My Cruise Diary … (Part2)

April 4th 2010 (Sunday)

Had a pretty bad night. Tossed and turned quite a bit and I dont think it was the ship’s movement. Especially when you lie down, it is no different from the feeling on a train.

Easter! Noticed that there is a Daily Mass at the Ship’s Chapel, at 8.30AM. We could not make it though …

Not that I was not eating non-vegetarian or anything, but I looked forward to eating today 🙂

Woke up at 5AM and went for a jog on the jogging track. Not a soul in sight. It was wierd to walk through areas which are crowded during normal times. I noticed that there were quite a few Indians among the ship’s Deck Attendants and they were cleaning up the pools and decks. Due to some overnight rains, the track was a bit soggy and one had to be careful. I had a peaceful jog for a while and then went to get some coffee. I chatted with a guy from Goa. He was very friendly and helpful and I kept running into him throughout the Cruise.

This Ship had around 3000 passengers and there were two other Indian families. One of the families were quite friendly (They dropped by our table when we were having breakfast and enquired about our plans at the ports. I told them the details and also why I went for those options. They were from Los Angeles and like us, were Cruising for the first time). The other family, from Fremont, California (!), gave us the typical “Desi Treatment”, which is: Ignore and look through the other people … Over the years, I have perfected a facial expression when I walk around office corridors etc. This expression allows me to react one way or the other when I come across another person. If the other person acknowledges my “partially friendly” expression and says “Hello” or some such, I react correspondingly. But if the other person gives me “the treatment”, then I react the opposite way 🙂 With this Fremont family, it unfortunately was the latter. After a couple of pass-bys I got frustrated and the next time we crossed each other, I went for my “I will hurt you bad!!” expression and that did the trick 🙂 They approached me and we chatted a bit.

Since my family wakes up much later, I went for a 7AM Stretching Class. The view from the Aerobics area was fantastic. It looks out to the front of the ship.

The Aerobics Room. This room also had a few TreadMills ...

The instructor was a guy from South Africa and I realized that I am no good at stretch exercises. My body ached for a while after the session. I also wanted to go for the Step Aerobics class at 7.30AM, but could not get hold of the props in time. The people who could not get into the Stretching class and were waiting patiently, took everything in a flash! Vultures! 🙂

Returned to A338. All of us got ready and went to Horizon Court for a heavy breakfast. How heavy? See this …

Breakfast: Cottage Cheese, Assorted Cheese, Scrambled Eggs, Bun(s), English Sausage, Chicken Links, Bacon and Fruit ...

I am sure all the workout in the morning was a total waste 🙂 But hey, I am on a vacation, right? We then left Rhea at the Pelicans and went for the “Ports and Shopping” presentation at the Princess Theatre. Now, this was a true mistake in my humble opinion. There was hardly any talk of the ports, but the entire hour was filled with propoganda about various jewellery stores at the ports and how to ge there. They kept enticing the crowd with the offer of a “Free Bracelet”! I must say that the lady they had doing the presentation was very good and she even had me thinking about some purchases … 🙂 After a while I decided that enough was enough and left the theatre, forgoing the precious “bracelet”. I had to do some nifty cajoling to get Rosemary out of there 🙂

Already, I have seen Princess staff from South Africa, Chile, Brazil, India, Phillipines, Italy etc. This seemed like a truly “International” operation. Later on I came to know that 60% of the Staff were from Phillipines! 20% from India and the rest from various other parts of the world.

I went to the Passenger Services at Deck6 to rent Walkie Talkies, so that we can stay in touch while doing separate things, if needed. It costs 4$ per unit, per day. The lady at the counter was having trouble setting it up, and was asking me if I knew how to operate it! After some trial and error, we figured it out. Over the day, we found that this was totally useless and unpredictable. By evening, I returned it.

