It has been a while.  You’ll find out why in the next episode.  For now, I hope you are as grateful for this one as I am.  You probably aren’t, but you’ll find out about that in the next episode, too.

On January 26, while Elvon and I were having breakfast, the ship was trying to find an amenable place to anchor at Roratonga. I had planned to steal from the Captain’s blog for this, but, once I saw it, I figured mine would be juicier.  My favorite captain has yet to manage to land anyone here, and he has had five or six shots at it over the years.  This island has high seas, nasty shoals, changeable winds, the works.  The first place we tried was way too exposed, and it was all the crew could do to get the tenders into the water.  They couldn’t find an angle where it would be safe to board and carry passengers, never mind land them on shore.

So, like Mother Duck and her ducklings, we went around the headland, hoping it was better on the other side.  It was, and about 600 people managed to get ashore, before tender number 9 was blown on to a reef.  The captain doesn’t talk about this in his blog.  He did, however, do the right thing by the passengers on said tender.  There was no real danger, you could wade to the thing, but people take expensive camera and computer equipment, wear the wrong shoes, aren’t as fit as they should be, or are just plain old.  The rescue squad, which waded out, consisted of the Captain, his wife, the Hotel Manager, his wife the Guest Relations Manager, the Culinary Operations Manager, who got a terrible sunburn, the Cruise Director, Events Manager, Housekeeping Manager, Food and Beverage Manager, Cellarmaster, etc.  They helped some wade to shore, took some in little boats, and brought water and sandwiches to those who had to, or elected to, stay aboard.  It took a good few hours, but they managed to tow it off the reef and back to the ship, sans one propeller, and with numerous holes in the, luckily double, hull.  The affected passengers got a good whack of ship-board credit, champagne, etc.  We hope the handicapped ones who saw the whole thing now understand why the ship doesn’t want them on tenders.   Elvon hasn’t got on one in years.  He says he likes he likes his life too much to ruin it by breaking something.

The entertainment was Bobby Brooks Wilson, a repeater from last year, but a very good one.  He does a lot of songs from the fifties, made famous by Elvis and Frank, and, of course, his own father, Jackie Wilson.

Back at sea on January 27, I was still reading “Taming the Screwcap”, in preparation for my talk on wine in three days.  On this day, I was learning about the role of SO2, reduction and the role of padding in the screw cap.  At the desk, I answered questions about how much wine we would be able to bring back to the ship, and how much of it we could bring to the dining room.  We are getting very relaxed rules, especially yours truly.  Now I will have quite a bit of good, cheap wine to serve at DV dinners.  I gave 13 certainly unused Auckland Wine Tour tickets to Jacques, for his wine stewards and the names of the passengers who were interested on Bridge Tours to Jennifer.  I PhotoShopped a bunch of pictures and talked to whomever came, oe of whom had been on tender number 9.

Happy Hours are back in the Crow’s Nest from 6 to 7, so I planned to start up again, too, not every day, as we spent too many days up there alone last year.  I analyzed the calendar, trying to find the day of the week with the most sea days.  It turned out to be Saturday.  So we will have T.H.I.S. Happy Hour.  ‘Too Happy It’s Saturday’.

I tried to get Elvon to wear a $240 white silk shirt to dinner.  It’s a Nat Nast, much like a Tommy Bahama, only twice the price, and just beautiful.  He wouldn’t wear it.  He wanted something green.  Paul Kerr, Culinary Operations Manager, and his wife, Sharon, from the front desk, were coming to dinner.  Paul has the same hairline as Elvon, and his pate was bright pink, along with his face, arms, etc., thanks to yesterday’s operations with tender number 9.  Sharon is quiet but was sporting fabulous jewelry, lent to her by the shop for such occasions, and Paul is very lively.  It was a lot of fun.  The entertainment was “Made in England”, an Elton John Tribute from our own production cast.

January 28, we crossed the dateline and the day did not exist for us.  January 29, was a sea day, and a busy one at the desk.  I had a letter to get out, a talk to finish preparing and emails for assorted appointments in Hong Kong.   I finished the letter, and got it delivered by 7:15pm, in time to shower and dress for dinner.  The entertainment was ‘La Musica”, Adam and Lisa, a British couple.   They are very good.  The music is light classical.

Of course, January 30, was a sea day, too.  I stayed in my cabin until just before office hours, rehearsing my talk.  The desk was extra busy and I left it as soon as I could to go through my talk one more time before it was time to give it.  It was well and went well.  I charged $10, for which they got all the wine they could drink and a Wine Tasting Guide worth at least $5, $10 if you buy one online or in a winery.  Our Bar Attendant, Princess Leah, served wines from my Admiral’s package, on which she would not be tipped, so I gave her $10.

It happened to be the first T.H.I.S. Happy Hour, so up we went to the Crow’s Nest and had a fine time with Dan Samaniego and the Westcotts.  Then we had a lovely dinner at the Petersen’s table, enjoyed Bobbie Brooks Wilson one more time, and went to bed.  It had been a big day.

Believe it or not, we were still at sea on January 31, so I went to the desk again. One lady came by to say she had become a boat widow.  Her husband has entered the “Build your own boat” contest and it is consuming him.  I lent her whatever glue I had and promised to get him some supporters on the day of the judging. I saw another six or eight people, and took Elvon to the gym.  I got some logging done and we went to dinner and a show.  It was Simeon Wood, who played assorted wind instruments.  Is he the Wood in the Wind?

Our DV Wine Tour day was on February 2, in Auckland.  We got off to a bit of a late start, when I missed counting one passenger on the bus, and called her name out three times to no response.  15 minutes of searching ensued, and when we called a halt to it and I got back on the bus, there she was.  That’s the stuff that drives you crazy.

We never saw the other bus load of people, as each winery could only handle one bus load of us.  The closest we came was passing on the road when we switched.  One winery, Soljans, took us into the vineyards, and through the winery, cellar and bottling line.  Their tasting wasn’t much, and neither were the wines, but they had a nice gift shop.

The other winery, Matua, had a wonderful tasting, with about six different New Zealand cheeses.  They insisted you take a sip, a bite of cheese, and another sip.  It really did make a difference in the flavor of the wine, and the cheeses were delicious.  One guy bought a bunch of them and had a party in his cabin, the day after, to which we were lucky enough to be invited.  I digress.

A few people got off in town to eat.  I had to take the bus all the way back, but the driver was kind enough to drive three of us back to the Auckland Fish Market, where we had some of the best fish and chips, ever, and a nice bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Villa Maria, Jacques, the cellar master’s favorite.

We hoofed it back to the ship at speed and made it with five minutes to spare.  Sailaway was particularly nice, so nice that we just finished off with a bowl of pasta, from the Lido, and went to bed.