My 3 month Europe trip was split in half by a 12 day cruise of the Mediterranean aboard Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas. It was a really nice break from my usual travel which required a lot of planning and organization. There's little need for that on the cruise.
This was our itinerary:
- 1st day at sea
- 2 full days at sea
- 2 days in Egypt (Cairo, Alexandria)
- 2 days in Israel (Jerusalem)
- At sea
- Turkey (Ephesus)
- Athens, Greece (I skipped the excursion because I'm going straight to Athens after the cruise)
- At sea
- Back to port
I had a really good time. We were a group of 11 including me and my dad. The days at sea were blissful. 3 full meals a day including a pretty good dinner. On this trip I've noticed that my tastes have matured since I last took a cruise 2 years ago. It's not that I'm more picky, but my sense of what food is good is more developed. That's what watching too much Food Network will do to you. Anyway, the dinners were pretty good.
Lots of people play games on the cruise, which is great because I love playing games. But one thing I've always wanted to learn is how to play Bridge. And what do you know, one person in our group is a Bridge expert. Not only that, he competes on a national level in China. What luck. The only problem is that my Chinese vocabulary is limited to common things. I now know what the suits are in Chinese, but nevertheless, it was an obstacle. I know most of the basics now. It's a fun game and I want to continue to play it. Maybe I'll go pop into a retirement home and join a game. Fun fact: Bridge can be played with 3 players, and even 2 players. It was actually originally called "Honeymoon Bridge".
When not playing Bridge, I tried to find time to work. Before I left, I tried to do as much work as possible that required internet so that I could save the parts where I didn't need internet for when I was on the cruise. It was actually very calming to do work. I found a nice spot in the card room. My "office" was quiet, had a bathroom that was more or less private, all you can eat buffet 3 floors down, and a window with an unbelievable view. This trip has made me redefine what "vacation" really means to me.
My favorite time-killing activity in the state room was watching Cricket. There was a big tournament going on in the Pacific, and I watched a lot of it. I learned a lot about the rules of the game. It's really interesting to see the parts that are similar to baseball. I also got to catch some NFL, which was nice. I miss American football.
There were movies shown on TV as well, but most were in dubbed in foreign languages. Thankfully, one of the movies being shown was "The Artist", so that was watchable.
Despite being in a large group of 11, I met many different people on the boat. When there was time, I preferred the nicer breakfast in the main dining area rather than the all you can eat buffet of breakfasts. So those mornings I ate without the rest of my group and was seated with different people each time. Lots of interesting people. The most memorable were the Florida woman who said 47% of Americans don't pay taxes and the Irish woman who, visibly disgusted, later told me what a nightmare that woman was and that she couldn't believe such people existed.