Thursday, December 01, 2011

Days 10 & 11 – At sea

Day 10 – At sea

Today and tomorrow are sea days until we reach our first port in Peru.  I look forward to sea days, however some might wonder what happens aboard ship on these days when we are not in a port. How do you avoid tedium?

Well, for starters there are 52 activities listed on today’s program starting at 7:00AM and finishing at midnight or later, if you are up to it!  These are just the planned activities offered by the ship’s Explorations staff. A sampling: listening to enrichment and travel information lectures, playing trivia, staff interviews, spa & acupuncture treatments and exercise programs, food cooking demos, playing games (bridge, trivia, shuffleboard, tennis, ping pong, chess), learning to dance, wine tasting, learning about computers, watching show lounge performances, listening to music in bars and lounges, dancing, or watching first run movies and recorded concerts.

Activities you do by yourself or with travel companions might include: reading a book, walking around the deck, drinking and eating, snoozing, writing a journal or novel, working on crafts and hobbies, swimming, sunbathing, taking photos (ships interior), planning your next cruise, cruising the Internet, calling home, booking upcoming shore excursions, shopping, gambling, walking the decks for exercise, or meeting and sharing stories with fellow passengers during meal times, and of course people watching.

What did I do today?  I have breakfast in the main dining room, sharing a table with a couple from Texas.  He is a dedicated birder, she is a retired Spanish teacher, and they are both very well traveled. We spot a Spinner Dolphin out the window as we have breakfast. I fast walk a kilometer around the Lower Promenade Deck after breakfast. I go to the show lounge to listen to the tail end of an interview with the three young men who are the Matinee Idols group, then listen to Lisa the travel consultant talk about things to see and do in Peru, taking some notes. Later in the morning, I drop into the Culinary Arts Center to see the Pinnacle Grill chef prepare Prawn Bruschetta and Steak Diane, complete with yummy samples. Afterward, I update my travel journal in the Explorations Lounge, and then meet my friends beside the Lido pool for a light self-serve taco lunch.

In the early afternoon I go back to the show lounge to listen to Willie Friar, who talks about The Life of Peru Through the Years, an enrichment presentation that reviews the history, culture, and life today in Peru, with an emphasis on Lima and Machu Picchu. This is the first guest lecturer on this cruise.  Both my friends and I previously mentioned this omission to Thom, the Cruise Director.  To his credit, he was already on the issue with their head office, and Willie boarded the ship in Panama City.  It’s too bad she didn’t board the ship before we transited the Panama Canal, since she was head of the Canal Authority’s public relations before she retired. She could have enlightened us on the San Blas Indians and the history of the Canal earlier in the cruise.

My friends and I go to the Pinnacle Grill this evening for a special dinner since it is formal night.  My friends have Steak Diane and I have Filet Mignon and giant prawns for our main course.  For starters, we have Caesar Salad (made from scratch) and Lobster Bisque. For dessert we all order the same: Cherries Jubilee, which is flambéed at the table. Having Cappuccinos all around finish things off nicely.  All the food is superb, as we always expect from the Pinnacle Grill. The young maître ’d Martin keeps things moving in the restaurant, and is the gracious host. Our dinner service takes two hours, which makes for a nice evening…worth getting dressed up for.

We pass over the Equator into the Southern Hemisphere around 11:00PM local time.  The ship is making good speed at nearly 20kts, despite having a headwind of some 34kts.  Our arrival in Trujillo, Peru the day after tomorrow appears to be on schedule.

Day 11 – At sea

For breakfast this morning I have a delicious Italian Frittata, which is made with egg whites, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and a dollop of sour cream in La Fontaine, the main dining room.  I also have two cappuccinos and take my time talking with my fellow passengers at the breakfast table, easing into the morning.

Although I’m getting excited about seeing Machu Picchu, our next port of call is tomorrow – Trujillo. I am taking a shore excursion to see some of the ancient sites: Huaca Dragon (dragon temple) and Chan Chan Citadel in the nearby Moche Valley, and the caballitos de totora (reed boats) at Huanchaco Beach.  It should be an interesting day…my first in Peru.  I go to the show lounge later this morning to listen to Willie Friar’s talk about Trujillo and Pisco, which gives some good background information.

There is a King Neptune Ceremony held this afternoon to initiate those crewmembers who have not crossed the Equator before (Pollywogs). Thom the Cruise Director is the “Prosecutor”, and either the captain or one of the senior officers plays “King Neptune” (hard to tell who is under that big wig). Once the Pollywogs have been “charged”, they have to kiss a giant fish and get slimed with spaghetti and goo before they jump into the Lido pool.

We are currently sailing down the coast of Peru, but we are sufficiently offshore to not see any land.  We do spot some fishing boats and freighters, as well as some birds. We are sailing through a cold ocean current which brings the air temperature down to 20°C this afternoon despite us being only 5° south of the equator.  Out on the open decks, people are wearing light jackets, while many are staying inside today.  Some of the Pollywogs were visibly shivering once they got wet. Apparently tomorrow in Trujillo we should experience mild, but not hot temperatures, although we will still have to wear sunscreen to avoid sunburn.

We have a wonderful Indonesian-themed dinner in La Fontaine main dining room this evening. I then go to the main show lounge, where the Trio Passión Española from Barcelona puts on a terrific show of flamenco guitar and song. Their female lead singer happens to be from Sidney, BC, Canada, which is a half hour drive from where I live! Looking back on the cruise so far, I have gone to more live entertainment in the last 11 days than I have attended in the last year at home.

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