Last Day at Sea

June 10, 2012
On our last full day at sea, cruising the waters between Cuba and Haiti and heading back to our home port of Fort Lauderdale, I decided to try something I had planned to do from the start, but only the last day actually did. That is, to run the whole deck, and not get caught up in the dizzying spin around the short track. I went up to the track and did a course consisting of one lap of track, down one flight, along the open deck past the central pool, up two flights to the “Serenity Deck”, one lap around that, then back down to the pool deck across to the stern and back up the stairs to the track. This can only be done early; I got out by six AM to get started so there would be few people out on deck. I got to watch the sun rise around 6:15, appearing red and hazy in the east. I ran a bit over one hour. The combination of running and stairs made for a very decent workout, and the time went a lot quicker. As on each day running on the cruise, whether on land or sea, the temperature was in the mid eighties, with humidity to match. You get completely soaked with sweat, and you keep sweating for an hour after the end of the run. It was wise advice I got to bring two pairs of running shoes, since it takes a day for them to dry out.

On a cruise, access to pretty tasty food is there almost 24 hours a day. We found the Indian food available from 12-2 each day on one of the small buffet stands to be particularly enticing and quite authentic. The food served each night in our dining room, called the “Posh” dining room, was remarkably good and well prepared. They even had delicious,heart-healthy, low calorie options each night, although other items on the menu were also good choices, even if not completely low fat or low salt. Both a fish entree and a vegetarian entree were available at every dinner, the portions were not large, and the vegetables cooked lightly with little or no oil or salt. There were the high calorie, high fat options available, but you were not stuck with that. So, a runner pulled on to a cruise has meal options at breakfast, lunch and dinner which are all reasonable and healthy. My plan, which I stuck to, was to eat only during mealtimes, limit the calories at breakfast and lunch, eat sensibly at dinner, but enjoy the meal, and don’t get too obsessive about restricting myself. All drinks except water, iced and hot tea, fruit juices, coffee and milk are an extra charge. We drank no sodas, and had the occasional beer or cocktail, which made for a very pleasant end of the day looking out over the waters of the Caribbean. One cocktail, the “Blue Moon”, or as we named it, the “Blue Ruin”, was a particularly devastating martini. One was more than enough.

Our on-board gym was as well equipped as any health club. They had plenty of treadmills, elliptical trainers, weight machines, free weights and other equipment such as exercise mats, stability balls, and so on. I went to the gym every day for the weight machine series, which is something I never get to do in real life. Perhaps a week of weight training doesn’t make a sustained difference, but it felt productive. My wife ran on the treadmill and did free weights. We found the best time to go was during the early dining period, 5-7 PM, to avoid crowds. This happened to also be when members of the ship’s crew came out to workout.

A cruise would not be fun during the days at sea without working in some of the best activities the ship has to offer. This ship, Carnival Freedom, had a two-story high looping water slide. Even at 58 years I can still appreciate a fast run down a water slide. I was also not the only one in my age group taking advantage of this. In fact, we thought there should be an adults-only time on the slide, although that would be a bit unfair. I got in about five runs down the slide. The live music at night, from various bands including reggae, merengue, and rock, was very good, and great for dancing. The last night, at the ship’s casino bar, we got to practice our Bachata, learned the other night in Curaçao, while some rather large cruise guests of island persuasion were shaking their booties to the point that the ship’s stabilizers started to overheat.

I would be remiss if I did not thank my wife’s brother Jack, his wife Tammy, and their remarkably grown up boys, Austin and Brandon, for inviting us to come along on this cruise. We had a wonderful time seeing them, getting to enjoy each other’s company, and establishing family bonds.

Now, it’s back to work, to serious responsibilities, the struggle of fitting in the running, upping the miles, and trying to stick to the training plan for Steamtown, October 7.

Frank

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