Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Around the Neighborhood

Norwegian Pearl.

This week Tina Schell chose Around the Neighborhood as the theme for this week’s challenge. She writes, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we all felt as FDR suggested, that the whole world is one neighborhood? Unfortunately, I’m afraid we’re not quite there yet. This week though, let’s take a step forward and celebrate the neighborhood – your own, that of a friend or loved one, or simply a place you’ve visited that had a sense of community and made you feel welcome.”  You can read her entire challenge post here.

I thought about the two neighborhoods that I call home, Fargo North Dakota in the summer, Buckeye Arizona in the winter. I could have found many images taken near either of our homes, but I decided to share another home in keeping with a place I’ve visited. In 2013 and 2014, I spent a total of 21 days on the Norwegian Pearl, a cruise ship that was then spending its summers in Alaska and its winters in the Caribbean. Twice a year it would change locations, as one of the largest ships at the time to transit the Panama Canal. In 2013, we found ourselves aboard departing Miami for Los Angeles.

Every morning we would find ourselves in the neighborhood coffee shop for a light breakfast and that brown elixir that wakes up millions of people every day. On occasion, we would have an item from their lunch menu for our afternoon meal. It was seldom crowded and afforded a great view of the ocean.

A cruise ship is a small town, in this case, about 3500 passengers and crew. The best thing about this neighborhood for the passengers is that the crew does all the work while the passengers are along for the ride. Of course, the luxury doesn’t come cheap, but as vacations go, a cruise vacation is one of the more economical choices. You visit lots of places and your hotel room travels with you.

The crew works around the clock and maintenance like painting and touchups happen even with a load of passengers on board. The ship has two staffs, the folks who run and manage the ship are under the supervision of the ship’s captain. The employees in the food service and hotel services and entertainment areas are managed by a hotel manager.

Not all cruise ships let you see what’s doing on the bridge. In the summer of 2014, we booked passage from Seattle to Juneau Alaska. Since we knew the layout of the Pearl, we chose to sail on her again. It was on that tour we discovered that we could actually visit the bridge area. The Pearl has a small room with a large glass window that is open to the public where guests can see what’s happening on the bridge. The large window looks out on the Inside Passage of Alaska as I captured this image.

Cruise ships can be confusing for guests to navigate. I don’t know how many times we walked aft when we wanted to walk to the front of the ship. I was complaining to my wife about all the extra steps we had taken in our confusion. A couple walking behind us heard my comment and the gentleman spoke up. He said, “The fish are swimming to the front of the boat.” At first I didn’t understand what he meant. Then he said, “Look at the carpet.” The light dawned as I saw all the fish in the carpet design. All heading the same way and all toward the front of the ship. We didn’t get confused again.

With that, I say, “Smooth Sailing” to you all. I am looking forward to being in another floating neighborhood by the end of March. It will again be on another Norwegian Cruise Line ship, the Norwegian Star.

John Steiner

9 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Around the Neighborhood

  1. Great choice John. I’ve not done a cruise but my husband and I have agreed will definitely will! they are indeed floating cities and I laughed at the fish carpet story – that is PERFECT! Wonderful images – truly gave us a view into the “neighborhood”!

  2. I’ve never been on a cruise… You sell them well though, at this point I’m surprised you’re not a brand ambassador for Norwegian. They look like fun, sort of like an all inclusive resort that just happens to float. Happy sailing!

  3. What a wonderful way to see otherwise inaccessible places, like the fjords of Alaska!

    If you don’t mind me asking, John – as someone that loves hiking in wide-open spaces, didn’t you find being “cooped-up” on a cruise ship for days on end confining? On one hand I’d love to do one of the pelagic birding trips which is on offer during our local cruise season, but on the other I feel almost certain that I’d end up with cabin-fever within a few hours of leaving shore!

    • Good question! There is a lot to do on one of the giant cruise ships and depending on the itinerary, there aren’t that many days at sea. In some cruises, they sail at night and every morning they are in a new port where you can leave the ship and explore.
      Having said that, we were on one cruise that was three days at sea on one segment. That got a bit long. Smaller ships wouldn’t have as many activities to keep you busy as well. I did get my daily walks in, on the Pearl, two and a half laps around the promenade deck is a mile, if I recall correctly.

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