Day at Sea (X8) or Sailing Through the Doldrums.

One of the entertainers leaving the ship in Panama told us he was happy to get off because we were about to have 8 days at sea before reaching the Marquesas Islands. He performed a parody of the Beatles “Let it Be,” called “Day at Sea.”  It got a lot of laughs along with comments like “Eight days, that’s an Alaska (cruise) plus a day.”

I’d been looking forward to extended days at sea.  When I was much younger I did Atlantic crossings of 7 days and was never bored.  I loved sitting in a deck chair, reading and watching the sea.  I wish I had the discipline to do that now, but there’s just too much happening.  You have the normal ship stuff, bingo, casino, morning soup, afternoon tea.  I have no problem skipping those.  There’s the stuff organized by the ship’s building civil society, knitting circles, crafts, and bible study.  I’m attending a daily lecture discussion on the history of the Jewish people led by a rabbi from LA.  We meet at 9 AM in the Piano Bar because no one wants to sing along at 9 AM.  The rabbi was discussing Moses who asked God “Who should I tell the Hebrews sent me?”  God replied “I Am.”  The Rabbi asked “Who is ‘I Am?’”  He asked three times “Who is ‘I Am?’”  Since no one answered I had to say it.  (Think Dr. Seuss.)

There are lots of lectures.  The speakers on this leg include a retired astronomy professor who talks about the stars, time, space and navigation (tonight the Captain will turn off many of the ship’s lights and he will lead a star observation on deck); a retired navy man who talks about things nautical; representatives from the Polynesian Cultural Center who tell us about pacific migrations, Polynesian religion, The arts, including song and dance and issues of Native Polynesian sovereignty; and the ship’s port lecturer fills us in on things we can do if we don’t buy tours.

There are 15 musicians on the ship including a piano bar entertainer, a three piece combo that plays jazz and swing, a three piece that does pop and “chicken rock”  (That’s an old radio term, “We would play Rock but we’re chicken”), a chamber music ensemble and the show band.  Suzi and I take in about half the shows and usually enjoy listening to the swing and jazz trio.

And of course we must keep fit.   We both do aquatic aerobics.  Full body crunches use a completely different set of muscles on even a gently rocking cruise ship. (And this Pacific crossing has been unusually smooth. When we hit the equatorial doldrums we really hit the doldrums, as the picture at the top attests.)  Suzi does Tai Chi every day and I walk.  For the first few days I saw dolphins, flying fish and frigate birds.  I decided to take my camera and they all disappeared.  Everyone walks counterclockwise, I don’t know why.  When we crossed the equator I thought we should all go clockwise.  When I reached a group heading toward me I called out “Hey Guys, we’re south of the equator, you’ve got to go the other way.”  Only one guy turned around.  I guess I’m not much of a leader, although one woman says she appreciates my clockwise because she uses me as as a marker for another half lap.  There is one disadvantage to walking clockwise.  Clockwise is on the “inside track” of the ship.  People walking counterclockwise like to cut corners.  Walking clockwise results in about two collisions per mile.

By the middle of the four sea days I decided to cut back on the lectures, since there is no exam, and spend more time sitting in a deck chair, reading, and watching the sea.

Then there was “the incident.”  One day, just after getting out of the pool, heading to the shower, I slipped and fell, right in front of the bar.  The bartender and waiters came over and wanted to call the medical team.  I know what happens when someone calls the medical team.  There are three chimes followed by the announcement “Medical response team to lido deck, starboard aft, zone four, I repeat…”  Everything stops, including the music, and I happened to know the chamber group was playing in the explorer lounge.  I didn’t want to interrupt Fritz Kreisler.  That announcement puts a pall on the whole ship.  I got up, and instead of the shower went to the hot tub.  When I got back to my chair to dry off the guy next to me offered to be my witness.  “Witness for what?”

“The law suit.” It was a kind offer but the thought of suing never crossed my mind.

Later I did go to the doctor because I was stiff and hurting.  There was nothing broken or sprained.  He gave me a muscle relaxing shot.  But before I could see him they called down the security officer to make an “incident report.”  It was then I realized that Holland America was also thinking lawsuit.

First question: “How many drinks did you have?”  OK it’s a reasonable question, after all I did fall in front of the bar, but I kind of resented it.


In a slightly accusing manner while still remaining polite; “Why weren’t you wearing shoes?”

“I just got out of the pool.”

“Well then, why weren’t you wearing your glasses?”

I gave him what must have been a scorching look because he came back with:  “Right, you just got out of the pool.”

I’m actually glad there’s an incident report.  I’ll use when I submit the cost of the doctor’s visit to my travel insurance company to apply against a deductible that I hope I’ll never have to use.  It’s been more than a week since the fall and I’m fine.  The doc is from South Africa and gave me a lot of tips on what to do in Cape Town.

During the middle of our 8 “days at sea” we attended the Captain’s Masked Ball.  Either the Captain wasn’t there or he had one heck of a good mask.  All day the Cruise Director kept pushing the ball.  Twice he said: “I hope you all come because the Captain is putting this on just for you.”  The attendance was pretty good and I would place the attendees in three different categories.  The first were those who were dancing.  This was a distinct minority.  The second were the curious, mostly first timers like us.  The third were those who came out of a sense of duty not to disappoint either the Captain or the Cruise Director.  Some of the officers bring their families on the world cruise and watching little kids dancing with the grownups in their masks was the best part.  The ball started at 9:30 and the Cruise Director said we “would dance the night away, until the wee hours.”  That meant 10:30.

We are sailing west (Into the sunset) through the 21st time zone, Alaska Standard Time.  I thought it was also the Marquesas Island time zone, the Astrolabe in the ship’s atrium tells me this.  But apparently the Marquesas have moved a half a time zone west.  Plate tectonics?   As I send this we are more than 60 degrees or 5000 mils due south of Sitka.  Tomorrow the Marquesas Islands.


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