Meet and greet . . . wine and dine . . . January 7, 2019

I’ve mentioned the benefits of logging into Cruise Critic several times.  Today is one example of why we do.  Soon after booking this cruise, I joined the “Roll Call.”  There is one for every cruise, no matter the cruise line.  It’s a free website with a LOT of valuable information on ships, ports, excursions, etc.   And, by joining the Roll Call, you have a chance to get acquainted with others who will be on the cruise before you embark.  We’ve found it valuable for joining small group or booking private shore excursions. 

After enjoying breakfast delivered by Room Service, we headed to the Meet and Greet.  This one wasn’t as organized as others we’ve attended, but we did meet and nice couple from Colorado, Tom and Judy, and Joanie, from Southern California (La Costa) who was the organizer. 

Often these are opportunities to learn plan group excursions or activities.  The main thing attempted today was group dinner in the Tamarind specialty restaurant.  Since we’d booked a dinner there before we embarked we weren’t interested in another one at this point. 

I talked Hubby into attending the America’s Test Kitchen cooking demo on salmon, but it was standing room only.  Christina, the Cruise Director, said she’d drop extra copies of the recipes at Guest Services.

Though there are many choices, we often enjoy a bit of sushi for lunch.  The Asian fare on board is pretty darn good and on longer cruises the Indonesian soup has been excellent!   Today we found a table in the Lido and “swam upstream” to get some food.  Sea days can be pretty crowded!

I have a short rant about people who leave their brains on the dock.  It’s not just the younger generation that tries to get on the elevator before passengers get off; block an entrance while conversing in a group; block a narrow path in front of the buffet area while chatting; or cut into line to retrieve one item while others wait patiently. Some of the younger ones do let their children run wild while seeming to think that everyone finds them cute.  On a ship this can be very dangerous for all concerned, especially if people are mobility impaired or the ship is moving. 

Following lunch, we had time to read a bit and chat with Joanie (whom we met earlier) before heading off to the wine tasting.  Four and five star Mariners receive a complimentary invitation.  Other’s paid $19.95 each to taste four wines and learn about them from the sommelier.

Another perk of being at least four star Mariner is the fifty percent discount on wine packages.  We enjoy a nice wine with dinner.  My Hubby especially enjoys a bit of bleu cheese with a nice merlot.  It’s like dessert for him.  Unfortunately on this trip there was a glitch with the wine delivery.  So, the sommelier hoped to have an accurate list available by tonight for those wishing to purchase a wine package.  Can you even imagine how many bottles of wine they ordinarily bring on board?  I hope she’ll share a number with me! 

Since this was a sea day, it was also a “gala night.” In our early years of cruising we had fun dressing up.  Hubby even took two tuxedos on our first couple of cruises and they were only a week each!  As veteran cruisers, we don’t go to the effort for short cruises, which for us is two weeks or less.  On longer cruises we do bring some dress up attire. 

A few years ago I was able to convince Hubby to get a new tux. This was after a twenty-four day cruise to Australia on which we became friends with Geoff and Jillian who wanted us to join them for dinner on a gala night.  Geoff happened to have two dinner jackets, one white, and one black.  He and Hubby were close enough in size so that all that was necessary was a dress shirt and tie.  We happened to dock in Honolulu for the day where we able to go to K Mart.  Hubby found a white dress shirt and black tie on clearance for four dollars.  He was a happy cruiser, and we thoroughly enjoyed several dress-up dinners with our new friends.

So, now he does take a tux, a dress shirt or two, at least one bow tie and cummerbund and a couple of polo shirts as well as a pair of dress slacks.  I like to take a black dress, black dress pants, and several tops to change them up.  It helps minimize packing.  I’ve never been a “fashionista.” I’ve seen women, especially on our world cruise, with many different outfits with shoes and hats to match. One even admitted to bringing twelve suitcases! That just seems like too much work.  

We enjoyed dinner in the Lido and headed to the Mainstage.  Before the show began, Cruise Director, Christine, introduced our Captain who welcomed everyone and shared a bit about the cruise.  Hearing him speak made us wish we were sailing longer!  He interjected humor and information: such as there are eight hundred forty crew members on board representing forty countries.  With tongue in cheek, he shared that in 2018 Holland America Line celebrated one hundred forty-five years and created this great commemorative napkin.  Everyone was provided with champagne or sparkling cider for the Captain’s toast to fair seas and following winds.   

Commemorative napkin

The Eurodam Singers and Dancers then took the stage to present “1,000 Steps,” on the Mainstage. Six dancers and three vocalists gave one of the absolutely best shows we’ve seen done by the crew.  Their precise, expertly-choreographed routine, accompanied by extremely talented singers, was better than the best “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Voice” combined. Thank goodness Hubby can turn his hearing aids off when it’s too loud. 

With our senses satiated it was time to turn in. The clocks were turned back one hour as we continued south.

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