Day 38, Grand Asia 2018
Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, Nha Trang, Vietnam:
If there was a day for me to wake up with a scratchy throat, this was it, I guess. I had booked an independent tour with some fellow passengers from our Cruise Critic roll call. But the forecast was for 100 percent chance of rain, so I decided the prudent decision was to stay on the ship instead of tour this area. Too bad, because on last year’s Grand Asia cruise a typhoon caused us to miss this port. The buses were lined up on the pier for today’s tours.
Something is always going around the ship, so I’m not surprised I feel a head cold coming on. I’m hoping that it doesn’t develop into something more miserable.
I try to keep politics out of this writing, but I will say that a silver lining of staying in today was the ability to watch the midterm election results come in throughout the morning (we are 13 hours ahead of my home Central U.S. time zone). The results were a mixed bag for me and I would guess for many people. But being a political junkie and former reporter and editor, I did appreciate following in real time. We have a choice of MSNBC and Fox News on board, so pick your poison, as they say.
For the first time on this voyage I had breakfast in the dining room. It opens later than I like – in fact most mornings I am in the Lido for breakfast before it opens, but coffee is available. I had oatmeal early in the Lido, but then went to the dining room because I have heard that they have had mango for a week, and we haven’t seen it in the Lido. Last year the mango and papaya showed up in the Lido while we were still in Japan, but not this year. I may have to file a complaint.
When the rain came, it came in a curtain and stayed steady until mid afternoon.
While being lazy in my cabin, I spent some time catching up on email and web sites. The change in shipboard WiFi service pricing from last year’s by-the-minute scheme to this year’s by-the-service plan is a game changer for me, even though it will cost me more.
Last year I paid $500 for 2,100 minutes of WiFi, or 25 cents a minute (plus a 100-minute bonus for booking early). When service was especially slow, particularly while uploading photos, I heard “ca-ching, ca-ching” in my mind. Whenever I could get better WiFi in a port terminal or on land, I took advantage. But frequently the flood of ship passengers brought even that to a near standstill.
This year there are three package levels available: base for email, middle for surfing and premium for streaming. I paid $699 for the premium package for the whole cruise. In reality, it is a little slow for streaming. But at the middle level, you are blocked from trying.
Despite paying more, at least I less frustrated when service is slow. I don’t need to be conscious of keeping my online time to a minimum. Now I can go online whenever I like. It is still too slow. But I don’t feel compelled to seek out WIFI at the pier. In fact, I sometimes leave my laptop running all night syncing my external hard drive with my Backblaze cloud backup service.
When it comes to voice calling and cell service, I just avoid it. I put my phone on airplane mode and leave it there. If I have good WiFi (such as at an Apple Store), I can make calls over WiFi. But usually it’s the middle of the night at home. My provider (AT&T) has international plans, but I don’t bother. So I can’t give any advice on that.
Yesterday I had a haircut in the salon. I was surprised when the stylist didn’t even wash my dirty hair before cutting it, but apparently the base price doesn’t include a wash. Last year it was part of the service. Oh well…
I never left the ship. I had a nice lunch with fellow blogger Abra (frenchletters.wordpress.com) and relaxed under the cover of my balcony. At sail away, we saw several small round boats pass by – I haven’t seen anything like this before.