Norwegian Star, PhD@Sea Cruise...Second Day at Sea

The day started with breakfast in the dining room, and then our big "behind the scenes" tour. We got a fascinating look, not just at the galleys, but all the storage, refrigeration and prep areas. We're not talking a couple of walk-in refrigerators here, but dozens, divided into fish, poultry, beef, vegetables, etc. They don't just buy steaks, or fish fillets...they get the whole animal and do the cutting and prepping on board, so each of those walk-ins is attached to a prep room with tables and sinks, etc...quite an operation. Then on to the Laundry, with washers and dryers you could stand up in. I think the guy there said the biggest washer would hold 600 pounds of linen. I am pretty sure I don't OWN 600 pounds of linen. And then there are the folding machines...very cool. Two guys feeding sheets in one end, and another guy stacking the crisply folded sheets shooting out the other end. We also went backstage at the main showroom, and to the dressing rooms. I have a whole new respect for the entertainers and their costume changes...the dressing rooms are up two short flights of stairs and down a hallway with a couple turns. So, they are not only changing those outfits and getting back on stage they are running stairs both ways, too...

Anyway, after the big tour we had a couple sessions with the staff. Rather than a bridge tour, the First and Second Officers/Navigation came in and did a brief lecture on the navigation of the ship. Then the Captain, Staff Captain, Engineer, Hotel Director and Cruise Director did a Q & A. Captain Lars is a crackup. He has, I think he said, 16 years in the cruise ship business, but 40 years as a merchant seaman, working everything from tankers and freighters to ferrys and tugboats. As he put it, he has captained everything but a canoe. He had tales of stowaways on freighters, and pirates in the Strait of Malacca, and funny with it. The Engineer described how the routine maintenance of the 4 main engines was done, and how they are totally rebuilt, on a regular basis, while the ship is working, along with all the statistics on power consumption of the floating city that is a modern cruise ship. They all agreed that cruise ships are infinitely more fun than freighters. In describing how quickly the could come to a stop, if necessary (about .2 miles), the Staff Captain called them the Ferrari of shipping. The Hotel Director and Cruise Director answered a lot of questions about staffing and turnover, and all that sort of thing. In all, it was a very interesting look at all that goes in to making cruising work. And they all seemed very enthusiastic about their jobs, and NCL.

After the session I had lunch in the buffet, and then bopped around for a bit, talking to people and getting some pictures of the ship. At 4 I did a video thing, down in the casino, which may or may not be on YouTube...we'll see. Then I got dressed for dinner, and hung out at Gatsbys listening to the piano man. He really is quite good, and I really wish NCL had a real piano bar. The lack of audience interaction/participation is something I really enjoy, and miss...too many Carnival cruises in a row, I suppose.

After a pretty good turkey dinner, I headed down to the casino with some friends, and played those silly penny slots (oh, the lengths I will go to, to impress a girl...) didn't get a jackpot, or even close. Then a bad turn at roullette, and an equally bad turn on the video poker. It obviously wasn't my night, so I decided to check out The War of the Sexes. Loosely based on Family Feud, with all the men on one side, and all the women on the other. Lot's of fun. You probably won't be surprised to hear the women won...it seems they usually do. After the game, I decided to call it quits, early...it's been a busy week, and more classes tomorrow, bright and early...


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