Weekly market in the dark…

Yesterday was Thursday, so that meant the weekly market was going on in the Dorfplatz. I also neglected to walk the dogs yesterday morning, mainly because the weather was so cold and damp. When Bill got home from work, we decided to see what was being offered at Breckenheim’s weekly market.

The weekly market is a new thing. It started in September, and now that Daylight Savings Time is over, it now runs partly in the dark. Every Thursday, the market starts at 1:00pm and closes at 6:00pm. Bill doesn’t get home until about 5:00, so now when we venture out to the market to shop for produce and local goodies, we have to do it in the dark. Last night, we brought Arran and Noyzi with us, because we didn’t feel like “Arran proofing” the house, to prevent him from raiding anything remotely resembling food while we were out.

Last night’s market was pretty sparsely attended. Or, at least there weren’t many people there by the time we got there. Bill ended up buying some shrimp and scallops from a fish monger who shows up regularly. We also enjoyed a glass of Riesling.

While we were having wine, we ran into an American neighbor, who was down there with her two kids. Meanwhile, Arran was insistently trying to get under one of the benches. Someone had dropped some bread there, and he desperately wanted to eat it. In spite of his age and cancer diagnosis, Arran is surprisingly strong and, when it comes to food, he’s very determined. When I told him “no”, he started to loudly and indignantly howl, causing the locals to laugh at him. I suppose that’s better than the scowls we usually got in Baden-Württemberg, whenever Arran or our sweet Zane (RIP) would misbehave in public.

Our neighbor had new running shoes and wanted to take a quick jog in them, so she basically told her son to hang out with us. She wasn’t gone long, but we were reminded of an incident that happened to us on a train to Nice, back in 2014. Basically, we (really Bill) got tasked to watch a single mom’s child on the train for a few hours. That was a bit strange, as the woman was a perfect stranger. Last night’s encounter wasn’t really, since our neighbor was only gone for about fifteen minutes and we had met her before. It was the first time I had ever talked to her son, though… a very bright, polite, and adorable eight year old chap. After his mom came back, he came over to us and said, “I’m going to go over there, if you don’t mind.” Hilarious!

His mom laughed and said, “I guess he really thought you were watching him.” I guess he did, since she told him to stay with us! But it was not a big deal. She was back before we were halfway done with our wine.

We had a brief chat with our neighbor, and then our landlord came up and said hello. Noyzi was pretty nervous at first, but then he submitted to petting by a couple of people. I could tell he was delighted, as his little stubby tail was going a mile a minute. Yes, indeed… I think that eventually, Noyzi will be less nervous around people and he’ll be able to join us when we’re out and about. He doesn’t bugle like Arran does. Arran likes people, but he gets tired when he’s out. He’s also loud when he wants to complain about something. Noyzi genuinely loves people, especially women. He’s just been traumatized by abuse in his past. He’s also a street dog, and they’re stealthy.

Once we finished our Rieslings, we went back home and had biscuits and gravy for dinner. Bill had a date with his Jungian therapist, while I did some Christmas shopping. A good night was had by all.

Again… I love this about living here– weekly markets, getting to know our neighbors, and bonding over dogs and wine. I suppose that could happen in the USA, but our neighborhoods aren’t usually as perfect for this kind of community fellowship. I’m glad we’ve been able to experience this… and I’m so glad we moved to Wiesbaden.


12 confused German kids in costumes…

Well, Halloween has come and gone, and this year, we actually celebrated. One of our new neighbors had asked us to participate in Halloween because she and her husband have young children. However, even though we carved jack o’lanterns, lit them with candles, and turned on our lights, that neighbor didn’t visit us. I’m not sure why she didn’t, but it was okay, because we got visits from other neighborhood children.

The first ones showed up in a group of three at about 6pm. They didn’t ring the doorbell, but I could see them because we have glass panels by our front door. Bill met them at the door and said they looked utterly shocked when he offered them candy. They didn’t say a word as Bill gave them Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s bars, Hershey’s Almond Chocolate Kisses, and Dove Minis. I could see two teenagers with them who looked quite amused and delighted. One of them laughed when he asked if they wanted any candy.

