2023 – Grand World – Part 1.3 Crossing the Pacific and Polynesia

Monday, January 16, was the seventh of eight days at sea and I still wasn’t sick of it.   There’s so much work to be done at the beginning of a world cruise that they are a blessing.  Don Giovanni at the Sydney Opera House is popular and people are coming in with their particulars, credit cards, etc.  A few people came by with credit card information, but I couldn’t buy anything.  The Internet wasn’t cooperating.

I had a massage booked at the spa, with Titaka, but the ship had commandeered her for training.  The Spa manager tried to convince me to take another kind of massage or to reschedule.   I tried to learn more about the different styles of massage and couldn’t wrap my mind around it.  All I knew was that it was stressing me out and that’s not what a massage is supposed to do.  So, I cancelled the whole package of them and felt immediately better.  I worked in my room for a bit and went to Elliot Finkle’s Classical piano recital at two o’clock.  I love a good pianist playing classical music.  It was a small venue and it was packed.  I worked some more, went to Happy hour and dinner.  The entertainment was the movie “The Woman King” with Viola Davis.  She is always good but I wouldn’t have wasted my time on it, if I wasn’t on board ship.

Tuesday, January 17, was day 8 at sea, and business as usual. Kilmainham Jail have replied and I am holding a reservation for a private tour for between 20 and 35 people at 6 euros each.  Brilliant. I’ll ask my Dublin friends Mary and Sean to help me find a pub and invite them along.  My people will love them.

I wrote another newsletter and then I had tea with Bobi Salzman and ran off on her to deliver it.  Then it was time for Happy Hour and dinner.  Chris Pendleton was on the Main Stage again and she was great, again. 

Land Ho, on January 18.  It was Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia.  It’s a tender port and tendering was difficult because of waves and dock conditions ashore.  After all this time at sea, it wasn’t easy or safe to get off.  I’ve been here before and I was still catching up with myself.  I did some of my own client work and was very happy to get email confirming Tracy LI into the group. 

I had an email from the Chinese people’s son in Vancouver.  I send him my newsletter by email and he translates for them, emailing me when he needs clarification.  It’s working.  Tracy Li is from Vancouver, too, and she knows a bit of Mandarin.  Hopefully she will help.  They can always use the Chinese alphabet to communicate. 

I also got email from the Sydney Opera House Box Office to the effect that each customer would have to be beside me to authorize a transaction on his or her credit card.  So, I spent most of the day chasing them all down and meeting them here or there, until we had bought all the tickets and dinners.  It really WAS megaproject.  Three people are staying overnight in Sydney after the Opera.  One of them is flying out the next morning and the other two are joining me for Dim Sum.  I’m thinking I would like to do the same and maybe offer it to the rest of the group.  I decided to mull it over for a day or three.

There’s no Happy Hour on a port day.  I go to sail away instead.  There was an odd event called a “Glamp-Out” on the Lido Deck, that our table decided to skip.  That turned out to be a wise decision.  Lynann and I went up after dinner to see how it went and the crew were mopping up, because it poured, and the band played on.  Too loudly for our tastes.

We were back at sea on January 19.  There is still plenty of office hour traffic, with people coming to sign up for tours and my other offerings.  I decided to stay overnight in Sydney and booked myself into the Sydney Boutique Hotel.  There were seven of us at Happy Hour.  Rebecca Kelly was back on stage doing Carole King songs.  I only stayed for about five minutes.  I left because I hate it when the performer involves the audience in the show.  I was later told she settled in and was very good.  My loss. 

Friday, January 20, was another sea day.  I spent the morning before office, making birthday cards for February.   If I get better pictures, I may re-make but these are nice. 

One of my people is becoming my fitness guru. She came by to show me her Renpho Mini Percussion Massage Tool, which she highly recommends for my arthritis and other structural defects.  I thought about getting one from Amazon and having it delivered to Auckland, when I remembered the voltage differential cum power supply problem.  I will get one, but not until I get back to North America.  I’ll get a little manual Bodo at Chemist Warehouse, instead.  It’s a piece of wood carved just so, to get into knots in muscles and ligaments. 

