We lost our sea legs early this morning, as the Serenade of the Seas docked in Copenhagen around 7 AM, and we disembarked from the ship an hour or so later. After departing Helsinki this past Friday, we'd been at sea for almost 36 hours, and except for some dense, "pea soup"-type fog for most of the day yesterday, the weather and sea conditions continued to be very calm. In fact, the entire voyage was remarkably smooth, much to our surprise and relief.
The past two days we concentrated on taking it easy after the exhausting 3-days we spent in Stockholm, Tallinn and St. Petersburg. We decided to forgo the shore excursion when the ship docked in Helsinki, and from what a few of the other passengers told us, we did not miss much by staying onboard that morning. Dee wanted to explore areas of the ship we'd not seen, so we walked around some of the 13 decks of this floating mini-metropolis, which accommodates over 2000 passengers and 800+ crew members.
Although Dee has taken some short cruises to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico over the years, and two years ago we did a 3-day cruise to
some Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, this voyage on the Serenade of the Seas has been a new experience for us. We were amazed, not only by the range of services available on board the ship, but by the way an operation of this size is able to cater to so many passengers in such an efficient manner. The quantities and varieties of foods and beverages available at the various bars, restaurants and snack bars are mind-boggling, not to mention the number of crew members required to prepare and serve everything.
Toward the end of the cruise there was an event staged by the ship to recognize the international character of the crew. Crew members waved their national flags while an announcer rattled off the numbers of crew from each of the 68 nations represented, with the Philippines, Indonesia, China and India having the largest contingents. We found the crew members--from food servers and cabin attendants, to waiters and bartenders--to be uniformly polite and friendly, despite their long hours and the tedious nature of their tasks.
During the cruise we chatted with several crew members, including two very personable bartenders at the Vintages Bar, which quickly became
our favorite watering hole. Edward (from Goa, India) and Milena (from Montenegro) told us they must sign a 7-month-term contract to work on a Royal Caribbean ship (followed by 2-months off), so they are away from family for a good portion of the year. According to them, some crew members have been doing this for twenty or more years!
After disembarkation from the ship, which went quickly and efficiently, we met our pre-arranged taxi driver (Thomas), whom we've used three times now, and were delivered to the Copenhagen airport with several hours to spare before our 12:50 PM flight to Prague. We flew for the first time on SAS (Scandinavian Airlines), and the hour-long flight to Prague went well. However, after we had retrieved our baggage things quickly went awry, as the taxi driver arranged by our apartment owner was a no show.
Chaos ensued for the next 30 minutes, as we struggled with Dee's phone to communicate with the apartment owner's wife, then finally were able to speak with a representative of the owner who would meet us at the apartment after we had hailed an airport taxi. He turned out to be a very friendly, 29-year-old
guy who helped with our luggage, gave us a brief tour of the apartment and passed along some useful tips about the neighborhood.
By this time it was late in the afternoon, so we made a brief foray to a nearby convenience store, run by a little Chinaman who spoke no English, where we bought a few basic items to hold us over until tomorrow, when we'll be able to visit a larger grocery store several blocks away. It's been a long travel day, and we were both tired, so we hit the sack around 8:30 PM.
On Tuesday and Thursday of this week we've scheduled private tours of Prague with an accomplished local guide, so we'll likely spend the day tomorrow taking care of some housekeeping chores, and figuring out how everything works in this apartment, which is always a challenge when arriving at a new place.
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