Sunday, December 23, 2012

Friday, December 21 – Busy, Busy, Busy

As sea days go, this one was full of activity.  We had a relaxed breakfast in the MDR knowing that the afternoon would be taken up in part by packing for tomorrow’s departure.  We had one last chat with some of the dining room staff whom we will not see tonight or tomorrow.


Normally, we think, we should have received a disembarkation package this morning, but none was in the mailbox.  This packet contains instructions for the morning as well as color-coded luggage tags for our baggage and a customs declaration form.  Nada, so we made plans to attend the 10 a.m. meeting in the showroom in case there was something new.


In fact, there was nothing new, but the showroom was filled to capacity and people were standing at the back to hear Carlos tell us what we knew from previous cruises.  We slipped out before the March of the Staff, a custom which allows the passengers to applaud the workers many have treated condescendingly until now.


We returned to the room and shortly thereafter the luggage tags arrived.  We will be able to leave around 9:15, hopefully earlier, to meet Emily’s plane at FLL; she is due in at 10:30, so we should have plenty of time.


D began packing while we waited for Trivia Time and finished the bulk of it by 11:10.   We were surprised by the lateness and hurried to the OB, arriving around 11:15 to find “our” booth vacant.  Usually someone is there by 11 [normally us], so we were glad no one had jumped our claim.  Everyone was present and accounted for again and we worked hard to tie for first with our arch-rivals, the Road Scholars.  We won the playoff and offered them the travel mugs we won.  Two of their players accepted, so we gave them ours so Mark, Mary, Vicky and Barry could cart more home.  We think that made us the winners.  We held Carlos to his promise of drinks if we won the final game and enjoyed our fruity concoctions [except for MA’s vodka].


We had to take our drinks back to the room so we could dress for lunch.  Our reservation in the Pinnacle Grill was for 12:30 and we left the OB at 12:15.  We changed and were upstairs on time.  D put his frozen pina colada in the mini-fridge and MA just left hers on the vanity.


Our lunch was delightful, as much for the experience as the food.  We prefer the lunch menu in the Pinnacle which we often call the “Pineapple Grill.”  We both ordered Five Onion Soup which was several steps up from the MDR onion soup.   MA had lobster-and-crab cakes which had great flavor, she said, even if the seafood was shredded.  D had a bacon cheeseburger and fries.  We did not order dessert when we ordered the rest of the meal even though that is the normal procedure.  Roger, the PG manager, personally took care of us and came to chat and check up on us several times while we ate.  Also while we were eating, Fermin came to the table and apologized for not attending the CC meeting yesterday.  He had wanted to but was in a meeting and could not get away.  We explained that the captain had stopped by and that we were not upset at all.  Gildus also stopped to talk with us during the meal.


Once the dishes were cleared, Roger appeared with a to-die-for chocolate cake for our anniversary.  We had mentioned the date when we made the reservation but had not expected any special attention.  On the other hand, no one sang “Happy Anniversary, Lovely Couple” to us.  The cake was a chocolate mousse cake which even MA, not a chocolate lover, almost finished.  D did not finish, either, but he had been given the larger piece.  We were the last customers to leave the PG after talking with Roger until 2:00.


MA started packing when we returned to the room and was almost finished by 2:30 when we left again.  This time we went back to the OB for a cabaret performance by the ship’s singers.  They had given a similar performance in the Crow’s Nest recently and Carlos thought the bigger venue of the OB would allow more passengers to see it.  We were early but wanted to get good seats with a table because we brought our Trivia drinks with us.  The show was good but a bit over-amplified, a problem in all of the show venues; we may be old but not everyone on board is deaf.


And now today’s excitement:  Each stateroom received a letter today thanking us for our patience during The Recent Troubles.  As a further show of gratitude, HAL was granting us each a Future Cruise Credit equal to 15% of the cost of this voyage [less taxes and port charges, of course].  D wrote immediately to TA Ted to see if there was some way to apply it to the cruise we have already booked [probably not].  To make use of the credit, we have to book a cruise by the end of December 2013 although the actual cruise can be any time in the future.  In this way, HAL does not have to refund any real money and also locks us into another cruise.  We haven’t heard any complaints yet but there are sure to be people who want more.  It’s like the mug yesterday – there’s always one.


It was the last night in the Ocean Bar, of course.  We talked to Ferdie while awaiting dinner and mentioned our anniversary.  Poor Ferdie looked stricken because he had forgotten about it [he had been in the PG when we tried to make the original reservation].  He insisted on sending champagne to the table and there was no way to refuse without insulting him.  Sure enough, a server from the OB appeared after we were seated and poured two splits of German champagne.  It was sweet enough for D but tart enough for MA and we each finished a bottle.


Fermin had come through the OB on his way to a “final dinner with [his] compatriots.”  D thought that some of the crew were leaving in Ft. Lauderdale, but it turned out that Fermin had dinner with Manoot and Peter next door.  During dinner, when they were not conversing in Dutch, there was lots of good-natured kidding between tables. 


Dinner tonight was billed as an international extravaganza.  Each place had a rolled-up menu. When the scroll was opened, it revealed menu choices listed by continents.  Diners were not restricted to ordering from just one continent, so we both started with a Mediterranean mezze platter; MA chose a risotto with cod and D had shrimp provencal.  We were both ecstatic over the mezze; disappointed in our entrees; and really happy with the cheesecake and apple-cinnamon compote for dessert.  We lingered for one last chat with Peter and Manoot and then made our way back to the cabin one final time.


The rest of the packing waited until after dinner.  Once the blog was posted [he said prophetically], the computer and all of the electronics were stowed away, ready for us to carry off in the morning.  The larger bags were placed in the hallway and should disappear during the night and reappear in the terminal tomorrow. 


The party’s over.

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