Sea Days: the days the World’s Smallest Captain puts the pedal down and ploughs through the Mediterranean in order to make the next port of call (in this case, Turkey) on time. For cruise ship passengers, sea days are relaxation days. And, relax they did. All 2,100 plus of them, usually on the same sundeck, packed like so many oily sardines in rows of deck loungers.
Although my husband was up at sunrise each of the two mornings at sea, his banshee and children barely managed to haul themselves out of bed before noon. When I awoke, I lay in bed listening to the hypnotic sound of the waves rushing under the ship and reveled in the fact that I didn’t have to have breakfast at the crack of dawn with total strangers. Relaxation, indeed!
What I quickly realized about any day at sea was that all of the total strangers were now wandering the decks, standing in line at the cafe, and rushing for deck chairs in the sun. By the end of the first day at sea, I was at sea myself, ready to strangle nearly everyone on board (especially the lounge singer who couldn’t carry a tune but persisted stubbornly, in vain. Could someone please tell her?)
Day two at sea, I found a cozy deck chair on the fifth starboard deck, close to the waves, the breeze and far from the really bad ’80’s music on the pool deck. The kids raced each other to the arcade and the restaurant with the make-your-own pizza and the soft ice cream machines. A good book in hand, all was well at last. This was how a vacation should be: sleep, eat, sleep, read, repeat until the day is done. I stared down into the rushing waves a lot too, mesmerized by the colours and frankly curious about the emptiness of the sea around us. No shipping, boating, or any other kind of traffic. I tried not to worry about Libyan pirates…
Our sea days were “formal” dining nights so by late afternoon, we were rousing ourselves from our respective stupors and getting ready to put on our finest. The “dressing for dinner” ritual has become a rarity . Maybe in the very highest echelons of the very highest society (and perhaps in a certain palace in London), folks might still dress for dinner but my blood isn’t that blue. To be honest, it’s all I can do to get my children to use napkins and utensils.
Oddly enough, my little urchins were very excited to get dressed up for dinner. My eleven year old was anxious to wear his new suit (no, I’m not kidding). My daughter was gorgeous in her first LBD and towering high heels. It was my sincere hope that neither of them decided to fling dinner rolls around the Minstrel Dining Room, possibly injuring the World’s Smallest Captain. I had nothing to worry about as my children exhibited manners I didn’t know they had. I silently vowed to institute a “dress for dinner” policy at home in Toronto. Ok, never mind. Maybe once in awhile…
A word about dining on Brilliance of the Seas: it was unfailingly yummy. The meats were always cooked to perfection which is a miracle considering the sheer amount of meat cooked every night. The vegetables, perhaps more of a miracle, were always tender-crisp and fresh tasting. Desserts were more of a gamble but by and large we were never disappointed with anything except the fact that our clothing didn’t fit us by the end of dinner. Our waiters were extraordinary; always friendly, always ready for a bit of a chat with the kids about their day’s activities. The kids were especially impressed that our waiters memorized their drink preferences.
The casual cafe dining wasn’t bad either although I’d read that (especially on sea days), tables could be hard to find at peak hours. We never had to wait for food or tables. Even the hugely popular outdoor deck – right over the stern of the ship – usually had a table or two vacant, even at lunchtime. The kids adored the make your own pizza place – they could go anytime, order anything, away from my disapproving gaze. What the hell, we were on vacation – what’s wrong with ice cream for lunch?
Nonetheless, I was ready for our sea days to end although I did enjoy sleeping in. Soon we would be in Turkey – a country I knew next to nothing about. Before leaving home we had reserved a taxi tour (going on an internet review alone) in Kusadasi that would take us through the ruins of Ephesus with an English guide. We hoped.
Have I told you I don’t “wing it” well? Stay tuned…