Ports of Call
Before we left home, we were expecting to be amazed and moved by the physical beauty and even strangeness of our ports of call. And we were. Coming upon the Treasury at Petra, climbing to the top of the monument at Borobudur, walking the streets of Mumbai, reaching the top of Mt. Vesuvius, emerging from the museum at Yad Vashem into the view of Jerusalem – these are just a few of the extraordinary experiences which have enabled us to become involved in the world in completely new ways. We also learned about the history and culture of each location, and we now have context for any news that comes from these countries. But we think something else is even more important: Everywhere we went people are just going about living their lives and getting along with their neighbors, despite differences in religion, culture, and language.
The Cruise Experience
Although we have taken many cruises and met many wonderful people, we didn’t realize that during such a long cruise we would be so affected by the other passengers, the crew, and the ship’s enrichment activities.
Spending four months seeing the same 1,000 people every day gave us many opportunities to become friendly with people we would never meet in the course of our normal lives. Whether or not we will stay in touch with them after the cruise, taking the time to wave hello, to stop for a chat, or to have dinner together has been one of the highlights of our cruise.
We interacted with members of the crew every day. They were always friendly, helpful, and willing to connect with us even though we all knew our time together was limited. They represent 50 cultures, languages, and religions, and they are all getting along and working together under sometimes very trying circumstances. We admire them and their commitment to their work and to their passengers.
We took full advantage of several of the enrichment programs offered aboard the ship, such as the Digital Workshop technology classes, the drawing class, and lectures about the culture and history of the locations on our itinerary. We particularly enjoyed the options for evening entertainment, especially the pianist in the Piano Bar and the production shows of the Amsterdam Orchestra and the Amsterdam Singers and Dancers. The quality of each performance was top-notch, and it was fun for us to mingle with these “stars” on the ship.
Now that we’re home, we are missing the people and the ship and the open ocean. We loved the experience of the cruise and feel fully enriched by it. We will undoubtedly take another long cruise someday, although there are many other types of trips that we want to take as well. Even though we’ve gone around the world, our travelling days are not over.