My short vacation gave me food for thought about explosions, Syrian refugees, urban decay, Broadway stars, and good things about cruises.
I’m baaaack!! And before I go anywhere, I have to say “thank you” a million times to Wolf Howling who kept this blog lively and informative with his wonderful posts. Thanks too, to all of you, for coming back every day. I appreciate that more than you realize.
My vacation took me to the Northeastern seaboard, from New York to Canada, so I thought that I would share with you — in no particular order — the things that stood out for me.
Norwegian Cruise Lines is fun. On past cruises, which always work well for our family given our different interests and energy levels, we’ve traveled on Holland America. These have been wonderful cruises. The ships are immaculate, the food delicious and very high quality, and the service exquisite. We’ve also been to fascinating ports all over the northern hemisphere, from Mexico to the North Sea to Tunisia. If I were to compare our Holland America cruises to a car, I’d compare them to a Lexus.
Norwegian Cruise Lines is more like a Honda Accord: it’s fun, reliable, but not too fancy. On Holland America, the decks were teak; on Norwegian, they weren’t. Also, on Norwegian, while the food was very good, it wasn’t great, and the service in the restaurants was a little less polished than on Holland America. These are not negatives; they are simply indicators of the “fanciness” of the cruise.
What Norwegian has that our other cruises didn’t was fun and lots of it. Since the cruise left from New York and headed north, a lot of the passengers came from the Eastern seaboard (New York and New Jersey all the way down to Florida). For the most part, they were people who were committed to having fun and the cruise made that easy. Norwegian offers something called “free-style” cruising, which means eating where you want, when you want, and wearing what you want, when and where you want. Little girls dressed like princesses for the dining room while their parents were in casual clothes. This made it a completely relaxed experience.
Where Norwegian really stood out, though, was the entertainment. That’s not where Holland America put its money on the cruises I’ve been on. The productions on Holland America were like good quality high school performances.
The Norwegian cruise productions, on the other hand, were like mini Las Vegas reviews: talented performers singing and dancing, wearing lavish costumes, singing and dancing on stages with incredible and sophisticated sets. There were four all-cast musical reviews, one very funny comedian, a juggler who veered between very funny and children’s birthday party (but was quite skilled), and an aerial duo who did one of the best aerial acts I’ve ever seen (and that’s after watching just about every Cirque du Soliel show that’s come around). After we returned to New York we saw a Broadway show (more about that later) and I felt that the performers on that stage were no better than the ones on the ship.
It helped that on this cruise I had adult children with me. Mr. Bookworm is an early bird, so when he turned in at night, the kids and I sang Karaoke, listened to cabaret shows, and went dancing. A good time was had by all (including Mr. Bookworm, who slept well).
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum. The last time I was in New York was more than a decade ago, when the site of 9/11 was still a gaping hole in the ground and the “museum” was a makeshift assemblage of items recovered from the building’s collapse, as well as many of the heart-wrenching “have you seen” posters from the days and weeks after the attack. This time, we got to see the new World Trade tower, the memorial, and the museum.
I didn’t particularly like the new tower, which is just a big glass thing, a style I’ve never liked since it started popping up in the late 1970s. However, its height is definitely an “F-You” to the Islamic terrorists, and I appreciate that.
I also wasn’t thrilled with the memorial. The names engraved on dozens of granite slabs were both moving and derivative, because the concept is pretty much a copy of the Vietnam Wall. I thought that, given the money available and the time it took to come up with a memorial, the Port Authority might have found something just as moving but more original for an entirely different kind of American tragedy.
Aside from copying the Vietnam Wall name theme, the Port Authority installed two deep pools in the footprints of the Twin Towers, with each holding an endless fountain flowing downwards into a pit. That’s a lousy description, so this video might help: [Read more…]