The Last Two Days at Sea (November 9-10, 2021)

How does one fill the last two days of a cruise? Three meals a day helped, of course, as did strolling the deck, sleeping late, feeding the machines in the casino, reading in a quiet corner, napping out of sight of the more energetic cruisers, catching some rays, and attending more lectures.

Brent, our renowned naturalist, lectured on dolphins and coral reefs. He easily kept us interested with his pictures and narrative on things like reef spawning, the variety of mouth shapes fish have, cleaning stations (where small fish lend a hand {hungry mouths} to a larger one), sleep patterns, fish that can change sex, camouflage, how a whale’s shed skin feeds a reef, the differences between dolphins and porpoises, the arrogance of some really colorful underwater creatures, and much, much more. He ended his final lecture of the cruise by wondering out loud if we humans could shift our focus a bit and start to pride ourselves in what we save, not in what we make.

Mary Amanda is a forensic musicologist, among other things, and lectured on her research that solved the question of which song was the last to be performed on the deck of the Titanic by the brave musicians who played until moments before they met their untimely deaths in the freezing water along with 1,500 others, one of whom was Mary Amanda’s great-great-uncle. Songe d’Autumne was accepted as the final song for years because survivors could hear it from their lifeboats, but research did not bear this out and the hunt was on. Over time the undisputed contenders were Horbury, Bethany, and Propior Deo. To the untrained ear they all sound like Nearer My God to Thee, but to someone who knows music, there are subtle differences. Mary Amanda proved it was Propior Deo by Arthur Sullivan.

Mary Amanda’s other lecture was on lady mariners. Life at sea was a dangerous place back in the day, but for a woman it would have been especially risky. Hundreds of years ago women did sign on, however, but almost always passing as men. Her presentation focused on a few gutsy gals who dared to dress as women while acting like men! Grace O’Malley is a great example. She learned the trade of tax collecting from her dad in the early 1500s and took over the family business after his death. At 63 this spunky mariner even had a successful audience with the queen of England to negotiate the release of her son.

Anne Bonny was a pirate in the early 1700s looking for loot in the Bahamas alongside her husband, Jack. The plot thickened when they took a small man captive, discovered he is really a she, and welcomed her, Mary, to their gang of thieves. Yep, Jack and Mary become lovers; Ann could live with that; and the pillaging and plundering proceeded.

Violet Jessop, a tuberculosis survivor, was a translator and cabin steward on the Titanic and lived to tell her tale. No shrinking violet, she was also on the RMS Olympic when another shipped rammed into it, and she was a nurse on the RMS Britannic when it ran over a mine and exploded. She died at 83 with the nickname Queen of Sinking Ships.

Grace, Ann, Mary and Violet were just rookies compared to the Jeff Bazos of the pirating world: Zheng Yi Sao also known as Ching Shih. After her husband’s death in 1807 she took control of his pirate confederation, the Red Flag Fleet, with the support of his adopted son. Her fleet was composed of 400 junks and between 40,000 and 60,000 pirates. She wrote a manual outlining her rules and the equitable spit of the loot, which she explained would be shared among everyone to include the lowliest pirate. No doubt this move garnered her great loyalty. The government offered her a sweet deal in 1810: if she quit pirating she and her husband (former stepson) would be allowed to retain a substantial fleet and avoid prosecution. She took them up on it and eventually died a rich women at the ripe old age of 68.

Before closing, Mary Amanda brought the tribute into modern times discussing the first lady to sail around the world solo (1936); the first to sail around the world nonstop (1988); the youngest (14-16) and oldest (71) to do so; and finally the first American woman to captain a mega-cruise ship (in 2015). As the saying goes, we’ve come a long way baby!

We thoroughly enjoyed these last two lazy days. Hettie brought her conversation cards to dinner and Dan continued with his clever seating arrangements. On the last night of a cruise I usually ask everyone their favorite part of the cruise, which I include in the blog. Not tonight! Right after our orders were taken, a woman approached the table and asked if there was a Dan and Schele at the table. She explained that someone on a bus tour we took had just tested positive for covid and we were to return to our cabin immediately.

We had numerous calls from hospitality and catering to see if there was anything they could get us. Our waiter, Tammy, sent our meals to the room. Dessert and a bottle of champagne were delivered and, in time, a team of two came to the door to administer a covid test. We even got future cruise credit vouchers! Throughout the cruise we always had our masks in place when we were off the ship, even on the tour buses and when we were outside, so we were not too worried. But it was admittedly a relief when we got the call that we tested negative.

We’re headed to bed anticipating the group scattering to the wind tomorrow morning.

For what it’s worth…..

Jelly fish and star fish are not fish.

Each officers on board the ship carries gold stripes either on the sleeve or as epaulets.
Who knew you could tell what they did by taking a closer look?
Engineers, have gold stripes with a propeller on a purple background.
The purple honors the memory of the engineers on the Titanic.
The hotel department have gold stripes on a white background.
The marines wear gold on black.
Environmental officers have gold on green with the universal recycle emblem.
The medical team wears gold on red signifying its relation to the Red Cross and the Red Crescent of medical assistance.


3 thoughts on “The Last Two Days at Sea (November 9-10, 2021)

  1. Once again—your intro line is amazing!!

    Matt Mongeon, PMP, Technical Project Manager II
    Engineering Management Office
    PMP,ITIL Foundation, RCV, OSA, SOA, PPO
    5159 Federal Blvd., San Diego, CA 92105
    • 619.266.5675 (ex. 55675) |( 619.822.4661 | •


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