Thursday, November 8, 2007


(picture along the Danube yesterday, in Austria)
Location: Vienna
Weather: 46 and overcast
Most people are off on a shore excursion today. We’ve been to Vienna twice, and we’re a hobbling-around couple (there are others also), so decided to stay on board. The ship departs later today for Bratislava, our next port stop.

This ship, the Viking River Cruises "Spirit" has been a good activity level for us. What with my foot that still swells, and Dave’s new artificial leg that hurts him like heck nearly every step he takes, we’ve spent more time relaxing on the ship. Most of the passengers are older folks, like us. One gentleman flew to Amsterdam and when he stood up on arrival, he couldn’t walk. He was in a wheelchair for a week. After seeing a doctor at one of the ports (and with x-rays) he found out he has a broken hip. The ship staff arranged for him to fly home a few days ago, with his wife. We all wanted to know, how could you have a broken hip and not know it? Our companions, Wayne and Lucy, speculated about that. Wayne’s a retired OB/GYN, and he suspects the gentleman has some other health issues, maybe bone cancer, so his bones are very soft. Guess we’ll never know.
We have a contingent of complainers on the ship too. They are the kind of people who give Americans a bad name, like the Ugly American. Nothing is ever right. Or good enough. They complain mostly about the meals. This is a German ship. The captain and chef are German. Although it’s an American based company, everything about what they do is German. The chef does an amazing job with the meals. They’re not as elegant, perhaps, as on a huge mega-sized cruise ship, but having been on their kitchen tour here, I find it amazing that they can produce the quality and quantity of meals in their compact kitchens.
These ugly people want American food. Well, they don’t SERVE American food on this ship. It’s more continental, and a modicum of German food mostly. They complained that a lunch served a day or two ago, that was billed as "Bavarian," included lasagna. At a question and answer period last night, the Chef humbly apologized, said he’d made a mistake with that one, he was one day early for that dish, as the next day was an Italian day menu. These people have complained so much that they’re eating their own, private menu. No extra charge. Yesterday, however, they all wanted tuna sandwiches on Pita bread. The Chef had to phone several other ships to FIND Pita bread. Finally did, had staff retrieve it, or make an exchange, using a ship launch. Tuna sandwiches were made, and this group of 8 people ate half of one sandwich. The first woman who tried it didn’t like it, so nobody else even tried it. The Chef appears at their table nearly every meal because they’ve complained about something.
The darling waitress, Zuzana (she’s from Slovakia), was nearly in tears yesterday because of their insane requests. All special menus are prepared in a separate kitchen below the main kitchen, and to serve a table for 8, she has to go up and down the kitchen flight of stairs so many, many times to serve a meal, what with each dinner having 4 or 5 courses.

They like this particular waitress. So do we, and try to sit on her station for most meals, if we can. This ship does not have assigned seating. So somebody from the Ugly American group stands outside the dining room door for a looooong time to make sure they get the table they want - only two tables in the dining room seat 8 people - one only with Zuzana. Now, there’s also another contingent of people, mostly from Texas, who have also made some significant waves. They’re also a party of 8, and THEY like this same table, because they like Zuzana too. Last night one from their group pulled a chair from his stateroom and sat for 40 minutes outside the dining room door, in order to get this table. They were excited to have one-upped the Ugly Americans. Although, this other group is quite loud and boisterous. They drink a lot, too. They’re a friendly bunch, though.

When you’re confined to somewhat close quarters, the gossip flies the air. We watch with some amusement, but also some embarrassment too. We feel sorry for the staff. They work very, very hard, about 12 hours a day.


Britt-Arnhild said...

The autumn colours are lovely.
I would love to go by boat on Donau some day.

Carolyn T said...

Britt-Arnhild - you would love it. The slow pace of the shipboard life isn't for everybody, especially people who want to be active, but it was perfect for us this time. The scenery is just not to be compared anywhere.