Saturday, March 14, 2009

Goofs and Gifts

Friday, March 13, 2009
After D fixed the traverse drapes last night, the room stayed darker this morning. We were still up by 7:30, leisurely when one considers the future when we will have to be on the dock at that time. We had breakfast in the main dining room, alone at a table for 6. At 9:30, there was coffee and conversation with Thom, the Cruise Director, and Ian Finkle, the xylophonist from last night. It was a lively conversation – Finkle shows a good sense of humor and a strong Brooklyn accent; he reminded us of both Garry Marshall and Gilbert Gottfried in his delivery.

Before going to TT, D stopped to straighten out some confusion over a “free” dinner at the Pinnacle Grill, the ship’s steak house. Because we complained about our cabin on the last cruise, HAL offered us credit toward a meal in the Grille on the next cruise, but it didn’t show up on our initial statement. There was no difficulty – all we have to do is present our letter when we make a reservation. There was no credit on the account because the charge varies depending on whether there is a “special” event scheduled; we will be covered for any evening regardless of the cost.

We went to the Ocean Bar for TT and met with the Beverage Manager who is taking charge of arranging the CC meetings. We discussed dates for four more get-togethers and he said that he would send an advance copy of the invitations in case we wanted to edit them; he will also have the invitations delivered to the fifteen cabins involved.

Trivia found us living down to the expectations borne of an overwhelming opening day win. We finished with 16 points but there were a half-dozen teams which did better. We had a good time and did not lament the luggage tags we didn’t win. One interesting note is that Casey, the TT staffer in charge, brought printed copies of the questions to our table as he read them so that Kay, who has a hearing problem, could read the questions. This really made her a part of the team and she did not have to use special earphones to try to hear them as they were read.

We wandered for a bit before settling in the casino where MA won $5 on the slots and D won just $1 at blackjack. On other machines, MA won another bazillion bucks while we can all predict what happened to D’s $5. Say bye-bye, buckeroos. Off to lunch at the Lido buffet and then onto the fantail of Deck 8 to work on crosswords and a trivia quiz. When the spray from the Deck 9 pool became too bothersome, we went back to the casino [where MA won again] and then to the Ocean Bar to read and begin the journal.

Time for a couple of asides:

[1] Grand Voyages are not like regular cruises, even long ones. The staff is making a concerted effort to learn the names of new passengers and amazingly remember names of many of the returning passengers. There are a lot of those, making us feel, once again, like cruise virgins, at least regarding the Prinsendam. In addition, there are special lecturers, guest chefs and other special activities. Even better, guests receive what our friend Roxanne calls “pillow” gifts even though they are at the foot of the bed. Last evening we discovered not one, but two wonderful journals to keep track of our voyage; we have used these before although we now keep our journal on the laptop. Still, we saw one of the CCers on the back deck writing in hers this afternoon. We are hoping for a gift on each of the formal nights, the first of which is tonight. On the Amsterdam last Fall, we received cruise-specific stationery, totebags and travel purses; sweat shirts, umbrellas and specially-created china; there were other things we missed because we only took the first half. We are anxious to see what appears in our cabin this year.
[2] On Wednesday, just to add to our fun, we had to rush through lunch to attend the mandatory boat drill. HAL usually takes these seriously since they have had occasion to evacuate ships. We were standing in line listening to the usual instructions when the passengers closest to the ship’s windows started getting wet. There is an water discharge system which automatically [and accidentally] started to spray water down the windows. At first we thought it was a window-washing mechanism but were told later that the water is aimed at the windows simply to help cool them; rinsing them, to HAL’s thinking, was just a serendipitous bonus. Needless to say, the mood was broken; although our spirits were not dampened, just our shoes.

Tonight was “formal” night, so we got duded up in our glad rags. D still looks like a Swiss banker when he wears his tuxedo but if he gains any weight on this cruise he won’t be able to wear it by the time we disembark. We ate at our newest table, just the two of us at a table for four. We struck up a conversation with the woman at the next table and the three of us had a pleasant evening. We think we will abandon our plan to try a different table each night for fifty days. We skipped the Alaskan king crab [imagine melted butter on formal wear], and had the vegetarian and rack of lamb, respectively.

Because we couldn’t enter the show venue until 9:45, we spent some time and money in the casino proving that the slots are rigged in favor of the house. Then it was off to the Queen’s Lounge for staff introductions, hand-shaking and a toast. The captain is quite affable and well respected by staff and passengers alike, so this will be a good cruise. The full-cast production show followed, a musical salute to assorted European countries in song and dance. It was interesting watching the dancers on the bouncing sage since the ship was rolling a bit.

We returned to our cabin at 11:15 to discover that the cabin steward had not straightened the room, turned down the beds or cleaned the bathroom. D went to the Front Desk to alert them, but there was nothing to be done that late at night. If Harry, the steward, expects an extra tip at the end of the voyage, he had better improve the service. At any rate, MA read and went to sleep while D finished this journal entry which he had started earlier in the afternoon.

Tomorrow, we are in St. Barts, our first-ever port in the Southern Caribbean. We plan on wandering through the town just to do something.

1 comment:

  1. You'd think I would have something better to do than read this blog everyday. But it's a good diversion from taxes. How's the motion ofthe ship? Does it feel any different from other ships or was it just me?
    Have you met out travel mates from Alaska? Please give them a hug from us!