Wow! i am really running behind here -- so let's get this show on the road!
This is the second time I am doing this Hawaii/South Pacific itinerary and the reason I love it so much is not just the interesting island ports, but also the wonderful stretches of sea days in between. We are currently on our second “cluster” of them, heading toward the South Pacific. We are on the third day out of five, and the pace is wonderful.
I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast up in the Lido this morning. I am finding that I don’t eat a lot, just a nice variety of the things I most enjoy. It’s wonderful having that variety close at hand and being able to partake whenever I am hungry. At home I never have a “dammed” thing in the house, so I wind up having to go out and get anything I want before I can enjoy it. Just not as organized as I should be in my daily life. Too busy working for a living.
It’s funny, but I don’t find myself ordering room service much this cruise. On port days, I just grab a bite in the Lido before heading out on tour, and on sea days I don’t want any room service waiter waking me up. I prefer to just get up when I am ready – generally anywhere between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m. – and eat in the Lido. I’ll have to make a point of ordering room service before the end of the cruise so that I can evaluate it’s efficiency for you folks.
A lot going on around the ship today. Lectures, “Dam Dollar” type events, spa and fitness classes, a future cruise presentation on the 2010 grand voyages (oh, Jesus – how I wish), unhosted games, afternoon tea – you name it. I spent the better part of the day attending some presentations and then sitting in the Ocean Bar with friends.
We have developed our little “smoker’s crowd” onboard. We usually run into each other in the smoking section of the Ocean Bar at all hours of the day. Whenever any one of us feels like some good conversation, we know we can go there and always run into a friendly face. We sometimes use the Crow’s Nest for this same purpose, but sadly often that’s not an option because for some reason the Crow’s Nest is often colder than a meat locker during the daytime when there’s not too many people gathered there. However, we do sometimes head there in the evenings for drinks.
We enjoyed our second dinner in the Pinnacle Grill this evening. As is always the case, the meal was delicious. However, they seem to have some sort of problem with air ventilation there. It becomes very warm once the restaurant gets full. Towards the end of the meal, it did start to cool down, but that was only after the staff called the engineering department after several complaints from diners, especially the ones at our table. I am fortunate in that I am not feeling the temperature problem. I am usually colder than most people, probably due to some of the medications I am taking right now. But poor Trisha and Virgil (my dining companions) were really suffering.
We also enjoyed lunch at the Pinnacle the other day – a first for our group. The lunch selection is very good, with several items to choose from. The Pinnacle Burger looked great, though I decided not to order this since I could see that it was way more than I would ever be able to eat. But others reported that it was absolutely delicious. I had the beef dish – basically a small steak. Perfect size for my appetite. They also have a selection of soups and salads to go along with the meals and the five mushroom soup was to die for.
I should also mention that the surcharge for dinner at the Pinnacle has been dropped back down to $20. It’s $10 for lunch. Breakfast in the Pinnacle is free, but is only open to luxury suite passengers. So, sorry, I won’t be able to give you a report on that.
So, once again, it would be wise to decide when you want to dine there and then make your reservations early in the cruise. I would imagine reservations fill up rather quickly, as every time we’ve eaten there, the place has been pretty packed. Since we’re on a longer cruise, it hasn’t been difficult to get reservations, but I would imagine that on a seven or ten-day cruise, this could be a challenge. Our group early on selected four dates on which we wanted to have dinner there, and one date for lunch. We stopped by the restaurant and got all of our reservations made right after departing San Francisco – before the major crowd for the cruise got on in San Diego.
The casino is doing a hopping business this cruise. It’s funny, but everyone I talk to indicates that the slots are “tight,” yet every time I walk past, there seems to be a healthy crowd in there. I have a difficult time understanding that. Wouldn’t it be better to just take the $20 or whatever you plan to lose, and just toss it into a collection box – maybe for a maritime charity? Okay, it’s just me. Maybe I’m just being a sore loser. I had decided to try the slots – figured everyone else was having so much fun, maybe there was something I was missing. Within five minutes I had burned through $20 bucks with nothing to show for it. I told Trisha that it reminded me of a vending machine that doesn’t give up the item you put your money in to get. Most sensible people will maybe bang on the machine a few times, or even put another dollar in hoping to force the “stuck” item to drop and get two candy bars instead of one. But no one is stupid enough to keep putting dollar after dollar in – getting nothing out in return. That’s how I felt playing this slot machine -- $1.25 in – very little if anything out – before I knew it – GAME OVER! You’ve gotta be kidding! I’d rather use the money for cocktail cards!
I do want to try Bingo, though, at some point before the end of this cruise. Believe it or not, I’ve never played Bingo on a cruise ship, but it sure looks like people are having fun with it. On sea days, they run two separate Bingo sessions – one at 11:30 a.m. and another at 4:00. Sometimes these will have “themes” attached to them. Today’s looked interesting. They had something called Bathrobe/Shower Cap Snowball Jackpot Bingo. I couldn’t understand why all these people were running around in the Atrium in nothing but their bathrobes until I realized they were having this event. Maybe I can talk them into doing “Formal Night Buster” Bingo – everyone coming in their sloppiest tee-shirts and shorts to play on a Formal Night? Would work for me! Maybe they could even host the game in the dining room!
On sea days there are also a couple of lectures as part of the Explorations Speaker Series. One guy, Warren Salinger, is doing an eight-lecture series about global issues and today’s offering was called Asean – Ten Southeast Asian Nations in a Major World Role. Sounds a lot like a college lecture to me, and I got more than my fill of them studying for my Bachelor’s, Master’s and Law Degree. No thanks. Another lecturer, Melvyn Foster, did a presentation entitled “Island and Islanders of the Pacific: French Polynesia.” That looks much better and I will have to catch it on the tv today. That’s the nice thing about all these talks. You don’t have to worry about making them when they are presented in the lounge or the theater because each one is run repeatedly on the in-cabin televisions as well. I prefer to watch them there so that I don’t have to be embarrassed if I fall asleep. With all the good eating around this ship, that has become a real concern for me.
The show this evening was pretty interesting. I’m not real big on shows, but tonight’s piqued my interest. I originally wasn’t going to bother attending, but decided at the last minute to head out for the 10:00 p.m. show and see what it was about. The show was called “A Man and His Duck” – Ken and Casey, and it was a hoot. I originally assumed it was a live duck that Ken was working with, because the description of the show wasn’t very clear on that point. Turns out Ken is a ventriloquist – or “vent,” as he likes to say – and his show is absolutely hilarious. I won’t give away too much, but if you ever get a chance to see these guys – either on a ship or on television – don’t miss it. I was literally rolling in the aisles.
As I sit here and write this, I am happy to report that we’ve finally gotten a little “bouncy bounce” on this cruise. I cornered Captain Jack in the Ocean Bar last night and asked him if he could prevail upon the weather gods for a bit of movement, but other passengers within earshot quickly shushed me. They are perfectly happy with smooth seas and don’t want me “rocking the boat.” Woussies! But apparently someone heard my plea. We’re not getting a whole lot of motion, but at least some. I am anticipating being rocked to sleep a bit as the gentle lapping of the swells can clearly be felt as I sit here in my cabin writing this. Finally!
Well, it’s another full day tomorrow, including our Crossing of the Equator Ceremony. We actually crossed this equator this evening, but King Neptune agreed to let us hold the ceremony by daylight. So it will be held on Thursday instead. I’ll write more about it in tomorrow’s blog entry, but suffice to say it’s a fun event that is only held on ships whose itineraries take them across the equator. This is my second such cruise, so I know the ceremony will be just as memorable as it was on the Amsterdam. All passengers will receive a certificate as well, signed by the Captain, and indicating their induction into the order of Shellbacks – no longer to be considered a Pollywog. Fun stuff!