At 11AM, I leave for the “Time For Men” grooming session, on Deck15, Lotus Spa. The lady’s name was Yolonda and she was from South Africa. After some basics about in-grown hair and the layers of skin etc., the 1-hour procedure started. I could smell eucaplyptus in pretty much everything (Princess gets a rebate for bulk orders of eucaplyptus fragrance, it looks like … :-)). After the 120$ session, the lady started with her “Push the products” part. If I picked OptionA, with X+Y+Z, it costs 325$ only. If I picked OptionB, with W+X+Y+Z, it costs me 460$ only. Blah Blah … How did I manage to squeeze out of there? Well, that is my “trade secret” … 😉 I then tried the Steam Room and, though I expected it, it was HOT!!! After a shower, used the Walkie Talkie to contact Rosemary. After 4-5 tries and after disturbing the tranquility of Lotus Spa, I finally got hold of Rosemary (who was somewhere on Deck14 pool area. We all (Rosemary had collected Rhea from Pelicans) went for lunch. After the super-heavy breakfast, I did not have much appetite. So, I went for some pastries …

A sampling of the pastries from the Horizon Court ...

Back at A338, I had a 2-hour nap. Rhea had an Easter Party at Pelicans from 1.30-3.30PM. At 4.30PM, we went for coffee and some pastries and managed to get a seat by the window. It was time to take Rhea to the pool. While Rosemary watched her, I and Joe went for a talk on Mexico. It was a presenation Princess calls Scholarship@Sea. I am a sucker for such things 🙂 Well, the talk about Mayans, Aztec, terrains of Mexico etc. were interesting. When Joe started to get a bit cranky, I had to leave. Meanwhile, Rhea was having the time of her life in the pool. I got Joe an icecream cone and we watched some Ping Pong games going on. It was a pity that there was a line of people waiting to play. I could have easily stood out in that particular crowd of players … Obviously, Americans (excluding Asian-Americans) are not that great in Ping Pong.

Back at A338, I watched a bit of Ben Stiller’s “Meet the parents” on the TV. Many people dont like his style of comedy, but I think he is hilarious!

Tonight is the 1st Formal Night. We all dress up and go to the Decks5/6/7, which is where the party is. Atrium of the Sapphire Princess! You can check out the snaps in Facebook, if interested. This was a very enjoyable evening. After some thought, Rosemary had decided to wear a traditional Indian Sari, Rhea a gown (which she had managed to squeeze out of me), Joe a nice pant and shirt and myself, one of my formal suit sets. In hindsight, Rosemary wearing a sari turned out to be a good and very well appreciated decision. The moment we exited the lift, on Deck6, it was as if people were in the midst of some celebrity. Random people were coming up and requesting photos. When I tried to slide into the photo, it was politely (indirectly) indicated to me, “No sir, we did not mean you! Just her …”. To save face, I acted as if I never intended to be in the picture and drifted away. Rhea and her gown were also a hit (It better be, for the $$$ I spent on it :-)). So, like two unwanted souls, myself and my small buddy Joe roamed around till the “stars” became free. Meanwhile the staff were serving champagne and various snacks. As with any formal party, we did the hello/chit-chat/bye routine. It was nice to see 3 levels packed with people dressed formally.

At around 9, we went to the Vivaldi Dining Room for the Formal Night Dinner (we had made a prior reservation). The food was quite good. I had a glass of Merlot, while Rosemary and Rhea had some Strawberry Sorbet. We had Quail and Venison Salad, followed by Rack of Lamb, for dinner. Rosemary and Rhea then had a sampling of the various desserts.

After dinner, we went to the Princess Theatre for “I Got The Music” Dance Show. The dancers danced to songs by Tom Jones, Barbara Streisand, Britney Spears and Neil Diamond. Joe slept in between the show. When I carried him off to Deck12 (from Deck6), we got the customary “So cute …”, “Oh, look at him …” etc. comments. I was thinking, “Forget him. Look at me, carrying him from Deck6 to Deck12, climbing countless stairs! (the lifts were all jam packed)”.

April 5th 2010 (Monday)

Woke up early (well, as far as I am concerned, this is a “cliche” 🙂 I wake up early every day) and myself and Rhea went for breakfast. At 9AM, we left Rhea at the Pelicans. Myself and Joe then went for a presentation by a lawyer about “Prosection versus Defense” (Scholarship@Sea). Dont worry, I am not planning on murdering anyone 🙂 It was interesting to learn about the basics of how a case is fought in the court and all the mind games that goes on, reiterating whatever I have “learned” from movies.

I then went and bought the official Formal Night photos (The family looked great and I did not look too bad) and got a free Scrap Book, which would have been more aptly named if you left out the “S” from the name. I also bought some fantastic pictures of the Sapphire Princess. There was a shot taken in the dusk, which was just spectacular. The price was also spectacular!

