I was intending to return to the USA for a few months this autumn. Coincidentally there was passage available on a transatlantic cruise ship leaving from Lisbon shortly after my departure from Split, Croatia. My mother had been planning for months to cross the Atlantic by ship and invited me to join her. Unfortunately there were no rooms aboard left to be booked three weeks before departure. As luck would have it, my step-father opted out of joining my mother and there was room and availability to share her room with her. We had two small beds and an outside deck overlooking the port side of the ship and were offered a great deal to upgrade to a larger room with unlimited mini-bar and clothes ironing included for $200 extra dollars. What a steal.
In the mornings I awoke early as our journey was continually traversing time zones during the 12 days of our cruise and adding extra hours to the day. I exercised in the gym which was well equipped, even for an athlete-hobbyist such as myself, though the circular dumbbells were ill-equipped for a ship that was continually rocking side-to-side atop an ocean. Afterwards I would take a shower and dunk myself in the saltwater cold tub before soaking in the saltwater hot tub; afterwards again a cold shower before heading into the Snow Grotto – a frozen room with a snow maker meant to presumably replicate a Scandinavian winter to accompany the hot-then-cold alternation ritual of Nordic spa treatments.
After that it was a change of clothes and breakfast with Mom. The food aboard was delicious with plenty of healthy options. I started with half a pound of smoked salmon and a grapefruit; after consuming, I repeated. The ship has at least four different restaurants on board — some of which serve dinner only. All are fabulous though my favorite was the World Café — a buffet that was running all three meals of the day. A few occasions I was lucky enough to eat there for dinner when there was always crab legs and sushi and sashimi – as much as I wanted. Needless to say I was well fed through the entirety of the journey and don’t recall a period of my life during which I was not hungry for nearly two weeks.
After breakfast I would take my laptop and work from one of the numerous libraries or lounge spaces aboard the ship. The wifi was bad owing to a satellite connection shared between 900 passengers, but I had facilitated offline work (design, writing etc) to do during the trip in expectation prior to departure — so it worked out fine. I think the Explorer’s Lounge at the prow of the ship is my favorite workspace in the world. For the days at sea the view through the window at my side spanned to the horizon; hypnotic waves that afforded the best office location I can imagine. I was immensely productive and grateful for the chance to do nothing but focus for the majority of the days aboard the Sun.
We did make two stops along the way to crossing the Atlantic — to Sao Miguel in the Azores and Bermuda. The remainder of the time accounted for what I really preferred – eating a lot of food, working hard and sailing into sunsets.
The cruise company, Viking, caters exclusively to the older, retired demographic and the 900 passengers on board were mostly American. The ship we were on, the Sun, is the newest ocean-crossing ship that Viking owns — it just began operations two months prior and our trip across the Atlantic was the first time it, along with the new crew, had crossed too. The facilities really impressed and spoiled me. Everything was ideal in terms of comfort, service and accessibility. I would love to travel to and from America this way for the rest of my life! Ironically this serves as terrific motivation for continuing to focus and work hard (like I did aboard the Sun) until I am able to. Thanks Mom for sharing this incredible experience with me — it is now a treasured memory I will carry with me the rest of my life!