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Published: February 18th 2016
I gave Sharon a hard time about how she pronounced “Half Moon Cay” (she’s been calling it Half Moon Key) after Simon referred to today’s destination just the way it’s spelled (“Half Moon Kay”); but, she insisted that she was right, and Simon, the all-knowing Cruise Director and master of our Team Trivia later this afternoon (you know the one… who’s always right), well she was adamant that he was mis-pronouncing our beach spot! Sharon doesn’t like to be wrong, especially since she knows everything (and I have my Google T-Shirt to prove it).
The seas were pitching pretty well during the night and we could feel the swell in our forward berth. As I opened the drapes to let in the sunlight, massive sea-sprays were visible at our Main Deck level. Sharon doubted that we would be able to tender in seas like this. We switched on the TV to the forward observation cam and confirmed what she feared: 45 MPH winds. We were still underway and I hoped that once we pulled behind the island of Half Moon Cay, which is indeed a half-moon shaped island, we would find shelter from the wind. We then spotted the tenders approaching from the shore side and this gave us hope for our disembarking and day in the sun. I had called my mom earlier and we were ready to proceed to the Lido for an early breakfast. We got mother seated and fetched her some French Toast and sausage. I decided to try the Eggs Benedict and Sharon had the apple waffle which the chef made up for her since the ones he had were crunchy. I don’t know if this counts as a “Special Meal”. I suppose I’ll need to have Erin advise me on this matter. I finished first (of course) and decided to go see if I could find some Swiss muesli. I came back with a glass thimble sized portion of the muesli. All food and everything else (butter, water, tableware, napkins, etc.) is being hand dispensed by latex glove covered staff which is dealing with the Noro virus that they’d had a small incidence of on the previous cruise. And I will say, they really take this seriously. They even station a person at the entrances to the Lido to make sure that you use the sanitizer dispensers.
The cruise director announced over the PA that the captain was positioning the ship for safe tendering, and that due to the winds this would take a bit longer than normal… we should wait for further announcements and not proceed to the gangway until they announced the commencement of tendering operations. We were back in the cabin making final checks for our day on the beach. We’d had beach towels delivered to our cabin the night before. We had sunscreen, bathing suites, sandals… we were ready to get out and enjoy our “private villa”, perhaps a bit extravagant for just the three of us, but we thought that my mother would enjoy having a private bathroom and I planned to enjoy the Jacuzzi. It was then that the captain came on over the PA and Sharon and I looked at each other with that “This can’t be good” look on our faces. We’d been there 5 times before on our European Mediterranean cruise last fall when five of our ports of call had been cancelled due to weather (one on a 12 day cruise; and, then 3 again on a second 12 day cruise). Cruise directors give you the cheerful news and updates; but, the captain gives you the bad news: Conditions were too rough for safe tendering today. The winds outside were now down to 25 knots. Unfortunately, these winds were coming from the south. The island would normally provide us shelter from the prevailing winds that come from the north; but, that was not the case today. He had no choice but to cancel today’s port-of-call and proceed to Bonaire. I guess it’s better to be safe than make the six o’clock news. But Sharon felt vindicated when the Captain pronounced it Half Moon “Key” so guess she was right after all since the Captain outranks the Cruise Director. But then again, to be fair to Simon, with that heavy Dutch accent of the captain, who can really be sure if he was saying “Key” or “Kay”! I’m just saying…!
