Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Switching over to the new blog format was an interesting experience. I'm sure that when I set up the blog that my display name was "Susan". However, when everything was switched, my display name showed as Jesusan. That is really weird because it is actually a name I answer to (pronounced "hey susan"). But how would anybody know that? Very, very strange......

Back to the subject of travel: I think one reason travel now has such great appeal is that it opens up whole new worlds to me. That is the same reason I chose to major in biology in college. For starters, having someone to make my bed & clean my room is a treat. On this last cruise our room steward created a different animal out of towels every night. His creativity gave us a delightful surprise to come home to each time. Thank you to Agung, from Jakarta, Indonesia, for taking such good care of us.
I also like dining in a formal setting. The menus are varied and invite us to try all sorts of new things. My favorite from this last cruise was the chilled fruit soups, which were heavenly in flavor. Our dining room steward, Rinto, always had a big smile for us, always approved our menu choices, & challenged us on one occasion with a couple of cork tricks. His assistant, Ridwan, always made sure we had our extra plate of vegetables. Dressing for dinner is always fun, because it's something I rarely if ever get to do at home. My friend and I have chosen to dress nicely every night, no matter what the dress code is for the evening. We always get compliments on how we are dressed. If you think the crew does not notice things like that, you are mistaken. On the Maasdam they have doormen who hand out goodies after dinner. Both Ade & Eka were a delight; they also provided wonderful service in the casual dining for breakfast and lunch. I am still amazed at how friendly and helpful everyone is, what wonderful attitudes they show, despite working such long hours each day, and so many months with no real time off.
I always try to get to know as many of the crew members as possible. Meeting people from other countries makes the world so much smaller, yet it also opens up new worlds to me. On Holland America's Maasdam, the crew I met were mostly from Indonesia & the Philippines. On Celebrity's Zenith, the crew hailed from approximately 60 different countries. As I've spent time talking to these people I have gained an appreciation for them and their cultures.
Another way I discover new worlds is in meeting passengers. On this last cruise I met a number of people who will remain friends. You never know when you meet people what you will discover you have in common. One couple in particular is notable: the husband & I have a friend in common, & I had actually met the wife at least a year and a half earlier in my workplace. She knew I looked familiar & the workplace encounter was the reason. Not only that, they live just a couple of miles from me.
The major way of opening worlds in the eyes of most is the destinations. This last cruise we did not sign up for any shore excursions, preferring instead to just walk around & explore on our own. That can be pleasant, but it is limited. In the future I would consider doing more tours, so I could get a better idea of what each destination is about. Unfortunately money is an issue, so I would have to choose my shore excursions very carefully. While I appreciate the beauty of the places I've visited, I think I get more from meeting & getting to know the people I encounter.
Another reason travel appeals to me so is that it allows me to leave all my cares and worries behind. Call it a vacation in unreality if you will. But I'll continue with cruises as long as I'm able. Cruises allow me to explore a different side of me, since the people around me do not have pre-set expectations of me. I am grateful that my traveling companion & I both are able to allow each other to explore our different facets that way. The freedom has allowed me to keep a smile on my face and on my attitude.
I've spent a significant amount of time observing people on cruises, and I see that there are many who bring all their emotional baggage with them. They will fight to the death for a silly prize in a trivia contest. They will glare at people who are walking for exercise as they consume the huge bowl of ice cream balanced on their fat mound of a belly. Such people envy us for what we look like, but don't have any thought of changing their lifestyle. From watching people's food choices, it appears that most people who get on a cruise ship are bent on "getting their money's worth" out of the food provided, without giving thought to the consequences. Most everyone goes for some special treats on a cruise, but many seem to go to an extreme. Another kind of baggage I've seen is women who carry huge purses on a ship. I can't imagine why they would need them. Maybe they feel undressed without them, the way some women feel undressed without makeup. Isn't life unencumbered more fun? I could probably go on for hours about things like this, so I'll quit before I get too bogged down in it.

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