The next group of three showed up a little while later. They didn’t ring the doorbell either, but did manage to say “Süß oder Sauer!” (sweet or sour, the German version of “Trick or Treat!”) I didn’t mind that they didn’t ring the bell, since it would only make the dogs freak out.

A couple of bigger kids came by, and I heard one of them quite confidently explain to Bill in German that they weren’t sure if anyone was going to have candy since this isn’t really something that is done in Germany. I have a feeling that it’s going to catch on, though. At about 4:00, I noticed a group of costume clad children heading down the hill from our house. I figured maybe they were going to a party. I have noticed more Halloween themed stuff this year as opposed to other years, and the kids that were participating were clearly enjoying themselves.

Then the Italian couple across from our house came over with their child. Bill gave him Kisses and Minis, but astutely noticed the child eyeing one of the full sized Hershey Bars. Bill gave him one of those. I noticed the peanut butter cups were popular, probably because they aren’t widely available in German stores. I never hear so much about peanut allergies here, either. Personally, I think German chocolate is a lot better than American chocolate is, but kids love novel stuff.

One other thing I noticed is that most of the participants either had very small bags for collecting candy or no bag at all! But then, I also noticed that they didn’t have a lot of candy, either. We might have been among the very few houses passing out sweets!

I’m quite pleased with the turnout from last night. There have been years when we’ve lived in America and gotten just slammed with kids, and other years when we’ve lived in rural areas and gotten no one at all. One year, when we lived in Germany the first time, we got kids, but had no candy. Another year, we had candy, but only got a visit from two teenaged boys who looked like they were dressed as their drunk uncles. This year, we had a nice number of local children, all of whom were in the spirit of things in their costumes and very appreciative that we gave them candy. I almost felt like it was an international relations act of goodwill. See? Americans aren’t all bad. 😉

If we’re still here next year, maybe we’ll decorate more, so the kids who participate won’t be so shy. I might even put on a costume myself… or maybe I’ll just wear my Dirndl. We turned off the porch light at about 8:45, and we still have candy leftover. But at least this year, we did manage to give some away, which is a good thing. My ass doesn’t need more presents.


Celebrating 14 years in Ireland! Part four

We woke up bright and early Saturday morning for our trip to Kilkenny.  Bill ordered a cab for 9:00am after we were told it would take at least an hour to walk to the train station from our hotel.  The cab driver arrived right on time.

A map of Ireland.

While we were in the taxi, I found myself listening to the talk show on the radio.  My ears pricked up when I heard the female commentator refer to the United States as the “United Hates of America”.  She said she didn’t see America that way, but other people did.

“The United ‘Hates’ of America, huh?” I responded.  “Wow.”

The cab driver chuckled and, naturally, that opened up yet another conversation about politics.  He gave us his impressions of our elections and we explained to him that Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump were not the only candidates.  They were simply the only ones most people heard much about, especially outside of the country.  Bill then explained that we live in Germany, so we’re somewhat removed from a lot of the political maelstrom that has been going on for over a year now.

We arrived at the train station a bit early, so after Bill bought us a couple of tickets, we went into a bar for a round of beer.  Yes, it was 9:30am, but I decided I wanted a beer.  We were turned away from the “outdoor” area of the bar, but inside, there were several old guys congregated.  They were all sipping Guinness, so we joined them and enjoyed the 80s music playing on the stereo.

A new book by Jodi Piccoult.

While we were sitting there in the bar, Bill told me about the funny sign at the ticket counter that read something to the effect of “Antisocial behavior will not be tolerated!  You will be caught and prosecuted!”  Little did I know, our social skills would be tested on our ride to Kilkenny.

Cute Hoor beer…
And the first of several Guinness beers I’ve had since our arrival…

At 10:15am, we got on our train.  It was pretty packed with people.  We were at a four top table, so we were later joined by a funky looking lady who was very intent on reading a tabloid.  We thought we would have a nice sedate ride to Kilkenny and we did…  until we stopped at Kildare.

The train stopped and a bunch of people got on…  and most of them were of the youngster set.  I heard lots of high pitched chattering as laughter as we were suddenly joined by a group of about twenty or thirty kids.  I didn’t count them; I only noticed as they made their way down the train, looking for spare seats together.  They looked like they were on the brink of adolescence– maybe ten or eleven years old.

“Urchins…” I muttered.

One kid got on the train with a backpack and a large foam rubber mat.  It was rather wide and he seemed oblivious as it smacked a few passengers he tried to pass.  A motherly looking group leader advised the lad to unhook the mat and carry it in front of him.  It seemed to take a couple of minutes before he finally got it and carried the thing in a less offensive way.

A few minutes later, the boy with the foam mat was back, along with a couple of his friends and a group leader.  The group leader very apologetically seated the boys at the four top table opposite the aisle from Bill and me.  A young man was already sitting by the window, blissfully tuned out of the action because he had ear buds planted firmly in his ears.

The overhead baggage area over the boys’ seats was full, so after prompting from yours truly, Bill very helpfully offered to put the foam mat over our seats.  This kindness opened up yet another hilarious exchange with the Irish.  You see, these boys were not the type to be quiet and shy.  I don’t actually know the boys’ names, but I’ll give them nicknames for the sake of this story.

“Where are you from?” asked the foam mat bearer– I’ll call him Seamus for simplicity’s sake.

“America.” Bill said.

“America!” another boy exclaimed– I’ll call him Lefty due to his broken hand in a cast.  “What the hell are you doing in Ireland?”

“We’re here on vacation.” Bill said.

“You can’t be here on vacation!” another kid I’ll call Ray said.  “Nobody vacations here!  Ireland is awful!”

Naturally, this unabashed comment made everyone in the vicinity crack up with laughter.

One of the boys pulled out a plastic bottle of some kind of juice.  The three of them then commenced flipping the bottle, trying to get it to land right side up.  I am told this is a game that is “all the rage” among youngsters these days, but it was the first time I’d ever seen it.  I eyed the bottle nervously, fearing that it would either break or the top would come off, making a big mess.  At one point, the bottle landed upright and the kid I call Ray started yelling “Drink! Drink! Drink!” like he was at a frat party.  My eyes widened in surprise, but perhaps I shouldn’t have been.

“So do you like Ireland?” Ray asked during a lull in the gameplay.

“Oh yes!” Bill said.

“How many states have you been to?” Lefty asked, moving on to the fact that we were Americans and apparently totally foreign to them.

“48.” Bill said.  “I have not been to Alaska and North Dakota.”

“48 states!” the boys exclaimed.  “Wow!”  They were extremely impressed that Bill had seen so many states.  When another from their group sat nearby, they eagerly told their friend about Bill’s U.S. travels.

“What state are you from?” one of the kids asked.

Bill told them he was from Texas.  I told them I’m from Virginia.  The kids continued peppering Bill with questions.  Eventually, they asked which country he’d been to that was furthest away.  For some reason, Bill said “Iraq”, although he has since been to a few African countries that are even further away from where we’ve ever lived.

Recognizing that Bill had been in the Army, the kids moved on to subject of the war.  “Did you know anyone that died?” one of the kids asked.

“Yes.” Bill said.  Thankfully, they moved on from that line of questioning… only to start talking about politics!

“Hey!  Do you think of Canada as your ‘goody two shoes neighbor to the north’?” Seamus asked, just in time for one of the roving group adults to hear him.  I gasped in surprise just as one of the group moms came over and grabbed Seamus for a talking to.  While she was chewing out Seamus, she shot Lefty what appeared to be a ‘death ray’.

“I’m so sorry,” the group mom apologized as she returned Seamus to his seat.