The Starrs stopped by to chat and I spent a good part of the afternoon figuring out how to book a vehicle to transport my people back to White Bay Cruise Terminal from the Opera.  I did come up with a plan.  In doing so I realized I would have to nail it down and collect up front,  not to get left holding the bag.  I would set it up to make a bit of a profit and then spend it on wine for the group.  I‘ll be buying wine, anyway.  All of this in mind, I wrote and delivered my first “OperaLetter” not to be confused with a “NewsLetter”, and only for those who had Opera tickets. 

Six people at Happy Hour, a fine dinner, and Classique, a very nice production show.

Finally, on Saturday, January 21, we docked in Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia.  I went walkabout, looking to buy this and that, and coming up with not much other than some Arnica, by the French company, Boiron, which I swear by.  Yes, I know you can get it in Quebec now, but I am pretty sure the French stuff is stronger.  You can’t really tell, because they don’t have to print the strength on the packaging of homeopathic medicine in Canada. 

I was looking for yoghurt, fruit yoghurt in one serving containers, that I could keep in the fridge in the cabin.  The ship doesn’t stock those anymore, to save packaging waste.  I met Wells Wescott, tooling around on his scooter near the Papeete farmer’s market, which ain’t what it used to be.  I went sailing off a curb in the middle of the sidewalk, where it should never be, and came down hard on my bad ankle.  More Arnica tonight for sure.  But I was lucky I didn’t fall and just kept going.  I did aim back towards the ship after that, though.  Before I got there, I passed a bar, full of temptation, in the persons of Peggy, Vicki and Doris.  They hailed me down and I bought a beer and a snack in the hope of getting WiFi that both my Fitbit watch and cellphone could use to sync.  I was tired of being 5 ½ hours off.  It never happened.  There were just too many people in the bar.  For some reason, the iPhones could connect and the Androids could not.  You can imagine how happy that made me.  I feel I am being pushed towards an iPhone again and I hate the #$%^&*(*&^%$%^& things.    

Back on board I dealt with my messages, wrote a bit, and soon it was time to go out to the food trucks, always an event in Papeete.  There are a lot less of them than there used to be, COVID casualties here, too.  We went out early though and here is our dinner table, transplanted from the Zuiderdam.

And this is the Zuiderdam herself, by night:

We got back on board and I killed a little time in the piano bar before the folkloric show.  Both were very pleasant experiences. 

We sailed from Papeete to Morea at 5:00 am.  Needless to say, I didn’t go to sailaway at that hour.  Ken and Noreen, and who knows how many other young romantics, had taken a ferry over and slept in one of those romantic little huts over the water.  I have always wanted to do that but certainly not alone.  It’s way too romantic

I had a lot of paperwork to do, both for the Distinctive Voyage, and for clients back home.  So I stayed on board, got it done and didn’t feel one bit sorry for myself.

I was done in time for sailaway, but by the time I went to my room, stowed the computer, put on some sunscreen and got up to the Lido, aft, it was starting to sprinkle.  One of my couples had a little table against the wall with a bit of shelter, and I stayed with them, flattened against the wall in what turned out to be a real squall.  When it rains here, it pours.  Then it’s over, but it sure breaks up the party.

It was Chinese New Year’s Eve and Holland America decided to welcome in the year of the rabbit with a whole suckling pig at the Lido Buffet.  He was gorgeous.  I met Doris Reeves and the two of us bonded over suckling pig appetizers with roast duck pancakes. 

Kung Hei Fay Choy.

There were no such things in the dining room, when I went there at 7:30 pm, as usual.  We did manage to persuade our DR supervisor to get us more of the duck pancakes, though.  I wanted my whole table to have them, and they didn’t want to miss out on Chinese New Year, either.  The pancakes were good but better when we had them closer to the source. 

The main stage entertainment was a movie:  “Love Affair” with Warren Beaty and Annette Benning.  I passed in favor of a scotch at the Piano Bar.  It was a good choice.