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18 April 2020 - Day 7 – First of four consecutive days at sea

Sleeping in, I skipped formal breakfast and had my banana and cookie in the cabin. Plus the clocks had changed again (we lost an hour going to Bermuda, and would have shortened days for 3 of our four days at sea.) I organized my dirty clothes, so that when I hit a count of 40, I could send it off for the prepaid laundry service. After freshening up, I headed up to the gym to get those pesky stretching exercises done, and managed to get 4 laps done on the walking track. Between that track and my continued use of the stairs, I’ll be all set to walk my tootsies off in Italy.

Something I learned as we left Hamilton: there are 20 states in the US which have places called Hamilton. Plus, for 40 years, my mother (and father before he died) lived on Hamilton Avenue. And, of course, the Canadians at dinner are from near Hamilton, Ontario.

I had two things on my to-do list: I’d read about an engine room tour, which I needed to request at the Excursion Desk, and I wanted to track down my third couple for our Sao Miguel tour. The folks at the desk were quick to put me on the list of the tour the following afternoon, and I chanced a query to see if one could visit the bridge, which apparently isn’t permitted for security reasons. I walked across to the Customer Service desk and left a note to be delivered to Judy and Keith, suggesting a rendezvous for lunch tomorrow.

Then I headed to lunch, opting to visit the buffet again. I was hoping to chat up some folks about joining me on either of my two other private excursions, in Galicia and England. I piled up a plate, starting with salad greens to which I added toppings and a dressing, then slipped some pasta salad on the side and grabbed a few pieces of cheese and a small wrap. I made an Arnold Palmer and got a glass of water too. More than enough food. Sitting at a 4-top, I was joined by an English couple, Reg and Patricia, and we got to talking about how we felt the cruise was progressing. They had come to Florida in early April, and joined the #Meraviglia a week before the transatlantic crossing for a week-long Caribbean cruise. This back-to-back had them debark and reboard on Easter, even though they had the same cabin. They really like my Vigo tour, as they had once walked the Camino and didn’t need to return to Santiago de Compostela. They signed on, and I knew I had to alert my driver that we’d be three.

Heading downstairs to the Broadway Theater, there would be a talk at 2 to introduce the crew and behind-the-scenes staff. I was early, so I stopped to grab a draft at the Brass Anchor, and then wandered into a nearly empty auditorium and found a seat in the middle of a row. The captain was introduced by the hospitality director, who would MC the hour-long presentation. We learned that the ship burns a gallon of fuel to travel half a foot, that we had 4150 passengers on board, and that there were 2240 crew. Lisbon would be the end of his contract, allowing him to return home to the Algarve for a month-long holiday with his family, before joining a sister ship for the summer in the Mediterranean. Our MC then took over to show a video with a behind-the-scene view of several places we wouldn’t see: the bridge, backstage and the crew mess. They also included a trip to Medical, and hoped that that would be as close as we got. And I did learn that I could request a visit to the kitchens, by returning to the Excursion Desk – a task for tomorrow!

Out into the atrium, I headed to the staircase and, with another ale, sat and listened to a brilliant pianist play a theater medley for almost an hour. I then wandered into the ship’s store, looking at logo’d apparel (overpriced) and knickknacks. Because I was by the

champagne bar, I decided I’d clean my palate with a glass of Antinori Cervaro, a Tuscan bubbly blend of chardonnay and pinot bianco. From Marchese Antinori, a house known for its super Tuscan reds, it was a delightful surprise.

Magic Martini had a slightly smaller crowd, possibly because the veggies yesterday scared a few off. Taking an herbal focus today, Ramon used vodka infused with basil and a second with rosemary to craft an interesting taste. For the whiskey drinker, it was an Old Fashion, which proved to be my favorite and I took one of those away with me in an Old Fashion glass on the rocks, rather than in stemware.

Being Saturday night, I’d been at sea almost a week, and was looking forward to joining my tablemates for dinner and catch up. The Canadians were missing, off to Butcher’s Cut per Mark, who had invited their new friends Judy and Keith, who turned out to be my third couple for our Azores tour. They had been early diners, but wanted to slip it back for an evening at sea. Needless to say, I was pleased to meet them and we got settled about our tour in 5 days.

The kitchen still had conch fritters, so I selected them for a starter, and then took a chance with the veal filet, which proved to be a good choice. Skipping the cheese plate (I’d had my share at lunch), I got the wild berry cobbler, and the ice cream had nearly melted when served, so it was like soup, but delicious. I did wine by the glass, as I’d miss dining with my mates at Panorama the next night: a north Rhone, probably pinot noir, went nicely with the meal.

The seven of us left, stopping at the Edge Cocktail Bar to collect a nightcap as we headed to the Theater. Not wanting to be fussy, I got a Remy VSOP, and we headed in to see the show Meraviglia Amor, which featured some great voices singing duets mostly in Italian.

Back to the cabin, an easy trip for me, without more than a half flight of stairs, I went through my now standard routine, sent an email to Vigo, and crashed for the night.

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