Tuesday, January 10 was the start of 8 days at sea.  An amazing thing has happened to my left ankle.  It no longer hurts when I get out of bed and put it on the floor.  All this walking the decks of a moving ship, delivering newsletters, appears to be really good for it. I am delighted. I’ll get a few massages, too, but just a few, as they are about three times the price I pay in Montreal and I don’t even know how good they will be.  It would be hard to beat the people I have looking after me back home. 

Quite a few people want to go to the Opera, and some have very specific requests.  One has to have an aisle seat or she will be very claustrophobic.  I got on the Opera House site and saw that aisle seats were almost gone, and half the price because they don’t have a full view of the stage.  Since she was part of a group of three, I got back to them with this info to see what they wanted to do.   Some people already have Opera tickets but like the idea of the Ouverture Dinner and ride back to the ship

Holland America allowed free phone calls to do some insurance work for a passenger and it turned out well. He is going to be able to have acupuncture treatments and we can start the paperwork much later, when we see how it’s going and have better Internet. 

The Opera thing is fast turning into mega-project.  We are seeking tickets for Don Giovanni, on Thursday, February 9, 7:00 pm show.  It’s a 3 hour and 20 minute show, including one intermission.  It will let out at 10:30 pm or so.  Then we’ll want a ride back to the ship.  This is a pay as you go for my subscribers.  I am just hands on the keyboard.  I have shared with the Shore Excursions Manager, that I am doing this and he is OK with it. Ours will include choosing their own seats, dinner and the ride.  Getting all this is turning out to be tough.  The Internet is not cooperating. 

At 2:00 pm, I had my first real meeting with the Shorex Manager.  The first thing he wants me to do is to have everyone watch his video on their stateroom TV that tells them how to book shore excursions and cautions about not booking that which they cannot handle.  It’s a perennial problem, mine and his.  It breaks our hearts to say no to our handicapped guests but it is getting harder and harder to accommodate them.  I volunteered to pay for easy tours out of my own pocket, when he told me HAL would not be offering alternatives. 

At Happy Hour, we worked n a birthday party for Sandra Hobson.  Sandra is very interesting.  She’s an Audiologist, because she has been deaf herself all her life.  They think it was the measles she contracted at age 2.  She copes amazingly well, lip reads, has super hearing aids, speaks a couple of kinds of sign language, etc.  They are on this cruise for their 50th wedding anniversary, which we’ll celebrate May 10.  Everyone was gone by 7:00 pm and I still had a half hour before dinner, so I went and sat with Elizabeth and Reuben, with whom I had sailed in 2012 and 2014.  He used to be the Dominican Republic’s ambassador to different countries, like the USA. 

Dinner at the table and an Elliot Finkel performance.  He’s a concert pianist whom we all know well.  He’ll be having dinner with us one of these nights. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2023, the second of eight sea days. The office was very busy.  It was sign ups and Opera stuff and a sad case.  One of my people was almost beside herself.  She had been sleeping on Deck 3 for a couple of nights.  Her cabin is under Rolling Stone.  She didn’t mind that the band played until eleven, but when the disco music started up after that and didn’t quit until 2:00 am, she couldn’t take it.  I promised to talk to the powers that be and get her relief. 

She had no sooner left when Shiv Charan, the Housekeeping manager came by.  We are old friends.  I decided to ask him how full the ship was, to get an idea of what my chances of getting a better room for Susan might be.  He reported 1228 passengers of a possible 1960.  That looked like plenty of room to me, so I told him why I wanted to know.  The next thing you know, he was back telling me to tell Susan to pick up the key for 1085 from the front desk and see if that one would suit.  She checked it, she liked it, she moved and she’s delighted.  She sleeps all she likes now.  Thanks, Shiv.

I had an appointment back in my room at 2:00 pm, with my Taiwanese people.  The husband came with his translating machine and after that was taking too long, he called his son in Vancouver.  I spoke to Jason and we exchanged emails and agreed that I would email him a copy of what I was sending to be printed and he would translate for his parents.  Very nice of him. 

I worked on the Hobson’s birthday party with them at Happy Hour and I learned that when you need to clear your ears on an airplane, you shouldn’t hold your nose and blow (the Valsalva method), you should hold your nose and swallow three times (Toynbee Method).  It’s safer.  And Sandra told me that I may refer anyone in the group with a hearing problem to her.  We have some interesting benefits.   She is also willing to give a lecture. Her company was called “Helping you Hear”  HuH?

