Monday, September 22, 2008,
The skies are overcast today; temps are cool; and we have been warned about windy conditions on deck. It’s a good thing we had no intentions of going out and about. Breakfast in the Lido with folks from Northern California, both former teachers [and apparently other things as well]. We went to the Ocean Bar after breakfast where MA read and D wrote a polite letter of complaint to HAL about our stateroom. He e-mailed the letter to Seattle with a copy to Ted, checked the e-mail, then did the journal and read until it was time for trivia. We again tied for first but barely lost the tie-breaker and were unable to capture the HAL luggage tags. Darn!
We read in the Explorers’ Lounge until around 1:30 and then made our way to the Lido for lunch. We made poor choices [pad thai and stir fry], so we were forced to eat dessert. It’s tough being us. We read more after lunch, played a little in the casino and then went “home” for a nap. Tonight was called informal which now means coat-and-tie; we used to call it semi-formal. Ceta and John, our tablemates, went to the Pinnacle Grille for a “special” dinner, so Roxanne and Ed sat with us. When we go to the Pinnacle with Russ and Patti, Ceta and John will invite friends to take our places, so it all balances out. We rushed out of the dining room so as to be at evening trivia in the Crow’s Nest by 9:30. It is 4 decks up and at the other end of the ship, but we made it. Roxanne and Ed didn’t come, so it was just the 4 of us. Again with the ties! This time there were 3 teams tied and we were able to capture more cheap ship stuff, specifically mouse pads.
Russ and Patti returned to their room and we went to the casino where MA played penny slots while D played blackjack. He broke even tonight [but is down$10 at the tables so far] before he joined her in giving money to HAL. He lost $4 all told while MA was down just one. On the way to the cabin, there was stop at the Ocean Bar for a Bailey’s. D left MA to read before going to sleep; he went to the Port Lecturer’s desk, where there was an electrical outlet, to catch up the journal. As he was finishing, Russ came past on his way to bed. We set the clocks back another hour tonight. Pretty soon, we’re going to wake up yesterday.
Trivia count: 2 firsts, 1 second, 1 also-ran. But who counts?
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
It’s a gray, rainy day today. For the first time since we left Friday evening, there is a little rocking to the Good Ship Lollipop. Indeed, Anne [GG] on the trivia team has decided she will be more secure on her walker today rather than her cane. The weather is of little consequence to us since we have no intention of going out on the wind-swept deck. Today’s weather is more like what we anticipated in the north Pacific. We hope that the weather is better by the time we reach Osaka and Kyoto. Even lousy weather in Hakodate, Miyaka and Aomori will not present a problem since we have no shore excursions planned.
As usual, we think [hope?] that we lower the average age of passengers on this HAL cruise. When we were younger, we used to refer to the atmosphere on board as “sedate.” While Carnival ships are the “fun” ships aimed at 20- and 30-somethings and Crystal is for the really upper classes, HAL targets the 60-plus crowd. As someone said the other day, the average age is death plus two weeks. It may not be that bad, but it is reminiscent of the elephant graveyard. There are so many walkers, wheelchairs and canes aboard that it looks like a pit stop on the Lourdes 500. Someone will get rich operating the parking concession for the motorized scooters. It’s no wonder they leave lots of room in the ship’s freezers.
Okay, it may not be as bad as all that, but it is a more sedate group than many other cruise lines encourage. HAL hasn’t started serving Metamucil on the juice bar yet, but it is generally an older, more financially empowered population. Add to that the fact that we are part of a 65-day voyage and you can see that these are people who have time and money at their disposal. One good thing about a cruise of this length is that there are no children aboard; this is not the trip that grandchildren are taken on.
The fact that they are older does not mean that they are inactive [although it is a little sad to see some of them dancing]. There is always something going on aboard the ship. This cruise is featuring a culinary theme with guest chefs, cooking demonstrations, flower arranging and other aspects of entertaining. Add to that the usual mix of low effort athletics, trivia, duplicate bridge, port talks, shopping and the casino and there is always something to do if one wants to. Or there is nothing to do if that’s one’s choice. As noted before, sometimes the highlight of the day is perusing the dinner menu at 10 a.m. [which we did today].
Something else that seems anomalous is the profusion of laptop computers among the passengers. Indeed, between the laptops and the dozen PCs available in the Explorations Café/Library, it seems that everyone is on line. “Tune in, turn on” has taken on a new meaning for the 60’s generation. People are checking e-mail, reading their hometown newspapers, paying bills and blogging. It is amazing and amusing to see so many people crowding the web manager’s desk for help. They are staying connected in ways most of these seniors never imagined when they were young.