Life Aboard the Stranded Westerdam, part 2

February 10, 2020

Where did I leave off? Oh, yes… 7 knots in the Philippine Sea…

The Captain had said to us that Holland America was working closely with the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Navy and all local authorities to find a solution. So, when the ship’s course started heading into the Pacific Ocean directly for Guam, We the People were terribly excited! Not only land, but United States soil! Excellent. Palm trees were in our future.

Nope. After a few hours, the ship changed course and started heading southwest toward the coast of Vietnam. Definitely not flying out of Guam strapped into a C-130s jump seat. Darn it.

In addition to the day of the week, they should tell us where we are in the world, our name and where we left our car keys 12 days ago

Here is an excellent tip when you are stranded on a cruise ship, indefinitely, with thousands of other people: DO NOT contact a newspaper, in this case, the Daily Mail UK, and ‘trash talk’ the ship, their headquarters, their crew, or Captain. Don’t report false information. AND, THE BEST PART: don’t be stupid enough to state your name, post ‘posed’ photos of your asshole-selves wearing face masks in your cabin, and then also post photos of you having a grand time on land in Taiwan WITHOUT your face masks! You two people are morons looking for your microscopic moment of negative fame in hopes of getting some kind of monetary compensation. AND, heads up David and Judy Holst of South Australia, there are about a thousand or so people who have read your ridiculous and insulting article and are currently looking for you onboard this ship, this person included, to let you know just how fucking rude you both are as human beings. Here is a link to the article: CLICK HERE

Just so MY readers understand Holland America’s relentless dedication to their guests: Holland America has refunded everyone onboard 100% for this cruise, has given us free alcohol, free internet, a $50 onboard ship credit per person, added additional cooking demonstrations, AND has offered our NEXT cruise on Holland America 100% FREE. The credit is already on our ship’s account! So, for these two people to say that Holland America has not done everything in its power to make us happy, they are mean, possibly delusional and I recommend they seek psychiatric treatment. You should never leave your home and interact with society again.

The Captain has stated over the sound system several times that Holland America is working closely with the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Navy. Here is what I ENVISION…. Sitting at my desk on Deck 3 and notice a shadow being cast upon the carpet below the windows. I look up and out toward the ocean and sailing along side the Westerdam is the Nimitz Class aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan. Hundreds of naval officers are in their brilliant white uniforms lined up along the ship’s edge waving to me, I mean to the ship. They are here to rescue me, I mean us… by zip line and the only way for us to stop at the other end of the zip line is for them to catch me with open arms on the flight deck. A picnic ensues and I am flown home, I mean we are flown home, each in an F-14 Tomcat. I am positive that is what the U.S. Navy has planned for me, I mean us.

Deck 3 – the walking track

One of the #goals I have had on this ship, in addition to sleeping, reading and writing a lot, is making sure I get my 10,000+ steps in every day. I will start leading my student tours in Washington D.C. and New York City soon, if I get home before February 26th that is, and we walk on average 7-10 miles every day. Refusing to ride the elevators on this ship, and walking up 30-50 flights everyday, definitely prepares one to lead a New York City subway tour. I typically do my ‘laps’ on Deck 3, with all of the other smart people because it is covered and protected from the wind, is a lower deck so it doesn’t sway much, and has a complete track around the ship’s exterior. But, when it gets a little busy and crowded, I move to the highest deck, the Observation Deck on Deck 10. This is completely open to the elements, rocky enough to make you walk like a drunk, and I learned very quickly yesterday why they call it the Observation Deck: When you turn the track’s corner, just above the pool, starboard side, the blustery wind blows your flowing blouse clean up over your head for all to observe from below.

How can this cruise be a disaster if you have a bottomless fruit bowl in your stateroom?

