As Ron said in our Bantry blog post, “the end is near”. There is a different feeling on board that is a mixture of relief, nostalgia, homesickness, and anxiety about getting everything done in these few days. The trip home is the time for the Mariner Lunch and Mariner cocktail reception. Everyone has medallions based on the number of days you have traveled on Holland America ships. At this point, even newbie travelers have earned their Bronze medallion (100 days at sea). Ron and I have bronze medallions. During our trip from Florida to Seattle, we will hit 300 days and earn our Silver medallions. There are Gold, Platinum, and President’s Club levels as well for 500, 700, and 1400 days! Sheesh!
The term, “tropical depression in the mid-Atlantic” means a lot more to me now. There was a large storm that increased the winds, dropped the temperature, and caused swells in the water that were 20 feet high. Walking with your breakfast in the morning became a big challenge as was keeping the juice glasses and coffee cups on the table. Painting class became a challenge and of course, our teacher had us draw a ship on angry waters. We weren’t really seasick, but it felt much better to lay in bed and read or watch videos than move around the ship. The guest talent show was postponed and the stage entertainment with the singers and dancers was modified with fewer dances that became unsafe to perform on a rocking ship. Luckily, this all lasted only three days and the travel is smooth again.
On one of the rockiest days, our hands-on cooking class, with Abby, our America’s Test Kitchen chef was scheduled. We made pasta from scratch which luckily does not involve knife work or other dangerous tools. We held onto the counter and ended up with some really nice raviolis and fluffy potato gnocchi! We met after the class in the nice dining room (The Pinnacle Grill) and ate the same dishes prepared by Abby. Yum.
This is a good time to catch up on my watercolor projects. A few pictures are requests from friends such as the ultra-cute unicorn and the red fox. Other pictures represent places we visited such as tulips in Holland, trolls and puffins from Norway, thistles from Scotland, and The Treasury in Petra. The wine bottle was a chance to study reflections and the hobbit house was one that we visited in New Zealand.
All during this cruise I have been part of the “HAL Choral”. We meet every other sea day and learned two pieces of music. We were part of the guest talent show held in the afternoon of one of the final Sea Days. There was a cute act by the Ship-in-dale dancers doing the Full Monty, a rabbi telling a funny spoonerism story, and a really good harmonica player doing Moon River and Oh What A Beautiful Morning. Other acts added to the fun. The choral sang a medley of Andrew Lloyd Webber songs and Bohemian Rhapsody. I thought we sounded great.
Currently we are passing through the Sargasso Sea. We can see the seaweed pass by the ship. The Sargasso Sea is the only sea in the world that is not bordered by land.
We still have two days of travel. Most passengers are packing to debark the ship. Since we are staying on for another 18 days, we only have to pack enough to change cabins. Boy, we have collected a lot of refrigerator magnets in the past 105 days!