Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012:
We officially crossed the International Date line at 2100 last night, thus our Longitude changed from a westerly one to an easterly one in a blink of an eye. Our clocks went forward 24 hours during the night of the 19th/20th, however, the 20th ceased to exist. Guests went to bed on the night of the 19th and woke up on the morning of the 21st. Anyone with a birthday on the 20th missed out on their birthday party!
I neglected to mention that in Pago Pago, (which, I have since been informed, is pronounced “Pango Pango”), we embarked our President and CEO, Stein Kruse, his wife Linda, Gerald Bernhoft, our Director Mariners Society and Sally Andrews, VP Public Relations.
Once, each Grand World Voyage, they join the vessel for a series of events which recognise our Mariners. These are dinners, discussions and social. Today was a busy one in that respect, a talk in the Queen’s Lounge, when Stein and Gerald discussed, amongst others, the strength of the Company, future cruises throughout the world, (not just the GWV) and matters appertaining to HAL in general. Stein, Henk Mensink, (Hotel Manager) and I then had a Q&A session, answering questions from a packed audience.
Each year, there is a a themed party, this cruise it is ‘Mardi Gras’. The Lido deck, which is our deck 8, had been decorated for the event, resplendent in decorations, the central theme being a River Boat, placed over the pool, complete with paddle wheel, twin funnels and even smoke coming from them!
This had been built on board, ‘project leader’ was our 1st Engineer, Joost, ably assisted by several of the crew. It had been months in the planning, the sections being constructed on the ship.
Guests were of course, intrigued as to what this year’s theme would be and utmost secrecy was the order of the day. Initially, guests could walk through the deck, what the final theme was going to be was not immediately obvious. By the early morning, I was wondering whether the boat would be completed on time, the whole area was a hive of activity, however it always seemed that, with the deadline of 5 p.m. fast approaching, that it would require more work than time available. Later, as the theme took shape, doors were closed and guests were asked not to walk through the area.
I shouldn’t have worried of course, come 5 p.m., with the doors about to open (and our guests able to view what was in store for them), the area had been transformed.
The River boat looked outstanding, a New Orleans band, Tarot card reader, magician and ‘Balloon Head’ maker all flown in for the event, made it even more superb.
Additionally, one of our crew members, a cabin steward to be precise, Bangkit Pribadi was on hand to draw caricatures of guests. He had already drawn mine, Henk’s and Stein’s and these were on display near his podium.
The area was a riot of colour. Either side of the deck were food ‘stalls’, choices ranging from oysters and fresh seafood to sides of every conceivable item one could think of. The crew were resplendent in gold top hats, brightly coloured uniforms, complete with thousands of beads. A King and Queen, (2 of our guests) were paraded as they entered the lido, accompanied by a large number of our crew, dressed in regalia.
Guests got into the act too, dressing for the occasion in some marvelous costumes, masks and hats. The party lasted for 5 hours and, as one guest I spoke to remarked, “I have never seen so many happy people, in one place, at one time”; a very apt description of a stupendous occasion.
Our ‘balloon head’ and magician, a native of New Orleans, mentioned that initially he had reservations about taking the booking to come here, missing Mardi Gras in his hometown was not originally on his agenda. Having experienced the night on here, he was a very happy man, “as good as, if not better than the real thing”!!
My words seem inadequate when describing the scene, so perhaps some photos can assist me 🙂