Pago Pago, American Samoa to Auckland, New Zealand
Our final day at sea before arriving in Auckland tomorrow morning. Judi was very pleased to note the seas flattened out, which eased the passage giving her inner ears an opportunity to settle. This is our last Sunday at sea, so today’s culinary highlight was the final Sunday Brunch, which means no dining room breakfast, as the waiters get a well deserved later start. It was also an opportunity to say our goodbyes to the many New Zealanders departing the ship tomorrow morning.
Temperature: High 20C/68F, Low 15C/59F
Wind/Weather: W’ly at 10 to 12 knots, freshening to NW’ly 30 knots. Long/low SSE’ly swell. Cloudy
Clox: Z+12 (ahead 23 hrs last night)
Throughout the day, Sea Princess maintained a SSW’ly course through the Pacific Ocean at a speed of almost 15 knots.
Finally the seas abated and we enjoyed a relatively smooth passage. The wind continued to veer, or change direction in a clockwise direction, initially W’ly at about 12 knots. Throughout the day it veered slowly to the NW and freshened to about 30 knots. The swell, experienced almost constantly since departing South America, flattened considerably to a long/low swell that provided the aforementioned smoother passage.
With the Sunday Brunch commencing at 10:30, we headed up to Horizon Court for the obligatory pots of tea, required to start the morning. We sat with Bill and Jo and chatted while enjoying juice and a few cups of tea. Returning to the cabin we quickly checked the email before heading down to the Brunch shortly before 11:00. I eagerly awaited to see how they would set up the dining room, as initially they set up a single buffet line in the centre section, at the rear of the dining room, along the dining room/galley bulkhead. In addition, they had an additional fresh pasta station. When the dining room was full, this arrangement certainly had a permanent queue waiting to enter they buffet. The first Sunday Brunch, we arrived about 11:00 and were shown directly to a table and experienced minimal queues to enter the buffet. When we departed between about 12:30 they had a queue outside the door waiting for tables and a lengthy queue at the buffet line. Apparently a number of these people complained. Personally, if we chose to eat at prime time, with 2,000 others, I would expect to wait. That’s what happens ashore. The next Brunch they tried to address the concerns raised by creating a smaller buffet, with more remote stations for carving, cheeses, breads, and desserts. Well apparently they also received complaints about this set up, as our Head Waiter, while doing his rounds asked our opinion. We had no issue with either set-up, but if we had to pick one, it would be the former single larger buffet. The Sunday Brunch is meant to be a spectacular event and we believe the single buffet is more visually appealing than numerous stations dotted around the dining room. You also have a choice to mitigate the queues, by selecting a time outside of the traditional lunch hours – come early or come late. With all the Brunches, we adjust our meal schedule and arrive about 11:00, never having issues with queues. However, if we went between 12:00 and 13:30 we would expect to queue, and if that’s an issue we could go to one of the other venues. No carved roast beef today, but an excellent selection of sushi, prawns, smoked salmon, pates and salads, which included a scallop salad. As usual they had an amazing selection of fresh breads and rolls. Desserts, yes they were in an abundance, with the table creaking, groaning and literally sagging under the weight.
We were seated at a window with another couple and two ladies. The waiter brought the menus, providing an excellent description of our options, which included the buffet, and breakfast or lunch selections prepared in the galley. We all headed to check out the buffet, with Judi, as expected ordering from the menu. The rest of us returned with a variety of selections from the buffet. One returning to the table, the other chap did not look very happy. He explained that when at the bread station, he asked the cook where to find butter, as in Horizon Court it is beside the breads. The cook responded politely that he should ask the table waiter, when another passenger slammed into his shoulder stating, “You should know that by now moron”. We all got him settled down, and to consider the source and not to let it ruin this fine culinary experience. He got over it and was most apologetic for his initial frame of mind. A very pleasant chap, a real gentleman, who would have been in his late 70’s. He also initiated conversation, as to how we have enjoyed the cruise. They are regular Princess customers and are currently in one of the premium suites, but as a result of this cruise will now be considering other cruise lines. We engaged in some excellent conversation regarding expectations and how this ship has been found sadly lacking. However, we all agreed that while the ship is lacking the crew are exceptional.
After Brunch we headed back to the cabin for a couple of hours of balcony time, enjoying the smoother seas and the wind on the other side, before heading down to the Wheelhouse Bar. Bob called earlier, cashing in his happy hour rain check from yesterday, so we met up with him and Christine at 15:00, enjoying a few hours of chin wagging and Guinness consumption. Well, at least Bob and I did Guinness, the ladies wine and OJ, but not in the same glass.
Dinner this evening was English Dinner, with pate for appy, but yet again no toast or bread served with the pate. For main course Judi and I had the prime rib, with Judi’s medium served very rare and my medium rare being raw in the middle. Those that had the lamb all complained it was extremely tough and full of sinew. When our meals were replaced they were properly cooked, but the meat, while tender was completely tasteless.
The show this evening was the ship’s singers and dancers. Since none of us have been impressed with their previous performances, we all retired to our cabins.
As another day closes, we bid you farewell, till tomorrow and hope for fair skies and following seas.