Thursday, May 31, 2007


I've never been on a cruise before, but I had heard very good things about it. I'm writing this on the fifth day of the cruise, and this is my impressions so far.

1. Food generally excellent, in flavor, and quality of materials (to the extent that I am an adequate judge of such). I had a New York Steak last night that was about what I would expect in a family restaurant in most of the U.S.--and that is the only real disappointment. Everything else has been on a par with the best fancy restaurants at which I have dined.

The portions tend to be a bit smaller than most U.S. restaurants. My theory is that they do this partly for cost, partly because much of the customer base is elderly people, who need to eat smaller portions anyway, and partly because all food is included in the price you pay--so most people will probably order more different dishes. For example, I seldom order appetizers, but in many cases, these are dishes that I never see offered in restaurants, such as Welsh Rarebit. (This may tell you something about how pedestrian my restaurant choices usually are.) Having
somewhat smaller portions is a good idea! (It may take a few weeks to overcome the consequences of this almost sybaritic dining.)

2. Alcohol, of course, is not included in the price, which is probably where they make a lot of money (although not from me!) Surprisingly enough, neither are soft drinks, for which they are also charging a fairly exorbitant fee. There isn't a visible soda dispenser on the entire ship. You want a Coke? It is $1.75 for a can.

3. The staff is extremely international. The officers seem to be almost entirely British and Italian. The housekeeping staff is largely Filipino. The people handling bookkeeping and accounting seem disproportionately Indian and Portugese. Restaurant staff is very broadly drawn: from the Phillipines, Mexico, Romania, Poland, India, Brazil, and even one very, very tall white South African gal. Other than a few entertainers, we have not seen a single American or Canadian working on the ship. I find myself wondering if this is because Americans and Canadians aren't poor enough, or if they have a hard time find either who are prepared to do this type of service work.

4. We decided on an inside stateroom because the theory was that we were not going to spend much time there anyway. In retrospect, I wish that I had spent an extra $100 or whatever it was to at least have a small window to peer out. I'm not claustrophobic, but I know now that a mission to Mars, or submarine duty, aren't for me. I really need a window!

5. The first couple of days, at least when we were in open ocean, had enough motion that I could not read, nor even do much with the computer. I am a bit more used to it now, and I have also learned that being near the center of the ship (where the restaurants and public areas are located) helps.

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