Monday, August 13, 2012

Shipped Off

I am getting adventurous in my old age, or maybe once we did the aliyah thing, smaller adventures don't seem quite so daunting.  I mean I have tackled the cheese counter at the supermarket in Modiin, so really there is not much left after that.

So, last week I went on a cruise.  My daughter Leezy works for a cruise company (Kosherica - shameless promotion!) and suggested I accompany her for a week, on a cruise to Alaska.  So off I went, la di da, just like that.  Believe me, I never would have done that before, but I think moving to a new country, learning a new language and making new friends has given me a wee bit more confidence than I used to have.

But shiver me timbers (yes, I am going to use all of the ship lingo I know in this blog, so just deal with it), life on board a cruise ship is verrrry interesting, I've learned. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh.

So I flew to Seattle and got to the pier.  Me and the other over-3,000 people going on this ship.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The kosher group was only about 90, but all told on the ship there were over 3000 people.

We go into the pier building and proceed to experience what can only be called (l'havdil) "Ellis Island In Reverse."  You are waiting in line after line after line, shlepping your bags, sweating, trudging forward slowly - to get ON a ship, OUT of the country.  I was actually waiting for someone to test me for cholera or look at the tag hanging from my shirt.  It was weird.

Finally you get on the ship and then you are officially - lost.  This thing is beyond massive.  There are 14 decks, and suddenly you have to get oriented.  I mean, the nice lady in the crisp white uniform tells me that the room I am looking for is "aft."  Excuse me, but I haven't eaten "me spinach" yet, so can you please use normal words like "this way" and "that way"?

I finally find the dining area for the kosher group.  AHHHH!  NOW I am feeling at home!  Food galore!  piles of it!  Fruit! Cake! Salads! I start to relax. 

Then, I find my daughter who is busy directing everyone, welcoming guests, answering questions, dealing with the chefs, with the mashgichim, with the scholar in residence, etc. etc. etc. We have a warm hug and then she goes back to directing and I go to eat.

So after the first face-stuffing of the cruise, I go to find my stateroom.  I know they are called "staterooms" but maybe it's better to think in terms of tiny villages instead of actual states, unless the state is Rhode Island.  I mean these rooms are compact, but you know what, they are very nice - everything is well organized in a small space. It's ingenious, really.

OK, now I can find my way to my room and to the food.  Good start!  First thing I do in the room is plug in my laptop so I can check my email.  Then something happens.  I look out the window and realize that this thing is moving.  So I am sitting still and the water is moving.........ugh...... I begin to feel a bit, uh, queasy.  OK, very queasy.  But yay Leezy who warned me to bring Dramamine.  I take some and yay drugs, I start to feel better.  Just don't look at the water, I tell myself.  Well, that's going to make for a fine cruise, spending my time trying not to look at the water.

The next day we are "at sea" meaning that - we are at sea.  Not at a port.   I wander around the ship a bit, but not too much because I'm afraid I'll get lost and end up in the brig.  Do they still have those?  Or I may have to walk the plank. 

The rest of the week was really amazing - Alaska is beautiful in a wet, rainy, and foggy sort of way - actually it is quite beautiful and the sights we saw (glaciers, mountains, etc.) were breathtaking.  I did not need to take dramamine again - I actually got used to the motion of the ship.

The ports were interesting - Juneau, Skagway, Katchikan - and Leezy and I even got in a little sightseeing and some shopping (I mean we HAD to buy the socks with pictures of a moose on them, didn't we?).  And there is a lot to do on the ship if you are a do'er - there is even a library and a card and game room.  And, yes, there was shuffleboard.  I kid you not. 

There was a couple on the ship who were going on the Nefesh b'Nefesh flight arriving Tuesday morning - they decided to spend their last week in the US on the cruise.  While I felt a bit sorry for them knowing what those first few weeks are like, I was also a little jealous knowing that they were about to to experience that thrill of coming off the plane as an oleh.

So it was a great experience but you know what?  As beautiful as Alaska is, it made me miss Israel even more.  There is something about the desert that speaks to me like no other landscape.  It is bleak, dry, hot, dusty, and rocky and I can't get enough of it.

So ahoy, matey, Popeye the sailor man, aye-aye Cap'n, and all that.  (had to get the rest of my sailing phrases in somewhere).


  1. Hilarious. Ellis Island in reverse. I am lol-ing.

  2. Me too. LOL. Only you can find humor on a 3000 passenger ship....