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Seven Seas Mariner Hawaii-Tahiti Cruise, Days 18-27

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This is entry #6 of Snookums' journal of our Hawaii-Tahiti cruise, covering days 4-8.
The previous journal entry is here.
The home page of the cruise journal web site is here.

May 5 (Friday, Day 18)

Rainbow over Papeete
We had breakfast for the first time this morning at Compass Rose Restaurant. Compass Rose is where we normally eat dinner and it has cloth tablecloths and napkins and good china and you order off a menu. For our other breakfasts, we’ve been doing room service or going to the buffet and eating outside. Our waiter, whom we didn’t recognize at all, addressed us both by name. Everyone knows our names!

Every guest had to attend a second lifeboat drill since we’ve been on board so long! The crew has a mandatory crew-only drill every week and now with this second drill of ours, they’ve attended four since we’ve been on board. Safety is paramount.

The chef’s degustation menu was an all-Indian one from the Sous Chef’s grandmother. It was the first time I had the entire suggested menu. Curry crab cakes, dal (lentil) soup, a salad that I can’t remember, banana mango sorbet, lamb curry and Indian carrot pudding (gajjar ka halwa) for dessert. I requested the recipe for the Indian carrot pudding since it has to be incredibly healthy and has been my favorite dessert so far (and that’s saying a lot!). I think the recipe will be something like a whole bunch of shredded carrots, a few raisins, some spices, a little bit of sugar, and a small amount of binding agent like egg and/or flour. It was more like a cake than a pudding, but was baked in individual ramekins, and it was incredibly delicious considering it looked like it was just lots of shredded carrots and a few raisins cooked for 15 minutes or so!!!

After dinner we went to the big bands show in one of the lounges where the cruise director, Barry Hopkins, sang songs and passengers danced. This was held in a lounge rather than in the big theatre due to having a dance floor and I’m guessing it had the largest turnout of any of the after dinner shows since everyone loves Barry. It’s only the second show that we’ve attended!

We got back to our cabin around 10:30 PM and the middle page that lists the daily activities was not included in our daily schedule. I called the front desk and requested one but was told everyone goes off duty at 10 PM and so a schedule would be delivered in the morning. I asked for some specific times of events and was given those so I was content. I hung up and told Filbert when the lecture was. H just couldn’t believe that they couldn’t deliver a schedule to us tonight. He called right back, got a different person, and very nicely asked if we needed to make sure to be back to our cabin every night by 10 PM to verify that everything was alright. He of course was told “no” and a schedule was sent right up. I thought it was pretty funny that I didn’t get irritated at all by this, but he did. I’m usually the one who is a stickler for good service.

May 6 (Saturday, Day 19)

We both attended one of the fitness classes (fitness ball) and were the best couple in it. Okay, so we were the only couple in attendance, but we still would have been the best couple in it even if others had attended! Filbert was the only man and we were by far the youngest of the six guests or so in attendance. But, the good thing about exercise balls is that the workout can be as hard as you want to make it.

I stayed for the next class (circuit training), but since I was the only one there and the instructor needs two people, I had to just do it on my own. I did two circuits (10 different exercises for 1 minute each) and called it quits. Motivation is harder when you’re all alone!

Filbert went to the lecture on Nuku Hiva while I was trying to do the circuit training. His goal was to find out what there was to do on this island that we were going to be on for five hours (and we already knew there wasn’t any snorkeling). He learned that Nuku Hiva has a population of 2,000 and was the site of CBS’s 2002 Survivor reality TV series. He didn’t learn much else and was disappointed that 20 minutes of the lecture were spent discussing Robert Lewis Stephenson’s voyages to Tahiti (which we had visited earlier) and Samoa. Oh well!

We attended a show on the pool deck by some Marquesian Warriors. The guys were wearing grass skirts/thongs and the women were wearing grass skirts. They danced and drummed for about 45 minutes. We ate our lunch of bleu cheese burgers while enjoying the show. But, something I had at lunch wasn’t too agreeable with me for the rest of the day but I soldiered on.

