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Day 2. Weekend and sunshine
The bright winter sun pushes the passengers onto the upper decks, covered in yellow fleece blankets people are laying in the sun like being on a holiday.
Plans and information
Now we are getting serious on planning our next steps: what can you do onboard? What are interesting shore excursions? The AIDA board portal becomes a permanent open browser tab; one finds any relevant information for the life onboard there: access to the cabin account, ship position, speed and course data or weather - the bridge is now under surveillance - dayplanner for events, schedules, menu plans etc.
This cruise is promoted as part of the "AIDA Selection tours". This concept is applied to niche routes like winter cruises in the northern hemisphere or long-tail world cruises. The standard light entertainment programme is extended by lectures and workshops about historic and scientific topics adjusted to the cruise.
I attended all of the scientific edutainment programme that was astonomy related. Of course one lecture was about polar lights. One may guess that these lectures were not university astrophysics level. As a person being not very fond of classic cruiseship entertainment I really enjoyed these events.
From my personal persepective the edutainment programme was a real enrichment to the overall travel experience and could even be more extended. I witnessed that the historic/social and scientific oriented content also met many passengers' approval. In future travel planning I will definitely factor in the existence of this kind of edutainment aboard.
In the afternoon there is "Coffee and pie" on the Calypso restaurant's schedule, that sounds cosy, doesn't it? IT IS NOT! Arriving at the resaurant we realise that the rest of the ship is already present. There is an incredible crowd at the almost empty pie buffet, no unoccupied seats at the tables, too many people, too noisy, what a mess.
I hatch a plan that we take seats outside of the restaurant while I go back inside and organise some coffee and sweets - I'm just more agile acting alone.
Beverage flat, the second time
The coffeepots on the table are defended by the bloodhounds so I withdraw and step up to the coffee automat. The thing that not only makes me wonder is that I am asked to put in my board card, not my beverage flat card.
And then I learn that coffee from automats in the restaurants is charged to the cabin account. If I order a coffee at one of the bars it is covered by the beverage flatrate. Sounds weird but fact!
Step by step it becomes clear what is covered by the flatrate and what is not:
-> X is served in bottles: not covered -> X comes from a bottle and is mixed in a alcohol-free cocktail: covered.
Sounds weird but fact!
As staff or experienced passenger you might have internalized these details but it is not really intuitive nor transparent. In my opinion it was easy to solve this huge potential of irritation and frustration with a simple labelling system on menus and automats.
This are more complicated when travelling with a three-year old. He is too old to be pacified with baby food and then be parked afterwards and on the other hand to young to adjust to the needs of adults.
At the buffet restaurants dinner is from 6 to 9 PM. To this second day we did not see through the guests dynamics or just did not pay much attention. That now takes vengeance.
About 7 o'clock we enter the Calypso restaurant. Our serenity turns into irritation because we cannot find a table for the five of us. Hoping that this task would be more successful to find a table for three in the Markt restaurant, I propose to separate so we can manage to get the kid fed. Well, two minutes later K. comes out the Markt restaurant nodding her head "They are all just sitting in front of their (wine) glasses."
In this moment it fell like scales from my eyes why the Markt restaurant closes for half an hour during dinner time - it is the only chance to have a seat after 7 PM.
For the three-year old this option turns out being too late and so dinner becomes the most stressful part of the whole day.
Closing the restaurant for half an hour is absolutely crucial. In addition to that you could establish some "kids tables" (right near the entrance) where you could also store raised seats) where families with children have priority. The priority could be easily enforced by not serving wine at these tables. Maybe this could also be interesting for dry alcoholics.
|Baby, it's cold outside...|
After one complete day at the sea and the stressful dinner I prepare to go for a walk on the upper decks. I am logging my 70 minutes walk with Strava to prove that I can go on water...you can't explain that!
Returning to the AIDA bar to my surprise K. and M. just take part in a discofox dance competition - and they win! - of course they do because they are really good and trained at dancing together. Great cruiseship atmosphere. Cheers!