Jan 7 – At Sea
Even though today was another sea day, we managed to stay busy. We were waiting outside the doors of the MDR when it opened at 8 so MA could attend this morning’s session of tai chi with Linda Starr. Just before 9, we arrived at the theater where lots of people were warming up. MA found a spot between the rows of seats and D sat down and read for the next 45 minutes while everyone else work on getting their chi down, whatever that means.
At 10, there was a presentation in the theater by the Port Lecturer, Barbara. She was personable and informative, quite unlike the wooden Frank Buckingham, the lecturer on 4 of our previous cruises. He was pedantic and self-absorbed; Barbara seems to really enjoy both her job and the passengers. She spoke today about Santa Marta, Colombia, and the San Blas Islands, Panama, our destinations for Friday and Saturday, respectively. While there will be more information when we reach these ports, for the moment it is only worth noting that what is now Panama was once part of Colombia and that the San Blas Islands are a world unto themselves but politically a part of Panama.
We socialized for a bit after the talk with Arthur and Linda and friends of theirs and eventually found our way to the Ocean Bar to claim “our” table for Trivia. The others wandered in later with Ginger just beating the proverbial buzzer. As always, we laughed more than any other team and finished a not too distant third place in this, the first of the cumulative contests. The daily winners also received Grand dollars so we pocketed another dollar toward “stuff.” As the ship’s rabbi, Arthur is not supposed to win anything and his share is split between the others on the team. Today we got the leftover dollar.
We had agreed to have lunch with the Starrs and their friends in the MDR and stayed until they kicked us out [well, asked us to vacate] around 1:30. We returned to the room to work on the NYT crossword puzzle and then returned to the theater for a talk by last night’s dinner companion on the Panama Canal. His presentation was good but the graphics were hard to decipher and D dozed through every third word. We left the theater around 2:40, probably close to the end of the lecture anyway. We’ll try to stay awake through the next one.
In order to get from here to there, in this case from the lecture to the coffee bar, we had to pass through the casino and were diverted from the straight and narrow for a few minutes of confusion and frustration. MA got her iced latte and we literally turned around to talk to Thom Faulkner, the Future Cruise Consultant, about winter cruises for 2015. We put down a deposit on a December voyage pending agreement by the children. Back in the room, it was journal and relaxation time.
Pub Trivia was scheduled for 5, so we went early, of course, to secure seating. We have settled into a regular team with Ken and Lois and 2 others and are enjoying the slight change in teammates. We are having fun, of course, but are not as well fed.
Tonight was the first of many formal nights and we were dressed to kill. MA had on blue so D wore a bright blue cummerbund and matching bow tie. Several people commented on our color coordination as had Captain Albert’s wife on the Prinsendam several years ago [Look, Albert! They match!”].
We returned to the cabin after talking with the couple at the adjoining table to discover a “pillow gift.” Throughout Grand Cruises, HAL bestows upon guests little surprises. Tonight’s was actually the second because there was a wonderful travel log on our beds after dinner on Monday. The travel log included space for a diary, of course, but also a reference section complete with maps as well as a place to write the names and contact information of people met on the voyage.
Tonight’s present was less of a surprise because pillow gifts are traditionally given on formal nights. This time, we received zippered tote bags with the GWV logo on them. Inside was a traveler’s first-aid kit with Bandaids, Pepto Bismal, anti-bacterial lotion [Purell], etc. We hope we never need it, but it’s nice to know we have it.
The entertainment tonight was a production show by the ship’s cast. There were 4 singer and 5 dancers who presented music from musicals of the ‘70s through the ‘00s. They included selections from Jersey Boys, Mama Mia, Hairspray, Sweet Charity, The Lion King and others. While it was over-amplified [as are most shipboard productions], it was not as annoying as others on past cruises. D went to the show but MA stayed in the cabin to read.
TOMORROW: Another sea day.
Jan 8 – At Sea
MA decided not to go to the tai chi class this morning, so we stayed in bed until 8 o’clock when we were awakened by the cabin steward returning our clean laundry. He did not realize we were in the room because D had put the “service” sign in the door rather the “privacy” sign. Oops. As usual, we went to breakfast in the MDR. Afterwards, we joined the crowd in the showroom for a port talk about Manta, Ecuador. We won’t be there until next week, but the lecturer introduced us to it early.
The port talk led, eventually, to Trivia and then to lunch on the Lido Deck. We had seen nothing on the MDR lunch menu that appealed to us, so we had hamburgers, fries and Diet Cokes by the pool. Our dinner companion gave his second lecture on the Panama Canal today after which we took a lovely nap. Pub Trivia at 5, as usual brought us to drinks and dinner. We enjoyed a lively conversation with our neighbors and skipped the show tonight and returned to read and update the journal.
TOMORROW: Santa Marta, Colombia