So our day would be restful and we decided to go and do our daily Sudoku challenge in the Exploration Café. We found a table to play our Sudoku and I went over and got in line behind one other person waiting to talk to the librarian. The special conditions in place for the virus means no puzzle sheets are out for you to grab… you need to ask the librarian. If you need a game, you need to get it from the librarian. All of the books are secured, you need to get a book, you need to get it from the librarian. If you need a pencil, you need to get that from the librarian too (only with these, she doesn’t want them back). I saw that the guy behind me in line had his middle finger all bandaged up and he explained how the cabin door to his balcony had slammed shut on it. He’d needed 5 stitches and it look dreadfully swelled beneath the bandage. The guy now talking to the library had ridden up with us in the elevator. He was explaining how 75 minutes of internet usage had been charged to him when he’d only used ten or fifteen minutes. I’m thinking, this can happen if you don’t logout and let it time out after an hour. It took a while; but, he eventually got the time credited back to his account. By now the queue behind me swelled with people wanting playing cards, board games, books to read, or those wanting any of the daily games and puzzles. In addition to Sudoku, there is the cross-word puzzle and the daily trivia puzzle (often related to our current geographic location). I got the 3 puzzle sheets for us. I asked my mom if I could get her an iced coffee drink, but she declined. I had to wait to place my order. Mother pulled the “my glasses are back in the room” ploy to excuse her needing to quit our 3-way challenge. I won the Easy Puzzle and we started the Hard One. It seemed much tougher and I groaned realizing I was going to need to annotate practically every cell. Time was ticking away and I realized it must be time to fetch my drink. Meanwhile, Sharon kept annotating her puzzle sheet. I got my drink and was well on my way to winning, when Sharon threw her hands up in the air, pulling the “there’s too many marks on my sheet to continue” card. Then she realized that my mother hadn’t marked her Hard Puzzle so she grabbed that sheet and began transitioning her numbers to that sheet; but, before she could make any headway I managed to finish my Puzzle!
We made our way up to the Lido deck for lunch. Sharon spotted roast turkey on the menu and decided to go with that. Mother wanted a plain hot dog from the Dive-In, and I opted for one of their Cannonball Burgers. Even though the sign by the Lido indicated carved roast turkey, Sharon said they just had a turkey breast; so, there wouldn’t have been any dark meat for me anyway. When they carve a whole turkey and you ask for dark meat, I’ve wound up with a whole drumstick and attached thigh (so it can be quite a treat for me). It’s as if the carvers don’t want to deal with dark meat so they will give it away as quickly as they can.
We’d plan to go up early, maybe 1:00 PM for our first 2:30 PM Team Trivia Game with Simon. We wanted to find a good table. I spent some extra time working on the blog, so we didn’t get there until just before 2:00 PM. We were both wearing our “Google Shirts”, me wearing the “His” version and she wearing the “Her” version of “I Don’t Need Google, My (spouse) Knows Everything!” I went over to the bar to get some napkins and I hear a burst of laughter from the front of the ship. And then I see that Sharon is laughing too, and I’m looking around trying to figure out what everyone thinks is so funny. And then I realize, they’d spotted me and my shirt!
As Sharon and I scoured the room for likely teammates, she did so sipping on a Sprite and I opted for a gin and tonic. A couple beside us came, she first, and then he sat down. And I was considering asking them to join us for trivia. I hadn’t heard them talk, so I didn’t know if they passed the British, Canadian or Aussie litmus test, and then he started speaking American English and opened a set of Dominos and I realized they weren’t here for the trivia. I saw another couple sit down by themselves, and they appeared to be looking around (perhaps looking for us). I ventured over and inquired if they were here to play trivia. They said that they were, and that they had arranged to play with another couple. Three couples make six, so I guess it was meant to be. Jim and Dawn from Michigan joined us, and said they’d met another couple from Canada. I thought, does it get any better than this. Gayle showed up, the first of our two Canadian partners, and soon her husband Barney showed up. They liked our team name, so we were all ready when Simon arrived. He passed out a single answer sheet to teams with the title “SIMON’s DAM ANSWER SHEET”. He started saying, “To begin, we have a mathematics question…” I already knew what was going to follow: The most asked HAL Trivia Question which we’ve now heard over half-a-dozen times in the last two years. “What branch of mathematics gets its name from the Greek for Pebbles?” Would it help to know that Sir Isaac Newton had a lot to do with it? Calculus. There was the token Olympics question: “Where were the 1980 Summer Games held?” Would it help to know that the United States did not win a single Gold medal at these games? Well that’s not really fair, they didn’t win any silver or bronze medals either! The Moscow Games. Five questions in and Simon stumped