Tuesday September 9th 3:00 pm
The Captain warned us last evening as we were leaving Iceland that rough seas were ahead and that anyone with a tendency toward getting seasick should be prepared to take precautionary measures. They plan on altering course to take us further south so that after Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday, we would have the worst behind us.
I located my small box of pills that we purchased on a prior cruise, and placed them in the nightstand drawer so that I knew where they were if needed. We have always been great sailors in the past, even under very rough seas, except for the Norway cruise where we both had weak tummies one evening. We thought at the time it also could have just been something we ate.
Tim spotted a whale at lunch today. No one else did.
**I’m sprinkling in a few pictures taken onboard the ship to give you a tiny window into what Brilliance of the Seas looks like
There are a variety of things to do while at sea. Some interest me, and others, not so much. But having not attended many of the evening entertainment programs and having been told the next evening by our table mates that the show had been brilliant, I decided to attend the afternoon musical performance in the main theater.
On the way there I spotted pouches containing those little white bags often found on an airplane in the seat back pocket just in case you get air sick. The pouches were attached to the stair railing on each deck and Tim said they were being dispersed and readily available all over the ship.
So far the seas are moderate, but I certainly do not consider them rough.
I’ve finished book number two, “The Elephant Whisperer” which I thoroughly enjoyed. I had no idea that elephants are that intelligent and now hold them in a much more elevated and respected position. I’m now well into “Only Time Will Tell” (Clifton Chronicles book 1) by Jeffrey Archer.
Gaye informs me that the author,Jeffrey Archer, has a colorful background that included serving in the House of Lords as well as some jail time, so will have to Google him when I get to land and once again have access to WiFi.
I’ve had the occasional sea day before, even two in a row, but this is the first Trans Anything we have done, and I don’t know if I will love all the free time or be bored by the time we reach Boston. As Mr. Archer named his book, I guess, …only time will tell.
Wednesday September 10th 7:45 am
Today is Daryl’s birthday. He is one of our table mates from Australia.
Tim awoke early this morning, grabbed some coffee and we spent a few minutes thinking about all the people we have become friends with from around the world because of our travels as well as connections from home. Our circle is growing and we are getting more and more of the globe covered.
Nu from Thailand, Jenny and Ben from China, Stanley from Taiwan, Sirpa from Finland, Augusta, Anna, Beatriz and Casilda from Spain, Manjit and Vimal from India, Yulia from Russia, Jack and Joan from South Africa, Daryl, Gaye, Colleen and Dennis from Australia, Roberto from Argentina, Juanita, Alfredo, and many more either from Mexico or with Hispanic heritage, numerous friends from Guatemala, Kiyoshi is Japanese but from Brazil, Jeanette from Denmark, Gabriella from Holland, Pearl from England and I’m sure I am forgetting others. (My apologies to friends I have missed)
During the night the seas changed and there is a significant side to side roll. I dreamed that the ship had landed on it’s side in the mud and large tractors were being used to try to drag the ship back to water and get it back upright. I remember being frustrated that neither my camera or Tim’s would work so I could take pictures for my blog. Funny how the brain works, especially while sleeping.
If I look out the round window of our cabin I can see large swells, water sprays higher than an elephants eye, and numerous white caps. I think we are in for an interesting day. Tim is blissfully back asleep.
I am fascinated that if I think about the movement, it is a little unnerving, but the minute I start typing or reading, my mind becomes occupied and the turbulence seems to disappear for a while.
The Captain just made an unexpected early announcement over the intercom asking everyone to use caution when moving about the ship. He said we were experiencing large swells coming from the west and that by this evening our ride should smooth out again. The swells are mostly 3-4 meters (10-13 feet), but some range 6-8 meters (19 to 26 feet).
We are on deck 3 and the occasional swell/trough seems to put the water almost at eye level momentarily. Strange feeling but not frightening. Our window is streaked by water droplets and salty spray.
Thursday September 11th 3:15 pm
We have returned to calm seas and the sun is shining. What a difference 24 hours can make on the high seas!
I’m sad that I am nearing the end of my book. It is a sequel and I only downloaded the first one onto my Kindle before we departed and with no Internet, I will need to wait until we reach Boston before finding the next installment. Mr. Archer has me captivated.
We attended a matinée in the cinema yesterday that was filmed in Southern Oregon called Redwood Highway. I was shocked that I not only recognized the area, but that many of the places used in filming I have visited including a burl wood store and I have been up inside the very treehouse that was shown in a key scene. For all my friends and school mates from Medford, if you have not already seen the movie, I think you too will love seeing territory you have undoubtedly visited many times over the years when driving from Grants Pass to Brookings.
I of course managed to cry throughout the movie, and tried to stifle a couple of downright sobs near the end. I am such a pathetic softy when it comes to sentimental moments.
Friday September 12th 7:05 am
Tim was so excited when he woke up this morning stating, “Tomorrow we will be in Boston”. It saddened me to let him know he had somehow lost a day and that in reality we had all day today AND tomorrow at sea before arriving on Sunday morning. He dressed and went off to find some breakfast without a skip in his step.
We had another rocky night last night. I remember waking up in total darkness listening to the ship creek and groan as we confronted large swells again. Eventually I drifted back to sleep and woke up to heavy fog this morning – the pea soup kind that you would not want to drive in.
