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February 17, 2020
The International Date Line and Other Rendezvous

Russell writes…

We will never get to experience Sunday, February 16, 2020.

At 3:09 pm yesterday, our ship passed the International Date Line. This is the line of longitude on the exact opposite side of the world from Greenwich, England. Instead of being four hours behind California time, we are now 20 hours ahead of California time.

For convenience, the captain requested that we wait to change our clocks until we went to bed. So yesterday it was Saturday, February 15. Today it is Monday, February 17. As we continue west around the world we will keep setting our clocks back an hour at a time, until we finally slow back down to match California time again.

The moment we crossed the International Date Line

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus threat, we have had to revise our itinerary. Samoa and American Samoa are not allowing cruise ships to dock, so we will miss our scheduled ports of Pago Pago and Apia. Instead, we will have two ports in Fiji. The revised itinerary looks like this:

We then (hopefully) resume our original schedule with New Zealand next.

After our new itinerary was announced, Destination Services was inundated with passengers trying to book new excursions. Gail waited in this line for 40 minutes.

Of the passengers aboard, about 300 are cruising the world from Miami to Miami. About 300 are cruising the world from San Francisco to San Francisco. The rest have shorter segments, with most disembarking in Sydney.

We had 198 new passengers come aboard in Papeete. It’s interesting to walk through the ship and see passengers we’ve never seen before in addition to our old friends. We are already building a strong sense of community and neighborhood, and this will keep increasing over the next few months. Neighbors go out for drinks and host dinners for each other. It’s difficult to get anywhere because we constantly stop to chat with folks along the way.

After the sunshine of French Polynesia, we have seen several squalls on our sea days

That has not stopped us from enjoying an open-air hot tub in the South Pacific

When we lecture on Viking ships, we are in a row of crew cabins reserved for the lecturers and entertainers. By sheer coincidence, our current cabin is surrounded by the entertainers who keep shuffling on and off the ship. We have gotten to be good friends with many of them.

Elyse Branch is a Las Vegas performer. She got her start at the age of 23 by cold calling the Sands Hotel and asking how to become a Las Vegas performer. In an absolute stroke of luck, the operator connected her directly with the Sands’ entertainment manager, who was in the office and took the call.

Kelly McDonald is a comedian who has been on the Tonight Show. With decades of experience, he offered a lot of valuable advice for us as neophyte lecturers.

Donovan and Rebecca are a singer/dancer team who literally taught themselves acrobatics so they could perform together. They have since broken seven Guinness World Records! They changed our definition of what the human body is physically capable of.

Fred Becker is a magician who has performed with Marvin Hamlisch. Fred’s wife and assistant Bobbie is a vocalist and former beauty pageant queen.

The Leading Men are a troupe of the top musical theater stage performers from Australia and New Zealand. When they get gigs, whoever is available shows up. On this cruise we have Scott Irwin, Wayne Scott Kermond, Derek Metzger and Darryl Lovegrove. Together, they have more than 120 years of combined professional stage experience.

We are wonderstruck to be in such distinguished company.

Vocalist Elyse Branch

Comedian Kelly McDonald

Acrobats Donovan and Rebecca (photo from eventbrite.com)

Magician Fred Becker and his wife Bobbie

The Leading Men: Scott Irwin, Derek Metzger, Darryl Lovegrove, Wayne Scott Kermond

We also now have three enrichment lecturers aboard ship (in addition to the various crafts lecturers). Terry Bishop is not only lecturing throughout the entire world cruise, he does some evening entertainment shows as a folk singer. Mitchell Symons is a prolific British author and journalist. Chet Van Duzer is one of the world’s leading authorities on historical maps. Each of them lectures every sea day.

At 2:00 every sea-day afternoon, Russell parks himself at a table amidst all the Mah Jongg players with his big box of board games. He has attracted a regular group of gamers as well as a regular crowd of curious onlookers.

(Yesterday he played “Blokus,” an abstract game where you try to fit various geometric shapes onto a grid board. One man was giving Russell strong competition for his first time playing. Russell: “Remind me again what you did for a living?” The man’s deadpan reply: “I was an imaging analyst.”)

We also celebrated Valentine’s Day (Feb 14) aboard ship. Passengers and crew put on their best red clothes. The Regent Signature Orchestra and entertainers held a dance party at the Horizon Lounge. Gail was a member of the Regent Guest Choir that kicked off the party. (Russell had played rehearsal piano.)

We have greatly enjoyed our sea days as a respite from the busyness of port days. But after four consecutive days at sea, we will walk on land again tomorrow in Fiji.

The Regent Guest Choir

With acrobats Rebecca and Donovan

With The Leading Men

Dinner with The Leading Men and Becker Magic (we snagged the last group table in the Sette Mari Italian restaurant!)

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