Wheel chairs of all sorts, sizes and colors are strewn along the corridors of the ship like broken down cars along a country road. Rather than take them into their cabins where they will take up space and not look very attractive, they leave them in the corridor where they do exactly the same.
The ship is a floating hotel for geriatrics. We have never seen so many old people on one ship. The Golden Girls did wonders for the older crowd, making them attractive, fun and energetic. This ship shows them in a completely different light. Attractive they are not. Fun they are not – rude and grumpy they are. And the only energy they show is for a brief moment during the races that occur twice a day when the buffet opens for lunch and dinner. Suddenly they leap into action driving their motorized wheel chairs at full speed towards the food, overtaking every passenger unfortunate enough to be using their own two feet. They get as close as they can to the food and then jump out of the chair and make a desperate lurch towards the fries, leaving their chair in the way of everyone else.
Presumably this is a well planned tactic aimed at slowing down the mob behind them. You just never know when the ship will run out of food.
Those that choose to go to the dining room in the evening instead of the buffet, seem to assume that the waiters provide valet parking. They drive their chairs right up to their table, and carefully ease themselves into the dining chair, leaving the waiter to move the chair to a suitable parking space. This means that the entrance to the restaurant looks something like this.
All of this is of course perfectly understandable, and I wouldn’t be commenting on it if it were done with some charm. But it is not. They are rude and pushy, not just to their fellow passengers but to the staff who are trying to help them. And this applies not just to the wheelchair crowd, but also the many passengers using canes and walkers. And lord help you if you get in their way during the daily races.
And if you want to enjoy the Christmas trees that Oceania have thoughtfully placed throughout the ship, you will be out of luck. Instead of beautifully wrapped presents carefully placed under the tree, there is a jumble of wheel chairs, discarded with no thought of others.
But fortunately there is Henry to wave the flag for the aged and infirm, although at 100 years young he doesn’t seem old and he is anything but infirm. He walks round the ship unaided, beaming at anyone who says hello. He was celebrating his birthday with his family a few days ago at the evening entertainment show in the theatre. Before the show started the Entertainment Director came on stage and introduced Henry to us all and told us that it was Henry’s 100th birthday. There was much applause as the Director asked Henry to stand up.
Now asking a 100 year old to stand up might seem like a cruel joke, especially on this ship, but Henry leaped to his feet in one simple movement. He turned to face the rest of the audience with a huge smile on his face. He waved his acknowledgment, did a small jig (well I am sure he would have if there had been room), and sat back down. All without any effort. It was an impressive performance.
I want to be like Henry when I grow up.