I have been spending way too much time in our cabin. Finishing book number three, I am now happily entrenched in a detective, bail bondsman Stephanie Plum mystery. I need to get out and explore the ship. I realize that throughout the cruise I have never taken the time to really investigate and there are several decks I have never even landed on. That will change today.
Our Aussie table mates kept us entertained at dinner last night with examples of sayings unfamiliar to us. I think my favorites were “Fair Dinkum” and “Dinkydi”. The first means something along the lines of, “are you kidding me” or “get serious” and the second I think is “yes, really, spot on”
They ladies also seemed high on a cooking apparatus that I have not heard of called a Thermomix. I think it is only sold through private home parties, but I will be curious to see if they are available on eBay. Evidently they are around $1900 and do everything from making cocktails to soups, chopping, baking, and mixing. I’m interested to try to find some videos on YouTube that will show me more. I hope it does the dishes after dinner for that price.
The past few days I have been let down by the service here on the Brilliance of the Seas. Or perhaps I should say the lack of customer service. It almost feels like the employees are having a work slowdown, are unhappy and taking their frustrations out on the passengers. It is little things really, but they add up and I have been left with a sour taste in my mouth afterwards.
Example #1 – Tim ask to purchase a small bottle of water to take ashore for our excursion. The bartender said he could only sell him a large bottle of water because the small bottles were only for people who had purchased a drink package.
Example #2 – The man behind the drink counter in the buffet dining room was filling up a tray of glasses with lemonade. He was just finishing the tray. I waited patiently and then politely asked if I could please have a lemonade. He quite rudely snapped at me saying he was not open yet and I would need to wait, stating that he need time to get set up. I turned and walked away without saying anything, but sure wanted to. The tray was right in front of me. I could have easily just reached over and taken a glass off of his tray, with no amount of additional work on his part, but instead he was impolite to me. It made no sense.
Example #3 – People waiting in line to get something from the counter near the indoor pool were completely ignored by two staff members just standing there behind the counter. When someone inquired and asked to be served they were told they would have to wait until a third person returned from getting some supplies. The entire line of people felt put off.
Example #4 – Tim had breakfast this morning with a gentleman who looks to be around 90 years old. This is his 83rd cruise. He told Tim he can’t wait to get home to mail his Diamond Card (top-level loyalty membership club) back to the CEO of Royal Caribbean and tell him to keep it. He is so disappointed in what he calls a “lack of service” that he does not intend on using Royal Caribbean again in the future. He also said he was on this exact same ship two years ago and it was excellent. The service has slid from a 5 star down to barely 3 star and in his words, “that is being kind”. He arranges tours for his retirement community and brought two other couples, but often brings 16 -24 others with him. He loves to cruise and said he would do so full-time if his family would allow it. This will be his LAST time on Royal Caribbean.
Example #5 – My time dining – We got very lucky in arranging our set time each evening at the same table in the “My Time” dining room, however many people are forced to wait in line each night for an available table. The tables are so cramped in the dining room that the waiters can not get to some of the seats to serve them without walking around nearby tables. It is way too crowded, too noisy and the service is very slow. We love our waiter, Sommy, who always greets us with a big smile, calls us by name and offers to replace any meal we are not happy with. I wish he was in charge to train some of the other staff! I believe that Royal Caribbean is putting way to much emphasis on trying to get people to eat in the alternative dining restaurants (which you have to pay $30-$50 per person/per meal) instead of making the assigned dining experience pleasant.
Are we used to being spoiled and pampered while on cruise ships? Yes, absolutely. In the past crew members have been trained to greet every customer with a smile and a “Good Morning, Sir (or madam)”. We are accustomed to being asked if we would like a beverage, and being served. Here we feel like it is an imposition to ask for anything.
Time for me to get out and explore the ship!
Saturday September 13th 4:45 pm
Woke up in the middle of the night with a sore throat. Took some airborne and ibuprofen and tried to get back to sleep. No luck. By then Tim was also wide awake. We turned on the TV and watched a special done by a videographer of his trip around the world. I was amazed by how many of the locations he highlighted that we have already visited.
Not feeling much better this afternoon, but managed to valiantly eat my way through a couple of meals that would have satisfied a line backer. I must not be too sick.
At noon our captain mentioned that a passenger on board had a medical situation that was requiring us to go at top speed (around 21.8 knots). We will be arriving in Boston around 1:30 in the morning, several hours early.
My luggage has been repacked. I am ready to disembark other than packing my toiletries, jammies and a few things I will need tonight or in the morning.
Next on my list is filling out my custom’s form where we have to list all the countries we have visited since we left the USA. Here is what I have come up with – 25 countries!
India, Nepal, Spain, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, England, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Denmark, France, Iceland
Gratitude Moment: Today I am grateful for being excited to return to my home country. I wonder if most people feel that way after traveling to distant lands? I will be the first to acknowledge that we are not perfect, but I am proud to be an American citizen. One of the things I find so fascinating about our country is that we have the freedom to rant and rave about our politicians, healthcare, high cost of living, gun control (or lack thereof), taxes or anything else we deem to find fault with. And yet whenever disaster strikes (like 9/11), almost every car I passed on the road was waving the American Flag.
When our neighborhood was struck with a large earthquake in 1994, we united as a community, assisted each other, hung out in the streets together when we were too frightened to go inside, shared our food, offered encouragement, helped each other remove the broken remnants and had work parties to rebuild. We got to know our neighbors better. That is the America I am most proud of!