We are now more than halfway across the Atlantic and in four days will make our first landfall at the Portuguese island of Madeira. The weather overall has been mixed. The first two days were drop dead gorgeous—clear skies with temperatures in the 80s. It would not have been good for sailing, however, as winds never made it above five or six knots. Day 3 was a solid 10 for sailing with winds at 12-15 knots the entire day with hardly a cloud in sight. It clouded up that evening ushering in fresh breezes, which on Day 4 and 5 built up to more than 30 knots on the nose along with 20-25 foot seas and temperatures peaking in the mid 60s. Not what I would call ideal sailing conditions and a reason to be thankful that we are on a I,000 foot cruise ship, not a 40 foot sailboat. How do sailors cope with such conditions for days at a time?
Now it is pretty again with winds at 10-12 knots and temperatures back in the mid 70s.There are no sailboats to be seen out here, however—or any other vessels for that matter. Since we set sail from Ft Lauderdale almost a week ago, we have seen only two ships, both container ships. If you were on a sailboat and got into real trouble, you would not have a lot of help. I am trying to recall if I ever had a real urge to do an Atlantic crossing in a sailboat, and I think the answer is no. In any event it is surely no right now.
I also am beginning to understand how cruises can become addictive and why every person we have talked to so far has been on multiple previous cruises. Every day is the same, and yet every day is different. The schedule is more or less the same with set meal times and various activities that are more or less the same. But the sea is forever changing, and you can pick which of the 60 or 70 daily activities you want to do or do none of them. And there are alternative, casual dining venues providing opportunities for breaks from the elegant, formal main dining room.
We spend an hour or so each day exercising (walking on the main Promenade deck around the ship or using the tread mills and bikes in the fitness center.) Embry has gone to the spa and taken Palates and yoga classes, and we both have attended several lectures on various topics, mainly history. Embry has already finished a couple of books. I am 50 pages into my first. At one point I thought it might be interesting to have a contest allowing readers to vote for which number would be higher when we disembark from the ship in Spain– the pages that I have read in books or the pounds I have gained. (A very high percentage of our fellow passengers would fall into the category of obese, which I suppose is due in part to their age , that the are mainly Americans, and the number of previous cruises they have taken. Do the arithmetic:10 previous cruises at 15 pounds a cruise. Starts to add up.)
Fellow passengers also are generally retired folks like us, and everyone we have met so far is friendly. No one talks politics, and I could well imagine we may be the only two Democrats on the boat. Of the 1,700 passengers, only a handful are people of color. There are a bunch of affinity group activities that happen daily including the LGBT gathering, Friends of Bill W., “Fellow Veterans,” and “Singles and Alones.”
There is also much to do if you are so inclined: duplicate bridge, dancing with stars, photo lectures, cooking lessons, scavenger hunts, blackjack tournaments, trivia challenges, golf putting contests, ping pong tournaments,
bingo, gambling, wine tasting, model boat building, paper airplane contests and much more.
Or you can just sit on the deck and watch the waves to by, which is mainly what I do. And write blogs.