March 08, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 63

Day 63 - Heading South in the South China Sea. The sea is absolutely flat, skies partly cloudy, temperatures in the low 80's and the wind less than 5 MPH. We are about 20 miles off the Vietnam coast, and pass a number of small fishing vessels and some larger commercial shipping as we head towards our next port of Phu My, an industrial port that is as close as our ship can get to Ho Chi Minh City. Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as it was previously known, is an additional 2 hour drive from Phu My.

Don first told me about the solar eclipse that will take place tomorrow morning. My son Scott did some more research for me to determine that at my location the partial eclipse will begin at about 6:30 AM, and will reach a maximum of about 50%. The entire event lasts just over 2 hours. During most of this time I will be on a bus headed for Ho Chi Minh City. With or without clouds I should see a darkening of the skies. Unfortunately being on a bus precludes any type of pin hole telescope to actually see the reduced shape of the sun.

I have become one of the passengers that usually ends the day about 9 PM. Last night I decided to stay up late just to see what "late night trouble" I might be missing. First I go to the main theater to see how many passengers are watching the main show. If a passenger has late seating for dinner, the only show they can see is the 10 PM show. It was so uncrowded I actually count the number of attendees. Exactly 52, and a number of them were various staff members.

Next I check out the Crow's nest where DJ Erin is hosting an "all request" session. 1 passenger, obviously more than a little tipsy, no actually downright drunk, and 2 staff members. The Ocean bar is empty as is the Sea View Bar. Debby has a few listeners at the piano bar. The casino has 2 or 3 players. I quickly conclude I am missing nothing by retiring early and like it or not appear to have become a typical HAL passenger.

I didn't witness it, but it appears that life boat 9 was launched and tested yesterday. The hull is wet, and water is dripping in several places. Repairs that required parts to be shipped half way around the world, teams of technicians to be flown many thousands of miles, hundreds of hours of labor and about 45 calendar days. A substantial cost for missing the channel by a few feet, but it could have been much worse. Fortunately no one was seriously injured.

Tonight veal cordon bleu is on the menu. One of my favorites. I am considering giving the dining room another try. The passenger count is lower, the staff has 2 months more experience, and many other passengers have abandoned the dining room for the Lido, so I have a glimmer of hope they have got their act together. Then I ran into Jack in the Crow's Nest.

We have dined together several times in the dining room. He is still at the same table. We chatted for awhile and then he departed to book a shore excursion for tomorrow. During our conversation he shared that his original table of 10 is now down to 4. A couple of passengers have left the ship, others, like myself are going more and more to the Lido. Yesterday he had the worst service yet in the dining room. My hope of any improvement was obviously false, I will stay in the Lido.

I may skip the show tonight, Annie Francis "Internationally Acclaimed Multi Award Winning Vocalist". I need to set my alarm for 5:30 AM to be ready to start my tour of Saigon at 6:45 tomorrow morning. The forecast is for partly cloudy skies and temperatures near 90. It is going to be a long hot day. I decide at 8 to forgo tonight's show for a chance at a little more sleep.