Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday, December 02 – This and That

Today is another sea day.  There will not be so many of them on this cruise because the trip up the Amazon will be even more port-intensive than a Mediterranean cruise.  There is one stretch where we will be in port five straight days.

Sea days have their own rhythms.  There is no place to go and nothing which has to be done.  It’s like being retired in Florida without the shopping or doctors’ appointments.  We sleep in, get breakfast, check our e-mail and play trivia.  Then we eat again, read, nap and dress for dinner.  Then we eat again.  We are literally eating our way to Amazonia.

The big difference today is that we may be able to watch NFL football either in the room or in the tiny bar by the library and casino.  The Baltimore Ravens are hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game which is pivotal to both teams.  As this is being written [at 10:15 a.m.], we have no idea if we will be able to see any of this or any other game.  We are at the mercy of the satellite system.  Perhaps the results will show up later in today’s entry.

The anger/frustration has not abated in at least some of the passengers.  We have heard of the last night’s comedian being heckled by the audience and even the captain was not immune.  When Capt. Gundersen made his remarks at the traditional toast, one of the passengers shouted his complaints loudly throughout the crowded theater.  Gundersen kept his composure and simply told this oaf that he would be in the lobby after the toast and was more than willing to discuss this person’s complaints.

Returning to the Prinsendam is still like returning home.  Many of the crew members we have enjoyed in the past have gone to other ships or other lives.  Thom Faulkner, the Cruise Director on our previous three cruises, is not a Future Cruise Consultant assigned to the Statendam with his wife Tina.  Although we have sailed with Capt. Gundersen before, our favorite has been Capt. Albert who is also on the Statendam.  His wife Lesley is sailing with him again; he often refers to her as his “mystery shopper.”  MA watched the royal wedding with Lesley in 2010 and David modeled a HAL jacket which Lesley bought for Albert.  We have eaten with them several times.

On the other hand, some of the dining room supervisory staff is still here.  Widi, who is the one of the MDR hosts, called us by name when we showed up for breakfast the first morning.  We thought he would remember us but not by name.  When we sailed to the polar ice cap in 2010, the MDR was filled with the sound of birds each morning at breakfast.  We told Widi that they were more appropriate to an Amazon cruise.  In an example of Murphy’s Law, the birds have not been available because of problems with the sound system, but Widi promises to have them back soon just for us.

The Dining Room Manager is again Gildus.  For some reason, Gildus took a shine to us on our last cruise and we were invited to several dinners/lunches with either the Captain or Hotel Manager.  He is also glad to see us back because we are generous to a fault – when D donned his tuxedo last Christmas on the Westerdam, he found an envelope with Gildus’ name on it.  We had forgotten to hand him his tip, a thank you for everything he has done to make the previous cruise so enjoyable.  The first thing we did this week was to rectify that situation and apologize for our forgetfulness.  Although it does not seem to be in his nature to provide services for a fee, he also knows that we will not forget this time.

And then there is Carlos.  As reported earlier, he is definitely not our favorite Cruise Director.  His main interest seems to be Carlos.  He is flamboyant and touchy-feelie, trying to ingratiate himself to boost his own ego.  With Thom, the passengers came first and the things he did were for their benefit.  HAL may be trying for a younger demographic, but this guy belongs on one of the mass-market, 7-day-cruise ships on the Caribbean or Alaska circuit.

While we consider this a relatively short cruise, it is long by the standards of many of the other passengers.  At 23 days, it is still longer than the industry average.  The age demographic does not seem much different from other recent cruises on this ship, but the crowd in the Ocean Bar is larger and louder in the evenings than on the Grand Voyages.  The GV passengers would never heckle the captain or the entertainers and may be more forgiving of the dry dock aftermath.  Class will tell.  Interestingly, the passengers’ behavior has been as much a topic of conversation as the condition of the ship.

Anyway… After breakfast, we went to the library to get the New York Times and its crossword puzzle.  While there, MA caught up with her e-mail [all junk] and Facebook.  D checked his e-mail as well.  Then we went to the Ocean Bar, our home away from home, to work on the NYT crossword puzzle and to update the journal.  D also thought he might have the paperwork documenting the Carnival stock saved in an e-mail file.  When he realized it was there, he had to go back to the library to “find” it again on a ship’s computer so he could print it.  Then it was back to the Bar for trivia at 11:30.  We had fun.

We went to the MDR for lunch, as usual.  What was different was that today’s special buffet was all Indonesian food.  It was like being back in Jakarta with Jon, Briton and The Boys.  We sampled soto ayam [a chicken soup]; nasi goring [a rice dish]; chicken sate[or satay]; telor bumbi bali; sambal udang; and beef rending.  We had banana fritters for dessert.  Mmmmmm good!

D turned his stock document in at the Front Desk before we spent a few fruitless minutes at the jewelry store.  We returned to the room to watch the Packer-Viking football game on ESPN.  A nap brought us to the Ravens-Steelers game.  We left the room, and the game, to go to the Ocean Bar around 7:15.  The game had not been decided but we had our own priorities.

Dinner was enjoyable because Gildus had promised MA that he would have escargot for her tonight.  He was as good as his word and both Endang and the section captain made sure we knew they were coming along with shrimp cocktail for D. MA was a very happy camper and she told everyone who checked on us including the wine steward.

After dinner we went to what passes for a sports bar/coffee bar and discovered that Pittsburgh had won, 23-20.  There was sadness in Cabin 451.

MA read until bedtime and D finished the blog and went to post it, unsure of whether the casino would lure him away from the library.

Tomorrow – Castries, St. Lucia

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