A day at sea

Written at about 9:55 PM local time

We were at sea all day today. I was up early because I figured it would be very crowded on deck and I was right. I had breakfast before 8 AM and by the time I got out on deck at around 8:30 AM, there was no room on the pool deck and I had to find a deck chair on the next level up. I spent about 3 hours sitting out in the sun (applying 15 SPF sunscreen every 45 minutes). It was very windy and even cloudy at times, and it was very crowded. And noisy.

I went to the buffet for lunch (and had Monte Cristo sandwiches, which I love) and then decided to try The Sanctuary. This is a place at the front of the ship on a high deck that is for relaxation. It costs $10 for a half day but I was happy to pay. I was given a very plush, comfortable chair in which to recline, as well as water to drink. The Sanctuary was shielded from the wind and it is a designated quiet area so there’s no music playing and everyone in the area is quiet. (There is a limited capacity and they don’t book it beyond the limit.) You can order from the bar, as well as order a variety of food that are brought to you. There are special towels. They even bring around cool towels with which you can wipe your skin to cool yourself down. I was at the Sanctuary until nearly 4 PM, when I had to get ready for my 4th and final massage.

My final massage was with Dunja again and although I thought the last massage she gave me was the best I ever had, she outdid herself on this one. She used these hot stones and pulled out all of the stops. And when it was all over, she once again remarked on what good physical condition I was in–again, just some knots in my calf muscles. She gave me a hug at the end and wished me well. I gave her a very big tip.

I wasn’t that hungry for dinner tonight, and in fact, I was downright tired. Sitting in the sun all day, doing nothing, can do that I suppose. During dinner we passed through the Strait of Misina, with Sicily to the south and the rest of Italy to the north. I had a crab appetizer that included two types of caviar–and it was the first time I ever tried that particular delicacy. The caviar was salty and the salmon caviar burst open in your mouth which was a little disconcerting. For the main course, I had beef Wellington, and for dessert, of course, the chocolate mousse. It was the last formal night this evening, so we were all dressed up, and after dinner, we sat for some formal pictures once again. Then, even though it was only 8 PM, I decided to call it an early night.

I came back to my cabin and packed up. I found out that my debarkation time will be between 9 and 9:30 AM on Monday; Mom and Dad’s will be half an hour later. That’s perfect since the car from the hotel will be picking us up at about 10 AM. I am now just about completely packed.

Nervously, with a fair amount of trepidation, I went to the purser’s desk to get a copy of my bill. I hadn’t looked at the bill at all yet and I was a bit nervous to see how bad the damage was. Turns out it wasn’t too bad. In fact, when all is said and done, for the cruise portion of my vacation, I came under budget by $318. For those interested in the breakdown:

Category   Budgeted    Actual     Difference
--------   --------    ------     ----------
Bar            $600      $371           $229
Massage        $500      $636          -$136
Tours          $500      $341           $159
Tips           $120      $120             $0
Misc.          $350      $284            $66
========   ========    ======     ==========
Totals       $2,070    $1,752           $318

Tomorrow, we are in Naples, and Jen, Jason, Mom and I are taking a hiking tour of Vesuvius and Pompei. It’s an all-day tour and I’m looking forward to it. Tomorrow night is the last night on the ship and then Monday, we debark in Civitaveccia, near Rome. I have some notes about this cruise, and cruising in general that I will post Monday or Tuesday evening. In the meantime, look for a description of our adventures in Pompei and Naples tomorrow night.