Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010


We don’t often go to the evening shows because most seem to be a waste of time. The “cast shows” are simply amateurish compared to what they were when we started cruising and many of the other acts are second-rate or just not appealing. We went to the magician’s show the other night in the hope that Ed would be picked as a volunteer [as he was on 2008’s Grand Asia cruise]. He was not although Marvin had been a few weeks earlier.

We have gone to the ethnic crew shows. Both of us saw the Indonesian show and D went to the Filipino show mostly to support Hernelia, our favorite bar server. Somewhere in there, we saw part of a comedian’s routine in which he made fun of the ship’s captain. Captain Albert Schoonderbeek looks like an accountant. He has a ready smile, is pleasant to talk with but is definitely in charge.

Every day at 1:00, as people are finishing lunch, he makes an announcement concerning our position, course, the weather and whatever else crosses his mind. He is always followed by Thom, the Cruise Director, who promotes afternoon activities like bingo. This routine is followed on all the HAL ships. Captain Schoonderbeek always begins, “This is the captain speaking.” Last year’s captain frequently began with, “It’s me again.”

The comedian we saw spent some time talking about shipboard life, as all cruise comics do, and repeatedly called the captain “Captain Speaking” and “Captain Scooby-do.” At least he tailored his material to this ship. Of course, he also called Thom “the Boy.”

The point is that we had lunch with Captain Schoonderbeek and his wife today. On each cruise, there is a Mariner luncheon for repeat passengers. According to the captain, there are almost 500 repeaters on board but it was obvious that, if that were true, many chose not to attend. We got special treatment because we were among the most traveled HAL passengers on board.

Before lunch, the captain and his wife hosted the “senior sailors” in his quarters. There were only eight of us who have sailed 200 or more days on Holland America, so the captain thought it would be more comfortable to use his living room than one of the ship’s formal meeting areas. [Several weeks ago we met the Hotel Manager in the Explorer’s Lounge before dinner.] It was a lovely little gathering. Ed and Roxanne were there, too, as well as four other passengers we had never seen. Over drinks and snacks, we sat and talked primarily about cruising. It was interesting to hear the captain say that he prefers to cruise on his vacations but that he travels on competitor’s ships so he can be anonymous.

When he left us he explained that he had to go make some noise – the daily announcements. We were led by Syarif, the dining room manager, to the MDR and, once again, seated at the main table in the center of the room. We found our place cards and were seated. D was next to Mrs. Schoonderbeek and MA was between him and a lady from Connecticut. Ed and Roxanne were on the other side of Mrs. Schooderbeek.

The meal itself was quite good. We had curried pumpkin soup followed by quiche [MA] and tenderloin [D] and dessert. We did not finish until almost 2:15, too late to participate in trivia even though the start time had been delayed to accommodate Mariners. We wandered into the Ocean Bar as Kevin was asking question 19 [of 21] and decided to sit and listen to the questions and answers just for fun. As Kevin read each of the questions, we made quick answers at the table and would have had a score of 17 correct even without debate or deliberation. As it turned out, the top score was 17. We would have tied, at least. Oh, well, there’s always tomorrow. At least our streak of victories is still intact.

Tonight was another formal night, the second in three days. With so many port days, it is difficult to squeeze in four formal nights, but tonight was number three and our last night aboard will be the last one. After dinner that night we will return to the room, take off our party clothes and pack. MA had scallops for dinner and D had Cornish hen. The poor little thing never had a chance.

The Prinsendam will be docked in Warnemunde, Germany, tomorrow. Syarif says that over 400 passengers are going out early for long trips to Berlin and other cities. Breakfast will be served starting at 5:00 a.m. Some of the trips will not return until 9:00 at night. We are staying in Warnemunde and looking for a bakery for strudel and maybe wurst for lunch.
Tomorrow -- Warnemunde, Germany

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