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Ship Life

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shellystrazis-8758When you’re cruising, dinner is the most important meal of the day — and not because it’s the only time on a Bare Necessities trip that you’ll definitely be clothed.

As for the meal, sure, it’s sustenance — all three, gorgeous, meticulously styled courses of it — and it’s about catching up, but really, it’s about ship talk (because, after all, ports come and go). Now is the time to study up on secrets of the boat. The hacks, the finds, the surprises.
This past cruise on the M.S. Paul Gauguin, days before the two weeks were about to end, a friend shared that she had just found the juice bar. She had to make up for lost time with supersized beet-apple-carrot squeezed goodness.

Another friend hadn’t realized that people actually use the gym on vacation. He was excited when he discovered that passengers were jogging and using the elliptical before the ship docked at ports.

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As for me, it took five days before I understood proper sauna protocol. On the Paul Gauguin, one books a block of sauna time like a dinner reservation. Then during those 30 minutes, it’s just your party sweating, enjoying aromatherapy and using salt scrubs.

shellystrazis-2817Over soup, find out if your tablemates are introverts or extroverts. Introverts can tell you the quietest nooks for sunning and reading (the spots are often on the top-most decks or along the promenade deck). Extroverts know who the most fun bartenders are and when their next shifts start — and what time the dance club gets hopping.
Room service is another good topic. Some of what you really want will not be on the menu. For example, ask nicely, and almost any kitchen can scare up popcorn for movie night (and perhaps you watch with the balcony door open so you can hear waves against theboat). And as for desserts, if there was a sweet something you had in mind, perhaps an éclair or such, the staff will do their best to accommodate your cravings.

But you never know what you’ll find on a cruise. Yours might be better finds than what I uncover on this next trip. In that case, I’ll sit next to you.

—Brooke Morton

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