Day 55-57 - At Sea
|Sunday, December 3, 2023: Note to self: please close the curtains before going to bed when sailing north. The sun streamed through our balcony windows before 6:00 AM this morning, waking Debbie with its beauty and awesomeness, ...
|... but unfortunately her breakfast didn't show up for another 90 minutes! She's asked for a full investigation into the matter.
|Today was another of the events that we really looked forward to: Brunch!
|The first course was prosciutto tapas, a California roll with wasabi aioli, granola parfait, a fresh fruit skewer, deviled egg with shrimp, and Roquefort and pear on pumpernickel.
|The second course was cinnamon swirl French toast with berry compote, broccoli and carrots, tomato and cheese Arancini, ham and cheese mini Dutch tostie, grilled petite tenderloin with crab hollandaise, and finally, biscuits and gravy.
|The dessert course was chocolate panna cotta, a mini mousse parfait, and a mini apple tart. We really hope that they have another of these before the cruise is over.
|Back in the cabin, we just happened to be looking out the window when we noticed that the ship had changed course. Turns are very obvious when the wake is this well-defined. We made another turn later in the day as we refined our course toward our next destination.
|Tonight's special event was "A Night of Music." There would be concerts in three different venues on the ship throughout the evening, with dancers and musicians collaborating with musicians from other venues. LEGO Debbie grabbed her flute and LEGO Tom donned his sax to join the festivities.
|In the afternoon, Tom took advantage of the good internet connection to talk to his mom. The Starlink internet on the ship had been fantastic most days, but when the seas were rough, it didn't do so well. It still beat every previous ship internet we've ever had, even on its worst day.
|We had asked our cabin steward, Sugeng, for a new flower arrangement for our cabin when they had straightened up our room in the morning, and in the late afternoon, Catur, our assistant cabin steward, dropped these off.
|Since we were travelling northwest, we were unable to see the sunset directly, but we could still see the pinkish orange color of the cotton candy clouds as the unseen sun sunk below the horizon.
|Our TV was on the moving map display most of the time we were in the cabin, and we loved tracking our progress toward western Africa. We watched two really good sci-fi movies before bed: "I'm Totally Fine" and "Long Story Short."
|Monday, December 4, 2023: Breakfast this morning was pancakes and French toast, followed by a visit to the Neptune Lounge. Yesterday, when we had dropped off paperwork for entry visas for a few upcoming countries, Alexa (the Neptune Lounge concierge) saw Debbie's LEGO display that we had with us. She said that one of the other Neptune Lounge guests had shown her pictures of Debbie's displays from the trip's Facebook group, but that she didn't realize that Debbie was the one creating them. She was so excited about the displays and so happy that she knew the person creating them. When we stopped by today, we brought her one of the custom printed LEGO itinerary map tiles for her very own ... and we picked up a 12-pack of Diet Coke while we were there.
|It was a relaxing day at sea, so LEGO Debbie and Tom decided to take a relaxing bubble bath in their bathtub.
|For lunch, the specialty food was Dutch Treats, ...
|... and we both had the bami goreng (Indonesian noodles), broodje kroket (oblong fried meat), bitterballen (fried paste meatball), and a fried mozzarella cheese slab. Tom went back for seconds of the bami goreng, ...
|... while Debbie headed straight to the desserts where she got a bossche bol (profiterole covered in chocolate) and an apple and bacon pannekoek.
|After lunch, we spent some time in the Sea View Pool.
|It was a much warmer day today, ...
|... and we both had a blast.
|Afternoon cocktails were served on the balcony in our cabin. After 56 days, we were almost at the bottom of the first bottle of Malibu, and three quarters of the way through the Citron. We were hoping to finish at least the Malibu before we reached Fort Lauderdale.
|Tonight was formal night, so we went to the main dining room ...
|... for another gala dinner.
|Tom wore his suit again, ...
|... and Debbie wore a white dress that she'd brought along but hadn't yet worn.
|For a starter, Debbie ordered the orange jumbo shrimp cocktail, which included a melon trio, and a cilantro lemongrass aoili. Tom got the French onion soup again because he absolutely loves it.
|For our main, we both got the Black Angus beef filet mignon with forest mushrooms, asparagus, and parmesan potatoes.
|For dessert, Debbie had rocky road ice cream and Tom got the artisan cheese plate, which featured asiago, stilton, gouda, and cheddar.
|Back in the cabin, we found a beautiful towel swan, fancy chocolates, tomorrow's daily program, and a card reminding us to set our clocks back one hour before going to bed.
|Tuesday, December 5, 2023: After a breakfast of congee for Tom and pancakes for Debbie, we looked outside to check on today's weather. This was the only day that the ship absolutely wasn't going to change course to stay in good weather, ...
|... and we were in the middle of a heavy rain.
|Debbie didn't want to get the bottoms of her very long pajama pants wet when she went outside to take photos, so she did what anyone would do with a private balcony on a ship in the middle of the ocean. She took her pants off.
|A Neptune Ceremony is traditionally carried out whenever a ship crosses the equator. King Neptune and Queen Amphitrite come aboard to pass judgement on any crew members who have never "crossed the line," as mariners call the equator. Today was even more special, because we were crossing the equator at the prime meridian, at exactly 0°0"0' N 0°0"0' E. This position is known as Null Island since its coordinates are all zeros, even though there isn't any land here.
