Today was a planned day at sea and tomorrow as well. The latter will now be changed into an afternoon call in St. Maarten. The weather, read wind, is slowly improving by getting less, however the long ocean swell is still with us. Occasionally there is a longer and higher wave among the others and then the ships lightly sways on the waves. Our stabilizers are working but a good push on 3/4 portside stern is hard for the stabilizers to cope with. However the guests had a full day training behind them and that means that everybody is about and getting ready for Christmas. The Beauty Salon is booked solid for the day and I heard a report about a heated discussion about formal jackets. She urging him to put one on (she had found out about our rental options) and he being against it. Did not hear the outcome but I made a mental note to find out after the holidays how many Tuxedo’s were rented onboard. Still the most important thing was that everybody was gearing up for tonight and tomorrow.
Senior Management (For new readers: that is my wife) was fully occupied with preparing for the Christmas choir that we are having at 23.00 tonight in the lounge. This is a Holland America Line tradition from long time ago. I am still trying to find out when it started. I have photos from the 1950’s that show the (Dutch) crew singing but it might even be older. However with so many new crew onboard; a challenge that we face every time a new ship comes in service, that tradition has to be re-introduced. A task that I delegated with pleasure to my wife who after 24 years of HAL experience knows where it normally goes wrong with these sorts of things. All the crew is willing but lacks time to attend the rehearsals, thus it is important to drill a nucleus of crew in the right routine. Then, those who show up for the performance only have to follow the lead of those “who know”.
Apart from getting the crew ready for the three choirs (Indonesians, International and Philippino’s) there is also the challenge of traffic control. We always draw a full house with the Christmas concert and that means that guests start moving chairs all over the place to get a good view. Normally not a problem, as the performers enter from the back of the stage. With the choirs we make our entrance from the back of the lounge and then walk forward to the stage. For a smooth flow we need the pathways on port and starboard side cleared and to remain clear. For that purpose we use brass poles & velvet ropes from house keeping and they are put in position as soon as the Revue show is finished and before the lounge doors are re-opened. Then we keep a guardian in position to ensure that somebody is not moving the poles to get a better location for his/her chairs. Maybe it all sounds a bit over the top but Murphy lives onboard and little details like this can bring the whole happening to a grinding halt.
In the meantime I was occupied with more mundane matters such as the weather. Now the cold front over the Bahamas’s is dissipating, the Trade winds are trying to re-establish themselves. However there is still a major disturbance in the middle of the Atlantic that A. is bringing strong swells to the Caribbean and B. strong winds with some rain in it. It looks like it that for tomorrow in St. Maarten we are going to have a sunny afternoon but the swells might curve around the East point of St. Maarten and bounce into the harbour, creating a nasty surf. That means that we will be moving along the pier all afternoon. Maybe I can dock behind the Carnival Victory who will also be in port and use her as a nice wind and swell breaker. Sometimes these mega liners can be very useful.