Day 116

We both were busy this morning finishing up our story from yesterday. While Pat was typing, I got her coffee and a bagel. Last night was spent preparing the photos for sending. Together, we finished in time for Terry’s lecture “Adrift in the Atlantic – Stories of Ocean Survival.” He told many stories of horrific tragedy and unbelievable struggles for survival. He started with the Bounty mutiny and the 19 men set afloat. They traveled 3,587 nm in 47 days. He told some WWII stories of U-boats sinking merchant marine ships and troop ships. There was one survivor, Poon Lim, on the merchant ship, Benlomond, sunk on November 23, 1942. He was lucky to find a well-provisioned 8-foot square life raft. He was found by Brazilian fisherman 133 days later. He was returned to England and migrated to U.S. and shared his knowledge on surviving at sea with the Navy. There were other stories of everyday people in pleasure boats blown off course by sudden storms and adrift for days and weeks. In 2002, a local took a three-hour pleasure cruise from Long Beach to Catalina, but a freak storm destroyed his equipment and sails. He was found 3 ½ months later 2,500 miles away. In 2005 a couple of fishermen on a fishing expedition ran into a stormy tragedy and one was found alive 9 months and 5,500 miles later off Taiwan.

Rob Warne addressed the key issues affecting South America; politics, social and global prospects, and Chinese involvement. The continent has tremendous natural resources and no major armed conflict with the recent surrender of the FARC insurgency. On the other hand, violence and crime are rising. The economy relies too much on natural resources and little manufacturing, resulting in economic inequality. There is a political shift toward conservatism, which must deal with corruption. There are infrastructure problems with sewage, water, and roads. Rob commented on the positive changes in Columbia, Argentina, and Chile while giving highlights of the disasters in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Ecuador.

We played the noontime card game and earned one point. I had a quick lunch at the Brazilian BBQ on the Pool Deck and met Art at the ping-pong table. No one else showed up so we played three games and Art won the third. I dashed off to a slots tournament but did not win today. I met Pat back in our suite and went to a special, one of a kind, White Elephant auction, a world cruise tradition. This is an opportunity to get ship memorabilia, unique dining, and cooking participation with key personnel and many other crazy but fun things. This was held in the theater with Jamie, the Cruise Director as the auctioneer. The proceeds benefit only the crew, not staff personnel, for special or emergency needs. It was not only a lot of fun but it raised $28,000. The last item was immediate occupancy of The Grand Suite, with all its plush spacious gorgeousness for the remainder of the cruise. The winning bid was $10,000.

Pat worked hard on the Mensa last night and we scored our points for that, but for Trivia, we fell out of the scoring.

This evening was our “Where are you from?” cocktail party. Folks meet in different areas of the ship to get to know others from their home area. On the ship this segment there are 78 from the United Kingdom, 23 from Canada, 26 from Australia, 78 Californians and many from other countries and states. If there were 6 or more from one place, there was a location for you. If there were less than 6, you were lumped into “other states.” That’s where we always are because there have never been more than one other couple from Massachusetts. We met some nice cruisers from New Jersey, Alabama, Illinois, and Maryland tonight.

We joined Trish and Jeff, and Lisa and Morry for dinner tonight at Sette Mare, our Italian restaurant. Trish and Jeff had purchased a voucher at the auction that allowed a favorite crew member and friend to spend 2 nights in a suite with a room service meal. This is a very special deal for them, living in the tiny crew quarters and always serving and not being served. Trish and Jeff decided to present this to Gaia and Viola, two very special waitresses at Sette Mare who have been taking care of us and them from day one. They are there for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, always with a smile and great service. Trish and Jeff presented the voucher to them at dinner and explained what it entailed. Their reaction was priceless! There were lots of hugs all around. Mac took some good photos.

We finished eating just in time for the show, a return performance from Salvatore Hasard, singer and multi-instrumentalist. He was even better tonight than a few nights ago, singing and playing songs from Lionel Ritchie, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, and others. He finished with a super rendition of “We are the World,” where he played the video without music, while he sang the parts of at least 20 well known singers, imitating their voices. He even did well singing the parts of Diana Ross, Tina Turner and other female singers. You would have thought the original voices were singing the song, not just one person. He received a standing ovation after that.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac