Where it began, I can't begin to knowing But then I know it's growing strong
Today was to be our first full day at sea as the ship headed towards Gozo. We were unsure if that meant we would be bored or grateful for the rest. We decided to be positive and were up early so we could try out the gym before breakfast.
Gym is on the 9th floor at the very front of the ship with a lovely outlook. It was Karen’s first time back in the gym since breaking her arm so she just used the walking machine for a decent walk but even so struggled with balance issues with one arm still in a sling. I went on the cross trainer for 30 minutes listening to the latest Mark Steele’s in Town Podcast (Salisbury) – if you haven’t listened to these then you are missing out.
It’s funny how a different cross trainer feels compared to the ones you are used to. Although my knee consultant had given the OK to use them, this one did feel as though it was putting pressure on my knee in a different way. Two hours later I could feel that it had certainly done so but I tried to push that to the back of my mind for now.
From here we headed for a leisurely breakfast. I found where the serving station was for Eggs Benedict and ordered those and again, they were very good.
We took our time and it all felt rather strange as we knew we had the whole day to kill or rather chill. We headed back to our cabin and sat and read our kindles on the balcony for a while.
Karen then needed a coffee for we went to the 10th Floor Explorers Lounge where she had 2 – just because she could. After this we headed outside to try our hand at Deck Shuffleboard. Karen found it really difficult with one arm and I wasn’t 100% sure of the rules. It was also incredibly windy outside being that high up, so we quickly gave up until I had time to work out what we were actually supposed to be doing.
Then it was time to explore the shops for the first time. They are on the 3rd floor and in my opinion just full of overpriced designer stuff. Lots of Americans were loving it all though. After 20 seconds I was very bored and fed up, which annoyed Karen who was at least pretending to be interested in the jewellery for a while.
It was at that point we saw a clock on the wall which Karen remarked was the first one she seen on the ship. We also noted that it was a hour slower than our watches and phones. It suddenly clicked in my mind that we had been told that the ship time was going back one hour at midnight the previous day. I had just assumed that our watches would automatically adjust. However, because we were in the middle of the sea, we had no mobile connection for the time to be automatically adjusted. Indeed, I was not even certain that whether we had actually physically crossed the time zone line. What this meant is that we had been up extra early and were an hour out from everyone else on the ship. A long day had just got longer.
We were though now hungry after our early breakfast and so headed back to the 9th floor for a very leisurely long lunch. We are trying to eat much more sensibly with the buffet but it is very challenging as all the choice is so good. I had some grilled salmon along with a large slice of top sirloin, lots of protein and not much else!
Some of the American passengers are also now really starting to annoy Karen. Their attitude towards some of the serving staff is not great. They are rude and abrupt as well as trying to find the smallest thing to complain about. I think their accents and brusque nature makes it sound and seem worse. Many of the staff are now recognising us in the restaurants mainly because of Karen’s sling. They are always quick to help her carry food and her drinks. Every day the maître d comes over to ask how she is every day.
We have got speaking to some of the serving staff who sign up for 6 – 8 months at a time and then fly back home for a period. Some of the women have got small children they have left behind. We wonder how bad the employment options must be at home for them to have to do that. They have to work 7 days a week doing 10–11-hour days. They are all without exception polite to us and go out of their way to help. When in port they are sometimes allowed to go ashore for a short period. Many only do so to get bottles of water as their cabins do not have running water and it’s a very long walk to get it from the mess room and too expensive for them to buy on board. There is an obvious hierarchy of staff and we have often seen the officers eating and drinking at tables around us. The musicians and dancers must also near the top of the tree as we have seen them in one of the pools as well as using other facilities. They are also quite approachable.
This brings me onto gratuities. Whether we agree or not, my credit card is being debited each day a total of £31 for both of us for gratuities. This apparently is shared amongst all staff. Personally, I would prefer this was just included in the overall price and they were all paid a better wage. I suppose it does stop the tipping every time a drink is delivered etc. I wonder whether some of the flash Americans tip on top of that as well. I have always found it strange how some professions are tipped but some aren’t. Why do hairdressers expect a tip but say my osteopath doesn’t? Moan and groan over.
We then sat by the pool for a while and I may have ordered a few cocktails, but we did remember to take some water and diet coke cans back with us to drink in the cabin. Then we sat back on the balcony but it was too hot in the sun to be there for too long.
Tonight, was deemed to be another dressy night. For some reason I wasn’t as annoyed this time, probably because I knew I could get away with just a shirt and black jeans. Karen looked lovely in a dress again. We decided to try and eat earlier as the food had still been sitting heavy on our stomachs when we were getting in bed on other nights.
The meal was another gala one and so it seemed rude not to have the Filet Mignon for the third time this trip. It just melted in your mouth. Then the chef came out and started going round the tables talking to people. I told Karen he was looking for the person who had ruined his meat by having it cooked well done.
Tonight, Hendra our lead waiter brought over our breakfast teas with milk on the side without prompting which was good of him.
Just as we were about to leave an elderly quietly spoken lovely American couple were placed at the table next to us. As always, they asked where we were from and then as a consequence talked about the Queen. Unsurprisingly they said they had adored her. They said the best thing she had done for them was at the State Banquet for the Trump visit, where she apparently had made a point of wearing the brooch that Obama had given her to spite him. We did find that amusing if true and also it a very quiet way of saying of what they thought of Trump. I wanted to introduce them to Gary & Nance from our Olympia trip.
We headed to the gallery bar for the first time where we ordered a Bellini and Kir Royale each and then tried our hand at playing Dutch Shuffleboard. I had to look the rules up quickly and we were soon away. I was very taken by the game which I had never seen or played before. Naturally I enjoyed even more as I beat Karen quite handsomely in both games.
It was then time to find seats in the Piano Bar. Karen got annoyed to start with as she said none of the music choices were less than 50 years old, but that soon changed and we were singing along merrily. My first impression of the female pianist had been too hasty before and she was better than I first thought. We decided though that the pianists were a couple or if they weren’t yet, they would be.
Once they had finished, we listened to a couple of songs in the Rolling Stone Lounge before retiring.
We had survived the day at sea and it wasn’t too bad. I’m not sure I could do several of these days in a row but it did make us slow down for a while which is a good thing. Overnight we Gozo to Gozo.