cheek Ass Clown for November. More thoughts then.



Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer said...

That's good advice about the rooms. On a Caribbean cruise, having a balcony to sit on really makes the cruise/

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Thanks for the suggestions about Caribbean travel. We might go there someday.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I am that one out of millions who really dislikes cruises.
It's like being trapped in a hotel that is floating.
Thankfully when I met Rick he felt the same so we don't do cruises. When I worked in the travel industry I had to go on two. One for free and thankfully only 3 days. The 2nd was longer, too long and when you eat with the folks that bore you or that you would rather never see again, there they are, yelling Hello and you wish you could hide.
Oh so not for me. You're a good man Bilbo. :-)
I must admit though an all-inclusive resort is kind of like a cruise only everything is included (booze and tips) and yet I don't mind those. Go figure.

Mike said...

Is the internet access a per byte charge?

Linda Kay said...

My only experience on a cruise was in the Mediterranean on a Celebrity Ship, and it was really fabulous. Food was great, amenities were wonderful, and we were never far from land, which is really important to me!