Saturday, February 21, 2009

Great Australian Bite

And what did we see....?
Crossing the Bight

Our second day crossing the Great Australian Bight. We are well out to sea, so that the casino can operate, and the weather and swell continue to be kind. Fewer birds out this way however, which is a shame, since I spent an hour this morning telling the customers how interesting seabirds are, and what they might see from the ship. But they didn’t seem to mind.

We continue to get insights into the lives of world cruisers. At dinner last night we sat with a group of folk, and someone happened to mention that they were x days into the cruise, at which all the others put their fingers in their ears and said la la la! The thought that the whole business might end some day is abhorrent, and it seems that many people spend the last week of the cruise in tears. A fair proportion of passengers are single, widows or widowers, and the tight community of the ship becomes very important to them. But woe betide them when it’s time to go home! No wonder so many come back again and again. Some have made literally dozens of world cruises, and at the present rate that’s $US50K a trip, at the very least.

These are the people that we rub shoulders with in the Crows Nest Bar every night, but they are all very social, and politely interested in what we do. We’ve had up to 200 at our lectures.

Niall at the Crow's Nest Bar
(That's my empty chair and beer)

And the food just goes on and on. Hardly anything has been a failure so far. There is usually a fish or seafood option in the half dozen choices for each of the three courses at dinner (that’s not including dessert), so that has been making my choices easy. And today there was Cajun catfish on the lunch buffet as well. Highlights? So many really, but I remember a chilled avocado soup very kindly. It is all beautifully presented, and the (largely Filipino) staff are all charming.

While our “lecture theatre’, which is also the cabaret room, might be a bit extravagant, most of the ship is very tastefully decorated. The stairways and public spaces are all adorned with a range of art works, from bronzes and casts of historic Dutch plaques to more modern works.

Wall plaque on the MS Rotterdam
A cast from somewhere in Holland

Bronze seal on the Rotterdam

They also have an excellent series of Holland America posters from between the wars that are very stylish. It’s a pity that they don’t sell reproductions in the shop, along with the branded clothing. Shopping on board, although diverse and abundant, is a fairly expensive exercise, even with our 10% event staff discount.

Holland America posters from the Rotterdam

Next stop Fremantle, and soon it will be all over. Already the ship feels like home and we will feel some pangs as we leave and it sails away without us.

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