Cruising with the Family

[Posted in Bar Harbor, Maine in a little laundromat off Cottage Street. Headed to Bridge Street next, where we hope to walk over to a little island while the tide is low. This town is quiet and quaint. My parents are attending church, and the rest of the family is sleeping in and coming over to town for lunch – lobster rolls!]

The cruise was a great idea for a family reunion as a way to avoid a large part of the feeding and logistics of keeping the Lee family fed and entertained. Food and entertainment is never-ending on a cruise ship – as soon as breakfast closes down, lunch is starting somewhere else. Ditto for the activities (and if nothing else, you can workout in the gym or go rock climbing).

We are on Day Four and pulling into Bar Harbor, Maine. The ship is cruising slowly as we approach and the ocean is calm. Outside our room, the corridors are deserted, as it’s not even 6 am, and many of the night’s activities (live music, stage shows, gambling, karaoke, dancing) have only just finished up.  We’re in the early-to-bed-and-early up set, which has the main advantage of avoiding the crowds. It’s a pretty big advantage this morning; the boat docks at 7 am and first small boat shuttles start for shore at 7:15 am. Yesterday we spent the better part of an hour in lines feeling like sardines, being hustled in lines from floor to floor, and barely managed to get into Portland with the whole family intact. (Ironically, we all separated into groups shortly thereafter; one group to rent bicycles and see the new Harry Potter; one group to go on a trolley tour; and the third group to the park, library, and toy store.)

Yesterday, though, was the first shore day of the cruise and also the first time seeing land after nearly 48 hours at sea. Besides which, we didn’t dock until 11 am, so there was a lot of time to anticipate the docking in Portland. I don’t expect to have to deal with lines today.

Our room is larger than we anticipated and very comfy. Granted the bathroom is teeny, but for being on a boat – actually, in any mode of transportation: motor home, train, bus, airplane – the bathroom is roomy, with the delightful addition of daily maid service. I’d forgotten about that part of cruising – that a boat is transportation!

The experience of navigating the long narrow halls of the ship is somewhere between walking down the center of a railway car and a hotel corridor. In fact, the whole ship is literally a floating hotel. (Or a prison, since you can’t leave this hotel.) It’s strange, because you’re having this impersonal experience of eating a buffet meal like at Soup Plantation or Hometown Buffet, but at every meal the faces are the same. It’s a surreal experience, to walk on deck while at sea and realize that you are essentially marooned on ship with thousands of strangers (2000+), with whom you have nothing in common except for that fact that you chose to be on a New England cruise ship in July.

New England is a beautiful place to be in July. The skies are gorgeous blue with fluffy clouds (lots of sky-watching out at sea) and there is always a breeze, so even though the temps are close to 80 it feels refreshing.

I don’t like being “fresh off the boat” every time the boat docks and we all spill onto shore, but Chad and I have managed to stay on foot and explore different nooks and crannies of town. Chad was not so impressed with Portland, judging from the name of the wi-fi networks that kept popping up on my phone and from the number of locals smoking… but Bar Harbor he has deemed a free wi-fi paradise – and movies cost only $6 at the local theater.


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