After hopping from one port to the other for the last four days, we had another sea day. The guests could catch their breath and relax a little bit from all the sightseeing. Although we did keep them busy today as well, if they wanted to of course. This being a longer cruise means that we have a number of extra activities on board. Exploration Speakers, Celebrity Chefs and even I chipped in with a Holland America Line History lecture. To top the evening off, we had a Black and White Officers ball.

The black and white ball is a dance happening that we normally do on cruises of 14 days and longer. It gives the guests a chance to mingle with officers they normally do not see and it is a good excuse to throw a party. The setup is very straight forward. After an announcement by the Cruise director I come down the stairs with my wife, or in this case a cruise staff lady, followed by all the officers, staff and concessionaires. We march onto the stage to the tune of anchors away and everybody lines up behind me. From the dance floor it is very impressive to see this line up of officers all dressed in Black and white. From there we come down to the dance floor at the start of the first tune. We have some special dances, these are called the envelope dances. A few of the officers have a numbered envelope in their pocket. When the number is called, the guest who happens to be dancing with the officer gets a price…………..after answering the questions of who this officer is and where he/she comes from. Some guests can really get into it and already start questioning an officer before the dance starts, in case there happens to be an envelope there. The captain never has one, that would be to obvious. But he has a photographer hovering nearby. That is also an incentive for the Ladies. It always looks good to have a photo with the captain in the photo album from the cruise. So I seldom get a break during the whole period that the band plays bu the photographer does good business.

The dancing normally finishes an hour later, when the band goes on break, but as most people then have gotten into the groove sufficiently, the party continues most of the time in the crows nest until the wee hours. I never saw those “wee” hours. For me it was time to go to bed after 45 minutes, as standby for arrival Gibraltar the next morning was at 04.30 I was going for an early arrival because we had to bunker 1100 tons of fuel and the bunker barge was going to be there by 6 am.