January 14, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 9

Day 9 – At sea headed West. The seas are still relatively calm with no whitecaps. The sky is cloudy with periods of light to heavy rain. Visibility ranges from a few feet to a few miles as we go in and out of storms. The temperatures are about 80, but for the most part it is too wet to spend much time outside. The roof is closed over the pool. Nobody seems to care. About a dozen birds continue to fly around the bow of the ship, all diving at the same time when a fish is spotted for a potential meal.

A few people are using the pool including two young children and their mother. They are having a ball as the water sloshes back and forth. The youngest, I would guess about 3, thinks it is lots of fun to push her willing mom into the pool. A game that goes on forever.

There is a presentation about what to see and where to go at our next port, Nuka Hiva. The entire country only has about 8,000 inhabitants spread over 10 to 14 islands depending whose is counting them. There is only one tour offered by HAL, and its capacity is limited as they are using every available vehicle on the island. By vehicle I mean privately owned SUVs. There are no mini vans or buses. More about this in about a week.

Phillip Huber gave a presentation on his career and how he makes his Marionettes. He has about 50 or 60, but only used 8 in his show earlier in the week. For all you Disney connected people, he made and operated the marionette in the Disney production Oz a couple of years ago.

I wrote a few days ago about the floral arrangements at the first formal dinner. Well time has revealed there is a little more to the story. As with everything I write, some information is gathered first hand, other comes from extremely reliable sources at a bar, or similar locale. It is most likely that I have never met any of these sources before, but I do consider them reliable. TV reporters certainly would.

Several years ago HAL met with the passengers near the end of the World Cruise voyage to gather feedback. Of course it was labeled as "feedback", but what they were really looking for was ways to cut costs.

The subject of fresh floral arrangements was raised. The men in the audience said fresh flowers weren't important. The wives and women howled in protest, and as a result HAL still has fresh floral arrangements throughout the ship for the World Cruise.

On this cruise they have two full time florists, and arrange for fresh flowers to be brought on board about every week to 10 days. There is not an artificial arrangement anywhere on the ship. Every table in the dining room and the Lido buffet has fresh flowers. Every table in the Crow's nest lounge, and on every public bathroom counter. If you see a flower, it is real. I would imagine if I were in a suite, there would be fresh flowers there as well.

Another policy on the World Cruise, if not for all HAL cruises, is that certain employees not only are allowed, but are encouraged, to socialize with passengers. At the first formal night, the florists dined with 6 passengers in the dining room. They couldn't see the guests across the table because of the floral arrangements! They removed them from their table, and apologized.

Tonight at our second formal dinner the floral arrangement center pieces were only about 4 inches high, and the hundreds of helium filled silver balloons were well above everyone's head. I doubt these florists will ever again allow large centerpieces for a dinner table.

Tonight was the "Black and Silver Ball". As I mentioned, the dining room was decorated with hundreds of helium filled silver balloons and with silver streamers hanging from the ceiling. The same decorating theme was carried out in the Atrium, the Sports bar, and the Queen's Lounge where the Captain and staff hosted "The Ball" itself. My estimate is that about 40 percent of the guests attended. Dozens of door prizes were given away including certificates for bottles of wine, internet minutes and Kindle readers.

Most, but not everyone, was dressed appropriately. The wait staff in the dining room, and the beverage servers in the lounges were all dressed in long tail tuxedos. I was seated in a different section of the dining room tonight. The service was much better than most previous nights even though the waiter had more guests to take care of.

Many guests had lobster, I had beef wellington. While we were waiting for deserts, a woman accompanied by the dining room manager and several other staff stopped near our table. She was proclaiming profusely that ours was the table she was supposed to have been seated at, and she wanted assurance that she would be seated there tomorrow night. After she moved on, several of us offered to ask for any other table tomorrow so there would be room for her.

This is beginning to sound like a broken record, but we set our clocks back another hour tonight. 3 down, 21 to go.

I am finding that the internet is a little better just before bedtime. I imagine few other passengers are using the internet this late, and most of the crew is still working. Having said this, I probably will have difficulty tonight.