Word Count: 481
By Peg Scarano
For those who have not yet experienced the adventure of cruising, let me fill you in on the highlights of a few days at sea. My husband and I just spent seven days on a cruise ship that made port in Halifax and New Brunswick, Canada and Bar Harbor and Portland, Maine. Our particular ship, the Norwegian Gem, boasted a dozen restaurants and another dozen bars. There were ice cream machines everywhere! To enhance the cruise, we purchased the beverage and dining packages. This means we did not have to confine ourselves to the two main dining rooms and 24-hour buffet. We also had access to nine specialty restaurants at no extra charge. Plus, all of our adult beverages were provided to us with just a swipe of our key card, not our credit card! Let me just say, this is the only way to sail! We did not go hungry or thirsty for seven straight days.
Seeing whales at sea has been on my bucket list for years. It just so happened that one of the excursions in Bar Harbor was a whale watch, so I signed us up for this side trip weeks in advance. Since Bar Harbor had no pier, the ship anchored in the harbor and we had to board a tender which took us ashore. This adventure took approximately an hour and did not provide us with any sort of entertainment or creature comforts as there was no food or drink available.
However, we made it and boarded our “whaler” and set out to sea with our hearts pounding with anticipation. The air in port was nearly 80 degrees, but when you are on an open ship, traveling at 30-40 knots and 20-25 miles out to sea, that 80 quickly felt more like 50 degrees. And let me just say, we saw more sea birds than I care to recall and had enough false alarms to make a fire department feel apathetic. After 2-1/2 hours of wind-blown hair and cuddling together in our shared disappointment, the ship headed back to port – adding yet another cold hour to our unsuccessful and disheartening hunt. Finally on shore and feeling the warmth of the sun again, we learned it was time to catch the last dreaded tender back to the ship. Sadly, that particular day was a bust compared to the fun-filled, satiating days prior to and following.
As we pulled into New York Harbor on the last morning, feeling sad that our adventure was coming to an end, my husband and I glanced at each other in our stateroom mirror and quickly looked away. And, as we disembarked, we couldn’t help eying our fellow Gem passengers. I gave my husband a sardonic sneer and commented, “Upon further review, I believe I can take whale watching off of my bucket list. I just have to think outside the box!”