DANCES WITH WORDS: Where to hang your hat on a cruise ship?

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Nick Wolochatiuk

What follows is based upon a close friend’s more than a dozen cruises, my two trans-Atlantic relocation cruises and a most recent adventure, a Holland-America clockwise excursion from Florida to Vancouver via the Panama Canal.

The term ‘clockwise’ necessitates an aside for any very young digitally-oriented reader. You’re not young if you remember that Air Canada was known as ‘TCA’. You’re not young if you drove a car with a clutch and a choke, but no seatbelts. You’re not young if you bought gasoline for a two-digit cost instead of three, and the unit of measurement was gallons, not litres.

‘Clockwise’ was a very useful concept used on ancient devices such as grandfather clocks and pocket watches. They had two or three different-sized little arms rotating around an axis, with numerals (Hindu-Arabic or Roman) arranged in a circle at the circumference.

Based on what I must admit is a complete lack of hands-on experience, I believe analog watches in Australia and New Zealand rotate in a counter-clockwise direction, due to the Coriolis effect .

I am as unable to explain the analog term ‘clockwise’ to any youngsters, just as they are lacking in ability to clarify the goings-on of a computer for me.  

Back to selecting cabin location. Port or starboard? On the clockwise route Panama cruise, having a window or balcony facing land offers photographic opportunities of the shorelines and ports of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, California Oregon, and Washington.

From Florida to Panama, sunset views would be your starboard-side cabin special. Later, as you proceed along the coast beyond the Panama Canal, views of sunrises will be yours.

The next variable you have to consider is fore, aft or amidships. Use your teeter-totter experience to determine your choice. Each tot on the ends of the teeter-totter gets a maximum of ups and downs and opportunities for hard slams. Anyone sitting on the axis of rotation experiences a minimum of movement.

Therefore, if you’re prone to swell-induced motion sickness, your cabin should be amidships and as low as possible. To minimize sideways roll caused by waves pounding from either side an interior cabin would be best – but who’d want a cabin with no porthole (window) or balcony? Who? Someone who wanted the least expensive quarters.

The far aft accommodations are the least desirable. That’s why only the lowest ratings of the crew get to contend with the incessant din and vibration of the umpteen-thousand horsepower engines that propel the ship, generate its electricity, pump its water and provide air-conditioning throughout the ship.

Of course, motion and views aren’t the only factors to consider when selecting a cruise ship cabin. Proximity to the theatre, casino, gymnasium, dining facilities and cost must be taken into account.

Next to canoeing, a cruise ship is my favourite way to cover water. At my age, I try to cover as much ground (and water) before the ground covers me.

Organizations: Air Canada

Geographic location: Panama Canal, Florida, Holland-America Vancouver Australia and New Zealand Costa Rica Nicaragua Mexico Washington

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