Day #260 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…The time can’t come soon enough…

We were with friends Lisa and Barry, enjoying one last night together on the ship in a private sitting in the wine room.

Today’s photos are from a South American cruise in 2017, again with friends Lisa and Barry, as we shared an exquisite evening dining in the “wine room” as their guests. For more on the post, please click here. The food and wine were “over the top.”

No doubt, we have a little apprehension about traveling for almost two days when we depart India on January 12th. At this point, we have no idea how comprehensive the precautions will be at the Mumbai airport in the middle of the night, the four-hour layover in Dubai, the airport, hotel, and taxi in Johannesburg, and the fight on the smaller plane for the arrival in Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger airport, eventually picking up the rental car, for the hour-long drive to Marloth Park.

The wine room was filled with rows and rows of exceptional wines.

We can only hope and pray we arrive in Marloth Park on the 13th without having contracted Covid-19. It’s a little scary. With the first two flights on Emirates Airlines, we’ve read they have been taking extra precautions, but we still have to deal with everything in between.

On our own, we’ll be taking several precautions, wearing masks, face shields, rubber gloves, and using hand sanitizer. We may decide we won’t eat on the flights to avoid touching the trays. We’ll change our gloves frequently. Also, we don’t plan to drink many, if any, liquids during the flight to avoid using the bathroom. I’m sure over the next few weeks, we’ll come up with more precautions as we continue to research.

That night, Tom was having a great time, dining in the private “wine room” in the Tuscan Grill with Lisa and Barry.

As for the time between now and January 12th? Hum… challenging. This morning there was a note slipped under our door notifying us of a big party at the hotel tonight and to be prepared for noise until midnight. Also, with the party imminent, our entire floor appears to be totally booked.

While walking this morning we encountered no less than a dozen guests, half wearing face masks and the others, not. In each case, as soon as I could see a guest without a mask, I stopped dead in my tracks to stare at them. If they don’t put on a mask or return to their room to do so, I shout out, every single time, “Please put on a face mask!” Most comply. If they don’t, I turn around and head the other way.

An antipasto board was served to each couple.

At times, I’ve returned to our room when a dozen guests or more are waiting for the lifts, half or more of whom aren’t wearing masks and are yelling and talking loudly. No way will either of us get close to such individuals or groups. Often, guests are leaving their rooms to visit a guest in another room. Even, in those cases, I tell them to put on a mask.

At this point, I don’t care what people “think” of this crazy woman walking the corridors all day, telling people to wear masks. The hotel has told each and every guest that masks must be worn when outside their rooms. When we report a lack of compliance to the managers, they also are frustrated and don’t know what more they can do when they’ve explained the mandatory mask policy to every guest at check-in, including providing them with a printed notice of COVID-19 precautions and requirements.

One of the great wines we enjoyed last night.

We wonder if, after a party like tonight, the staff will become infected when guests refuse to wear masks at parties, weddings, and celebrations. At this point, we no longer go downstairs to pay the bill. We ask them to bring the bill and portable credit card machine to us.

We wear a mask and gloves when processing the bill outside our room door, don’t touch anything but the printed copy, and our credit card, along with two new plastic room keys which we sanitize after we’re done. When food is brought to our room twice a day, we don’t allow the server to enter the room. Tom handles the one tray and stainless steel covered plates of food. We wash our hands again after touching the steel covers and tray.

Tom’s minestrone soup.

This morning, somehow the kitchen forgot to bring our breakfast order. An hour and a half later, they called and asked why we hadn’t ordered. We had. Finally, 90 minutes later our breakfast arrived. We don’t know how this happened, other than the fact that so many guests are here and dining in the dining room and the staff was busy.

The room next door to us has a phone’s notification vibration occurring every 10 to 15 minutes. Hopefully, by tonight the guest(s) will be considerate enough to turn off the notifications on their phones. At least 25 times after 11:00 pm, we’ve had to call the front desk asking them to tell the guest to turn off the notifications. It wakes us up each time it goes off. The walls are paper-thin. Right now, after 1:00 pm, we can hear people yelling in the corridors. I hesitate to go out for my next scheduled walk. Oh, dear.

My filet mignon, cooked rare, was exceptional.

Thanks for listening to me whine again. The time can’t come soon enough. I keep reminding myself, day after day, how much time is left, which as of today is 36 days. I can’t wait for a big steak, a glass of dry red wine, a big bag of pellets, and the blissful companionship of our human and animal friends.

Tom’s ribeye steak was also cooked to perfection.
Tom’s dessert of homemade doughnuts, cherries, and vanilla ice cream.

We hope all of you are holding up well amid the ongoing madness of COVID-19. When will it all end?