We took the tender to the “main town” of Taiohae in Nuku Hiva. Evi, our stewardess had told us that there was nothing to do and 10 minutes would be enough. She was basically right! We got off the tender and walked to the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Marquesas. A priest was going to be ordained there in the afternoon so the entire island’s population seemed to turn out for it. 99% of the men and women were wearing all white and we found out that each family had donated about $15 for the party after the event. The church was built from various rocks from the six islands of the Marquesas and the woodcarvings inside were very pretty. The Marquesans carve tikis out of wood and stone and their carving skills were evident in the church. We walked for about 45 minutes and then got back on the tender for the ship. It was a nice diversion, but 1 hour was sufficient!
Catholic Church, Nuku Hiva
Since I was still feeling iffy and since we were both tired from the heat and humidity of Nuku Hiva, we ate dinner in our cabin and since the Compass Rose restaurant menu that night was “All American” and they had macaroni and cheese, that’s what I had. Believe it or not, it was pretty good considering that when most ships try to emulate “normal” American food, they fall far short. Filbert ordered the marinated beef tenderloin and he said it was very tasty.

May 7 (Sunday, Day 20)

I woke up still not feeling 100% so today was kind of a slow day. I laid out, read my book(s) and watched Fox News (our only “live” channel) and movies on TV. Filbert spent time playing computer games and sat on the deck listening to his short wave radio (he’s only been getting Radio Australia lately). Actually, this could describe a lot of our days at sea.
Snookums (and Bill) in the Sun
While I was lying out, it became very, very windy so I decided to call it quits. I also noticed the pool deck waiters taking the cushions off the chairs and moving the salt and pepper shakers and removing the place mats. We had a 10-minute rain squall, and I was very impressed that the crew could tell it was going to rain right before it did. From now on I’ll just watch them to figure out the weather forecast.

We had a Mariner Club party before dinner and while we were sitting and talking with our friends, Filbert managed to spill his entire glass of red wine on mostly himself. Of course, he had to get some of it on Faith’s cut velvet shawl that was hand painted and beaded from Hong Kong. And, after all of that, she still wanted to have dinner with us! We went back to the cabin and Filbert changed EVERYTHING (underwear included) and I found Evi and gave her the pants, shirt and sportcoat for laundry/dry cleaning and then we went to meet Faith for dinner.

As we mentioned at the start of the story, we met Faith in the San Francisco airport. She’s probably in her mid-70’s, and she’s been everywhere around the world multiple times. Her husband died several years ago and her first trip to Tahiti was in the early 1960s and happened to coincide with the Bay of Pigs. Since there was no news on Tahiti at that time, she didn’t know anything about it until she got back to the US. After her husband died she took over the family business and is now a commercial and industrial real estate person. She owns a bunch of buildings all over the U.S. (including at least one building that houses a WalMart store) and goes to the office (a building her husband built behind their California home) every day. But, she’s not doing anything with the business while on the cruise and has no one else on the payroll. She’s a pretty neat lady and was just fascinated to hear about our Internet dating story.

May 8 (Monday, Day 21)

I was sitting in the library area typing this up and Rodi Alexander, the singer from last night (that we didn’t see), sat in the group of chairs next to me and then Faith walked up and told her how great her show and then the three of us ended up chatting for about 30 minutes. Filbert was sitting next to me and had his head buried in his laptop the whole time but that was okay! Her husband also does cruise shows and right now he’s at home with their 7-year-old and she’s on this cruise (she joined in Papeete and gets off in San Francisco and only has to do two shows) for a break. When she gets home, her husband will go on the road for two weeks and this summer they are both going to be on Oceania cruise line for four weeks and will bring their son with them.

While I was lying outside, I watched “The Sisters”. They are passengers who are both in wheelchairs. Pansy is 95 and hard of hearing and Clarice is younger (90?) and blind. They have been the talk of the ship with their antics. They really should NOT be traveling alone--they start drinking martinis with lunch and don’t seem to stop. I’ve seen them drink two martinis each at lunch, one each before dinner and two each during dinner. Neither of them weighs more than 100 pounds. One night at the beginning of the cruise, two of our friends (Ted and Kathie) had the misfortune of being seated with them. When they told us about their experience, we started to keep our eyes open for The Sisters.
The Sisters (courtesy Bill)
Here’s the dinner story that Ted and Kathie experienced: The older woman kept dropping her purse and then yelling for it so Kathie had to spend most of her time picking it up off the floor. Kathie also kept moving their martini glasses away so they wouldn’t knock them over (at a future dinner, they broke at least two glasses as reported by Bill, the single guy). At some point in the dinner, the older one (Pansy) started retching (Kathie’s word) and so the waiter rushed over to see what the commotion was about. Also, Pansy’s head would frequently fall towards the table (due to her drunkenness, Kathie suspected). When dinner was over, two crewmembers came to put them in their wheelchairs but Pansy was yelling “no” and making quite a scene. They finally were wheeled away and the Dining Room Manager immediately came up and apologized to Ted and Kathie and said, “that will never happen again”. The really funny thing is that Kathie is a very nice woman and she said that towards the end of the meal, she was having trouble reconciling her being taught to be nice to elderly people with her feeling of “Die and let me enjoy my dinner!” We now notice that The Sisters eat at their own table for all meals.

