Football, Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day Fill Long Sea Journey

Day 45, 2024 Grand World Voyage

Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024; At Sea, Pacific Ocean.

It’s been a busy eight days at sea on the Zuiderdam. Even Captain Frank said it is his longest stretch between ports. I recall on the 2017 Grand Asia we had 11 sea days between San Diego and Japan, having missed a scheduled stop in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, due to rough seas. My longest stretch at sea was 15 days in 1995, sailing from Barbados to Madeira, Portugal, on the Windstar. That was a true repositioning.

I love the sea days and have written frequently about them. In fact, in looking back to a post during that 2017 cruise, I see that my sea day routine hasn’t changed a lot. Early breakfast in the Lido, reading the news and writing, watercolor class, a lecture or two and happy hour in the Crow’s Nest. Fill in with lots of conversations, some reading, a movie or two in the room and perhaps a nap.

The entertainment staff is intent on eliminating our leisure time by scheduling lots of interesting events, parties and special occasions. We started with another block party in the hallways as more passengers boarded in Honolulu. Holidays and big external events don’t help.

Nothing is bigger than the Super Bowl, especially if you are a Kansas City Chiefs fan. And this year proved to be my trifecta of watching Chiefs Kingdom win from a world cruise. I’m not sure anything will beat the thrill of winning in 2020. It was our first Super Bowl win in 50 years (when I moved as a teen to Kansas City), and we watched the game live from Antarctica. But it was almost as thrilling to watch come-from-behind victories in 2023 (from Tasmania) and this week (middle of the Pacific Ocean).

The Grand Voyage singers and dancers entertained with a pre-game show. Chef Eric and his team set a new standard for a Super Bowl buffet with brisket, pulled-pork sliders, popcorn shrimp and associated snacks. Each team got its own cake and the bar staff kept the buckets of beer stocked through the game.

From Super Bowl Sunday, we skipped right over Monday as we crossed the International Date Line. Now instead of being several hours behind the U.S., we are almost a day ahead. We went straight into Mardi Gras. Happy hours expanded to four hours in the Ocean Bar, with more decorated cakes and green, purple and gold beads and feathered masks for everyone who got there early.

The next day was Valentine’s Day, a formal night with filet mignon, lobster and chocolate treats for everyone. A group of passengers sold barbershop quartet serenades for donations to the crew fund. And DJ Nyron (day job: shore excursion manager) kept the party going into the night in the Crow’s Nest, despite some major motion due to sea swells. Our cabin stewards outdid themselves with towel decorations.

Earlier in the day Cruise Director Kimberly hosted a rowdy version of The Game of Love to a packed crowd in the WorldStage. Couples Executive Chef Eric and his fiancé 3rd Engineer Officer Maroussia, Hotel Manager Henk and his wife Crystal, Captain Frank and his wife Alexandria and Beverage Manager Edmond and his wife Dining Room Host Josephine kept us laughing as each couple tried to blindly guess the same answer to some hilarious questions. I think Edmond and Josephine stole the show.

We’ve enjoyed talks from Joel Fleischer about Micronesia (the area encompassing our next ports, Guam and Saipan) and about sea life by Justine Nadeau, a marine biologist. I really enjoyed a talk by Staff Captain Karl (second in command) about the basics of ship handling. He blessedly did not delve far into the physics. But I did find it fascinating to hear about the effect of cruise ship balconies versus containers in the wind, for example.

As I’ve written, I seldom make it to the nightly entertainment. I’m still eating at 7:30 p.m. and I’m falling asleep by the second show at 9:30 p.m. But we adjusted our dinner time to see the Bird Dogs, an Everly Brothers tribute duo. If Holland America continues to bring this level of entertainment, I’ll make a point of attending, even if I need to take a nap first.