Day 90 – At sea in the southern part of the Red Sea headed North Westerly towards Jordan. The seas today are nearly flat with a Northerly breeze of about 10 mph. Humidity is 87%, skies are sunny with scattered clouds, and the temperature is 81.
First thing this morning Barbara and Nyron tell us about the available shore excursions for the next several weeks of travel. I think I have my excursions all set for the rest of the cruise, but I will review them again to see if there is a better choice.
At 11:00 Barbara tells us about the ports we will be visiting in Piraeus and Katakolon, Greece. These are our ports closest to Athens and Olympia respectively. If she said it once, she said it 5 times, we are now entering the the phase of our voyage where pickpockets are quite prevalent. Surprisingly, or not, many of them are young children.
It is also Barbara's birthday today, and Gene presents her with a large floral bouquet. She is 65 and has been with HAL for about 25 years after retiring from her first career. Jokingly (maybe) when cruise director Gene asked if she had any plans now that she can collect her pension and is also eligible for Social Security and Medicare her response was "screw you", to imply she was going to retire immediately.
When she does retire, her shoes will be very difficult to fill as she has a wealth of information on hundreds of ports around the globe. Ask her where the best gelatto can be found in Venice, and she will not only tell you the name of the store front, but probably the proprietor's name as well.
The Syrian refugees are causing us some disruption. Nyron's home is in Trinidad. His wife and son were on the ship traveling with him, but last minute changes by the Greek government in the visa process made it impossible for them to obtain Greek visas so they had to leave the ship and return home. Nyron, being an employee of the ship, needs a different type of visa so he wasn't affected. I haven't heard of any other passengers that have been caught by this change.
We also recently lost our two very skilled florists. They were sent to Amsterdam to do the floral arrangements for the Koningsdam, HAL's newest ship, that has its inaugural cruise in a few days. The CEO of HAL promised that we would have the opportunity to visit the ship while both ships are in Civitavecchia on April 15. As often is the case when something is promised without careful consideration by all involved there are unforeseen consequences. The staff has been unable to figure out the logistics, and many of the guests are holding off on booking any excursions for Rome until they know what time we can visit the Koningsdam.
This afternoon there is another "Shakespeare" performance in the theater. I will not attend. I left the last performance after about 10 minutes, and the majority of guests were not far behind me. I have not heard of a single person that stayed for the whole program. A lounge chair on the deck is more appealing.
I never talk about it, because I don't go there, but there is a sports bar on the ship. Usually only popular with sports fans when there is a baseball, football or basketball game being shown on one of the several screens. For the past 3 or 4 weeks, attendance has been almost non existent as none of the TV sports channels can be received. Whether it is a technical issue on the ship, or they just aren't broadcast to this part of the world I have no idea.
Tonight we have a repeat performance by Kieran Powell a ventriloquist. Debby is playing in the Pinnacle Grill so the Amsterdam piano players, Connor and Michael, will be in the piano bar. Tomorrow is a sea day.