My parents are full of stories from their travels of meeting rabbis aboard ships and attending Shabbat and other holiday services. Well, not on this particular vessel. There hasn't been a single religious service that I would feel comfortable at, and all of the daily Bible study has focused on verses from Luke, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and the Letters of Paul. There may not be all that many MOT (if you need translation for that one, email me!) on board, but lighting Shabbos candles tomorrow evening in Milford Sound would be nice. I'm on Shabbatical, I haven't left the family. If the Friends of Dorothy and the Friends of Bill W. can have their meetings, why not the Friends of Moses? Might have to be included on my comment card.
This is a shout-out to Younger Son. As much as I love watching The Amazing Race, I know now to an absolute certainty that I could never handle being a contestant on the show. Too many modes of transportation that actually move....a lot! (And that is without discussing the possibility of bungee jumping or skydiving for which they would have to render me totally unconscious!) I have been really great on this trip and my motion sickness has remained under control, but I am using every possible trick at my disposal to achieve this sense of balance. I can't imagine having to pop a pill or suck on a ginger stick just before having to complete a Roadblock or Detour. Nope. I will remain forever a fan and enjoy it for the beautiful travelogue that is.
These days at sea have allowed me to catch up on my reading. I have complete two books already and am well into a third. The saddest part of my trip so far was finishing Maeve Binchy's final novel A Week in Winter. People who know me well know of my affection for Ms. Binchy's work, and turning the last page of this book was like saying goodbye to an old friend. I shamelessly stalled on the last few chapters just to prolong the emotion. It wasn't her best work, but it was a wonderful epitaph to a sincere author.
At the beginning of this trip journal, I told of Princess dissing our airport transfer in Sydney and of The Husband being on the warpath. We were actually understanding of the mixup at the time, but the thing that really burned us was the fact that when we spoke to a representative from the line on the phone, she was nonplussed and told us to take a cab; we were on our own, even though we had our confirmation in hand. The Husband then proceeded to email Princess from our hotel in Sydney and never received a response. Very bad form and atrocious customer service, right? Update? Well, the Husband went to discuss it with the people here on the ship, using the sea days to his full advantage. The crew member who dealt with him was shocked at the behaviour of the Sydney group and stunned at the lack of email response. She fully refunded our cab ride from the airport and......sent us a bottle of Cabernet and 6 chocolate dipped strawberries for our trouble. Now that's customer service.
I have never been on a ship that is more attuned with hand washing and Purell around food. Like other ships, there are Purell stations everywhere in an attempt to combat Norwalk. Unlike other ships, there are personnel stationed at the front of every buffet line making certain that people use them. The craziest thing that we have seen onboard are idiots (and there are many) arguing with these staff members saying that they don't want to Purell. WTF??
A few travel tips that I have learned that have become invaluable.
- Do not overpack. I know that you might really want to take along that extra pair of black pants, but avoid the temptation. As The Husband has said many times during this trip, nobody cares what you wear or if you wear it 3 times. Your suitcase will have more extra space and your back will thank you. Ladies...this goes for makeup and shoes as well. I managed to get all of my makeup into one small case the size of this iPad. I know that I am low maintenance when it comes to this stuff, but you really don't need it and will look just as beautiful.
- Take advantage of the ship's or hotel's laundry service. Best money ever spent. Less packing and constantly clean clothes. It really does pay for itself.
- Ziploc bags are your friends. (Especially when the sunscreen explodes in 50C heat!) Invest in the 2 gallon size. (I realize that this is an American sizing, but find a way to purchase them if you are travelling.) I was able to get most of my stuff into the large bags.
- Just because the food is there and readily available doesn't mean that you have to eat it. Buffets can be the bane of the travel experience. Be wary and be careful.
- Keep a journal. It doesn't have to be a public blog like this one and it can be in point form, but write or record your sightings. It will help you identify your photos later on, and believe me when I tell you how much I have already forgotten. The journal is your memory tweak. My mother is fond of reminding me of how she made The Lil Bro and I keep journals of our vacations when we were kids and how she still has them. Some were even on tape. (I'd hate to hear those 9 and 7 year old voices today! Oh the humanity!) Just make the effort. You will be glad after the trip is over. The Husband uses my blog posts when he puts together his photo books of our vacations. The written and the visual together in one package.