Disembarkation… and going to Athens!

Upon waking the morning of May 18th, 2013, I knew it was time to move on from SeaDream I.  I’m always ambivalent on the last morning of a cruise.  I have never had a bad cruise.  Even our first cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas was a great time.  But I do have a tendency to get seasick and as much as I love SeaDream and its amazing staffers, there does come a time when I’m ready to get off the ship.

We met some very nice people on our cruise.  I always find SeaDream cruises interesting anyway, because they are very intimate as cruises go.  You will run into just about everyone at least a couple of times over the course of a week.  Some people will be friendly and some will be aloof.  One thing is for certain, though.  You will see just about everyone everyday and it’s both easy and fascinating to observe everybody.

Bill and I are somewhat unusual in that Bill is in the Army.  I have yet to meet another active duty servicemember on a SeaDream cruise, though we have met a few folks who had served at one time.  Although Bill works with some people who would probably be right at home on a SeaDream cruise, I think a lot of servicemembers opt for mainstream lines because they are more affordable and offer a lot of kid friendly activities.

Some people are very bold when they find out what Bill does, though.  In the past, we have actually been asked how we can afford to cruise on SeaDream.  Frankly, until a few years ago, cruising on SeaDream would have been out of the question for us.  I don’t have a full time job and for the first few years of our marriage, we were recovering from Bill’s first marriage, which had left him in dire financial straits.

To be totally honest, things really turned around for us when Bill was deployed to Iraq back in 2007.  While he was gone, we got extra pay.  For the six months he was gone, I made a commitment to paying down debt.  Then we moved to Germany for two years, where we also got paid extra.  That allowed us to pay down more debt, plus we only had one car when we were in Europe.  Bill is a senior lieutenant colonel, which is a pretty decently paid job.  The truth is, though, we have to plan very carefully and save up for our vacations.  The Army gives Bill plenty of leave, but our trips are still precious to us because it takes work, commitment, and cooperation to make them happen.

Check out all the big ships!

I went up on deck on that last morning, noticing how huge Piraeus is and how many large ships were docked nearby.  Right behind us was one of the Seabourn triplets.  Across the way was a Windstar ship.  The enormous Ruby Princess was parked behind the cruise terminal and actually looked like it was part of the building.

We enjoyed a nice breakfast, waited on by Mikee and Brian.  I remember telling Brian that I really admire all the SeaDream staff members for being able to work so hard for so long.  I told Brian that I had once waited tables in a busy restaurant. I pretty much hated the job itself and looked forward to going home at the end of each shift.  I have a low tolerance for very demanding people and, knowing that, admire people who can handle difficult customers without breaking a sweat.  Not that I noticed any really difficult passengers on our cruise.  For the most part, people on our voyage seemed pretty relaxed.

People who work on ships can’t just go home when things get rough.  They have to cooperate with each other.  SeaDream’s staff make cooperation look effortless.  I never once saw anyone looking disgruntled or unhappy.  They all had genuine smiles on their faces and most of them seemed to take a lot of pleasure in coddling their guests.  I thanked Brian for all he did and he rewarded me with a beautiful smile and a big hug.

I hate to see the pool with the net over it…

I made the mistake of booking our cab for 10:30, so Bill and I waited in the salon for awhile.  While we were in there, Rose started arranging flowers and setting up tables for the next group, which would be embarking at 2:00pm that afternoon.  When we finally left the ship, it was like we were saying goodbye to some wonderful friends.

Sniff, sniff… goodbye again, SeaDream I.  See you next time!

Going to Athens…

At the stroke of 10:30am, our cab driver from Star Group Taxi Services arrived to take us into the city.  I had booked this cab on the advice of a fellow SeaDreamer we met on our November 2011 cruise.  The suggestion turned out to be a good one, as the cabbie had a very clean Mercedes taxi, was friendly,  and made a point of telling us about Athens.  He told us that Athens is a very safe city, but you have to watch out for petty thieves.  In particular, he warned us about Romanians and Nigerians who try to scam tourists.  Bill and I had run into these folks on other occasions.

When we lived in Germany, we used to get visits at our home from Romanians looking for work.  The French couple we met in Florence also spoke of being bothered by street people in their home country, though they had never been visited by them at home.  Before I even got to Greece, friends were telling me to watch my purse and wear a moneybelt.  I let Bill handle that!

Our cab driver dropped us off at Hera Hotel, a small boutique hotel I found on Jetsetter.com.  It was still early, so our room wasn’t ready.  Lots of people were in the process of checking in and checking out, so the foyer was crowded with bags.  We left ours under a large table and went for a walk that ended up getting us a little bit lost.

More on Athens with my next post!

Hera Hotel


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