By Marilyn Baron
When we set sail on a 7-Day round-trip cruise from New York City to New England and Canada, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, I joked with my sister and her husband, who were accompanying my husband and me, about that familiar line from the Gilligan’s Island theme song, that we were embarking on a three hour tour.
Of course, we didn’t end up shipwrecked on a deserted island and we had a good time, but there were some surprises.
The trip was billed as a fall foliage tour. Supposedly, we were there at the height of the leaf change season. However, the most brilliant color we saw was when we flew back to Atlanta in our own backyard. It was mid-October, the last cruise for that ship this year and in every place we visited, the leaves either hadn’t changed yet or the hurricane that had just swept in had blown them all away.
That afternoon, back on the ship, we went to the buffet and something was not quite right. Instead of serving yourself as we did the day before, the servers wouldn’t allow us to touch the food. Before they doled it out, we had to disinfect our hands with Purell hand sanitizer. I hate hand sanitizers. I don’t want to sit down to dinner with soap on my hands. I want to
wash it off first, but by the end of the trip, Purell and I were learning to coexist.
The next morning at breakfast when the server asked if I wanted syrup on my pancakes, I said yes. I thought she meant did I want syrup on the table, but no, before I knew it, she proceeded to drown my pancakes in syrup and I lost it. I couldn’t eat the pancakes because they were literally floating in syrup. “Are you my mother?” I said. “I can pour my own syrup.”
That’s when I knew something was amiss.
That night we found out why when the ship’s captain’s reassuring voice, cool as a cucumber, came over the loudspeaker, “This is your captain. As you may know (No We Did Not Know) there’s been an outbreak of norovirus aboard the ship.”
Cowabonga! Yowie Gazowie! OMG! Holy Norovirus Outbreak, Batman.
Passengers were dropping like flies, confined to their rooms. Who had the virus? Who should we avoid? We decided to bypass the buffet for the rest of the voyage and instead ate in the main dining room or one of the specialty restaurants.
The third stop on our itinerary was Bar Harbor, Maine, where we took the Acadia National Park Scenic Drive and it was clear enough to see the view from the summit of Cadillac Mountain.
Then we took a whale watching tour, which guaranteed that we’d see whales or get a partial refund. We set out to where the day before they had seen a flotilla
of whales, exhausted and floating on the water after the hurricane and the next day they spotted what looked like hundreds of whales. But the day we went out we saw only the back of one whale and the tail of another (or maybe it was the same whale). One of them was the Right Whale, a species of which there are only 400 left in the world. So that was neat but the captain kept going farther and farther out until we reached Canada, our next stop on the tour. After five hours (on what was billed as a three hour tour) of listening to the naturalist’s voice drone on, and watching video of the whales we didn’t see, we almost missed the last tender back to our ship. But they did refund half of our fee. We were disappointed because on an earlier trip to Boston we took a whale watching tour and saw a “boatload” of whales.
For our first stop in Canada, we took the Fundy Coastal Tour, where we were supposed to see the Bay of Fundy and the reversing river rapids. We never saw that but our guide took us to his hometown in the
Halifax, Nova Scotia, however was a nice stop. We took the Coastal Drive to Peggy’s Cove, which featured a stunning lighthouse on a granite ocean outcrop and I got to hold two live lobsters. Then it was back to town to visit a neat maritime museum with a giant whale and a moose at the entrance and I bought a nice silver sand dollar necklace at a marketplace. The people were so friendly; they welcomed us with a rose when we disembarked. We learned a little about the history of Halifax and its ties to the Titanic.
On the last night at sea, we dined at one of the specialty restaurants and had Shrimp Bisque and steak and lobster, among other things. We must have eaten too much because in the middle of the night, I felt sick.
“Do not tell anyone you’re sick,” my husband admonished. “I don’t want to be quarantined. I want to get off this ship.” I cleaned up after myself so my porter would not be suspicious. Did I have the nurovirus? I didn’t think so. I felt better immediately. I think I’m just allergic to shrimp bisque.
Seriously, even though my husband said he was never taking another cruise, we really did have a great time, aside from the outbreak.
How about your cruise experience? Care to share?