Pleasant Days at Sea After the Storm

  • Day 15, Voyage of the Vikings 2019
  • Tuesday, Aug. 13, At Sea, Norwegian Sea

The predicted storm passed during the night after we left Akureyri, Iceland. By mid morning on Monday, the skies were lighter, and the ship motion returned to normal. Capt. Vaartjes reported that the winds between midnight and 4 a.m. – the worst of the storm – had hit 63 knots, with seas about 7 meters high (23 feet) at their worst.

Also after leaving Akureyri on Iceland’s north shore we crossed the Arctic Circle at 66° 34.0’N and 22°20.9’W and stayed for several hours before turning southeast toward southwestern Norway. We each received a certificate naming us members of the Ancient Order of the Blue Nose.

We have settled back into two days of life at sea. The Lido is quiet in the early morning hours, but activities fill the daily schedule, called the When and Where. I do note that nearly half of the scheduled activities are designed to sell something – “seminars” hosted by the spa to promote various treatments and by the shops to promote jewelry sales. Our lecturers talked about Viking life and gods. Today’s movie is Trollhunter.

America’s Test Kitchen had popular classes on cooking with peppers, making tomato soup and creating “adult” grilled cheese sandwiches. That means moving beyond American processed cheese. I had seen the same demonstrations on last fall’s cruise, so I spent some time downloading and then deleting thousands of photos from my iPhone, which was nearing its storage limit.

Elaine joined a group learning the American version of mah jongg, with cards specifying winning hands for 2019. She’s not a big fan yet because it is different from the Taiwanese version we play at home. But she’s met some fun people.

At tonight’s Gala dinner I struck out on the surf and turf. The lobster tail was fine. The filet mignon wasn’t. This was an outstanding steak every time on my last cruise, but the cut I received tonight had a streak of fat and gristle through it. I couldn’t cut it. So the waiter brought me another. This was dry and thin and cooked at least to medium well, far beyond my requested medium rare. Oh well – I certainly did not go hungry.

Perhaps I had a few too many drinks at happy hour yesterday. I wandered over to the future cruise consultant and signed up for two more cruises. Earlier I had booked the 2021 world cruise (with my sisters), and now I have added a Grand Africa and Holiday Caribbean cruise preceding it on the same ship. In fact, I was able to book the same cabin, so it looks like I will be living on the Amsterdam from October 2020 to May 2021. It’s a good thing I sold my house, and I guess I will give up my tiny Chicago apartment, at least for a couple of years.

A few nights ago we heard some disappointing news. Rachael May and Justin Lacey, the singers and pianists in the Billboard Onboard piano bar, will be leaving the ship in Rotterdam (the port after Bergen, Norway). I’m so disappointed they won’t be staying on until the end of our cruise. We make it a point each night to attend at least one of their fabulous shows and sometimes two. It’s always standing room only so we have to get there early.

Each has an outstanding solo voice and effortlessly plays almost anything requested. They normally switch off taking the lead, with the other providing backup. Occasionally they perform a duet, such as “Lucky,” originally recorded by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat (and requested by me).

A few nights ago, Rachel left the audience silent and then leaping to our feet after singing “I Will Always Love you,” made famous by Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston. Justin doesn’t hesitate to jump into something he hasn’t practiced upon request. His repertoire includes anything from Billy Joel to Chuck Berry to Johnny Cash.

They have set a very high bar for their replacements, and we will miss them.