April 12, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 98

Day 98 – Piraeus (Athens), Greece. During the night the seas became calm, the captain slowed the ship, and the creaks, moans, and vibrations ceased. We arrive on time and the ship is cleared by 9:00. The temperature is 59, but is expected to rise to the high 70's. Skies are mostly clear with scattered clouds and lots of sun. There is a light westerly breeze.

Probably half a dozen different ferries operate out of the port, primarily with routes to other Greek Islands. There is one other cruise ship here, the Costa Riviera. There are also freighters and tankers in port, and many more anchored outside the harbor.

Fortunately there are about a dozen trucks with containers to resupply our ship. I don't know about any of the food items, if they are out of something, they don't put it on the menu, but the beverage department has run out of numerous beer and liquor brands. Also, nothing was said, but four or five days ago the several extra rolls of toilet tissue disappeared from my cabin. I suspect it was desperately needed elsewhere.

My tour today is panoramic Athens, a leisurely bus tour of Athens and the surrounding areas. The security process is painless. No checks at all when leaving the ship and entering the city, and all we do when we return is shown our sea pass card, walk thru a metal detector, and have any bags scanned.

I don't understand it, but the buses I'm on seem to be in a mode of good samaritan. Today two passengers that missed their bus at the Acropolis joined us and we took them with us back to the ship. No drama, no fanfare, they just boarded and rode along and the guide and escort acknowledged that we had two more in our head count.

The only indication of refugees I saw was a tent city on the dock about 100 yards across the harbor entrance from where we were docked. I guess there were about 200 tents. We were told there are other areas around the harbor where more refugees are being held. The harbor area is pretty secure as there are only two entrances to the dozens of docks and piers, and the area is generally isolated from the local residents.

Once back on the ship I decide to do laundry while many of the passengers are still on tours but first I must get a new key, probably # 10. The only other person in the laundry was Rita Rudner, our comedian entertainer for tonight. She just boarded the ship a few days ago, and this is her first trip to the laundry because "her husband needed some clean clothes". I help her with the process, a delightful person.

I know I told you about the "dog lady" two months ago. While waiting for my tour this morning I was reminded that we also have the "doll lady" on board. She also pushes a carriage around the ship, but with her "doll" in it. She holds it, talks to it, and yes pretends to feed it. I can't say she does this in the dining room, because I seldom dine there, but she does in the Lido at dinner time. No, this is not a youngster, but a woman definitely over 50 that otherwise appears to be normal.

Speaking of youngsters, there are now at least 6 youngsters in the youth program, whatever HAL calls it. One detail that I find of interest is that the staff person working with the kids is a strapping 300 pound 6 footer. None of the kids are going to give him a rough time.

There is another mandatory muster drill today before we sail. The captain has changed the procedure a little. At the first alarm the crew begins to go to their assigned positions. At the second alarm, all guest services are suspended and passengers are specifically told to go to their state rooms and not their muster stations, and then when the general alarm is sounded all passengers are to go to their muster station. Once there, passengers are accounted for by doing a roll call. A relatively slow process. Lifeboat 4, my assigned lifeboat, was missing 2 passengers. The last several drills all were present and accounted for.

We leave port about 45 minutes late as we had to wait for the harbor pilot to board. Seas are calm, the temperature has dropped to 61, and the wind is directly on our bow at about 15 mph. Cruising at 18.5 knots, the harmonic vibration is present.

Rita Rudner is an enjoyable comedian. She was on the Amsterdam about a year ago, and a number of passengers remember her from then or from her varied career including a 15 year comedy run in Las Vegas, award winning screen writer, actress, Broadway dancer, playwright and New York Times best selling author.

We are scheduled to arrive in Katakolon (Olympia), Greece tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM.