OK so we have all heard the jokes about cruising. Plan to put on at least a pound a day. Can you imagine how overweight you would be
if you did the latest and longest world cruise.
Viking Cruises is pushing hard to beat the world record for the number of
days in a world cruise and I think they might just do that at 245 days. Wow – imagine putting on 245 pounds. We would all be rolling off the ship at the
end and would not be admitted back to Canada because our passports would bear
no similarity to our new pudgy post cruise figures!
Yes – cruising – It’s all about the food – that never-ending
buffet that we religiously visit each day.
As the ships get bigger so do the buffet areas and it just takes that
much longer to get yourself organized.
So here’s the plan.
Out of the elevator and join the line up for the obligatory
hand washing ceremony. It seems that
with the outbreaks of noro virus on the cruise ships have encouraged many
cruise lines to install sinks with taps and soap so you can properly wash your
hands before getting anywhere NEAR the food.
Now with clean hands carefully approach the buffet being
mindful of the traffic flow as those exiting with full plates make their way to
a table with determination and fierce concentration. Then a quick squiz of the area.
Check out the salads – no need to do the desserts as I won’t
be partaking – then on to the warming pans.
Usually the dish is written on a sign on the front of the pan but that
doesn’t mean anything. You have to look
so that means easing the top off and taking a look at what “braised beef and
vegetables” really is. Sometimes you
might be surprised – or disappointed.
Look, food is pretty important and can make or break your cruise – but one man’s meat is another man’s poison and you will find wildly differing views on cruise food. Some reviews are so passionately angry they are almost funny. Like this one ….
The XXXXXXX cafe offered cheap food. Lots of pasta & mac &
cheese. Hot dog tempura??? Seriously? I asked a server what time the cafe
closes, & she said 930pm. Along with a quip of “we have to sleep
sometime”. At 930pm sharp, the lights go off & you are left with
nothing. Food tables are roped off. No
Oh dear – he or she sounds really hangry. Maybe this review was written in the dead of
night in an inside cabin somewhere on the high seas.
Others describe meals on the cruise ship as being akin to “school dinners”. Honestly, growing up in England I loved school dinners so I can’t really see that as an insult. However when you consider the thousands of meals that are prepared daily on the cruise ships of the world, spare a thought for the poor chefs down in the galley – it can’t be easy!
How much time do you want to spend on your vacation? Many tell me a week is not enough – especially when you spend two days getting there and getting home. Some people are happy with a weekend somewhere like Vegas. Others go for longer sojourns. Then there are those who go for months and months and months. So let’s look at these vacations ….
The weekend – in Vegas? Well on the plus side the flying time to Vegas is quite reasonable at just under three hours and the really nice thing about Vegas is that the airport is pretty much right in the middle of the city. It seems to be that Sin City is not such an attraction these days for the gambling side of things but more as an entertainment centre where the big names appear and the hotel rooms are abundant. Not a bad getaway on the whole. Personally I am not a casino fan and a guess I am not alone as new hotels are springing up in Vegas with no casino at all. So for shopping, great shows and top restaurants Vegas makes sense for a quick break.
A week all inclusive? Well hey – most working people get two – maybe three – weeks of vacation a year so a week is a convenient chunk of time to commit to a vacation. The only problem is the time these days it takes to get there and get back. Getting down to Mexico for example will take anything from 4 and a half to 6 hours. Add to that the time getting to the airport in Calgary in good time for security, check in etc. and then the travel time from the airport to your hotel at the other end. Some transfer times can be horrendously long – like 90 minutes in a shuttle bus, sometimes stopping at several hotels along the way. The ideal is 10 days but this can be problematic depending upon the availability of direct flights and remember that pre-packaged tours for 10 day durations often come at a premium price. Still, in the middle of a Calgary winter a week on the beach can be a very attractive prospect.
A month – in one place? – Now we’re talking. The popularity of our long stay packages to Spain, Portugal, Malta, Greece, Croatia and Thailand have shown us that people really like the idea of having three to four weeks in one destination. Time to absorb the local atmosphere, find out which restaurants are your favourites, join the local bike club on their rides, learn the language. Taking into account that these packages are usually over the “off season” means that not only do they come at a great price (always a good thing) but they also take advantage of less crowds, lower prices at local shops and restaurants and of course escaping Calgary’s winters.
Six months on a cruise? Now some might shudder at this idea. They might think that the first few weeks would be fine but then you would get tired of living on a cruise ship and start yearning for your own house. Ummm – NO. The clients I have sent on extended cruises like this tell me they love the idea of travelling around the world without having to pack and unpack – also without having to cook, shop for groceries, make the bed, water the plants … yes I could go on and on. In fact I have heard stories of new friends made and tears and hugs at the end of the cruise, not only with these new friends but with the cruise staff who have looked after them during their six months world cruise.
For those of us not yet retired then time is of the essence and we have to make do with two to three weeks, if we are lucky, or the one week or even the weekend jaunt. One thing I do know – time is the most precious commodity we have …. the clock is ticking!