27 April 2020 - Day 16 – At Sea
This would be our last fully at-sea day, at least for me, as within 48-hours, I’d be leaving the #Meraviglia in Le Havre, France. Before I left the ship yesterday, I’d given my bundle of soiled clothing to my room steward Ron, as I had a prepurchased 40-item laundry package, and having most of my clothing clean to start the land portion would be ideal. Arising at 8:30, I hustled to get to Waves in time for sit down breakfast, and was seated at an empty table for 6, which soon saw a French triple and a German couple join me. While every one spoke English, I was pleased to be able to begin brushing up on my rusty language skills, which surprised my dining companions. The French grandparents with a teenage girl were from Troyes, a city I’d not been to (yet) and they spoke highly about their cathedral, which I know is one of the “Top 5”. The Germans were in their fifties and from near Ulm in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg. The Ulm Minster is one of the tallest churches in the world, a truly stunning building. I’d been to this Lutheran temple in 2017 as I explored Germany before my Danube bike ride.
Feeling like a slacker, I headed up to the gym to do my stretching exercises. The Zumba class filled about half the basketball court, but I still had a comfortable space to lay on the floor and lean against a non-glass or mirrored wall. Feeling better, I headed out to the walking track and set off, racking up 5 laps before I started to tire.
Deciding to give the buffet another try; it was down a flight of stairs to 15 and a stroll past the Bamboo and Atmosphere pools. I filled two plates with bits and pieces to sample: from the premade sandwich bar: a wrap, and focaccia, croissant and white bread finger sandwiches; and from the salad bar pickled cauliflower, red cabbage, kale, shredded chicken and bits of lamb, all topped with almond slices. I returned to the midships deck area and found a seat on the pool deck, as the skies were clearing and it wasn’t too breezy or cool. Thuy and Jon spotted me as they looked for a seat, so they joined me and we were able to catch up from Sao Miguel. Jon returned for desserts, and brought me back a small brownie which only lacked walnuts to be perfect.
Thuy had noted that there would be a talk in the Theater at 2 which would be a presentation on the ship’s offerings of excursions when we got to Southampton. So we descended to 6 (Jon rode the lift, while Thuy and I got some exercise) and we entered the nearly empty theater about 10 minutes early. As I had been drinking water at lunch, I slipped back up to the Brass Anchor and snagged an amber ale – Thuy and Jon had passed my offer to get them something. The Hospitality Director bounced on stage (I think that’s a job requirement) He used a PowerPoint presentation to detail the trips to Bath and Stonehenge, and to London. We had 12 hours while in port, so the London tour was leaving early at 7:30 to ensure that folks would get a good sampling of the capitol from the tour bus.
Leaving Thuy and Jon, I returned to my cabin to send two emails: I wanted to ensure that SWTE, our transportation to and from Winchester, and Susan, our Blue Badge guide, were still on for the private tour I’d planned and that the two couples from New Jersey had agreed to join. My earlier emails had been answered, assuring me there would be no problems and our fivesome would be welcome.
There was still over an hour until “magic time”, so I grabbed my e-reader, journal and climbed to the Sky Lounge. Wanting an apéritif to sip on as I read and people watched, I considered an Aperol Spritz, which I’d tried in Spain and really didn’t like, and then the bartender asked if I liked sherry. Acknowledging that I do, she suggested an Adonis, a cocktail served up that was a blend of sherry and both vermouths, with a dash of orange bitters. It sounded like something Ramon might offer, but I figured it was worth a try. I think I have a new favorite cocktail hour drink if I can’t find Suze. Like a perfect martini, but sherry instead of gin.
Mellow, I read for a while, chatted with a number of folks (hard not to do with a ship with 4000 people aboard) and eventually headed downstairs to Deck 7. Ramon was mixing up Ducatis, a blend of vodka and gin, with vermouth and Cointreau, and Vespas, gin and vodka with Lillet; keeping with the clear drink theme (and apparently because there weren’t any vehicles to match,) he was pouring straight Johnnie Walker White Walker Game of Thrones Edition scotch. I had to tip my hat to him, as I was unaware of any clear scotch whisky, so coming up with it was notable. The two martinis were tasty, especially now that I was able to enjoy the juniper flavor of gin, but the White Walker was a star. Served near water’s freezing temperature, the caramel and vanilla flavors opened as the drink warmed to room temperature. It merited a return try, so I took it as I walked aft after sitting a bit in the lounge.
Tonight was my second #CirqueDeSoleil performance, and seating started at 8:15 in the Carousel Lounge. I had also booked dinner, so I was killing time walking into and out of the shops along the Galleria. I would have to walk through the clamboring of the casino to reach the stern, slot machines chirping and dinging, and probably hold my breath for the cigarette smoke. Skirting around to the port side, it was not quite as bad as I’d experienced walking straight through on previous passes.
Dinner choices were again unimpressive, so I settled for a starter of French onion soup, a main of grilled steak (very large portion) and bread pudding for dessert. Since I’d been sipping scotch, I had a double of McCallan with very little ice.
Sonor is a presentation that uses the single round raised stage in the Carousel stage well, and the tempo is steady and attention keeping. Sonor, my second show on this trip, is not as “populated”, but I found I was able to stay focused on the performers better as there was usually only a single focus.
Returning to my cabin by heading down the aft stairs to avoid the casino, I found that being aft of Waves, I had to go to the starboard to find a passage around the closed restaurant. Through the Infinity Atrium, I stopped at the Infinity Bar to get a Hennessey VSOP cognac before I crossed the atrium, with its crystal staircase rising two levels, to get to the port side and to my cabin.