13 April 2020 - Day 2 – At Sea
Before crashing last night, I’d put the seasickness wristlets on, just in case, as well as putting the dental appliance from New Concept Sleep in my mouth, to deal with my newly diagnosed sleep apnea issue. The very firm bed and the wimpy pillows made for an uncomfortable night, but I will adapt. Awake at 8, the view out my porthole was of deep green seas with moderate waves and a pale gray sky at the horizon. Light squalls dusted a pattern of rain over the surface every few minutes. The shower, albeit small for this large body, was good – plenty of hot water with great pressure. The body wash worked for shampoo, at least until I dug what I’d brought out. Twenty minutes later, armed with my vitamins and supplements, I walked aft to Waves and was seated at a four-top by the windows with a British couple from Yorkshire. Chatting over my oatmeal with fresh berries and a banana, OJ and decaf coffee, they worked through an English breakfast and we compared our arrivals, plans and destinations.
Under my door last night an invitation for the #CruiseCritics’ Meet&Mingle announced a 10:30 start. This would give me time to get back to my cabin and unpack. Ron, one of my stewards, was just finishing up, and I was able to ask for a top sheet and a thicker pillow: I sleep warm (AC set to 80°F) and didn’t like the duvet covering as it was much too heavy and hot for me. He said he’d be back soon and handle it. I got most of my bag unloaded, putting the clothing into shelves, hanging the two sports jackets and several slacks in the closet. The open bag slipped under the bed. Armed with my copy of #CathedralsToTheGloryOfGod and my camera, I set off for the Sky Lounge on Deck 18. One of my commitments to myself is that I will avoid the lifts and take stairs whenever possible, so I was climbing the stairs once I walked through the Infinity Atrium.
Sharon, whose handle is lovemycrazy cats, had started the roll call back in December 2018, and was coordinating with the ship’s crew for this gathering. Since both the Miami-- and New York-boarding passengers were combined into one “roll call”, about 60 folks showed up on Day 2, of the 135 who had signed up. The First Mate and Chief Engineer represented the command crew, along with the Chief Nurse and Customer Service Manager. Two large sheet cakes as well as cookies and (non-alcoholic) drinks were available. I was able to snag a used deck of cards (from the casino) for traditional solitaire, and picked up my first lapel pin for the trip. My photobook was a big hit, with it being passed around for the 90 minutes we hung out in the lounge. I think everyone took a business card – hopefully that might generate a sale or two!
Kevin (handle kapparis1) talked about the slot pull he planned for the following morning, and said that we’d meet at 11 in the casino and there should be about 40 of us. There would be another before we arrived in Bermuda. “Copper”, half a couple from Nova Scotia, and I compared our travel plans – he’d been plugging several options for private land excursions as I had, and we both drew appreciative interest. Sandra from Punta Gorda and I talked about our respective plans in Southampton – we were both using the same company, albeit heading to different sites.
Meeting Thuy and Jon, one of the three couples who would be joining me with Roberto of Sao Miguel Tours in Ponta Delgada in the Azores, allowed me to a share the names of the other four, so that they could keep an eye out for them, as they would board in NY. I even think I might have found a couple to join me on my Galician tour of three cathedrals!
As folks drifted away, I snagged my book and headed down to the Brass Anchor to have lunch. Having heard that fish and chips was available, I wanted to try, as well as begin sampling the draught offerings. It looked like I’d be frustrated in finding any reds, browns or ambers, as most of the offerings were for lighter fare. With my lunch, a stout did the trick.
After lunch, skipping any dessert, I dropped back to my cabin to leave the book there. Lydia was leaving, having removed the duvet and made the bed with just a sheet and a light bed spread. And there was a thicker king-sized pillow to use as a body pillow. I really have great stewards.
Back to the stairs, I had my e-reader with me, but I was going to hit the walking track on Deck 16 first. Three circuits were followed with 40 minutes of my stretching exercises that I do every other day, as follow-up to the stem cell therapy/injections I’d received in late February at Regenerative Health Centers of Florida. I’m hoping to rebuild the worn cartilage in my shoulders and left hip and avoid surgery for joint replacement.
With an hour still before “cocktail hour”, I headed to the stern, getting a water from the Sports Bar, and sitting beside the Horizon Pool. The temperatures were mid-60’s on deck, as we were well off the north Georgia coast. I read for about an hour and a half, and then descended to the TV Studio & Bar, where the bartender was setting up a froufrou martini tasting. I’d experienced this on Holland America, and was pleased to find it with MSC. The pair of my martinis were vodka-based, but Ramon, the head bartender, threw in a dry Manhattan into the mix, explaining he had to be creative for 20 days with the present passenger load. The bar was full of jolly imbibers, and the drinks were pretty good too. We could hear the piano being played down a level on the lower promenade deck.
Returning to my cabin, I changed clothes, putting on slacks and grabbing my lighter sports jacket. In search of a glass of wine, I wound up at the Champagne Bar, where I had a couple glasses of a nice Brut. Then off to Panorama for dinner.
It was just the Canadians and me that night – our other tablemates had dinner reservations for the sushi bar, so I was able to get to know my mates from across the northern border. Siblings Susan and Rob had grown up in Ottawa, with parents working for the Federal government. Their spouses hailed from Toronto (Bill) and outside Montreal (Jeanne) and the two couples lived near Hamilton. They were surprised to hear of my 2017 jaunt to Toronto, with a visit to the cathedrals in their home town. I promised to bring the book with me after we had our port day in New York, as I was booked for dinner at Butcher’s Cut the following evening.
My opened bottle of Rhone wine from Sunday was ready, and I selected the large prawns as a main. I skipped a starter, but had a salad ordered for after my main, to be followed by a cheese plate, which I asked that the waiters collect now and put aside, to allow the cheese to reach room temperature. Susan and Jeanne thought that was a superior idea and ordered cheese plates too.
The foursome had arrived at the table holding cocktails, and again declined my offer to share the wine. We all kept the staff busy refilling our water goblets. My scampi prawns were impressive in size and quite tasty, albeit a bit chewy (as I should have expected given their size.) The salad came with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes and blue cheese crumbles, with a side vinaigrette dressing. Four types of cheese with crackers arrived, and I had to beg for the roll basket back, as I prefer my cheese with a yeasty bread to a dry flat cracker accompaniment.
Together we departed, heading aft to the Broadway Theater. I snagged another Otard cognac from the Brass Anchor to carry in to the auditorium. The show was “Virtual” and involved loud amplified music and lots of dayglo fluorescence with posturing and posing. When it concluded, we split, with me going down to the edge of the stage to be on level 5 and near my cabin, as they headed to the upper decks.
After downloading the camera to the netbook and writing my blog, I pulled a Mars bar out of the minibar with a bottle of sparkling water and had my “midnight” sugar fix. Prepping for bed, I climbed in under just the sheet and was soon off to slumberland.