Celebrating a Tropical Christmas Season


Day 77, Grand Asia 2017

Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 – At Sea

If it seems the days are going faster as we near the end of our 80-day cruise, it is true. Yesterday we set our clocks ahead an hour, jumping to 3 p.m. as 2 p.m. arrived. We will do one more time.

The weather section of our New York Times digest says that it’s been in the 60s in Dallas lately, so perhaps it wouldn’t feel much more like the Christmas season if I were at home. There is something about being in the tropics in December – and away from the holiday shopping frenzy – that makes it difficult to think that Christmas is barely more than a week away.

That’s not to say that the ship’s staff isn’t trying. We frequently hear Christmas carols on the speakers during dinner and at other times of the day. I’ve seen more Christmas trees and other decorations appear, and we continue to enjoy the Christmas Village of gingerbread houses created by the culinary staff. A new engine has arrived for the train, which was damaged by an overeager passenger.

img_2479The guest services manager said there would be more decorations added for the holiday cruise, a 15-day trip from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale. Tomorrow Chanukah will be celebrated aboard, as every day a new candle is lit.

We attended our final gala dinner tonight, followed by a Masked Ball in the Queen’s Lounge. I didn’t go to the ball, but everyone received a mask at dinner. I think I have had the surf and turf at every gala dinner, and the filet mignon has been consistently great. That’s high praise from a gal who lived in Kansas City for much of her life and knows good steaks.

Earlier in the evening those who have achieved new Mariner levels received their medallions during two cocktail receptions. Medallion levels recognize cruise days only. The levels are bronze (100), silver (300), gold (500) and Platinum (700). The Mariner star program gives bonus credit for the amount you spend onboard (1 day for each $300) and double days for those who book the higher levels of suites.

In addition, the captain honored several new members of the President’s Club, which I believe represents those with 1,400 days – no idea how they are calculated.

I’m spending my final sea days painting watercolors in the morning and slowly organizing things so they will be easier to pack. I am shipping two suitcases home – they are due to arrive around the new year, and checking two. So I need to make sure Christmas gifts go with me on the plane. I should note that only one suitcase is full-size. But it still is a lot of stuff! I think I could easily stay on several more months with what I have. I think I’ve cruised a lot, and I’ll only have 259 days on Holland America at the end of this cruise.

img_2482Our final pillow gift is a commemorative plate of our journey, listing all the ports (including the two South Korean ports that were cancelled months before the trip). The oval plate is 12×8 inches; the protective box is about 17x11x2 (yes, I brought an Ikea paper tape measure). It’s a nice thought, but not anything that I particularly want, so I will probably see if someone on the ship would like another.