us: “What would you be doing when you nictate?” I was thinking smoking, but then he went over to one of the groups and said, “Your all doing it right now!” From my trivia spreadsheet I know that one of the answers is “Fifteen” for how many times the average person blinks in one minute, so I surmised that blinking just might be right. Everyone knew who founded the Mormon Church: Joseph Smith. And I finally got the token James Bond question right: What was Pierce Brosnan’s first movie? This is also a repeat from a previous cruise, so it was in my list, and this time I even remembered it! I’ll give you a hint: It’s got Gold in the title. I’ll give you another hint because that hint really wasn’t fair: It’s not “Goldfinger” and it’s not “Man With the Golden Gun”. “What year was the European Union formed?” We guessed 1991… two years too soon. I looked to Sharon for the answer to the token-Bible question: “Who was borne first, Caine or Abel?” I wonder how many Hail Mary’s she’ll need to say for flubbing this question? We went with her suggestion for Abel, even though I thought that one of the reasons Caine resented Abel was because he thought being the oldest son, he was somehow entitled to God’s love. Then Simon came up with a NEW question, and a good one at that! “How many tiles are there in a standard game of Dominos. I knew we should have asked those Domino players to join us. With numbers going from blank to six, my first thought was 7 x 7 for 49… but that just seemed too high. Then I realized, the answer is just the sum of the first seven numbers, or 28. The five-point all or nothing bonus was to name the four terrestrial planets in our solar system… And Simon explained that means land surfaces? Well they would be the first four planets. We got the high score with 18 out of 20 points. Simon showered us with pins, Caribbean pins and Alaska pins and Mediterranean pins. And Simon also got a big kick out our shirts.
After trivia we made our way to the casino. The Fun-21 table was open with one other person playing, so I sat down. Things started out mostly even, but my stack of chips was dwindling ever so slightly. The guy playing opposite me was having a much rougher go of it, but the way he was playing had more to do with that than the cards. When I did start to press a bit, it worked at first. And I did have a blackjack that paid off, even though the dealer also turned out to have blackjack… and that’s always fun (hence the name “Fun-21” I guess). It was when I pressed with my largest bet and found myself holding a hard-14 and staring at the dealer’s three-card that I took a deep breath. In Fun-21 there are no kings in the deck, so the odds of the dealer busting diminishes. If I stand on 14, the dealer will win the hand way more than half the time, so I’m looking at a losing proposition. The question, what percent of the time can I hit the 14 and not bust. I was about to find out. I motioned for a card. The dealer hesitated, and then whispered to me, “You have fourteen, sir. Are you sure you want a card?” I just tapped the table twice with my finger and he gave me a card, and was somewhat bewildered when it wasn’t a face card. It was a five and my hand at nineteen looked a whole lot better. The dealer did have a ten-card for his promised thirteen, and then hit a four for seventeen. So I won. I pulled back my bet a little and was feeling pretty confident with my two face cards. The dealer turned over a five to go with his six, and then another five to give him sixteen, and then yet another five for twenty-one. I pressed again with my big bet on the next hand and found myself holding eleven against an eight. It took most of my remaining chips to match my bet for a double down, which I did, and breathed much easier when the face card made my hand an automatic winner with 21. That’s one nice thing about Fun-21; if you get 21 you win, no matter what the dealer does! I followed with a series of small bets, playing my parlay up to the point where I lost the $11 bet. My mom and Sharon showed up at that time, and as dinner was approaching, I decided to cash in. They turned out to both be winners as well. The important thing is that my mom is having fun on her birthday cruise.
We had dinner in the Vista Dining Room where my mom and I both ordered the prime rib, while Sharon had the herb chicken. She was afraid the beef might be too tough for her to handle, but it turned out to be quite tender and tasty. Mother started with a fruit cocktail and followed that with French Onion soup. I had the crab cakes with mango aioli and then the chili and corn chowder. My soup was served similar to the manner that they serve the lobster bisque in the Pinnacle Grille. A fancy triangular shaped tureen bowl is placed in front of me and there is some fresh chopped chili and corn kernels and a dollop of sour cream in the bowl. Then a separate serving pot is used to pour the creamy steamy broth into my bowl over the chili and corn and sour cream. The result was very good indeed; but, I miss the self-ground pepper shakers that are missing from the tables for sanitation reasons as the crew follows the disinfection protocols that are still in force. Sharon had the chocolate torte with orange infused crème. I had the rum cake with vanilla ice cream and mother enjoyed her apple tower with vanilla ice cream. I brought the Pellegrino back to the room. My mom and I phoned her brother and Sharon went to save us seats at the show.