Photo from one year ago today, December 8, 2019:

In Marloth Park on this day in 2013, this male zebra stood under the carport for quite some time, watching over the other males. For more photos, from one year ago, please click here.

Leaving Suva, Fiji today for the vast open sea… A peek at early cruise ship history…

Despite their increasing success, these early cruises, called “excursions,” were challenging to plan with existing ships. Constructed as ocean liners, they did not meet the requirements of the pleasure-seeking market. In addition, they offered few amenities aboard. 

Note:  Due to the poor signal, formatting has been challenging for today’s post, especially when copying information from another site. We apologize for the spacing and font differential throughout the post.

With the ship refueled and provisions in the final stages of the loading process, Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas will be departing Fiji around 5 pm. However, as mentioned in yesterday’s post, we have thousands of sea miles ahead of us.

We can only imagine what it must have been like generations ago for travelers to make their way a much longer and more hazardous journey across the season.

In perusing online, I stumbled across this site with the fascinating story of the world’s first cruise line. For those who prefer not to click on links, here are a few morsels directly from that article with photos.
SS Albert Ballin was an ocean liner of the Hamburg-America Line launched in 1923 and named after Albert Ballin, visionary director of the line who had killed himself in despair several years earlier after the Kaiser’s abdication and Germany’s defeat in WW 2.  In 1935 the new Nazi government ordered the ship renamed Hansa (Ballin having been Jewish).

The German shipping magnate Albert Ballin was responsible for turning Germany into a world leader in ocean travel before World War I. It was Ballin who also invented the pleasure cruise in 1891.

Born in Hamburg on 15 August 1857, Albert Ballin was destined to become a pioneer in making ocean travel a more pleasant, even luxurious experience. 

As a Jew, for most of his life, he would walk a fine line between social acceptance and scorn. But the “Kaiser’s Jew” long enjoyed financial and political prominence before falling out of favor and being branded a traitor to Germany as the First World War and his own life drew to their bitter end in 1918. Born in a poor section of Hamburg, Ballin (pronounced BALL-EEN) had achieved greatness and strongly influenced the passenger ship industry by taking his own life at age 61. A decade before Albert Ballin’s birth, the company he would later head, the Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (Hapag), had been founded on 27 May 1847, to operate a faster, more reliable liner service between Hamburg and North America, using the finest sailing ships. At that time, a “fast” east-to-west Atlantic crossing took about 40 sailing days. The return voyage, with favorable west winds, required “only” 28 days.

Nevertheless, there was stiff competition for passengers on the North Atlantic route. Internationally, shipping lines in Britain and Prussia (after 1871) fought to attract passengers, but there was also competition within Germany between the port cities of Bremen (Bremerhaven) and Hamburg. In 1856 Hapag, under its first director, Adolph Godeffroy, put its first steamship, the Borussia, into service, becoming the first German shipping firm. As time went by, coal-powered steamships would cut the travel time between Hamburg and New York down to just six or seven days.”
For our “history buff” readers and the remainder of the story, please click here.  We found the story interesting causes us to appreciate further the quality of the experiences we’ve had during this period in our lives with advanced design, amenities, convenience, and technology.
During many conversations with passengers on this cruise and others, a common topic of discussion has been how modern conveniences and technology have greatly enhanced travelers’ desire to see the world in part by cruise ship.
For us, it’s added considerably to our ability to visit more countries in shorter periods.  Although ports of call stops are often for only one day, it allows the traveler to sample the flavor and persona of the city and a country.
However, our opportunities to stay in many countries for more extended periods have provided us with a perspective that often proves to be very different than one might experience in a single day or two (such as these two days in port in Fiji).  
If anything, our longer stays while immersing ourselves in the culture and lifestyle of the locals leave us appreciating and feeling more inspired than when we may spend a mere day in any location while on a cruise. 
Over these past two days, we’ve had an opportunity to share some of our Fiji lifestyle stories after spending four months on two islands, Vanua Levu and Viti Levu, both very different while having similar friendly Fijian nature of its fine people.
Photos of the ship and her public rooms – as seen in Scientific American.
Fiji consist of 332 islands (of which 106 are inhabited) and 522 smaller islets. The two most important islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, which account for about three-quarters of the country’s total land area.”

So off we go, to the Pacific Ocean, finally after almost two years departing the South Pacific. We’ve had quite an adventure and yet look forward to the next leg of our journey.

Tomorrow, when we return here to post, we’ll be on our way, hoping to share the excitement as we head toward Hawaii for three days visiting three ports of call. But, funnily, it will feel like going home after spending eight months in the islands.

Back at you soon.

Photo from one year ago today, April 30, 2016:
One year ago, no photos were posted when the Wi-Fi signal on the ship, Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas.