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!