On Board

Fall Waning Autumn Moon Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Somewhere south of New York City in the Atlantic.

We traveled on the earth by taxi and town car; we traveled in the air by plane; we now move across the ocean. That’s earth, air and water and each mode of transportation has fire as a critical element of its engine. Earth, air, water and fire. We’ve touched them all in this journey and we’ve only begun.

Our flight got started an hour late due to air traffic control issues in Newark. As a result, Kate and I walked through an empty dock and became the last two people to board. The Holland America folks seemed relieved we had arrived.

Walid and Ismail, our cabin attendants, presented themselves shortly after we boarded. They are pleasant Indonesians, a characteristic shared by all Indonesians I’ve met. The bartender at the Ocean Bar, Daniel, hails from the Phillipines. He has three children there and works roughly a year on the ship then heads home for two months. He takes off on October 21st and seemed eager.

Adyana, our waiter, also Indonesian, is quiet and says bon appetit a lot.

Our table in the dining room, either by luck or early booking, abuts the rear window of the ship so we can watch the wake and wherever we’ve been as we eat.

The Veendam is a medium sized cruise ship, but it seems very large to me. It has a suspended glass sculpture that spans two decks in an open atrium. Some of the décor comes close to early brothel, the busty bronze dancers on the door to the showroom for instance.

Our room, Cabin 351, opens on the lower promenade deck, starboard side. We have a glass wall between us and the deck, non-see through tinting on the outside gives privacy during the day.

So far it looks like we might be the young kids on board. More tomorrow morning after we get better acquainted with the ship.

October 17th, 2011

9:45 am EST

Somewhere off the east coast. North Carolina? Not sure.

Marcus Samulesson, former chef at Aquavit, is a guest chef on this cruise. Kate picked that up. Our dining partner, Maurine, comes from Sydney. We’ll pick up some more, three perhaps, since we’re at a table for 6.

After dinner I wandered the ship a bit, getting acquainted.. After the Pinnacle dining room, upscale cuisine, is a small lounge area that had a string quartet last night, Adagio. Further on the ultra hip Mix bar with clever lighting, lots of flash gives way to about a hundred feet of jewelry shop. Also, cigarettes on sale there, $65 for two cartons. Geez, when I quit a pack was .50.

Up on deck 12, the sport deck, there is a basketball court, a tennis court and lots of satellite, radar gear. A doppler with the familiar dome and another swept back critter. This deck also has a jogging area that is 13 laps to the mile. Not so great. Also on this deck the Crow’s Nest, a restaurant that wraps around the bow with glass walls, offers straight ahead views day or night. I especially like the Crow’s Nest early in the morning, before anyone’s up. A quiet sanctuary with a view of the sea.

We’re on the Atlantic with moderate swells, some chop and no land in sight. A couple of container ships headed north are all we’ve seen. Our cabin on the lower promenade deck overlooks the ocean and opens onto a wooden deck that runs a quarter mile around the ship. I’ve already done a mile on it this morning. Great resistance when headed toward the bow.

Our glass wall to the promenade deck has tinted glass on the outside so, while daylight, no one can see into our space. At night, with lights on in the cabin, we’re an exhibit in a zoo. See the funny man typing. He’s bald. Is he a monk, daddy?

Getting to sleep last night was a chore. New bed, new temperature adjustments. Once asleep, however, I slept through until 7 am. A great nights rest. The ocean rocked us into lullaby land.

The travel exhausted both of us last night. Kate organized the cabin, then we collapsed. I’m lucky to have such a well-organized wife. She likes to get things in order.

Up this morning for breakfast with Dhani as our server. “Dhani boy,” he said. Kate asked if he could sing it and, by god, in a soft voice he belted out a line or two. The Rotterdam dining room has a very elaborate, baroque almost, décor, which gives off a modestly upscale image at night, but in the light of day, as with all upscale restaurants, it looks a little forlorn, as if it needed its rest.

Internet is .40 a minute so I’ll post only after I’ve got a few written here in OpenDocs, the free office suite made available by Java.

Pictures, which were requested by a couple of you will come up, too, perhaps tomorrow. From the Atlantic, good-bye.

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