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3:12pm on Thursday, 13th September, 2012:

At Sea Again


Cruise day ten is another sea day as we travel from Messina to Bari, so I thought I'd show you some of the ship, or, as my wife calls it, boat.

First, the most irritating thing: it's is a sound, which, because I'm working from my weak and puny laptop, I can't present to you. So, there are two main places to have breakfast: upstairs on deck 14 or downstairs on deck 3. The former is a buffet and therefore quick; the latter is a service and therefore slow (but they do eggs Benedict). We're usually in a hurry to get off the ship, so eat upstairs. That's where the noise is: it's a man who goes from table to table with a trolley that has tea and coffee urns on it, announcing "coffee and tea". He does it by singing the words, "cof fee and tee-ee-ea" to the notes G G G G-A-G. It makes him sound like some 1850s char wallah in British India and it really, really grates. Sometimes he sings other words to the same tune, "good morning to yoo-ou-ou", "good morning mada-a-am", "have a nice da-a-ay" and, worst of all, the two-verse "coffee and tee-ee-ea, served by me-ee-ee". Apparently, his name is Muffin.

There is another annoying sound: the two notes that announce the arrival of a lift. They're the same two notes as the ones that start John Carpenter's theme music from Halloween. I keep wanting to continue the tune.

There are a few public rooms aboard the ship I haven't been to, principal among which is the iLounge (basically an Apple store). I'm tempted to go there to ask if the latest iPad allows you to install your own fonts, but it's usually thronging with old folk deciding that now is perhaps the right time in their life to embrace technology. I also haven't been to the activity room for teenagers, but then from the look of it neither have any teenagers. One of the worst things you can tell teenagers is that something you've provided for them is actually for them, for reasons of its being acutely patronising. The room for pre-teens, by contrast, sees a lot of use; I've walked past it, but understood the "do not enter: children at play" notice to mean I'd be prosecuted as a paedophile if I pulled out my camera. The other main rooms I haven't visited are the Aqua Spa and the Art Centre, the former because I don't regard water as any kind of therapy and the latter because I don't want to make a scrapbook of my vacation memories.

OK, so let's have some photos!

This tree grows in a large tub suspended amidship, between the banks of lifts:

The sea was rough enough today for it to be swaying. I wonder if it's some kind of clever stabilisation mechanism, like they use in buildings when there's an earthquake?

These are examples of my fellow passengers:

It's a little weird to be in the lower tenth percentile in terms of age, but judging by the photos that's where I am.

You can play Poker on one of these swish tables:

I hope you get to use actual cards and not electronic ones.

The casino has some US-style double-zero roulette wheels and some blackjack tables, but is mainly slots:

The ship's daily newspaper, Celebrity TODAY, says how much they've paid out in total so far. The latest figure is $297,226. I guess that means their profits so far are in the region of $200,000, generously assuming they cream off only a modest 40%.

There are also news sheets telling us what's going on back home, for people who haven't found BBC or Sky on their cabin's, er, stateroom's TV. You have to pick them up from Guest Relations:

Ours labours under the kind of name that a state mouthpiece would have used had we lost World War 2: Britain Today. There are several others, including Australia Today, America Today, España Hoy, América Latina Hoy, México Hoy, Brasil Hoje and The Canadian.

There are shops on decks 4 and 5 that sell all kinds of things:

The exchange rate between the pound and the dollar is about $1.50 at the moment, so a large bag of Maltesers (£3 in Sainsbury's) should cost about $4.50. They actually cost a cent short of $12. That mark-up explains why we haven't bought anything from these shops.

Just what you want to see when you go for breakfast every morning:

The ship has a lawn on the top deck at the back:

It's well-manicured but too long for playing bowls on.

There's a basketball court at the front of the ship:

I expect they don't intend to use this vessel entirely for cruises for people who have retired, but at the moment there's not a lot of basketball being played.

There are three swimming pools on the top deck, one of which is indoors:

That impressive cascade of flowers at the back would be even more impressive if the flowers were real. That said, these fountains are quite nice:

They're not quite up to Las Vegas hotel standard, but nevertheless the photo doesn't do them justice. They move around a bit and carry bolts of colour.

There's no deck 13 on the ship:

Inconsistently, this mad superstition does not extend to the numbering on lifeboats.

This work of art is directly opposite our bed:

I have no idea what it's about. The beds are rounded at the end, by the way, which means anyone of average height has to sleep either at an angle or with one of their feet hanging out.

This little basket is part of a room called The Hideaway:

People go there to sit in an assortment of quirky chairs and read.

Here's the library, where they should go to read:

It's not just a book library, though. Look what else they have:

They're on the tenth shelf from the bottom (out of twelve).

Here's where those games ought to be, the card room:

That chess set there has one black pawn taken from another, smaller set.

In the library, there's a daily Su Doku you can pick up:

According to my daughter, who does them, that one was the most tedious one so far.

We get these tempting offers on sea days:

They all have that weird bold thing going on with the font for no discernable reason.

OK, well that's all that springs to mind at the moment. Welcome to the MS Silhouette!

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Copyright © 2012 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).