Tuesday was our day at sea, while we sailed across the Mediterranean toward Africa. Sea day is my favorite, because you get to do all the things on the ship you don’t have time to otherwise. (There are people who skip ports and just stay on board, but I’ve never understood that.) We had already perused the day’s schedule the previous night, and checked off everything we needed to do. Including all the happy hours, of course.
After breakfast, we went down to the shops to pick up our obligatory souvenirs, and then headed to the Lido deck to read. It was a little chilly in the shade, so we covered up with very warm beach towels. We had cocktails, and the bartender convinced me that we needed raffle tickets since they were giving away giant bottles of expensive cognac and Dom Perignon. (We didn’t win, of course.)
After a little while it was time for the ice carving demo, so we moved seats to be closer to the action. One of the chefs came out and carved a swan out of a block of ice BY HAND… they can’t use power tools in the galley, obviously. It was impressive.
From there, we went to play shuffleboard. We were pretty sure we’re the only people who played shuffleboard on the ship. While we played, we ran into a few people we knew from the pub crawl while they were out doing laps on the promenade deck.
Lunch was ridiculous: a giant salad and giant nachos. Matt had sushi and various items from the Indonesian buffet (which was extra-awesome, since most of the chefs were Indonesian and therefore it was like their home cooking). While we were there, we ran into Cruise Critic people, who stopped to talk for a while.
We then headed up to the top deck to hang out in deck chairs in the sun. It was glorious out there in the middle of the Mediterranean. I read my Kindle a bit, but mostly I was just interested in dozing in the sun.
Then it was time for the cocktail class we’d signed up for on the first day. We headed to the Silk Den, and joined eight other people in learning about their drink-making. The bartender Ramil and the ship’s party planner, Kirby, were teaching. They asked for a volunteer to make one of the cocktails, so of course Matt had to do it. When else will you get the chance to tend bar on a cruise ship?
And while we’re pretty knowledgeable about cocktail mixing, we did actually learn some things! They taught us three of their signature cocktails, and we got to sample each one in a tiny martini glass.
We stuck around talking to a Canadian couple from our class, then headed to the lounge to play Carcasonne. It was conveniently happy hour at the bar next door, so we had the drink of the day. We then tried to play Battleship, but the board had changed since we were kids and some of the pieces were missing. We played anyway, and finally some of the staff wandered in and DJ Stylez set us straight on the correct way to play. SIGH.
We followed happy hour to the Ocean Bar, where Ronnie was serving again. He told us about wang wang, which contained a half-ounce each of whiskey, rye, bourbon, vodka, gin, dark rum, brandy, juice, and grenadine. Then we went to our room to change clothes, because it was time for formal night. (Formal night seems to begin around sunset, though there’s nothing really official.)
Another important item on our sea day to-do list was trivia! We went to the Queen’s Lounge, where Ian (our port-information expert) was hosting. He was a sassy old British man, and the trivia was HARD. We barely knew any of the answers. He gave out prizes to the winning team, then consolation prizes to everyone else, so we got a couple of cute Holland America pins out of the deal. It was then time for our dinner reservations, so we went upstairs to Tamarind.
We had expected the place to be really busy on formal night, but it wasn’t at all (our reservations were fairly late, too). The restaurant was very fancy, and the food was amazing. I had veggie spring rolls, green papaya salad, sake-braised mushrooms, and five-spice seitan and tempeh. Matt had sushi, lobster potstickers, and hoisin duck. We ordered cocktails from the Silk Den next door, and Ramil brought them to us.
We were way too full for dessert, but the servers always act like it’s the worst possible crime to not order anything, so we decided to split the chocolate ginger mousse. Sweet jesus, it was amazing. I want it every day.
Post-dinner, we went down a level to meet up with our pub crawl friends in the Crow’s Nest. (A couple of them weren’t there because they were having the fancy cabana dinner; we’d later hear that they jokingly ordered 5 lobsters and ended up actually getting them for dinner.) We took some pictures with them, then all headed downstairs to the club for happy hour. The 2-for-1s were flowing there. We exchanged email addresses so we could keep in touch, and watched people dancing. (The most fascinating were the kid who thought he was Michael Jackson, and the guy dancing in a wheelchair who would occasionally get up and walk around.)
They all wanted to go to the dessert extravaganza on the Lido deck, but we were way too full for that. We stayed in the casino to gamble, and I figured that was a good excuse to not stay out too late either. Matt had convinced me to try Fun 21 (I’m suspicious of any blackjack game that doesn’t follow Vegas rules), and it was indeed fun.
We headed to the cabin around 12:30, because the next morning we would be in Africa!