Pete wrote, in his blog “The Inside Cabin,” (theinsidecabin.com) about his briefcase of good intentions. The things he planned do on sea days that never get done. For him it is catching up on reading books. That is also one of my intentions, but there is so much to do on seadays that I hardly start the books I intend to finish.
My biggest, good intention on cruises is to disengage from my iPhone and cut back on my news junkiness. On past cruises this was easier than it is now. The ship printed a two-sheet newspaper. I contented myself with reading that between lectures and let the rest go. I hardly ever took out my phone, didn’t need it, didn’t carry it. In 2018 I was largely able to ignore the impeachment, which I consider an accomplishment. I was hoping to get back to disengagement and a “no device” lifestyle these four months.
When COVID became a concern in 2020 that good intention mostly went out the window as I sought out news on the progress of the pandemic, and particularly how it might (and ultimately did) affect us.
This year is more difficult. HAL has stopped printing the newspaper and has made the New York Times available online for free. They have a dozen other papers from around the world, the Globe and Mail from Canada, the Guardian from the UK, the NY Daily News for tabloid readers on their iPhone/Android app. What they don’t have is the two-sheet digest. Read it and be done. I am in danger of heading back into news overload territory. For now, though, we are in an internet “black hole” and I can’t check the news.
But even in an internet dead zone I can’t just stow the phone. HAL has stopped printing a LOT more stuff than the news digest and moved it to the app (admirable for the saving of solid waste) for which I need my phone. The daily schedule is on the app (although they do have an abbreviated printed version). You order stuff on the app. You learn about ports of call on the app, no more printed maps left on your bed, you learn about tours in the app, no more brochure. Even your shore excursion tickets are on the app. I was on a long line at the Shore-ex office. A woman was insisting she get a paper ticket.
“We don’t have paper tickets.”
“I don’t have a mobile phone”
“You can go downstairs and use one of our house computers to print it out.”
“No, I can’t.” And I don’t think she could.
They got her a printout. Much of my wait on the line was caused by the “patience Saint Jude” shore-ex staff explaining how the app worked to a bunch of elderly cruisers. Some of them had not downloaded the app before they left the States and now, because we are in the great Pacific internet hole, they couldn’t so Shore-ex had to improvise.
HAL really wants us online. One of the lecture themes was the staff trying to convince us that it is a good thing that HAL no longer prints brochures for future cruises. “The website is better, really, you don’t need a magnifying glass for the fine print like you do in a brochure. You can just enlarge the print or zoom in! Great for old folks, right?” The lecturer was supposed project the live website on the big screen to show us how to do it. But with internet connection… Why would they schedule this lecture mid-Pacific?
I had problems with the Holland America app. It asked me to change my password. To get a new password I had to respond to an email which could not reach me because the internet was down. At the front desk they got that fixed without needing to go online.
Actually I may have found myself carrying the phone around anyway. It has a good camera. I also like the navigation app which works on GPS and doesn’t need Wi-Fi. It tells me that 20 Nautical miles to the Southwest there are 6 fishing boats in a cluster, that we are going 18 knots and are sailing in a direct heading to Nuka Hiva and not the great circle (although near the equator there probably isn’t much difference.) I’m glad daughter-in-law Shannon reminded me to download the map update before we left. At least I don’t need the phone to open the cabin door, but that is coming, I am sure. (Marriott is doing that right now.)
People with smart watches are having a problem. For instance, Suzi has a smart watch that sets either by telephone signal or by plugging it in on-line. That doesn’t work without satellite (no satellite, no internet, no cell service.) Suzi set her computer to Greenwich Time and that’s where here watch sits. It’s good she can subtract in her head. Nuka Hiva is 9 and a half hours behind GMT and after we changed the clocks the Captain made an announcement that the computers on the ship will not sync with the half hour time-zone (I think they have a new system) so the clocks are off. It also messes up his navigation system. Fortunately, there are other ways to know where we are. The captain assures us that he can get the weather the old-fashioned way (radios work). He suggested that if we need to know the time we ask a crew member, they always know exactly how long it is until their next break.
When I try to post my blog, I get various error messages on my screen. Sometimes it tells me the system is down for maintenance. Sometimes it is more honest. No signal. I create the page, hit upload and go to dinner or to bed and hope the Internet catches a satellite sometime during the night and my blog post will upload. I take it on faith. By the time morning comes there is not enough bandwidth to download my blog to look and see if it did completely upload. So when you read my blog some pictures and links may be missing because of upload blips. Sorry about that. I can sometimes get text only email out and have asked Kevin to look at the blog and flag any terrible glitches. So far so good, he says. While I can’t easily post on my blog I’m also not hearing about Elon Musk, classified documents, and looming debt ceilings. You can worry about those for me.