Monday, November 23, 2009

South America Day 5: A Very Special Day

As soon as Dad opened his eyes, I wished him Happy Birthday! Today he turns 70-mumble!

We had a busy day planned, starting right from breakfast. We've discovered a nice perk: as balcony stateroom passengers we have the exclusive privilege of eating breakfast in the Four Seasons Restaurant, one of the two main dining rooms. They check your card as you enter, to make sure that you are one of the fortunate, and no riffraff from steerage gets in. The hoi polloi are forced to jockey for position in the Garden Cafe or the Seven Seas Restaurant (the other big dining room on the main deck).

After breakfast (one could order pancakes, waffles and so on, but we contented ourselves with the buffet) we went back to the Stardust Lounge on Deck 6 to hear a talk on upcoming shore excursions. The only shore excursions we pre-booked were a penguin viewing expedition and Dad's tour on the history of the Graf Spee on our one day in Uruguay.

On our path to the Lounge, we passed through the Dazzles Nightclub where a large group of passengers were hearing a lecture in German on some unidentifiable subject. We also encountered the Library:

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Of course, I had to investigate it out of professional interest. Their book collection is sort of random, but I found a good Terry Pratchett title to check out, since I'm trying to conserve the books I brought. They also give us a daily crossword and Sudoku so that'll keep us busy. Past the room with the shelves, there are three smaller rooms that are used as card rooms/gathering spaces unless someone reserves them.

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Shortly after we arrived in the theater, a cruise line employee came on stage and began describing the available tours. He was interesting and motivational enough to induce us to go stand in a 45-minute line in the lobby to sign up for two new shore excursions. For tomorrow at Puerto Montt we registered for "Nature At Its Best". (I tried to sell Dad on a zip-line adventure in the forest canopy at the Osorno Volcano, but no dice.)  This tour will take us inland by bus, where we will be able to view the Osorno Volcano from a picturesque distance (they say it looks like Mount Fuji!), then see the Petrohue Falls and eat lunch in a restaurant in Ensenada. They also promised us shopping in the resort town of Puerto Varos.

For the following day at Puerto Chacabuco we definitely needed to take a tour. According to the NCL guy, the town's biggest attraction is the salmon cannery, so just walking around town is not super enticing. (Why are we stopping here then? Oh yeah, this is where the fjords kind of get started.)  So we booked the "Puerto Chacabuco and Surroundings" tour: ride a bus around the area, see the Andes, see the river gorges and a small local nature preserve. Low key but better than the cannery!

The next order of the day was to be a nap (hey, it's Dad's birthday - he should be able to do anything he wants!) but we spent so long in the line that we changed the itinerary to lunch in the Garden Cafe. We ate with a nice couple, Tony and Pat

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and made plans to meet them for dinner tonight in the Four Seasons. It's Dress Up Night, and the menu features steak and lobster. Seems appropriate that they laid that on for Dad, no?

When we arrived back in our cabin we saw this:

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A month ago I made secret arrangements with NCL for a Birthday Package for Dad. The cabin stewards put up the balloons and streamers when they made up the room, and Dad got his very own Happy Birthday cake:

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He was delighted. If someone had told him, he reflected, that he'd be spending his 7_th birthday on a cruise ship off the coast of Chile, he would never have believed them. It's funny how things work out!

We both even managed to eat some cake before our nap attack.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cool! A ship's library!! And cake, very cool! So sweet of you to surprise your dad like that, awwwww.

(I am deeply curious as to just what the Faust that German lecture could have been about....)