We were “At sea” today and the temperature was much more comfortable at 70°.
I’ve mentioned the Cruise Critic Roll Call in previous posts. Through the www.cruisecritic.com website, each cruise has a “roll call.” It’s a great way to start getting acquainted with others who will be on your cruise. And, we’ve booked quite a few shore excursions thanks to the research that others do!
One of the customary events organized through this tool is a “Meet & Greet.” They’re usually scheduled for the first full sea day, so today was the dayl This one was well organized from the standpoint of having name tags that included the town of residence for everyone. One person we’d booked a couple of private cruises through had envelopes ready with the tour information, as well as name tags for those excursions. A man who grew up in a town just forty-five miles south of us, sought us out and we had a nice chat.
Something new was tried on this one . . . a raffle. Everyone who brought an item was given a raffle ticket. Unfortunately, several people who did NOT bring an item were also given raffle tickets. The outcome was not pretty. Hopefully the next one will be conducted a little more fairly.
The first culinary demonstration was at one p.m. In the past, on board chefs or a guest chef taught the class. One of the changes Holland America made a couple of years ago was contracting with “America’s Test Kitchen” cooking show. One of their staff members does the teaching, which is supplemented by short video segments. On previous cruises we’ve received complimentary copies of “Cook’s Country.” In the effort to reduce paper, we no longer get those. We are receiving paper copies of recipes, but those are being phased out as well. Thankfully we’ll have access to the recipes via their website.
Today’s class was on preparing your own “Take Out,” and had recipes for Scallion Pancakes and Pad Thai. I’d seen this one before and have made the Pad Thai recipe a few times. The chef made the Scallion Pancake and Dipping Sauce look easy enough . . . I’ll have to try it at home. Larry went to a “class” on the history of diamonds . . . it was pretty much a sales pitch.
We’d agreed to meet for the three-p.m. lecture on “Basque Whalers and Cod Fishers” by Dr. Tommie Sue. I was glad I arrived early and also heard the lecture by our Cruise Director, on “Discovering Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Red Bay, Labrador.”
It’s amazing to think of the intestinal fortitude of explorers in the sixteenth century who ventured across the “Great Pond” in search of a route to Asia. Jacques Cartier was sent by King Francis I of France to seek gold, spices and the elusive passage. Instead he discovered Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. His efforts pleased the King, who sent him back the following year to discover Quebec. This expedition led the French to later lay claim to North America.
John Cabot was an early explorer who persuaded King Henry VII to allow him to explore westward. In 1497 he reached Newfoundland, Labrador, and possibly Cape Breton. He returned in 1498 with five ships and two hundred men. His crew reported that, “The sea there is full of fish that can be taken not only with nets, but with fishing baskets.”
More fishermen arrived. The Spanish, Portuguese, and French salted their catch on board their ships to return to their countries and sell them. The English didn’t have as much salt, so they lightly salted them for a short period, thoroughly washed them, and air dried them. This resulted in a lightly salted product for which Newfoundland became famous.
Wars in the late sixteenth century pretty well eliminated the Basque and Spanish fisheries and the English and French dominated the Grand Banks, Gulf of St. Lawrence, and Newfoundland’s south coast. In the early eighteenth century, As a result of wars in the eighteenth century, France gave up it’s right to fish on the south coast, and received the rights to fish on the west coast and northern peninsula until 1904.
It’s so interesting to attend these lectures, especially since they’re about the places we’re going. If only it could have been as interesting in school!
Tonight was the first of six gala nights. So, we gussied up and headed to the dining room, by way of the photographer. Hopefully there will be at least one good photo! We were seated with five other people and enjoyed a lively conversation. I tried something new . . . when they got around to asking what our employment had been, I asked them to guess. Of course, no one suspected I’d been in law enforcement. That was fun!
Escargots is generally available only on gala nights. We enjoy it so much, we each had one order and shared an order. Now, we’re looking forward to next time . . . it was so yummy! Larry’s lamb chops were perfectly tender, as was my tenderloin. Thankfully the portions have been scaled down over the years, which we hope leads to less waste.
The captain hosted a champagne toast on the Mainstage and was followed by an outstanding performance by “The Knights.” They played music of “knight’s” of the British Empire, such as Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Rod Stewart, Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber, etc. Their vocal harmony was excellent! Two of the members are from the U.K. and the other is from Australia.
We set our clocks forward an hour at two a.m., so it was time to head to bed and be ready to get up early to meet friends in Sydney, Nova Scotia.