Day 44 Feb 17 (Sea Day)

Lido breakfast.

Tai Chi

Vantage: Shopping. I might not have showed up if I had looked at the schedule but since I was already there I sat through Dee's (Chris' wife and fellow Vantage Tour Rep) lecture on shopping in the remaining ports for our trip. I am probably lucky I did. Dee had lots of knowledge about the types of things available and more importantly how to shop the remaining ports. The single most important tip was to NOT use credit cards in Russia! They apparently have the highest rate of credit card crime there. The second piece of advice is that we are coming to a number of ports where prices need to be negotiated.

Next was another lecture by Mike Millwood about Australia's history. We're leaving the continent/island (there is some disagreement about which it should be called) but he needed one more day to finish up the history. Today's lecture was titled "Sheep and Gold". Starting out as a penal colony with many inhabitants serving 7 or 14 year sentences for whatever crimes - mostly minor - and transitioning to a thriving free society was quite a ride I'm sure. After rocky starts with lack of supplies and poor support from Mother England, they slowly evolved into a bit of a farming and sheep ranching economy. Then, as with California and Alaska, there was gold. An Aussie who had gone to California to get rich in the gold fields returned pretty much empty handed but he noticed a similarity of geography and geology in a part of Australia to that of the gold rich area in California. Sure enough, he found gold. Australia became much more popular with free men. Settlers started coming in droves. Amazing what a little greed will do to help settle an area.

Lunch and a nap. Tough work I know....

Then I went up top to workout. Ran and did steps, etc. Trying to stay in soccer shape rather than come home in early May out of shape.

Dinner tonight was a theme dinner. Dutch Night. There were "cute" little caps for everyone. The ladies got the triangular lace trimmed white hats you have seen in pictures of Holland. The men got black caps which are similar to painters caps. We all wore ours at our table except Jack and Anita. Jack said something about baseball caps. We gave them an appropriate amount of grief and then let it go. You must pay a price for bucking the herd right?

The show was a piano player named Amber Abler. She was mediocre. Jack, Anita and I sat together and although a number of people stood at the end we sat there and only applauded politely. Both Jack and Anita are piano players. I'm just a music literate critic. I'm sure Amber didn't notice we were not standing. We were in the balcony behind some standers. I believe standing ovations are like waiter/waitress tips. They need to be earned. (OK, I usually tip a little for the worst service but you can't standing ovation just a little. You either sit or you stand.)

Jack and Anita turned in early but I went to the Piano Bar. Did I mention before how many bars we have? There was a Name That Tune competition. Unfortunately, the music was Country Western. Not my strong suit. I decided to stay and a few other people came to join me (teams are limited to 6). Well, long story short, we tied for first. I knew most of the ones we got. My teammates helped on a couple and didn't know some of the ones I knew. The prize for winning was a set of luggage straps. I is a cruise ship. Problem is they couldn't award duplicate prizes so we had to go to a tie breaker. We lost in the second round. Considering the fact that I was just playing for fun and had no thought of being really competitive I was happy even without luggage straps. I guess all my years in El Paso have taught me more than I thought. Yee-ha!

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