"" Writer's Wanderings: Meanwhile, Back On The Ship

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Meanwhile, Back On The Ship

Our sail away from Amsterdam was very scenic. We headed out to sea on what I believe is the Noordzee Kanal. Just before the open water are two locks. The difference in the water levels at that point was about three feet. From our viewpoint near the top of the ship it was hard to tell that there was even that much difference. What amazed us even more was that we eased our way into the narrower lock. There could not have been much space between the hull and the sides of the lock.

The area looked industrial with lots of windmills and smokestacks and as we were easing out of the lock, the sun began to set. It was a beautiful evening and because we are inching our way north, the sun is setting later and later. I believe it was a little after 9:30 when it set. 

Out of the nine days of our ocean cruise so far we have had four days at sea. One extra sea day was tossed in because we missed the port of Brest, France. In all fairness, we stayed a little longer in two other ports that were to make up for it. 

Normally I would love days at sea but Holland America Line has changed so much that I'm finding it a little difficult to deal with. Most of the activities during the day are somewhat camouflaged opportunities to spend extra money. Several of the art/craft activities incur an extra charge. The spa talks, ie. how to lose the stomach fat, better hair, massages that help the body, etc. are all geared to get you to sign up for expensive treatments.

If you don't think those would be expensive, let me explain my salon nail experience. I needed to get the nails done and if I knew what it was going to cost on the ship, I would have opted for a nail salon on land even if there was a language problem. First of all, I was asked to fill out a form with questions like how stressed I felt, which joints ached the most, etc. and the real kicker, list all your medications. What?! 

I looked at the girl and asked what this had to do with getting my nails done. The answer was that the technician would then know if I had any problems she needed to be aware of. Then she added sweetly, just fill out whatever you want to. I filled out my name and signed the waiver. The rest was blank. Had I filled it all in, I'm sure I'd have gotten a sales pitch on soothing massages for my stress and some sort of treatment, probably acupuncture, for my joints. 

Oh yes, and the cost of my gel polish manicure? Total with extra cost for the gel polish and an automatic 18% tip was $81.42.  Thankfully it came out of our onboard credit. 

Our entertainment at night has been exactly the same as we had on our March cruise on HAL We didn't really enjoy it the first time through. It's great if you like interpretive dancing. They have that every night except for the movie/lecture on the history of HAL and the BBC nature film that we've seen twice already.

Trivia seems to attract a lot of other people--music, movie themed. There's always the gym which Bob likes to visit in the afternoon. 

Have to say HAL is trying some different things like Pickleball. Trouble is out on the ocean on a moving ship usually with a lot of wind, the game is a little more challenge than we're up to. 

Bob and I looked for playing cards on shore but thought $3.50 was a lot to pay for a deck since we need three decks for our Hand and Foot card game. Then we got desperate and looked for some in the gift shop on ship. $9! No thanks.

Port lectures have been somewhat interesting although I discovered not always factual (see my corrected Lisbon post). Bob went to a technical talk that offered all sorts of ideas on apps for travel, most of which we already have, 

I'm a little bored with sea days. Can you tell? The next four days have ports of call so there will be something interesting those days and maybe with luck we'll find those cards. Meanwhile we will enjoy the food on the ship that has been good and our comfortable room that our stewards keep so very neat and clean. 

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