This has been my first cruise in 6 years and this one comes after a major refit of the ship in Singapore so I thought I would take a look at one or two of the changes that have been made.
From the outside the obvious change is in the Bridge which now runs from one side of the ship to the other. The Captain and the Mates can now check on what is happening without going outside the comforts of Bridge. The previous Bridge was not quite as wide, forcing people to go outside to see what was happening on either side of the ship. While this is great for the Captain and the Mates, some of the romance of arrivals and departures is lost as there is no one outside braving the elements to direct activities. At least I can remember when.
As you board the ship you walk in and immediately see the Yeoman’s office, the Curator’s office and the ship’s hospital. This was a very convenient plan as being curator on this cruise I didn’t have to go very far to get the help I needed at the beginning of the cruise to stay vertical and to enjoy the sight of Hawaii disappearing over the horizon.
The Hotel part (where the scientists and techs live) is very much improved as most people have 2 person rooms (common room size before was 4 person rooms) and for a lucky few, 1 person rooms. And the rooms are nice and I think much quieter than what it was like previously. You would think these windowless rooms would be completely black when you turn out the lights. However, the doors have a huge gap at the bottom and light from the hallway comes in. As one gets used to the dark you get the impression that there is a search light just outside your door. But you simply pull the curtains that surround the bed and all is black again.
One side effect of the new hotel and 2 person rooms and even the lab stack is, to make maximum use of space the hallways go this way and that and getting around at the beginning of the cruise is like going through a rat maze. It takes about a week to get used to all the “ins and outs” of the living quarters and the lab stack. Expedition 321 folks, take note! But people have thought this through also, and have put up “you are here” maps everywhere so you can’t really stay lost very long. I do wonder, however, about one map that lets you know you are going outside.
Maps or not maps, I have yet to find my way to the Bridge. In and out, up and around, it is an intelligence test I have yet to master. But all in all, it is an improved Hotel even if you are humbled by the fact you’re not as smart as the average rat.
Photos: Two of Jerry’s most recent flying fish photos. Check out the ding in the “wing” of the fish in the bottom photo.
Editors Note: Jerry wrote this some time ago but we didn’t get it published until today! He found his way to the Bridge this week and confirmed he is smarter than a rat — but we knew that already. He has contributed eight blogs, photos of rainbows, whales and flying fish, and a lot of great conversation and ideas for education activities. Thanks Jerry!