I have my very own Sisters story: I was lying outside during lunch and noticed The Sisters at a table in the shade. They were enjoying their fish and chips (the outdoor theme buffet of the day). I also noticed at least two martini glasses. I would read my book and look their way every now and then since many of the passengers use them for free entertainment. I noticed the older one taking off her t-shirt and then her bra. At that point, one of the waiters got the wheelchair pusher-guy. (I’m sure the waiter was thinking “I don’t get paid enough to deal with this.”) The wheelchair pusher-guy wasn’t too comfortable with the situation either so he got one of waitresses. The waitress tried to put the woman’s jacket around her, but Pansy was being kind of belligerent. The younger one readily got put in her wheel chair. By this time, there were two waiters, the waitress, the wheelchair pusher-guy and two of the officers (in white). They finally got Pansy in her wheelchair and covered her with a beach towel and away they went. I asked the pool bartender if he’s ever seen passengers that incapable and he told me “no” and that he hadn’t ever seen a strip show, either! I’ve heard that their travel agent is going to be yelled at and if I were Regent, I wouldn’t let them on another ship unless they brought a nurse with them. They monopolize multiple crewmembers at a time and that is not fair to the crewmembers or other passengers. I really feel sorry for their wheelchair pusher-guy (i.e. the butler that comes with their suite) since he’s been with them the entire cruise. Bill says he’s going to make a “Sisters Gone Wild” video to sell on this cruise!

After I witnessed the strip show, I had to tell the four different sets of people I knew that had just come out for lunch. I ended up sitting on the ground telling Nancy (the woman that got married in Maui) the story and finally got up from that spot an hour later and went back to the cabin. Much to my chagrin, my back (and not my legs, just my back) was nice and red since I had been sitting on the ground with my back to the sun while talking to Nancy. And here I’ve been working on getting rid of my wetsuit tan lines, but not today!

We went to tea around 4:00 since its theme was “cheese.” While there, the guitarist suddenly said “dolphins to port” and everyone ran over to the port side. The sea was very calm and so we could easily see the dolphins since each of them created a little whitecap. However, the dolphins were pretty far away and we couldn’t really see them jumping out of the water. We would just see the whitecaps that they made when they jumped in and out of the sea.

Later, we returned to our cabin to find that Filbert’s clothing had returned from the cleaners. They managed to get all of the wine off of his white with pastel stripes dress shirt and his sport coat and they got 99% of it off the khaki 100% cotton slacks. I don’t understand why there are still a few spots on the pants, but I’ll work on them when we get home. It’s no big deal, but weird how they got this HUGE stain off but some little spots still remained that were part of the HUGE stain.

Before dinner we attended the British Pub show. This was hastily put together by the crew. Since this cruise is so long, they’ve improvised on a couple of the shows and they are the “fun” ones. They transformed one of the lounges to an English Pub and then they did various songs and dances and stuff. Filbert ordered a pint of bitters so he was happy (and for some reason we never got a bill for it and this is the second time he’s ordered a drink and hasn’t had to pay. Maybe the bitters were free?).

After the show, we went to our dinner in Latitudes, the Indo-Chinese restaurant that requires reservations. I had said it was our anniversary when I made our online reservation before leaving home and sure enough, they had a table for two in the corner with a candle on it. Rommel, the maitre d’, kept coming over and telling us how happy he was to have us share our special day in his restaurant, etc., etc. After we were done, they brought us a delicious looking large chocolate cake. I asked them to send it to our cabin. On the way out, Faith, the woman we ate with last night, asked us which one of us was having a birthday. I had to fess up and tell her (and the couple that she was eating with) that I told them it was our anniversary since I wanted to see if they would do anything and she thought that was pretty smart. (Filbert made sure to tell Faith that he stuck with the white wine tonight.) We got back to our room and I asked Evi if she wanted the cake and she was thrilled to get it, after I explained that it was NOT our anniversary and Filbert made sure that she understood that I was the one that said it was our anniversary. Evi thought it was pretty funny.

May 9 (Tuesday, Day 22)

Today was another leisurely day at sea. We went to breakfast upstairs in the buffet and before I even sat down, the waiter said “Ice water with lemon and a straw and French toast with no butter and no powdered sugar” to me and “Coffee in the Volvo cup” to Filbert. So, they know the items we order every day. I got my bowl of strawberries that I then ladled on the Bircher Muesli (yogurt, oatmeal, raisins, coconut, bananas, other fresh stuff?).

