You have to get used to the ocean. I spend the first day lying on the couch and staring at the ceiling. But the water’s churn and sway induces not just nausea, but sleep. So we sleep soundly at night, and nap after breakfast, and sometimes we nap again after dinner. By the second day my stomach allows me free reign of my senses. And for all our time onboard sleep will follow us as an ever-ready friend.
They warned us. They warned us about the food. The freighter agency literature mentions several times that the food may not be what Americans are accustomed to – “for example,” it says, “there may not be dessert.” The first morning’s breakfast is called “Hunter’s Toast,” which turns out to be toast smothered in something like liverwurst and topped by a fried egg. Breakfast is usually one part egg, one part meat, and one part toast except when it is sausage and a puddle of tomato sauce. Breakfast is served from 7:30 to 8:00am, which means arrive at 7:30 and leave at eight. One pot of coffee and one pot of hot water sit on the table next to the basket of tea bags and peanut gallery of condiments.
Meals are our only scheduled events and they form the backbone of our days. There are four meals, the three you would expect and coffee, which is served at 4pm for the officers and at 10am for passengers. And when I say passengers I mean us, because we are the only two passengers on the ship. We are also the only two people on the ship who speak English. There are four tables in the Officer’s Mess Hall and we sit alone at the four person table against the back left wall. It feels like attending summer camp entirely by yourself.
Dinner is at 11:30am, a bowl of soup followed by a hunk of meat covered in white sauce and served with potato or rice. Like most institutional menus the ship’s menu has a clear pattern, and three times a week this includes dessert. Twice a week, when ice cream is served after lunch, supper will be “cold buffet.” If there is pudding, supper is anyone’s guess. Food on the ship, of course, can be supplemented by purchases at the Ship’s store.