And We’re Back

We’ve been away the past week, a real honest to goodness vacation. It’s been well over ten years since Deb and I were away, just the two of us, for anything other than a long weekend. And as you know, after the last 24 months, we could certainly use a break from the real world.

Since it has been more than 15 years, we settled on a cruise, this time trying Holland America and the ms Ryndam. We sailed away last Sunday for a trip to the western Caribbean, making stops in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala.

Planning the trip took some doing, based on Kate’s need to travel for work which meant her not being home for Christmas. So, we decided to travel Christmas week and booked accordingly. Of course, three days later, Kate called to say her travel got moved and she would be home for the holidays. Deb called the travel agent and we swapped weeks, paying something like $3 more to upgrade our room to a suite with a veranda.

Bob and Laurie Rozakis volunteered to take Ginger (who I think they would steal if allowed) so we drove to their house on Saturday, dropping off the dog and her gear. After a lovely brunch, Bob took us to LaGuardia where we flew to Tampa.

On Sunday, we headed for the ship and the adventure really began. The ship is not one of the super-sized cruise ships, but a moderately sized one. Holland America’s clientele skews a bit older with a fair number of seniors on board. There were generations of families in the mix along with families with small children. There were not a lot of young couples. Still, seeing people with walkers, wheelchairs and even an oxygen tank proved that we’ll never be too old for this sort of vacation.

One of the nicest things about the ship is that there is something for everyone from a rock band to a string quartet. Most evenings we found ourselves listening to either the string quartet (which played everything from classical to movie soundtracks) or heading to the Piano Bar where Darryl had theme nights and sing-a-longs. The main entertainment, which we saw at 7 given our 8 p.m. seating, was a mixed bag. On three of the nights there was singing and dancing from a group of 10 somewhat talented folk. Four featured singers were backed by six dancers lip-synching the chorus. The canned nature of the backup sound along with some of the music was quite irritating. Far better was Paul Papas, a gifted and entertaining pianist.

We chose the fixed seating versus the Open Seating for dinner so we were somewhat anchored in our schedule. We wound up being seated with a couple roughly our age from Florida. Despite our vastly different backgrounds, we got along just fine and the conversation never lagged.

The food overall was good if a bit bland (especially the desserts). The buffets for breakfast and lunch were plentiful and varied and you were never left without a food option. Unlike previous cruises, anything other than water and tea cost extra which was a bit annoying.

Most days we were able to start slowly, at our own pace and found time for reading, taking exercise walks around the sixth deck or participating in other activities. Deb got a long massage while I took a cooking class. He also was on the winning team in the chocolate trivia challenge. Every day there was a move to see although we only indulged once, finally seeing the entertaining Julie & Julia.

As for our adventures in other lands, well, come back tomorrow.

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