I stayed outside after breakfast and read my book on the pool deck and chatted with lots of friends and got sunburned on my legs and arms. Filbert was in the cabin indexing the pictures and videos he’s taken on the cruise. Then he sat on our deck in his shorts for awhile to get some color while listening to the radio.

We went to the Observation Lounge on the top deck in mid-afternoon since Filbert thought that maybe we would see dolphins again since we’ve seen tons of flying fish today and several albatross. His theory was that there must be lots of food in this part of the ocean so maybe there would be dolphins. There weren’t, but we stayed through tea, too. Today it was breakfast waffles and ice cream, but the only ice cream flavors were blueberry and strawberry swirl and since I wanted some kind of chocolate, I had to settle for the normal treats of scones, cookies, pastries and finger sandwiches.

We ended our day in the Casino and walked out around $35 poorer. We managed to use our four match play coupons (and lost on three of the four) so now we don’t have any reason to go to the casino again. I guess losing less than $45 on a month long cruise while gambling isn’t too bad!

May 10 (Wednesday, Day 23)

Today is another leisurely day at sea. However, it’s 11 AM and only 73 degrees outside. I can definitely tell we’re heading north. On our other days, it would be at least 80 by now. I guess I won’t be lying out in the sun again on this ship. Bummer!

I should have mentioned this before now, but here goes. The TV in our suite has nine channels: Fox News, 3 movie channels and each channel plays the same movie all day long, the navigation channel that shows the ship’s position and basic facts like temperature and wind speed/direction, a channel that shows the menus for the day, a channel with a view from the bridge, and two channels with various documentaries (like “Keiko, the whale”). The navigation channel has been playing disco music for the past week or so and Filbert has “Boogie Fever” on his mind and randomly says “Boogie fever, got to boogie down; Boogie fever, I think it's going around” in a very exaggerated way and it’s just hilarious. So, now we often wonder to each other if the waiter has “Boogie Fever” or if other passengers have “the fever”. (I guess you had to be there…)

We went to the circuit training class and the fitness instructor, Caitlin, had to hold the class since there were two of us there. It was a good workout for us.

There was a country fair around the pool deck this afternoon and the sun and weather cooperated since it was probably 75 or so. This involved each department (provisions, galley, housekeeping, bar, casino, spa, etc.) having a booth with a carnival type game. The safety department had a dummy hanging from a hook and you had to throw a life saving ring around it. The galley had pizza crusts that they ladled soft meringue on and then it was a pie-throwing contest to hit the various galley members. The security department had people use metal detector wands to wand the security officer to find how many beeps you could get. The spa/salon had people throw the Velcro curlers at the hair stylists wearing big wigs to get them to stick in the wigs. And there were a whole lot more. At each booth you got a voucher and at the end there was a raffle and about 20 guests won good prizes ($100 at the casino, a free facial, etc.) It was pretty fun and the crew really got into it since they only do it on the cruises where there are a lot of sea days in a row and they only have one or two of those every year.

We went to teatime today since it was fondue. We pigged out which I think was okay since it was the first time we had done that, at any eating event, during the entire cruise. The dark chocolate fondue was my favorite and Filbert liked the white chocolate fondue. The milk chocolate fondue was okay. We stuck around for team trivia and ended up getting 9 of 15, all thanks to Filbert. The one that I answered ended up wrong, although when I get home and have free Internet access, I’m going to look it up. The question was “Longest running animal TV show” and I answered “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” and the official answer was “Lassie” with 17 seasons. However, “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” is still on Animal Planet, per Filbert. We went to the library to try to find out if “Lassie” was the right answer, but the reference books that they had didn’t help. Filbert also wanted to find out if his answer for “Lawrence of Arabia fought what country” was really wrong. He said “Ottoman Empire” and the cruise’s answer was “Turkey”. So, two things we’ll have to Google when we get free Internet.

We managed to get three match play coupons at the country fair this afternoon so we visited the casino this afternoon and walked out $25 richer after playing around five hands each! I don’t think we’ll get any more so I guess our total losses will be around $20. Not bad at all (I guess) for a total of 60 minutes per person for our three visits.

