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Friday, May 23, 2014

Cruise Day 6 - Spent Whole Day on Ship Going Up Saint Lawrence River

Thursday Night Dinner - Surf and Turf on the St Lawrence Seaway


Today we aren’t making any stops. It is all-day engorge day. It is hard to explain the food situation on a cruise. It is even harder to figure out how they can possibly make a profit on a cruise when they serve endless amount of all the wonderful stuff to eat.

I consider myself working class. I was brought up by a coal miner and a millworker. They worked really hard to put food on the table for our family of 5 growing up. I remember when it was a special treat to buy a big bag of potato chips from the mobile grocery store that stopped by our farmhouse every week. Picking up a six pack of Staff soda at Ginetti’s Grocery and putting it on the counter was heaven at 5 cents a can.

Now Mom and Dad are gone – my sister Gail is gone – and sister Judy is a grandmother who could be a great-grandmother within a year or so. But nothing says middle class better than over eating – that is- being to afford to eat anything you want – as much as you want. It seems that now we are paying more to avoid eating than what we spend on groceries.

Lulu did some serious Internet searching to find a cruise where we could use some almost expired free plane tickets – and also visit a place we have never been. Since in Florida it is already over 90 degrees on some middays – it would be nice to sample other weather. She found the cruise to Maine – Nova Scotia – Prince Edward Island – and Quebec for under $400 for 8 days.

Each time we cruise – the calculator is running full speed in my head. How in the world could they ever make a profit on a cruise where they serve such great unlimited food. I pride myself in having lost 30 pounds over the last 3 or 4 years – but when it comes to a cruise I succumb to the old “getting my money’s worth” mentality. At first I fight it hard – vowing to stick to 2000 calories a day. That is my magic number. With a little exercise every day – I can actually lose a pound a week at that number.

At home – Lulu makes all the meals – and I clean them up. Whatever I want – Lulu can make it the way I like it. She gets joy leaving the table knowing she never has to do the dishes. We have nice meals – she serves things that a nourishing – tasty – but she keeps the calories down. We both have barometers in our heads telling us when to stop – and when to go for our daily 2 mile walk.

Some people would say it is simply greedy to eat so much food simply because you can. With my semi-active life style – I certainly do not need a lumberjacks breakfast of 4 eggs – 4 pancakes – 4 bacon – and so on.

The food on this cruise has been splendid – the variety is endless – the preparation and presentation rivals anything I have ever seen. This is not a put down of our regular meals – this is just so over the top. Every cruise has been this way. We have been on over 5 but under 10 – they blur together.

At the end of this article I will list all the different foods I have eaten on the cruise – I will ask Lulu to add things that she had that I didn’t.

You can eat 3 ways. First they have a sit down formal supper. You can sit alone or at a table of 8. You can make a reservation for a certain time – or you can just walk up at the dining room. Although you do not have to – Lulu like to wear a dress – I put on a coat – sometimes a tie. A printed menu gives you about 6 choices for each of the 4 courses. It takes a little longer – but the ambience and presentation are over the top. Service is top drawer.

Next – you can eat at the extensive buffet. We do this usually for lunch – but you can have every meal there. This is the ultimate variety.

Finally – you could eat every meal in the privacy of your room. You simple put a checklist on your door knob and they will deliver anything you want. We have done this for breakfast on 4
Mornings. Lulu loves ot be awaken by the smell of hot coffee and this is heaven for her.

At each port – we travel shore – and have enjoyed shore food. But in many ports – the ship is so close – we choose to come on board and have lunch for free.

Lulu conservatively estimates that each of these meals at a medium quality restaurant would cost $30 per person. 20 meals times $30 would be $600 a person. That is just the meals – not the very nice rooms – the entertainment – or the actual transportation.

The employees on the ship are mostly from Eastern Europe and Asia. I have no idea what they are paid but I doubt that they receive minimum wage nor they are protected by the 40 hour work week.

While you are on the ship – you simply forget about your every day world. There are no worries about your home – your job (what job?) – your cars - your town – and politics. Your connection to the real world is limited.

While on ship – Internet is very expensive – about $1 a minute – more than enough to keep you from wasting your life on line. The connection is slow – it has to go by satellite. In port – you can get free wifi – yesterday I was even online from my deck chair in Charlottetown. We found fee wifi in each port. Television on board is different. There are a few channels by the cruise company talking about places to visit. We have a bland form of CNN World – Fox News – and MS-NBC. I do watch CNN at home but I think the other two are absolutely wacky. Both sides are slanted to ridiculousness.

Strangely enough – I can see the New York Times on my laptop on board the ship. I have been subscribing to the Times for the last 5 years for $15 a month. I can’t see anything else on my computer here – but I can read the paper – everyday – for free. It is just enough to make it feel like home.

There are tons of other activities on board you can do with your family. There is a well stocked library that offers and extensive collection of free DVD’s. But there are swimming pools and hot tubs galore. There are sunning decks inside and out. There is a gym – a basketball court – a walking track – a child care center – bars – stores – casinos – cooking classes – on and on.

In the evening there is a live theatre and a movie theatre. There must be about 8 musical bars – from the piano man – to dancing – to trivia.

There are additional charges for alcoholic beverages and gambling. They have slot machines – black jack – roulette – and poker tables. Lulu plays the slot machines. She ejoys penny machines. You can use cash or just insert your room key. The winnings or losings go on the tab. She started out with $10 the first night and I think her kitty is down to $4 now.

Since alcohol is a big money maker – they do not want you to bring bottles on board. If you do – they charge you a corking fee when you bring it on board. You do pass thru an ray machine – but it does not catch everything – a pint of Canadian Club properly placed goes right thru. I guess they are not as cautious on gray heads.

They do have duty free shops on board to buy alcohol – perfume – clothes – jeweltry – food stuffs.

In each city we have enjoyed a day in port. Boston – Bar Harbor – Halifax – Sydney – Charlottetown – Quebec. When the cruise is over – we will take a rental car back to Boston from Quebec. Then we will fly home Sunday on our companion fair with Delta Airlines. Of course we will hope to be bumped off our flight – to get a free reward ticket for volunteering.

Here is  list of the foods I can remember eating –
Prime rib
Beef brisket
New York strip steak
Flank steak
Mashed potatoes
Baked potatoes
French fried potatoes
Hot tea
Iced tea
Bread stick
Bread roll – must be 10 different kinds
Macaroni and cheese
Turkey with stuffing
Blueberry soup
Honeydew mellons
Bread pudding
Cherry cobbler
Soft serve ice cream
Hand dipped ice cream
Dole Whip (Hawaii ice cream)
Chocolate pudding
Butterscotch pudding
Corn chowder
Clam chowder
Sweet rolls
Sweet bread
Toast – several kinds
Rice pudding
Salads – many
I will have Lulu list more here –

Several forces are fighting at meal time – first – everything looks and tastes so good – second – it is all spread out there and nothing stopping you from picking anything you want. Third – the middle class desire to get your money’s worth. It is like that gambling song – you will have plenty of time to count your calories when you get off the ship.

It is fun to see Lulu relaxing – she loves her job – but it is always on her mind. She always seems to be working or planning work – or writing up her results. Here she loves the shows – taking a walk – taking a nap – going for a dunk in the hot tub – not being on the computer.

In 3 weeks – we have to go to Las Vegas. She has an ALA convention there – I will have to suffer through 100 degree temperatures and carrying her bags to the Paris Hotel. A couple of our Coal Cracker buddies – Jan and Dick Davis will spend some time with us there.

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