The beginning ....

The beginning ....
our engagement night!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Crossing

I have never prayed so hard for patience before in my entire life. It’s bad enough that we had the Visa issues and that the ship was totally unhelpful; if anything they were counterproductive. But what has actually been the worst part of the cruise has been the rude Italians. It is amazing that a country can have such beautiful places, yet such impolite people. Now, I’m sure this isn’t the rule for every Italian, (like our friend Francesco) but there is definitely a truth to the discourteous stereotype.

It all starts with the ship, which is Italian run. After working out the Visa issues, we were excited to kick back and relax, but we started having numerous cabin problems, namely that we didn’t have any hot water. This went on for the next six days. Each day, they would come and look at it, and proclaim it fixed…..only it wasn’t. Finally, they actually shut off the entire water supply one night from 11:00 to 6:00 to work on, “unrelated,” water problems. After that, it finally functioned like a normal shower for the most part.

Now, up until this point, we had been extremely patient, yet insistent that it get fixed and they make us whole, as this was a major issue that has been a thorn in our side for almost a full week. In our last cruise, on Holland America, we had an issue with the air conditioning, which resulted in a quick fix and a $275 ship credit. So naturally, for six days without hot water, we were expecting to get something really nice…….not a shabby fruit plate that appeared the next day! After complaining, I was told that it’s the ships policy to not give any credit or refund no matter what. What a huge difference from the American run ship to the Italian one. I guess it is true; you get what you pay for.

Then, there are the other Italian passengers to deal with. I’ve never had so many people cut right in front of me in a buffet line (or any line for that matter). They act like everyone else is invisible, and they are the only one in the world. It is a snobbish, entitlement mentality that is on my very last nerve.

So, as I said, I’m praying for patience. I’ve started to make sort of a game out if it. For instance, the other night was a formal dinner night in which many people were completely decked out; some even wore tuxedos. Normally, we would have passed on this dinner, as we’ve been traveling for a few months and my tux didn’t quite fit in the carry-on luggage. But, the dinner buffet upstairs was closed, so this was our only option if we wanted any meal other than pizza. So, we planned to apologize to our table for our lack of suit and tie, but we weren’t too concerned because our group was comprised of Canadians and British couples, not Italians.

As we were standing in front of the dining room, waiting for the doors to open, Megan noticed a woman checking us out. When I turned to see what she meant, I was furious to witness a snooty looking elderly lady in a long sequence dress clearly giving us a disgusted look from top to bottom. She then said something to her male companion in Italian and proceeded to repeat the process of judgment and disdain. As my temper instantly rose in my throat, I was a split second from walking over there and giving her a piece of my mind, but then I remembered my earnest prayer, and I instead settled for the puerile act of sticking my tongue out at her…..which turned out to be the correct move, because based on the shocked look on her face, that was the last thing she expected. She looked away and never even glanced back.

I could go on and on about the insolence of most of the Italians on the ship, but you get the point. Luckily we’ve met a wonderful American couple from Miami, a German man who has traveled the world, and even a group of friendly Mormons coming back from a mission.

Since Casablanca, we’ve stopped at two additional ports, Tenerife and Mindelo. Tenerife is actually one of the Canary Islands, and we got to visit the city of Santa Cruz (where we spent our first Thanksgiving as a married couple). It was a nice and modern Spanish city with big beautiful parks and free Wi-Fi everywhere. We used this port to stock up on supplies as we were about to set off across the Atlantic with only a quick stop in the small island of St. Vincent, in Capo Verde, a developing country that only survives due to support from other nations.

The port city was Mindelo, which was apparently a fishing hub and refueling spot for transatlantic travelers. We used the time to stroll through the streets, visit the market, and take in some people watching. Without getting to into details, as I don’t want to spoil anyone’s dinner, I can honestly say that this stop made us realize how good we have it in the U.S…….and also how much we missed home.

We are now on our second straight sea day, with one more to go before hitting Brazil. Our first stop is in Fortaleza, which is famous for its beautiful beaches. This will be a welcome stop and reprieve from the ship…….and its inhabitants.

Hopefully on our next blog, we will have better stories and happier memories to share with you.

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