Searching for the Vikings

Sunday, September 3 - Day 33: At Sea in the North Atlantic

Rockin’ and Creakin’. The boat was rocking and our room was creaking. Captain Eric had warned us of “moderate seas” yesterday. Right now, about 9:00 AM, it isn’t too bad. We had to change our clocks again last night because we are going into a different time zone. Too bad it’s the silly Newfoundland time zone. We had to set them 30 minutes back. Still, I guess it’s better than 30 minutes forward. We get 30 minutes extra sleep, or if you prefer, we get 30 minutes more time to eat before the Lido Market closes for breakfast.

Breaking bulletin… Donnie and I wanted to find a nice comfortable place to sit and write unsurpassed literary prose, so of course the usual places, like the library, were packed. So we went to the Ocean Bar, which, when it isn’t full of people waiting in line for tender tickets, is usually empty. Donnie opened her laptop to discover that the battery was at sixteen percent. What to do? Acting in my role as detective, I put on my genuine Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat, and would you believe it, found a chair right by an electrical outlet! Great work Holmes! Electrical outlets are rarer than young people on this ship. More astounding news: it’s an American style outlet, which is great because neither of us brought our outlet adapters with us from the room.

Now might be a good time to expound on the Greenlandic language. First, I am not disparaging their language. All languages seem strange and sometimes funny to the people who don’t know them. Their’s is as valid as ours, however there are things about how it is written that are hard to explain. There are a lot of Q’s. Even Nanortalik seems to have another name, Llivileq. The Q tells me that it’s not a Danish name. Almost every place name seems to have at least one Q in it. They are not followed by U’s as in English, but then again, why does English require it U after every Q? Greenlandic does seem to have a lot of U’s also, but U’s, along with other letters almost always seems to be doubled. Lots of double U’s, double A’s, double L’s, double F’s double S’s, even double Q’s. I have no idea how the pronunciation of a single Q differs from a double Q. I have seen words that had more double letters than single ones.

Some words are extremely long. Here’s one I found on a sign… nautsorssutigissariakarpordlo. I don’t know what it means. It’s probably a Greenlandic saga. Here’s another… kavdlunatsiakarsimaneranut. It might mean “Stop”. I guess they’re not place names. No Q’s.

(… the big tyrant called Time dragged us, screaming and kicking, into the afternoon …)

Donnie and I parted ways. No, not permanently, just for a couple of hours. She attended two talks, Dr. Bendel again, talking about Saturn, and another Q&A with two new Ice Pilots. I wanted some different “Onboard Enrichment” so I went to the movie theater to see “Guardians of the Galaxy. Volume 2”. I should have gone to the talks.

Just for fun, and to add several hundred words to this skimpy document, let’s discuss interior design, shall we? I’m talking about the design of the interior of some of the public spaces on this ship. I’m convinced that there were two separate designers or design teams. Why? Because there two different kinds of spaces. There are a couple of places on the ship where there are very comfortable seats, couches, relaxing decor, just the right amount of light, etc. One is the library, which they call the Explorer’s Lounge, possibly just to confuse people, and the other is the, often mentioned, Crow’s Nest.

The Crow’s Nest is also a bar, and at night has the B. B. King music venue. It has some very comfortable reclining chairs with ottomans, facing directly forward and looking out the big windows. It also has some comfortable couches. The library has big overstuffed chairs, similar comfortable couches and lots of bookshelves, well labeled and arranged by categories. It also has tables with computer screens, tables to play games on, cabinets containing board games, chess sets, backgammon sets, a big table where people work on huge jigsaw puzzles, and several large atlases.

Then, in contrast, there are several bars on deck five. They have taken what must have once been a bar and divided it into three areas, a Martini bar that only serves Martini’s made with Grey Goose Vodka (a co-marketing deal, obviously), a Champagne bar, and an ale and spirit bar, each with a slightly different decor. What’s different about these bars? They have very uncomfortable chairs, dark coloring, and low lighting. Guess what? The Crow’s Nest and the library are almost always crowded. The three bars are almost always empty. One of them has these strange purple and yellow chairs with high vertical backs and hard seats that are so uncomfortable there is almost never anyone sitting in them. What idiot picked out these chairs? Did they think that having very uncomfortable chairs in a bar would attract business and make money for the cruise line? Did they even try the chairs before buying them?

Even worse, I read online that as the Holland America ships are going into dry dock to be refitted, the two area undergoing major changes are the library and the Crow’s Nest, and that they are getting new, hard, uncomfortable chairs, and that the library is having most of its books and bookshelves removed, to be replaced by “interactive screens”. Now there is no fast reliable internet on a ship, so these “Interactive Screens” are going to have some limited, canned content, probably designed by the same idiot group that bought the hard chairs. Brilliant. I wonder if these people have ever even been on cruise ship. I wonder if they ever sit down.

You may be wondering why I haven’t written about our interesting dinner companions in a while. We grew tired of the strange ones and the talkative ones and so, for the last few days, have been eating quietly and peacefully at a table for two. Maybe we’ll grow bored and go back to sharing a table with the interesting ones.