Lunching with the Mariner’s Society at Sea

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South America » Argentina
January 25th 2013
Published: January 27th 2013
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We awoke to seas that seemed to me to be the roughest yet, that may be the consequence of the stormy weather around the Falklands. There are more lectures scheduled for this sea day. We went to breakfast in the Rotterdam Dining Room, sharing a table with another couple. One of the stewards at the dining room check-in counter noticed us and said, “Mr. and Mrs. Good”, even before we gave our room number. “I was going to give you this, this evening at dinner, but since you are here…” and he handed us an invitation to dinner the next night, with the Captain. Sharon is having a lot of fun with our last name, kidding with the staff that we’re always good, so more than a few are getting to know us. I started with the Scottish Stone Ground Oatmeal with bananas and also had the Eggs Benedict. Usually the eggs are done perfectly, but today the eggs were not runny at all, but I still enjoyed them. Sharon ordered the French Toast.

The first lecture by Dr. David Wilson features pictures from the last Captain Scott expedition to the South Pole, accompanied by the speaker’s great uncle. His subtitle for this talk was “Strange Things Can Happen When You Drink Gin and Tonic”. He said he was doing just this in a bar when someone came up to him and said that he’d never guess what he had. What he had was some pictures that he had picked up at an auction, and claimed (which was later substantiated) to have the lost pictures of Captain Scott’s final expedition. The lecturer noted that it has been said that the British conquered the world with cannon but mastered it with pen and pencil. Wilson was a naturalist artist and made many sketches on Scott’s expedition, many of them were of coastlines. These were long thin pictures, but considered invaluable as navigation aids. On the final expedition, Scott convinced a renowned photographer Ponting to accompany him to Antarctica. He could take a picture in ten minutes what it might take Wilson three hours to sketch, and so the camera would overtake the sketchpad in importance. Scott recognized this importance, and paid Ponting more than many of the scientists on the expedition. Ponting took many incredible pictures, that even today are considered the best ever taken. Realizing that Ponting couldn’t be everywhere in Antarctica, Scott had him train others to take pictures, and impart them his artist’s eye on how to compose photos to have the greatest impact on people. Scott himself partook of this training. Ponting also took many naturalist photographs of the wildlife that allowed other naturalists to study the photos without being in Antarctica. Once while photographing killer whales, they began attacking him by striking the ice flow he was standing on, breaking it up. He was barely able to escape with his life. Not being a seasoned outdoorsman in Antarctica, he had many mishaps, and some men began to think of him as a jinx, and nicknamed him their Jonah. They looked at the camera as an evil eye. Dr. David Wilson spent 5 years to document the stories being told by each photo, understanding the what, where and when they were taken. Scott’s hand-written index had been lost, so this was a time consuming task. The photos are now in the British Museum of Natural History. And the photos have been published in a book with appropriate descriptions.

Sharon went to a Mariner Society Award meeting where awards were given. Sharon, as she will tell everyone, has earned 4-star status, and so is entitled to free laundry with HAL. I met up with Sharon at the Mariner Society Luncheon. I didn’t realize that she had already gone into the Rotterdam Dining Room on the Promenade Deck, so I waited by the entry, until I heard her calling for me. Everyone else had already ordered, and the first course was coming. I ordered the pear/kiwi gazpacho with passion fruit, the braised short ribs and the key lime pie was the only choice for dessert. Sharon also ordered the braised short ribs, and actually ate the key lime pie. The meal was good, and I was surprised that the whole lunch was ordered, delivered and consumed in less than half an hour. During the luncheon the captain spoke briefly, and didn’t even remind us to wash our hands every chance we get. He spoke of the bad weather in the Falklands, and how the Princess ship that had planned to tender there was forced to pull anchor and move on, so the decision to come here was indeed prudent. Even if the captain decides immediately that conditions are too rough in the Falklands, there wouldn’t be enough time to divert to Puerto Madryn. He also talked of the highly competitive nature of cruising in Antarctica, the doubled expense of burning the light diesel, and also with the smaller companies that are small enough that they can disembark passengers on the Antarctic continent, which he said we should do if that was our desire. They keep costs down by travelling back and forth from Ushuaia. Then the bulk of the cost for such a trip is the airfare getting to Ushuaia.