“Really, it’s not a problem.” I said as I laughed.  These kids were cracking me up and making the time go much faster.  I probably shouldn’t have encouraged them, but I have to admit to being similarly obnoxious… especially when I was their age.

“Oh no.” Lefty said suddenly.  “Here comes Dermott.”

Dermott was apparently the head leader of this group and he gave the impression of brooking no nonsense.  He was heading down the aisle toward the boys.

“He wears a Titanium vest!” Ray shouted.  “And if you don’t get on with him, he’ll send the IRA after you!”

“Oh my God…” I muttered to Bill, who was having a hard time containing his laughter.

“What does D.C. stand for?” Lefty asked.

“District of Columbia.” I responded.

“Isn’t Colombia a country in Africa?” one kid asked.

“No, that’s a country in South America.” Bill said.

“Isn’t it a city in Ohio?” Lefty asked.

“No, you’re thinking of Columbus.” I said.  “But good on you for being close, because a lot of people wouldn’t be.”

“We have to walk three miles to our campsite.” Lefty said.

“You’ll be alright if your rucksack is 20% of your body weight.” Bill offered.

“It’s too far.” the boys said as they flipped the bottle again.

“Hey!  Why don’t you have a go?” Lefty asked Bill as they passed him the bottle.  I shot Bill a warning look as he wisely gave the bottle back to the kids.

Finally, another stop came and a bunch of people got off the train.  One of the moms came back to our little group of comedians and told them to come with her to another part of the train.  They had found seats together.  The boys all groaned and got up to leave.  Seamus, who appeared to be the leader of the hooligans, came back because he’d forgotten his bottle.  Before he left, he said goodbye to Bill and me and gave us both a bro fist.

I have to admit, next to the train ride we took in Luxembourg with a bunch of nuns and a woman wearing Depends and a rubber phallus on her nose, that was one of the more entertaining train rides we’ve ever experienced.  It’s also not the first time Bill has become a de facto babysitter on a train.  For some reason, he attracts people in need.  Fortunately, he is great with kids and as kind and gentle as a man can be.  More on that in part five!

Ads in the train station.  I thought they were very clever!

Barfuss in the park…

The Barfuss Park is open daily from 9:00am until 8:00pm.  

Some time ago, there was talk in one of the local Facebook groups about “barefoot” parks in Germany.  Apparently, walking barefoot on trails is a thing in Deutschland.  I was immediately interested because I love walking barefoot.  I never wear shoes unless I have to.  I don’t even put on shoes when I have to take the trash out in the snow.

Anyway, the idea of visiting the BarfussPark in Dornstetten stayed in the back of my mind for some time.  Then, two weeks ago, Bill and I took an overnight trip to France and passed signs for the BarfussPark on the way there.  I decided then and there that it was time to try out walking barefoot in the park.  A bonus is that the park is not even thirty minutes from where I live, as long as there aren’t any farm vehicles on the road!

We were blessed with beautiful sunny weather and agreeable temperatures this morning as we set off for our outing.  We left the dogs at home, having read that they aren’t welcome in the park.  And really, if you think about it, that makes perfect sense.  While you will likely get dirty walking barefoot in the park, no one wants to get dirty by stepping on what comes out of Fido during a good walk.  😉  We did see one dog at the park today, though, and no one seemed too upset about it.

We arrived at the park at about 11:30 or so; it’s pretty much right off B28 heading west.  The parking lot wasn’t full at that point.  In retrospect, it was a good idea to get to the park somewhat early because by the time we left at a little after 1:00, the lot was full and some people had parked on the side of the road coming into the park.  We took advantage of the handy WC near what appeared to be the bigger of the two parking lots we encountered.  Then, after Bill paid for three hours of parking, we headed to start of the barefoot trail.

It is forbidden to wash your feet in the bathroom!

The big sign before the park… there are ads for restaurants and a map of what’s on the trail.


These handy little “foot” markers show you where to go.  The trail can run as long as 60 minutes if you go the long way or 30 minutes if you take a shortcut.


There are lockers for those who want to lock up their stuff.  We opted to just carry ours.


