Thursday, February 13, 2014

Report # 46 Sailing Towards Brisbane, Australia February 13, 2014 Thursday Partly cloudy, 85 degrees

We had a busy day at sea today. We are not sure why breakfast in the dining room was so crowded, but we are certain it has something to do with getting new people that boarded yesterday. Spoiled as we are, we did not get our "usual" table by the window, as some strangers had it. They really do not assign permanent tables to the guests, but if you arrive early enough, you can choose where to sit. The waiters in this area have come to know us, and we like the excellent service. We did request this table for tomorrow, so we shall see if it works.

The weather has really cooled off with cloudy skies. At least it is not raining, although we think Sydney is suffering from a drought, like we are in California. The park guides told us yesterday that this part of Australia gets tropical rain from cyclones that come from the Indian Ocean. She said it just was not happening this year. In California, the heaviest rains we get come from the Hawaiian Islands, and are commonly called the Pineapple Express. This has not happened until recently.

In following up with last night's discussion regarding the current internet problems, we all received a letter from CEO's from SVP Fleet Operations and Marine Hotel Operations. Basically, the letter stated that the ongoing problems have been dealt with, but not solved. As a result, additional staff will be coming onboard as soon as possible to help remedy the bugs in the system. This has been impacting the guests in a very negative way, but they are asking for our patience and understanding. According to Henk M., other ships in the HAL fleet are also in the process of changing over to this same system. Now they have a whole lot of angry passengers to deal with. Sure hope they can live up to their promises.

With two ports in Papua New Guinea coming up soon, we had passenger declarations cards to fill out and sign. They pretty much ask the same questions such as are we criminals, are we bringing dangerous articles into the country, or bringing large amounts of money with us? Are we bringing food such as meats, eggs, fish, seeds, fruits, etc.? Have we been to a farm recently? Well, if we answer yes to any of these, we doubt we would be allowed off of the ship.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) sent each of us a survey about our recent visit to Sydney. By answering numerous questions regarding our experiences in Sydney, it will allow them to enhance the visitor's visit in the future. Many of the inquiries involved money, and how much was spent for lodging, food, purchases, entertainment, and sightseeing. We feel they go a little too far when asking personal pre-tax gross household income, and why does that matter, other than targeting the folks with more disposable income to spend.

The Princeton Tailors are onboard with their line of custom made clothing. They make it easy for the busy passenger, who wishes to spend as much time while in Hong Kong sight-seeing instead of being fitted with dresswear. Everything is done onboard, your order is made before we arrive to Hong Kong, and the fittings are onboard at your convenience. Yes, they are pricey, but the service and quality of their items are top-knotch. We have already ordered two formal dress shirts to add to the tuxedo and several vests and bowties we ordered on previous trips.

Although it was windy, it still was pleasant enough outside to spend the afternoon at the aft deck, catching up on gossip and reading books. Originally, we were supposed to dine in the Pinnacle Grill tonight, but we were cancelled. When the Australian chef, Mark Best, joined the ship back in New Caledonia, the 13th was reserved for his special 5 course Pinnacle Grill dinner including the almighty wines for $79 each. We are sure that this meal is fine, but we just want to collect on our "freebie" regular dinner there. So we moved the date up to next week with many apologies from the Pinnacle manager.

Some new items have poped up on the dining room menu, such as skirt steak with guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and a soft shell taco. Also in the same vein, was the poblano chili stuffed with cheese served with spicy hot rice. That was our meal last night.

Also, a little ahead of time, we received a box of See's truffles from our travel agency, our agent, and our hosts for Valentines Day. Nice touch along with a cute card.

PS Just a little off the track, but while sort of listening to TV in our room, an annoying word seems to be mentioned every other minute. It is AMAZING. Do you notice how many ads include that word? We are referring to commercials dealing with vitamins, insurance, make-up, lobster, Valentine's flowers and candy, prune juice, diet plans, hotels, and even mortgages. Come on, how can all those things be so AMAZING??? With that in mind, you will NOT see us using that word ever in our blog. Now maybe awesome, but never AMAZING!

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