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Old May 14th, 2010, 02:49 PM
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Default Trayless in Seattle

Trayless in Seattle
Alright, admittedly it’s a lame title, but I challenge you try and come with a cutesy little title for this topic.

On Veendam (and assuming that translates to all Holland America ships) there are no longer trays available for passenger use at the Lido Deck buffet. This has become true on many cruise lines recently. However, on other lines, like Princess for example, they use very large plastic platters which can at least function a bit like a small tray; accommodating more than one food item.

Here, at the Veendam buffet, it becomes a problem because they are still using what I presume are their older small plates, bowels, et. As I moved through the buffet line, the first item I got was two pieces of bread, placed on a 3” circular plate, next I chose some fruit, placed in a small bowl, then a bit of pasta handed to me on one of the smaller plates again. So, there I was, having not made it to any soup, garden salad or entrée choices, hands already full with three small plates and bowls.

I tried stacking, that didn’t work. I tried holding one with my teeth, and that didn’t work. I thought of sliding the fruit bowel into my pockets, but I thought Noro-virus might be hiding in there, plus of course all the lint and particles from previous buffet visits would end up as part of my fruit salad. Heaven forbid I’d want an entrée and an ice tea. Even if I knew the trick to balancing plates on my head there was no way I was going to have enough appendages to get through the full buffet line.

This afternoon, while relaxing at my perch by the Retreat, on the aft deck, I had a conversation with a “young” lady, learning she was on a cruise with a friend.

She told me she had “just” lost her husband, a year ago this past February, and her friend had convinced her to come on the cruise; the first “real thing” she had done since her husband of 51 years had passed away.

It became a rather emotional conversation for me, as my father passed away a year ago this past November, and in many ways it was very similar to many conversations I’ve had with my mother.

In marriages of that generation it was quite common that “the man” took care of many day to day maintenance areas of the marriage; the finances etc. Not to sound chauvinistic, but that’s the way the arrangements often worked in that generation. She described to me how difficult it was for her to learn how to handle simple tasks like banking and bill paying, when “he” had taken care of that for so many years. She spoke of how difficult it was, and how badly she felt relying so heavily on her children to help her get caught up on how to handle her own affairs at this stage in her life.

I told her how happy I was to see her coming on this cruise, as her friend had urged her to do. Then I admit I went back to my cabin and wept, remembering my own father’s passing vividly still. And I called my mother on the telephone to say hello, and check up on her.

Afterwards, I thought how delighted I am that cruises allow so many people who face these very tough adjustments to their lives to have such a convenient and safe form of travel, and a means to begin to enjoy their “new” lives.

The Veendam was scheduled to sail from Hamilton, Bermuda today at 2 P.M. for our return to New York City. Everyone must have been back onboard early, as we pulled away from the pier a half an hour early.
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