We had dinner at Signatures, the Le Cordon Bleu Restaurant. We each had the crab salad appetizer with lobster cream emulsion (but it was very fancy and had layers of sauce, salad, almond crisps, etc.). Filbert had the shellfish cream soup and I had the trilogy squash soup that had cubes of orange squash in it and a yellow squash puree on top. We each had the venison fillet with wild mushrooms, mushroom mousse and foie gras sauce. It was very good. Filbert had the cheese tray for dessert with chartreuse for his after dinner drink. He asked what they had for an after-dinner cordial, and the maitre d’ rattled off a bunch, including one that sounded like “absinthe.” So, that’s what Filbert ordered. Soon, the maitre d’ came back and said that there wasn’t any and asked if Filbert wanted chartreuse so Filbert said “yes”. It is a light green digestive with a very high alcohol content that in old days contained chlorophyll and mint.

I took a very small sip and it burned my lips and tongue and they were numb for a while! Filbert drank half of it and said his mouth was numb. I ordered all four desserts and not only did the chef get a kick out of it, but so did the elderly couple at the table next to us. The Hotel Director, Giuseppe, did too, since he was sitting across from us and has managed to “harass” us (in a funny way) every day for the last week or so about something. In order of my most favorite to least favorite, here they are: pecan shortbread cookie with a ring of roasted pineapple on it and a scoop of citrus sorbet on the top; chocolate ganache covered chocolate mousse dome with a macaroon on the side (but a BAD macaroon compared to the ones we bought in Paris); a wine glass with dark chocolate pudding/ganache/mousse on one side with white wine jelly (Jell-O) down the other side with vanilla whipped cream in the middle; pear fantasy – a round Nestle Crunch bar for the base covered with a pear mousse (with the pear “grit” in it) covered with a pear puree covered with a round of puff pastry covered with pear jelly and then there were three wine poached pears on the side. The first two desserts (the pineapple one and the chocolate dome) were very good and the last two really weren’t compatible with my taste buds at all.

On the way out we looked at the book on the Maitre D’s stand called “Food Lover’s Companion”. Filbert decided we needed it (that’s were we got the info on green chartreuse), so he promptly ordered it from Amazon.com.

May 11 (Thursday, Day 24)

Today is an overcast day and the temperature is 65. I got up and went to the workout class, but since I was the only one that showed up, it was canceled so I had to work out on my own. When I left the cabin, Filbert was still sleeping since we moved our clocks ahead last night.

For lunch they had a Mongolian BBQ where you fill your bowl with all of the stir-fry ingredients and then they do the stir frying for you and add the sauce flavors that you want. We each had two helpings of it. The second time through, though, they intercepted our bowls before we could put the sauce and flavors in. We’re not sure how you are supposed to get the spices you wanted that way, but oh, well. You won’t find veal, lamb or turkey at the Mongolian BBQ restaurants in Kansas City, that’s for sure!

We went to tea since it was the “chocolate fantasy” and looked at everything, but ate NOTHING (a first)! We were both still stuffed from lunch. We played trivia again and got 11 out of 15. I supplied one correct answer and Filbert answered the rest.

We went to the Observation Lounge to look at the menus for tonight and managed to see a pod of 20 dolphins right next to the ship. This was even better than our first sighting on our second day on board! No pictures, though – Filbert left his camera in the room.

We got initiated into the Turtle Club. We’re sworn to secrecy (well, not really, but it wouldn’t be as much fun if we spilled the beans). We can tell you that there appear to be elements of donkey worship associated with the club. If you are asked if you are a member and don’t respond with the secret saying, you have to buy a round of drinks for any members within ear shot.

OK, the Turtles aren’t all that secret.

The gossip of the day: Jim and Ann Louise were playing blackjack and the only other guy at the table started talking. He and his fiancée came on the cruise. They were supposed to get married in January so this was going to be their honeymoon. They are in their 60s and it’s a second marriage for each. The January wedding didn’t get planned in time so they pushed it back to June. They haven’t spoken to each other since Monday (and it’s now Thursday night) and he is sleeping on the couch and she has the bed and she leaves the cabin before he wakes up so that they don’t see each other, either. Filbert and I decided that we won the Lottery of Love (and we haven’t fought or snipped at each other at all and are still in the same bed)!

Dinner included the orchestra playing in the dining room and the dance floor was open since they cleared out the center section. It was kind of nice to boogie down (Boogie . . . Fever . . . ) to the music while waiting for our next courses. We boogied in our seats, though. Tonight was the first time I ordered from an alternative menu (vegetarian) and the vegetable curry was fantastic. Filbert ordered the veal with Calvados sauce and enjoyed it very much.

