Joys of cruising from New Orleans to Mexico
Shalini and Yogesh Chandra had a great time cruising from New Orleans to Cozumel Island in the Gulf of Mexico. They enjoyed the seascape, local cuisine, culture, hospitality, and attention showered on them for being the only Indians on board other than some of the crew-members.
Starting from New Orleans at the mouth of the Mississippi, our ship ‘ Holiday’ festooned with fairy lights, glided into the Gulf of Mexico around midnight under the firework-lit sky. The ten storeyed high ship announced carnival time with entertainment programmes for all ages and tastes. A troupe of forty entertainers engaged us with stand up comics, Dixieland jazz, magic, jugglery and interactive games. The deck, library, dining halls, internet cafes and souvenir shops were added attractions.
The ten storeyed high ship announced carnival time with entertainment programmes for all ages and tastes.
Racing horses at sea
Each morning, a daily newspaper slipped under cabin doors informed us about activities for the day. We were quite amazed when invited on deck for a horse race! Eight hobby horses were auctioned and the proud owners aged between 8 and 80 were expected to name and look after the horse for four days. It was great fun to see the owners take their horses to the ship’s beauty salon and buy colourful scarves and beads for them!
An elderly lady even took offence and pointed out that I had not said Hello to her horse! On the last day to the count of dice, the horses jumped squares under their owner-jockeys and won prizes and accolade.
Bidding for Kolhapuri slippers!
At the first formal dinner, my sari was appreciated but Yogesh’s Kolhapuri slippers were bid for feverishly! We would have made big money had Yogesh relented to the eager requests for his slippers.
Age is in the mind
Some of our co-passengers on wheel-chairs made us rethink on our Indian mentality that the aged should rest at home. A family celebrated their grandparents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary aboard.
Cagan cuisine - a bit of French, a bit of African...
The food aboard was a delight. Food and drink was free but water had to be bought! The menu overflowed with vegetarian, non-vegetarian, health food, fruit, juices, beer and coke. Anyone on a slimming diet could have done well on a fruit and juice diet here.
Mexican and Cagan cuisine were the highlights for us, besides Tandoori Aalu, roti and cilantro chutney made especially for Indian guests. Cagan is a blend of French and Negro cuisine.
At Cozumel there were ample opportunities for snorkelling, exploring coral reefs, diving, kayaking and playing around on the beach. Handicraft sellers seeing me in a salwar suit identified us as Indians and spoke to us in broken Hindi. They had picked up Hindi from crew members. One man had read Premchand too! When I refused to buy a flute, the salesman said, ‘No flute? Krishna!’ They know quite a bit about India!
Mayan ruins high on the cliffs of Tulum attracted many of our co-passengers but we preferred to explore the beach with its bright shopping arena.
Mexican artists paint beautiful cityscapes, seascapes and portraits of Mexican life. Hand painted artifacts in sandy clay, silver jewellery, feather and shell artifacts offered us great temptation for bargaining.