Published: January 18th 2013January 18th 2013
In the morning we found ourselves cruising down Glacier Alley. On our west-to-east traverse, all of the glaciers appeared on our portside, so in the early morning all we had to do was open the drapes to see the scenery pass by our Lanai cabin door and foot to ceiling windows. We booked the cruise over one eighteen months ago, and we are very happy with the upgrade offer we got. There were penguins along the shoreline that were spotted by the crew, and some sea lions. One passenger reported seeing a flying penguin skimming above the water, but our exploration director assured us that what this passenger saw was really a southern cormorant. I was so busy trying to catch up with the blogs for the past two days, we sort of missed the sit-down breakfast and were forced up to the Lido. It was very crowded, but we did find an empty table in the corner. I had some eggs benedict with some hash browns and pork sausage. HAL makes eggs benedict about half a dozen other ways, but I stuck to the traditional recipe. Sharon went for the scrambled eggs and turkey bacon. She discovered several days back that she prefers the turkey bacon and it looks like we’ll be getting some when we get back to Ohio. I will say, the turkey bacon seems to get done perfectly and is always served very crispy. Consistency with the traditional bacon is more hit and miss, and is sometimes very greasy and sometimes burnt.
Sharon went out on deck and was taking pictures of some of the glaciers reaching down to the sea. We were scheduled to arrive in Ushuaia around noon, and had a 2 PM tour. Sharon spotted a large settlement appearing on the portside, and surmised that this must be Ushuaia. The captain came on and said that we had to sail past the city and approach from the other side, and that we were running about one-half hour late. I had checked out the menus for today, and low and behold, they have two of Sharon’s non-beef favorites on the same menu… it figures. I also picked up today’s Sudoku, but they didn’t offer much of a challenge.
We went to the $40,000 bingo game at 11 AM. It looked like there might not be enough people to hold the bingo, but they did finally start the game about twenty minutes late. Someone won the first simple bingo pretty quickly. They had a “small picture frame” for the second game, and I was the first to stand, quite early in the game with 7 out of 8 numbers needed. But they never called another “N” and others started to stand and eventually won. Sharon had almost no numbers in this game and was getting fed up with her card. Someone else won the third game of outside corners; although, Sharon and I did get to stand. And in the blackout game it came down to 3 “B’s” left, 2 “I’s” left, no “N’s” left, no “G’s” left and 1 “O” left. He called an I, which didn’t help either of us… we both needed B-6. Many people shouted out BINGO.
There wasn’t anything on the sit-down menu that Sharon wanted, but I wanted to try the corn and crab fritter appetizer with garlic aioli. I sat with two other couples, one from the “Mormon Group”, members of the 250 tourist “Fun-for-Less” tour group travelling with their own tour guide. The two small fritters were delicious. I also had the sweet and sour shrimp soup, and all that comes to mind is that famous old Wendy’s commercial: Where’s the Shrimp? The sweet and sour part was also very mild, compared to what one associates with Chinese sweet and sour soup. The soup was a bouillon with small amounts of egg, carrot, onion and lemon grass. I opted for the avocado bacon cheese burger with fries, and it was a very good burger. But the chocolate mousse Napoleon was by far the highlight. Sharon tried the leg of lamb in the Lido, but found it tough, so the highlight of her lunch was some chocolate ice cream. During lunch the captain announced that there was too much wind for us to dock, and that they were preparing to start a tender service.
I met up again with Sharon in our room. We heard the announcement that the harbor master had denied operating a tender service for the 600 passengers planning tours in Ushuaia. Approval was given to board an entertainer for our voyage to Antarctica. The captain had to get cleared to leave Argentina, including certifying that we would not sail from here to the Falklands. But after we let the Argentinian pilot off, we take on board a Chilean pilot, and sail until he needs to disembark, and then, and only then because we sign some more papers in Chilean waters, we have effectively sailed from Argentina to Chile, and the former agreement has been met, and we are free to make the decision of whether or not to go to the Falklands in a few days. Everyone onboard would like to go there, Sharon to see penguins, even some Argentinians who can get there no other way but on a cruise ship, to pay respects to loved ones that fought in the last Falklands War.
