In our entire week aboard a cruise ship (the S.S. Wish-I-Was-Home), Nancy and I did not use the Fitness Center once. I wasn’t even sure where it was. However, except for the day we came on board after a cold, wet 8 hours in Juneau, we did not use the elevator either. We used the stairs. This activity combined with the state of rage I was in for the first three days, resulted in my actually losing a pound.(http://www.elenalouiserichmond.com/2011/07/meltdown-in-alaska/)
Our stateroom was on the 5th deck, or Below Stairs, so to speak. Most of the activities were on the 6th and 7th decks and the constant supply of food was on the 11th. In addition, I was always getting lost and having to retrace my steps in order to start over. So it was a lot stair climbing. My glutes, which historically hang off me like empty vacuum cleaner bags, were doing their job quite efficiently by the third day.
Cruise ships are legendary for their continual supply of food. There were guilt-inducing amounts. Something was available twenty-four hours a day. It may not always have been what we wanted, but it was available and we were free to take it anywhere on the ship. Nancy sometimes asked for smaller portions.
One Romanian waiter was puzzled. His pen was poised while he tried to figure out what to write.
“Just one egg,” Nancy repeated. “I don’t like to waste.”
He raised his eyebrows. “You’ve come to the wrong place,” he said
When I said in my previous blog that we were bumped from the dining room, I wasn’t entirely accurate. I was going for pity. We could eat breakfast and lunch in the dining room, but we were bumped from the 6 PM dinner because I was a Non-Revenue Guest with little social standing in ship society; and Nancy, by her unfortunate association with me, was regarded similarly. The second seating was at 8:30, far too late for me with my particular digestive situation and sleeping habits. So here is where the pity comes in: poor me, on a ship with enough food to feed several continents, and available in some form 24 hours a day, but I couldn’t eat in the (hot, noisy) formal dining room when I wanted to.
Nancy could have gone without me at 8:30 had she wanted to, but she didn’t. So we usually ate dinner on Deck 11 where it was quiet and the grilled fish and the raw sushi were good, at least at the beginning of the week.
At the end of that cold, wet, tiring day in Juneau when we took the elevator for the first time, we also sat in the Jacuzzi, all of which left me with the impression that I had actually used the Fitness Center. We looked at each other and agreed that we were tired of dinner on Deck 11. Maybe we could get into the dining room at the early seating because other people who also might be tired could be opting to dine in Juneau.
“Will you do the asking?” I asked Nancy. “I’ve bothered them all so many times that I am sure they will pre-emptively refuse when they see me coming down the hall.”
At the dining room I skulked around the corner while Nancy charmed an affirmative out of the assistant maître d’. It was a formal dinner but Nancy assured him we would change and be back in fifteen minutes.
“Did he actually say we weren’t presentable?” I asked.
“I don’t know, Elena. I don’t do details, I get general impressions.”
(“What will I say in my blog?” I thought. “I need a quote.”)
Nancy had a cocktail dress that could double as a skirt and I had a black dress with a jacket that could double as either a bathrobe or a swim suit cover-up. This is what one calls Travel Chic. We wet down our cowlicks, pulled the hayseeds out of our teeth, and hurried back to the dining room.
The head maître d’, a man I had bothered even more than his assistant and the hostess, was standing guard at the entrance to the dining room. His decisions were final. I flattened myself against the wall, something that was harder than usual to do given the shape my glutes were now in. I waited a long time. Finally Nancy peeked around the corner and beckoned. I scrunched down and tried to hide behind her as we were ushered into the dining room and handed from waiter to waiter until we ended up on the lower level and across the room from where we started.
A protest went up from the people at the table. Those seats were taken by others in their party. I looked away, watching for the maître d’ and pretending I wasn’t part of the drama. I was prepared to see something so fascinating out the window I would cross the room to look at it.
Nancy is diplomatic and gracious. She employed just the right tone to cut through the complexities of the interaction. I could learn so much from her. It all got sorted out. The folks at the table suddenly remembered that two of their group had been given a complimentary dinner in the ship’s exclusive restaurant because they had complained about the noisy conditions surrounding their stateroom. This is what the Revenue Guests get when they complain.
Our status then changed from Interlopers to Persons of Interest. We were welcomed into the large party of retirees from a community on the Jersey shore. It was a fun evening of lively conversation, and a good meal: tender lobster followed by baked Alaska.
Later in the evening, on our way through the ship, we ran into the cruise director who assured me he had spent $200 on art supplies in Juneau. My awful week had begun to turn around.