Got up at eight o’clock this morning, and went out on the balcony to see what the weather was like. Although it was a blue sky and the sun was out, the brisk sea breeze made it colder than you would expect.
We decided to have our breakfast in the self-service Windows Café and I enjoyed the unlikely but tasty combination of Eggs Benedict and corned beef hash, washed down with orange juice and good hot coffee. Sitting by the window, we were mesmerised by the sight of the Azamara Pursuit gliding along on a glittering and sparkling Mediterranean sea. There was no land anywhere in sight and only the occasional cargo or cruise ship on the horizon, but we weren’t able to identify them on MarineTraffic as we had switched off internet access on our phones so as to avoid massive charges from using the Cellular at Sea ship’s network.
After breakfast we went out on deck and had a wander around in the sunshine. The Windows Café leads straight out onto the aft decks via sliding glass doors and we stood and watched the ship’s wake for a while (who could ever tire of that sight?) before continuing to explore.
We walked around the pool deck and right up to the topmost part of the ship near the funnel. The wind was quite strong which made it slightly uncomfortable, and certainly prevented us from returning to 6062 for our cossies. Indeed, no-one was in the pool and many people who were stretched out on the sun loungers had prudently covered themselves in towels or sun-hats; the sun would still be fierce despite the wind lulling you into a false sense of security. 😊
We didn’t really do an awful lot today, nothing that would make for interesting or exciting reading. It was just one of those pleasant days where you have nothing to do and all day to do it in, and we loved the feeling of not having to look at a clock, and just being able to please ourselves. It also gave me a chance to catch up on my reading; I had loaded plenty of Kindle books and magazines onto my iPad and, of course, it allowed me to update this blog. 😊
At 11.50am, Captain Mikael Palmroos made an announcement that the ship would shortly be slowing to a halt to test out their bow thrusters. This is not something that they can do in port (if you’re using the bow thrusters in port, then you are using them for real) so, with the good weather and calm seas we were experiencing, it was an ideal time to test them. The captain’s announcement was just to let us know that we could experience some vibrations while the test was going on.
At noon, after the captain had given the usual midday navigational information, an announcement was made that a barbecue was being served up on Deck 9, the pool deck, so we decided to go up there for lunch.
We joined the short queue and picked up a plate and napkin each. The array of chargrilled meats and vegetables looked (and smelled) really appetising, and we helped ourselves to pork ribs, chicken, lamb chops, sausages and burgers, along with crisp salad and a selection of sauces and relishes. Finding a table in the shade, we sat down and ordered a cold beer to accompany our meal, and the resident band Lucky Charm struck up with some catchy songs. It was really, really great to be on board this lovely ship and we looked around at our fellow passengers and the smiling crew members with content.
After lunch we spent some time watching a fruit and vegetable carving demonstration from the talented chefs; it was so imaginative how an ordinary beetroot or carrot could be turned into a work of art.
There’s something about good food, cold beer and hot sun that has a soporific effect, and afterwards we returned to 6062 for a half hour power nap. Then, at two o’clock, we decided to go along to the dance class in the Cabaret Lounge, thinking it would be the usual ball room or Latin class. However, it was something completely different – a dance rehearsal in preparation for the well-publicised “White Night” later on in the cruise. White Nights are a feature on all Azamara ships; as their name suggests, everyone dresses in white and the decks and lounges are all festooned in white decorations and white tablecloths and napkins – the whole effect is wonderful. It’s a big party night, so today’s dance class was a rehearsal for three dances it was hoped the passengers would join in! 😊
The first one was a sort of line dance to a song called Electric Slide – I’d never heard it before. Our dance instructor, Amanda, led us through the dance step by step, until we were able to dance it through to the music.
Next, we had to learn the Village People’s YMCA. However it wasn’t just a case of making the shapes of the letters with your arms as is usually done, but there were extra steps and extra hand gestures – it was really good fun. Once again, we went through the dance step by step until everyone was confident enough to do it to the music, and we all went through our paces with gusto. 😊
The final dance was to Abba’s Dancing Queen. Again, we had steps to learn as well as extravagant arm gestures and signs. It was all such a laugh and, if nothing else, was a bit of exercise. We looked forward to doing the dances again during the cruise.
At four o’clock, we went along to a question-and-answer session featuring Captain Mikael Palmroos and some of this officers; the Chief Officer, Chief Engineer, the Hotel Director and someone from Human Resources. The floor was open to the passengers to ask any of the staff questions about the ship, their careers or cruising in general. It was an interesting half hour with some good questions asked, and not some of the irrelevant or stupid questions we’ve heard in the past.
We then returned to our stateroom to get showered and changed and ready for dinner. I wore a bright floral off-the-shoulder dress that I’d bought in Hawai’i in 2019, with glittery wedge sandals I’d bought in Bangkok in 2010. 😊
We always like to dine fairly early on to give our dinner time to get down, so we made our way to the Discoveries Restaurant about 6.30pm; there are no set tables so you don’t always have the same table companions. This time we were joined by a pleasant couple from Swindon; the guy was ex-Army and had been based at Catterick, so he had visited Durham often.
Once again we enjoyed a delicious meal washed down with chilled house wine and finished off with coffee and liqueurs. I was glad my dress had a shirred elastic panel in the back of it!! 😊
We finished our dinner around 8.30pm but, as the Cabaret lounge didn’t open its doors until 8.45, we each got a drink and sat in a comfortable armchair in the adjacent Den, watching until the queue for the show lounge started moving. Then we went in and made a beeline for our “usual” seats in readiness for the Captain’s Toast followed by the cabaret.
At 9.00pm the Finnish captain was clapped onto the stage to the strains of Anchors Aweigh! and was introduced by the cruise director Ernest Marchain. He gave an amusing little speech in his excellent English, and introduced all his senior officers one by one. When everyone was present, a waiter brought a tray of champagne glasses, each officer took one, and toasts were made with the officers and the passengers alike all raising their glasses and saying “Skal” – the Finnish word for “cheers”.
The featured entertainment tonight was called “Direct from Vegas” and starred cruise director Ernest who, like many cruise directors, had previously worked as a singer and dancer in the entertainment industry. His show was excellent, and consisted of musical numbers from many of the big Broadway and West End shows. We enjoyed the performance a lot.
Then it was up to the Living Room again to listen to Lucky Charm and pass the time pleasantly with our fellow passengers. The Living Room was a lot quieter than it was last night – maybe everyone had had too much sun or too much booze (or both) and were having an early night. We ourselves just had a couple of drinks and returned to 6062 before midnight. In any case, we would gain an extra hour in bed because the clocks were due to go back one hour at 2.00am, to Italian time. 😊 Settling down in our big comfortable bed after leaving the balcony door slightly ajar, we fell asleep in pleasant anticipation of our first port of call tomorrow – Giardini Naxos, in Sicily.