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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Not exactly

We were told there was laundry service on the ship. Not exactly. There was a washing machine, but it didn't work. We could do our laundry in port, except we wouldn't be there until Sunday, and then the laundries were closed.

They said there was WiFi and computer equipment on the boat. Not exactly, and we didn't need WiFi anyway, but Franklin let us use his computer to download photos from our camera onto our flash drives.

They said there was gourmet food on this ship. Not exactly, but they had two chefs who never ran out of tree tomatoes. I mistook a glass of orange colored juice for actual orange juice one morning, and was not happy to discover I had been tricked into ingesting the nasty stuff yet again. I was a lot more careful after that.

They said a catamaran was the most stable kind of boat for a trip around the islands. Not exactly, but the passengers who didn't get sick had plenty of meds for the ones who did.

They said the boat was called Millenium, but we forgot to ask WHICH millenium it was named after.

It looked good on the travel site. It's called a luxury class yacht. Okay, just not by American standards, maybe? The beds were comfortable, the room was big. The air conditioning worked fine. There was plenty of storage. The crew were really great. We just loved them.

But there were issues. The toilet tissue issue was several-ply. The "disposal" of same was a pretty disgusting problem. They never brought enough, not grasping there were two WOMEN in the cabin and we have to use it for everything, not just once in a while. So it was "Por favor, (name). Yo quiero mas papel del bano." Brief wait. "Muchas gracias." We didn't speak one another's languages well enough to make the situation more graphically clear. Then, guess what. They turned off the water at night. So you go to flush and nothing. After two nights of this, Joyce and Senior Greg raised hell with the captain so it was left on.

At some point, one of our two engines failed. This made for a slow, long, bumpy ride from island to island. When you have to use your muscles to keep from rolling out of bed all night, you can't get a lot of restful sleep. A catamaran has, as we know, two hulls for stability, but apparently only one is in contact with the water surface at any one time, rather like a toddler or a drunk trying to run. It lurches from side to side until it gets where it's going. And with only one engine running, it's even less balanced. Speaking of engines, we had two pangas, one of which had perpetual engine problems. Like parent, like child. Oh, and only one panga could be hauled aboard, so one banged along behind us all the time, not just on short hops.

Here's a link to the Millenium. Take note of how it looks, in case they change the name of it.

Galapagos Islands Cruise - Galapagos Millennium Catamaran - Vacations Galapagos Islands - Galapagos Luxury Cruises - Galapago...

We really wanted to like it. But we didn't. However, we made the best of it. For example. Joyce adapted a song to sing on the toilet to help us remember what to do:

"A tisket a tasket; The paper goes in the basket."

I added a second verse:

"A tasket, a tisket; It's not a chocolate biscuit."

Joyce complained that was gross, but hey, it worked all but twice each, and that apparently, was not enough to bring the plumbing to an inglorious end.

So, as I said, there were 16 of us aboard to begin with. Six were from the US and had made specific reservations for this ship at this time. All the rest were backpackers who were doing the world and just grabbed whatever boat was available. I wonder what they paid, but they had to be willing to take pot luck, and we were willing to buy certainty. One couple was from Australia, and they got engaged their last night on the boat. Another couple was from New Zealand. The rest were a sort of gaggle from Europe, and I don't want to mention their countries because they were not representing their nations very well and since I love those places, I will not embarrass them. Of the ten younger people, two unattached young women, who attached themselves to a couple of younger men, caused enough drama and foolishness to script several Housewives shows for a year. It was like an endless contest to see which one could out-hooker the other, especially by wearing the least clothing. One of them acted up so badly on a landing that Franklin had to give her a time out! And one of the young men was so rude to Joyce that I had to publicly reprimand him for being a boor. I won't tolerate that sort of thing. I don't care what you think of us, but you will not interfere with my enjoyment of a trip I paid good money to take.

I could tell a lot more horror stories, but it's a waste. They were only there the first half of the trip, and then they rotated out and we got three people from New York and some nice Israeli and British backpackers and everything was very peaceful after that. As nearly as we could tell Joyce was the senior person on the boat. Senior Greg and Teresa fell between us, and Junior Greg and Candace were a lot younger. The backpackers as a group fell in their twenties to early thirties. The folks from New York were a lawyer in her 30s, maybe, and couple in their 50s, we guess.

If you go back to the dining room picture, you can see there are three round tables, and it was just sort of "sit wherever" each time, so we got to know folks a little bit, though we tended to hang out with the couple from Tennessee, who were by far the funniest Republicans we ever met. As to the tables, they were, of course, bolted down, and in front of semi-circular banquettes. And for some of us, they were WAY too close. They needed to add extra chairs anyway so we usually sat there, or on the ends of the benches. The other people who sat on the ends were seasick. We missed several of them for days at a time.

So while all that nonsense was going on, the cruise itself was proceeding according to schedule. After Los Lobos, still the same day, we headed for Espanola, an overnight passage from where we were. Tomorrow I'll post a link to a map.

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