Life aboard a cruise ship is completely unreal and wholly self-indulgent. I think everyone should experience it at least once. Someone makes your bed every day, not once but twice, and usually without you even knowing when! We would leave for breakfast and come back to find our bed made, fresh towels in the bathroom, and the trash emptied. In the evening, we'd return from some form of entertainment and the bed would be neatly turned down with chocolates on the pillow and the Princess Patter at the foot of the bed. The Patter was a newsletter about the next day's entertainment and activities.
There is so much to do aboard ship that days at sea simply whiz by. First and foremost is EATING. There is a buffet that is open from 6am until midnight so you can eat ANYTIME you want. There are also formal dining rooms, a hamburger stand, steak house, bistro, and ice cream shop, not to mention 5 or 6 different bars all over the ship. Cindy was in dessert heaven and the little fridge in our stateroom was always full of the delicious treats she had wanted to eat but couldn't, so she brought them back to the room for later, but of course later there were more desserts served which continually multiplied her options. I, on the other hand, was trying to figure out how to deal with the abundance of food and not gain a 1000 pounds.
I'd read in a women's magazine that one way to combat cruise over-eating was to take the stairs anytime one had to move between decks, so I often climbed 7 or 8 flights of stairs while Cindy and her mom and dad took the elevators. I also spent a lot of time in the fitness center at classes and on the treadmill. I took yoga and aerobics classes and there were also pilates and spin classes. I walked 3 laps of the promenade deck every day which was a mile and many days I did much more. I participated in the 5K Cancer Walk and earned a cap: On Deck for a Cure. We also walked a lot in ports of call and I'm happy to say that despite the fact that I totally overate EVERY day, I only gained one pound.
The entertainment aboard ship was awesome. There were huge musical productions that were the best. We chose seats down front every time to get the full effect of the incredible singers and dancers. We went to comedy shows and laughed till we cried. There were lectures on wild life and arctic ice. We went to Bingo almost every day. There were lots of things we didn't do, like the golf, dart, and suffleboard competitions. There were games going on everywhere: trivia, word and board games. There were computer classes and dance classes: line, rhumba, ball room. Nature entertained us every evening with a marvelous sunset. And there was a little Casino.
Every afternoon Cindy went to the Casino while I exercised or napped. Her luck was phenomenal. She kept winning and winning and winning. In the end, she won enough money to pay for our entire trip and then some. Her biggest pot was $2000 on a progressive slot machine game, but she also won two $500 pots and some smaller ones as well. She was passing out money to her mom and dad and her aunt. When she won the $2000, she came into the stateroom where I was napping, flipped on the light, and tossed hundred dollar bills on top of me. It was simply AMAZING!!
She was having such a great time that she even managed to get up at 6am to disembark in Victoria, our last stop where unfortunately we had a very short visit. I had hoped to go to the Butchart Gardens while we were there, but there wasn't time. However, Victoria is simply lovely and just walking in the downtown area, which is reminiscent of being in England, was a sweet experience. The rhododendrons were in bloom and there were beautiful flowers and gorgeous architecture everywhere. Pictured below is the government building with a statue of Queen Victoria in front and a handsome redwood given to the city by the state of California in celebration of its 100th anniversary.
On the last night aboard ship, we ate in the formal dining room. After dinner, the chefs and the servers paraded in to a rousing rendition of "Hot, Hot, Hot" carrying baked Alaska, another delicious dessert experience. I woke at 5am on the morning we sailed into San Francisco. A change in the sound of the engine told me we were no longer at sea. I got dressed quickly and hurried on deck. Though I missed going under the Goldent Gate Bridge, I got to watch the sun rise over the Bay Bridge--the perfect ending to a wonderful journey. Later, we sat on deck in the sun gazing at the city while we waited for our turn to disembark. It will take a few days for the wonder of our Alaska Cruise to fade as we remember how to prepare our own meals and make the bed.