Monday, April 20, 2009
Ponta Delgada is not the second baseman for the Yankees or even the Orioles. It is the largest city on Sao Miguel, one of the Azores. The Azores are a part of Portugal even though the mainland is somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 miles ENE of here.
The island is a pleasant little place. We were here in 2001 so we didn’t feel the need to go touring today. Even so, we could see changes in the city just from the ship. On our previous visit, we were required to dock at the freight terminal; now, there is a new [to us] cruise ship terminal right at the waterfront’s main street. There has been lots of development along this strip of road, new shops and high-rise apartments to go with the newly opened pier. There are shops and restaurants both by the ship and across the street and we got the impression, based on the number of restaurants, coffee shops and bars, that this was a “happening place” at night. It looks and feels like the kind of place young people would flock to.
There is a “zoo choo” which makes a 45-minute circle of the downtown area, but we skipped that, too. Been here; seen it. Instead, we walked off the ship and across the street in an effort to spend our last twenty euros. We managed to spend about 1.50 euros on a package of lemon cookies for “the boys” and will use the rest for tips. The Prinsendam is turning around in Ft. Lauderdale for another 36-day trip to the Mediterranean and we think will give the remaining euros to a bar steward as a tip on the theory that he may be able to use the euros easier than dollars.
We ate lunch outside on the Lido deck today. It was a bit breezy, but it was good to eat outdoors for the first time in a month. After lunch, D created a generic certificate for the CC members which stated in part that they had successfully completed most of the 50-day cruise. Since we are still 10 days out, it was both accurate and a little joke. He commandeered the future cruise lady’s printer again and ran off fifteen copies.
Dinner with Sally, Bert and Mary was lively once again although Mary left before dessert to visit friends; it was not unusual since she never eats dessert. We closed down the dining room for the second straight night and MA went to the room while D showed Sally and Bert how to access the CC website so they, too, could research upcoming cruises. Later, D reprinted the certificates with the names of all of the people printed in the appropriate space. He played a little blackjack before retiring for the night and is back to even for the week.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Today was the final CC meeting for the cruise. We shared stories and experiences as well as jokes about our voyage [How long is 5 minutes in Varna? About 5 kilometers]. Sally and Bert joined us because they had heard about CC but had no idea what it really was, as if anyone does. Peeking at the website does not begin to demonstrate the camaraderie we have developed. Roger Flauta, the Beverage Manager, came for a moment or two and was greeted with a round of applause when D explained to the assemblage that Roger had done all of the real work in organizing the meetings. D gave Roger certificates for himself and Captain Gundersen. We were also fortunate that Elaine, the cruise lady, came for a few minutes if only to plug her 11:00 presentation on the 2010 World Cruise, and Cruise Director Thom popped in for a short hello and an apology – another meeting was scheduled simultaneously with ours in the Crow’s Nest. We didn’t mind and even shared our cookies at the end of our meeting.
Trivia was a bust today, but we again avoided armed conflict at the table. We ate lunch with Norm and Kay who told wonderful stories of growing up in the wild Northwest. Bears and snakes and moose, oh my! Around 3:00, MA took her nap and D created a CC chart with names and e-mail addresses in response to a request at the meeting. We doubt that the lists will get much use, but we could be wrong.
After another pleasant dinner, MA went to the cabin to read and D went to the casino. On the way, he met the captain who was confirming that the appropriate chart for our current position was posted. D joked that if the Captain was lost, then D would start to worry. The Captain replied that he knew where we were and that he would have been worried if the Mediterranean chart were still posted. Uneasy lies the head….
D returned to the cabin at 11:00 to find MA still reading. Shortly after he returned, she turned off the light and went to sleep. This sequence will be important when we continue with a sea day tomorrow.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Sometime in the middle of the night, D decided it would be fun to print a certificate for Norm and Kay who were celebrating their 55th anniversary today. He crawled out of bed at 7:45, dressed and was about to leave when realized that he couldn’t find his cabin key; it wasn’t in the usual spot. The cabin was still dark, so he grabbed the old one [from weeks ago when he locked himself out] and trudged up to Cruise Lady’s desk where he made and printed the certificate.
In order to keep it a surprise, he asked one of the dining room gatekeepers, Rahmat, to place it on Kay and Norm’s table tonight; they’ll know who sent it since it is eerily similar to the CC certificate they received yesterday. Rahmat found that HAL was already aware of the anniversary and that a cake was being delivered to them as well. Undoubtedly, a slew of Indonesians will serenade the “lovely couple” when the cake is delivered. “Happy anniversary, lovely couple; Happy anniversary to you.”
D had no trouble getting back into the cabin, but he and MA tore the place apart trying to find the key card. Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t find it. It wasn’t on the floor, under the bed or in any of his pockets, yet it must still be in the room since D was able to open the door last night. As Yul Brynner said, “It’s a puzzlement.”
Today was also Mariner Day. HAL alumni were invited to brunch or lunch as a “thank you” for their loyalty. On previous cruises, the alumni have been given cocktails or what pretends to be champagne in the show lounge as new “milestone” passengers receive pins and/or medals. This time, it was a seated brunch for us; we think the “milestone” folks were invited to the later gathering. We sat with Barbara and Marvin and two other couples who looked vaguely familiar and had a pleasant time. We think we are approaching 200 days on HAL, but the next pin or medal comes at 300 days, so we have a while to wait for that one.
We returned to the room after our early lunch but still could not find the key card. MA rested while D updated and proofread the journal as we awaited the start of trivia at 3:15. The time was changed today to accommodate the Mariner lunches; Hell hath no fury like an angry trivia player.
We should have stayed in the room. We scored a miserable 11 points out of 23 and still weren’t too far behind the winning score of 15. Even if the correct answers we ignored had been used, we would have had only 14. [Which river rises in the Black Forest and goes to the Black Sea? What Baltic nation was the first to break from the USSR?] After the usual apres-trivia chat, “we” went shopping and bought another[!] mug for the kitchen and some T-shirts. When MA went for an iced latte, D went to play blackjack for a few minutes. He returned with a 50 per cent return on his money – his ten dollars was now fifteen, a start on paying for the mug. We sat with Barbara and schmoozed a bit, then returned to the cabin to rest for dinner [and continue proofreading]. When we returned to the room, D made one more search of his dress pants and found the missing key card in a pants pocket where it had been hiding all along.
Here’s another flashback – It must have been Monday night. D had just sat down at the blackjack table when Shirley, one of the regulars, complained that she was having a hot flash. A discussion of hot flashes ensued among Shirley, Carol [another regular], Dora [the pit boss] and the female dealer. The casino workers are too young to know the joys of hot flashes and Carol, especially, was trying to explain them. D felt Shirley put her head on his shoulder and thought she was resting until he realized that she had slid down his chest and had her head on the blackjack table. She had passed out cold. He and one of the other players sat her up as she started to recover consciousness and the casino manager half carried her out to the deck where it was cooler. He managed to get her to her cabin and reported to the table that she was feeling much better and had refused to see the doctor or nurse. Oh, the drama! Oh, the excitement!
The evening was unusual only in that there was nothing on the menu that appealed to us, so D asked Toro if he and MA could get Caesar salads with a grilled chicken breast [no problem]. It was like being home again.
Afterwards, we followed our nighttime ritual of reading and blackjack. D did not lose his key card this time.