“There's more wheelchairs and walkers than people younger than us”

We landed a little after 10 in the morning in Lisbon.  Neither of us had a window, so we couldn’t really make out what the city looked like as we came in to land.  We were off the plane in a hurry, which was good, since the immigration line was long.  It took about 20-25 minutes to get to the front.  There was a separate line for EU citizens that was almost completely empty.  We wondered if UK folks might want to re-think what they’d be giving up with Brexit, but then again, we figured a lot of the people who voted for Brexit might well have been the people least likely to ever leave the UK on travel.  It didn’t really matter that we had no checked bags, as we’d waited so long all the bags from the flight were already on the belt.

We met the Seabourn folks, and they told us they were waiting for a larger group of people before we went to the ship.  There was one other couple there, and they seemed just as excited as us to be waiting in the terminal after all the flying across the Atlantic.  All told, we probably waited 45-60 minutes in the terminal.  We eventually went outside with the group and headed towards the buses.  It was raining lightly outside, and the pavement was very slippery, so we were doing our best not to injure ourselves right before getting on the ship.  We just missed getting on the first bus, so we got on the second bus, only to be told that we’d be waiting a bit on the second bus as one of the guests needed some extra time to board. 

We were a bit surprised by the demographics on the bus, but we weren’t sure if this was a representative sample.  Almost everyone looked to be in their 70s and 80s, and several people were moving incredibly slowly.  We knew most people probably didn’t intend to be as active as us in terms of what to do on the shore excursions, but we were still surprised at the rest of the group.  As we drove through Lisbon, it was cold and rainy outside.  We’d never been to Lisbon before, and had absolutely no idea where we were going or how long it might take to get the pier.

As it turned out, it wasn’t too long of a drive.  The pier was in a mixed commercial/industrial area, with lots of cranes and shipping containers very close to the large cruise ships.  At the pier, it looked like we were in a bay, not on the ocean.  [This turned out to be correct, we were on a large bay.]  We went through security at the port, which wasn’t very intrusive as compared to airline security.  On board the ship, we couldn’t drop off our stuff, as the rooms were not ready yet, so we just took our bags to lunch on the 7th floor at the back of the ship.  We were not the only ones to have this idea – the restaurant was completely full inside, so we had to sit outside, but at least they had heaters.

The demographics we observed on our bus were in fact fairly representative.  Justin commented that “there’s more wheelchairs and walkers than people younger than us.”  This explained why most of the activities offered by boat weren’t very active.  We’d looked at the various shore excursions offered, and aside from trips to Marrakech (from Casablanca) and the Alhambra (from Malaga) nothing really jumped out at us, so we spent a lot of effort arranging private tours with local guides at all of the shore stops.

Once in the room, we looked around and then unpacked a bit.  The room was a little bigger than we remembered on the Paul Gauguin, with a couch area, a table, two chairs, and an ottoman of sorts.  There was also a narrow walk-in closet, and the bathroom had both a tub (which we never once used) and a shower.  After getting our bearings, we both took naps, Crystal’s a little shorter.  We might have slept longer, but there was a mandatory safety briefing at 4:30.  We were now 100% certain about the demographics – we estimated the average age to be at least 70, with more people over 80 than below 55.  After the briefing we just meandered around, trying to orient ourselves on the various decks.  We also checked out what we could see of Lisbon, such as a bridge that was reminiscent of the Golden Gate Bridge and a statue that looked like the Christ the Redeemer from Rio.  There were also a bunch of brightly colored buildings near the shore, kind of like what we’d seen in really cold and gray places such as the Falklands.  We also saw a big square, Praca do Comerico, which had a good number of people outside.  The ship had a pool area on the 8th floor, a bar/lounge at the back of the 5th floor, another bar at the front of the 10th floor, a gym and spa on the 9th floor, and some outdoor activities such as shuffleboard on the top deck, the 11th floor.

At some point while we were walking around we must have gotten out on the open ocean, and the ship started really bouncing around.  We decided to grab some drinks at the Patio Bar, by the pool.  We met the bartender, Matias, who was from northern Peru.  We chatted about some of our travels to Peru (in 2006 and 2010), and he served us some tasty Peruvian red wine.  The restaurants all opened at 7pm, and we decided to eat at Earth & Ocean, the outdoor restaurant right next to the Patio Bar.  It was quite cold outside, but there were heaters that made it bearable.  Almost no one else decided to eat outside, however, so we had basically the whole restaurant area to ourselves.  Two of the servers, Jose and Carlos, were also from Peru.  We got a little instant street cred from them based on how many places we’d visited in Peru, plus the fact we knew more than 2 words of Spanish. Crystal got Mizuna leaves and Branzino; Justin got rigatoni and a braised lamb shank.

After dinner, we wanted to go to sleep super early, but our bathroom tub was full of water coming in from the drain, and the sink was too, plus the sink was also dripping – we figured we should get that fixed before falling asleep.  Crystal not feeling so hot, and hoped to get to sleep before anything went awry.  So she went straight to sleep, and Justin called for maintenance, who first came out to address the issues, then came back with some caulk or something similar to patch the sink.  Justin fell asleep shortly after maintenance left.

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