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Life on the water

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

What do you do for 14 days in the middle of a really big ocean? You eat and sleep, read and sleep, eat and go to shows you’d never bother with at home. You unwind, you chat with other travelers, you stroll the decks, buffeted by wind and sometimes rain.

Grateful for sunny weather, we did not encounter rough seas. Au contraire: You had to take to your bed and concentrate before you feel the ship’s motion, if then. (It should be noted that this cruise started on April 15, the 50th anniversary of the Titanic’s demise, and just weeks after Costa Concordia was driven to the rocks off the western coast of Italy.

The food, of course, is obscenely delicious and beautifully presented by a crew of servers and headwaiters, impeccably uniformed, sometimes very personal. All I had to do at dessert, for example, is mention that I like just about anything chocolate, and samples of chocolate desserts appeared unbidden at my place.

One evening I said I wanted to try something else. Oliver pretended shock but he brought me the new item – accompanied by a dish of chocolate ice cream. He would introduce the items on the daily menu: “This is so yummy in your tummy,” he would announce, introducing an entrée.

We appreciated the size of our stateroom and the elegant look of it after our room steward made it up every day, sometimes twice a day. We had a “handicapped” cabin in case I’d need a wheelchair. Never did, and I was reassured that no one had to be refused such a perk. It was spacious and we loved it.

Anthony, the room steward, was so patient. Early on, I slipped and fell in the shower, barking one elbow. Didn’t hurt, but that darned thing wouldn’t quit bleeding. It was where I couldn’t see it and for awhile I was mystified at finding bloodstains in the unlikeliest places. I felt like the Cat in the Hat, “here and there, and everywhere.” One tiny drop on the bed sheet, and the whole bed was changed. Now, that’s overkill, but Anthony insisted. He also insisted I let him take the items of my stained clothing to the laundry and personally oversaw their handling.

Sure, such personal service is probably approved by the company to forestall a law suit, but it did make me feel pampered.

He was from Jamaica and I loved his accent. He appeared to be maybe 40 years old, and has three children, two in college and another in prep school. What a strain such absences must place upon a family.

The Liberty of the Seas was filled with an interior “shopping mall” and we could watch whatever was going on from our bow window on the 5th deck above it. People ambled around, dropping in at an ice cream parlor and emerging with cones and smiles. You could not hear a thing most times, even though a lot of people were ambling. The interior cabins were less expensive than the exterior balcony rooms with balconies.

Accustomed as we were to outdoor light gradually increasing the third day we were at sea, Dave and I really overslept one morning, but we thought it was overcast and felt no eagerness to get up and about. We turned over and went back to sleep without checking a clock, and lost all sense of time, until someone came knocking on our door.

“Sallie? Dave? Are you all right?” someone called through the heavy doors.

“Sure,” says one of us, jolted a bit by the method of being wakened. “Why so early?”

“It’s six-thirty,” said the intruder. “In the evening.

Well, it didn’t take me long to lose my world traveler cred. Corrections to last week’s column follow:

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, but Santa Cruz is capital. And the archipelago lies off the northwestern corner of Africa, Morocco specifically. Essentially autonomous, the Canaries are seen as a “Nationality of Spain.”

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