Published: June 12th 2012June 12th 2012
Monday found us awakening having lost an hour overnight due to the time change for our one and only sea-day on this cruise. We are navigating the Saint Lawrence River on our way the Prince Edward Island. Viewing the vastness of the water it is easy to see why explorer’s would be determined to find a Northwest Passage to reach India… which is of course why Native Americans have become to be known as Indians. Visibility varied, but for much of the day fog was present and often the shoreline was not in view. Sharon readied herself for the morning mass, while I finished up yesterday’s blog. Sharon’s deepest suspicions were confirmed that Father Pierce was a former teacher, as he revealed having taught for 35 years, and he obviously used the Socratic Method because his sermons are riddled with questions (that he expects parishioners to answer). At breakfast that morning another couple who had attended the mass confirmed that you had to pay attention when he was speaking.
Today is one of two opportunities we will have to eat breakfast in the Rotterdam Dining Room. Again they routed us upstairs to the fixed seating section. Someone postulated that they were preparing for the Captain’s Mariner’s Luncheon below. I had the Eggs Benedict with a side of sausage and another side of Miso Soup (which is offered for the Japanese breakfast). Sharon had the scrambled eggs with bacon and white toast, only when the toast came, it was wheat. Sharon said it was fine, it’s understandable… “white”, “wheat” really are very similar, and with the accents the servers must try to decipher it’s perfectly understandable why they might confuse these two words from someone with no accent. Okay, so maybe accent might depend on one’s perspective, let’s just say Sharon speaks Walter Cronkite English.
After breakfast we made our way to the library for today’s Sudoku puzzles. It was close, but again no cigar for Sharon, who invariably beat John (by a lot) when they used to compete using Sharon’s semi-online game (albeit doing different puzzles at the same time) while Skyping during our engagement period. Afterwards we headed to the casino, where I was eager to avenge the card-gods for last evening’s fiasco. Sharon had her budgeted $20 play money and found a video poker machine. The machines that loved so much enticing her on previous cruises were not to be found, so she was falling back on these old standbys. So she stepped up from the 1c machines to the big-time 25c machines ( she doesn’t like the 1c machines but that seems to be most of what they have here). Meanwhile I was resuming the poor cards from the evening before, losing some initial hands including a double-down, it was déjà vu all over again, only this time not being able to even win two hands in a row. I reverted to the minimum bet of $5 per hand (from my initial $10 bet) and things did seem to start to turn around after a few hands, but I was already down about $50. My cards did improve and I started to get a bit more aggressive. I hit a couple of Blackjacks in a row, and at the end I even won 7 hands in a row before finally losing. I hadn’t quite recouped last night’s loss, but I made a pretty good dent in it (about 75%). Sharon had gone back to the cabin awaiting me for lunch, with $5 of winnings burning a hole on her room key and charge balance card, so I decided this was a good time to break.
We passed on the Captain’s Mariner’s Luncheon and had lunch in the Lido. Sharon got a burger and fries and returned really quickly from the pool-side grill. I had ordered two Coke’s but they had not yet arrived. When they did (these being our first onboard Cokes of the trip) we confirmed that the cans were of U.S. high-fructose origin without any sugar. I had a salad-bar salad with ranch, a chick-pea and vegetable soup in beef broth (I believe Pischau Soup) and a baked chicken thigh and a tasty veal dish with some fried sliced potatoes. Sharon had some chocolate ice cream for dessert.
We played team trivia in the Crow’s Nest. We didn’t do a very good job of picking team members, of course that’s probably what they’re saying about us. We both liked the way the Crow’s Nest is laid out on the Maasdam with very cozy seating, and very well suited to events like the trivia challenges. Just not sure how it would be for scenic cruising in Alaska or Antarctica (if the Veendam is the same for next year).
We stopped by the Lido again, to search for Tom C, who wrote a live blog on the previous cruise of the Maasdam, and is writing one on this cruise as well. We found him, with his binoculars, as he had said he would be in a comment to one of our blogs. He takes these two cruises every year and visits with his brother in Quebec City. We had a nice chat and then headed off to Bingo.
We dropped by the Rotterdam Dining Room to check out the things we would be missing at dinner tonight, and it looked like we picked a good night to dine at the Pinnacle, as nothing jumped out as a must-try for either of us. Of course, you never know when they will offer a burger plain well-done, no cheese, no bacon and especially no mayo, with French fries. Then it was off to the $25,000 Jackpot Bingo. We purchased our normal three chances per game for each of us for $25. Afterwards we noticed that many of the players seated around the Showroom had 6-chance cards, which we discovered are offered for $35. This is new since the last time we sailed with HAL last summer in Alaska. Sharon had an abysmal first card, and lamented that she should be playing Stinky Bingo as two of her chances still had no numbers when someone called bingo (and the other only had 1 number). It looked like my Alaskan Luck at Bingo might be continuing, when I got to stand during the Orange B-O game. The DJ caller however coaxed a bingo out of an elderly Asian woman who had meekly called “Bingo”. Well, he did manage to get her to announce “Bingo” before he called the next number. Things started to look good for Sharon during the final Blackout game, but she then suffered through a really bad batch of calling, and we both fell short on that $600 game.
It was formal night and we had 6:00pm reservations at the Pinnacle. Sharon wasn’t impressed with the tuna tartar that came with the chef’s compliments, but combined with the wasabi and soy sauce seasoning I was reminded of the yellowtail sashimi I used to enjoy in California. I ordered the jumbo shrimp cocktail and Sharon ordered the crab cakes (for me of course). The Pinnacle offers a fixed price meal and you basically order what you want. I got four very plump and succulent shrimp and the cocktail sauce with cognac and horseradish was quite good, but for my taste I would have preferred a bit more horseradish. I was happy that the two crab cakes were small because I still had a lot of food I planned to eat, and they were very good as well. I also had the lobster bisque, and they added cognac at the table if you wished. Normally I would have gotten their French Onion Soup, which I’ve had before, but I thought that would be too filling. I had the boneless rib-eye steak and Sharon had the petite filet mignon, and both were superb. They are known for their grilled steaks for a reason. For dessert we ordered and shared the chocolate lava cake and the chocolate soufflé. They were delicious as well, although Sharon thought the cake was a bit runny.
We went to the early show at 8:00pm after dinner, featuring Bob Mackie’s Broadway. We arrived just as the Captain was introducing his executive staff (Hotel Manager, Chief Engineer, Executive Officer, Safety Officer, Cruise Director, Future Sales Rep and the ship’s employee of the month). After the toast the show began. All costumes featured sequined designs by Bob Mackie. Many of the performers have previously appeared on Broadway, which is clearly their passion. They were very good and gave a great performance including the medley of many Broadway tunes, from Phantom of the Opera and Man from La Mancha to Flashdance and Jesus Christ Superstar.
After the show we went to the casino. I waited a bit for a seat at the $5 table, and Sharon found another game to play… she says it was Monkey something. She had won $10 when she came by and I had just started to play. She went to the piano bar, and I began getting some lousy cards. Sharon went back to the room and I continued to play and was doing a bit better. I must have played about two and one-half hours, and I hope I’m not in too much trouble, especially as in the end I only won about $20. She came up from the cabin to check on me about 11:00pm but things weren’t going well for me then. We’re both looking forward to Prince Edward Island and the Land of Anne of Green Gables. We recently watched a series of three DV