Today we are on the first of four glorious days at sea enroute to the Islands of Hawaii. Of course, being a sea day, there were a lot of things taking place onboard the ship, but the big event was our Cruise Critics and Cruise Mates Meet and Greet which was held in the Crow’s Nest at 2:30 this afternoon. We had an almost 100% turnout rate from the roll call boards, which is very unusual since there are always some who don’t bother showing up for the meet and greet, despite having been active on the roll call threads for months. Our get-together was fun and we had close to 50 people in attendance. While I’ve met and spoken with many fellow internet cruisers up to this point, there are always a bunch you haven’t yet met, and that’s what makes these Meet and Greets so much fun. There were several I met for the first time yesterday. We also used the occasion to plan some group tours and whatnot, and people of like interests were able to meet for such things as forming trivia teams and whatnot.
HAL provided a nice spread for our event – cold appetizers, coffee, tea, cookies – things of that nature. We were also joined by the Purser, the onboard “party planner,” and Mike Connachan, our cruise director.
HAL has made some significant changes in their onboard enrichment program, and while there has been much talk on the boards about them cutting back, at least on this cruise the opposite seems true. What I see is that there are no longer “ACD’s” – or Assistant Cruise Directors. Instead, there are people who report to the cruise director, such as the party planner, the disc jockey, and others, and each has their area of specialization. The deejay, of course, spins tunes … but he also hosts various events such as karaoke. The party planner actually doesn’t plan parties at all. Rather she is more attached to the Culinary Arts Center, and she hosts various demonstrations that take place there – like cooking classes and demonstrations, as well as other things like flower arranging. There are also onboard lecturers who present talks on sea days, most of which pertain to our itinerary, clergy who host daily services for various faiths, and a variety of other entertainers.
Another interesting feature of this cruise will be a series of “coffee chats” with various guest entertainers that our cruise director will host on some sea day mornings. These should prove interesting, and I plan to attend the first one today – a chat with the onboard executive chef, Franz. I’m hoping he’s fat – because I never did trust a skinny chef.
We had dinner in the traditional dining room again last night. Service for some reason was a bit sluggish, though not awfully slow. I guess our problem was that we were in a hurry. We had 5:45 seating, but the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Toast was taking place at 7:45 – right before the production show. Of course, if you don’t get to the theater extra early, you’ll never get a decent seat, so we wanted service to be brisk. We hadn’t yet received our entrees by 7:00 p.m. Of course, that’s not an unreasonably long period of time to wait on a “normal” evening, but when there is a special event taking place in the theater, the wait and kitchen staff should be cognizant of that fact and keep the pace quick. That did not happen last night, and thus we had to skip dessert and coffee and run off to the show lounge at 7:15 or so – but we did get a front row seat for the festivities, after which we enjoyed the cast show, “The Hits of Broadway, the Designs of Mackie.” I’ve seen that show a couple of times before on other Holland America ships, but I particularly enjoy it if for no other reason than for the extra elaborate costumes used in the production.
We are now getting some “motion to our ocean” (which I love). The ship is rolling a bit and I won’t be surprised if I see the barf bags appearing at the elevators. I personally love it when the ship is on “active” seas. After all, why cruise if you don’t like some motion? You’d be better off just taking a land vacation, right? But as I lay down to sleep, I knew it would be a nice restful night with the waves gently rocking me like a baby in a cradle. Can’t get that feature on land.
Saturday will be a busy day onboard the Statendam. I will be having chats with several staff members about their lives and jobs onboard. Should be interesting, and I’ll be back online in the coming days to write about them. Then, when we hit Hawaii, we’ll have all the excitement of the ports to report, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy our travels to Kona, Hilo, Honolulu, Maui and Kauai. We’ve got some interesting shore excursions planned as well that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
For now, though, I’m going to crawl back into this warm bed and get a couple more hours of shuteye before I go to the Lido and stuff my face. God, I love cruising!