• James Eric Fristad

Curtains and Noses

Thoughts about the first major part of this March adventure happening, have been poking their noses out from behind the stage curtains ("Notice me, notice me!"). So let's allow those schedule-understudies to unleash their parts for us all to look at. [Broadway-play-rehearsal metaphors have about reached their collective limit here.]

Two things: the first eager understudy rustling behind the imaginary drapes, wants to talk about ports of call along the way. To talk about breaks the ship will take in the course of heading across the Atlantic. There is only one break on this particular journey, Bermuda, which happens on day four. My guess is that Oceania decided they need to have something to offer their gaggle of cruisers, to break up those 10 days at sea. Not that a great trove of history or beauty exists at the Port Hamilton Ship Yards, but that passengers like to have some sort of experiences to punctuate their time afloat. Give it definition, character. Add value, kind of thing.

Bermuda is said to have a pleasant climate. Not muggy and sweltering as one might imagine -- probably rather like San Diego. Oldish buildings have been preserved, probably from mid-18th century when the place was developed as a British naval base. Where indeed, ships were fitted to come and pound the bejeezus out of Baltimore, maybe take Francis Scott Key prisoner. Likely protect their country's slave merchants that plied their way, freighted with despair and death, over the bounding main of the Carribbean. A colorful and accurate description for the history of the place, although less romantic and charitable than some.

The point is, there really is not much of interest there, for me at least. And we do not have the budget (distributing our dinero now over 56 days) to indulge in stuff unlikely to fascinate/grow/stimulate. We'd rather use those Euros to buy ourselves an extra dinner in France, another in Spain, and another in Italy. Which is to say that what I see and read about our port in Bermuda, seems mostly pointless. I promise not to bring you a t-shirt from there.

The second pest whose nose is poking out from behind the curtain, even more insistent and nervy than the first, wants me to post this image of arguably the most winsome part of Oceania's Riviera. The library is shown, or rather a single alcove of the library. Can you believe the class of such a cruise vessel, that would waste so much floor and wall space on nothing more than books? Books and carpet and leather chairs, and floor lamps, pictures on the walls (and not numbered lithographs some salesman is hawking as "artwork")?

I compare this completely civilized place of contemplation and quiet, and maybe thoughtful conversation ... to the non-existent libraries on Holland-America's new, semi-monster ships. I think their Westerdam, with a population of ~2,400 paying souls, has but a single bookshelf to offer. Its clear message is, "We don't want you to read, we want you to get out there and do trivia every afternoon (cocktails in hand), and go to Main Stage revues (more cocktails) or talk to our friendly and helpful sales staff about booking your next cruises. Visit the casino or spend leisurely and covetous minutes browsing the shops. You may be introspective when you get home."

Am I being harsh?

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