Sunday, September 26, 2010

Our First Day At Sea

As I was coming out of my deep sleep induced fog, I could see from the corners of our balcony window drapes, that it was light outside.
I briefly tried to remember where I was and why I was there.
It took me a couple of seconds to return to reality but when I did, I was rather shocked.
I looked at our clock that we had bought special just for traveling.
I could barely read what it was showing as the time and once I could read the numbers, I had a difficult time believing it.
There was absolutely no way it could be that time.
So while Veronica was still sleeping, I called the front desk to obtain the correct time because obviously my high dollar clock with trash can worthy.
The first thing the gentleman said was good afternoon. It was at this moment that I discovered that our clock was indeed trustworthy and kept the accurate time.
I was politely told that it was about 1:15PM...like in the afternoon....like in after breakfast time...like in after lunch time.
As it turns out....that jet lag seriously kicked our butts.
I had actually slept from 7PM until after 1 PM the next day.
That has to be the longest that I have ever slept in one period of time.
I promptly woke Veronica up and told her what time it was. She could not believe it either.

Once we woke up and found out what time it was, we figured that we probably should get something to eat.

It was a darn good thing that this, our first full day on the ship, was a day at sea and that we had nothing at all planned for the day.
Because it was a day at sea and because we really had nothing planned except for discovering the layout and what was being offered on the ship, nothing really happened that is blog worthy...other than our Worlds Record sleep-a-thon.

I figure that this would be a good time to talk about our ship itself...The NCL Sun.
The Sun is an older ship in NCLs fleet of cruise ships.
It is smaller than the Pearl, which is a ship that we love to sail on and did so during our last 2 Alaska cruises.

I was very satisfied with our balcony cabin and actually liked both the shower setup and the closet setup better than I did with what the Pearl offered.
Not only was there plenty of space in the closet to hang clothes up, there were several shelves and baskets lined up adjacent to the hanging clothes section.
We had a King sized bed which I thought was cool plus there was plenty of space to put all of our luggage under the bed.

I would also like to mention that I really like the toilets on these cruise ships. When you flush them, the water must be really pressurized because they made a loud "whoosh" sound and then it is quiet almost instantly...none of that water running to refill the tank for the next flush type of thing. Plus the biggest bonus of all....it would be close to impossible to clog these toilets up, especially with the amount of pressure the the flushing water is under.

I realize that this is probably more info that you wanted but I really believe in giving you my faithful readers a real accurate picture on the topics that I am speaking of or describing to you. I want you to feel like you are almost there.

Veronica and I had a fantastic Room Steward. His name was Fernando.  He was excellent at his job and always had a smile on his face.
When we first got in our cabin, I met Fernando and asked him if he could clean out the mini fridge...it is stock with general items that NCL charges a fortune for. We wanted to be able to put our own drinks and food items in the fridge. Although I asked Fernando to do this whenever he had an opportunity, he promptly cleaned it our right then and there.

Fernando made up our beds daily and freshened the whole cabin up, replenished are towel supply, provided turn down service nightly along with leaving us towel animals which Veronica loved.

In the 3 NCL cruises that we have taken, I feel that Fernando was the best that we had.
We found that the food on this cruise tended to be rather repetitious and at times seemed to cater to the European cruisers on the ship.
Personally I am not really into anything with braised oxtail in it.

They had your usual buffet in one of the dining areas but it was a rather short buffet area and got really congested most of the time. It seem that our favorite foods would be served during the lunch hour, when we were off of the ship. Breakfast was pretty decent but dinner at time was difficult to find something that appealed to me.
We did locate another restaurant area that people used for extra seating at meal times and this area during breakfast time, had an additional omelet station and a waffle station.
There was also an outdoor buffet area for meals but sitting outside was conditional upon the weather.

There were several other dining options that did not require any additional payment or surcharges. There were 2 main dining rooms for seated meals compared to the buffet style of meal.
In The 2 main dining rooms, they would change half of the menu daily but they would also keep half of the menu constant where you knew exactly what you had as an option each day.
You could always get a Caesars salad and a steak each day if you wanted. Those options never changed during the cruise.