So without a tour today, we found ourselves free for Team Trivia. Up in the Crow’s Nest the bar was completely packed. At first we sat on the bench in the rear by the rear window, but later moved to an abandoned table just in front of us. We found one of our regular partners, and even filled out our team with six people. We weren’t off to a good start when I couldn’t remember who penned “The Trouble With Being Ernest”, but around question five I finally did recall that Oscar Wilde created the play I had seen a few years ago. Sharon got which sense one is most likely to lose (for at least a little while) when hit by lightning: hearing… but those voting for touch overruled that choice. And Sharon again shouted out “Pocahontas” when asked which native American was the first to appear on US currency… Sacajawea doesn’t quite do it, being the first on coinage, which we settled on. I did know the four letter word used by the Mafia to designate a leader in their organization… one team chose “Don” and they had crossed out an “A” at the end… Dona? For anyone who has ever watched “The Sopranos”, the answer was clearly “Capo”. But the real puzzler was how many Lords a Leaping are there in the 12 days of Christmas? We missed by one.
We were eventually underway, and went up to the dining room for another evening of smart casual dining. The black jeans that Sharon insisted that I get are coming in handy. We had dinner with a British couple and two Canadian sisters. During dinner we saw many penguins swimming in the ocean. At one juncture we spotted some sea lions on the point of a small island. Iceman was our waiter, and surprise, he remembered my name. He remembered having served Sharon but had to ask her name when he took our order. Sharon ordered the bay shrimp appetizer for me, while I had the vegetable and smoked duck paper wrapped roll. The shrimp were plentiful, and it is pretty clear there is no shortage of them on this cruise. The duck roll was light, but also more filling than some HAL appetizers that often give you just enough taste to be pleased without filling you up. Sharon ordered the Italian Wedding Soup to share with me, but she only tasted a couple of spoonfuls. I ordered the five onion cream soup which was very nicely done, and all those that had ordered this at our table commented how good it was. I then finished the Italian Wedding soup, a soup I invariably order when I eat at Bravo’s Italiano back home in Ohio, and here I must give the nod to Bravo. HAL’s version of this classic soup is basic chicken broth with a tiny amount of vegetables added, and perhaps half of a very tiny meatball that has been broken into two or three very small pieces… I count the meatballs at Bravo, and on that scale I’d be generous giving tonight’s soup a “1”… Bravo typically rates “12” small meatballs (and much more other stuff). Sharon had turkey dinner, deciding against the lamb after this afternoon’s very tough lamb. At our table, others agreed that the lunchtime lamb was tough and I even heard words like inedible and mutton thrown around. Those at tonight’s dinner loved the lamb shoulder and everyone cleaned their plates. Sharon liked her turkey dinner, and the serving was plentiful and filled her up. I had the braised beef in mustard sauce, and it was excellent. Sharon had coffee ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert. I had the Chocolate Tortere for dessert, with whipped cream and pistachios and hard fruit candies. My cordial came in a blue shot glass with Tia Maria, Crème de Banana and Irish Cream. We enjoyed dessert very much, and even more when a round of champagne was brought to the table, from the captain as an apology for not getting into port today. During dinner we spotted another wreck out our portside vantage, and we must be ahead of schedule, because it came up one half hour earlier than the captain had predicted. It was a ship carrying an evangelical group that sank about a dozen years ago. The rear of the ship above water was visible and beginning to rust out, but not nearly as much as the one we’d seen a couple days ago, as there was still white paint visible with rust beginning to show through. The captain had also said that because we were leaving Ushuaia eight hours earlier than expected, we’d have eight hours more to enjoy Antarctica, if you’re the kind of person that looks for silver linings.
We came back to our room, looked at the busy schedule for tomorrow (the first of many sea days). Sharon went up to see the Guitar player, while I typed up today’s blog. We wanted to get caught up because we don’t know when we will lose internet connection in Antarctica. We’re scheduled to round Cape Horn tonight at 11:30 PM instead of tomorrow morning, so that is one negative for not getting into Ushuaia. I went up to find Sharon, only to find her to be sitting by herself in the Piano Bar. The evidently scheduled a Game of Bar Trivia with the DJ and the guitar player was on break. The pianist doesn’t start until later. We listened to the guitarist for a bit, then decided to come back to the room and post today’s blog. There’s no show scheduled tonight since the tours were supposed to get back late.