We joined Sharon just before the show started where we had seating for the three of us on the left side on the lower level near the front. We were kidding my mother that it would probably be safe as the act was a mentalist and not a juggler, and it wasn’t too likely that she’d be the 85-year-old woman whisked up onto the stage, then onto the juggler’s shoulders as he pedaled around the stage on a unicycle (as Sharon and I had seen happen on a New England cruise). Sharon did say though that the performer had come over and talked to one of the women a row or two in front of us and had her put something in an envelope. Jon Stetson was the performer this evening, and is the inspiration and consultant on the TV series “The Mentalist”. He started with a brief demonstration of projecting an idea to the audience, asking people to think of a two-digit number less than fifty. He then suggested that both digits should be odd and they should not be the same. He said to concentrate on the image of that number and then suggested that that number was 37. He asked those in the audience to raise their hands if that was the number that they were thinking of. Quite a few people raised their hands including my mother. He then said to do it again, only this time the number should be greater than fifty. To my amazement, this time that was the number I was picturing. There were a surprising number of people who had raised their hands both times, having thought of the same number the mentalist announced. He next chose 5 people from the audience, four men and one woman (the woman was to keep the men honest). A deck of cards was passed among them. Each was asked to riffle through the deck, stick their finger in to look at that card and pass the deck on, for the next person to do the same. There was some false guessing as to whether one of the gentleman had picked a red card or not, some hemming and hawing, and then he named off five different cards, and these matched the cards that each had seen! He did a neat bit with a die (or dice… he said either is correct for a single cube with pips on it). Four different people were asked to visualize one of the six numbers on a dice, and then to place the dice in their hand with that number up and cover it with the other hand. He managed to correctly predict the number that each had picked… the first man picked on as the mentalist said, “Picking the smallest number because he figured that would get him off the stage the quickest.” He said the next man was very interesting and intelligent, and had changed his mind about the number a couple of times. He surmised that his favorite number was 6, but that he hadn’t picked that number, instead choosing 5. And he was right. The next person, he predicted also picked 5, claiming that the mentalist would also think that he was interesting and smart… and he had indeed picked 5. And he repeated his successful predictions with the final person on stage. He had asked to lady in front of us to write the name of the first boy she had kissed on her card and place it in the envelope, something that interested her daughter who was helping with the three envelopes people had filled out prior to the show. She was the one Sharon had seen talking to the Mentalist. Somehow he managed to come up with “Alphie” as the name of that boy. And the gentleman that he’d requested to put a bill into the envelope, he managed to announce its serial number correctly. And then he said that there was someone who was conflicted about something. He struggled to visualize the name, and asked, “Is there a Sharon in the audience?” I nudged Sharon and urged her to raise her hand. He came over to our side of the stage, “Sharon, whose recently moved to Las Vegas from Ohio…” Okay, this is hitting close to home. How many Sharon’s can there be in the audience who have just moved to Las Vegas from Ohio? He then asked if there is a number that she’s been thinking of, wondering if she’s a Pisces, which she nodded, and he wondered if she was born on the sixteenth… close, but no cigar. He then laid out a four by four square filled with sixteen different numbers and asked if her number was among these… It was not? He asked what her number was… She said Fifty-Three. He then showed how ever 4-number row, 4-number column, 4-number diagonal, 4-corner numbers and 4-number square within the square all summed to 53… All of them! We were impressed. Sharon had written down on a piece of paper both her birthday and the number 53 in a square on a notepad. She had talked to the mentalist prior to my mom and I coming to be seated. She had written her birthday as “3/6” so perhaps he perceived this instead as “3-16”. He claims that he is able to do what he does by being observant. He’s done service with lawyers by helping them with jury selection. We couldn’t believe that she hadn’t told us that she would be part of this but she kept it a secret during the whole show.
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