There were also "specialty restaurants" that required an additional per person surcharge. We did go to one of these specialty restaurants on 3 different evenings...Il Addagio...an Italian themed restaurant. There was an additional $10 per person surcharge for this restaurant.
You could mix and match whatever you wanted.
After the first time we were there, I would usually get a Caesars salad and then Rotini with meatballs along with a chicken parmesan on top of the rotini. The meatballs would be on the side of the dish.
Basically, you can have as many items as you wanted.
If someone wanted 3 steaks, they could get 3 steaks.
We did have reservations at a Steakhouse type of restaurant called the East Meets West Steakhouse.
In there they served top choices of beef and you could get a 32 oz ribeye for two in there.
Of course this was a "specialty" restaurant and carried with it a $25 per person surcharge.
I cancelled those reservations. I figured that if I wanted a steak, I could get it in the main dining room and it wouldn't cost us any additional money.
There were several other "specialty" and regular restaurants to eat in.
Like I said earlier, there was plenty of food to pick from but it just might not have been something that you had a hankering for.

Of course there was always deserts to be had everywhere and at almost any hour of the day or night.
Plenty to pick from and believe me, I ate my weight in cookies.
And to think that I only gained maybe 3 pounds during the whole 12 day cruise.

We did not go to too many of the shows that they offered during the evening. They just weren't something that we were interested in.
We ended up going to one ...some flute player from Ireland. He was decent but we got bored after listening for a half an hour and we decided to leave. That was it for our seeing shows.

A couple of things that we had decided not to do prior to taking this cruise were...no playing bingo and no spending money at the casino. Believe me...I did not miss doing either one of those things while we were on the ship.

One service that they offered on the ship and it was offered a couple of times over the 12 day cruise....laundry specials. All of the clothes that you wanted washed, dried and folded, that you could fit into a fairly big bag that they provided you for a certain price.
We did this twice...one bag each time and I am glad that we did. I still came home with 4 loads of laundry but it would have been 6 had it not been for these laundry specials plus there are several favorite items that I like to wear so I wanted to make sure that I had the chance to wear them again after they got dirty.

And now for the final topic that I feel really compelled to talk about...fellow cruisers behavior both on and off the ship.
We met some genuinely nice people on our cruise. There were some that were a bit too friendly for my liking. There were some that wanted to know about every aspect of your life. I was not at all comfortable around those types of people. Look folks, I am only going to be seeing you off and on over the next 12 days of this cruise. I am not asking you to adopt me.

Veronica and I also found an over abundance of totally rude human beings.
I am not sure if this was the way that they behaved at home in their native country or that they decided to leave all civility on the pier as they boarded the ship in Dover.
Unfortunately this was the biggest group of rude people that I had ever seen in one place at one time.

It wasn't just one culture or people from one particular country. If anyone every says to me that the American people are the rudest folks in the world...then the argument will be on.
Just as there are plenty of good people in every nationality, culture and country...there are just as many cold nasty and rude people from each also.

It seemed that the Buffet area was a prime location for the rudeness and totally self absorbed behavior to take place.
You could always find dozens of these people using their bodies to maneuver themselves into the from of any line and then you always had those that would just stop right in the middle of a walking area and totally block everyone from going either direction.

I think that there were a few that really did not realize that I could not get around them without saying excuse me. After saying that, these people would look around and finally figure out that it was just possible that they had stopped in the absolute worse place to have a conversation with their partner or fellow countrymen or just to look around. They were just oblivious to everyone and everything around them.

Although I tried to always use the polite me when dealing with these folks, I must admit that there were times that I ended up being deliberately just as rude to some of these "offenders" of common decency as they were being to everyone else.

At times I had had enough and I'm not going to take it any more. The only thing that was missing was me yelling it out of a port hole window or from a balconey....think name of a movie and you will get it....it is worth 3 bonus pints for the correct answer!!!!