We made our way up to the Crow’s Nest for Team Trivia, and we found people to form a team of six. The only thing that saved us from having a positively abysmal score was that we got the three-point bonus question right: What did Hitler ban women from wearing? But we didn’t know which performer was the top selling artist in the 1970’s. Need a clue? It wasn’t Michael Jackson. Another clue? The artists first name begins with an “E”! No, it’s not Elvis either. If you said, “Elton John,” congratulations. And I suppose we should have known that Paris was the first city to have electric street lights. So that you know, Hitler banned women from wearing pants!

Dr. David Wilson gave his final lecture of the cruise. Titled, “The Scourge of the Explorer”, it looked at scurvy, and the interesting history of this disease. Although the early Egyptians had known this disease and found that eating onions could cure it, that remedy was lost to later civilizations. Greek science put forth the theory of the four humors: black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood. These had to be in balance to maintain good health, and various illnesses were attributed to either too much or too little of one or more of these humors. From this our language picked up such terms as phlegmatic or sanguine, and phrases such as being in good humor. Occasionally those seeking a cure for scurvy might include fruit, particularly citrus fruits in their remedies; but, nearly always the emphasis seemed to focus on the air, in particular man is a land creature and needs the touch of the earth beneath him to gain the full advantage of that good terrestrial air. Fresh meat was also proposed as a way to avoid this disease, and Scott went with his gut instinct having his men eat as much fresh seal and penguin meat as they could catch. His Majesty’s Navy used a concoction of lemon or lime juice that had been processed and canned. Unfortunately, the processing destroyed most of the nutrient value, and some expeditions where fresh meat was unavailable found that the navy’s remedy was nearly worthless. Scott, Wilson and Shackleton all suffered from scurvy during their first adventure into the Antarctic interior. Eventually several vital amines were found, that helped people avoid various diseases such as scurvy, beriberi and rickets. It took a while to first isolate ascorbic acid, and then to market the correlation that this was the vital amine “C” that could cure scurvy. Time would of course shorten this to vitamin C.

Today was the $90,000 Jackpot Bonus Bingo, and Sharon wanted to play the six-card sheets (for $35) so we decided to do that. It turns out we didn’t have much better luck with twice as many cards, except its easier to fall behind if you need to poke and fold six numbers. Sharon did get to stand once, and she got within two on the blackout bingo. I again got to stand on one card, just as someone else is calling bingo. In addition to the regular bingo (first game) and blackout bingo (fourth game), we played a double bingo (because the first game went so fast, someone was standing after three numbers were called) and a four corners bingo. The stupid joke was a long winded joke about a bat with a bloody lip. All of the other bats were envious, and asked where he had gotten it. “Do you want me to show you?” the bat asked. The other bats nodded eagerly. “Follow me.” They flew a bit, and then the bat said, “Do you see that cave entrance at the foot of that cliff?” And the other bats said that they did. “And do you see that big tree with the low overhanging branch?” In wild anticipation the other bats said that they did. “Well I didn’t!” DJ Alex then said that was his father’s favorite joke, and on his last leave he was thrilled when his son told him he told that joke on every cruise… Thrilled that is until he was told that it was part of his son’s “stupid joke” repertoire.

I had some time, and so decided to play some blackjack. Things seemed to start out pretty reasonable, with a normal back and forth ebb that began favoring the house. I bided my time until things seemed to be improving. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and really should consider leaving the table when I’m not getting any blackjacks; still, some might think I was due. I did press, and then on my largest be I got the opportunity that I’d been waiting for, double down on eleven against a poor dealer hand. Well, this time it didn’t work, and after losing all four of the large double down or split bets that I’ve made on this cruise, I’ve decided to concede this trip to HAL.

So far there have been virtually no problems with the Veendam, and we’ve been very happy. We had met one couple who would not sit at our table in the lower level of the Rotterdam Dining Room, having complained that it was cold there, apparently with a draft coming from the window. We had sat at that table before and never noticed anything unusual, except the brass window framing near the center base had some water damage, and was corroded and warped. But tonight, all of that had been fixed and was nice and shiny. But when we went back to the room, Sharon noticed after flushing the toilet, it refilled and wound up with brownish water. We tried it a few times with the same result. When we opened our cabin door we soon found our neighbors on both side of the aisle were experiencing the same thing. They even noticed that the water coming from the faucet was affected. We checked ours and saw the same thing, just not as bad as our neighbors. They had contacted the front desk and were told that it had been fixed, and to try again in five minutes. A half hour later, we still had the problem, although it did seem to be improving. Things were back to normal when we returned from dinner.

We went to dinner and I had the chicken and beef satay, one of my favorite Thai dishes, and I really like HAL’s peanut sauce. Sharon and I both enjoyed the ginger chicken soup, another chicken bouillon based soup with just a few other ingredients added to distinguish the broth. I had the Lobster Cobb Salad (the second time I’ve had it on this cruise, so I must like it). Sharon had the 8 ounce New York strip steak with a baked potato. It was grilled to her liking and she enjoyed it… again. Sharon ordered the chocolate cake with ice cream, while I enjoyed the Bananas Foster Sundae.

Tonight’s Showroom At Sea featured one performance at 9:30 PM of a Variety Show consisting of Judy Carmichael, Viviana and Endmondo Rahme At 8:00 PM, the normal first showtime, HAL presented the Call My Bluff Game, featuring the cruise director Kelsey as the MC. Three shipboard personalities included DJ Alex, Dave the Art Auction Guy, and the Lifestyleist Claire. The first word was “tittup”. The three game personalities then must come up with the meaning of the word, and the audience votes who they believe is right. It’s a contest between the audience and the crew. If we win, Kelsey promised us a receipt for some fancy non-existent car. Dave began to undress to demonstrate his manly corset/bra which he claimed is called a “tittup”. Claire said that “tittup” is galloping like a horse. And DJ Alex said that is actually the string of lights around a stage. The audience correctly guessed Claire by clapping loudest for her. The second word was “chubble”. DJ Alex went into a long winded explanation, about how he used to work two back to back jobs, and one involved getting into a costume including panty-hose. And “chubble” is the jostling flesh that occurs as you try to jiggle into pantyhose. If this isn’t funny enough, while he’s giving this explanation, he’s trying (and succeeding) to put on a pair of panty hose (over his pants). He leaves them on for the rest of the show. Dave said that “Chubble” is what Fred called Barney Rubble. Claire said “chubble” is the sound you make while chewing bubble gum. Again, the audience correctly picked DJ Alex. The third word was “crapulent”. Dave claimed that this was a brand of toilet. Claire said that this was crawling on the floor. DJ Alex said that this was an unexpected turn of events. The crew was very disappointed that they had failed to fool us even once, as we agreed with Dave. And even though we’d won, there was one more word: “Kraputko” (my spelling may be off on this one). All of DJ Alex’s explanations have been long winded and entertaining, but he outdid himself on this one. He began, “When I was last in Alaska, I went into a bar. At the other end of the bar two humpback whales where having a couple beers and chatting. The first humpback whale said…” And DJ Alex did a wonderful impression of a humpback whale sound, stretching out the low mournful sound for over twenty seconds. This was followed by several more whale sounds, changing pitch slightly… and then even more sorrowful sounds, before he paused, and then continued, “… and then the other whale said…” The audience was in stitches, and he explained that the word means an angry screaming Eskimo woman. The voting was close on this word, but in the end the audience finally was fooled… DJ Alex had it right.

I decided to work on the blog, rather than join Sharon for the Variety Show. She told me later that it was a wonderful combination of the three individual performances, and that she missed me. * sigh *


27th January 2013

Mariner's Society at sea
Wow the Captain's table that is great, hope you had a Good time , that's like being at Randy's table( which I haven't done) I'm continuing to enjoy the blogs and trying to remember what you say,I did say trying. Pictures will help when we see them. I did know the answer to the Hilter question. I knew it had to be pants. All the info you giving are us is really interesting. Great job from you both! Looking forward to the next one. Janet

Tot: 4.313s; Tpl: 0.044s; cc: 16; qc: 76; dbt: 0.0625s; 3; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 2; ; mem: 1.5mb