We spent our first two weeks at the senior living facility, commonly known as Holland America.Trev
Our first two weeks of this ten week trip were on Holland America’s ms Oosterdam, a cruise ship with a capacity of almost two thousand passengers. It was a two week long repositioning cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Rome. We opted for this over a flight because, it was a unique experience, and we’d arrive without jet lag. Plus, we got to explore two Azores islands and two Spanish ports that we haven’t been to before.
See some of our previous posts about those stops.
I thought it would be interesting to share some fun facts about cruise ships. I would have done it much earlier in this trip, but, as the captain of the Oosterdam said, “The Wi-Fi on the ship is [fecal matter].”
How Do Those Ships Stay Upright?
To me, a typical cruise ship looks like a ten layer wedding cake with only the bottom layer underwater. I wonder why a stiff breeze doesn’t turn it into a Poseidon Adventure movie. Yes, the movie is a bit dated, but check it out. Turns out that even though only twenty percent of the height of a ship is underwater most of the weight is—keeping the center of gravity below the waterline. The engines and other heavy items are in the base. Structure in the lower levels is steel while higher up it is aluminum. They also have computer controlled stabilizers and steer clear of dangerous weather. So, no Poseidon Adventures in modern day cruise liners.
What Happens When You Flush?
Whales may do it in the ocean, but cruise ships don’t. A typical cruise ship toilet uses one-sixth of the volume of water that your toilet at home does, in part due to vacuum power. At least one person suggested not flushing while sitting on it. We didn’t test the theory. The ship has an elaborate sewage treatment plant below decks—part of that center of gravity equation—that cleans solids out of the system and then discharges clean water back into the ocean. The remaining solids are offloaded along with other trash at ports along the way. They have a pretty robust recycling system to minimize landfill and be environmentally conscious.
Speaking of water, how does that work? I had the same question. Turns out that the giant diesel generators that power the ship generate a lot of heat. Seawater is heated and the evaporated steam cooled to create desalinated water. If you drank it at that point, it would taste pretty bad. They add minerals back in to make it more palatable. When we drank tap water, it tasted fine. Not “bottle it and sell it at the market good,” but very drinkable.
Feeding passengers and crew—especially on a long voyage—is quite a challenge. One pleasant surprise was the baked goods. Nothing comes on board frozen—the bakery turns out a huge variety of fresh bread, pastries, etc. daily. They do a good job of preserving produce but even they have limits as noted by the dearth of bananas towards the end. The supply system on a ship is quite complex and the results impressive.
We did arrive at the end of the journey without jet lag—having spread out the time zone changes over the two weeks. We wondered how we would handle so many days at sea and had plenty to keep us occupied. If you have the time, it is an interesting way to cross the Atlantic.
Trip Update. We’ve enjoyed four days exploring Munich—the first time we’ve been here since I ran the Munich Marathon in 1991. Tomorrow we set off on a five day hike on King Ludwig’s way which ends at the fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein—the palace that inspired those in the Disney properties. Weather looks…spotty.