|The ceremony was scheduled to start at 10:00 AM, and the pool area was packed. Everyone had arrived early to get good seats.
|LEGO Debbie and Tom were there dressed as Queen Amphitrite and King Neptune. Actual Debbie stepped into the pool to get this shot with a perfect backdrop, ...
|... but if you zoom out just a little, you can see that the container that makes up that perfect backdrop holds a huge fish that will be used in today's ceremony. Oh, yes. That's a real fish.
|We were almost on top of Null Island, just 33 feet away and approaching very slowly. The captain's plan was to get to Null Island, engage the auto-pilot, and hold position there for the duration of the ceremony.
|We still had about ten minutes before the ceremony would start, so we headed out to the railing on deck eight to look for the buoy that is supposed to be here. Known as the Soul Buoy, it is anchored to the sea floor with nearly 5,000 meters of chain.
|We used the binoculars and searched the sea around the ship, but couldn't see the buoy.
|Another passenger had their GPS out when we arrived at the exact position. For reasons that defy explanation, Tom did not get a screenshot of his own phone when we arrived at Null Island.
|As we headed back toward the pool, you could see the wake generated by the thrusters at the rear of the ship as they held us in place.
|The navigational display in the Crow's Nest showed us exactly at 0°0"0' N 0°0"0' E. A big thanks to the fellow passenger who took this picture and posted it on the voyage's Facebook group.
|As we went back to the pool for the ceremony, we passed a line of crew members awaiting judgement (on the left). They were being carefully guarded by other costumed crew who had already undergone the ceremony on a previous cruise. By this time, the Bundlings Weather Luck had prevailed, the rain had stopped, and they opened the roof over the pool deck. We headed upstairs to the railing on deck ten overlooking the pool.
|Cruise director Ian presided over the ceremony, ...
|... King Neptune and Queen Amphitrite arrived to applause, ...
|... and five of the ship's officers sat in judgement.
|Four members of the entertainment staff stood by to coat the pollywogs, the official name for uninitiated crewmembers, with multi-colored whipped cream for daring to cross the line.
|First up were three members of the ship's sports team. They had to bow to the fish, ...
|... and then lay down on the table to be treated. Queen Amphitrite demonstrated the proper way to treat the first pollywog with pink and blue foam, ...
|... and the medical team applied whipped cream to the others.
|They knelt before the judges to receive their sentence. A thumbs up would mean that they passed and would have to sit by the edge of the pool for the duration of the ceremony. A thumbs down would mean that had displeased the judges and they would have to jump in the pool and stay there until the end. This group received a thumbs up and moved to the side of the pool, ...
|... but the next group received a thumbs down.
|In they went.
|The third group were the cooks, including Chef Tiffany who had created the chef's surprise dinner.
|They also received a thumbs down, and into the pool they went.
|The next group was from guest services, ...
|... followed by a large group from housekeeping. They kissed the fish, ...
|... and then were treated by the medical staff. As they were the last group, the last bits of whipped cream were poured onto the poor pollywogs.
|This pollywog was covered with the last of the green and pink whipped cream.
|One of the officers had his children aboard, so there was an extra little voter for this round.
|At the end of the ceremony, all of the former pollywogs went into the pool to get cleaned up. Having survived the ceremony, they were no longer pollywogs but emerald shellbacks. Just how much rum did the old-time sailors drink to come up with these rituals, anyway? Notice the one crew member sitting by the side of the pool. It turns out that he didn't know how to swim, but hadn't told anyone before the ceremony. Luckily, one of the officer-judges knew he couldn't swim, so when his group came up for a vote, they gave them a thumbs up so that they would have to sit by the side of the pool. Whew.
|The ship's photographer had everyone pose for an official photo.
|The little judge was joined by his sister who was dressed in a mermaid costume. Awww. Notice that the boy is missing one sock, or as we refer to this universal phenomenon, "sock not on foot."
|We posed for a selfie with Ross and Midge. Cheeeeeese!
|With the ceremony over, our wake started back up, and we left Null Island behind.
|The specialty theme in the Lido Market was Seafood Corner, ...
|... and Debbie filled a plate full. There was shrimp, salmon, sushi, ceviche, and more. Yum!
|At noon, we went up to the Crow's Nest, but we went by the Lido Pool to check on the cleaning effort. They had completely drained the pool and were cleaning out the last bits of whipped cream when we went by.
|Debbie was posting her LEGO daily calendar creations on the Facebook page for this cruise, and had arranged a meet-up for her fans today in the Crow's Nest. Several people stopped by, asking how she came up with her designs, what LEGO pieces she had brought, ...
|... and of course posing for photos with Debbie. We learned a week later that some members of the Guest Services staff also surreptitiously walked by so they could see her and her display as well.
|In the afternoon, Debbie got a photo of this amazingly beautiful bug that happened to be on our balcony railing. It looks like a steampunk version of the red cotton bugs that we'd seen previously on this trip.
|Dinner in the Lido involved more seafood.
|Sunset was spectacular. We watched as this cloud formation grew and grew, and the sun hitting it cast a shadow across the other clouds to the east. Just gorgeous.
|Can you tell where Null Island was by the elbow in our course track? We now headed directly for Takoradi, Ghana, which was our next port of call.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy