Milt Abel is a stand-up comedian traveling the world, and places closer.

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Holland America Amsterdam 4/26 – 5/2

By Milt Abel | April 30, 2010

| April 30, 2010

Holland America Amsterdam 4/26 – 5/2

I’ve never seen the ambience on a cruise ship change as much as I observed on the Amsterdam between April 28 and April 30th. From April 26 to the 29 I cruised with 400 passengers finishing the tail-end of a 114 day world cruise. April 29 we exchanged those wealthy, elderly guests for a crowd of 1300 kids, parents, and first-time cruisers that were booked for only a three day cruise. It was like changing TV channels from PBS to an MTV Spring Break special.

I performed two shows the 113th night of their 114 day cruise, and despite they had seen a hundred shows (some nights I’m sure they just showed a movie) before I took the stage, I went over well and enjoyed the experience. The shows were sparsely attended, but after four months at sea, it takes you time to pack. I joked with the audience during the first show of the evening that “the internet had been invented since you left.”

The next night, the very last of their odyssey, I was invited to dinner in the dining room by Dick and Jan, a couple who had taken world cruises for five of the last six years and they were charming company, along with Shirley, a 93 year-old widow who had sat right up front for my late show and was just as present and interesting at dinner. It was odd to be surrounded by passengers who cruised as much as I did, and vaguely unnerving to talk about cruising and various ships’ pluses and minuses with such expertise, and they not being jugglers, magicians, or singers. In some details they were more experienced than me, I rarely eat in the dinning room, but they were able to wax on for sentence after sentence about this ship’s maitre ‘d vs. another, and where they had met and re-met. Probably the only subject I could have educated them on about cruising was which ships had the better crew bars, but despite dropping all kinds of hints, the conversation never poured that direction.

On the 29th the Amsterdam exchanged this veteran, stately crowd for three times as many people that were on average a third their age, so it seemed like the ship had suddenly gotten nine times more crowded. Holland always does a good job, and has one of the consistently friendliest staffs, so the adjustment went smoothly. The only wrench in the works is the sea. We are having two seas day directly up from Los Angeles to Vancouver, B.C. and the ocean, and as I write this, during our first of the two sea days, the ships is rolling, bouncing, and shaking so much I’m mistyping something every sentenxe. The swells are near twenty feet and there seems to be no pattern or rhythm to their effect on the ship. They had to empty the pool, all the water was splashing out, and this morning returning to my cabin I saw a poignant vignette. A six year-old boy wearing a swimsuit stood near the edge of the emptied pool looking into it like it had swallowed his dog. Hopefully tomorrow he’ll be able to splash around and we won’t.

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