Brilliance of the Seas: Radiance Class, Gross Tonnage: 90,080, Decks: 13, Ability to be Tossed Around by 10 foot seas: fair to moderate.
On our first afternoon at sea, our Captain (self-titled, “The World’s Smallest Captain” – he’s Greek and very funny), came on the PA system to give us some updates as to weather, travel time to our first port of call Nice, France, etc. I think perhaps he might’ve been too small to see over the rail because every day he said the same thing about the height of the waves: “approximately 1 meter high.” I can attest to at least 2 days when they were significantly higher than that, at least around the porthole of our stateroom.
Does anyone remember that old movie from the ’70’s “The Poseidon Adventure” ? I seem to remember a scene where everyone was in the dining room and the big crystal chandeliers start swaying (ominously). Our first night in the dining room, as I clutched the table edges and pondered the strength of the martini I’d just finished, I looked up. Hmmm…no chandeliers. The light fixtures were strictly utilitarian and bolted close to the ceiling. There’s a reason for that folks: so panic doesn’t ensue when a 90,080 tonne ship starts rocking and rolling in seas “approximately 1 meter high.”
I’d never though of the Mediterranean as a rough body of water but since I’d never done anything but loll on its sandy beaches sizzling like a pan-fried cod, I was clearly no expert. I should’ve known better, having recently seen an old episode of Top Gear where James May’s internal organs get rearranged as he raced in a rather futuristic speed boat from Portofino to St. Tropez on a very choppy sea.
So, that night as we got ready for bed, I checked the closet for life jackets and the porthole for water-tightness, as waves were now regularly smashing up against it. I didn’t mind really. The kids’ beds had rails so I didn’t think they would fall on me in the night. I loved the feeling of the waves – it made me feel as if I was on a real boat as opposed to a floating Holiday Inn.
At 3 a.m., something loud woke me. I looked over and was surprised to see my husband was awake too. A word about my husband: he has slept through tornadoes, hurricanes, and a front row seat at RiverDance. Nothing wakes him, but whatever this was, it did. We lay there, listening to the thud of the water against the ship’s hull and there it was: a staccato pounding that seemed to travel from one side of the boat to the other, building in volume until BAM! As we both sat up to look out the porthole, a dark wall of water topped by dancing white froth rushed towards us and slammed somewhere above our porthole. One meter high waves, my ass.
From the depths of my memory banks, a song began playing in my head. It’s funny how the mind works – after almost 40 years, my brain called up the most appropriate piece of music it could find: the theme song from “The Poseidon Adventure” sung by Maureen McCormick: “Morning After” I think was the title. I laughed. My husband looked at me incredulously as I sat there with my face glued to the glass, humming a song. He knows me. Airplane turbulence sends me into spasms of anxiety yet here we were pitching about on the 3rd deck of a 13 deck ship that was being tossed about like a bath toy and I was singing.
He shook his head, rolled over and went right back to sleep. I sat staring at the waves until light broke in the sky. The sea was truly magnificent but the captain really needed a new maritime weather report.