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••• The International Writers Magazine: Life Moments with Martin Green

Observations at Sea Once Again   
• Martin Green


Somebody told me there are four stages of travel: first, when you’re young, you throw some things in a suitcase or backpack and just take off;  second, when you’re older, you take a bus tour; third, when you’re still older, you go on a cruise; four, when you’re really old, you stay home.    I’d say that Beverly and I, old parties that we are, are on the borderline between stages three and four.   Still, when we spotted a cruise to Alaska leaving on July 27, as our anniversary was on July 30th (our 52nd) we decided to give it a try.

     One of the first things we noticed on the cruise was that there were a lot of kids on board.   This was apparent at our first night dinner, when our restaurant was filled with noise, punctuated by kiddie screams and baby cries; it was like eating at Lucille’s on Mother’s or Father’s Day.  This was confirmed on the first night’s introductory show when the cruise director, in between the usual cruise jokes, said that of the 2,000 passengers 400 were non-adults.  We happened to share a dining room table one night with a family, mother and father and two children, plus, they told us, their grandparents were also with them.  When Beverly and I were their age it never occurred to us to take our kids on a cruise; in fact, it never occurred to us to go on a cruise ourselves.  Nowadays, going as a family seems to be the thing to do.

     One thing that was familiar was the behavior of the ship’s elevators.  As I’ve written here before, on land elevators behave fairly reasonably, going up and down.  On a cruise ship, if you want to go up, all the elevators where you’re waiting, are going down, and visa versa.  To compound the situation, on this ship, the two end elevators went down to the fifth floor (deck), while the other elevators went down to the seventh floor. If you went down to the fifth floor, you were stuck because you couldn’t get through to the rest of the deck. If you wanted to go down to some place on the fifth (or sixth) floor you had to take one of the elevators to the seventh floor and then a midship elevator further down.  No wonder passengers were confused.  Another familiar thing was that neither Beverly nor I saw any whales.  Starting with the first day, other passengers would ask us if we’d seen the whale and we’d always say: “Whale?  What whale?”

     Something that had never happened before was that we had a plumbing problem.  We noticed that the sink water was always lukewarm or hot, never cold.  This was a LLA (although not a TGH) as it felt funny to brush my teeth and take my pills with warm water.  After a couple of days, we informed the purser and somebody came to fix it.  I jokingly said that once this was done the water in our shower wouldn’t be hot any more.   

Unfortunately, this is what happened.  We called the purser and someone came again.   The shower water became hot and again the sink water became warm.   The ship had about 1,000 staff people but needed a better plumber.    Another LLA was that there was a rather high step to get into the bathroom.   Evidently, whoever designed this didn’t have in mind senior citizens, who are wary of high steps and prone to falling.  Fortunately, we managed to navigate the step and now that we’re home have to be careful not to high-step when going into or out of our bathrooms.     

Alaska Glacier Leaving aside these LLA’s, cruising, as I’ve also written here before, is always a pleasant experience.  We were lucky in the weather, which was forecast to be rainy, but it was nice for most of the way, especially so when we were among the glaciers.   One of the better things about the cruise, to me, was being able to walk around,  or sit around, outside without feeling you were in a furnace.  The temperatures were around 70, about 30 degrees less than here in our Valley. 

Of course, one of the features of a cruise is the eating, especially those five-or-so course dinners every night.  On the night of our anniversary, Beverly and I celebrated by having dinner in the steak restaurant instead of the usual dining room and after the steak we were serenaded and had a chocolate cake brought to our table, just what we needed after the regular dessert.  The next night we had another anniversary dinner, this time in the regular dining room, with another serenade and another chocolate cake.  (We passed the cake around to our tablemates).   I can’t understand why I weighed five pounds more when we got back.

     One of our cruise traditions is that I always manage to lose something on them.  On one our first cruises a pair of my shoes inexplicably disappeared.  On another cruise, I’d thought I’d lost a jacket, only to find it left in my closet when we returned home.   On this cruise, I couldn’t find my cell phone when we packed to return.   It was a cheap phone, certainly not a smart phone, so losing it was only a LLA and when we returned home I ordered a Jitterbug phone, which is pretty smart, as recommended by AARP.    (Stand by for my struggles with the Jitterbug).

     On a cruise you always meet a variety of people and the people on this cruise seemed to be unusually nice ones, a couple from England (Angela and Philip Walker), a lady from Rocklin, the family I mentioned above, a doctor from Fresno, another couple from Santa Barbara, and so on.   We also found out that the piano player in the lounge was Irish (his name is Liam) and was going to visit Galway, home of our youngest son and his family, the Galway Greens.   I advised him to go to Busker Brown’s restaurant and Charlie Byrnes book store off Shop Street.

     Finally, however pleasant it is to get away for a while, I’ll close this by quoting, as I’ve done before, the Chinese writer Lin Yutang, who said, ”No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he come home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”   I’ll just add: and sits in his old, familiar lazy-boy chair.

© Martin Green September 2017

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