We are having a lovely day at sea! We slept in very late, but it was still a decent hour when we got up because we had a time change last night heading towards Portugal (one hour earlier). It was cloudy and cool this morning, but the clouds have now disappeared and it was gorgeous, with calm seas and lots of sun.
Internet service has been slow today because everyone suddenly discovered it, but Steve did manage to post some photos from yesterday. After breakfast, we hung out in Baristas for a while, reading and drinking Cafe Americano (espresso diluted to drinkability with hot water). Around 12:30 we went to the Sanctuary spa on deck 14 forward (free for suite passengers) and enjoyed a soak in the hot tub, which really helped my achy joints. I couldn’t even get into a hot tub last year, so this is a minor victory.
Forgive me, but I now must have a little rant: This is our third cruise on Oceania and our second on Marina. It was not a cheap cruise, but we certainly believe we are again getting good value for our dollar. We like this ship quite a lot. However, many of our fellow passengers, with a few exceptions, are among the most whiny, fussy, entitled, spoiled brats we have ever encountered on a cruise. They gripe because there’s a cloud in the sky; they moan because the temperature is too hot or too cold or there might be a little bit of wind; they fuss because their butler is an “idiot”; they gnash their teeth over the fact that this ship “just isn’t the same as the smaller (“R”) ships, like Regatta and Nautica”; they purse their lips if the wine isn’t served before the food; they walk around with frowns because someone didn’t cater to them in an instant; they mumble because they don’t like the decor or art or have to walk to another deck to find something. We have heard people second-guessing the captain and staff because we are not going to Casablanca and didn’t go to Oporto today (yep, they know better than the captain because they are smarter and surfed the internet). We have heard this ship called a cattle car(!), and it has only 1200 passengers on a 66,000 ton vessel (very spacious, in our opinion). We have heard comparisons to Azamara and Seabourn (fine, just go on those instead so you can turn around and whine about that cruise when compared to Oceania). No experience in life is perfect and no cruise will ever be perfect. These are what I like to call “first world” problems, like having to cross the room to plug in your iPad or waiting for five minutes to disembark or having your appetizer come one minute later than someone else’s.
Something or somebody needs to shake these people (and probably us, too) out of our spoiled complacency. At times, I feel like the world is in a similar condition to the days just prior to WWII and this a ship of fools. Many of these people on-board are self-absorbed elitists who do not see the world as it is and what it may become; all of us may be looking back at something like this cruise in a few years with incredible longing because of where we might go as a nation or even how the world may evolve (it may not be a very nice place anywhere). With very few exceptions, by the way, the whiners seem to be Americans, with a large subset of the worst from the bankrupt Golden State.
Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but people should be more thankful,for what they have, instead of looking for the ultimate utopian self-gratification at every moment. Rant off..
We had our first culinary class today in the Bon Appetit Center, called the Portuguese Table. Chef Noelle Barille is now the culinary chef on Marina, working for Chef Kelly, who moved to Riviera, the newer new ship. Chef Noelle is a bit business-like, to say the least, and I am a complete moron in the kitchen, so we weren’t exactly buddy-buddy, but Steve did great, because he loves to cook.
On to the class: First, we did an appetizer with a roasted red pepper stuffed with goat cheese, walnuts and herbs and topped with panko bread crumbs. This was followed by a fish course with poached halibut (done with kalamata olives for salt, sliced peppers and onion, and shallots). This was topped with an eggplant sauce that they had prepared in advance. Very yummy!
Next we made a simple vanilla cake for dessert that baked while we did the entreé. The entree was a grilled rosemary flatbread filled with ribeye steak that was also grilled in chunks on a skewer with garlic and bay leave (soaked in water to keep it from burning). The meat was rolled in the flat bread with a puri puri sauce (very hot pepper sauce).
We had a little Malbec with the early courses and a vintage port with the cake. This was very fun and we actually got a copy of the recipes! I did more work than I thought I would do and did it ok, so I guess I’m not a complete dunce. Our only gripe – we had to gulp our food, instead of having time to really enjoy it.
We don’t need dinner tonight, so we are going to relax and goof around on our iPads or read. Our navigational course today was interesting – we are about 15 km off the west coast of Portugal, heading exactly due south (180 degrees). While we were in the culinary class, Steve noticed a destroyer passing by us in the same direction going faster and he saw a helicopter take off from the deck. It might have been one of ours. If so, God bless those who protect our freedoms.
More from Lisbon tomorrow….