Groundhog Day back in the United States was February 2nd, when we were Day 2 onboard this ship. We have been living a real-life Bill Murray version of Groundhog Day for some time now. We wake up, are all day at sea just wandering, on the ship and at sea. We eat, often and with great quantity, and some with remarkable fury. There will be plenty of food tomorrow, people. We find ways to entertain ourselves, and we go to sleep. We wake up the next day and repeat.

Here are a few entertaining things I have witnessed, or been a part of, onboard the Westerdam:

  • I sat and watched a Chinese grandmother knit a hat for one of her little ones, for over an hour and a half. Just sat there, chatted, and watched. She also showed me photos of her hand-made 3-D origami, which should be in a museum exhibit. Remarkable woman
  • I stood on Deck 10, this time wearing a bluster-proof blouse, and watched the crew repair a piece of the retractable pool deck roof for what seemed to be a few minutes, but was actually over an hour. Time flies when you zone out
  • I have sat and watched bartenders cut limes
  • Watched crew on the Lido Deck stack rolled silverware onto trays to be stored
  • Sat on a Deck 3 lounge chair and watched crew in painting jumpers clean rust marks off the railings with what smelled like bleach
  • I’ve stared at 5 tables of people play Mahjong for 2 hours straight
  • Have watched and occasionally helped put two 2,000-piece puzzles together next to my little office desk
  • Have made friends with multiple crew members on the ship: Obi, a server in the Lido restaurant, Alex, who manages the jewelry shop, and Sam, my group contact onboard
  • I have carefully dissected three towel animals with zero success in a bedside resurrection
  • I have eaten 6 new unidentifiable fruits. My favorite being the bright green pear-apple I have named ‘Hulkies’
  • I have counted all the life boats and life rafts and discovering one life boat is missing. Upon further investigation, I was told there was a mishap in dry dock a few months back and it fell and broke
  • I have watched the ship’s shopkeeper board-fold Holland America branded t-shirts that have all the ports for this cruise listed on the back. (currently 50% off) I purchased a nice maroon v-neck and when I get home, I’m going to Michaels, purchase a bright-colored clothing pen, and amend all the ports
  • I watched a 7-year old learn how to belly flop… for nearly an hour. Endless giggling from kids is therapeutic
  • I sat on Deck 1 listening to a distant ‘how to get internet on your phone’ lecture for senior citizens while I counted 76 birds on my Japanese-print scarf
  • I tried to teach myself how to French-braid my hair from the base to the top by bending forward while I do it, but only managed to fall over and knock my bowl of fruit onto the floor
  • I spent a few hours on my Italian Rosetta Stone website, but the internet is so spotty onboard that I couldn’t get out of the grocery store section, but I did manage to purchase a green apple… Posso comprare una mela verde?
  • As the Captain was walking toward me on Deck 3, I walked through a recent perfume spray and sneezed. Fearing he would think I had the coronavirus, I dodged into the store and hid like a six-year old
  • I counted how many floors I climbed in one day and checked my Fitbit for accuracy. Perfect. I can now live my life knowing I have stair-count accuracy
  • I have counted 49 paintings or drawings of old 18th & 19th century Man of War ships throughout the starboard hallway of my deck alone
  • I have walked all the hallways, in a non-ship-counting mission, and discovered 17 stateroom doors have some type of personal decoration on them. My favorite: a purple rally monkey on Deck 9, port side
Yeah, don’t understand Mahjong

One of my favorite reoccurring ship interactions is with a VERY handsome man, who I think is a musician onboard the ship. The second day after we were denied entry into 5 countries and are endlessly sailing in the South China Sea, I get into an elevator wearing my backpack heading to my office hours on Deck 3. He looks at me, smiles, leans back to check out my massive backpack and asks, “Are you planning on getting off the ship today?” I reply, “One should always be prepared”. We have met several times, in the same elevator, and have said nothing, but he always looks at my backpack and gives me a smile.

This was our position at 3:00 pm on Monday, February 10, 2020. Are we heading to Singapore or Bangkok? I think Singapore. Final guess….

More to come!

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