So I promised to tell you about the cruise I just took down the Mexican coast, stops along Central America, through the locks of the Panama Canal, then to Columbia and Aruba and, after 14 days, reaching the tour’s end at Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
There are two immediate observations I made. First, there is a hell of a lot of ocean on the planet. Second, Americans are really really fat. Now, “fat” is a relative term when it comes to cruising, given the tonnage of food available to passengers. In fact, next to being surrounded by so much water, food is the most abundant and time-consuming element of the trip.
There is an opulent buffet available practically 24/7, not to mention supplemental venues for pizza, hamburgers and ice cream. While the cost of all this nourishment is included in the price of the ticket, it is psychologically transformed into “free” fare since there is so much of it and there is no limit to what you can put on your plate and, ultimately, into your stomach. It is very attractively presented, all the more alluring to eat regardless of how full your stomach it is. But your stomach is not doing the thinking; your eyes and mouth have taken control of that.
If you are into people-watching, a cruise provides primo opportunity. On this particular cruise, there were basically two different kinds of people to observe: thin ones and fat ones. There weren’t many in between.
The Asians and Europeans, for the most part, were reasonably well put together. This was reflected by what they chose from the buffet. The Asians, especially, were prone to pass on the fat-laden items and, instead, loaded up on vegetables and fruits, rice and grainy stuff. It was uncanny how consistently different their menu was from the American diet. The latter loaded up on incredibly delicious rolls (guilty), all kinds of meats and variously prepared potatoes (guilty), sauces and gravies, piles of bacon and sausages for breakfast (very guilty) and a most delectable array of a gazillion desserts (OMG GUILTY).
There was no end to any of it, but this did not stop the Americans. They constantly overloaded every plate in reckless pursuit of attempting to eat their way through to the very last slurp. And slurp they did. It was, well, to be honest…shameful.
Just about every American, including me, was overweight. The men had guts that hung over their belts, some so much that the waistline of their pants was tucked deep into a crevice well out of sight. The women had the same misfortune, many warranting imaginary “wide load” signage on their back ends. None of this display of over-indulgence had any influence on the amount of food the Americans ate—fact is, it only displayed their disrespect for their bodies…and their health.
I, on the other hand, caught myself caught up in all this feasting and after a few days I began a conscious effort to press the “pause” button and think about what I was doing to myself…sometimes I even succeeded. I was one of the lucky ones in that I weighed the same at the end of the cruise as I did in the beginning. But for many on board it made no difference–they had reached the point of no-return long before they set foot on the ship’s gangplank.
I am pleased with myself that I got out of bed at sunup each morning and went to the gym where I “biked” for six miles and “crunched” my gut on this elaborate machine that almost made it easy. I do admit, however, I sometimes felt this gave me a misdirected excuse to eat more than usual. There is so much food that it is practically impossible for anyone to turn their love handles on it and walk away, especially if you are prone to over eat anyway.
Okay, I know I didn’t tell you anything about the trip itself but so much of this other stuff (“stuffing”?) was so evident it was hard to ignore. I still have one more “people” thing to discuss before I get into the travel aspects of the cruise…and I’ll do that on my next blog. Stay tuned…stay trim!