January 20, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 15

Day 15 - It is cloudy and raining this morning. The seas are nearly calm. The Captain says the weather conditions are unsettled for the next several days. Tomorrow we arrive at our first port in the South Pacific – Nuku Hiva. We expect an early arrival, time that will be used to prepare the tender. Trust me, there will be no competition for anchorage space. Ours will be the only cruise ship here. The tiny island has one small dock that can accommodate only one tender.

There are no presentations I care to attend today, so I decide it will be a good day to do laundry. With only two sea days in the next seven I expect many others to have the same plan. I go to the front desk to get a roll of quarters, and stop by the laundry on my way back to the cabin. Three machines are empty. Unless someone takes all three, I should not have a wait. I pack up all the clothes that need washing, even those items that I have worn only a few hours and could wear again.

All three machines are still empty, but it is a challenge to even get in the room as one lady is ironing men's socks and underwear with the only iron, and three others are trying to unload dryers. The timers on the machines are digital and very accurately display the time remaining. I leave and return just as the washer and then the dryer finish. Some guests try to fold everything as it comes out of the dryer. I just stuff everything in my laundry bag, go down four decks to my cabin, dump it out on my bed, and have it all put away in a matter of a few minutes. From start to finish including the trip to the front desk and my laundry for the week is completed in less than an hour and a half, faster than I can do it at home. I now have clean clothes for two weeks, but I will probably do laundry again in about a week.

The Lido deck is packed at lunchtime. The crew is preparing a stir fry on deck beside the pool. Each guest chooses what ingredients they want, and then the staff does the stir frying. I decide to go to the mostly empty Lido Buffet and have a slice of Pizza. Personally I prefer thin crust, and this is a very thick crust, but the flavor is excellent.

I share a table with Linda, whom I met on the first or second day of the cruise. She had a plumbing issue in her cabin, and it took six attempts to get it fixed. And to think I thought my four calls were unusual. This is her first cruise on Holland America, and obviously she is not impressed.

Another couple join our table. They are avid bridge players and often sail as paid instructors. This cruise they are just fare paying passengers. I ask how the system works for passenger instructors. I learn that the instructor openings are filled through brokers that are paid a fee by the individual. The compensation which usually is in the form of expenses and reduced passage varies widely depending on how desperate the cruise line is and how many instructors are available to fill a need. Everything is theoretically negotiable, but in reality the cruise line usually says this is what we will do and it is a take it or leave it proposition. At the end of the cruise, staff ratings and guest ratings pretty much determine if the individual will be offered future opportunities.

I am seated at a different table tonight and meet three passengers for the first time, the other couple I had dined with before. The front end of the dining room is managed very well for seating guests, but I see great variations in waiter training and overall service. Nothing to complain about, just an observation.

Tonight's entertainer is Robbie Howard, a singer that had his own show in Las Vegas for ten years. He impersonates the voices of many of the vocal stars in Las Vegas from the 60's and 70's. Very appropriate for this audience.

While waiting for the show there was a gentleman behind me that has learned he can not handle a long cruise. He is getting off the ship in Papeete, despite having paid to go to Sydney. No, he will not get a refund.

When I boarded the ship, and Adrienne and Steve were still on board we saw an elderly passenger that was having difficulties. She was unable to stand or walk and needed a wheelchair to leave the pool area. Since then I have seen some of the people with her, but not the elderly woman.

Speaking of Steve, batman is protecting my room thermostat. Anyone that knows Steve will understand. For the rest of you, don't even ask.

No birds or other boats today, but by sunrise we should see our first Polynesian island.