12-17-06 

We were up at 7 am this morning because we had a seminar at 8:30.  We had chosen our room-service breakfast the night before – to be delivered between 7:30 and 7:45 and it came at about 7:50.  Room service is not a highlight of Crystal.  They do not have a separate room service department so your cabin steward also has to deliver your food.  When it gets to you it is no longer hot.  It also delays the steward from doing her other work.  Our room was not made up this morning until after lunch, through no fault of our steward, Belita, who only got 30 minutes off this afternoon before she had to start her next shift.  (We know because we asked.)

As far as our room service breakfast, I was happy with my oatmeal which was quite tasty and came with its own individual jar of pure maple syrup.  Mary was not as happy with her breakfast.

The guy leading our seminar was confused about time and ended it one hour early, which we thought was great.  It took us a few minutes to realize it was 10:45 and not 11:45, and when we found we’d gained an hour, we went to the Berlitz Spanish class we thought we had missed.  The class was great!  The instructor, Juan Carlos, is from Mexico City, and he focused on how to speak Spanish in Mexico.  He was funny, funny, funny and a very good instructor.  We are also 99% sure that he is very gay. (Mary adds that she later saw him walking around the pool in his tight little shorts and is now 100% sure that he is VERY gay.)  Another guy from Mexico who didn’t speak much English sat at the side of the room and gazed lovingly at Juan Carlos throughout the class.  We thought they were adorable. 

For lunch there was a “Grand Asia buffet” around the indoor pool.  There were a lot of choices and the food was pretty good, but there was also a line which annoyed my girlfriend quite a bit.  We keep comparing Crystal and Regent Seven Seas and they both have strong points and weak points.  Crystal’s food is generally better – both in quality and selection – but it was annoying that the Asia Buffet was the only option other than the main dining room – they closed the Lido Cafe – which made it very crowded and clamourous.  Mealtimes were definitely quieter and more peaceful on the Seven Seas Navigator.

After lunch, I talked Mary into doing our laundry at the complimentary and empty launderette rather than attending the seminar, which she was quite happy to do.  We met in the lido cafe at 3 pm for an art class which involved us doing watercolors of a sunset over the ocean.  We do not seem to have natural artistic talent (or any artistic talent for that matter) which allowed us to assess that the teacher was not very good.  As she walked around the room looking at people’s work we could hear her exclaiming, “That’s beautiful!”  and “Wow, we have real artists here.”  When she came to us, she said “Oh,” like you might say if you come across some road kill.  Then she said, “Well, that’s a start.  You might try this…”  Invariably when we tried whatever she suggested, we made it worse.  Near the end of the class she said that she had matting and frames and that she would frame our paintings for us if we wished.  Mary sensibly decided not to take her up on this offer, but I wanted my artwork framed, lousy or not!  I took my painting of a flower (Mary says its a starfish – whatever) up to her.  She said, “And what do you have?”  I said, “It’s pathetic, but I want it framed anyway.”  She looked at it, was quiet for a minute, and then said, “You know, I have some gold pens and glitter if you’d like to work a little more on it.”  I said, “No, I’ll just make it worse,” to which she said, “Oh.”

After art we went back to the room.  I did yoga while looking out on the sea and then joined Mary on the balcony where we watched the ocean and the sun beginning to set.  It was sublime.  I forgot to mention that we saw the sun today for the first time.  It was partly cloudy, but there was sun.

At 5:15 we put on our cheap Sears formal night finery and our jewelry courtesy of Mary’s mother and our friend Marla, and headed to the Captain’s Reception.  We posed for a photo with the captain and drinks were on the house, so we had champagne.  There was live music and a fantastic sunset which caused me to sit with my back to Mary which caused a few waiters to stop and try to figure out why I was being so unsociable.  The way the sun set with the clouds, it looked like a smiley face – an orange ball with clouds for eyes and a smile.  Another sublime moment. 

We fit in just fine with our Sears sparkly wear – though I had to shower afterwards because there were so many sparkles all over me.  Dinner was fantastic.  We both had Chateaubriande which was tender and delicious.  Now Mary is off to the show which is some tribute to Hollywood musicals.  Aren’t all cruise ship shows tributes to something?  I really can’t bear them, but Mary loves them.  I’m happy to hang out in the room which is very quiet.  We have never heard our neighbors on either side of us, which is great for me, AND hardly anyone on this ship smokes.  We’ve only run into two smokers the entire cruise and there are no smokers on the balconies on either side of us, which was one thing I was worried about.  That is one giant plus for Crystal – their clients tend to be more health-conscious and active, and, while they allow smoking in certain areas of the ship, there just aren’t a lot of smokers.  The other thing about this particular cruise is that the ride has been so smooth that we barely feel like we’re moving.  I miss being rocked to sleep, but it’s nice that there’s been no chance of getting seasick so far.

Tomorrow is our snorkle expedition to Stingray City in Grand Cayman.  We are very excited to try out our new masks and snorkles.  There is also a Mozart Tea in the afternoon, and in the evening a Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony and then, in the movie theater, The Illusionist is playing which I am hoping I will have the energy to attend after all this activity, activity, activity.