"" Writer's Wanderings: A Few More Notes From Our HAL Cruise

Saturday, March 26, 2022

A Few More Notes From Our HAL Cruise

 As I sit and watch the snow fall outside, I can't but wish we were still cruising. Any time we come home in March, it always snows at least one more time. Hopefully this is the only snow we see until next winter. 

On one of the last days of our Panama Canal cruise the cruise director had a Q&A with the captain of the ship. It's always interesting to see the pictures of the banks of computers on the bridge and, as he said, the backups and the backups to the backups. I don't know how they keep it all straight. 

The amazing thing is the small joystick that he uses to gently bring the ship into the dock. Depending on which side of the ship the dock will be, he can go into one of the wings of the bridge and have pretty much a 360 view of what he's doing. The floor is clear so he can look down as well. 

He showed pictures of the azipods, the thrusters of the ship that can turn to maneuver the ship one way or the other. I still find it so amazing that a ship so large can maneuver so exactly--well most of the time. We have seen a couple of "oops" on a few ships.

I know there are lots of people who worry about rough seas and sometimes it can get a little rocky but I took a picture of his picture showing the stabilizers of the ship. They are wings that can be extended out to reduce the motion of the ship in the waves.

Something I learned that morning as well is what that thing under the water at the bow of the ship is. It's called a bulbous bow. It looks like a large nose that sticks out just below the water line. It is there to reduce drag. As the captain said it is kind of like the spoiler on a car only this is working to ease the flow of water around the bow.

We are trying to decide what's next on the bucket list and trying to find our way back to cruising on some lines we haven't taken in a while. The Holland America Line has made lots of changes since we last cruised with them in 2017. The changes are not all pandemic related. As I learned, there has been a change in administration at the top and I'm sure some of it is due to that. Cruising seems to have gotten more complicated in booking as there are way too many choices and decisions to be made. It used to be one price and maybe a drink package along with choosing a couple of nights to dine in specialty restaurants. Now there are all sorts of different packages for almost everything. It's hard to figure out the best for cost saving. Add to that, Holland America now charges extra for lobster and some other dishes that were a real treat during a cruise and included. There is even a restaurant that is ala carte and instead of charging what used to be just a service fee, you purchase everything as you would in a restaurant and the gratuity is added on.

Looking at our next cruise on Celebrity and wondering what has changed there. I don't think we've cruised with them since we did the Galapagos in 2013.  The cruise will check one of my bucket list items by cruising to Quebec from Boston this fall and stopping at Nova Scotia.

The other bucket list items include seeing the Pyramids, stopping at Gibraltar and the Holy Land and a cruise around Scotland. We have several cruise possibilities to get to all of those but haven't made a choice yet. At our age, we want to do as much as we can before a health issue or our final journey arrives. Travelin' on.

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