Friday, January 10, 2014

Report # 13 Sailing Towards Manta, Ecuador January 10, 2014 Friday Partly cloudy, 82 degrees

The weather has taken a change for the better, we think. Leaving the Panama Canal behind, we also left behind the heat and high humidity. There was a much lighter breeze blowing as we headed south yesterday. Sure makes our morning walk a lot more comfortable. Others must agree, because the lower promenade deck has gained a lot more walkers as well as loungers relaxing on the nice teak chairs.

It has taken us seven days to realize that we have forgotten to mention the new format for the daily newsletter. It may not be new for most HAL cruisers, but it is new to the world cruise. We now have a tri-fold newsletter by the name of "Today on Location". It contains all of the info formerly in the old newsletter, but it is arranged in a much better way. There is a more complete list of every restaurant onboard with their serving times and description of the cuisine offered in each. A small box lists all the bars and lounges and their open and closing times. Happy hour, or buy one get one for $1.00, is listed in each bar. All the hotel services are listed, as well as the music onboard. And one section is removable with the daily activities listed from 7 am to 11:30pm.

Also new to the world cruise is a booklet that is described as our guide to the destinations, dining, events, and entertainment along our journey. It has been printed specifically for the first segment of the world cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Sydney. It contains things to see and do in every port. A map is printed along with a snippet of info of the history of each port. What is nice about this format is that the info has been updated to include where to find local restaurants, shopping, or even what to see out of town. Gone are the old maps with outdated info that were left in the mailslot the night before each port. In the past, sometimes the information on the daily newsletter and the map we got did not jive with each other. We still receive the conversion cards that fit in our wallets with the port agent's number on it in case of emergency. These cards are a big help for converting the local currency to the US dollar.

Watercolors class is held on sea days with Carolyn and Tom. They may be new to the team. Sit, knit, and needlework is still unhosted. Arts and crafts are held in the Lido and their teacher is Maureen, who has been on many cruises.

We were able to get our favorite spot at the aft pool today. The secret was to go earlier to sit at the back railing near the back stairwell. There is always a nice breeze there, and usually the best area to spot sealife. Today we did see a pod of tuna, we assume, as they circled while feeding on the surface. As we get nearer to Ecuador, we are sure to see many tuna. Also sighted were numerous dolphins in the late afternoon. Surprisingly, it began to rain soon after the Captain announced that we may hit some showers. It was nothing like yesterday's downpour, but wet enough to clear the aft deck again. This shower only lasted 10 minutes and we were able to go back to our lounges like it never happened. It really did cool things off, since it was still quite warm today.

Masked booby
Hoping for a nice sunset, we went to deck 9 around 6:20pm, but it was disappointing tonight. Perhaps the closer we get to French Polynesia, it will get better.

Sunset at 6:29 pm
A bit underwhelming
We had company for dinner tonight. Two of our tablemates were at the Pinnacle Grill, so all three of our hosts for our travel group joined us. We had a lively table with 10 of us. Friend Ellen came for a brief visit at the end of dinner. She will be going on an independent excursion to Machu Picchu tomorrow from Manta, and will be back in Peru. Another group of passengers will leave tomorrow for the Galapagos Islands for a 5 day tour. More folks will be leaving for Machu Picchu out of Callao, Peru, for a 2 night 3 day tour.

The show this evening is Dance Trance, or 16 strings, 8 dancers, and 4 voices. Graffiti classics is the theme. Sounds like the HAL singers and dancers to us, but we may be wrong........

The moon

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