We passed thru a rain shower early this morning and the promenade deck and railings were still wet and misty as I stepped outside to start my walk around deck 3. Isolated thunderstorms could be seen in the distance along with an occasional bolt of lightning followed by a peel of thunder. Thunderstorms over the ocean are fairly unusual, but these storms may have originated over land and then moved out to sea. Fortunately, after their early morning appearance, we didn’t see any more storms the rest of the day.
It was hot and muggy early in the morning and would remain hot and muggy all day. The air-conditioning inside was working great so staying inside was an easy choice.
Good Morning Amsterdam started ½ hour early due to a scheduled crew training exercise and consequently was lightly attended as many people don’t read the daily On Location guide carefully where the change was published. Gene also mentioned this change after each show last night, but there are many people who don’t go to the shows so it is easy miss changes in start times to regularly scheduled events if you don’t check daily.
Greg Andrew, the previous evenings entertainer, was the guest on Good Morning Amsterdam this morning. Greg played classical piano for 20 years before he started his Elton John Experience show 7 years ago. He has never met Elton John, but did meet his band backstage last year at a show in London. We were surprised to learn that even Elton John’s band never sees Elton John other than on stage during performances.
Coastal Pilot Gerrit-Jan Hulsebos presented a lecture on life as a Great Barrier Reef Coastal Pilot. Every vessel carrying hazardous cargo or over 70 meters in length is required to use a pilot whenever transiting the Great Barrier Reef. Pilots were originally required by the owners of ships back in the 1800’s to protect their vessels from damage whenever transiting restricted waters. Today pilots are required by land based authorities to protect sensitive marine areas and harbor facilities. Gerrit-Jan Hulsebos used to work on cruise ships, but after getting married he elected to work as a pilot to avoid as much travel and time away from family.
Our Cruise Critic Roll Call group’s second Meet and Greet was held in the Crow’s Nest at 10:30. HAL provided coffee, tea, water and an assortment of pastries and set up a microphone with a speaker system. We didn’t invite any officers this time nor did any attend. Attendance was probably off by 50% from the first meeting, around 75 people, so we filled a corner of the Crow’s nest nicely. It is interesting how you are always seeing some people around the ship, usually those with similar interests, all the time. However, a few folks seem to vanish, only to reappear at the Meet and Greets. People do tend to get into routines and many times your paths may never cross, so it was nice to see some of the people again that we have met on the Roll Call. We welcomed the 3 new couples who joined us in Sydney and recognized 2 in our group who each won one of the three categories in the Photo Contest for the first segment; CruisinS and Cavediving. A member of the group also reminded folks to put a note on your door requesting no service during our upcoming Indonesian ports so our cabin stewards can have more time ashore visiting their families as many of them are from Indonesia. He went on to say that simply putting the privacy sign in the key slot was insufficient as they could not check off that room as complete, without a specific note, before their scheduled quitting time.
The Casino held the final round of the Blackjack tournament today at 1pm. The tournaments have a series of three qualifying rounds over three days. The top two people from each of the first two days will then join the top three from the last day to form the final group of seven players. Each player receives $1500 in Play Chips (Entry fee is $10) and the person with the most chips after seven hands wins. There is a little strategy toward the last hands – sorta like on “Final Jeopardy” – where the chip leader with a commanding lead will wager very little while those in 2nd place will bet all they have to try and win on the final hand. After my 7 hands I doubled my stack to $3000, which was enough to be on the leader board for a bit, but I was eventually knocked off. As a rule of thumb it usually requires you to end up with 3 times the initial stack of chips, $4500 in this case, to move on to the next round.
I didn’t win at Texas Hold’em today as I was beat out by someone with an Ace-9 against my Ace-7 and the flop was Ace-9-7. We both went “All In” and he ended up with the better hand.
Donna, the Culinary Arts Center host, held a class on tying Sarongs in the Wajang Theater this afternoon. People from the shops were conveniently in place if you wanted to purchase one as well. The class was fun with about 20 people attending.
The seven of us who eat at Table 52 decided to meet at 7pm in the Casino to try our luck at Roulette. Only one of us in our group has played before and we decided that playing our room numbers e.g. SIX TWO ZERO SIX (as three separate numbers) would be a great starting strategy. We went on to play graduation years, birthdays, black, red or whatever – Roulette is pretty simple and the Casino staff gave us a quick lesson before we started. The TWO in our room number won with the first spin! Judy and I each played different colors as you trade in your normal casino chips for special Roulette chips of different colors so the dealer can properly allocate winners once the numbers get crowded with many bets. We spent about 1 hour playing before dinner and everyone was pretty much staying even – but our table mate Rick put down a monster bet on black for the last spin. Unfortunately the ball ended up landing on a red number. Nevertheless a good time was had by all and it was the most action the roulette wheel saw all cruise.
We had some amazing Fish and Chips for dinner this evening. Five of us ordered them and we were all very impressed by the flakiness of the fish and the light batter – deep fried to perfection. Mass produced Fish and Chips usually end up with batter a little too thick with the fish overcooked so we were all pleasantly surprised to find these so delicious.
Patrick Murray, the ventriloquist, did a second show and was much better this time around. His act was funnier with his delivery much crisper.
Tomorrow we will be in Darwin from 10AM to 8PM.
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