Filbert wrote a heartfelt and eloquent note to Evi and we put a very large tip in it and found her and gave it to her. She didn’t open it right away, but when she did she came and rang our doorbell and was crying. I think she was crying from the note as much as from the large tip. She’s a sweetie and leaves us on Saturday in Los Angeles and has been counting down the days for awhile. According to her, she’s at a half a day now. I’m not sure of her counting process, but if she thinks that 9 PM on her second to last night equals a half a day, then okay!

After dinner we went to the Broadway show done by the ship’s production troupe. Bill has become good friends (to put it mildly) with the lead singer so he had been telling us different things about the show and that the lead singer wanted him to clap in certain places so we went and sat with Bill to help him out. It was kind of neat knowing some of the inside scoop on the production. The lead singer gets $1500/week and has a nine-month contract.

After the Broadway show, we went to the Liars’ Club. This is where four of the ship’s staff have to give definitions to odd words (bissextile was one of them) and you pick out the correct definition. It’s funny since the four folks are NOT in their normal persona and are putting on a big act. I think our team picked two of the four correct definitions. We got back to our cabin around 11:30 PM which was definitely our latest yet! But, we had a lot of fun.

Tonight was formal night and Filbert was in his tuxedo for 5 hours! He told me that he had wet underwear (from sweat) when he got undressed and I know that his tux shirt was soaked through. He is just hot blooded and isn’t comfortable wearing a jacket. But, several people commented on how good he looked. We took a formal photo again hoping that it turns out better than the others. I’ve looked pitiful in the other three formal night photo ops so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

May 12 (Friday, Day 25)

We woke up at 9:45 this morning due to getting back to the cabin so late last night. No breakfast for us today! I put in a load of darks and left our dirty whites in the laundry room since I have to wait for a second washing machine to become available. I think I’ve done laundry every three days or so, but it’s no big deal since they usually have two washing machines open when I go. If they don’t, I just leave our dirty laundry under the table so that I can pop into the laundry at any time and load up. No one else leaves dirty laundry there, but that is his or her inefficiency problem!

Lunch today was the Grand Marketplace Buffet in Compass Rose. They did a really nice job setting up a buffet in the lounge outside of the restaurant. The food was stuff we’ve eaten over the past month, but was arranged by nation. And, the galley crew did a great job making it look very international. I especially like their streamer banners (like the ones that criss cross used car lots) that they made by cutting paper in half on the diagonal (to get two triangles) and then taping it to a string and hanging it on the ceiling to make it look festive! And, they had lots of cases of food sitting in corners like olive oil and wrapped salamis next to the Italian station and cans of soy sauce next to the sushi stand and bags of flour and nuts next to the bread cart. The food was fine, nothing special, but the presentation was very nice and made for a nice change of pace.

We’ve slowed down to 12 knots from our normal 20 knots in order to make Los Angeles on time at 8 AM tomorrow. Then we leave for San Francisco at 1 PM. I don’t think we’ll bother to get off the ship in LA.

We went to the circuit fitness class and we were the only two there. But we did two sets of ten different exercises for one minute each and Caitlin kept time for us.

We had dinner with Jim and Ann-Louise and we talked and talked and talked. When we got back to our room after dinner, Evi told us that she had received a “DNR” which means “do not rehire”. She was very upset about it and was crying. She told us that her supervisor told her that she didn’t have the capability to clean a six-star suite. We didn’t quite understand since we knew that our suite had been spotless and we also knew that other guests loved Evi so we asked her if we could talk to Giuseppe (Hotel Director) on her behalf. She said “yes” but to wait until after she disembarked the ship on Saturday at 11 AM. This was the only downer of the whole cruise.

May 13 (Saturday, Day 26)

Filbert woke up at 5:45 to watch us dock and enjoyed an hour or so in the Observation Lounge with his coffee. While he was there one of our neighbors asked him if he had been “Evied” last night. They compared stories and that man and his wife really liked Evi, too, and had also written a nice letter about her!

Everyone had to go through immigration this morning which meant we had to go to the theatre when our deck was announced and get our passport. Since we docked at 7 AM, we knew it was going to be an early morning so we showered, got our passport and then enjoyed a leisurely breakfast indoors since it was so cool in LA.

Evi stopped by the room at 9:30 AM to say goodbye and to get a video with us. She was still upset, but was happy she was going home. Her flight was leaving LAX at midnight, though, so she was going to have a long airport wait.

We didn’t bother getting off at LA and neither did most of the other passengers. It was very much an industrial port in the middle of nowhere. There was a shore excursion to the Queen Mary and an LA city tour but I think only the foreign passengers signed up for either of these!