We then went and watched Rosemary do her pottery (Scholarship@Sea). She was doing fine and was very focussed on it. We decided to leave her alone and went down to the Deck6. While roaming around, I felt the urge to have a drink. Ordered a Pomegranate Martini and chatted with a guy from Canada. He was shocked to see good ol’ Joe sit at the bar. We talked about the recent Winter Olympics and how well the Canadian Hockey Team did.

I then entered myself into some Raffle (I never win these anyway). At 11.30AM, we went to see Nobu Haihara paint (Explorer’s Lounge). He did some demonstrations. The way the Princess host was talking about him, I thought I was in the presence of Michelangelo. He seemed a very good painter, though.

Joe and I went to the rear of the ship (Pelicans area), where he did his routine on the steps and around the pillars. At around noon (after collecting Rhea from Pelicans), Rosemary and the kids went for lunch. I went to Horizon Court and took my lunch to A338 (Breaded Shrimp, Clam Chowder, Roast Beef, Pastries and Fruit). Took a nap till 3PM.

At 4PM, we all went for Evening Tea at Pacific Moon Dining Room. It was an okay experience, nothing great. I was still groggy from the nap. Since Rhea was insisting on going to a pool, I offered to do a quick inspection of the other pools. I noticed two things, the pools at the rear were jam-packed with people and also (since we were appraching Mexico), it was very hot. So, we decided to stick to the indoor pool, Neptune’s Reef Pool.

How to make a fool out of yourself in the pool:

Today was my turn to accompany Rhea in the pool. I had previously noticed lots of kids having fun in the pool. I am not a great swimmer. I only recently learned how to swim and I am still struggling with vertigo when I look into deeper waters (for e.g. while snorkeling in Hawaii). I changed into my swimwear and jumped into the pool, somewhere in the middle. Rosemary and Joe were standing nearby. There were many other kids and grownups around. Now, I am expecting my feet to touch the bottom (how deep can a pool where kids are enjoying be, right? Wrong! It was freaking 7ft deep and my feet not touching the bottom, contrary to my expectations, sent me into panic mode. Though I know how to float etc., all those lessons went out the window 🙂 After a lot of wild swimming, I managed to get out. During this while, Rosemary told me that I had this embarassed look on my face! Princess does have the depth indications on the side of the pool, as does every other pool I have been in, which I had wisely ignored. Over-confidence did me in … The high-end Hotels I have stayed in all have either the entire pool or majority of the pool at depths of 3, 4, 5 Ft etc. I wonder why cruise ships have 5.5Ft as the minimum depth.

After offering all the people their “Evening Entertainment”, I scooted off to another pool (Coral Reef’s) on Deck14 … 🙂 There, I did much better (because I knew what to expect … He He!).

After the customary Cone Icecreams, we went to see the movie “Up” (which won some Oscars in 2010) at the Princess Theatre. As soon as we got in, we got complimentary Lemonade and Popcorn. Nice! The big screen was a bit shaky though. After a while, I and Joe left to watch Carlos Oscar (the standup comedian) at the Explorer’s Lounge (Deck7). He cracked jokes about a variety of stuff. I had a “Wallstreet Journal” Martini (Bacardi, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Pomegranate Juice etc.). We then return to watch the ending of “Up”. Seems to be an emotiional movie …

We all then went to the Pacific Moon Dining for dinner. Rosemary had Smoked Barbequeue Duck with Vinaigrette (appetizer), Wonton Soup with Herbs and Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Truffle sauce (main course). I had Crabmeat Quiche with roasted Chilli Mayonaisse (appetizer), Chicken and Spring Onion Soup, and Roasted Cornish Game Hen with Potato Ragout and Mushroom (main course). Rhea and Joe both selected Fish sticks and the inevitable soda. For dessert, the family had Chocolate Volcano.

We then walked around Deck14, where a Mexican Fiesta night is in full swing. There was live music and people were dancing away.

Live music at the Mexican Fiesta Party ...

The family return to A338 (tomorrow is our first Port Day) and I return to the Princess Theatre to watch “Its Complicated” (Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep and Steve Martin). It was an okay movie, but after a while I got really tired and returned to A338.

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