February 22, 2022. 79°F/26°C
For the first time in our crossing, today the ocean swells got the better of me and I needed more than just one morning Gravol. The ship was doing the kind of rhythmic rock and roll that makes me feel quite disoriented. One day in 9 is certainly much better than I’d anticipated though. Our captain explained that the rough seas of up to 3 metres are due to severe storms in the North Atlantic affecting us here just above the equator. That doesn’t bode well for tomorrow, but the day after that we reach Mindelo on São Vicente Island in the Cape Verde archipelago, so there’s setting foot on solid ground to look forward to.
Interestingly, there is a distinctive sound when the ship’s hull crosses a swell: a deep “boom” that really reverberates on the lower decks.
Helping to keep me distracted this morning were the crew drill announcements. As always, Captain Olav apologized for the “inconvenience” of ship-wide announcements and the unavailability of some crew during the drill. I personally am thrilled that our Captain and crew are diligent about performing these weekly drills, and equally thrilled that they are only drills. Today’s practice included the full “abandon ship” signal.
At 11:00 a.m. I headed to the theatre – not for a lecture this time, but for a Q&A session with our Viking Vocalists: Beth, Poppy, Jack, and Daniel. They began the session with a group rendition of ABBA’s “I Had A Dream”, and ended it with a backstage tour (which I missed – by then I was just too unsteady on my feet.)
We learned that Viking uses a UK-based agency called Blackburn International, who audition all the performers for the Viking fleet (and other cruise lines), and create the music production shows like the Beatles and Legends tribute shows we’ve enjoyed. Blackburn also provides all the costumes, and most of the guest entertainers that have joined our cruise. We also found out that our vocalists’ contracts are up on April 25th, when we will get a whole new production cast, although Daniel will stay on an extra 7 days to ease the transition. The chances that these 4 talented people will ever work together again as an ensemble are slim, since they each have their own agents and their own career paths mapped out. Daniel was a cruise director, pre-pandemic, on another cruise line, so perhaps he’ll get the opportunity to reprise that role for Viking in the future; he certainly has the personality for it!
Speaking of contracts, our Cruise Director Aaron Seyfert will be leaving us on February 28th to be a part of the opening and launch of Viking’s newest ship, the Viking Mars. That’s earlier than expected, so our amazing Assistant Cruise Director Damian Solesse will be filling in as CD until Cruise Director Katie (currently on the Viking Jupiter) joins us in April. Lots of changes in the entertainment staff means saying goodbye to some wonderful performers, but also getting to experience some more variety, since each group has their own strengths to share.
A Taste of Indonesia was presented in the World Café at noon. I love spicy Indonesian food, but not today – just some coconut rice and a single chicken satay. I have to note here again how truly caring and solicitous the Viking staff are. Evidence noticed that I was a bit pale and brought me a tall glass of pink grapefruit juice with ice, which actually did serve to calm my queasiness a bit. He said it was not scientific, but something his mother always did to stimulate their appetites when someone in the family wasn’t feeling well. Later on Lena came by with a drink made of coconut water, ginger, and lemongrass – part of the Indonesian theme, but also stomach-settling.
I took it and a green apple up to our cabin, intending to take a short nap, but it was time for Dr. Linda Bradley’s last talk before she and her husband Mike leave the ship, currently scheduled for when we reach the Mediterranean. Today’s Fashion Around The World episode focussed on “Dress and Tattoos in Fiji and Vanuatu”. I watched the lecture live on our room’s entertainment system, hence no pictures today.
A portion of Linda’s talk focussed on our notions of “proper” dress, and how those (often Christian missionary) notions impacted traditional dress in Polynesia. She also talked about how gender and status impact our notions of “proper”. In Fiji, where tattoos were primarily for females, tattooing of a young girl’s lower body indicated that she had reached puberty, and would soon be marriageable. That would be the first time a girl started wearing clothes: a short fibre skirt while she remained single, a long skirt once married. The tattooing process has had a resurgence in recent years as old traditions are revived.
What is considered “proper” everyday dress today is still a version of the loose-fitting “mission dress“ for women, and very Western-looking attire for men (pants and shirts). Even during folk ceremonies when wearing “grass skirts” – which are woven reeds and not grass at all – women now cover the upper half of their bodies.
A basic waltz class was held in the theatre this afternoon. Our cruise director suggested that participants could just stand still and let the ship do the work for them today!
Today’s wildlife “wow” were the schools of flying fish alongside our ship. Ted got some pretty darn amazing photos.
Ted and I have been extremely curious about what the ship’s food storage areas look like, given the wonderful fresh produce and incredible variety of food that we are offered every day, so we were excited to find out that galley tours were being offered. This was a highlight of our day, and rated a post of its own (upcoming Episode 206)
It was a curry and tandoori theme on the pool deck tonight, which meant the space was once again set up for alfresco dining. We’ve been so lucky to have clear starry skies on our journey in the Atlantic. The continued sea swells meant the roof could not be open though, since the combination of wind and the boat’s rocking put too much stress on the roof mechanism.
Returning to the theatre tonight was powerhouse vocalist Toni Warne, after whose show we headed for bed to be rocked to sleep by the continuing big ocean swells.