But it’s there if you need it!


I was really enjoying walking on the grass toward the first part of the park, which appeared to be an area geared toward children.  There was a cold little puddle to walk through, then a few other water related activities.  Only one of the activities appeared to get people wet.  I didn’t try it because I didn’t come prepared with a change of clothes.  And actually, after what happened on our walk, I would definitely recommend bringing something to change into, just in case.  😉

This water was frigid!  But it felt really good after we stepped out of it.


Probably my favorite part of the trail was the trampoline.  I could see it was very popular with others, too.  I watched several little kids gleefully bounce the length of it.  For once, I didn’t let Bill discourage me from indulging my inner child.  I gave him my purse and hopped across.  Then I goaded Bill into it.

We were both smiling after bouncing on the trampoline!


We encountered many different walking surfaces.  There were rocks, sand pits, wooden beams, and even a couple of glass beds.  We encountered a rope bridge, a pinecone pit, and a surface comprised of nail heads.  Although I did see some glass shards on the trail, the glass wasn’t sharp and didn’t cut my feet.  The rocks, on the other hand, were a little painful, even for someone like me, who isn’t a tenderfoot.  You always have the option of walking around or skipping an activity you don’t want to do.

Here’s a video of us… the last part is pretty much why I recommend bringing at least a towel and perhaps even a spare pair of shorts!

After we walked through the mud, we stopped by this bed of straw…  it kind of helped get the mud off, but you’re going to have to rinse off at the end!  A bunch of German ladies laughed at me as I tried to shake off the very sticky mud.

Some people wiped off on the tree.


Bill helped me across these logs, due to my honkin’ big purse full of shoes and stuff…


Rope bridge!

Nail heads!


Rocks (these were the most painful for me).

Those who have upper body strength can make like a monkey and swing on the bars!


All through the park, there are cool wood carvings.  I saw totem poles, an owl, and the gnome above.  

At the end of our walk, it was definitely time to rinse off…  


And beer…

What’s the wurst that could happen?

Well deserved suds!


All told, this was a very cheap activity.  We spent a total of about twenty euros including the two euro donation (on your honor), parking, and wursts and beers.  The snack bar has ice cream and other beverages.  I’m thinking this would be the perfect place for a BBQ.  😀  As long as it’s not too cold, anyway.

We had a great time at the BarfussPark and I’d love to go again.  Bill and I were both grinning ear to ear at the end of it and the walk was just long enough to get our juices going.  Next time, we’ll bring another pair of pants in case of a fall.  At the very least, don’t forget to bring a towel!  I would say I enjoyed this activity even more than the famed “Tree Walk”, which we did last year.  The Tree Walk is also a lot of fun, but I think you get more bang for your buck at the BarfussPark.

My feet handled all of this very well!

Helpful facilities for those who can’t wait for the WC…  I always get a kick of the illustrations on these portapotties…  Pretty much the universal sign of people who need to pee!



If you want to grill, there are facilities.  We saw one group enjoying a picnic lunch at a nice table out in the woods.


Pam Conover resigns from SeaDream…

Less than a month ago, I blogged about SeaDream Yacht Club’s turnover.  When I wrote that post, I was a little hesitant, since I am definitely no cruise line insider, nor am I even really a travel expert.  I just like to travel when I can and I like to write about my experiences.  I have cruised on SeaDream three times and mostly enjoyed each time.  However, as a Cruise Critic message board poster, I also regularly follow SeaDream’s forum and this morning, learned that Pam Conover, a highly regarded and much touted executive who joined SeaDream less than a year ago, has just decided to resign her position, effective December 4, 2013.

This is yet another worrying departure on the small, but much beloved, luxury cruise line.  Of course, I don’t know why she’s leaving.  For all I know, she could be resigning for personal reasons that have nothing to do with SeaDream’s apparent decline.  However, I do know that at least on Cruise Critic and among a couple of people I met onboard, there seems to be growing discontent with the product, mainly because of issues people have been having with kids on the ships.

