Monday, July 13, 2009

The VIP Guest and the Physically Challenged

A bad back has its benefits. It enabled us to get on the boat quicker than everyone else because “VIP Guests and the Physically Challenged” were able to board first. We “cruised” on past the waiting thousands and I tried my best to look like a VIP, rather than a Physically Challenged.

The first thought was “oh my goodness, this place is a floating amusement park”. When you step onto the boat, it overwhelms you with its size, and then secondly, by the sheer number of colours that clash together. The carpets are a mix of vibrant pinks and purples, the walls are shades of aqua and there’s wallpaper on walls with drawings of Pirates. It’s a little “kitschy”, and there are gold trimmings, flashing neon signs, and glass encased lifts but then again, it is after all a family cruise ship and not the Queen Mary II.

Everyone was then allowed on board but the rooms were not accessible for another hour and a half. Having travelled for twenty four hours straight, Ruth and I were eager to get to our rooms, but like everyone else, we needed to wait. We found ourselves a comfortable chair each in one of the various restaurants, and we were able to sit quietly and look across the New York skyline while eating from the salad bar. Soon enough though, the rooms were opened and Ruth and I headed straight in, not even bothering to look around the ship. We needed sleep, desperately.

We woke up in time for the safety talk (which we managed to avoid by convincing our Steward that we would promise to read the booklet) and then the boat begun to set sail. The blue skies, sadly, had disappeared and it had become quite windy and cool. For this reason, Ruth decided to stayed on the room balcony but I excitedly raced up to stand on the top deck with the masses.

Setting sail was simply breathtaking. Despite the weather having turned, everyone stood at their balconies waving, boats that we passed blew their horns and the cruise ship’s horn bellowed
in response every so often. It was as though the entire New York Harbour stopped to let us through. As we made our way towards the Brooklyn Bridge, we looked up to see an NYPD helicopter heading towards us. It ended up playfully flying over us, alongside us, around us at least four or five times and you could see the officers waving. Coincidently, I have since met the holidaying NYPD detective who had arranged for his friends to “fleece” the cruise ship on its way out.

The wind on the top deck was howling and clouds had come in, making it quite cold - it didn’t seem as though we were heading to the Caribbean! At one point, it became so windy it was hard to stand still to take photos. Still, I clung on to the railings with many others, who were eagerly awaiting the sight of the Statue of Liberty. I waited and waited, craning my neck to see where she was. I soon learned that I was in fact standing on the wrong side of the boat, and the Statue of Liberty had been in sight for at least ten minutes prior! Dear me.

It will be another one of those “traveling
moments” that I will always remember. In the same way as seeing the Eiffel Tower and London’s Houses of Parliament, I stood there in awe, clicking away with my camera enthusiastically. Just like the Eiffel Tower and the Houses of Parliament, I now have about one hundred photos of the Statue of Liberty, at different angles, different distances and different sizes!

After we left the New York Harbour, and for much of the evening thereafter, Ruth and I slept. We were jetlagged and not ready to join the party just yet. As the boat rocked, I fell asleep, dreaming of days ahead…

(the Boat and the Lady)

(me on deck - and in New York!)

(the Brooklyn Bridge)

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