People - 2006 Carnival Valor Wine Cruise

I am fascinated by people. I love talking to people and meeting new people - but I suppose in a quiet way. I used to enjoy large crowds and parties, but now I'd much rather sit down with one or two people in a quieter area and really get to talk to and know them. So I do understand that this tends to self-select the people I talked with on this cruise :) I wasn't hanging out on the party pool deck area, with the loud music blaring and people drinking 800 drinks in a row. I only actually bought one "drink" outside of dinner the entire cruise, and that was a sparkling wine to go with lunch one day.

I was really happy to see a wide variety of people types on the cruise to talk with. There were many caucasians, as is typical. But there were far more African-Americans than I saw on the Liberty last year, as well as Chinese, Indians, Japanese, Canadians, and more. I had long talks with three different couples from Canada. I talked with two Indian women. We kept running into a fun African-American couple who said they lived on the buffet / pool decks. We met them during the past cruisers get-together in Paris Hot. If not for that, we probably never would have crossed paths! The same is true for our table-mates who only showed up once to try it out. The rest of the time they were in the casino - where we pretty much never go - or at the buffets.

I really enjoyed meeting with people from a variety of backgrounds, learning why they were cruising and what they enjoyed in life.

In many ways it was almost as if there were different "groups" of cruisers who moved in their own worlds. There were the gamblers who ate causlly. There were the pool hounds who ate casually. There were the cocktail drinkers who ate in the early formal dining room, so they could get out drinking after that and have fun. Then there were the late diners who were more into the dinner experience, sitting around for many hours enjoying the food and multiple bottles of wine. Many of them were interested in cigars and discussion afterwards. Many people "crossed groups" of course - but it seemed for example that we kept running into wine club members over and over again, because we were all going ot the same places. We only rarely ran into our friends who were pool-and-buffet people.

I have run a low carb site for many years, and have a lot of people who email me about healthy eating and weight loss. My boyfriend and I both lost weight using low carb. So one thing that fascinates me is how much people weigh and how they eat. There are so many different components to why people get heavy and if they stay that way. One thing many people talked about (including the comedian) was how the average weight gain on a week's cruise is 10-15 pounds. We saw many people by the golf cage and on the "walking track" around the cage and they were all slim. Pretty much everyone I saw in the upper Washington room was slender or average. But most people I saw at the buffet lines were heavy, and half or more of the people lying in deck chairs were heavy. It was like there were two different groups, with two different lifestyles, sharing a ship.

This situation fascinates me. They had an *excellent* salad bar. I ate it daily for lunch and didn't feel "deprived" at all - it was very tasty. They had a "spa" option on the formal dinner menu every night, they always had sugar-free dessert options. They were really doing a great job of putting the things right out there, for you to get to. In the buffet line you would have to deliberately walk past the salad options to get to the other things. The water spigot was right next to the fruit punch.

We did eat the buffet for breakfast and lunch so we understand the convenience. However, from a "value" standpoint it would seem that eating dinner at least, with the more expensive items (for free), gets you more bang for the buck in an all inclusive situation. And also, the slower pace of the meal, with conversation and water drinking, has you end up eating less, which is better for calorie intake. So - healthier food, healthier eating style. Maybe the slender people who were in that dining area do this all the time, which is why they're slender? When we chose to walk the 10 minutes to town at St. Maarten, we passed many slender / average people doing that. It looked like the heavy people would take the water taxi. Again, it seems to self select out the groups.

The buffet *could* provide an incredibly healthy meal - but most buffet people I saw went right for the most calorie-filled foods, making large mounds of it. Some said they were getting the best bang for the buck based on that buffet line's offerings. Which then meant they would take in tons of calories, but their blood sugar drop after that initial spike would make them sleepy. They would then want to hang out on a deck chair and rest. And then, just like with Chinese food, they'd be hungry again, and the buffet was right there. It was almost a viscious cycle. Since it involved no dress up or anything - people were using the buffet lines in their swimsuits - there was no barrier at all to doing this all week long. So I could easily see how someone could gain 20 or more pounds after a week of this. The pizza was open 24 hours - but not the salad bar.

The sad thing, to me, is that for some people the fact they *can* get unlimited food for a week is a real treat. As in, they normally don't have enough food to eat, and are going hungry. So for them to have "more than enough food" for 7 days straight is something they have to really savor and take advantage of. "I can eat as much as I want! This is great!" Although ... could those people afford a cruise ticket? Did they get them as a present? Did they really save up for the wine cruise by not eating enough food for a few months?

These are the things I ponder during the lunches at Rosie's, and that we talk about during our dinners.

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