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Travel Diary: Oceania

Tuesday March 5, 2019.

A sea day between Sydney and Brisbane should have been totally non eventful. We met with the head and food and beverage Roberto and the head chef Mario about our 58th anniversary dinner. It looks like we will have about 20 people, perhaps minus one for the reasons set forth below. BGM was not terribly excited about this party until she heard the ideas from Oceania who really are trying to do special things. When I suggested to Mario what I had in mind because it was the way things would be done in Italy, he was delighted but said I was the only one on the ship who knew that. There is no doubt there are some other passengers who have spent meaningful time in Italy, but it was still amusing to hear.

At 2 p.m. they showed the Academy Award winner “The Green Book”. Yoga for BGM was cancelled. I did not want to break up the poker game so I did not go. I blew a huge lead so I would have been better off going to the movie. However, we just have barely enough players for the poker tournament and I did not want to be the one to cause the tournament not to take place. We did pick up another player in Sydney who says he will become a regular.

The piano player who was on the ship since the beginning of the cruise was replaced, and we like the new one much better. Turns out that although he sings well in perfect English, that he is from Rome and after I talked to him for a few minutes, he suggested he would like to have dinner. I do know a little about The Great American Songbook and he liked that. He plays standards, but I suggested that he learn some of the great verses that go with the more familiar refrains. “It Had To Be You” is one example. It is a great song, but it is even better when done with the great verse. (for the total novices, consider the verse to be the introduction and the refrain to be the main melody. or the chorus)

Had both lunch and dinner in The Terrace with Garry and Nicki as it was Yom Kippur again for BGM. I think in the contest between “meals with BGM” v “museums with BGM” meals are still ahead but it is not a runaway.

The head concierge, who, unfortunately, is leaving the cruise in about a week (only some of the crew stay on for the whole cruise, and some go and come back) is a 27 year old woman named Kristina. She is a most extraordinary individual and does her job as well as anyone on the ship. Her assistant Riccardo is also very good and he is staying on the ship so i am confident we will continue to get excellent service.

Anyway, about 5 p.m. I went with the Wife of the couple with whom we were planning to spend the next day in Brisbane, to see Kristina to purchase tickets for Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (not through Oceania who tacks on ridiculously high charges) and to arrange for the transportation. Our objectives were very satisfactorily completed, but that is not the point of this story.. When we got to the Kristina’s desk, a mutual friend, the Husband of another couple in “our group” was talking with Kristina and had his credit our, so I said, in substance or in form, “x” what are you getting?” intending to determine what plans he was making. His answer was “I am going home tomorrow, I have had it with all the criticism about my drinking and my behavior”.

X had not even told his Wife. I advised him to do so. Then, I called BGM who was in our cabin, and to borrow a phrase from our daughter, I said “we have a little situation”. BGM then got on the phone a got X to come and talk to her. When I got back to the cabin, both X and his Wife were there and we spent the next hour trying to resolve the issues. It was pretty clear that if X left the ship and his Wife remained on the ship for the next four months, which she intended to do, that the marriage was probably going to be over. It was a real disaster all the way around. To skip ahead, although “the fat lady has not yet sung”, by the morning, as briefly described below, X stayed on the ship, and, at least a potentially lethal bullet has been dodged.

What happened is that this couple bought from Oceania a drink package the terms of which, for $39 per day per person, every day, whether in port or on the sea, they could drink an unlimited amount of wine at both lunch and dinner. The package was limited to those two meals so if they had drinks at other times during the day, they paid extra. To break even, on what is really a ridiculous deal, they each had to drink four or five glasses of wine at each meal which, basically, they did. Each of them, but if affected X more than his Wife, were getting blood in their alcohol stream, which, in turn, resulted in some bizarre behavior on more than one occasion and also resulted in significant criticism of X and he had had enough. Doing some shuttle mediation for the rest of the night, talking to X and to the General Manager, by the end of the night, X had said that if the cruise line would take him off the drink plan prospectively, he could manage to significantly limit his drinking because he was too “penurious” (my word, his word was “cheap”) to pay for more than two drinks. BGM and I went to sleep hoping that, before the X left the ship the next day, Oceania would grant the request. So as not to keep the reader ins suspense, as I know you are all on the edge of your seats wanting to know what happened, the cruise line did terminate the drink plan, and X stayed on the ship. In fact, his Wife subsequently told us that he did not even have one drink the next day. So far, a good result, but this is a situation where the fat lady cannot sing for, perhaps, forever.

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