At the moment I am sitting in the Galaxy Lounge, house left, admiring the view of Yokohama just outside the window... and admire is all I'll get to do today, as we won't be getting any shore leave due to crew immigration and the disembarking of passengers. Usually I would take this time to piss and moan about not getting to go ashore, but sailing west from Africa to Asia has taken all the fight out of me. At first glance, a world cruise sounds pretty exciting... sail the globe, stop in exotic places, and buy magnets with the exotic place's name on it. However, the following statistic keeps me from bragging about my unfortunate accomplishment: in a fifty-three day voyage I stepped foot on land a total of thirteen times. Yes, that includes the overnights (two days) in New York City and San Francisco. No, that does not include Panama, where I saw land an arm's reach away, but was unable to firmly grab hold. Thirteen days on land friends... the part that might be the most frustrating is that I had already been to most of the places we hit. Still, who among us can honestly say they dislike being beaten over the head with other people's vacation pictures and stories? Nobody? Good. Here are some highlights:
Next stop was Curacao, where we only had two hours on land, and it rained the whole time... no pictures necessary.
Up next, Acapulco. Weather was hot, cerveza cold, and the cliff divers... Mexican.
You only screw up cliff diving once. Next stop was San Francisco, and what a stop it was. Met up with my buddy Matt, who used to live in San Diego, but now resides in San Jose. We met up for coffee, and he suggested that we drive inland to Sarratoga to watch Steve Martin play some bluegrass. Since I had already seen the bridge and ridden a trolley, I was down for a little something different. So, off we went to an outdoor amphitheater up in the mountains, built around an old monastery that has now become a white man's theme park (winery).
Our seats were in the middle of the third row, and the show was amazing, especially if you like banjos and bluegrass. Steve is a very accomplished picker, and is well respected in the bluegrass community. Of course, he was hysterical in between songs; his comedy reminiscent of his early stand-up days. Oh, did I mention he was born in Waco? He played two sets with the Steep Mountain Boys, then encored with the following:
Next stop, Vancouver. Nothing special, just had lunch and walked around the city. On the way back to the ship, though, I snapped this picture. Little did I know the events that would follow.
Then came more sea days, six of them... wait, five of them. You see, we had been going back so many hours as we traveled west that the Captain said “to hell with it, let's just skip a day.” So, we did. Went to sleep on a Tuesday, woke up on a Thursday. Now that's a first. After six... five sea days, we arrive in a port I can barely pronounce, let alone spell: Belize... wouldn't that be unbelizeable? No, we hit Petropavlovsk-Kamchatky, to which my spell check suggests Dnepropetrovsk-Kamchatky, which makes so much more sense. Anyway, we hit Russia. The night before we, the crew, were told not to expect shore leave because of some laws the city has set (made) up. I never quite understood why, but it had something to do with our seaman's books, of which ours are Japanese, and how that didn't count in their game of “enter the country.” The passengers, who do not have a seaman's book, are more than welcome to look around, which made the whole thing even more confusing. So, let me get this straight... one group of people only have passports, and they can enter your country. Another group of people have passports AND seaman's books, but they cannot... what the hell, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatky?
Anyway, like most things on ships, everything gets sorted out last minute, and before long I was breathing the sweet, post communist air of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatky (got that sucker on copy and paste). So, what does one do when in the former USSR?
Three more sea days and here we are, sitting outside Yokohama. Now that I finish this blog, I expect some of the passengers who had made the hundred plus day voyage have gotten off the ship (the rest are getting off tomorrow in Kobe), making room for double the amount of passengers who are about to embark on a quick cruise from Kobe back to Yokohama. As for me, tonight we open our third show, Amor. Oh! The shows! Yeah, after tonight we're three down and two-ish to go (one is a half show that from what I gather doesn't get performed a lot). So far we've opened the magic show, Magical Dreams, and the musical revue, Musicals Forever. Each show had a modest attendance, but nothing like the End-of-The-World-Cruise-Crew-Show-Extravaganza that was put on last night.
The crew talent show ended with the captain doing a six act (no kidding) samurai style (no kidding) play about how he became a captain, and how he must pass the torch to a new captain. The play ended with the captain getting stabbed through the chest with a samurai sword (no kidding), while another guy sprays red paint all over the wall behind him (no kidding). The pax in attendance, who like always, and on every ship I've been on, outnumbered the attendance of any production show done up to that point, loved the mock-death of our Captain, which is surprising since I've already witnessed them sleeping in the front row during our shows (which is something else that doesn't change from ship to ship. Show time equals nap time).
And that's going to do it for now. As a reward for another successful opening, tomorrow we get an overnight in Kobe. Hopefully that'll be when the culture shock starts.
Keep on Livin' The Dream,
(With Dorin, Costa, and Joe, the men of Asuka II's Production Cast, after a successful opening of Magical Dreams)
About a month ago I found some time to do a little singing outside of rehearsals. Kris, our lounge pianist, did a set of classical music one night, and I was a special guest (always wanted to be a special guest), singing “You Raise Me Up,” and “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life.” The latter is right below.