The Ten Pound Cruise
January 11, 2012
If you’re over the age of 60, an American or Canadian, and a glutton, you’re the right age, citizenship, and obsession to cruise with Holland America, a Seattle based cruise line. As a fellow traveller remarked,”Holland knows how to take care of you.” Actually many of the passengers were from a variety of countries, but English is definitely the primary language. If you’re a food-aholic, then you have landed on Mount Olympus. Food-fest is only mildly accurate.
From the moment we arrived in Athens, we were met by a Holland rep who gathered us up, offered a restroom break before we climbed on the bus, and appeared to us that her job of delivering us to the Prinsendam was the highlight of her year. Now we did hit a snag: a flash flood and a garbage strike had clogged all the drains from Athens to Piraeus, causing backed up water to overflow into sidewalks and shops. Sad cafe and shop owners stood near their front entrances watching the turmoil and garbage water lap onto their floors.
An intersection near the ship was impassable until the Greek Coast Guard showed up with machine guns to redirect traffic. Amazingly the opposite lane of traffic had refused with vivid hand gestures of rejection to give a millimeter until armed Greek soldiers trotted down their lane. Then each driver meekly bowed his head, shoved his little car into reverse and made way for our bus.
After that it was a snap to board the ship and heave hearty to a wonderful array of fruits, cheeses, salads, main courses of beef, fish, chicken and pastas, and desserts.
Holland made a big effort to stop the spread of germs by serving us at buffet lines and offering hand sanitizers at every entrance, intersection on a deck, stairwell, and elevator. Nonetheless several people had already fallen victim to colds and the rest of us followed as the ship moved across the Black Sea. I had sanitized so religiously I thought no germ could possibly assail me. Boy, was I wrong. I wasn’t completely unpacked after arriving home before the creeping pains of a sore throat made the simple process of swallowing feel like the charge of the Light Brigade.
The advantage of cruising is that after you unpack, you are finished with having to do for yourself. Food is constantly available. How anyone can resist a ten pound weight gain on a cruise is absolutely not in my field of understanding.
I could hardly wait to bilge to the Lido deck every morning for bacon, hot biscuits, cheese, jam, grape juice, pears, pineapple, and sushi with a fine little dab of wasabi. I’ve never seen so many people drawn to muesli for breakfast in my life. Wonder why? Could collective scanting impede the whole voyage?
Then if it wasn’t time for a shore excursion, it was time to eat lunch before a hunger pang hit. The serving lines were aways decorated with watermelons carved into a monkey’s head, baskets, or some luscious free form. After lunches of a variety of cheeses, meats, chicken, fish, pastas, salads, mac/cheese, and desserts, cookies, ice cream, and sushi with a blinding little dab of wasabi, one either can leave for another excursion, nap, or read and nap in some quiet little nook of the ship.
At 3 P.M. it’s time to take the elevator to the Crow’s Nest. Tea is served with the appropriate accompaniment of sandwiches, biscuits, and clotted cream.
It’s so easy to linger over a cup of Earl Grey until Happy Hour at 4 P. M. Drinks are two for the price of one. And guess what? A nice little plate of hors d’oeuvres replaced the empty tea cups and yummies.
Although it might be time for another nap, most folks wander back to their staterooms to dress for dinner, a meal of no less than four courses. Every night the menu offered at least 3 choices for each course. For the more daring of the diners Duck a l’Orange and rack of lamb were at different times on the menus. I almost always picked the fish offering and was never disappointed. One formal evening my husband and his cold opted out of the La Fountaine dining room. We walked through the lunch and breakfast venue on the Lido deck and chose filets, baked potatoes, and salads. The fillet was one of the tastiest I’ve ever eaten. Even my husband who couldn’t really taste much agreed. I’ve learned that he only agrees with me when he doesn’t know any better. Where does Holland get its beef? Argentina? What? Where? I’d like to be able to buy the same quality in my little hometown.
After dinner it’s somewhat a pleasure to lubber to the showroom for the evening’s entertainment. First though, the meal calls for a return to one’s stateroom to search for slacks with an elastic waist to haul your keeler into the next entertainment. Every Holland ship has a group of young, cute, talented dancers and singers who brightly performed on different nights: Broadway show tunes, Latin Nights, Lovers Songs, 60’s or 70’s Hits. The comedians were a hoot and age appropriate . After the showroom lights were dark, a midnight buffet or chocolate extravaganza was laid out fit for a Roman orgy. If one’s weight can be purchased to his stateroom, then a made down bed with an animal origami fashioned towel and a nice chocolate rest on the pillow.
The next morning I could hardly wait for bacon, hot biscuits, cheese, etc.
Tip: Pack only elasticized waist pants. View cruises at www.hollandamerica.com or call 1-877-932-4259. You will receive cruise brochures in the mail almost weekly.