Aboard the ms Veendam: A dodgy day at sea

ABOARD THE ms VEENDAM — Lots of veteran cruisers say that they absolutely just love a day at sea.

Ah, yes, we can relax, can’t we? Get things done without any hectic shore excursions to prepare for. But then today day is our first day out of Valparaiso and we haven’t had any shore excursions yet. We don’t have any laundry to do either. Still, it seems too soon to open a book, doesn’t it?

The view outside my stateroom door

In contrast with cruises on the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, etc. which offer one or two sea days, we will have a total of five days without a port call on this voyage. That’s because many of the upcoming experiences can be fully appreciated right from our decks.We began this day with breakfast in the Lido and reading the eight-page news summary Times Digest, an abbreviated version of the New York Times.

Then turning to the Holland America Line Explorer – the daily shipboard publication – we see plenty of day-long diversions. Certainly all is right in the world when the bird watchers meet in the Crows Nest. There were classes in Spanish or photography, lectures about those coming days when there are shore excursions, a game called Pub Trivia lead by the ship’s DJ, a wine tasting, a cooking demonstration, exercise options, and much, much more stimulating sea day stuff.

Not listed though, was “learning to walk like a sailor,” because the waves today have been whipped up just enough to produce an occasional lurch even among walkers who haven’t had a drop of alcohol. It was just enough unsteadiness to remind everyone that we are really floating on an unforgiving sea.

The piano bar is one of the entertainment venues

The first warning is when we notice that the women crew members and entertainers who normally wear high heels on the job had quietly switched to flats. “Moderate swells” might have been the official designation for the sea conditions today. An estimated 10- to 15-foot waves – measuring them from peak to trough – were enough to keep a few of the neophyte population from the dinner table.

Today’s dinner, as dictated by those who organize such things, is on a “formal night” – suits and ties for us gents, something more fetching than usual for the ladies.

The multi-level glass sculpture in the ship’s atrium


As one of a few press members on board, I had things to do. I took photos of some of the unusual Dutch decorations and other artistic features of the ship’s interior. And I was learning my way around, making notes on things I would like to write about later when I am home collecting solid, logical thoughts while resting on good ol’ terra firma.

Tthe most wonderful thing about “moderate swells?” Great sleeping conditions — being gently rocked in comfortable and reassuring ways that I learned to appreciate in my mother’s arms 80 years ago. 

Photos by Robert W. Bone

Nov. 8, 2012

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