SeaDream I is headed for Costa Rica this month.  I was really wanting to book one of the Costa Rica cruises, but our circumstances didn’t allow for that.  If we hadn’t had to move to Texas, perhaps we would have pulled the trigger.  Every time we move, it costs money and requires time to get settled.  As it is now, I’m not really feeling the urge to book anymore.  I do have the itch to travel, but not necessarily on SeaDream, and that is a big change from the past, when I couldn’t wait to book my next SeaDream voyage.

I will be watching to see what people say about the Costa Rica cruises.  Even if we never do a SeaDream cruise down there, I would like to go to that region at some point.  If my teeth keep giving me grief, I might even go down there for medical tourism purposes.

One magical memory, courtesy of SeaDream…


Kids on SeaDream…

SeaDream I in San Juan, Puerto Rico…

I will never forget the first time I boarded a SeaDream cruise.  It was April 2010 and Bill and I had booked a five night cruise that would take us from Puerto Rico to the Virgin Islands.  I remember the fare was a very reasonable $1599 per person plus government fees.  Yes, it sounds like a lot for a cruise, but SeaDream is all inclusive.  I had been trying to sell Bill on the concept of a luxury cruise for a long time.  Prior to our first SeaDream cruise, we had been on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas, which took us to four ports in the Baltics.  We spent almost as much for that cruise, which wasn’t nearly as intimate or special… although given how expensive Scandinavia is, I think we probably got a nice deal with Royal Caribbean’s cruise.

Anyway, though our first SeaDream cruise was not at all perfect, Bill and I had a wonderful and unforgettable time.  We disembarked in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands completely blown away by the experience.  It took me a couple of months to stop fantasizing about our next SeaDream cruise.  I talked it up constantly and constantly shopped for new voyages.

We took our second SeaDream cruise in November 2011.  That cruise was also very special, as we were celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary.  Bill and I made a couple of new friends and I got to swim in some of the world’s most beautiful waters.  I got a terrible sunburn, but I also got to enjoy the piano bar for the first time.  By the time we were enjoying our Champagne and Caviar Splash in Mayreau, I was making plans to book again.  When we got home, I happily began what was becoming a ritual, searching for our next cruise.

Our third SeaDream cruise was in Italy and Greece in May of this year.  By the time we boarded this cruise, I was beginning to feel like a regular, even though there are others who sail SeaDream a lot more than I could ever hope to.  I started noticing things that made SeaDream less magical to me, even though our most recent voyage was probably the best of the three.  It was the best even though I got sick with a nasty cold during that week onboard.

I think one thing that made SeaDream less mind-blowing the last time was that Bill and I also sailed on Hebridean Princess less than a year ago, and that experience in Scotland made us realize that there are other great small ships out there waiting to be explored.  Another thing that made it less special was the fact that there were some obvious cost cutting measures being taken.  On our first cruise, champagne flowed freely.  On our second and third cruises, I noticed prosecco was being offered instead.  I wasn’t upset about the prosecco.  I like it fine.  Also, I understand that if I had asked for champagne, I could have gotten champagne.  But it was a sign that there were some pennies being pinched.

And then, I started noticing a lot of people on Cruise Critic complaining about kids on SeaDream.  While Bill and I have been really lucky– we’ve only encountered one kid on our three cruises and that was a baby who rarely made an appearance– others report having to endure large groups of unruly children running around on what are very small cruise ships.  Think about it.  SeaDream I and II are both tiny vessels; each is designed to carry just 112 passengers.  There aren’t that many places to go onboard when the rugrats are running wild.  Add in the fact that there are no balconies on either SeaDream vessel and you realize that locking yourself in your cabin for a little peace and quiet can result in claustrophobia very quickly.  Who books a cruise to hang out in their stateroom, anyway?

