Valentine’s Day in the Pacific Ocean

Today we woke up at around 830 and made our way up to the Lei making class on the Lido deck. A perfect Valentines Day activity. There were about 10 tables with individual piles of purple orchids in front of each chair. I claimed an couple of chairs at an empty table near the back. Michael went to the buffet to get some breakfast (aka bacon) and coffee so we would have some fuel for the gym later. HAL seems to have brought onboard some Hawaiian locals to teach us the culture of the South Pacific. From learning to Hula to playing the Ukelele to history lectures, the attempt to educate us happens several times a day.

I have tried to make leis before but it turns out it is much easier with the proper tools. The long 8 inch needle skewered the tender flower and I pulled them down the long thread, one by one. Then I got brazen and started doing 3 or 4 at a time. In the end, I think I must have threaded 40 flowers onto my lei. I was very proud of it and decided to make another one, since there were several unclaimed piles. No use in wasting the precious flowers, and I had a feeling there would be someone who I could give it to later. Lei making is actually a real profession and to get a job doing it, you must be able to make 60 leis an hour. Thats one a minute. Thats about quadruple the time it took me. I guess I will keep my day job. Michael and I lei’d each other and then kissed, which is the tradition.

From the lido deck, Michael went to the room to drop off our crafts, and I headed up to the gym to start my workout. I was pleased to see the nearly empty room, and had my pick of any of the dozen treadmills. On other longer cruises I have been on, there have been serious issues in the gym. Gym rats can be quite temperamental when someone is messing with their routine. I remember my 40 day cruise to Asia years ago and having to fight every day for a machine, no matter what time of day it was. If you went so much as one minute past your allotted 20 minute allowance, there was a line of anxious cardio freaks boring holes into your back with their evil stare. So, it was quite a relief to see that this cruise would be much more chillaxed. I hopped on my machine, set up my Macbook Air and interval trained while catching up on my favorite cooking shows. Michael showed up a few minutes later and did his routine. It was a good morning.

We enjoyed a lovely lunch in the dining room, where the staff was busy decorating with hundreds of red balloons for the special day. We got lucky with a table for two by the window and were able to watch the frothy, hypnotic wake trail behind the ship. I was particularly pleased with my salad which is one thing a lot of cruise lines drop the ball on. HAL seems to take special care, adding juicy bits like pecans, avocados, cherry tomatoes and goat cheese. I had my perfectly baked tilapia on top of my fresh greens for a perfect light lunch.

We ended up switching rooms with our neighbors and I took the opportunity to gift the extra lei we made to the young lady. She was excited and touched so it made the move a little less tedious. After the “movement”, we decided to head up to the library which is quickly becoming one of our favorite spaces.The Explorer Lounge is one of the most inviting libraries I have encountered on any cruise ship. It’s very well laid out and has quite a large selection of books, board games, and magazines. There are tons of leather couches, comfy chairs and computer terminals. People are playing cards, puzzling over jigsaws, constructing emails to their grandkids, perusing the bookshelves, and even sleeping. There is a nice low murmur of people chatting littered with hearty laughter, with the occasional snoring added for good measure. It’s a very laid back vibe. Smack dab in the middle is a coffee shop serving specialty coffee. If it weren’t for the faint binging and ringing of the slot machines in the casino down the hall, it would be perfect.  We plopped down in a couple of Herman Miller chairs facing the large picture windows looking out into the calm Pacific ocean. I found Michael an Anthony Bourdin (his hero) book to read and I was able to catch up on my writing.

We had a little nap then readied ourselves for our first formal night. Michael wore a tux and I wore a long skirt with a long flowy top. On the way into the Rotterdam restaurant, all the ladies were given roses, of every different color of the rainbow. Mine was coral colored with pink edged petals. It matched my skirt perfectly. We enjoyed a tasty romantic valentines dinner before taking a stroll through the ship. I found a cute purse covered in elegant shells, that was on clearance for $15 (less than half price) in one of the shops. Michael noticed that it was precisely the one I have been lusting after on every other cruise we have been on. (almost every cruise ship, no matter the line, carry almost all the same stock in the shops) I never let myself buy it because it is not a need, but a want, and always overpriced. But today it was underpriced AND it matched my outfit, so there was no question it should be mine. Plus, my iPhone fit snugly inside like a bug in a rug. Bonus!

We headed back to the cabin and while I was perusing the list of a thousand DVD’s for borrowing, I learned that Michael has never watched Gladiator. I called the front desk and it happened to be in. I know it’s not really a romantic movie but it certainly is a classic for me. I was happy to share it with him and though I have seen it before, several times, I was surprised how well it kept my attention. The TVs onboard are not the newest or best quality so many of the gory fight scenes were quite dark and hard to see. Probably for the best. I can’t stomach violence on the best of days. Overall, it was a fun and romantic Valentines Day at sea.

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