Lots of Love for Everyone at Sea

Day 42, Grand World Voyage 2020

Friday, Feb. 14, 2020; Valentine’s Day At Sea

The first thing I noticed about today’s early afternoon chocolate surprise treat was that it wasn’t chocolate. Maybe that was the surprise. Instead it was a scrumptious bite of shortbread with a strawberry icing. I had passed up dessert at lunch, and now temptation was surrounding me.

The waiters of the Amsterdam dressed in their glittery red vests with matching bow ties and passed trays of sweets throughout the public decks of the ship. The early afternoon treats may not have featured chocolate, but they certainly were consistently pink – pink cupcakes, pink macaroons, pink cake popsicles, pink meringues in tiny cones.

Holland America is going out of its way to make Valentine’s Day special. Early this morning I had to duck (something at 5-foot-3 I rarely have to do) under a red heart decoration upon entering the Lido buffet area for breakfast. It wasn’t yet 6 a.m. and the crew already had been busy decorating. When my sister and I returned to our cabin mid morning, we found two long-stemmed roses and two heart-shaped boxes of Seattle Chocolates on our beds, courtesy of the captain and crew.

Earlier in the week we painted Valentine’s cards in watercolor class, and I left Elaine’s for her at her painting station this morning. She had planned to skip the painting session, but I told her she “had” to come – there was a surprise. And a few minutes into class, almost a dozen men in red bow ties and one woman showed up to sing a choral piece for our instructor and assistant.

But that wasn’t the real surprise. Before class ended, one of the florists came to deliver a vase of long-stemmed red roses to Elaine, a gift from her sons and grandson. I admit it was my idea to have them delivered during class rather than left in the cabin. I knew the roses from her boys would touch her and thought she would like to share the moment with others.

The only disappointment of the day was the lack of Internet service. The captain said it affects him as well, as he provided a day-old weather forecast. Who knows when I will catch up on posting blogs? For now I just keep writing them.

Today is the third of four sea days since leaving the mainland of Chile. We’ve sailed west and will arrive in Sunday at Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island. We are praying for good weather and smooth seas so we will be able to tender to the island. It’s really hit or miss – frequently the ocean swells are too much for the journey. I heard that only some passengers on last year’s world cruise made it ashore before conditions worsened. Because ship excursion groups have first priority, we have signed up for a Holland America tour of the famous and mystical Moai statues.

After Easter Island we will have five more sea days before reaching Tahiti. On one of those days we will stop at Pitcairn Island, where some of the residents (who might be descendents of the mutineers of the HMS Bounty) plan to come aboard, as the island with about 50 residents doesn’t have facilities for cruise ship visitors.

These long passages of sea days take on a different pace. For some passengers, it is like summer camp. The daily schedule is full of activities and it’s easy to fill your day going from one to the next. After the Antarctic exploration team departed in Chile, the Polynesian team boarded, so now we have options of learning to play the ukulele, making shell necklaces and learning about the explorers of this part of the world.

I’ve noticed more activities on the daily schedule hosted by the “revenue” departments. The Effy jewelry shops offer talks about the history of Theo Fabrege eggs and icons of fashion and jewelry such as Jackie Kennedy. The spa has classes on skin care and acupuncture. I’ll need to check out some of these events one day to see what kind of crowds they draw and whether the emphasis is on information or sales.

Of course bridge, tai chi, arts and crafts, watercolor, ballroom dancing and other regular activities continue. And there always are dozens of people scattered throughout the ship reading, chatting and, dare I notice, dozing.

One of my favorite entertainment acts performed last night – Abbafab. This Abba cover group brought a high level of energy to the showroom. I’ve seen them on previous cruises with a different cast. It’s good to see their quality remains steady.

I saved the last of my new gala dresses – red and sparkly – for tonight’s gala. The dining room was full of women in red and men with red ties. We enjoyed Diane’s selection of love songs in the Piano Bar, and later the party continued with dancing in the Crow’s Nest. We didn’t stay long. Tonight we set the clocks back another hour, putting us on Eastern Standard Time, just where we started in Fort Lauderdale more than a month ago. We’ll slowly get a full day’s worth of hours back and lose a day as we circle the globe over the next three months.