21 May 2016
ON A CRUISE
- like being in a City on water -
I think its an experience everyone should make once in their life. Travelling by water - moving places while everything in your immediate surrounding stays the same, yet every morning you wake up from your bed in a different place. Everytime you look from your cabin window you can't know what to expect. Cruising along coastsides just taking in the scenery. Sunsets on open water. Its a mind clarifying time.
In a Nutshell: Its not like staying in a Hotel; its like staying in a City on Water, a bubble environment. The crowd of guests is a mixed one - like you would see on the street. The ship holds different booking classes and caters to every level from all inclusive guests to finediners. Being on the ship compares to living in a remote village, not a luxury hotel and not a camping place where one generally finds a 'certain type' of people. I kind of enjoyed to watch the Kaleidoscope of people, which included the staff aswell. The staff originated from all over the world, with their nationality being printed on their name tag below their name.
Internet and phone connection is very bad; so the best thing to expect from a cruise is a digital detox, or else you will be frustrated. I quite enjoyed it - being offline is a luxury for me that I am glad to take.
The ship is huge and offers absolutely everything, from theatre, piano bar, casino, cinema, spa and a multitude of restaurants. Stretched on 9 floors it takes some time to build a sense of orientation.
After an adventurous trip with my little luggage travelling to Hamburg by plane early morning and then taking trains to 'Warnemünde' a place I had never even known existed, I was ready to board the boat by about 15.00 pm. Security check is like entering a country, or passing through an airport: ID & Passport was needed, the luggage was taken separately and moved directly to my cabin, my handluggage was scanned, my photo was taken and I was handed my boardcard. This card serves as payment method on the boat and needs to be carried at all time or else its not even possible to order a coffee. Sounds hard, but its literally the same as carrying your wallet. You don't need any cash on board though - just this card. At the end of your trip your consumation & purchases will be billed to your credit card.
I felt like I was stepping on the titanic - the ship is of overwhelming size and it was mindboggling just to stand right next to it stepping through a 'tiny' but actually huge gate on the side of its belly.
The rooms are fresh and of decent size - not smaller than an average standard 4 star hotel room. Its fully equipped with queensize bed, TV, minibar, cubboard and toilet/shower. The highlight was a small private terrasse that I loved to enjoy the sunrises and sunsets from. On the morning of my second day I woke up early early morning and watched the sunrise on open water. The rising sun reflecting on the rippling water moved by the boat - it was magical.
I spent the first day on board exploring the ship and visiting the impressive kitchen area where food was prepared to feed the 2000 guests. With an 'in boat' bakery, icecream manufactury and with over 100 cooks working on a shift the organization high level to perfection. When I asked the F&B Manager about how many Vegan guests where currently on the boat his answer was immediate - 1 Vegan on Ship. All special dietary needs can be placed in advance and are fully guaranteed. "We keep separate areas where special dietary meals are prepared to exclude contamination" the F&B Manager said, who seemed to have been working on boats all his life - circling the world on water.
After the tour I took the chance to do some Spa. The Spa area on the boat was larger and more spacious than many I had seen in 5 star hotels. There were Sauna and Steam rooms in a variety of temperatures, as well as lots of resting space. The highlight was cooling myself after Sauna outside on deck on open sea breathing in the nordic air, crisp and refreshing. After two rounds of sauna I went for a 90 minute thai herbal stamp massage conducted by a thai massage lady. The staff on board is from all over the world, giving the benefit for me to enjoy an authentic thai massage experience that would be hard to come by anywhere else than thailand I guess. I left feeling like kneaded dough, tired but happy and relaxed looking forward for dinner on high sea.
Waking up on the second morning approaching the harbour of Stockholm filled me with exitement to explore this beautiful city in the North that I had heard so much about, but never visited. I heard that Stockholm was big on the healthy eating scene, so I made some research on Pinterest and the Happy Cow app which helps finding vegan friendly places all over the world to scout some cool places. I found two great places - Blueberry Lifestyle is a type of chain vegan friendly restaurant that I visited first thing in the morning to get my coffee. I tried Chaga Latte for the first time, a spicy vegan blended coffee that was super tasty.
I spent the day exploring the City, hopping on the red tourist city tour bus and hopping off whereever I was interested to explore. In the early evening I had ended up in the south of Stockholm and found another healthy vegan friendly place called Hälsocafet - it was a cozy hipster inside and back garden location. All the guests where female and extremely pretty. I guess vegan girls are generally prettier - i've noticed that in Zurich too, but in this place it was just too obvious to ignore. Perhaps coincidence - but a funny one. I enjoyed a fully vegan salad, fruit salad, watermelon juice and an über delicious & creamy vegan cheesecake just enjoying the beauty of the whole situation.
I headed back to the boat pretty early actually - tired but happy. It was already final night and I was going to head back to Zurich early the next morning.
It was an intense short trip experience being on the Costa Luminosa - a bucketlist crossoff and a memorable time travelling by sea.