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Tuesday December 31, 2013: At Sea on Ryndam
After all the activity in Key West, I was ready for a relaxing day of doing nothing in particular, so we started our morning by retiring to the pool for a couple hours after breakfast. The pool was quite warm, curiously even warmer than the adjacent Jacuzzis, so I just vegetated in there, swimming lazily back and forth until the skin on my fingers was wrinkling up like a prune. The pool was fresh water, so I could not float, but the water was only lightly chlorinated so I could pretty much stay in as long as I liked.
But after around 10 o'clock, the kids started to find the pool and play "Marco Polo", so our restful swimming interlude was effectively over. I retired back to our cabin to lie comfortably in bed and bring our trip journal up to date while Monika went shopping, took in a cooking demonstration, and just puttered about the ship having a grand old time. To each his or her own, especially on a cruise I always say!
We tried the Ryndam's version of "Dancing With The Stars" again that afternoon. This time the music was "jive" and we were again led quickly into a choreographed set of rhythmic dance moves for about 25 minutes. Then the 4 best passengers (2 male and 2 female) were paired with the professional dancers on the Ryndam staff and engaged in a final performance where they were judged by 3 professional dancers and also rated by the audience. As in the real DWTS program, the audience support for each dancer could make a critical difference. In this instance the audience favored the two lower rated dancers, which resulted in them being selected for the ship performance on the last "At Sea" day.
The curious thing was how different that type of highly choreographed instruction was to the traditional "learn ballroom dancing" lessons given on other cruise lines. Absolutely no instruction on music, listening to the beat, posture, hold, or footwork. Rather it was straight into a long and complex set of choreographed moves, just as you would see on a TV episode of DWTS. We were terrible at learning those routines under such time-pressed circumstances, but I did get a flavor of how much the choreographed movements violated traditional ballroom dance rules. Leading with the left foot, for example, kept getting me in trouble because in the choreographed sequences the male was leading about 50% of the time with either the left or the right foot.
Some folks had the capacity to catch on quickly, however, and those who could do so with a sense of rhythm and dance style usually ended up in the final round of judgment. I wouldn't really call those dance lessons as the emphasis was on choreographed movement rather than learning to dance per se, but it was all in good fun and certainly entertaining for the audience.
What was not fun, however, was when we dressed and went down for the formal night dinner, I was refused entrance to the dining room because I did not have a suit jacket. I was wearing a black cashmere sweater over a white shirt and tie and black suit pants, and that ensemble had passed muster on several previous ships but it was good enough for the Ryndam. I will insert pictures of us below and the Gentle Reader can judge whether this was acceptable formal wear or not.
To be fair, the maitre d' would have arranged for a last-minute rental suit jacket for me, but by that point in the proceedings I was embarrassed enough to call it quits and go to a Plan B. In this case, Plan B for dinner was simply that the two of us would go up to the Lido buffet and have a quiet meal by ourselves. I had intended to buy a bottle of wine or two for our tablemates, but it turned out we could also purchase that in the Lido buffet, so we ended up buying a nice St. Michelle Riesling to accompany our dinner. Although pleasant, this was certainly not the dining experience I had been looking forward to. Strike One for Holland America!
Back in the cabin after dinner, we continued reading "Whiskey Beach" and managed to stay awake until 11 pm, when we returned to the Crows Nest and Lido Deck to join the New Year's Eve revelers. I was desperately tired by that time and could not seem to catch the rhythm of the dance music or even control my legs very well, so after one attempt at dancing we gave that up and watched the other folks roistering. Instead, we reminisced about the trips we had taken that year and the things we had experienced, kind of a "Year In Review", and that occupied us until Midnight when we had a glass of champagne and sang "Auld Lang Syne" with all the other folks before turning in for the night.
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