Five days at sea

October 7 – Five days at sea

Tomorrow we reach land again, this time in Pago Pago, American Samoa. Unlike our mariner ancestors, who sailed weeks between land sightings, our longest stretch between ports is five days.

Residents of Pago Pago are American nationals but not American citizens. We know that because of the lecture we heard David Levesque give yesterday. He is a Renaissance man among the lecturers we’ve had the good fortune to hear so far. We first saw him as a comic violinist on the stage of the Frans Hals Lounge [photo of Q&A], backed by the ship’s talented band.

Ship's officers answer questions on the Volendam
Ship's officers answer questions on the Volendam

There’s a live show every night. All have been good, but we’ve had our favourites. One was a dulcimer player so skilled he earned a rare standing ovation. Last night’s was Thien Fu, who left Viet Nam as a refugee and has mastered juggling and American-style comedy. There have been singers and dancers and comedians, including an Irish woman who now lives in Australian and delivered an evening of belly laughs.

Recent movies, complete with popcorn, run every night and are repeated on the closed-circuit TV in each stateroom.

Stryker entertains in the Ocean Bar and Crow's Nest, for hours every day
Stryker entertains in the Ocean Bar and Crow's Nest, for hours every day

There’s a piano bar where a guy named Roland attracts around a hundred people every evening with his contests to “name that tune” or sing along with oldies. In the Ocean Bar a talented pianist named Stryker plays pre-dinner music before heading up to the Crow’s Nest to play some more. A Philippine band plays dance music in the Ocean Bar for hours every night, and a Hungarian string quartet provides five hours of music in the Explorations Café from six to eleven.

Then there are the special events such as the crew’s shenanigans to mark the crossing of the equator, theme nights like the County Fair, and the much-anticipated Chocolate Extravaganza.

A much-anticipated event on any cruise is the Chocolage Extravaganza - we looked but didn't sample
A much-anticipated event on any cruise is the Chocolage Extravaganza - we looked but didn't sample

Robin and I attend nearly every lecture offered. They explore the culture and history (natural and political) of the route we travel. Most are excellent; all are interesting. [acupuncture]

Robin is racking up the “Dam dollars” by participating in all kinds of team events. Every morning he plays table tennis. This afternoon he won a tournament among the eight regulars. He won another fistful of Dam dollars by putting a hole in one in a golf tournament. He’s added other wins with his afternoon trivia team, which always comes in at or near the top of the more than twenty groups that compete.

Robin's hoping to make a dancer out of Cathryn on this long sea voyage - here's a salsa lesson
Robin's hoping to make a dancer out of Cathryn on this long sea voyage - here's a salsa lesson

We’ve participated in meringue and salsa classes (that’s dance, not food), but it’s going to take a lot more of those before this non-dancer catches up to her dancing partner.

We both still make rounds of the Promenade deck. Stories, Podcasts and music keep me going as we sail through the hotter climate of the tropics.

While we often spend our days in different activities, we are always together for meals and evening events. We enjoy a ritual pre-dinner drink of wine and a chance to complete the day’s sudoku and catch up on the day. Robin suggested we move our ritual out to the deck a couple nights ago. The glow of the setting sun made that simple punctuation to our day feel like magic.

Just south of the Equator, sunsets are glorious from the ship's deck
Just south of the Equator, sunsets are glorious from the ship
Cathryn & Robin enjoying a glass of wine on the Promenade Deck
Cathryn & Robin enjoying a glass of wine on the Promenade Deck

Last night we climbed to the top deck of the ship to hear a talk on the constellations. Tropical high humidity hid most of the stars, but there were enough for David Levesque to point out some of the major groupings. My big surprise was to see the waxing moon lit from the bottom instead of the side. We have rounded the curve of earth.

Breakfast and dinner we join strangers or new friends around the open-seating tables of the Rotterdam dining room. Lunch we usually have in the Lido cafeteria since we often have plans before or after that squeeze the time. That’s about the only thing that’s squeezed about our meal times. We limit ourselves to three meals a day, but we could easily join the Eating Champions who grab snacks at the Explorations Café between meals, chow down at afternoon teas, graze their way through the food offered at theme events, make a stop at the burger/pizza/taco bar, and end the day with a hearty late-night snack for the 11-12 p.m. crowd in the Lido.

When we come back to our comfortable stateroom for the night, we’re always met by yet another towel creature,

This night it's an elephant; every night a towel creature greets us when we return to our cabin for the night
This night it's an elephant; every night a towel creature greets us when we return to our cabin for the night

folded with skill and creativity by the Indonesian steward who spoils us thoroughly. We are not surprised to learn he’s been ten years with Holland America. He does his work with skill, grace, and dignity.

Advertisements

One thought on “Five days at sea

  1. Cathy R

    Hello Cathryn! I finally got around to looking at your blog (at work, oops!) and reading it is like having you back here to chat with. Sounds like you’re having a wonderful time and not missing work at all. See if you can get a picture of the bottom-lit moon for us — I think Grant would love to see it. Surprisingly, life is going on without you, although it’s not near as much fun. After the movies “Young At Heart” and “4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days”, I sooo wished you were here to chat with afterwards.

    Keep the blogs coming!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s