Wednesday February 13 , 2019
was a typical sea day. Came in 2nd in the poker tournament. A king on the river kept me from winning $525 first prize but got $225 for second. Had a new player, a retired chemist from San Jose. Too bad he gets off in Sydney because we need a few more players.
We had planned to leave the ship when it sailed from Shanghai on April 11,. Go to Beijing for three days and then fly to Hong Kong to meet the ship its second day in Hong Kong. The rationale is that we liked Beijing much more than Hong Kong and we would rather be in a city than at sea. Originally, we were going to take the high speed train from Shanghai to Beijing, but that turned out to be such a hassle, because among other things, all the signs are in Chinese and it is beyond difficult to even purchase the tickets. The ship was scheduled to leave Shanghai at noon, so we had arranged for a guide service to pick us up at 10 a.m. to take us to Shanghai Airport for a 2 p.m. plane. (our hotel in Beijing had agreed to pick us up when we arrived either at the train station of the airport).
Only because BGM went on cruise critic did we find out that, because of tides in Shanghai, the ship had to leave at 6 a.m. rather than noon. I then had to see the Purser to learn that we had to be off the ship by 5 a.m.. The guide service we hired insisted that we could not reschedule our flight before 11. I still have not figured out why they said four hours was enough time to get to the airport if we left at 10 but six hours was needed if we left a 5. Traveling more than 8 hours, and, then having to unpack and exercise was just too daunting. Besides saving a nontrivial amount of money by cancelling to plane flights, three nights in a luxury hotel, and a car service in Hong Kong, and besides saving a lot of wear and tear on our “we are no longer spring chickens bodies”, we have found that sea days are much more enjoyable than we expected. Oceania is throwing a party at the Jockey Club in Hong Kong for the around the world passengers which we were going to miss, but will now attend, and I get to go to one of my favorite bars located in the Mandarin Oriental plus a very good lunch.
Although Hong Kong is enormously expensive and the wine is particularly expensive, somehow French Champagne in Hong Kong is the least expensive of anywhere we have been in the world and there is a great wine store just a short way from the Mandarin.
Also, I have planned a lunch on June 19 when we docked in London, at my favorite Chinese restaurant—Hunan on Pimlico Road. All the children and grandchildren who are coming on board in Rome on June 4 to celebrate my 80th birthday, are getting off in London. Friends from the States, and one friend from Florence, are planning vacations around this date so we will have another birthday celebration. It is a very small but very popular (rated #1) restaurant, seating 50 people. I was concerned that we would run out of space if everyone who said they would try to come actually came. However, I just learned that the Manager has decided to give us the entire restaurant. I will now be able to ask some of our friends we have met on the ship If they would like to come. If anyone reading this thinks they may be in London on June 19th, let me know. I figure I will only be 80 once.