The day before the big voyage, we packed the car—and I mean, packed—and headed to San Diego. I allocated each of us, one carry-on sized suitcase and one backpack for the trip, plus a large suitcase for things that primarily will not come home with us, such as shampoo, soap, probiotics, and a blanket and towel each. We also used that space for the piano and text books. All in all, it seemed like a lot of stuff, until we went to get on the bus, and realized we had about half as much as most students.Although our official departure was San Diego, we had to take a bus to Ensenada where we boarded the boat. However, the ship was docked in San Diego on the 4th, for an event targeted to the parents of the University Students participating in Semester at Sea (SAS). This provided us with the opportunity to get a spectacular departure photo for our blog. We checked into our hotel, and then connected with a family we met on a video call, who were also taking the voyage. We all enjoyed dinner together at a nearby restaurant.
Matt joined us in San Diego to say Bon Voyage, and to wish us well on our voyage. Once we boarded the bus, he stuck around for what must have seemed like a long time for him, until our bus departed. We tried waving at him, out the window, and calling him on the phone, but to no avail. It was sad to see him standing there looking at all of us, but incredibly sweet of him to stay, and see us off. The bus ride to Ensenada was uneventful, as was the border crossing. And during the drive there were only a few inquiries as to when we would get to the boat.
We were the first bus to leave, and so we got to the boat with plenty of time, to unpack, get settled, and enjoy some time on the deck in the warm sun before we set sail. There were a few students travelling from the eastern US, that were delayed due to the storms, that SAS waited for, so our departure was delayed, but that did not affect our trip overall.
The first night lead us to start our barf count. Between the sea, stress, and likely eating too much food at the buffet, found Morgan puking the first night and into the morning. After a visit to the Ship Doctor, and some adjustment time, we only have a total count of 3, all owned by Morgan. We initially all took some meds to help prevent motion sickness, however after a day and a half stopped taking the meds as we could not stay awake. So far all is good, and hopefully will stay that way. Although we have been told that they are expecting some rougher seas between Hawaii and Japan.
We all miss home, Matt, Karma, the feathers, and our friends. I think Cameron and Morgan were affected the most by this in the first few days. For those of you who know us, know that I call them my twins. Clearly at ages 10, and 16 they are far from twins, and while clearly very different, they share some common personality traits that lead us to call them that. I know there will be days throughout the trip that we will feel more sadness than others to all that is part of our lives in Washington.
First off let me start, by apologizing to my husband; I love it here! It has only been 6 days aboard the World Odyssey, and I know it was the right decision to come. So, what do I love? Everything. I love not driving, I love eating almost every meal with my kids, I love having my meals cooked for me, I love looking out at the sea, I love not having to make the bed, I love being able to pop back to my room, opening the balcony door, and listening to the sound of the ocean. I love the classes, learning, participating, and all the people we are meeting, hearing their stories and learning where they are from. I think you get the gist… so far ship life has been an easy adjustment.
We have met several other families to date, where only part of the family is on board. We are not the only ones missing a loved one, and this helps. And of course, the 500+ University students are all here without their families.
What is ship life like? We have settled into a bit of a routine with A days and B days, and we have no idea generally what day of the week it is. Each morning between 5:00 and 8:00 the fitness center is open to only the Life Long Learners, Staff and Faculty so this is when I have started to try to get my time on the treadmill, bike or elliptical. It is a new challenge to run while swaying with the waves. I have however started to adjust to the motion, although frequently must hang on, so as not to fall off the treadmill. In the mornings, the stern of the boat faces east, which means I get to watch the sunrise while getting my exercise, and today even saw the plume of water that was likely from a whale off in the distance.
Meals are served buffet style and happen only 3 times a day. Morgan and I are finding this challenging as we were accustomed to eating closer to 5 meals a day. The food is good, they have pasta every day, which the kids love, and there is salad, a decent hot meal choice and some great soups. (And the rolls!!! There are tons of delicious rolls at lunch and dinner. They are pretty much the best part of every meal -Cameron) I am sure that when we reach our first port in Hawaii the girls will want poke and Cameron will want a cheeseburger in Paradise.
Cameron is taking four classes – I am sure he will write about these in his post, and Caitlyn is taking three classes and we all take a class called Global Studies together. I am taking Introductory Spanish, International Organizations and Women’s Studies, and have the option of sitting in on other classes as time and interest allows. I am also responsible for home schooling the kids. Morgan and Caitlyn participate in the Ship Kids activities which I am so grateful for. They have study hall, playtime, sports, and a learning activity each day. There is a total of 18 kids on board that are under the age of 17, and they have already formed their own community.
We have met a lovely music student, Weiting, who has been gracious enough to volunteer her time to give the children music lessons in piano, voice and ukulele.
After dinner there often is an evening seminar, and then we hang out in the Lido Terrace, playing games, working on puzzles, building friendships, and doing our homework, before calling it a night. All this likely sounds like a lot, but because everything is right here, and we are not responsible for cooking dinner, washing dishes or driving anywhere, it is not as crazy as it might sound. And we have already had two days where we have gained an extra hour—we all cherish those days, when we can get just a little more done.
The three most notable differences in the nature around us are the sea, the lack of land, the ocean swells and the continuous rocking motion, the fresh clean air, and the beautiful sound of the ship cruising through the oceans. As we left Ensenada we noticed on the second day, the obvious lack of land, but the presents of seagulls. Some time on day three we noticed the disappearance of the birds. However, today when I was on the treadmill, I saw two seagulls. We have had great weather – almost no rain, some clouds, and some sunshine. As we head into Honolulu the predicted forecast is for 84ﹾ and clear skies.
This was a fascinating “on ship” field trip. We went with a small group adults and children to the bridge of the ship and received a tour and had a great discussion with the ship’s 2nd and 3rd officers. We learned from them how they keep the ship on course and safe, and how they came to choose careers as sailors. It was an incredibly fascinating talk, and we were all fortunate to have the opportunity to meet these two gentlemen and learn from them.
As we get ready to disembark the ship for the first time tomorrow, we are wondering if when on solid ground will it feel like it is rocking beneath us, as if we are still on the boat? Rather like when you lie down to sleep after a day of skiing or boarding in the snow and you feel like you are still moving. I am guessing since we will not be sleeping off the boat, that we may not be still enough to know how the continuous motion of the last 6 days will have affected us.
In Conclusion, and in closure I simply want to say Aloha, and Mahalo for reading our blog.