Since I am looking for novel traveling experiences, I decided to cross the Atlantic via cruise ship. It seemed romantic and a wonderful old fashioned way to relax and enjoy the world pass me by. I wanted time to read, think, and write. I wanted to organize the millions of ideas I had and research some of the spots I wanted to visit. I was looking forward to sleep, naps, and coffee on the back deck. I bought the wifi package, brought, my laptop, notebook, and camera, and was ready to begin my adventure.
Leaving port was incredibly beautiful and awesome. The moon hung in a cloudless and inky sky. The Manhattan skyline at night was an extraordinary backdrop for the beginning of the trip. The ship sailed off slowly on calm waters and we spent time watching the cityscape drift past us. I was mesmerized by the dancing lights. Just when I though it couldn’t be more beautiful, we cruised past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty who resided comfortably in the in the glow of lights. The experience of seeing these sites from the water was spectacular. It was a romantic and indulgent way to begin a vacation. It was the perfect beginning to an otherwise disappointing and tumultuous 5 nights at sea.
I must say that I will not spend that many nights at sea without some sort of break. I think if I had more distractions and less tumultuous movement, I wouldn’t feel this way. As a matter of fact, I have gone on record saying that if I ever bring up the notion of crossing the Atlantic uninterrupted again, I am up be stopped at all costs. Immediately.
The cruise started off pleasantly. We boarded quickly. Norwegian has an effective system of making an appointment time to board. This decreased wait time significantly. What also helped is that even though the ship could accommodate 2500 passengers, with only a little more than 900 on board for this trip. We stepped into the building and had our ticket and passport checked. We went through security and then immediately walked up to the check-in desk. We had our tickets checked, Covid test looked at, pictures taken and everything filed and documented. Off we went onto the ship.
On our first night, we wondered around to get the lay of the land. It was a big boat with only a few people on board, it was easy to navigate around and find a table when we wanted to eat or a place to sit. The ship had two main dining rooms but only one was open. The ship also had an Irish pub, a Chinese restaurant, and a casual buffet plus two outdoor cafes. There were bars throughout the shop and a theatre. The center of the ship contained an atrium with guest services, a baby grand piano for entertainment, a Starbucks, and a movie screen for late night movies.
We choose a stateroom with a limited view. I received an email a few months prior about putting in a bid to upgrade our room and took advantage of that. We won the bid and paid an extra $300 for a balcony room. I hadn’t realized how valuable that was going amenity would be for us. The room had more space which was ideal for a two week stay and I was able to hang my washed sweaters on the chairs while in port. We had taken a couple of bottles of wine with us and we would lounge with a glass of wine after dinner so we could watch the sun set and the waves crash into the ship. Luck was with us as to which side of the boat we stayed on because most of the time we docked on the side that allowed us to watch the ship pull into port.
My dissatisfaction with transatlantic boat travel came around Tuesday. For both of us, it was rocky but manageable until the night. Around 11 o’clock each night between Tuesday night and Friday night the boat would start rocking in up to 30 foot waves. When I say rocking, I mean side to side, back and forth and up and down. It moved in ALL directions and sometimes all at one time. I was expecting movement but was caught off guard at how extreme it could be at times.
The theatre was not what I had experienced in the past. The Ukrainian brother’s Cirque du Soleil style show was excellent and I would catch that again. I didn’t care for the other shows since they were more Vegas lounge style. We preferred listening to the musicians at the bars. On Wednesday we thought we’d go to the theater to see a comedian. We walked in the theater and it had already started and there weren’t any seats at the top for us to sit down and we didn’t want to walk down in the dark especially with my knee still being post-op. We turned around to walk out and we were in the dark hallway of the theater and the boat literally dropped. We turned green and went back to the room. I can honestly say I don’t get seasick after that incident.
One of the joys about having transatlantic travel was having the balcony. First of all, I liked the windows so I can see what the weather and the condition of the Atlantic. Also, having that openness was really wonderful on the dark and gloomy days. I was surprised about how much that balcony helped from it feeling dark and closed off, especially at night.
Another bonus was being forced to relax. It is hard for me to relax since I have so much going in my life. I thought retirement would mean a slowing down and it actually has been the opposite. I am busier than when I was working. I love travel but it is work in that I do a lot of research into locations and spend a lot of time making arrangement. The best is that I only have myself to manage. I like it that way. I was able to read, plan, write, relax and enjoy the company of others. I slept when I wanted to (I still miss those after lunch naps), ate when I wanted to, and generally was on my own schedule. It was true luxury.
As much as I enjoyed the rest of the trip, I think I would fly to Europe to do a cruise as opposed to a transatlantic. As much as I’d like to say never say never, I think I will say never. It’s just not my cup of tea. I prefer to spend my time exploring different locations and not sitting there waiting. The biggest drawback for me was the incessant movement of the boat and the endless expanse of the Atlantic. At least, now can say “Been there. Done that.”