Another Sea day, the last one before we reach Aqabah and the wind his changed. Before it was in the back or stern and it increased during the day time which is normal for winds generated by landmasses warming up. That changes about half way up the Red Sea. And we were halfway yesterday afternoon. At about 1600 hrs. we passed Mecca with its port, Jeddah, on our starboard side. We had 50 miles to starboard and 50 miles to port so our course stayed as far as possible from all the land around us. Now we are coming closer to Europe and Asia so other landmasses, read temperatures are starting to play a part in the weather equation. And thus in the early morning hours the wind breezed up and is now against us with a nice wind force 4 to 5 blowing (20 to 25 knots) and the ship is “bumping” into it with 16 knots of speed. This gives a bit of movement as the Seabourn with being smaller does not have all the options of a larger ship, with a bigger bow, to ride over everything.
We had enhanced security on board while we were travelling through the piracy waters and I am currently reviewing the under laying policies and procedures. They are made in the office by our security department but as a ship seldom get finished in accordance with the original drawings some fine tuning is always needed. And I do this in relation to crew operations involved and the practical set up on board. No more details, this is all very much hush, hush.
So today a few remarks about the art on board. For those who remember the Koningsdam and the Nieuw Statendam, it will be clear that with those two ships the interior design and the art changed radically from what Holland America had done in the past. Partly it followed the new trend in the cruise industry to use lighter colors and differently laid out spaces, partly the art went from established paintings and antiques to a more modern and sometimes whimsical approach. This was also embraced for the Seabourn Encore and Ovation for which design the same architects and the same Art Company was employed.
Thus on the Ovation we see more modern art not a musical theme as with HAL but still with a lot of creativity that hopefully will make the guest standstill and contemplate what it is all about; maybe admire how the artist made it but certainly find some enjoyment and appreciation in it. The Ovation has over 1600 pieces of art on board but this includes also the pictures in the staterooms. The main pieces of art are in the staircases and in the public rooms. Although with the smaller ship, the public rooms are smaller and thus the presence of the art is quite understated. That leaves the main items for the central staircase and that is a piece of art in itself. The Amidships or central staircase rises from deck 5 all the way up to deck 10 with curved staircases on either side. The Guest Elevators (2 in the forward staircase and 4 in the aft staircase) are located more aft so the elevator bank does not deflect from the overall impression.
The other public area which is quite impressive is the dining room on deck 4 where the designer must have struggled with the concept of having a small space/ship and trying to create sometime spacious so while dining one does not get an oppressive feeling. The result is very nice with a sort of cathedral mini ceiling which lifts the height above the tables. The same sort of lighting has been installed as on the HAL Pinnacle Class which in its design does also not monopolize the space above the tables but still provides good lighting. That dining room runs through a full section of the ship with the main passage way in front of it and the main galley behind it.
Tomorrow we are in Aqabah for a full day from 08.00 hrs. until 1900 hrs. but from experience I know that the departure time is very flexible here due to the length of the tours and the time to get to and from. The main tour is of course to Petra which is a 2 hour drive from the ship and takes a full 9 hours to make. I hope the guests will enjoy it but the crew certainly will as there is also a crew tour going. Seabourn has a sort incentive going among the crew whereby high ratings results in the participation in a crew tour and my cabin stewardess is all excited about seeing this ancient creation out of rose hued sandstone.
Everybody is being warned about the lack of shade on all the tours (the other two are going to the desert of Wadi Rum and to Shoubak Castle, a Crusader Fortress) and hopefully everybody remembers sunblock 35 and bottles of water. It will be warm in the desert although it promises to be better in Aqabah itself (24oC / 75oF) and the wind is supposed to die down.