Enrichment is Everywhere

<img src="fbe12-napels_laundry_web.jpg" alt="Laundry backstreets Naples Italy" />
A snippet of everyday life in Napoli
I regularly send out a newsletter to friends and family, which is more or less an unabridged version of this blog spot. In response to my latest dispatch, I received the following email from a dear friend:
“Well, well, well.  I can top your excursions.
I went to Costco and did two loads of laundry, B!t$h!
Love,…. “
When I am home visiting my family in PA, we have a little ritual: We drive over to the Carlisle Commons shopping center and park in front of Kohl’s. We walk around Kohl’s and wonder how a place that sells such crap can remain open, after which someone will make a small purchase of said crap before moving downstream to Michael’s Arts and Crafts. At Michael’s my sister and I scour the isles for inspiration, seeking new art mediums from which to drain our bank accounts. From Michael’swe drift over to Petco, where I like to visit to the budgies and cockatiels while my Mother pays her respects to the latest adorable kittens up for adoption. The crowning jewel of enrichment comes from the snack bar at Target, where we all inhale our own paper trough of buttered popcorn and wash it down with a diet coke. Sometimes the mundane is really cozy!
I want to make it clear that the stories I share are the “Peak Moments” onboard – I cannot emphasize enough that this is not the whole story when it comes to living and working on a cruise ships. But let’s face it, who would be interested in an entry that read like this:
“I got up at 6am in Haines, Alaska, and stood at the gangway from 7am – 8am. No one asked me a single question, but I did have fun joking with the photographer and guy wearing the bear suit. It was raining, so after breakfast I went back to bed.”
The End.
There are plenty of days like this, believe me.
Another lesser-known reality of ship life is that, regardless of nationality, crewmembers LOVE Walmart, Safeway, Costco and Starbucks! Most of the North American ports actually offer free crew shuttles to the nearest strip malls and shopping centers. It’s so much fun to stroll the isles in total anonymity and stock up on comfort food! And let’s not forget about the allure of free Wi-Fi! The ship uses satellite internet, which is notoriously sluggish, expensive and unreliable – very frustrating if you are trying to chat online or, worse yet, complete research on a deadline. It should come as no surprise then, that when our ship is docked in Seward, Alaska for embarkation, most of the crew can be found at the local Safeway, either loading up a shopping cart or Skyping family at the Starbucks. If we are embarking in Fort Lauderdale the hot spots are Panera, Walgreens and Ross Dress for Less. In San Diego, it’s CVS and Starbucks…and so it goes.
<img src="74e06-image-1.jpeg" alt="Walmart Ketchikan Alaska" />
Ketchikan, Alaska
<img src="3ff4c-image-2.jpeg" alt="Walmart Shuttle Ketchikan Alaska" />
<img src="11b3d-image-3.jpeg" alt="Safeway Card Alaska" />
Seward is a turnaround port on the Alaskan itinerary, surprisingly,  a great place for the crew to shop

Thankfully, there are Walmarts in other parts of the world as well! In Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, there is one directly across the street from the cruise ship terminal, right next door to the Starbucks! In Spain and France we rely on a chain called Carrefour, which is similar to Wal-Mart except I can’t buy clothes there because women from this part of the world are so damn skinny. The Carrefour in Monte Carlo is built into the precipice that bears the Cathedral, the Prince’s Palace and the Oceanographic museum. I half expected to bump into Daniel Craig and delighted when the cashier, having mistaken me for a resident shopper, spoke to me in French, offering up some sort of rebate sticker. To be surmised as a Local at the Carrefour in Monte Carlo felt very prestigious indeed!

<img src="0a465-417x403xwalmart-sams-hotel-zone-gif-pagespeed-ic-yvmpnqudas.png" alt="Map Walmart Ketchikan Alaska" />
The Walmart in Puerto Vallarta is well frequented by guests and crew alike
<img src="f7ffc-carrefour-mc.jpg" alt="Tour de France Parade Monte Carlo Carrefour Float" />
Carrafour had its own float for Monte Carlo’s 2009 Tour de France pre-festivities
<img src="70be9-el-corte-ingles-barcelona.jpg" alt="El Corte Ingles Barcelona" />
El Corte Ingles, the Macy’s of Spain, has a convenient location at the top of La Ramblas in Barcelona
In Germany there is Karstadt, which is similar in culture and clientele to Macy’sin the US. Germany also has a popular coffee bar chain called Tchibo, which, like Starbucks offers eat-in or to-go coffee and snacks. Unlike Starbucks they also sell panties, briefs, pajamas and bedding, sort of an “Underwear Café,” if you will. In Italy the masses remain steeped in there own traditions. There is a profound absence of any visible ‘Mall Culture’ and Wi-Fi is also not an automatic given. You just have to suck it up and have a Gelato.


<img src="a2fea-karstadt_web1a.jpg" alt="Karstadt Kiel Germany" />
The Karstadt in Kiel, Germany is conveniently located near the Cruise Ship Terminal
OK, the fact that I have been able to experience the unremarkable in other parts of the world is indeed a blessing. I just want to drive home the fact that for every Fortress, Fjord, and dolphin sighting, there is also an enraged passenger, gastrointestinal outbreak, or day spent at the mall.

One response to “Enrichment is Everywhere

  1. Pingback: Exploring the Jersey Shore in the Off- Peak Season – Do I Need A Reason? | Ship to Shore·

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