One Final Shopping Spree as Another Cruise Ends

Day 71, 2023 North Atlantic Adventure

Friday, July 21, Portland, Maine, USA.

On the 28th day of the first cruise during which I blogged, I wrote about the 28 things I never did once on the ship. Things like ice skate, inline skate, or get kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Somalia. It was a big ship and 10 years ago, when things were somewhat different.

But today I think I could probably write about 199 things I never did on these back-to-back cruises totaling 199 days. (Don’t worry – I won’t.) I haven’t taken an exercise or stretch class, or really used the gym for more than the occasional step on the scales. Shame on me – it is right here and I really have no excuse.

On the other hand, I haven’t once eaten the extra meals of mid-afternoon tea in the dining room or the late-night buffet at the Lido. I only ate breakfast once in the dining room; generally, it is oatmeal and fruit in the lido.

I haven’t played bridge or mah jong, even though I know how to play both. I also haven’t played pickleball. I haven’t swum in either pool or soaked in any of the hot tubs. I haven’t relaxed on a lounge chair in the sun or a teak chair on the promenade. I haven’t used my complementary days in the thermal spa. I haven’t played a board game or worked a jigsaw puzzle in the Crow’s Nest, or taken any of the arts and crafts classes that are offered every sea day. I haven’t played trivia either.

I also haven’t missed one day of at least ordering a large skinny latte in the Crow’s Nest, other than when they were delivered after I fractured my knee.

All of this is just to say that there is much to do on a cruise ship. I can never really understand those who are bored on sea days. I guess my friend Daisy summed us up once as we waiting to board a 14-day transatlantic with no ports: “We are really good at doing nothing.”

I can’t say I didn’t shop on this cruise, and that shopping surprised me. I normally buy next to nothing. Neither my sisters nor I want souvenirs. But I did find nearly a dozen summer dresses and a few jeans. I think having lost enough weight over the past couple of years to need new clothes made shopping more fun.

So today – the last day of our cruise – I jumped into an Uber at the Portland, Maine, cruise dock and headed about 17 miles up the road to Freeport – home of LL Bean.

Our family has a long history with this Maine retailer – even though no one had been to Maine until the early 80s. That’s when my parents stopped while on a business trip, and found the crew from PM Magazine taping a feature on LL Bean. Their Arkansas accents contrasted nicely with their business attire, so of course they made the final version. Dad was quoted saying something like it being a pilgrimage to Mecca, as he had shopped there his whole life. (I’m not really sure that was entirely accurate.)

For several years when I lived in New Jersey, I vacationed at a friend’s cottage on Vinalhaven Island in Maine, and took advantage of LL Bean’s 24/7 hours to shop during the wee hours.

More recently, I have grown frustrated with ordering clothes, especially khaki pants, from LL Bean that didn’t quite fit right. So today I decided to go to the flagship store and try on every style till I found one I liked. Only LL Bean no longer carries classic khaki pants. I guess I am sorely out of style when even LL Bean can’t deliver.

I did find a couple of tops on sale, and identified two winter jackets that I think will fit well into my wardrobe. I’ll order them online to avoid the sales tax.

Upon my return to the Zuiderdam I learned that the U.S. Immigration process that started this morning did not go smoothly. It took hours for everyone to file through, which was required before leaving the ship. I was fortunate that I had a ticket for first thing this morning; some people missed their excursions entirely. To compensate, the ship refunded our $27 port charges and provided us each with a glass of sparkling wine at dinner. With that, Barbara, Richard and I bid farewell to Yoga and Fanny, our dinner stewards.

With my three packed bags placed in the hall, I swore that I will bring less stuff next time.

Meanwhile, the morning started with the traditional towel animal zoo around the Lido Pool.

This will be my final post at least for a few days, as I get settled into my sister’s guest room and figure out what to do with everything. Stay tuned; I’m sure I will have more to say.