Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Update at Sea

Day 1: A rockin' good time

I'd say Cruise Observation No. 1 begins with the following favorite reassuring line of experienced cruisegoers worldwide:

You Won't Feel The Boat Rocking – It's Too Big.

Then why is it that we ate dinner at a precarious angle; unpacked with not a few newborn-calf wobbles into walls; and were now nearly being dumped, sleeping, onto the carpet as we slumbered through the gentle rolling motion of our seabound vehicle? This cruisegoer's promise just doesn't hold water.

At 3am the only sounds are the creak of the ship and the hum of its motor (not unlike that of an airplane). Achim isn't even snoring. A few minutes ago, fully awake and indignant at being rolled about, I peeled apart the curtains hoping for a hint of daylight; what we had all oohed and aahed at during the day ("We're so close to the water!") had become, not far below my feet and a little too close for comfort, the threatening chop of rough dark waves topped with churning foam.

The good news in the churning department is that our stomachs are fine. The seasickness seems to be not gastrointestinal but rather mental. At dinner, the floor (much like my 6-year-old sister) just wouldn't stop moving and I found myself facing an urge to yell in quiet frustration, "Settle down already! Give it a rest!" I'm on vacation; can't the boat take it easy, too? Those who have leaned to the left in celebration of their freedom will appreciate the similarities between Seder dining and cruise dining. We hadn't ordered wine but we were feeling a little sloshed; my head felt like it needed an anchor. Or something. And my plate kept tilting away from me.

Before the boat started really rocking, though, there was much adventure and entertainment. Arriving on board, I was required to sign a form declaring I had been tummy-trouble free in recent days. Thank goodness the terrible Jerusalem stomach virus had attacked Benny and me at the beginning of the week and not at the end! I might have been quarantined otherwise. And no sooner had I signed the form when my attention was turned mirthfully to my fellow travelers. They seemed to be obeying a dress code that was not detailed in the guide booklet. Where had I gone wrong? Oh, let me count the ways.

The 10 Commandments of Cruise Attire

1 Thou shalt wear a new white tennis visor despite being indoors and despite the fact that you've never worn one before and are not playing tennis or planning to do so ever

2 Thou shalt wear blindingly white new tennis shoes despite the reasons stated above and the added logical motivator that there are no tennis courts on board

3 Thou shalt dress in shades of white and turquoise only, unless obeying commandment 4:

4 Thou shalt outfit thine entire family in creased Hawaiian print tops, even your 9-year-old son who probably would rather be playing with Legos

5 Thou shalt not be both not tan and not blond

6 Thou shalt wear only those clothes which have never been worn before

Extra credit for dressing like a Yalie or in full Hilfiger.

And I hereby reserve the right to determine the remaining four commandments after tonight's formal event. I can't wait. Hopefully I will be able to provide some visual documentation. No campground attire, this.

Regal Princess

Before continuing I would like to tell you the name of our boat. It is the Regal Princess. Try saying that. I guarantee you'll get it wrong. That's okay – like me, you are not on the High Society mailing list and so are not privileged to know about their special dress rules or pronunciation guide. But if we work hard on ourselves we can improve. So our first linguistic lesson will be:

RE-gal Prin-CESS

That's right. Prin-CESS. That's how it's done, as the captain ever so elegantly elocuted during the emergency drill.

The drill

Before we set sail (set diesel?) there was a modest emergency drill which demonstrated why on airplanes we do not actually learn how to put on those life vests and if it is ever necessary to do so we will never make it out the exit door and off the plane. Apparently, it is human nature to play with life vests. The line "Do not inflate your life vest until you exit the plane" is very important because, as we learned today, when you are in a room filled with people wearing large lifesaving equipment it is impossible to move.

A few choice lines from the drill, all spoken in the captain's poshest of accents:

"The sounding of the ship's alarm does not mean 'abandon ship'" (though that desperate dying-duck sound would make me jump overboard in a minute, thanks for clarifying).

"If there is a man overboard, throw him a life boy." Sounds a bit like a eunuch. Where do they keep those guys? I haven't seen any yet.

"Please do not throw any burning cigarettes onto the deck below" uh… or anywhere? "and leave no naked flame burning in your room." Naked flame?

We couldn't stop giggling. Achim and I didn't catch the official evening entertainment program (a comedy routine by Dick Gold. I kid you not), we were too busy unpacking and passing out, but we sure did get a bellyful of laughter from everything else. We even enjoyed a really good chuckle with our porter, jolly Paul, when we came back to our room and discovered a huge pink bridal something hanging in our closet. "Oh, so that's where it is!" he exclaimed when we showed him. (Had it wandered off, we wondered?) When they turned our beds down and put chocolate on our pillows, they must have accidentally hung a massive wedding dress in our room. I'm sure it happens all the time.