Published: June 10th 2012June 10th 2012
We slept in but still managed to arrive in the hotel restaurant shortly after it opened. A couple of early risers were already eating breakfast. We both ordered the Canadian that included eggs, breakfast meat, and pan fried potatoes, with Texas toast. Remembering the one culture disconnect from the previous evening I ordered a Coke, eschewing the “iced tea” which I ordered yesterday. Not seeing it on the French/English menu for dinner yesterday, I had inquired whether they had iced tea. Our very nice waiter in English heavily accented with the French responded “Oui, ov course vee have iced tea.” Becoming an Ohioan over the past year have prepared me for knowing the differences between iced tea and the sweet tea that you’re likely to get if you just order iced tea, I was hardly prepared for a bottle of Snapple.
Around 9:45 we checked out and ordered a Taxi, and I stole a few moments watching the French Open Women’s Final in which Marie Sharapova was up one set and ahead in the second. The drive to the Old Port and through downtown Montreal saw an abundance of roadwork. Fortunately this was a Saturday morning, and our driver informed us that the trip can take an hour or more on a workday. He said there were a lot of people in town but there were not quite as many as last year. He believed some people had pulled out because of the student demonstrations. When we arrived at the terminal we could hear the cars which were doing qualifying rounds.
We arrived a bit earlier at the terminal than we had planned, and were assigned “Group 3” as our boarding order. We caught our breath in the assembly area, filled out our health questionnaire, enjoyed a Canadian Coke which contains either sugar and high-fructose or one or the other. It didn’t taste like US Coke, but neither was it sweetened only by sugar the way Mexican Coke (or the Coke in Australia and Europe). It was finally our turn to board and we got our ID cards, and were allowed to go to our cabin. Our suitcases of course were not there yet. We made our way up to the dining room and perused the menu for dinner. We thought the formal dining room was closed for lunch, and that was certainly what the “In Port” daily planner newsletter led us to believe; but, we soon learned that they would be serving lunch at noon, just a few minutes hence. I detail the dining for my friend Ron who enjoys fine dining. I had the Bay Shrimp in creamy sauce, barley and mushroom soup in a light tasty beef broth, and a tiny plump tomato, mozzarella and arugula salad. For dessert I had the chocolate rum mousse cake with some berries. Sharon had the buttermilk pan fried chicken with red potatoes and kale that she avoided. Sharon enjoyed her sugar-free chocolate chip mint ice cream.
After lunch we made our way to the library to play the daily Sudoku. They now offer both two Sudoku (easy and hard) puzzles and two KenKen (4x4 and 6x6) puzzles. Unfortunately in a paper-saving effort the Sudoku puzzles now appear side by side on one-half a page, while the KenKen appears side by side on the other half. Pages are cut in half so people can play just Sudoku if they choose, without taking the KenKen and vice versa. The problem is the Sudoku puzzle squares are now so small that you can’t easily record possible numbers in the tiny cells. Either this made the puzzles seem tougher than normal, or they were indeed more difficult than those in the past. I did complete all four puzzles, but Sharon must have made a few mistakes. I see a recommendation coming to go back to the old full page for Sudoku puzzles (from the NY Times) and add KenKen on the backside to save paper… except of course now each person must take both puzzles.
Sharon’s bags came fairly promptly, but my big red bag took a bit longer to arrive. I was worried and went out looking for my bag, but didn’t find any being delivered. Once my bag arrived I unpacked and dressed for dinner (smart-casual was the dress code for our departure dinner). First we had to attend the Life Boat drill. Being in a Lanai Cabin makes it easy to walk out onto the lower promenade deck and down about fifty feet to our station. A few people were still boarding during the drill, forced to carry their bags onboard. These apparently were the missing people needed to complete the drill. Since the recent mishaps with another line, everyone is forced to attend the drill, and if one chooses not to, then they will be removed before departure. There are no more make-up drills while at sea!
We then attended the 5:00pm Vigil Mass, which Sharon as a good Catholic says counts for Sunday as well! The 82 year old priest, Maurice (or Morris) Pierce from Saint John Newfoundland, is quite a card. When we tried to stand at the beginning of mass he told us to sit down as we were on vacation. At one point he suggested that the mass might last about ninety minutes, but Sharon later noted that he was almost as fast as Father Chuck had been. I would have liked Father Chuck. [Sharon] – Father Chuck was the pastor at my parish when I first started going there 7 years ago. He was known for his short (but always informative and entertaining) sermons and often his masses only lasted 20-25 mins. Now you did have to get there 30 mins early to get a seat as they were always standing room only.
I had been looking forward to dinner ever since reading the menu for the Rotterdam Dining Room. We were seated with another couple from Florida and two women from Columbus Ohio. During our dinner conversation the subject of the days in the elevators came up… for example today when passengers entered any of the onboard elevators there is a large foot mat on the elevator floor declaring “Saturday”. One of the ladies remarked how she had first thought that someone had named the elevator after a day of the week. Another said they had thought the same thing. Alas, that never would have occurred to either Sharon or me! The couple from Florida informed everyone at our table, to all of our amazement, that they do all of their cruising and traveling with a single carry-on each, albeit a heavy carryon. I started dinner with the Alaskan Crab Tower with Avocado, Cold Coconut Soup with Nutmeg and Vanilla Yogurt, and Crispy White fish with steamed Lobster Wontons. Sharon enjoyed the Beef Vegetable Soup and Prime Rib with Baked Potato. She had the Vanilla Ice Cream Sunday (no nuts) for dessert, while I had the Banana Crisp with the MochaMint cordial (Kahlua, Crème de Mint and White Crème de Cacao) with my complimentary HAL shot-glass. This time I got one with an all green bubble in the bottom. On the way out of the dining room, there was no one offering after-dinner mints. We’ll have to see if this is just a first-night thing or they’ve dispensed with this altogether. On our last cruise they stopped offering the butter-mints that Sharon enjoys.
We stopped by the cabin to drop off the shot glass and pickup Sharon’s casino cash on the way to the casino. There were two $5 blackjack tables in action, and all the casino tables offered normal blackjack (where blackjacks pay three-to-two). Sharon began the search for her machine. I had an incredible run of luck winning the first four hands, losing one hand and then winning twelve hands in a row before losing the final hand. If I win two hands in a row, I start a slightly increasing parlay, adding just $1 to my bet on the third bet. Sharon had stopped by shortly after I had lost the first hand, and I told her I would quit as soon as I lost a hand. She told me to meet her in the piano bar. I got my one and only blackjack on the final hand that I won, and quit ahead just over $300. So I have finally broken my losing streak on departure day. There is only one show at 9:30 tonight, so Sharon and I decided to call it a night, and to write up today’s blog.