Again another beautiful day, partly cloudy, light seas, temperature about 75. The wind is variable, first on the starboard side, then the port. The ship has a light roll as a result. Barbara gave a presentation on The Bay of Islands, our next tender stop on Monday. With one tender out of commission, they are trying to make arrangements for a local craft to use as a tender.
In addition to all the new entertainers brought on board in Papeete, A group of Maori are on board teaching passengers a little of the Maroi language, dance, history, local skills, etc.
I attended another excellent presentation by Alan Wright this morning, he explored the question of whether there is other life in the galaxy. I will leave it up to you to form your own answers.
Nothing has been said about any rampant illness on the ship, but the crew has been very busy disinfecting everything for two days. Any surface that can be reached is being wiped down, carpets are being shampooed, and decks are being scrubbed. More cleaning than I usually observe. The residual odor of bleach disinfectant is prevalent throughout much of the ships interior. Hopefully this is just proactive cleaning.
Several unrelated tidbits I learned since yesterday. Our captain, Jonathan Mercer, originally from the UK is now almost a neighbor, residing in Merritt Island, Fl.
I now understand my mix up with Dolly's age. She has been telling everyone for many years that she is 92. She is not the first lady to fib about such things, but usually the number chosen is much smaller.
This cruise originally intended to stop in India, but that port was scratched by the time I booked. (Robert, don't read the rest of this paragraph.) Last year when the ship did go to India, not only were the required visas very expensive, time consuming and difficult to obtain, but when the ship arrived there were many visa and passport problems with local officials. All passengers were eventually allowed entry, but it was such a hassle, passengers recommended not to stop there this year. Apparently HAL listened.
Tonight is another formal night to celebrate crossing the dateline. The dining room is decorated with black and silver streamers, and umbrellas hanging from the ceiling, but thankfully no chair covers. We have already been told that everyone will receive a Bowler hat tonight. And yes, the floral centerpieces are only 4 inches high.
I am beginning to forget about some of the stuff I have already written about, so please forgive me for any repetitions.
In addition to my two partially filled suitcases, I brought an empty one so that if I did buy any souvenirs I would have a way to carry them home. What I didn't anticipate was all the "stuff" that we would be given for various occasions. So far these items include the 528 page book "The Happy Isles of Oceania" by Paul Theroux. A small travel pouch with hand sanitizer, etc. A Shoulder travel bag. A Panama hat. Tonight, a Bowler hat. A 6 x 9 traveler's journal. Various certificates such as for Crossing the Panama Canal, and Crossing The International Dateline. And we are only on day 24!
I am also saving the daily program, the nightly card wishing us good night, often with different words of wisdom, and the currency and language translation cards we are given for each port. Along the way I may have to buy another suitcase, or two.
I go to the dining room at my usual time. To my surprise I am taken to a table in the upstairs dining room. Along with 5 other passengers I am seated with Barbara, our Location Guide Expert. She explains that she is hosting the table tonight, and our choice of red or white wine is on her. (Of course, actually HAL.)
The beef tenderloin is excellent, the first time it has been offered as a plain steak. The service is excellent, by far the best I have experienced, and true or not I am immediately left with the impression that the better wait staff is assigned to upper dining room.
Barbara has been with HAL for 25 years, and has obviously travelled the world many times. She knows minute details of every port much as you would know the neighborhood where you live. For example not only where to buy local ice cream, but what flavors are the best and what time of day to go there to avoid any lines.
Barbara tells us that Paul Theroux will be signing his book at some point in the next few days. She also shares that most likely we will receive a rolling duffel bag before the end of the cruise to help carry home all the stuff we acquire. Maybe I won't need to buy another suitcase after all.
HAL is trying to get a local boat to use as a tender at our next port. Barbara says there are appropriate boats in the harbor, but the question is are they available or have they been booked for other purposes by others.
With luck, replacement shafts, propellers, and rudders for the lifeboat will arrive in Auckland by our arrival on February 2nd.
Tonight we have set our clocks back another hour. For those of you that have lost track of the time difference, it is 1:00 AM Saturday Jan 30 here on the ship, and 7:00 AM on Friday Jan 29 in Florida.