Life on the ocean waves
Today we are all at sea.
We left Tauranga at 6am, my having assured the Banker that the start-up roar of the engines would be sufficient to wake us, so we could watch Mount Maunganui grow ever smaller as we set out for a whole day (and night) on the ocean. What a lovely start to the day to wake pre-dawn and attend from our verandah. Alas, instead we woke at half past to a gentle purr and found we had long since left the coast. Nothing else for it, then, but to go back to sleep for an hour or so before choosing which of the day’s many shipboard activities to enjoy.
Everything opens on an At Sea day. Suddenly the casino is heaving with surprisingly shabbily-dressed people bashing away at those dreadful pokie machines and winning what looks like a thousand dollars a pop (can this really be so??). You also see all the other passengers who are normally away on shore excursions, queueing up for talks on better fitness, knowing your Colours, What’s So Great About Australia, and so on.
We had breakfast up on the Lido deck, and already the sea was relatively rocky (I am sure proper seafarers would scoff at what is probably only a few knots, but it’s a few knots more than being moored in Auckland so it makes quite a difference). At ten o’clock I went back to the Galaxy Lounge where last night the Aussie pianist regaled us with tales of growing up an over-talented musical prodigy, to listen to a lecture given by retired General Gene Renuart of the US Air Force. 39 years in the force, as fighter pilot and all sorts, he did a Powerpoint presentation about NORAD and other agencies tasked with homeland security as well as actions overseas. It was a curious affair. The audience included a large proportion of ex-military (all US) and the content was very US-centric, which is understandable and I dare say acceptable on a cruise which population is mostly from North America. Gen. Renuart wasn’t massively controversial, but I decided not to ask him what he thought about Homeland as a TV show (in terms of its accuracy, its enormous popularity, etc) and left the Q&A time to other retired military men who wanted to know the General’s thoughts on what sort of threat North Korea and Turkey (!) currently present to the US.
A spot of sushi for lunch, a nap in the rolling waves, then up again for another piece of educational entertainment and my first jaunt to the Galaxy Theatre to sit in comfy leather armchairs and watch a fascinating documentary about Ethel (widow of Bobby) Kennedy, mother of 11 children and powerhouse behind one of the most famous and influential American politicians. It was very moving, very interesting, and indeed very educational. I needed a coffee and scones after that (back to the wonderful Bistro cafe) and then the Banker and I did our 1km around the deck, feeling very much like Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in “We’re a Couple of Swells” as we were thrown gently from one side of the deck to the other. Bracing indeed.
Tonight is the Optional Black Tie dinner in the main Crystal Dining Room, so we are rocking out the flash gear (minus headdress) and may attend the after dinner show entitled Route 66 (a tribute to rock ‘n’ roll), except that it’s also Karaoke Night in Luxe nightclub, and one may be tempted. Tomorrow we dock in Napier early morning, and I will gird my loins to actually leave the ship for a few hours.