Thursday, November 27, 2008

On the Golden, Day One

First, Happy Thanksgiving to all. In this time of economic stress and political turmoil, it’s important to remember that all of us (at least the readers of the Feast) have much for which to be thankful. In addition to my biggest blessings (chief among them my amazing daughter and adorable husband), I’m also lucky enough to be writing this on the balcony of my stateroom on the Golden Princess as she steams southwest to Hawaii.

Let’s talk about cruising a bit, shall we?

I’d never thought of myself as the sort of person who would enjoy life aboard a giant yacht filled with 24-hour buffets, clanging slot machines, boutiques filled with mostly useless tchotchkes and ruthlessly cheerful (albeit) second-rate entertainers. On the other hand, I love the ocean, love having round-the-clock access to pizza slices, love playing poker and love watching humanity go about its business. On this seagoing hotel, I have all that and more.

We set out last night from San Pedro Harbor, Port of LA, just as sunset. The police boat escorted to the breakwater, and we sat at the stern a while and watch the lights of LA recede into the distance as the great, overfed masses of America (and the world, for there are plenty of Canadians and Brits about, and I hear snippets of conversation in French, Spanish, German and Russian) waddled about us. Make no mistake, if you like your humanity in XXL, a cruise ship is the place for you. The Golden Princess weighs in at 109,000 tons, and 60% is housed in inside cabins on the fiesta deck.

Ever prone to motion sickness, I’ve boarded both my cruises with some trepidation. But with a little help from Meclizine, knock (teak) wood, I’ve had no problems thus far. Granted, it’s a bit odd when you are walking and the floor is in a different place when your set your foot down than it was when you picked it up. It’s disconcerting but not frighteningly so. A bit like biting into a See’s candy that you thought was buttercream but turns out to be filled with caramel: it’s not what you expected, but it’s not unpleasant, either. With the swells relatively small (4-6 feet), and the ship’s stabilizers at work, the ride is quite smooth. When seated, it feels rather like riding a horse in slow motion. At night, lying in bed, the sensation is one of being in a brobdignagian hammock, gently swaying back and forth.

At the moment, the weather is cool, and the sea stretches out in all directions, nothing but blue horizon and the occasional dolphin coming to investigate what beast has invaded its waters.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the food on board ship.

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