The Mariner Club hosted a Bloody Mary party this morning as a break from packing. The Sisters were there and one of the passengers had witnessed them drinking martinis at breakfast! They immediately ordered a martini at the Bloody Mary party. I asked the bartender if he was watering them down and he said "yes” and couldn’t believe it when I said that they had already started at breakfast! Jerry, one of the Mariner Club hosts, did his duty and went and chatted with them. He came back to our group and pointed out that they really were pretty sharp and had their plan for disembarking tomorrow. A limo was going to pick them up and due to 9/11 security, passengers have to go to the street to get rides so the Sisters were going to call the driver from their cell phone when they were being wheeled off the ship. We’ll have to wait and see how it really works tomorrow!

Filbert and I also spoke to Lynn and Jerry to get their thoughts about the Evi situation and they agreed that it seemed odd and they thought going to Giuseppe was the right thing to do. They lived 11 suites from us and had a different stewardess but had wanted Evi right away after seeing her infectious personality during the cruise.

Filbert called Giuseppe and told him about Evi telling us about her “DNR” and that we were a little concerned that she told us that she didn’t even see the nice letter we wrote several weeks ago. We didn’t expect an answer right then and Giuseppe said he would look into it and get back to us.

We ate lunch at the Pool Grill (bleu cheese burgers again!!) and while waiting, we played Baggo. This is one of the many planned events that occurred every day. This was kind of a bean bag toss. I ended up coming in 3rd place and got a token. Since I only had one token for the whole cruise, I turned it in for the only gift that was in the single token category: luggage tag. But considering I only played one game and managed to score, I thought that was pretty good. Jim and Ann-Louise played these types of games all the time and ended up with around 70 tokens and turned them in for four cheap calculators and several magnets.

While waiting for my Baggo turn, I noticed Captain Guillou sitting at the pool bar eating a hamburger and hotdog. I asked him what the land was on our starboard side and was told “California”. I thought it was an island. I also thought it was kind of funny that the ship’s captain would be eating burgers and hotdogs at the pool bar, all alone. He was definitely a down-to-earth guy and during the Captain’s Farewell party showed the guests a picture of his new zebra that was born while on this cruise. (He has a house in France and a ranch in South Africa and now has 15 zebras.)

We looked at our photos from the last formal night and decided to use our free coupon for the one of us at our Polynesian vow renewal ceremony. It’s a head-shot of us kissing and shows us wearing our gardenia tiaras/crowns and wrapped in the tifaifai. I just don’t take good face pictures!

We packed our stuff and the most time consuming packing was of the chocolates that we got on our pillows every night. At the beginning of the cruise, Filbert told Evi that I loved them so she gave us at least 15 per night and towards the end of the cruise, put a partially full box of them on the bed. (The box holds 2.5 pounds of these fancy chocolates made in Salt Lake City.) I estimate that we ended up with 7.5 pounds of these fragile pillow chocolates (like three Andes mints side by side to make a thin, big square). We got an assortment of flavors – raspberry, orange, mint, peanut butter and in both dark and light chocolate. Our houseguests are going to get the royal treatment!

Tonight we had another special order curry dinner and invited Ted and Kathie to join us. We had a great time and we all ate too much but loved every bite.

We got back to our room and realized that the new steward not only didn’t leave washcloths, but we only had one roll of toilet paper. So much for Evi’s DNR… We called and both items were immediately sent up although it was after 10 PM. (Recall that earlier in the cruise, we had been told that people go off duty at 10 PM and we were going to have to wait until the next morning. Tonight, however, there was no discussion and the items were delivered right away.)

May 14 (Sunday, Day 27)

Although we didn’t dock until 11 AM, everyone disembarking at San Francisco had to vacate the cabins by 9 AM. Filbert and I had a leisurely breakfast, did one last Internet check and then headed to the Observation Lounge. At breakfast we said thanks and goodbye to Mark the maitre d’, and he told us that today was his last day and he was going to his home in France (his wife is French) to retire to raise tomatoes in his hothouses! We were amazed that during the entire cruise he never once mentioned that this was his last contract (and last job) ever. I guess he truly was a professional until the very end! We wish him well in his new life.

We passed under the Golden Gate Bridge around 10 AM and were pleasantly surprised to find that it was sunny and warm outside so we spent the rest of our time from the deck enjoying the magnificent views of the city, the bridge and Alcatraz. We also saw a few solo sea lions here and there.

