Ramblings from the Warrior's Den
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
 
I just spent the last three days aboard the Star Princess with my brother and parents on a three-day cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver. These are the entries that I wrote while on the trip.

5/9/03:
I am writing this from roughly 33,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean on an Alaska Airlines Jet en route to Los Angeles, where we will be boarding the Star Princess tomorrow for a three-day Cruise up to Vancouver. I've never been on a cruise before, so l don't really know what to expect, but me and my brother will be with my parents, who not only go on cruises on a regular basis, but have been deemed "'cruise taking nerds" by relatives and friends. Given the fact that they go on cruises often, I imagine it has to be fun.

Of course, flying down to is means that I've got a couple of hours to kill here on the plane. To this end, the airline provides the Sky Mall Catalog. Perhaps you are familiar with such outfits as the Sharper Image or Brookstone, Which seem to specialize in selling Foot massagers and other such products that you can't live without, assuming you are among the excessively monied classes of society. Now take all the vendors of such products you can think of, add a few you've never heard of for good measure, then cram the whole thing into one big 180-page extravaganza, and you're got the Sky Mall catalog. Some highlights from the catalog:

·Something you put on the wall of the shower to put your foot on when you shave your legs ($24.00, probably cost about 50 cents to make, if that);
·The ExerCHIzer, basically some device to do exercise For you if you're too lazy to do it yourself ($159.99);
·A 24-karat gold-plated phony Million-dollar bill made of silver ($119, plus a $1 excessive hyphenation surcharge);
·Oxygen Shot, a portable, easy-to-use way to "rejuvenate your body with a blast of oxygen!" Well OK, it's pretty much a can of air. ($29 for 3 cans.)

And the list goes on. The whole Catalog is full of this type of stuff.

Anyway, we'll be landing soon So I probably need to wrap this up So 1 don't cause the plane to crash in a horrendous ball of flames. More from the ship.



5/10/03:
Following a rather crummy night's sleep on a hotel hide-a-bed, I woke up probably a lot earlier than intended. The hotel itself was nice enough (they sent us cookies and milk before bed, although this may have more to do with the million dollars in business my mom sent their way recently when booking group travel than their merely wishing us a good night's sleep,) but it doesn't matter how nice a hotel is, sleeping on a hide-a-bed sucks. Still, the view from the room was good, and we spent a good portion of the morning watching the planes Fly in and out of LAX, before taking a shuttle from the hotel out to the Cruise Ship docks in San Pedro.

We boarded the ship at approximately noon, and from there the past thirteen hours or so have pretty much been a blur. It would probably take hours to describe the amenities and features of the Star Princess. It's a huge ship (too large to go through the Panama Canal, In fact) and It can be quite a task to walk back and forth across the decks. I'm definitely not used to the level of service found here. About all you really have to do is sit around, lat a lot of fancy stuff, and maybe harbor the occasional pang of guilt for a minute or two after eating that Dieter's Revenge sundae. The pools and hot tubs are really nice, and seem to be all over the place. So far, I Count five pools, and I may be missing One or two somewhere.

Anyway, I suppose that even all-you-can-drink Coke probably isn't a very good substitute for some sleep. I've still got two more days here on the ship, so I'll write more as time permits, and try to go into more details.



5/11/03:
As anyone who had someone change their dirty diapers for years knows, today was Mother's Day. Fortunately, things were pretty well covered in that regard. I didn't even have to do any dishes!

The sheer scale of this ship continues to amaze me. A structure of this magnitude would be impressive on land, but to have the whole thing float and be able to move around the world almost at will is nothing short of incredible. The hallways on the stateroom levels are so long, you almost cant see one end From the other. At a brisk walking pace, it takes nearly three minutes to traverse the length of the hallway. Among the larger cruise lines, There is something of a race to build bigger and better ships. Princess currently operates three megaships of this size (the Grand, Star and Golden Princess) with a fourth (Diamond Princess) set to enter service next year. Royal Carribean has responded with megaships of their own, reportedly even larger than this one. It will be interesting to see what comes in the Future.

In fact, the scale of the ship can make you forget that you are at sea. Although with some investigation you can see some of the pecularities and techniques that indicate you are on a boat (for example, a lot Of the "wood" on the Ship isn't actually wood, but veneered or painted metal in order to reduce weight,) but usually there is little to remind you that you are not an land. Still. There is a constant, albeit subtle sense Of movement, and particularly if the seas are somewhat rough, the ship does move up, down, and side to side to some extent. This is most noticeable on the upper decks, and in the pools, where the water splashes around with the waves. This creates a ''wave pool" effect that can actually be fun to play around in.

The other major effect of the ship's movement is the fact that while outside, there is pretty much a constant wind of roughly 20 knots. In a warmer climate like the Carribean or the Mexican Riviera, this isn't much of a problem. When you're Somewhere like Alaska, this can get to be quite chilly. Fortunately, one of the features of this ship is a pool area with a retractable glass dome to let sunlight in without the wind.

It is now close to two in the morning, and I'm getting tired. We have one move day on the ship, then we disembark on Tuesday morning. More when I have time to write it.



5/12/03:

Last day on the ship, and l have to say that as nice as this place is. it will be nice to get off and go home. Unfortunately, I'm not looking forward to the Car ride back home. Three people in the back seat of the Jetta for three hours is not exactly my idea of fun. Still. as the ship enters the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the scenery is rather nice. Most of the trip has been in open ocean, which doesn't lend itself to much scenery.

On most cruises, you will have several stops in different ports of call where you can get off the boat during the day. This particular cruise doesn't have any, and I've now been on the ship since croon on Saturday. The constant motion of the ship can get to you after a while. I wouldn't say that I'm seasick, but when l sit down somewhere, there is something of a low-grade dizziness that you notice. I'in sure I'd eventually get used to it, but it is also unlikely that any future cruise I go on would have three consecutive days at sea like this one.

Anyway, we get off the ship early tomorrow morning, so I'll take some more time to write about the experience when I'in back on dry land.



When the world stops rocking back and forth long enough for me to do so, I will spend some time to summarize the whole experience.

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