In May 2000 I went on my third Trek cruise. This cruise began in Barcelona, and ran from Sunday to Sunday. Since both Sundays were getting on and off days, it was effectively six days - a bit too short.
The night before the cruise there was a banquet to get people together, and introduce the guests. It was at the Hotel Sants, at the main railway station. Some travelers, who had done a warmup cruise on a windjammer, were late, including many of my table-mates from the two previous cruises.
As my luggage was light, and I was close, I walked down to the ship. It was the wrong ship! Although the right ship, the Maasdam, was in sight, I had to take an expensive taxi ride in a big circle to get there. I was also way too early (didn't read my instructions as usual), and had to hang around about three hours. I was then at the front of the line, but had not filled in my form ( didn't read my instructions as usual), and had to go to the back and take much longer. But things improved. This is the ship in a later port:
My roommate turned out to be Joachim Hofmann, from Germany. We had a lifeboat drill, and set off. That evening we had our official introduction to the guests, in the Rembrandt Lounge.
All our group, about 300 I believe, ate at the second dinner seating. This was so that we could fit in our Trek activities during the first seating. One of the reasons why I go to the Trek cruises, apart from liking cruising, and meeting the guests, is that I go alone, and I automatically "know" about 300 people. More specifically, one of our table group has gone to the trouble of keeping us together. In 1999 our group of eight did everything together. This year the group had expanded to include his friends from table in 1998 (Alaska), so there were 16 of us, on two tables. I also ran into my table companions from 1998 before the banquet, but we did not see all that much of each other this trip.
After dinner I went up to the disco in the Crow's Nest, and there was karaoke. Mark Alaimo joined our group. But I gave up about 1am. Mark and the others partied on until about 3am. (And every other night as well, I believe.) Mark was not seen often at breakfast.
In the morning the actors had been organised to eat breakfast with the Trekkers, but something went wrong. There was no concentration of Trekkers, and not many empty seats, so the actors and families found spots where they could, and ate alone.
The Dealers' room opened at 10.30am, and there was a lot of good stuff on sale. There was a Trek trivia quiz at 11, which I didn't bother to go to. There was an actors' panel from 1.30 to 3, which I found very interesting. It mainly centred around the craft of acting. At 4.30 Ron B Moore, in charge of visual effects on Voyager, gave an interesting presentation, and at 6 there was a Pictionary and costume contest.
As a Trek cruise, this one suffered in comparison with the others I had done because there was a stop in port every day after this, and consequently, very little in the way of Trek events. It was also low on scoring points because only one of the days had any provision for handicapped travelers. One of my friends, David Morse, is in a wheelchair, and he was stuck on board all day except for the stop in Rome. I think the two previous cruises were much better equipped. This is presumably the fault of the tour operators on shore.
However, all of the tours were very interesting, and there is a lot to do on board as well. There is a well-equipped library, two pools, shops, a casino... The ships in 1999, the Veendam, and the Maasdam this year, are almost identical. There is a photography shop, and during the cruise they take your picture at every opportunity, and hope you will buy lots of copies.
The first tour I did was to Tunis, in Tunisia. In the evening there was an auction.
Next day it was Palermo, in Sicily.
Afterwards I went for a walk in Palermo.
Later, going for a swim, I found Two of my friends from table gossiping with Armin and Mark, so I lingered. I was off to take a sneak photo with my 300mm lens when I was encouraged to be in a group photo. Unfortunately this picture seems destined never to be seen by me, because it was still in my camera when I lost it! We gossiped for a while. All of the guests seemed genuinely nice people, and went out of their way to mix. Armin mentioned that Principal Snyder made a guest appearance in the last episode of Buffy, just about to go to air at that time.
Later there was a writers' workshop, to which I did not go. In the dealers' room they showed three videos, the last three of the current Voyager season. One was an Ethan Phillips feature, one a Bob Picardo feature. What made them interesting was that two of them were shown in unfinished form, with the special effects still to be added! By watching these I missed Family Feud, which was apparently very funny.
That night there was a Dessert Spectacular in the Lido Restaurant. There was always a midnight buffet, which I missed. I took a couple of photos of this one, but it was too late at night to be filling up on dessert! In the daytime I would have made a heroic effort!
Next day was a stop in Civitavecchia, near Rome. I took a day off touring, as Rome was the one place I had seen before, albeit thirty years ago. I walked from ship to shore, which proved to be about a mile!
There was a barbecue that night for those who wanted it. That day and the next I won the daily quiz in the library, but I don't know how many entrants there were.
On Friday I went on the tour of Cannes. When I got on the bus in Monaco I said, "I must have left my camera in the cabin!" But I hadn't. It has not been seen again! I did take photos with my digital camera, and my stereo camera had to do more work than expected for the rest of the trip.
On Saturday the tour was to Marseilles.
That afternoon the guests were invited to perform, a surprise to them, and only three had anything to offer. Ethan Phillips told a few old jokes, Armin did a piece from Henry IV, and Bob Picardo sang a few parodies I assume he wrote himself (but they were very good). He managed to produce a pianist to accompany him. That night was our second formal night. They insist on everyone dressing formally at least two evenings a week.
In the morning we were shunted off as quickly as possible. It is always a rather unceremonious ending to a cruise, but I suppose with over a thousand people to be got to airports, etc., I suppose it has to be military precision.
Next year's cruise is to be the other end of the Mediterranean. If you are interested, it runs from June 26th to July 8, 2001. It includes three days cruising, so there should be more interaction with guests. It begins in Istanbul, stops at Alexandria, Egypt, then Haifa and Ashdod, Israel, Kusadasi in Turkey, Piraeus in Greece, and Dubrovnik, finishing in Venice. Their mail address is Cruise Trek, 23852 Pacific Coast Highway #385, Malibu CA 90265, USA, and their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.