Eight Sea Days Isn’t Enough to Do It All

Day 13, Grand World Voyage

Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023; South Pacific Ocean.

Today is Sunday. I know that because the elevator carpet says so.

Otherwise, it’s just another beautiful day in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. Two days ago I saw dolphins and yesterday tiny flying fish from my verandah. But otherwise, we are alone, it seems.

Well, according to a presentation on board a few days ago, we aren’t really alone. There are all kinds of fish and even mammals swimming beneath us. Heck, for all I know there could be extraterrestrials above us, but they aren’t making themselves known.

This is the sixth of eight sea days in a row. The days are flying by. Just as we become accustomed to this relaxing pace, the ports will start coming faster. But in reality, these days are only relaxing if you want. We have many opportunities to stay busy, and I find it hard to pass up some of them.

Here’s how my typical sea day goes: Awake early, usually before 6 a.m. as we add another hour overnight every other day. Either walk the promenade deck or head straight to the Lido for breakfast. Next to the Crow’s Nest for the first latte of the day and some quiet time writing, catching up on email and blogs or struggling to solve Wordle.

Watercolor class is at 9 a.m., and then it can be a rush to the morning lectures. We have two great lecturers aboard. Mike West, retired Navy, talks about everything ships, from terminology, history, great battles to shipwrecks. Andy Fletcher talks about … well, I guess I would broadly say science. I’ve attended a couple of his talks on quantum physics and chaos theory. It reminds me of reading A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. I know all the words he uses, but my brain just isn’t designed to understand the concepts.

I started out attending the creative writing class just after lunch, but dropped it from my schedule. It is such a popular class that it required a move to a larger venue. I just found it cut into my writing time, so sadly decided it would go. As have many of the offerings. The daily schedule is full, and I regret that I can’t do everything.

Many afternoons I have spent a couple of hours sitting around the Lido pool painting. Typically I sketch on site, but add watercolor later. I brought along the sketchbook from my fall cruise to the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand to finish up the sheep and the gannets.

Most days I end up in the Crow’s Nest for the 4 p.m. happy hour (50 percent off drinks). It’s not the busy place that it was previously on the Amsterdam, which frequently had live music as we sailed away from ports. Holland America has moved the Explorations Café (coffee bar) to the Crow’s Nest and eliminated the dance floors there. It also has added the Shore Excursion desk and an extensive selection of board games. The Crow’s Nest still has the best view on the ship – a wall of glass windows looking forward just above the bridge — in my opinion.

As I walk around the ship on these sea days, I see activities everywhere. Morning and evening there are stretching, yoga, tai chi and water aerobics classes around the pool. The pickleball court stays busy. Two hundred people have signed up for the popular arts and crafts classes, so they are broken into two groups.

Dozens knit and crochet as part of Project Linus, which supplies blankets for sick children. This year the organizer, Marty Gottlieb, rented a 25-foot U-Haul truck to bring yarn for the project to Fort Lauderdale. He said he has 3 million feet of purchased yarn and several hundred thousand more of donated yarn.

Teams compete in trivia two or three times a day. Bridge and mahjong tables fill morning and afternoon. You can learn to line dance or mix drinks, and relax with afternoon tea in the dining room.

Or you can relax or read by the pool, on your balcony or in the classic loungers on the Promenade Deck, or watch some of about 200 movies on your stateroom television.

I’ve exhausted myself just writing about it!