Dinner at the table was fine as usual, and the entertainment was a special treat.  Chris Pendleton turned out to be a she, funny as hell and a good fiddler to boot.  I took a picture of my wine because I liked it so well.  A French name on a new world region famous for a grape, can yield a marvelous wine.  Old world know how and terroir.  Good formula.

Thursday, January 12, 2023, the third of eight sea days.  Right after my Essentrics workout, I got to work on Sandra Hobson’s birthday party.  Everything onboard is both easy and complicated.  Sandra just has to talk to the Neptune Concierge and glasses and hors d’oeuvres will appear magically on the designated day at the appointed hour.  I had to craft invitations for her to pass out and we would have to keep track of cabin numbers to tell the Dining Room manager, for the after party dinner.  I made up a spreadsheet and started populating it. 

The Sydney Opera House project is not getting any easier.  There is quite a lot of interest and the Internet is starting to fail.  Bob Todd and I spent almost an hour getting him seat G24, only to fail when the site insisted sending him a code by text, which, of course, he wasn’t receiving.  We all have our phones on airplane mode to avoid huge onboard roaming charges.  I’ll have to gather everyone’s particulars, email and snail mail addresses, birthdays, the works and call it all in when we arrive Nuku Hiva.

I got some tipping envelopes and filled them with cocktail party tips, had tea with Bobi  and printed and delivered Newsletter #2.   Then I went to Happy Hour for more party planning, dinner and a pretty terrible show from Rebecca West called “How to be a Headliner”.  It was everything you hate about these shows, the formula of it.  I was bored to tears or maybe sleep.

Friday, January 13, 2023, day 4 of 8.  Another busy office hour, with one lady

patiently waiting, until all my people were seen, to come and inquire as to why not she, and her partner, weren’t in the group.  She had been before and hadn’t changed travel agencies.  I agreed and did something about it.

We all got dressed up for formal night, me in my best formal wear that hasn’t fit for about five years, and ate surf and turf and drank free wine, courtesy of the captain.  Our table host was Maria, the Hotel Manager’s Executive Assistant.  She was lovely.  There was dance music everywhere on Deck 2, but not much dancing as there wasn’t all that much room to dance with all of us milling about. 

Saturday, January 14, 2023, day 5 of 8, I did a bunch more work with the Shore Excursions Manager and saw a bunch more people.  Our litigious society has spread around the world now.  Some drivers and guides are forbidden to lift the devices into their vehicles, so the handicapped people need a caregiver of their own to do it.  All of them are within their rights to refuse.  Even the ADA rules do not require a service or venue to have personnel to provide assistance like lifting wheelchairs and scooters.  Facilities, yes, lifting, no. 

Sandra Hobson’s birthday party in their Neptune Suite was fun.  The Neptune concierge did them proud with the hors d’oeuvres and about half of us repaired to the dining room for a jovial birthday dinner topped off with Panjang Amurnia.  Certa mulia.   Pianist Elliot Finkel was on the main stage and this show was better than his first.  He’s very good.

Sunday, January 15, 2023, was our 6th day at sea and with execrable Internet, which was the only bad part of it, really.  I did a little research on Dim Sum at Zilver in Sydney and Paddy’s market and that looks very doable.  Same thing on the Occidental Bar in Auckland.  I also talked to Tina in the Pinnacle and we can have 10 to 26 in Section 1.  The date will be Feb 6.

Dan and Sandra were at Happy Hour again, joined by Keith Bean & Cher Arceneaux.  Cher had a tip for me that Titada was a good massage therapist.  So, on my way to dinner, I stopped by the Spa and asked that she do the massage I had planned for tomorrow.  That settled, I toddled off to dinner, where Elliot Finkel was our dinner guest.  He’s a lot of fun as well as a very accomplished pianist.  In his seventies now, he still practices four hours a day.  On the ship, those turn out to be 4 am to 8 am.  At home in New York City, he and his wife have seven cockatiels and four finches.  The cockatiels have bowls set at the dining room table, with whatever Elliot cooks for them that day, quinoa, pasta, whatever.  Each has his own way he (or she) likes it.  This explains why his wife rarely joins him on board.  Who would take care of them?

There was a production show after dinner.  What a great night.