Our last SeaDream cruise cost about $7000, not including airfare, transportation, and hotel.  That price includes a 15% discount we got for pre-booking onboard.  All told, we probably spent $10,000 to do Italy and Greece SeaDream style.  Our last voyage was very good, but it didn’t make me forget Hebridean Princess, which was gloriously kid free and, in many ways, ultimately a better value than SeaDream was despite its generally higher fares.  I thought about pre-booking another cruise on our last SeaDream cruise, but realized our financial future is less certain since Bill has to retire.  And I remembered that there are other cruises out there just waiting to be explored in places SeaDream doesn’t yet go…

But also, I know that if I spent $10,000 for a SeaDream cruise and had to worry about kids pooping in the pool, hogging the lounge chairs, or snorkeling in the hot tub, it would really piss me off in a big way.  I realize that some kids are great around adults and enjoy grown up travel experiences.  Those kids are few and far between, though, and the average kid on SeaDream would probably not enjoy the experience that much.  SeaDream has recently started offering a makeshift kid program for voyages that have a lot of kids onboard, but it’s nothing like what other lines offer, including Crystal, which is considered a luxury cruise line.

Frankly, I can’t understand why a loving parent would subject their kids to a cruise where they won’t be looked upon fondly by most of the passengers or staff and probably won’t be kept entertained.  There are so many vacation options out there for families with young kids.  Some of those options are quite luxurious and allow adults to have their fun while their kids are properly supervised and can take part in fun activities with other kids.  Why choose a cruise line that is advertised as an adult experience for couples?

SeaDream is not designed for children and most children, when they are bored, will make sure everyone knows about it.  What ends up happening, then?  SeaDream’s “regulars” get pissed off and decide not to book again.  SeaDream loses revenue and has to drop prices, which makes it more attractive to families.  And then the families show up with their kids, who will no doubt endure dirty looks from other passengers.  The staff will endure complaints from child free  passengers who are rightfully upset about not being able to use the jacuzzi for a couple of hours because someone let their child take a dump in it.  Or passengers who can’t go to sleep because someone has let their children run up and down the halls, shrieking.  The kids are just being kids, wanting to burn off their abundant energy.  But many people go on vacation to escape this sort of thing; and people on SeaDream ships pay a lot to be there.  It’s selfish to subject innocent vacationers to your kids on a ship that is not designed for kids.  It’s selfish to SeaDream staff to expect them to entertain your little darlings when they are trying to entertain adults who can be very demanding and expect a lot for what they’re paying.  And it’s selfish to your kids to expect them to act like adults when they’re kids and just want to be entertained and be able to blow off some steam.

Granted, I have seen some adults on SeaDream act much worse than kids ever could.  The difference is that SeaDream apparently has no issue dealing with unruly adults who bother other passengers and will even kick these people off if they get too out of hand.  They apparently don’t do as much about kids or their parents, who let their kids annoy others who have paid a lot of money to be on vacation and may not have that many vacation days available to them.  The end result is that people who might have been loyal to the brand now can’t be sure of what their $10,000 is paying for.

I met a man on my second SeaDream cruise who said he had sailed four times with SeaDream and it was his favorite line.  Recently, he told me he doesn’t want to sail on SeaDream anymore.  And he has also expressed doubts that the line can survive the way it’s going now.  I didn’t want to believe him when he first said it, but I must say that the griping on Cruise Critic is starting to reach a fever pitch.  Unfortunately, even choosing cruises that happen at a time of year when kids are usually in school doesn’t seem to be helping some hapless cruisers, nor does it seem to matter if one chooses an expensive cruise.  The recent very attractive Black Sea cruise was more than Bill and I could spend for a vacation, but apparently it’s overrun with obstreperous kids anyway.

I don’t know if or when Bill and I will sail on SeaDream again.  I still have very high regard for SeaDream and its wonderful staff.  When it’s good, it’s very good.  But Bill and I don’t have the time or the money to gamble on SeaDream cruises if we can’t be sure our vacation won’t be ruined by the antics of unsupervised children running amok.  There just isn’t enough premium liquor in the world for that.

Still… this is pretty hard to give up forever…