Searching for the Vikings

Thursday, September 7 - Day 37: Not Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

I was half asleep, half awake. It was very early, still dark. What’s that? Ah, yes, Mr. Foghorn. I think he needs a full name. How about “Sonorous J. Foghorn”. Back to sleep.

We were doing our morning activities, trying to get hearts started, trying to remember our names, the usual stuff. It was foggy and rainy outside. Then the Captain came on the PA, and in his usual nautical-speak he explained that there were very high winds blowing the ship toward the dock, a dangerous situation, and that he was calling for a second tugboat to see if he could make it safely to the dock, but he warned us that he might have to abort this port visit.

A few minutes later he came back and told us, very apologetically, that he was aborting the visit to Halifax, and that he didn’t know yet what the plans for the rest of today and tomorrow were. So, as I write this, it’s ten-fifteen AM, and we are out at sea somewhere and nobody on board including, presumably, the Captain, knows where we are headed yet. The choices seem to be for the Holland America home office to find us another port of call between Halifax and Boston, or to just go to Boston a day early. Either way, a lot of plans will be upset.

We met a Canadian couple, and I heard that there were others, that was supposed to disembark in Halifax. Ouch! Also there were many people who had excursions booked in Halifax. There was a music group scheduled for tonight that plays music from Cape Breton Island, and we think they were supposed to get on in Halifax. Instead, the Group of Bagpipe players that played the other night are playing again this afternoon. They were supposed to get off in Halifax. I imagine that the phone lines are very busy in the Seattle offices of Holland America. They have to find us a port. They have to cancel all kinds of stuff. But, I’m sure that they have done this many times before. It’s called weather.

Donnie and I aren’t too upset about missing Halifax. We had been there before on a driving trip around Nova Scotia. Also, it was raining hard, so we wouldn’t really have enjoyed walking around town all that much. We would have been much more upset and disappointed if they had to skip one of the ports we really wanted to see, like Reykjavik or Qaqortoq.

Jan, you know, the Cruise Director/scapegoat, came on the PA to announce that they are hurriedly printing up new editions of “When and Where” (Yay!) and will get them to us as soon as the ink dries. They are scrambling to come up with activities to keep these Mariners occupied since they won’t be toddling into Halifax today. He also said, very emphatically that any excursions purchased for the day in Halifax would automatically be refunded and it was absolutely not necessary to go to the front desk to request refunds. We didn’t go to look, but I imagine that the front desk is inundated with irate Mariners demanding their money back, and probably complaining about many other things.

Since they hadn’t scheduled too many activities for today because they had assumed that most people would be off the ship, there isn’t much going on at the moment, so people have to sit around somewhere, maybe reading, or playing board games, or snoozing. This means that the usual comfortable seats are occupied. I walked past the Mix bar and the really uncomfortable purple and yellow high vertical backed chairs were occupied, for the first time. Poor people.

During lunch, Captain Eric came on the PA system. He re-described the scenario of attempting to dock in Halifax, using his nautical lingo, like “winds of 45 knots off the port beam” and stuff like that. He also used interesting terms about today’s sail such as “gale force winds”. As an afterthought, he casually mentioned that we will be heading to Boston and will arrive Friday evening instead of Saturday morning. What happens then, nobody is telling us, yet. More mystery.

After lunch, Donnie wanted to attend an event in the theater which was billed as “Halifax Citadel & Bagpipe Show”. This is something to do with the show we missed the other evening, given by some of the soldiers of the Halifax Citadel, an old fort. They were supposed to get off in Halifax, but since they are stuck on board, they are doing this event. How can I put this… we didn’t stay long. First a bagpiper came out and played two tunes on his bagpipe. Then a soldier came out in his very elaborate old-fashioned red uniform with a big fur hat and said he was going to lecture on the history of the Halifax Citadel. Time to leave. I really just wasn’t in the mood for a lecture on the history of the Halifax Citadel. Sorry.

It’s now early afternoon, and the ship is a rockin’. It was raining hard against the Starboard side windows a little while ago (how’s that for Mariner-talk?). Donnie and I have been sort of anxious about packing our heavy, overloaded suitcases for the end of the cruise, and so, even though we have the rest of today and most of tomorrow, we started packing all of the clothing we won’t need anymore on the cruise.

We took way too much. We had read about the Gala Nights and had packed dressy clothes, too many of them. We had worried about cold weather in Greenland and Iceland so we packed multiple layers, too many of them. I had brought my very comfortable walking shoes, a pair of dress shoes, and another pair of newly purchased waterproof walking shoes that I thought I might need because the excursion descriptions on the Holland America web site said you might need such a thing. They were extremely uncomfortable and I plan to give them to Goodwill when we get home. So, in summary, we have tons of luggage and are not looking forward to getting it from the terminal building to a cab and from the cab to the rental car, and from the rental car up into our house. But you have to do what you have to do. Maybe I should just throw those painful shoes overboard? Oh, yes, we also had to pack the 784 T-shirts we bought.

(… the minutes and hours melted away, leaving a gooey mess on the carpeting that the intrepid staff had to clean up …)

It has been foggy, rainy and windy all day. The rocking has lessened a bit. We will be docking in Boston tomorrow evening about 6:00, but, as far as we know at this point, they won’t be throwing us off the ship until the next morning. I guess they didn’t want to litter Boston with lots of little old five star Mariners wandering around in the dark looking for their bus to the airport that wasn’t leaving for twelve hours.

Here’s one last interesting tidbit for today. They reprinted the paper “Where and When” to try and reflect our new itinerary and the changes to today’s activities, but the online version wasn’t changed at all, and here’s the fun part, it shows us still in Halifax, Nova Scotia, except it isn’t Halifax, it’s Hallilfax, in big letters. Nobody corrected that. All day.