Dear Cruise Diary — Days 17-19, May 7-9, 2013

Dear Cruise Diary

Days 17-19 – At Sea in the Mediterranean

May 7-9, 2013


One of my observations from the first two weeks of this cruise has been that writing this journal has taken much more time than I thought it would. For the second half of the cruise, I plan to cut back the details, hoping to spend more time writing more thematic blog posts. And since most sea days are pretty much the same, I’m starting by combining the first three sea days of the Barcelona to Dubai segment.

If as reported, more than 900 of the approximately 2,900 passengers who boarded the Mariner of the Seas in Galveston were continuing on the second segment, then we picked up about 2,000 new passengers in Barcelona. Some were Americans, but I guessed the majority was European, and we began to hear a cacophony of accents and languages throughout the ship. At times it seemed the passenger total had doubled, as the new passengers were everywhere exploring the ship the first day at sea.

It was overall a younger crowd. With warmer days than on the Atlantic crossing, lots of people hung out around the pool. Obviously many people were glad to enjoy the warm weather after a cold winter.

Amazingly, Royal Caribbean seemed to have almost done away with its pool stewards, and they were seldom seen to take a drink order – we had to go to the bar and wait to catch the bartender’s attention. It seemed that a few more stewards would have more than made up for their wages by the number of pricey drinks they would have sold. I recalled from earlier Royal Caribbean cruises that we were almost hounded by the pool stewards. Times have changed, I guess.

I spent the three sea days catching up on earlier blogs, sorting photographs, and perhaps for the first time on this cruise settling into doing not much of anything. In preparation for our trip to Egypt, I downloaded Death on the Nile (Agatha Christie) and read it during the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea. The characters had actually stayed in the same Giza hotel at the foot of the pyramids, the Mena House, where we would stay. Most of the action in the novel took place further up the Nile, but it did put me in the right frame of mind.

As most of my friends know, I am a big Apple fan and always take my iPad with me when I travel. But for this trip, I also borrowed Mom’s Amazon Kindle, and found it a great addition that weighs next to nothing. It was better for reading in the sunlight (no glare), but the best thing was that it didn’t cost me anything to shop at the Kindle Store. While I had to pay for the e-editions, the books automatically downloaded wherever there was a cell signal at not additional cost. Of the passengers I saw reading, near half were using Kindles or iPads – some with exceedingly large type! That’s another advantage of an e-reader.

We had another singles luncheon one day, so I continued to meet more people. I would say my name recollection is running somewhere around 70 percent. I walked at least two miles on the track every afternoon and continued with the stair. But I was concerned that those flights of stairs were not getting any easier more than two weeks into the cruise. I had expected better in preparation for my hiking trip to South Dakota in about a month.

Egyptian officials had boarded in Barcelona and processed all our passports, so we picked them up, now complete with an Alexandria entry stamp. We would need to take them with us to Cairo.

Robin, Helen and I continued our practice of having dinner together. Unfortunately, the ship wasn’t offering happy hour. And we discovered that the Europeans tend to request tables alone, so there were nights when it was just the three of us.

The last night I packed a bag and some water bottles for Cairo and Giza, where we would have an extended overnight tour. It would be an early start the next morning, and after days of relaxation, I felt the familiar anxiety of needing to set an alarm and remember all the things I needed to take with me.

Tomorrow: Day 20 – Alexandria, Egypt; tour to Cairo and Giza