April 13, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 99

Day 99 – Katakolon (Olympia), Greece. We arrive on time. At 9:00 AM the temperature is a cool 57, it is expected to reach a high today in the low 70's. Skies are sunny and the air is clear and crisp with a negligible breeze. This part of the Med is like glass today.

Since one of our lifeboats grounded on a reef in Roratonga, Cook Islands about 75 days ago, lifeboats 9 and 10 have not been located in their designated position on the ship. Today the captain has decided it is time to switch them around, so lifeboat 9 was launched before we reached the pier, a partial switch made during the day, and when we leave the pier later tonight, lifeboat 10 will be hoisted aboard to its proper position.

Katakolon is a small picturesque seaside village of about 500, with shops and cafe's within easy walking distance of the ship. We share the pier with another very small cruise ship, the "La Belle De L' Adriatique". I know nothing about her. There are no cargo facilities here, all the piers are for private vessels or cruise ships.

During dinner last night, shortly after we left port, there was a loud bang and the ship suddenly rolled several degrees towards one side then the other. As always is the case, passengers are given no definitive information by HAL. The rumor mill has it that there was a major mechanical failure, but I am doubtful. Obviously we have multiple engines, etc. It will be interesting to see if any information is forthcoming.

While waiting on the ship for my afternoon tour, I watch a steady stream of about ten crew and staff members that remind me of worker ants. They were going to the nearby duty free shop, picking up 2 cases of bottled water each, and then returning to the ship. A few minutes later they would return and repeat the process. I don't know how many cases of water they bought, but it was many. With the ship having been resupplied yesterday, I can only guess that one container didn't make the ship on time.

I forgo the ancient ruins of Olympia to visit a small farm where they grow olives, press olive oil, and run an agri tourism operation. Our buses and guides came from Athens, many hours away, where they were doing tours for us yesterday. Because of the economic situation in Greece, the garbage hasn't been picked up here in over a year, large piles are found all along the roads. The tour guide refused to say anything about the economics of Greece and would not answer any questions on the subject. Ignoring these limitations she was vary nice and did a good job. She even pitched in and helped the staff at the farm.

The "Agri Tourism" farm is done very well. Looking at their visitors log it appears they are visited by cruise ship passengers every few days. The tourism part of the business definitely generates more revenue than selling olive oil. First we are given a sample of wine, then after a 20 minute presentation on how they harvest olives, we are given more wine and appetizers for lunch. Of course this is followed by the opportunity to purchase any of a variety of merchandise from wine to olive oil, jewelery, tee shirts and souvenirs. Being a good shopper, I leave only with camera images. Some passengers leave with multiple bags of stuff.

We return to the ship about 30 minutes before boarding time. Plenty of time for me to get key # 11 so I can enter my cabin. The first time this happened, I probably did hold my Kindle close to the key, and the magnet erased the encoding. This just has not been the case since. The strongest magnet in my pocket since yesterday is the magnetic stripe on my credit card, and I kept my room key about two feet away from it and everything else. In my opinion this is just another result of the "Carnivalization" of HAL. Buy the cheapest key stock they can, even if they don't work well.

Some of the passengers that went to Olympia today got an extra treat. They were rehearsing the lighting of the torch for its journey to the next Olympics.

The entertainment tonight was "The Lomax Brothers" two piano players. An hour of Debby, and then the show, and I had enough piano for the night. Just for something different I decide to listen to the music in the Ocean Bar after the show, but on arrival I find they had to cancel tonight because of an injury to one of the 3 musicians. Maybe some other night, I head back to my cabin.

Tonight we set our clock back another hour. Tomorrow is a sea day as we head to an arrival in Civitavecchia the next day.