Naut-Tai in 10-Forward
I’ve been thinking about how this trip is different from other cruises I’ve taken with my dad. This seems like a lot more work than past trips. I think it’s a mix of things. One big factor is that on past trips, dad either didn’t do the excursions or there was only a little walking. This time, we’re exploring cities on foot, and it’s very taxing on him. In St. Petersburg, for example, he didn’t get out of the tour van for the smaller sights. That’s why the unexpected detour as a result of the closures for the World Cup caught him off guard.
Another factor is trying to balance the interests of three very different people in a way that keeps everyone (mostly) happy. That’s not easy. Nor can the other three figure out in advance what they want to do, as dad has no internet at all, and Matt and Shayna have no access to google or anything other than social media sites.
Luckily, the rest of the cruise should be much easier as dad won’t be coming with us to Berlin and I’ve worked out the itinerary for that day in detail. Kiel is a relatively short stop, and I doubt dad will get off the ship that day either. That only leaves Copenhagen.
Today we arrived in Stockholm. The clocks moved back an hour as we entered Swedish waters, so when I woke up at 6:30 am, it was now “really” 5:30 am. Unfortunately, the light woke me up and so I went up on deck and watched us navigate the final stretch of the Stockholm archipelago (while reading my novel). Around 7:30, I showered and shaved and at 8:00, I woke dad up to go to breakfast. We met the kids at 8:30 and headed up to the Lido Buffet.
With a forecast of calm breezes, partial sun, and a high of 72 F, I decided to risk shorts, but also pack a windbreaker (which I ended up using). Everything went fine. We took the ship’s shuttle to the Opera House, opposite Gamla Stan and the Royal Palace. Our first stop was the Vasa Museum, but to get there we needed to take the Hop On, Hop Off water shuttle. This gave us a water-edge view of Stockholm harbor. It was a short walk to the museum, where we watched a history of the ship, its sinking, and its salvage in Italian with English subtitles. After that we learned about life on board, practiced how to steer a 17th century warship, and saw where the conservationists work.
In order to return to Gamla Stan, we toured the entire harbor. Then I walked dad to the Holland America shuttle while Matt and Shayna explored the Swedish Royal Palace. I was a little concerned that there was no shuttle nor sign for it, but I left dad with some other passengers looking for a shuttle and went back to pick up Matt and Shayna for lunch.
We walked past the palace and the Nobel Museum. I was looking for the food market, but never found it. Turns out I just missed it. We eventually ate in a café off a square. Then we did a short visit to a supermarket and then a souvenir shop. We went back to the Nobel Museum and I got us into the gift shop for free, where Shayna and I bought Nobel prizes for ourselves. Our last stop was the palace, where we explored the various courtyards.
Getting back to the ship turned out to be rather complicated. All the cruise lines run shuttle buses from the same cramped spot, so lots of passengers from different ships end up crowding into each other. There were too many people waiting for us to make the first bus, but we eventually were able to get on the second, when it found space to pull in. This was by far the most ill-managed of all the pickups on this cruise.
Back on the ship, I checked on dad. Dinner in the main dining from was also disappointing. The southern fried chicken wasn’t very good (I was told) and my linguini was mediocre. Looking forward to eating again in the Pinnacle Grill tomorrow. As it happens, we will be eating there twice, as we have been given a lunch and the only day we can take it is tomorrow (the grill is closed on Thursday and Friday).
After dinner, I went out onto the deck to watch our passage of the Stockholm archipelago and hear the narration. Shayna joined me for quite a while. The narrow channel and 17th century fortifications were fascinating. As it happens, while I’ve been writing this, we’ve just exited the archipelago, four hours after we entered it.
I stayed out on deck for hours, as the sun finally came out and we had a spectacular rainbow and evening sunset. After a while I heard a cheer coming from the ship and investigated. It turns out that the portside door to the bow leads to a crew-only bar where they had run an antenna to a big screen tv to watch the England-Colombia game. The Brits and cheered when England scored. The South Americans all cheered at the 92 mark when Colombia tied it up. As it happens that game just ended too, in penalty kicks.
With the sun finally set, I headed in.
I wish we had a lot more time in Stockholm. There are so many things I wished I could have seen, including the Modern Art Museum, the Nordic Museum, the Nobel Museum, and the ABBA Museum. Maybe next time.
For now, I’m up in the Explorers’ Lounge on the Observation Deck (Deck 10), which I have nicknamed “10 Forward” (it’s a Star Trek reference) and have helped myself to their version of a mai tai, which they not-so-creatively call a “Naut-Tai.” It’s helping me relax.
Luckily tomorrow is a sea day and should be calm and quiet.