A Suite and a Sunset

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I’ve been thinking about cruising a lot lately. Whether it’s because everyone is talking about the CDC extending the No Sail Order until the end of the month, the prospect of cruises actually starting back up someday, maybe, or if it’s the relatively constant question of what ship, where, and when my hubby will go when he goes back to work (we don’t know the answer to any of those questions yet), cruises are on my mind.

I started looking through old pictures and was reminded that during the four months that I was on the ship this spring we stayed in four different cabins. Normally we are in one designated cabin in crew areas; however, as anyone that follows along might remember this spring was when we were on the ship during the COVID lockdown. The passengers went home and most of the crew was literally stuck onboard, and Stuart ended up being extended three months past his original contract day. We moved cabins so many times for a few reasons. While our ship was sold, the cabins I mention below are pretty similar to those offered onboard the Volendam.

The first time we moved cabins was into a balcony cabin. They did this as a goodwill gesture for the crew as many of them were getting asked to extend beyond their contract dates (because we literally couldn’t leave the ship). The extension was to a TBD date (at one point they were extending crew two weeks at a time because there was that level of uncertainty with when countries would open up) and we didn’t really know what it would look like.

The highlight of this cabin was certainly the balcony, it had a fairly good sized bathroom, sitting area with a couch and desk area, had a jacuzzi bathtub, and a mini-fridge. Having a balcony is great as you can go sit out and enjoy the sunshine, not worry about social distancing (which even as a married couple we were typically required to follow in public areas with each other as well, despite living in the same cabin) or mask wearing, and can just get a bit of peace and quiet from everything else that is going on – plus, it’s not a bad place to sit and watch a sunset! Nearly every day when Stuart could get a little break in the afternoon he’d come up and sit on the balcony to get a bit of sun and relax even for a few minutes. The TV was a bit small (we brought ours that a previous engineer had bought for our regular crew cabin down), but it could rotate so you could see it between the bed and the couch. There was not sufficient counter space for all of my plants (there were quite a few of them), but overall it was a nice layout.

The second move was to a Lanai cabin (it had doors that went onto the walking deck). This move was because as we sailed towards the Philippines, all Filipino crew that were disembarking had to quarantine in their cabins and it was a requirement that those be balcony cabins – it was also required that men were on one floor and women on another (go figure, never figured out the logical medical reason for this). This meant that the majority of crew that weren’t disembarking Filipino’s were moved into other cabins. And, as there were limited housekeeping staff onboard they tried to keep all of the crew within certain areas, so rather than have everyone go back to their regular crew cabins relatively scattered throughout the ship, they put us mostly all on the same floor.

In this cabin I like that it opened up right onto the walking deck. When crew would leave the ship they would leave via tender, with the door opening directly onto the deck (right by where the tenders were lowered) I rarely missed waving goodbye to anyone.

This was a nice cabin, but it felt a little bit small. This was because we had a lot of stuff, like years worth of stuff that we had left onboard that we were now trying to figure out what to do with, and way more than an average cruiser would. We were also in this cabin when a lot of other people were leaving the ship and as they were packing we ended up with a lot of stuff gifted to us (thank you, all!), including, but not limited to: a gel manicure kit, hair curlers, lots of laundry detergent, a fan, a water pitcher with filter, clothes, a hamper, spa style face masks & scrubs, charcoal blackhead remover strips, nice toothpaste, a bottle of wine, potato chips, and about a million other random things. Some of it we kept, some of it we passed on to other people onboard. Let’s just say there was a reason this cabin felt small and it had nothing to do with the actual size of the cabin. But, we didn’t have to buy laundry detergent again!

Then, finally our last move was after about 2 1/2 months of being onboard with no passengers, after all the crew requiring quarantine had left and Stuart was extended for yet another month (he was going into month five of his three month contract) they moved us (and the majority of officers) into the larger suites. For those of you wondering about the other crew, they were moved into balcony cabins during this time, so pretty much everyone that was on the ship at this point had a balcony cabin, regardless of rank. This was during a time where there was nothing that you could be sure of – where you were going, when you’d be going home, what was happening in the world, how long you would be without a job, or how long you’d be onboard – moving the crew that was literally stuck onboard into passenger cabins was not a luxury at that point, it was a necessary measure for their mental health.

So, of course my favorite of the cabins we were in was the suite. There was desk space for my sewing (side note, my mini-sewing machine is available in the US and it now has a light, I love this little machine), a large couch to hang out on, the balcony was so big we had a table with chairs and lounge chairs. This cabin was incredibly spacious with so much storage we couldn’t fill the drawers even with all of our stuff, and there was enough space for all of our plants. While looking through photos from this spring I found this video of me giving a tour of it to my mom. Enjoy!

While I can’t say that the next time we cruise we will shell out the cash to stay in this level of suite but I can say that if you can afford it, it would totally be worth it. I actually guess that for those that will be able to cruise once that suites will be in high demand. I believe that because people that haven’t travelled or splurged will want to really feel pampered, and, if people are having to wear masks around the ship, having a large inside and outdoor space where you can go mask-free will be a luxury many will be willing to pay for.

To leave you on a happy note, here is a little collage of a bunch of sunsets from my time onboard this spring.

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