05 December 2012

Life aboard the Zuiderdam

Before we move on to the highlight of our tour, Teddy's big ditch, I thought I would talk about life aboard the MS Zuiderdam.  10 days on a boat, in close proximity to family can make one a wee bit crazy.    

We did a number of activities on the boat, but this trek I planned to enjoy the ride and tried not to stress out over “doing it all”.  There were several days I parked my assets in the lounge chair on the back deck catching some rays and cruising through my latest Michael Crichton novel.  We did attend several shows - the comedy and magic acts were good, the dancers were amazing, they even had a steel drum group that rocked the lounge.  There were a number of classes on various stuff, but most of the time we enjoyed the slower pace.  We did get in a few rounds of Mexican train, but, our group got  typically loud and boisterous.        

The boat did have internet access, but, like everything else on the boat, you pay for it.  You basically buy a package deal for a certain number of minutes of usage/access.  Normally, I would not be all that interested in being “dialed in”, but because my in-laws are having health issues, I decided we needed to maintain some lines of communication with the real world while we were out plying the oceans.  I bought 250 minutes for ~$100 (plus an embarkation special - they throw in an extra 20 minutes if you sign up before the ship embarks).      They had an internet lounge/coffee bar/library at the top of the ship (called the Crow’s Nest) – a very nice, quiet room with lots of seats and a 180 degree panoramic view of the ocean.  You could either use the ship’s computers or use your own tablet, laptop or mobile device to hook up to the net.  You just remember that you have to pay for that privilege.  I wound up using momma’s iPad a lot to check e-mails, relay messages to my son, keep up with the world.  I even burned through a lot of the minutes when my team wound up playing the number one team in the nation and the ship did not carry the game on the TV system (they had ESPN, but not CBS).  Was interesting to monitor a football game real time while sitting on a boat out in the middle of the Caribbean.  The connection was from a satellite feed, and very, very slow (worse than dial up).  They did have a WiFi signal throughout the ship and I could even access the net from our stateroom.  It cost me to have that ability, but it was nice to keep in touch with home.  I did try to keep up with everyone’s blog postings but trying to post a response was way too slow.  The one trip I found was to use my iPhone for updates.  I would turn on the WiFi at one time during the day and download all the updates and then turn it off and read the messages/updates.  Saved me some time and didn't burn up all of my minutes.  I even stole some free WiFi in Aruba from a local restaurant.  Improvise, Adapt and Overcome!

Living on the boat for 10 days you will pick up some habits.  All that food and liquor tends to have an effect on everyone.  Three square meals per day will add up.  We ate pretty darned good every day.  Breakfast was like eating at Denny's only without the wait and kids.  Every morning I had something different (Eggs Benedict  bacon, omelets, fruit, sausage, poached eggs, scrambled eggs, bacon, fried eggs, yogurt, hash browns, bacon).  After eating like that, a lot of people will go home with a few more pounds of souvenirs if you don’t stay mobile.  These cruise lines typically have a 1st class exercise/workout room with the latest equipment.  Something about running a treadmill with a panoramic view of the ocean made it interesting.  But I don’t really like treadmills – I prefer to run outside, rain or shine.  Last cruise, I ran the track on the upper deck.  A 1/8 mile track that ran around the top of the ship near the basketball court and golf driving range.  While I really am not fond of running track as well, I still prefer it over a treadmill.  Still, doing 8-10 laps around the deck can get monotonous.  More than once I lost track of what lap I was one.  Armed with this Intel, I laid out a plan to run every day.  The first day out of port, I went up early to the top of the ship (deck 10) and ran around the upper railings.  The route was a bit circuitous, you had to navigate through two wind dams and some lounge areas to make the circuit.  I was disappointed that they did not have the route mapped out for distance and nobody else was up running that morning (slackers!).  I had to guesstimate the track length and I pegged it at roughly 1/8 mile.  Was pretty windy on deck (half the course had a headwind) but I knocked out 10 laps before I had enough.  I figured it was a start.  Went down the lido deck for breakfast and found my dad eating his morning regular.  I was going to chide him since he was not out walking (every morning without fail he walks 45 minutes) and he told me that he did his laps on the Promenade (3rd) deck.  I went down and, yea verily they did have a full circuit track laid out on the third deck below the lifeboats and it is mapped out for distance (1 lap = 1/3 mile).  Now that I knew the setup, I planned my days.  I was usually up at 0500 every morning and would hit the Promenade deck for some laps.  Started out with 3 miles (9 laps) and had worked my way up to 5 miles (15 laps) by the end of the cruise.  I am not going to be taking home any gold medals with my times, but I wanted to 1) burn off some of the calories from all the food and drink and 2) keep training for the upcoming ½ marathon (38 days).  It seemed to work as I left the boat in the same weight class as when I first went on board.  On top of all that, on one of our sea days, I noted that they were holding a 5k Walk called the On Deck for the Cure.  They hold it on every Holland  America cruise to raise money for the Susan G Komen Foundation.  I had done my laps that morning but I just had to participate so I got a few extra miles in on that day.  Made for good marathon practice running the deck while navigating through a crowd of walkers.   


ShadowRun300 said...

Congrats on staying in the same weight class! And yes, running outside, even if in circles, is so much better than running on the treadmill.
Your clever internet tactics prove you would have made an excellent Marine...
Can't wait to see pics of Teddy's big ditch! I've seen some big ditches in my travels, but nothing like this one!

Rock Chef said...

Beats me why they can't just let you have free wifi for devices that are pretty much standard equipment these days!

Congrats on the exercise regime - much better than refusing the food...

Abby said...

$25/hour for slower-than-dialup internet. Pretty good racket!

Nice discipline with the running! I'm glad your pops told you about the 1/3-mile lap deck, gotta be better than 1/8. A charity 5k on a cruise ship? Cool!

terri said...

I've been running on the treadmill for several weeks. (Too early, too dark, too cold outside these days.) A coworker clued me in that she uses her Netflix app to watch shows on her iPhone while running the treadmill. Makes the time pass much more quickly. So I tried it and love it.

I'm impressed that you stuck to a running routine every day while on vacation.

meleah rebeccah said...

"but most of the time we enjoyed the slower pace"

Ah yes, that's the way I like to vacation. No itinerary and no need to rush around trying to get it all done.

"A very nice, quiet room with lots of seats and a 180 degree panoramic view of the ocean.  You could either use the ship’s computers or use your own tablet, laptop or mobile device to hook up to the net.  You just remember that you have to pay for that privilege."

I probably would have burned through THOUSANDS of dollars paying for WIFI.

Also, I commend you for exercising at all while vacationing. I know how well they feed you on those boats, my mom came home ten pounds heavier after their last cruise! Luckily she lost it fairly quickly when she got back home.