To be totally honest, there aren’t many things that aren’t as good as they used to be. That may tell you more about me than it does about those things. A while back, we were on a 14-day cruise with Holland America. We had a great time (thanks in no small part to a super calm sea), but things aren’t like they used to be.
It used to be that there was always a Captain’s Reception. Anybody who wanted to could greet the ship’s captain. Then that changed with the fear of spreading germs. You could still greet the captain, but he wouldn’t shake you hand. I guess that made sense. Well, on our cruise, we never saw the captain. We heard him a couple of times on the intercom, but for all I know, he was sending those messages from Amsterdam.
Then there’s the issue of what to wear to dinner. It used to be there were formal nights, informal nights and casual nights. On formal nights, most men wore a tuxedo. If they didn’t have a tux, they could get by with a dark suit. On this cruise, I looked over the dress requirements and to my surprise, there were no formal nights. They now call them Gala Nights and you are encouraged to wear gala attire (whatever that means). Well, I saw ten times more tuxes at The Fairfax New Years Eve party than I saw on the 2100 passenger Nieuw Amsterdam.
I was walking to our table on a Gala Night and I noticed a fellow wearing a polo shirt. Maybe it had been autographed by a rock star and was thus gala attire. I hate to sound like a snob, but cruises just aren’t what they used to be.
If it wasn’t a “Gala Night,” then it was a “smart casual night.” I have yet to figure out what isn’t smart casual. I finally concluded that smart casual means you must wear matching sneakers.
Something else I noticed for the first time. Once you open your cabin door with your key card, you then have to slip it into a slot by the door or your lights won’t work. This is not a problem. The problem is that when you decide to go somewhere and grab your key, the cabin goes dark. If you wife is taking a shower at that moment, she will not be happy.
I always like to participate in the recreational sports activities on board. They have competition in ping pong, putting, shuffleboard, bocce ball, and badminton. Well, Eric, our so called “sport director,” set up the badminton tournament outside while the ship was moving and we were dealing with a 35 miles-per-hour wind. Then when we had the putting contest, he kept talking the whole time people were putting. Egad. Then Eric set up the bocce ball tournament on a mostly tile floor. Eric should have concentrated on teaching line dancing. OK, maybe I am a snob.
Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com