Cruising for bruising

I have never been on a cruise, mainly because of the
short time you have in every port. I like to be in places. Go grocery shopping. Take the tram. Cook a meal. Know the butcher. Not everyone’s idea of travel but it’s mine. So going on a cruise where you get off a huge boat with a thousand other people, get shuffled around a city for a portion of a day does
not appeal to me too much. I mean, I’d do it. Like, right now if someone offered me a trip for free, sign me up, but basically, not so much. There is also, I imagine, the issue of getting on and off at every port. Lines. Document checking. Lines. Delays. Waiting for people who are late, with people whose conversation makes you want to push them into traffic. Lines. No thanks. That’s
what I imagine. And I can very much imagine wanting to push people into traffic. In fact, I often have. Imagined, I mean.

I went to Oslo for three weeks, the RIMFCP was working during that time and I was grocery shopping and getting to know the butcher but as a short getaway we decided to go on a long weekend to Copenhagen. But flying there takes up a lot of time. This is a travel day: Get up, get to the bus stop, an hour to the airport. Then an hour wait, then the flight, another hour and a half, getting off the plane and then all the fussing to get to the hotel, another hour at least, checking in, unloading your crap and by then the day is mostly shot. Every travel day is a day wasted and on a 4 day weekend, that’s half the weekend. So we opted for the overnight ferry. (Alternate title for this post: Fairies on a Ferry). This seemed adventuresome. Leave at 4 in the afternoon after an evening and night aboard, arrive in the morning fresh faced and bushy tailed, have your whole day spreading out ahead of you. Sounded goodish to me. But…I have been on a ferry before, from Milwaukee to Ludington, Michigan. As I recall it was pretty much sitting on a wood bench for 5 hours rolling back and forth watching people go to the side of the boat to let loose of their lunches. So while I understood we would have a “bed” for the trip to Copenhagen, it’s a ferry after all, I’ve seen pictures of other ferries, say, in the Philippines or on the Yangtze. I had concerns. Later when I discovered that we would also have a balcony, I allowed myself a modicum of positive anticipation. No matter what though, it would be fine. There had to be food
somewhere and a bar I imagined. (I imagined sandwiches in a vending machine and cold pinot noir in cans.) The tickets were cheap. So there was that. 

Our trip to the boat on the Oslo mass transit was arduous, this seems to be a theme with me (generally speaking though, I LOVE the Oslo mass transit system). But when we finally got to the boat and the check-in counter there were no lines. Bing bam boom we had our boarding passes which were also the room “keys.” And it turned out our cabin was on the “Commodore” level. The top floor. First class. El Primero classo. I had not expected this and was guardedly optimistic. But getting to the Commodore level proved a little difficult. Not the least of which was the 4 gabillion children. As you enter the boat, somewhere in the middle (a few levels above where Jack was imprisoned on the Titanic, I imagined myself waist deep in frigid waters. I tried to memorize the hallways so I could find my way out) into an entrance hall where there were a LOT of children. On the whole, Norwegian children are relatively well behaved, yet, they are still children. Somehow right at that moment getting through the sea of children seemed more perilous than the actual sea, we made it up to our floor and found our room.

I should say rooms. It was freaking glorious. I cannot express how thrilled I was. Not in a million years did I anticipate this. A living room, if that’s what you call it on a boat, a bedroom, a balcony with chairs, a bathroom with a glass shower door. I have stayed in hotels that were a fraction of this size with toilets that required you to put your feet in the bathtub if you were, say, having to sit for some sort of function or other. This was sublime. Plus, on the “Commodore” level there’s a goddamn free “help-yourself” bar with snacks just steps outside the room.  And it cost like $400 round trip for both of us!!! Flying was more expensive. There were decks, bars, promenades, duty free shopping, restaurants and breakfast delivered to your room. The eggs were kind of unappealing, but I’ll eat anything pretty much, except anchovies.

Our return voyage was on the disappointing side. We did not have “Commodore” level rooms, we didn’t have rooms at all. Just a room. Dear God, the shower had a curtain. It was such a come down. One minute you’re shrieking, “I’m the king of the world” on the prow of the ship, the next you’re floating in the water and your girlfriend is letting you drown. God I hated that stupid movie.

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