There were a couple of situations that really are embedded into my memory banks...one was that Veronica and I had walked into a small covenience/grocery store.
There was a lady working there and she was most likely the owner.
I forget what country/town we were in.
Veronica asked the lady if she accepted American money as a form of payment. I think that Veronica just wanted to buy a Pepsi or Coke product. Well this lady basically unloaded on Veronica.
She said that if she were in America, would we accept her currency as a form of payment. She answered that question herself and said that we wouldn't and because we don't accept her currency, then she won't accept ours.
Fair enough...no problem...watch our American asses walk out your stores front doors, taking with us our fat over stuffed wallets just bursting at the seams with our American currency. And if you ever come and vist the USA, please feel free to do the same to us.

Of course she did have a really good point...here in America, we really don't freely accept foreign currency but all she had to do was politely say "no".
Of course that was one reason that we got currency for the countries that we were visiting.

Before I forget, I previously made mention about Pepsi and Coke products. Those two brand names along with McDonalds are universal.
They were readily available in every country that we went to.
Pepsi and Coke products from each country tasted a bit different from the other countries.
We found a rather big taste difference between the foreign Coke and Pepsi products compared to our American products of the same name.

Now back to one final rude and nasty individual's story.
We were in St. Petersburg Russia. I believe that it was after our first day there and we had returned to the ship and were getting ready to get on an elevator.
As I usually did, when the doors opened up, I waited and let those on the elevator get out and then I waited and allowed Veronica and several other passengers on and then I entered the elevator.
There were two people that had stayed on this elevator when Veronica first entered it. It was a man and a woman. I did not pay any attention to them. There was no need to...after all...we were on a fantastic cruise and in the safety of our own ship.
When Veronica got on, she went to the rear of the elevator and was standing in front of the man. After everyone had got onto the elevator, it was fairly crowded and I was at the front of it because I waited to let everyone else on before I got in.
My being polite kept me separated from Veronica.
The elevator stopped at a floor and the man and woman behind Veronica headed out the elevator door.
I heard Veronica yelling something to the guy that was walking out of the elevator door with his wife/girlfriend behind him. Veronica was yelling at the guy because he had grabbed Veronica and basically pushed her out of his way so that he could exit the elevator.
The whole incident occurred quickly and caught me totally off guard.
The next thing I know, the guy and his female companion are off the elevator and the door has closed.
Veronica was visibly upset that she was man handled by this guy and physically shoved out of his way.
To be honest, I felt totally worthless at this point in time.
The only thing I saw about this guy was that he was tall and wearing a white shirt with blue lettering on it. I think there was some type of fish design on the back on the shirt.
By the time I reacted and truly knew what had happened, it was too late for me to do anything.
I personally was not prepared for that type of behavior from anyone on the ship. My alert status was extremely low or else I would have been paying more attention to what was going on in the elevator, got a better look at the low life individual and even got the floor number that they got off of.

Veronica was not herself for the next day or so.
I suggested that we go to the reception desk and file a report ...assault ...battery...something against this guy.
I thought that they possibly had cameras in the elevators that they might be able to review the recorded tape and get a look at what happened and what the guy looked like.
Veronica felt that nothing would be done and that she would feel worse if they did nothing after a report was filed.
I think that because we were docked in Russia, that if a report had been given on the ship, then the Russian police would be involved because the incident happened under Russian jurisdiction.

I changed my alert status for the rest of the cruise...I kept looking for this guy hoping that he might wear the same shirt again because that was about the best view or memory that I had of him.
Every time we went anywhere on the ship..just walking around or especially in the dining rooms, I would try to see if I recognized this guy.
I also made sure that when Veronica was in the elevator, I was always standing right beside her.
Unfortunately we never found him.
But I know that this low life waste of a human being is out there still. Just remember this asshole....Karma is a bitch!!!!

Now with that off of my chest...tomorrow is our first port of call.
We are going to have a full day of exciting discoveries and adventures, so everyone needs to get a good nights sleep because tomorrow we take on Copenhagen, Denmark!!!!
And because we are doing this totally on our own, without any excursions, we will need to get up early and have a good breakfast and we will want to be well rested and alert.
We can all meet for breakfast in the buffet dining area...just remember to save me a seat and don't allow anyone to cut in front of you when you are in line for the bacon.
They can be brutal first thing in the morning.
See you then.
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