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This post is the first in a series of seven about my week-long Mediterranean cruise earlier in the year. It’s an introduction, with a focus on life aboard the ship.
The trip initially began as a reunion trip for my father’s classmates and during planning, transformed to include family as well. It started in Barcelona, where my and my wife’s families converged the day before. Over the week, the ship stopped nearly every day in Italy, France, and Spain.
Below is a map of the loop that the trip formed.
The idea of a cruise vacation was never attractive to me. I saw it as being confined to a hotel where amenities are worse and more expensive. Packed itineraries mean that while we would see a broad range of places, we would never see any individual city in depth. It seemed like such a far cry from my usual slower, nomadic way of travel.
It wasn’t until a few days into the cruise that I started to see its merits. There are a unique solace and practicality that arises from visiting different cities without ever having to unpack or repack. We developed morning routines, meeting for breakfast each morning on the same side of the same cafeteria.
It’s somewhat rare to be confined in close quarters with my close family for days on end without a stable internet connection. It gave us far more opportunities to spend quality time with each other without the usual distraction of social media or the outside world.
Furthermore, we started to notice that the ship operated like an organism. The activities of the guests are only possible because of the routines and duties of the staff. Early every morning, the staff completely clean the deck and arrange deck chairs.
The all-day buffet is quiet as cooks and managers prepare all the various stations. There is a gradual crescendo of noise and activity as the ship nears its dock for the day. This culminates in near chaos as all of the late-comers try to cram in their breakfast before setting off for the day. Then, right after docking, the buffet becomes a ghost town of dirty dishes, silverware, and disorderly chairs and tables.
Every aspect of the ship experiences a similar lifecycle, regardless of what the guests are doing. This lifecycle made it fun to photograph the vessel at different stages on the trip.
Until the next post, I’ll leave you with some photographs, mostly from early in the morning, when the ship is nearly empty.