April 17, 2022. 61°F/16°C and cloudy.
It’s Easter Sunday, a sea day, and coincidentally my 66th birthday. There’s nowhere else I’d rather have spent the day.
Although we are secular folks, we have really appreciated the lengths to which Viking have gone on this world cruise to respect passengers’ various faiths. There has been space and time given for daily prayer meetings and weekly church services, recognizing that the ship has been people’s “home” for months. This past week has been especially indicative of Viking’s responsiveness. There were Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter morning church services hosted by passengers connected with high seas ministries, and since Friday was also the beginning of Passover, Restaurant Manager Casper and his kitchen staff went out of their way to create a complete Seder supper for 92 people, even using some of the passengers’ traditional family recipes. We heard many, many people expressing their appreciation.
Today, added to last night’s chocolate deliveries to each stateroom, there were also a range of secular Easter celebrations: an Easter egg hunt, an Easter bonnet parade (requiring hats to be made only of items available on the ship),…
…and a fabulous Easter brunch complete with ice sculptures, bread art, a carved Parmesan cheese colosseum and sculpted cheese birds (just wow), and lots of luscious food.
While most of the ship was still eating, I caught a little bit of the entertainment staff’s sound check for their afternoon “love” performance in the atrium. The best part, in addition to getting a preview of some wonderful vocals and choreography, was watching the genuine fun these people have with each other.
The day was grey, cloudy and VERY windy as we sailed the Aegean. The Captain said the NNE winds were blowing at 45 knots, or almost gale force, and asked that we stay off the outside decks so as not to be blown overboard (just imagine the paperwork!)
One legend has it that the Aegean was named after Aegeus, the King of Athens who threw himself into it when he thought his son Theseus had been defeated by the Minotaur. Another version claims the sea was named after Aegea, a queen of the Amazons, who died in it. Either way, today we were in the waters of Greek mythology, where Jason and his Argonauts sailed during part of their search for the Golden Fleece, and the Ithacan king Odysseus made much of the great journey memorialized by Homer.
This afternoon we sailed through the Dardanelles, also known as the Strait of Gallipoli, which Wikipedia says is one of the world’s narrowest straits used for international navigation. It connects the Sea of Marmara with the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, and formed part of our route to Istanbul. Resident Historian Michael Hicks was to do the commentary for “scenic sailing”, but the waters and sky remained unrelentingly grey and decidedly unscenic (is that a word?).
We also encountered even higher winds, at 65 knots, during which time our ship listed about 4 degrees, and the pool on deck 7 sloshed water over its sides onto the deck itself. I was taking a nap and blissfully unaware, both of that and the Turkish submarine that surfaced alongside us!
Decidedly more “scenic” than the grey skies were the gorgeous Viking vocalists all dressed up for the 4 p.m. “Atrium Ballads”.
After a light dinner, during which the wait staff plied me with birthday champagne, and Chef had chocolate covered strawberries delivered to our table, we took in lots of music: Enrico Agudo on piano in the Explorer’s Lounge, and the Spectrum Viking Band in Torshavn. These fabulous musicians are all leaving us on April 25th, to be replaced by a new complement of performers. We’ve really bonded with the band over the past few months, and are going to truly miss them. We’ve promised to stay in touch, and with any luck will be reunited on a future cruise.
I had a really happy birthday.