At sea with the Norwegian Dawn.

Written Saturday, December 26 – At Sea in the Gulf of Mexico

Our last day on the boat was pretty memorable and action-packed. I woke up bright an early at 7:30 am, thanks to the fact that my phone was an hour ahead (Mexico, where it had last synced, does not observe daylight savings time). So we ate breakfast and whiled away some time before I went to attend a 9 am dance class with the production cast. It ended up being a hurried, twenty-minute class on how to do the Thriller dance, which was actually kind of fun. Now I’ve got something to show off at the next party… just kidding.

The next event was a 10 am lecture from the cruise director about the ship. We learned all kinds of fascinating statistics about the ship and our trip. For example, the average age on board is 37.94, just shy of 40, which is kind of crazy for them. On some other trips, however, like the adjustment trip they made from Boston to New Orleans while shifting home ports, the average age was 66, and they had to do a lot of lectures during that time. They even ended up doing an iPad seminar that was absolutely packed. We learned about how much food is taken on at port (sixteen containers the size of a semi), how many gallons of gasoline are burned (a gallon per second) when traveling at top speed (25 knots per hour, which is around 28 miles per hour). We had just shy of the full capacity of 2,900 people on board. Every week, they go through 65,000 eggs and 1,100 gallons of ice cream. People’s jaws were dropping all over the place. Afterwards, they did a short Q&A with the captain and with the chief engineer and chief hotelier. They were fun to talk to – they had a real sense of humor about their work, and also helped us diffuse a bunch of myths about working on a cruise ship. Someone asked what their stress level was, between 1 and 10, which I thought was a fair question. However, they responded that this is really their daily job, and even though they’re responsible for people’s safety and welfare, they’ve been doing it for so long, and there are backups for everything and many people who work on it around the clock that their stress levels are relatively low.

In the afternoon, we ended up at some classes where the magicians on the show and the Second City comedy troupe both did a Q&A and some demonstrations. I learned a handy magic trick with a rubber band that is pretty fun. Can’t wait to try it out with other people! We also had a Second City improv workshop, which was great. In small groups, we tried to form letters and strange things like a pirate ship or an automobile or even a castle. It was cool hearing about their back stories, and how they auditioned to be on the ship and get these sorts of contracts. It kind of made me wish I’d taken some improv classes when we were in Chicago, but being on the North Side would’ve been kind of a necessity anyway.

To finish off the afternoon, we went to Deck 12 and hung out by the pool. My mom swam laps, while I read a book, and then hung out around the hot tub. When we came back to our room, one of the couples we had met caught us and asked if we wanted to go to dinner with them and two other couples. We showered quickly, and joined three couples for dinner. They were all around my mom’s age, and all had children in their twenties, around my age. I was amused to be a part of a large conversation with all these people. It was very nice actually to be treated as an adult, and to be able to make contributions to conversations with them. I even talked about my undergrad thesis in sociology, about Chinese school, because of course, like all good Chinese parents, they sent their kids there. It was kind of a fun time overall. We even took pictures and exchanged contact info so that we could stay in touch.

To finish off the evening, we went to the aerials show, which featured a very flexible French couple who did some amazing moves over a forty-minute period. (The stamina! Amazing.) And then I left all the adults at the buffet on Deck 12 drinking hot tea and shooting the breeze, and went to watch the Second City over 18 show, which was quite amusing. It was apparently too risqué for quite a few of the people, because I ended up seeing older couples leave pretty quickly into the show. Their loss, my gain! Because I ended up sitting in their seats. It was a standing-room only kind of show! We went to bed after a long, satisfying last day on board, ready to disembark first thing tomorrow.

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