Christmas on the Atlantic

This year I wasn’t within 1000 miles of a chimney on Christmas morning.  To the chagrin of my mother in Los Angeles, I was half way between the Canary Islands and Florida surrounded by calm blue Atlantic waters sharing the holidays with my family and about 300 co-workers, their spouses and their children.  I’d been nervous in advance of the crossing.  Discussions of rogue waves and The Poseidon Adventure hadn’t helped.  I am prone to sea sickness.  Allowed to choose,  I’d prefer to spend my time on terra firma but this year I wasn’t given a choice.  I had work to do on board the newest Disney cruise ship, The Dream.  The only time available to do that work?  Nov. 27th through January 4th which just happened to include the 17 days the ship would be making its journey from Bremerhaven, Germany to Nassau, Bahamas and onto Port Canaveral, Florida.  So like it or not, I was going to be spending more than a month living onboard and nearly three weeks crossing the potentially rocky waters of the Atlantic,  with my husband and daughter along for the ride.

I don’t know if it was the weeks spent living on the ship while it was still docked, the amazing stability of the ship or the skill of Captain Tom but I never had any seasickness and only once felt queasy.  The forty-foot waves buffeting the ship on my one queasy day were perhaps less to blame than the rich desserts I was consuming at the High Tea (my husband and daughter, unlike me, made it all the way through the Tea!).  The desserts at Tea weren’t the only rich foods served up.   Each dinner included a starter, an appetizers and a main course capped off with a yummy dessert and sometimes two or three yummy desserts because one just wasn’t enough; breakfast and lunch were buffet style all you could eat – and we did.  Luckily the wonderful bread pudding disappeared before we set sail because I was powerless to limit myself to just one serving of it.  A few days not eating might have been a good thing but never once did any of us skip a meal. Eventually boredom did kick in, the menu was designed for four night cruises so, despite rotating to different restaurants every third night, we became far too familiar with the offerings. When you can order without looking at the menu that tells you something.

The few days of rough seas sent everyone to their balcony not to be ill but to marvel at the power of the ocean and unsuccessfully try to capture the force of it on digital cameras.  Those days it was a challenge to walk the narrow corridors without banging into the walls but it really made running on the treadmills an adventure.  Only the hardcore stuck it out;  everyone else switched to the Elipticals which challenged your balance especially when the ground dropped away as the ship crested a wave but weren’t as daunting as the treadmills. My daughter was filmed running on the treadmill during a calm day – she might make it onto the marketing materials for the ship!

Other than those few days when we were being tossed around like a toy boat, it was easy to forget the elaborate dining rooms, the Broadway-esque theater and the 3D movie theater, nightclubs, coffee bars, youth clubs and shops were on a ship.

Other than having to lug most of my closet  – temperatures ranged from 2 degrees celsius in Bremerhaven to 80 degrees fahrenheit in Nassau – and a few technical problems – no internet! – I enjoyed myself and have no major complaints and that’s really good because if I’m lucky and still employed 14 months from now, I get to do it all again!

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