Sunday, October 14, 2007

Thursday 11 October – Catching a Ship

We had dinner on Wednesday night at the Sheraton's Maeve Restaurant. It was 6:30 & it was already dark, but the nightlife was out. On the way to the restaurant we saw a lot of lizards that obviously hide away in the daylight hours. The restaurant sits out over the water & we were able to get a table by a window. There were a lot of fish just swimming in the shallows waiting to get any stray crumbs of bread that might fall their way. The meal was nothing exceptional, I had a prawn risotto which was lots of rice, one prawn & maybe another prawn chopped up in amongst the rice. Scott had a plate of grilled prawns which really was only grilled prawns, no vegetables. We finished off the night at the bar & learnt the Tahitain word for thankyou, maururu.

On Thursday we packed our luggage & then headed to the reception to see if we could get a late check out. We weren't able to get a late checkout because the hotel was full. Instead we checked out & then left our big luggage at reception & then spent a couple of hours by the pool. We decided to have lunch & then catch our taxi to the ship at 1pm. We arrived at the ship slightly after 1pm & checked in. She looks a really big ship but in reality she is one of the smaller ships in the Princess cruise line. We got welcomed aboard & then told to proceed to level 9 & the Panaroma Buffet where we could eat our lunch. If only we had known that before we had paid for lunch at the Sheraton. Our room wasn't ready until 1:30 & then our bags didn't arrive until around 6pm. We have been assigned a room steward who always seems to be out in the corridor everytime we are going out of our room. She is really nice & bubbly & very happy to help us. She comes from Mexico. A lot of the crew working in the restaurant seem to come from either Romania or Hungary. The men working on the tenders seem to come from the Phillipines. They all speak English but interestingly (after staying at the Sheraton where they speak French, Tahitian & English if you are lucky) not many of them seem to be able to speak much French & they don't speak Tahitian. We found out that the ship wasn't actually leaving port until 4:30am so we decided to leave our baggage in our room & to head off into the city of Papeete to see some shops. We came back aboard around 5pm & decided it was time to look around the ship & then went & watched the movie "The Queen" that was playing in one of the lounges.

After the movie it was time to dress in a smart casual attire for dinner in the dining room. Our dinner sitting is the second sitting at 8:15. The first sitting is at 6pm. All of the second sitting people were queuing to get in while all the first sitting people all seemed to be coming out with wine in hand. I thought it was odd until it occurred to me that they had to feed & get the tables cleared ready for the next sitting in the space of 2 ¼ hours. I was hoping that maybe with our sitting being the last sitting we wouldn't be so rushed. What an eye opener it was. We finally get to the front of the queue & are asked if we are just a couple. Yes we are so we follow a waiter around the dining room. The waiter was looking around & trying to find a table where 2 people could sit & then we were put at a table set for 6 people. There was already a couple at the table. They were from Paris (knew of the All Blacks, & wasn't it a wonderful game?) & they didn't know much English. In fact the husband didn't know any English & the wife's English was just as good as my school cert level French. We were introduced to our waiter, Christian from Romania & he had a person to help him, also from Romania. Neither boy could speak French so they really had a hard time trying to get menu orders from the French couple. Christian was waiting on our table (only a 4 as it turned out), a table of 6 & then another French only speaking table of 6. The poor boy had to try & help our French couple understand that just because the menu says, starter, soup, appetizer, salad & entrée( which we found out was a main) you didn't actually have to order something from each section. I asked him what the vegetables were & he said, whatever you want. We finally managed to make sense of the menu & then he got rarked up for not getting the orders in quick enough. He then had a problem trying to understand how our French gentleman wanted his steak cooked. The French man said the term for it in French, it sounded like nothing we know in English so then between me, Scott & the waiter we worked out that a flip on this side & then a flip on that side equals rare. Christian then told me that the chef won't cook a rare steak because by health standards it's not fully cooked. We placed our orders & then next thing we know Christian comes back into the dining room with a huge tray with covered plates on it. That was our first course. Scott & the French couple had soup but mine was salad. The salad was not what I would call a salad at all. It was ¼ of an iceberg lettuce literally the lettuce was cut into ¼ & then ¼ dumped on my plate, no real cutting or anything to disguise that is what it was. I was also lucky enough to get 2 ¼ pieces of tomato. That was my salad. Then no sooner had the other 3 finished their soups & the bowls were whisked away from them & they got their salads, just like mine. I wonder why I was not allowed to wait to have my salad with them? Then no sooner had everyone finished with the salad than the plates were whisked away & the mains arrived. Luckily the French man got the steak cooked to how he liked it. I had a Louisiana crayfish tail. I mean no disrespect to Louisiana crayfish but please if anyone want to try a real crayfish NZ is the place to do it. I got the tiniest little crayfish (probably the size of the NZ Koura) & the taste was insipid, in fact I would say it was tasteless. I have never had anything so pitiful & unfortunately the rest of my dish was rice with a few shrimps (& I mean shrimps out of a can) in it. I was very disappointed. Yet again no sooner had we finished our mains than the plates were taken away. I did have a dessert & I chose a gelato. Yet again another disappointment, it was just 2 small scoops of gelato in a metal dish. There was no attempt to even tart it up with some cherry or orange slice on a stick, or even some green herb (angelica or something). Yet again after finishing the plates were whisked away. It appeared the whole time like there was a race against the clock, it really wasn't at all relaxing. There was no staying & finishing your bottle of wine quietly & relaxing, it was in & out as fast as you can. The waiters work very hard & fast & it would appear that they are under orders to work as fast as possible. Scott & I ended up thinking that the whole dining room episode was actually quite funny & we have now nicknamed the dining room the "beehive" & the waiters the "bees".

We ended the night by watching a Tahitian dancing show. It was quite interesting more from the point of view that a lot of the language used had a very Maori sound to it.

Here's a link to this day's slideshow

No comments: