September 1, 2014
A Sea Day is defined as a day at sea without stopping at a port. Usually this means plenty of ocean and waves and very little way in the way of terrestrial scenery. While the first part of the definition certainly applied, we did enjoy the steady march of mountains on the Western shore of the Gulf of Alaska.
The problem with Sea Days is that the ship staff works to fill your day with enough activities before you realize that you are really doing nothing. When looking for a cruise, we try to avoid trips with more than a couple sea days. I guess that leaves out crossing the Atlantic and the Pacific by ship. Let me recount a day of doing nothing.
Breakfast in the main restaurant is nice but you need to be prepared for social conversation with no coffee in your belly. Upon arrival of the wake up liquid, one is better prepared for the usual banter about cruising, retirement and minor irritations. Fate would have it that there was a retired high school principal sitting at our table. I forgave him, and we exchanged light hearted verbal jabs. There was a couple in the process of retirement from their public service jobs in Oregon. I never miss a chance to trump the table with the story of great grandpa La Porte walking to Oregon at age three along the so named trail.
Four times around the ship on the promenade deck is a mile. My brother in law was doing his laps early. I always need something in the gut to walk and started my ritual shortly after breakfast. I was on lap 9 when a spotted a familiar sight 100 yards ahead. It took me half a lap to catch Peggy. We walked my last few and she tried to talk me into doing another 8 with her but I passed. The next priority is to read the 8 page New York Times news summary. No new crisis and that is the good news.
We reconvened in the stateroom to plot the day. We had toured the ship kitchen before so we let David and Leslie go it alone. A Zillion dirty dishes remind me too much of college jobs. Bobbie usually finds a cooking demonstration to attend. I tend to look for a quiet place to write without becoming too monkish. By noon we reconvened in the main restaurant for lunch and to coordinate the rest of the day.
At two there was a wine tasting with a somewhat long winded expostulation by the ship Cellarmaster Ron. The pours were of good size and the cheese pairings were OK but not up to the Lavender Ridge standard. Strange to taste a Reisling before a dry Pinot Grigio. More unforgivable was the Australian Pinot Noir that deserved the dump bucket. The Cellarmaster asked us our opinion. I gave him a rather generous flat hand so so when it was clearly a thumbs down. I was the only critical member of the audience. The other reds were satisfactory in a 2 Buck Chuck manner. It is tough being from California on a cruise ship filled with Midwesterners when it comes to wine. It is OK since I know they know a lot more about ice fishing than I do.
Next on the agenda was a visit to the bubbly outdoor hot tub. We managed to get well pruned and ready for our wine and crab cake pairing at 4. The $4 charge for a glass of wine and a crab cake was reasonable. What the heck. The Cellarmaster recognized me in my green Sonora t-shirt and gave me a full glass. The Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc were actually pretty good.
We now did a bit of shop wandering on the main deck. Hard liquor is relatively cheap but doesn’t agree with me. I was not ready for a repeat of the Russian Vodka experience so we just accepted the overpriced, mediocre wines. Cruise t-shirts are getting into the “buy for the kids” price range. We should be there price wise in a couple more days. The gaudy, giant wrist watches are more impressive than my Timex. Pickpockets in Naples ignore me when they see my utilitarian time piece. I would get rolled in 10 minutes with a three inch diameter chronograph. Peggy is hovering around the jewelry counter so it is time to go.
We went to the 6:30 floor show put on by 10 enthusiastic kids who are the ship to build their resumes. I can’t help but feel sorry for the kids performing with such enthusiasm for a crowd of 70 plus. The show was a light hearted poke at Alaska with plenty of singing and dancing. The Mountie skits were the best. Bobbie couldn’t stop laughing. It was finally time to get dressed for dinner.
Formal night is a big deal on a cruise ship. Bobbie has been ready for hours. I managed to get my tie on and don my sports coat. The Cellarmaster saw Dave and I ogling his cellar offerings. He said that I cleaned up nicely from my t-shirt. I played my Robert Parker bit in evaluating his Rhones and Burgundies. It was a gentle ribbing by a California know it all or at least more than a little.
Dinner at 8 is fashionable. We were there and had our own table. I ordered escargot since it was on the menu. Others were more restrained in their selections. The Beef Wellington was tender and properly cooked. Everyone enjoyed the wine selection and by 10 we were done. There was time to watch a nice documentary about a mama bear and her cubs from the comfort of our bed. Dave and Leslie went dancing or something.