Zaandam – October 5 – Day 2

The general rule of thumb when it comes to the ships, is that if I’m eating breakfast onboard, it’s likely through room service because otherwise, the incredible mattresses allow me to sleep until easily 11:00am or later regardless of when I turn in for the night. This morning, there was no birthday breakfast (it was intentional) but after we started stirring and cleaned up it was lunch in the Lido Restaurant (fish and chips, fresh melon and pineapple) followed by some lounging in the sun with an ipod and a bucket of beer, courtesy of the incredible and efficient Geoffrey from the Pinnacle Grill the previous night.

Here’s a piece of trivia you don’t know about me. I was born at 2:04pm.

At about 1:45 we went back to the room and dropped off the extra beers and I was told that we “HAD to go to the atrium” but absolutely no reasoning was given.

Here’s a piece of trivia about the Zaandam. As you’ve seen from a previous post, Zaandam’s magnificent 3-story Pluer band organ plays beautifully, but it only plays on sea days. Typically at 11:00, 12:00, 2:00 and 3:00. And as we’re in the beautiful port of Victoria, there’s no way it’s playing today.

So, here we are, standing by the organ in front of the Front Office at 4 minutes after 2, the organ starts playing ‘Rock Around the Clock’ followed by the entire Front Office staff “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” … to which I’m sure I turned beet red, walked around the organ from various angles to see which of the sculpted characters moved and was just overall taken aback by the fact that someone was able to pull off a surprise like that and that the ship, especially Travis the Event Manager onboard, was so willing to help accommodate. After the song, numerous people in the vicinity that heard the birthday wishes came by to wish me a happy birthday. Another great thing about our ships and Mariners. Everyone is family onboard!

Now that in itself would have been a wonderful enough way to celebrate my birthday, but another colleague onboard had invited several of us to her room as well as that of her friends room next door at 4:30 for the 5:00 sail away to a huge spread of various breads, smoked salmon and cream chesse, numerous wines and incredible views from their verandahs. The sunset was gorgeous, we saw numerous what we believed to be dolphins (or some other type of porpoise), and sailed up the Strait of Juan de Fuca and toward the open ocean. At 7:00 we excused ourselves and got ready for dinner. At 7:50 we left the room, and I left a brief note for our room steward Hatta:
“Hi Hatta. Today’s my birthday and I absolutely LOVE the towel animals. Is there any way you could make a couple extra for the room tonight? Thanks!” Hold that thought! I’ll come back to it later.

At 8:00 we were in the Upper Rotterdam Dining Room and enjoyed an incredible meal. As these coastal cruises don’t have their own specific regional cuisine, the dining room was giving everyone a sampler of what to expect on both Alaskan and warm weather cruises.

Dinner went as follows:
Appetizer: Glacier Bay Seafood Cakes – moist and flavorful with a whole grain mustard sauce
Soup: Chilled Watermlon – garnished with fresh mint, cool and refreshing
Entree: Land and Sea – a perfectly cooked filet mignon and jumbo prawns with vegetables and mashed potatoes
Dessert: Several dining staff came by the table with a very moist and rich birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday, although it was the Indonesian version which I had never heard before and loved!
Additionally, a bottle of champagne was sent to the table to accompany dessert which I shared with all of my tablemates. (Another coworker and her parents from the Pinnacle Grill the previous night)

After dinner, we got great seats on the lower level of the Mondriaan Lounge and watched the group ‘Tribute’ perform. These four guys have been together for EIGHTEEN years and were able to perfectly execute about a dozen songs made famous by The Temptations. Performances I have seen previously on ships have been comedy (and/or) magic shows or cast shows with the ship’s singers and dancers. Being able to see a truly high quality live concert onboard, on my birthday was the absolute BEST! After the show we went up to the Crow’s Nest for a couple cocktails, met and spoke with Michelle the Cruise Director for quite a while, had some birthday drinks including a couple B-52 shots, and my favorite gin cocktail (edit: the only gin cocktail I’ll touch) from a mixology class on a previous cruise, the South Seas Aviation – and had an enjoyable end to the evening.

Well, we thought the evening was over…
We get back to the room, and as we walk in we see a towel animal monkey hanging from the window on a hanger with sunglasses on. Great! I LOVE the monkey towel animal.

[Another step into the room]

Oh, and it looks like Hatta made a second one over by the monkey on the far corner of the bed.

[Another step into the room]

Scratch that! Hatta has literally COVERED the bed with towel animals. Besides the monkey we had an elephant, a dog, a huge lizard, a frog, and… well, just take a look for yourself! Not to mention a dragonfly the next night and a stingray the final night onboard. Hatta is truly gifted, and was greated by a hug and pat on the back and a loud “You’re AWESOME! Thank you so much!” the next morning.

My 28th birthday, onboard the beautiful and elegant Zaandam was one for the records!

But what will I be able to do on the next 2 sea days to keep the momentum up? Stay tuned!

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One Response to Zaandam – October 5 – Day 2

  1. Carla says:

    Thank you for this running commentary on your trip. And happy belated birthday.

    We’ll be sailing our first HAL cruise, and on the Zaandam, in February and I too will be celebrating my birthday while onboard (as well as our anniversary and a vow renewal). I can’t think of a better way to celebrate and your trip recap is definitely helping get me excited about our trip (as if I need any help!)

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