Don’t you get bored on sea days?

Day 3, Grand Asia 2017

Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017 – At Sea

While I picked this cruise for its Asian and Pacific ports, I also love the sea days. We will have about 40 sea days, and we are starting out with five before we arrive in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on Saturday. Many people think these days would be boring, and they would be for some people. But as two friends and I said years ago before embarking on a 14-day Atlantic crossing with no stops, “We are practicing doing nothing so we will be better at it on board.”

img_9690The Holland America cruise staff makes sure that there are no excuses for being bored. The daily activity calendar offers myriad options throughout the day. I’ve also brought a couple of dozen books on the iPad to read, the recorded Ken Burns documentary on Vietnam to watch and several other projects like writing this blog. Surely I will have time to clean out my email, delete hundreds of iPhone photos and think about writing a memoir.

I don’t typically join in on many cruise-sponsored activities, but this morning I decided to attend the watercolor workshop. Jack is the instructor, and he holds workshops twice a day. Those who had shown up the first day knew to be early, but I found a spot. Jack gave me a “sampler” with line drawings of several flowers, a set of watercolors and a brush. He said just jump in, and I did – having little idea of what I was doing. He promised he would provide instruction every day, but “you learn by doing.” I was hooked. I have a feeling I will spend my mornings on many sea days learning to watercolor.

img_9679Holland America also has a partnership with America’s Test Kitchen, and at least once a day the producers of the PBS television show and publishers of Cooks Illustrated recreate the show in the demonstration kitchen. Today chef Denise Vivaldo entertained us with her funny stories of cooking for Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as “styling food” for many Food Network chefs. At the same time she taught us to make a shrimp salad. OK, it was more elaborate than that, and maybe I’ll give it a try at home. I have a feeling I’ll be packing a lot of recipe cards when the cruise is over.

We also have two guest speakers during this crossing. One series is on the Polynesians and their colonization of the Pacific Ocean. The other topic is “the profound impact of globalization.” I’ve sat in on the latter for two days, but I think it is a little deeper than I want this week. Both speakers drew good sized crowds from among the passengers, and we will have more speakers later in the cruise.

img_9681There is an active bridge group on board (Holland America supplies the bridge instructor) and an informal group of mah jongg players. They apparently play an American version rather than the Chinese-based version I’ve played with my sister’s friends, so I will pass. After all, I still need time for a nap now and then!

A few random thoughts for those who are following my blog:

  • I love getting comments and especially questions.
  • I wrote blog entries on my Galveston-to-Dubai cruise in 2013 and felt like it was too much of “what I did today.” I’m trying to follow more of a thematic organization this time. On port days, I will give more details about my adventures ashore, particularly because I know there are a number of people on next year’s Grand Asia cruise who want to read that. My sea day activities would get boring and I’ll try to pick a theme each day instead. Again, suggestions and comments welcome.
  • I’m still trying to become more adept at the Word Press app (why didn’t I do that from home when the internet was free?). I’ll be posting a few more pictures when I figure out how!
  • I am editing my earlier posts from this cruise to reflect a change in day numbering. Some HAL materials start Day 1 on the day we embarked; others on the first full day of the cruise. I was following the latter, but I’m going to follow the former now, which is how the activity sheets are labeled.