Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cruising Cuisine

Despite the fact that the MV Explorer was once a cruise ship, students are constantly reminded that it is no longer a cruise ship today — but rather a campus. A place that once was a casino is now a library and a computer lab is right across the hall. We don’t have amazing cuisine and luxury buffets at our disposal and I’ll be the first to tell you that this voyage is not about entertainment and leisure.

Let’s talk FOOD:

Breakfast is from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., lunch is from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m. and dinner is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Despite the first day on ship (when parents were touring our facilities), we have no gourmet eating options.

BREAKFAST, in my opinion, is the best meal of the day on ship. We have pastries, omelets, cereal, yogurt, potatoes and occasionally a few other options — including a runny version of oatmeal. It is the same every day.

LUNCH and dinner hours are usually when the food quality all goes downhill. Pasta is served at every meal. It is usually flavored with some version of watery ketchup with curry and the same unusual flavor, despite lack of popularity, will be used for several days. Some kind of sauce-smothered meat, potatoes, cauliflower or broccoli is also available. DINNER always consists of a meat and a fish option with eerily similar pasta and vegetables as lunch. These items are consistently repeated in various ways and I imagine will continue to be served the remainder of the voyage. The food has been making me sick for a few days now, but I’m getting used to it and learning what food options are best.

My strategy for surviving:

Breakfast: Yogurt and cereal.

Lunch: Sandwich (which are only served in one of the two dining halls)

Dinner: Mystery food.

While we don’t have chocolate fountains, all-you-can-eat buffets and exotic seafood available on ship, we have all we need. To be honest, I look forward to meals on ship — not because of the food, but because of the workers that always make you smile with their hospitality and energy.

This voyage is not about the food, it’s about people. It’s about people on the ship, whether they are old, young, student, worker, child, professor, cabin steward, chef, or dean. Everyone on this ship is working and working hard. And, we are part of a special community that few have the opportunity to join. We are blessed right now and we haven’t even stopped in a port yet.

This isn’t a cruise. Everywhere you turn, a student is talking about how much reading he or she has for homework, people are scampering through the halls with laptops held high in the air in hopes of catching some form of Wi-Fi, club meetings are being organized and professors are contemplating how to raise their children and teach a class on a ship. This is college under unusual circumstances. It is wonderful and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t living in a level of luxury. But, this isn’t a time to relax. This is a time to learn through different means, in different cultures, with different people.

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