Smooth Sailing, Busy Days As We Head West Across Pacific

Day 34, 2024 Grand World Voyage

Monday, Feb. 5, 2024; At Sea, Pacific Ocean.

We’re taking the long way across the Pacific Ocean, which is fine with me. More sea days!

You need to look at a globe to truly see how far we have to sail from Mexico to the southern islands of Japan.

The Pacific Ocean has lived up to its name, with mostly smooth seas. One day and evening brought larger swells, but most of us enjoy the “motion of the ocean.” After six sea days, we will arrive in Hawaii tomorrow. Three days in the islands, and then it’s off for eight sea days (and a lost calendar day as we cross the International Date Line) to Guam and Saipan, then four more days at sea to Ishigaki, Japan (near Okinawa).

I’ve sailed twice from southern California to Japan, but we sailed much farther north (via Dutch Harbor, Alaska, to northern Japan) so fewer sea days. Just as in transcontinental flying, a straight line on a flat map is not the shortest route.

Enough of my geography TED talk. I’m here to report that we’ve kept busy on these sea days.

Many of us fall into a routine. Mine hasn’t changed much in years. I’m an early riser and get to the Lido Buffet shortly after 6 a.m. for coffee and the news apps, followed typically by oatmeal. Then to the Crow’s Nest for a “real” coffee (latte) and computer time – either writing or reading.

On past grand voyages, I headed to watercolor at 9 a.m. This cruise, I’m mixing it up, so watercolor is at 3:30 p.m. The classes have become so popular that we go on alternating sea days. I’ll write more about watercolor in an upcoming blog.

This frees me up for Cruise Director Kimberly’s 9 a.m. coffee chat with officers, crew members, guest entertainers and lecturers. Kimberly is a great host, asking interesting questions and delving deeper when the answers warrant it. We certainly laugh a lot.

Edmund and Josephine

Among the recent favorites were Beverage Manager Edmund and his wife Josephine, a Dining Room host. She amazes us with her memory for names, placing us with interesting people who like to share a table. For those of us fortunate enough to sail repeatedly on world cruises, so many of the crew and officers become family. We love getting to know them better.

Another popular sea day event is the Tech for Travelers class, with tips and tricks for both iOS and Android phones – how to travel safely, great travel apps, tips for taking and editing photos and how to share with those at home.

Every day we have port talks (repeated on the room TVs), and lectures about the culture, geography, history and flora and fauna of our upcoming ports. Cultural ambassadors come on board (Oi Brazil for two weeks, Hawaiian presenters for the current week) to talk about their homeland and to share arts, crafts, songs and even dances. Today we can hear about the history of Hula or a presentation on Hawaiian National Parks, Monuments and Reserves.

Guests who learned ukulele and the hula during sea days gave a fun show this afternoon that filled the Lido pool area.

Every day includes classic cruise activities such as trivia, bingo, afternoon tea, pickleball, walk-a-mile around the promenade, bridge, mahjong, creative writing, movies and sports events.

By late afternoon, I’m usually ready for happy hour, although not always in the Crow’s Nest as in the past. It’s a popular venue for private events sponsored by travel agency hosts and other groups, as well as wine tastings. We frequently join friends Barbara and Richard for dinner in the main dining room, but sometimes – like last night – I just get a light dinner in the Lido. Earlier yesterday we enjoyed Sunday brunch – a three course meal with numerous small bites for each course. That served as my main meal for the day.

Every couple of weeks is a formal night – almost always on a sea day – and the most recent theme was the Great Gatsby. Most of the men wore tuxes or suits, and a number of women sported headbands, feathers and long strands of beads. I improvised by making a black lace mask into a headband and posed with Katrine and Angelica, two favorite servers from the last world cruise.

The chief engineer Pedro and his almost-20 daughter joined us for dinner. Then it was off to the Lido for an evening of dancing, led by those who learned the Charleston in one of the dance classes. The Crow’s Nest was transformed into a speakeasy for the late-night crowd.

The first segment of the world cruise will end in Honolulu, when several dozen passengers will leave and almost as many join us. So Captain Frank held a question-and-answer session. Not surprisingly, many questions concerned our itinerary change (going around Africa to avoid the Red Sea). I suspect when Holland America President Gus Antorcha joins us for a few days in Japan, he will have more insight. After one passenger asked the captain about how he met his wife, Kimberly inviting Alexandra to the stage to tell her side of the story. Yes, they met on a cruise ship!