The photo above is Evelyn, ship nurse on the ms. Zuiderdam, Holland America lines--normally an ER nurse in New York. The day I met her (Deck A, bottom of the ship infirmary), she had a few minutes of down time . . . after treating no fewer than 5 passengers seriously ill enough to be transported (some via helicopter) off the ship. A small percentage of 2,000 passengers overall, but still a challenge--and she loves it. Cruise vacation combined with adrenalin-infused medical drama: must admit, it intrigued me enough that I applied for a position with Holland America a few years back. Then got my first publishing contract and put those plans on hold. Since then we've cruised multiple times and, in fact, I based my 3 wacky chick-lit mysteries (The Darcy Cavanaugh series) on real voyages. Research is so grueling, but someone's got to do it! But now . . . I choose to cruise because it gives me such an amazing sense of getaway. I think you can tell that by the look on my face in the photo below-- hubby sneaked this shot from our stateroom. Room service coffee, fluffy ship bathrobe, morning sun, miles of Caribbean sea . . .
I'm always surprised by folks who think cruising is boring. The fact is, that a cruise ship is a floating city and you can be as busy (or laid back) as you want to be. For instance, here are a few activities listed in our Daily Program for our last At Sea day:
1) 7 AM: Sunrise Stretch (Greenhouse Spa)
2) 7:30: Tai Chi on the Deck
5) Walk a Mile Promenade Deck (we did this often--there was also a 5K Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure)
6) Spa seminars (health and beauty)
7) Asian Fusion Cooking class (Wine & Food Magazine)
8) Digital Workshops (with onboard computer expert)
9) Line dancing Class at Northern Lights Club
10) Volleyball serve challenge, Sports Deck
11) *Team Trivia Challenge, Crow's Nest ("Which has more complex DNA: Camel, Chicken, Cat?")*
12) Movie in the Screening Room (complete with popcorn)
13) Whatever Floats Your Boat Sea Trials (make your own boat, sail it in the hot tub)
14) Steel Drum encore, Farewell Variety Show (live stage show, Vista Lounge)
15) 4 separate musical venues in various ship sites, from sing along piano to classical strings . . .
And these, of course, were all the non-port days. In port, we enjoyed a range of activities from kayaking to snorkeling, to an aerial tram ride through the Costa Rican Rainforest. To see some of those photos, see my FaceBook album, Cruisin'.
Yes, we are cruise fanatics. We enjoy the fact that dollar-for-dollar this vacation provides the best value--world class accomdations, gourmet food, top notch entertainment, amazing adventures . . . requiring travelers to only unpack once. But most of all, we love the opportunity to meet people, both onboard and in various ports--folks of all ages (very elderly to honeymooners, to babes in arms), from diverse cultures, different flags. The ship, in effect, offers a microcosm of humanity. Smiles, laughs, graciousness are universal. We come back with that sense of connection, and that is good. We see scenery that knocks our socks off . . . and speaks to God's glory:
And now we're home, regaining our land legs. I'm smiling to think of nurse Evelyn rockin' and rollin' on the high seas (or maybe even back in her ER in New York) reading Critical Care. I hope she enjoys it. She'll climb aboard another gangway sooner than I will, but meanwhile I'll be back at work, refreshed and relaxed--perhaps using bits of sounds, sights, smells, dialogue I "collected" in my new work. Evelyn said she's met several authors at sea, "It seems like writers like to cruise." I'm not surprised.
* Oh, yes. The answer to that Trivia Question about DNA: It's the chicken. *
And one other shipboard activity I forgot to mention--Towel Folding: