Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Report # 59 Sailing Towards Manila, Philippines February 26, 2014 Wednesday Partly cloudy, chance of rain (not), 80 degrees

Another sea day to relax was ours, as we sailed towards Manila. Our CD Gene mentioned that we are on a slow boat to China, as the speed of the ship has been reduced to 12 knots. The only difference today is that the seas have calmed down quite a bit from yesterday.  Not that it was that bad, but we did have swells between 6 and 8 feet that caused the ship to roll from side to side, then pitch and dip forward to aft.  The best place to view this action was while walking on the lower promenade deck.  That is if you could walk a straight line, and not like a drunken sailor.  Although we never saw the barf bags come out, there were trays full of green apples and graham crackers available at the front desk for anyone to take.  It was a reminder that you needed to keep some food in your stomach to prevent seasickness.  It really does help, along with seasick meds.
The executice chef, Daniel, and culinary manager, Paul were available to answer questions regarding to the food related products and services on this cruise.  We did have a one-on-one conversation with both of them last night at the anniversary party. Curious as to the type of beef that they serve here, they told us that the crew has select beef, but we get RR, which we believe is Ranchers Reserve from Washington State.  It was difficult to pin them down as to the quality of the meat such as is it prime or choice?  The bottom line was that the beef they use is not grain fed, but grass fed.  That definitely explains the difference in taste, fat content, and texture.  Perhaps this Q and A will be repeated on TV, so we hear what other folk had to ask.  A few years back, we had a tablemate who could not understand why the ice cream he got for dessert every night was soft and melted.  His approach was the "spoon" test.  That is, if the spoon will stand upright without falling when inserted into the center of the scoop, then it was perfect.  We heard many reasons why that was not happening with the creamy delight.  Finally, they came clean.  The freezer where the ice cream was stored was not working properly, so it was never frozen like it should have been.  The tell-tale sign was that the ice cream began to have ice crystals in it, caused from melting then re-freezing.  Once the freezer was fixed (it took a month), then our buddy was a happy man. So were we.  It just took them a long time to come clean with the truth.
There was yet another strange talk in the showlounge this afternoon given by a guest speaker.  The subject was Memory Boost to stop losing and misplacing things.  We can see where this may be appropriate at a home for the elderly, but why on a cruise ship like the Amsterdam?  Well, the more we thought about it, we said, hey look around and what do we see?  Yep, mostly elderly people, some well into their eighties and nineties.  We give these repeat cruisers a lot of credit for traveling on such a long and busy trip.  They are truly the treasures of the world, to be respected for sure.  But for the majority of folks, we think the subject matter of this particular speaker has appealed to only a small crowd. Margaret and Keith who love to attend all of the on location lectures reported that only about 50 people have been going to this type of lecture. Perhaps we do not need to be reminded that we all are getting forgetful at one time or another. 
A much more approriate subject was discussed by Barbara H. who did a one hour lecture all about an overview of World War II in the Pacific.  That could be a continuing series that would have lasted for at least 100 days.  But our time in this particular area is running short, and today was as good a time as any to deliver her talk.  The funny thing is that Margaret and Keith had written a suggestion that this subject matter could be a fantastic opportunity for a lecturer to educate us now.  They even took the time to provide an outline for the talks.  And here it shows up in today's daily newsletter. We do know for a fact that the 2013 Asia/Pacific Grand Voyage was full of WW II history, so we know from our friends Rod and Diana's professional reports that many excellent lecturers, including Barbara, did exactly that on that cruise.  So Barbara was well-prepared to do that here, even though it was concentrated into one hour. 
For the first time ever, we had a mandatory temperature check before entering the Philippines in the Explorers Lounge held before both dining room service times for dinner.  It was the speediest one we ever attended.  They scanned our room card, then we walked swiftly past a unit that measured our temperature.  No probing, or ear check, or forehead scanning.  Guess we passed because no one said a word, except keep moving please.  We attended at 5:45pm when absolutely no one was in line. 
Rain was predicted for the day, but as far as we know, it never did.  Many more folks joined us at the aft pool to enjoy the sun and partly cloudy skies for the afternoon.  A good movie was on TV, so we watched Prisoners in our room.  It was a powerful film, and even though it was 2 1/2 hours long, it kept us on the edge of our seats the whole time. 
Tonight was a classic formal night, meaning that it was not a theme evening.  While checking out the entrees in the Lido at 6pm, we noticed that this restaurant was filling up with customers dressed very casually....even wearing shorts and t-shirts.  There could be two reasons for that.  One is that many folks are tired of getting dressed up, and a large group of almost 160 or so will be leaving us in Hong Kong, the end of another segment.  They are most likely packing now before we reach Manila for two days.  Once we leave Manila, there is only one day at sea, then we dock in Hong Kong.  Better to get the packing chores done so they can enjoy their two days in the Philippines.
Two surprises tonight were presents on our bed....finally.  They are Tiffany and Company coffee mugs with the design of the world printed on them.  Iconic symbols of every major country was stamped on them., but not our exact itinerary.  The other surprise was a note to put our clocks back one hour, which we always appreciate.


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