Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Critters


Monday Evening

I’m writing this after dinner, as we sit in our favorite little lounge listening to the string quartet and, as usual, watching the water roll by outside. Conditions are calmer now, but a lot of people skipped dinner because of seasickness. We had a nice chat with a dad and his eleven-year-old son; mom and daughter had stayed in their stateroom. One amusing dinner detail was that the waiters brought each table, as part of dessert, a large plate of cotton candy. Evidently they had extra from some event during the day. I’ve never had cotton candy in an Italian restaurant! Actually, I’ve never had cotton candy in any restaurant.

The lounge waiter just brought brandy for Gary, ice water for me, and chocolate for both of us. Have I mentioned that we enjoy being decadent? We’ve discussed the fact that we should be suffering liberal guilt (the ship gets thirty-two inches per gallon of oil, an especially poignant statistic given the hideous situation in the Gulf), but, while we are thinking about the issues, we can’t make ourselves be unhappy. We’re also contributing to the welfare of the mostly Filipino staff, many of whom are probably sending money home –- a fifteen percent tip is added automatically to our bill, with an option to increase when we leave, and we certainly plan to increase! –- and we’re also doing our bit for the Alaska economy.

The service here is really phenomenal, so the decision to tip more than fifteen percent is easy. Because my laptop still wouldn’t connect, and the Internet Manager couldn’t figure out how to fix it, I went to the front desk and wound up having my laptop peered at by the IT guy in the communications department, who usually doesn’t deal with passengers. He decided that the problem was with the ship’s system, not my laptop, and restarted the ship’s system (!) to try to fix it, even though I told him I can connect with a cable. My wireless still won’t connect -– or rather, it says it’s connected but won’t bring up any webpages –- but I really appreciated the time he took to try to help me.

When we got back to our room after dinner, we discovered not only the usual turn-down chocolates on the bed, but a very nice Holland America tote bag: also an adorable penguin, made of towels folded origami style, perched on one of the pillows. I took pictures of it, and will be posting that and other photos (views of water, Gary in his formal duds) when we’re in Juneau on Wednesday. The photos are on the phone; it’s easiest to e-mail them to Blogger from the phone, but the data rates on the ship are horrendous, so I’ll wait until I’m on terra firma.

Each stateroom has a mailbox just outside the door. The service includes a morning news summary geared to the guest’s home port -– ours is from the New York Times, but we noticed one mailbox with an Australian summary -– and a list of the next day’s events (delivered every evening). The mailbox also contains coupons, event announcements, and maps of the next day’s destination. Getting junk mail on a cruise is pretty funny, but we appreciate all the information.

Naturalists will be narrating our visit to Glacier Bay tomorrow, and the bow will also be open (it was closed today, probably because of bad weather). Gary and I plan to get up early to get in We’re breakfast, and maybe a workout, before the critter-and-glacier-watching starts. We want to get to the bow as soon as it opens.

Must eat more chocolate now. More tomorrow!

Tuesday Midday

Today’s as calm and sunny as yesterday was gray and grim. We’re in mega-gorgeous Glacier Bay; I haven’t bothered to take photos because you can find lots online. We’ve seen lots of whale blows, two whale tails, a ton of dolphins, and lots of seals, who bob their shiny black heads above the water and look around curiously. No super-closeup views of these critters, but it’s still a lot fun.

I just took a brisk 1.3 mile walk around the promenade deck with Gary, who’s still walking while I hang out in the room. When he gets back, we’ll eat lunch. This afternoon: calving glaciers, if we’re lucky. This evening: more string quartet!

Last night I discovered that the ship has musical microenvironments: lovely string quartet giving way to bad piano bar, replaced in turn by wretched karaoke/disco –- depending on what’s happening in the nightclub –- which in turn fades into the beeps and boops of the casino, all of this culminating in the utterly execrable Vegas lounge acts in the showroom. Another passenger (who knits socks!) recommended a piano act last night, so Gary and I went to the showroom to check it out. We lasted about thirty seconds before making a beeline back to the safety of the strong quartet.

Ah, Gary’s back. Time for lunch!

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