Friday, May 24, 2013

Day 7: first at sea day

What I like about cruise is not all the exciting ports of call. Spending a couple of hours at a place doesn't suit my travel style. Instead I like the at sea days and the transatlantic cruise has plenty of at sea days.

With all the sightseeing activities we did in Puerto Rico and St.
Martin, today was transition to our daily routine and ship exploration.

1. In the morning, I dropped out dd4 at the kids program. On this
cruise there were only 15 kids younger than 10 and a handful of
teenagers. Dd4 had a good time playing with new kids, new play
coordinators and new toys in a new environment.

2. Ds7 didn't want to be in his age group so we spent time together drawing and trying out different activities on the ship (mini golfing)

3. At noon ds7 practiced violin and later gave dd4 a violin lesson.

4. Everyday we forward our time by one hour. By the time we reach
Lisbon, there will be no jet-lag to adjust and we will be ready to play
right away. This is one of the biggest benefits for us to cruise to
Europe instead of flying.

5. At 3pm we attended a talk "the secrets of navigating the ship". Very interesting. We learned the only place in the world that the captain doesn't remain sole control of the ship is at Panama Canal where the pilot and captain kind of co-control the ship.

6. I talked to the guest service and they agreed to let us use
their piano to practice at their schooler bar. So we explored this part
of the ship first time. We found out a wii station there and had a blast
playing there. Later the starlight trio started to play: one pianist
and two violinists, beautiful girls all in red from Ukraine. I couldn't
peel myself away and missed our first formal dinner.

7. Ds7 was inspired and wanted to go back to our cabin to practice violin. He said "I want to devote my life to violin". I recognized that was the line
from Vivaldi's CD story he had been listening for 100 times.

8. We dressed up and went to meet the captain. Dd4 said, "I was dreaming about
the captain!" I recognized that was an expression from the movie "Alvin
and the chipmunks". We met the captain and took a picture with him.

9. Tonight was the first big show called production. Music, singing and
 dancing. There was some adult content in the show but I was pretty sure
 the kids didn't get it and they just enjoyed the stage, singing,
dancing and the silly and funny part.

We all slept well on the ship

Day 8: at sea
We are in the middle of Atlantic Ocean. Since we left last port of call, we only spotted one ship (according to the captain). The closest land is thousands of miles away. The speed is about 19 knots (about 23 miles/hour).

There are lots of things going on: lectures, dance class, jewelry making, origami class, music, shows...

We are still in the transition: want to try everything and feel indecisive at the same time.

1. I attended a lecture about how Spain shipped all the treasure home
and how other European countries tried to get from Spain. Very informative and interesting. The lecture helped me to connect the dots from the visit to the Texas history museum in Austin, the fort in San Juan and the Caribbean island we visited. So far it is the highlight of this cruise for me: a series of history lecture. It was really nicely done and very relevant to where we had been or where we were going. One person commented "if our history class were like this, who wouldn't love history". I agreed.

2. Ds7 tried his hand on ping pang. He was quite good. I remember the last time he tried was about two years ago. By doing nothing and just getting older his coordination took him to the next level.

3. Kids did't want to eat at the main dining room, so I went alone and had a good time talking to other fellow passengers.

4. We practiced a little bit violin and watched TV as well.
DS7 commented he could stay on the ship forever if there were fast free Internet. Indeed, it is my thought too.

Day 9: Another at sea day.

The ship is beautiful and I started to like the size and layout. There are so many sitting areas that you can choose to stay where the action is or find a quiet corner getting lost in your own thoughts.

In the last two days I have been enjoying alone time knowing the kids are happy and well taken care of. I attend the lecture every morning, fascinating. Also I went to watch a movie: premium rush in their small but very nice movie theater. I knew kids would enjoy the movie too so I ended up watching it the
second time with kids.

The service on the ship is great. The standard set by the cruise is hard to beat on land. What makes cruise business model viable is the cheap labor with exceptional service. They are trying so hard that I feel indebted to them, especially for the minimal amount of money we paid for the cruise. It reminds me that while some of us pursue happiness as birth right, there are many people
struggle for survival or better life with sacrifice. My kids attract
lots of attention from the crew members. I am guessing probably because they
miss their own kids too.

We continue our routine: playing ping pang, listening to musical performance, watching movie, practicing violin and piano, drawing and adding some new things each day. We may try the pools and rock climbing today. It has been a little bit windy.

Day 10: at sea with shorter days

1. By sailing east, we lose one hour a day. Everyday at 11:30am we forward our clock to 12:30pm. So there are 23 hours in a day.

2. And everyday we sleep for 9-11 hours, have 2 hour dinner, watch 2-2.5 hour movie, 1 hour lecture. Before we know, the day is gone.

3. On every elevator floor, there is changeable plate with the days on so we can track our time, which is hard on a cruise.

4. From other passengers, I knew some terrible events out there, but in the middle of the vast ocean, I also feel so removed from the world.

5. The crew members showed my kids how to make things out of napkin: mouse, shoe and hat.

6. Ds7 once a while wished there were free fast Internet so he could get back to his world of tanks to work toward the next tier of tank. He kept working on calculating how close to his next tank and how many battles he needed to fight in order to get certain XP. His math skill is developing fast: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and percentage and a little bit fraction. He amazed me that he learned the skill on his own without me teaching. Without Internet, he went back to minecraft again designing and building a race car.

7. Kids had fun watching food carving demonstration

8. At lunch I got to know my favorite lecturer. He used to teach history in high school and college. It was fun chatting with him. I learned more about Columbus from his lecture.

9. I realized there was some amazing art work on the ship. I started walking everywhere and looking at them.

10. Now I have reduced my eating to two meals a day and started to walk the stairs instead of taking elevator.

11. By now I am very relaxed and my mind is scattered as well.

DS7 likes to draw

DS7's drawing
mini golfing
practice violin
violin lesson
with Captain
musical performance
cruise ship
ping pang
There were two pianos we were allowed to use. I am really grateful for that.
food carving
napkin folding

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