Saturday, October 13, 2018, and we were at sea. It was about time. Sea Day, Office Day. I would have liked to have walked “On Deck for a Cause”, but, instead, I set up shop at my desk at 10:00am. First in were two women who aren’t at all happy with their travel agent and wanted to recruit me. I explained the ethics to them, and they got it, but they weren’t very happy. Apparently, they have given this agen a lot of business over the years, and this is the first perk they have seen, and she didn’t even tell them they were getting it.
A few more people came to sign up for the Shore Excursion. There was a Mariner’s lunch at noon, so I closed up shop a bit early and went to it, with the Martins and Fairchilds. When I got back there were some phone calls to return and I had to get a final count for the Cellar Master’s Dinner, as it’s tonight. Most of the people were out at full price. Sheila Martin and Andrea Fairchild dropped out, too, but Bob Martin and Page Farchild were coming. They and the Tsengs were the half price takers, Richard Dixon and Sue Widmore were coming on his four stars, and I paid full price. I returned what money I had to and dropped a Shore Excursion Flyer for Monte Carlo on Joanne Gardiner’s desk, hoping she and Michael would take my second bus. I had a spare ticket for them.
Finally, I got on the Internet and found there a delightful invitation from Tony Kilgallen, to appear on his Napa TV show. I’ll let you know when it will air.
The Cellar Master’s Dinner was a blast. First of all, it was six courses, paired with appropriate wines, and every one of them delicious, both food and wine. We had:
- Seared Foie Gras, with blackcurrant reduction and parsley foam, accompanied by Veuve Cliquot
- Porcini, Chervil and Artichoke Soup, with chicken dumplings and crème fraiche, accompanied by 2013 Cellar Master’s Blend, Chateau Ste. Michelle, WA
- Warm Lobster Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette, asparagus spears and artichokes, accompanied by 2016 Domaine Laroche Premier Cru Chablis, France
- Roasted Tenderloin Beef with Sweetbreads, salt baked celeriac, crispy onions and mushroom foam, accompanied by Flanagan Beauty of Three, Proprietary Red, CA
- Chocolate Pot de Crème, grand marnier and marshmallow, with Emilio Lustau Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Spain
- Artisan Cheeses, dried fruits, nuts, crackers, with Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Ruby Port, Portugal
But that wasn’t the half of it. It was our table that was so fascinating. My clients, Bob Martin and Page Fairchild are a lot of fun, and they have interesting lives and interesting wives. Both their wives are retired university professors, and assistant heads of departments, both have PhDs, of course. Then Bob was President of Iron Ore Company of Canada, in Sept Iles, where I traveled, one day a week for about six months, to teach his people how to program their new IBM 360 computers, back in the day. Page made his money in Banking and Insurance, which is a good way to do it. Both of these guys can be very funny, and they were. Sean and Grace Tseng, were a lot of fun too, and we learned that to immigrate to the USA from China, you need a couple of Masters degrees, at least. Sean just wanted to be a builder. There’s more money in it. Grace was in IT, like me. They live in Houston.
Our most interesting table mate, by far, turned out to be Richard Dixon, by his own account, a 5 Star General, and Commander of the United States’ Global Anti-Terrorist Force. Gee, I would have thought he’d have to kill us, after telling us that. He says there are secure communications on the ship that he can use, and a stealth helicopter scoops him off and takes him to meetings, on occasion. We had to get a picture:
So here we are: Helen, Page, Bob, Richard, Sue, Grace and Sean, having a wonderful time. I do have to note, though, that there were more than twenty vacant seats at the diner, meaning there would have been plenty of room for all our people who wanted to come, Holland America Voyages and Distinctive would have profited from a lot of goodwill. Instead, HAL just looked like a welcher. I didn’t get any bad reviews.
The next day we docked in Barcelona, Spain. I like this port a lot, but it was time for another newsletter. So, I wrote it and delivered it. Then I went to the gym, pulled my email, wrote a bit, etc. It was a longish shuttle to the bottom of Lsa Ramblas, and I wasn’t going to have time to do much.
Dinner at the Pinnacle was wonderful, too. The Waltemaths, Aimers and Wolfs were fabulous people, too. Doug Waltemath and Al Aimers are both engineers. Doug builds bridges and overpasses, and Al builds large commercial buildings. Sue Waltemath is a Dietitian, which matched with the Wolfs. He was a high school teacher and she a nurse, when their five sons started in to university. They quickly realized they would need a third source of income and have been very successful selling supplements. Our fourth couple never showed up, but seven is a better number for a dinner party, anyway. I surprised them with a couple of bottles from my wine package, and we were all very happy.
On Monday, October 15, we were in Marseille, and the weather was absolutely foul. It was pouring. To add to that, the shuttle was long and expensive. The Med is not as much fun as it used to be, since there are more and more cruise ships. In the larger ports, we often find ourselves berthed in the container port, instead of downtown. The cruise lines don’t build the cost of these shuttles into the fares, and they end up with a bunch of disgruntled passengers. I just stay aboard, especially if it’s raining. By the time it cleared, it wasn’t worth paying for the shuttle. I used the time to get the post shore excursion farewell and comments card letter mostly written, as I was going to have to finish, print, collate and deliver it tomorrow afternoon.
Richard Dixon called in mid-afternoon, with his regrets, for the shore excursion. Something had come up in the world, and he had to stay near his command post. A few people called wondering if we needed tender tickets, and I assured them we did not. Anne Cordani wanted to know if she could stay and shop in Nice, and I told her about the train that runs along the Côte d’Azur, and stops in both Nice and Monte Carlo. It would be an early call in the morning, so I packed everything I would need for the Shore Excursion before dinner.
Tamarind delivered again and we had a very nice meal just we five.
For those of you who have been asking where I go next, that’s Buenos Aires to San Antonio, on Celebrity, December 23, with add-ons in BA and the Chilean Wine country.
If you want Asia, I don’t have one booked yet, but I have four exceptionally nice ladies from L.A. who are going, Shanghai to Singapore, also on Celebrity, in February. I have been working with these gals for a few months, and they are all lovely. They like to travel well, and they don’t quibble. I have some pretty nice stuff lined up for them. Read my own Asia blog from last February, to get the flavor. They’d be happy to have a couple more people along to share private tours, etc.
Email me about either of these, or anything else you want. I do work from at sea. I just booked a cruise for clients today.