Giuseppe found us and said he had been looking for us to tell us about Evi. He said that her work hadn’t been too good during her first five months of her contract. Since she was our stewardess and since everyone knew that we had a bad prior experience on Regent, our suite was checked by two people every day to make sure it was perfect. He said that she should have seen our letter, but he made a mistake and didn’t realize she was disembarking in Los Angeles so she didn’t see it. (Most of the crew that had contracts expiring was getting off in San Francisco but a few got off in LA like Evi.) He did say that the final evaluation hadn’t been written and sent to Corporate yet and that he asked the head housekeeper to think about it. Since Evi’s work wasn’t up to par and since she was unprofessional in telling us about getting a “DNR” he doubted anything would change. Filbert and I were very happy to get the whole story and we agreed with him, both with her faux pas in discussing the DNR with us and with the overall situation.

We enjoyed one last bleu cheese burger from the pool grill for our lunch (and I finished up with peanut butter cup ice cream with chocolate chips sprinkled on top and then caramel syrup!) and waited until our color tag was called. Although the disembarkation process actually took forever since we had to leave our cabins at 9 AM and didn’t physically get off the ship until 1:30, it seemed to go very fast! We never saw the Sisters so we don’t know how that act finished.

We took a $10 cab to our hotel since we couldn’t get a flight out due to our late disembarkation time. I booked us a 4 star hotel using Priceline and got the Westin St. Francis for $90. The funny thing was that this is the hotel that the cruise line will sell to people for post-cruise stays but Regent charges $200/night per person (or $400/couple). Of course, if you buy it through Regent you get to take the big Greyhound-type bus to the hotel with the other post-cruise guests and you then get to stand in that long line of everyone checking in. Filbert and I got to the hotel at least 45 minutes before the official post-cruise guests.

We relaxed for about 45 minutes in our room with a view of the bay and then walked The Embarcadero to Pier 39 to see the sea lions. (The Regent docked pretty much next door at Pier 35.) Oh yeah, the Priceline room was only supposed to have one double bed in it so when I checked in I said I was a Gold member of Starwood and politely asked for an upgrade to a king size bed. The clerk recited his standard Priceline speech (“You are stuck with the cheapest type of room since that’s what we contract with Priceline”) and then immediately upgraded us for free! Our bed and view were great.

It took us about 1 hour to walk to the pier and then we decided to have dinner at 6 PM at the restaurant overlooking the sea lions and with a great view of where the ship would leave at 6 PM. (We ate at the same restaurant to watch the sea lions when we were in San Francisco last year.) Since we had time to kill, we did a $5 30-minute boat ride of the bay that was well worth the money. We decided to go to dinner early but the Regent Mariner didn’t leave at 6 PM and around 6:45 we were done with our dinner. (We only ordered entrees – no appetizers, no salads, no desserts – since we had been eating many courses for the previous 26 days.) We decided that since the sunset was so good, the ship had made the same decision it made on April 18 when we embarked and that was to leave at 7 PM. Sure enough, it disembarked at 7 PM so that it could go under the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset. We watched it until 7:45 or so (when it got to the bridge) and then walked back to the hotel and hit the sack.

May 15 (Monday, Back to the grind)

We left the hotel at 10 AM and we were able to get upgraded to first class on our San Francisco to Dallas flight so that was very nice. We pulled into our driveway at 9:30 PM after a non-hassle travel day. All in all, that was by far the best cruise we have ever been on, and we're hoping to do it again in a couple of years!

So, the cruise highlights in brief:

Day 2 – Having just about every crew member greet us by name
Day 2 – Watching dolphins from our balcony
Day 3 – Returning to San Francisco and then watching a Coast Guard medical evacuation using a helicopter and a rescue swimmer
Day 5 – Seeing Filbert hamming it up on stage with the magician
Day 7 – Getting a bunch of shipboard credit and then being able to apply it to our April, 2007 Panama Canal cruise
Day 11 – Being known as the “kissers” on the ship
Day 13 – Attending the King Neptune celebration and getting our equator crossing certificates
Day 14 – Seeing the Southern Cross
Day 15 – Snorkeling under the bungalows in Bora Bora
Day 15 – Savoring carrot ginger soup
Day 16 – Snorkeling with a 3 to 6 foot octopus in Moorea
Day 16 – Renewing our vows while setting sail from Moorea
Day 18 – Eating Indian carrot pudding
Day 21 – Watching the Sisters
Day 23 – Having Boogie Fever
Day 23 – Trying green chartreuse
Day 26 – Seeing Captain Guillou eating burgers all alone at the pool bar
Many Days – Enjoying days at sea
Many Days – Enjoying beautiful sunsets
Many Days – Meeting neat people

See you on the open ocean!

Sunset at Sea