Sunday, 11 October 2015

Keeping Entertained at Sea

The sun peeking through the clouds on the way to Boston from Nova Scotia
This blog entry was written on October 6, but only uploaded now because I have internet access.

The nightly entertainment on the ship has been pretty good so far. As entertainment director Joanna Haley has arranged a jam-packed schedule of things going on – sometimes simultaneously which can make it hard to decide what to watch.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the first night featured Quebec singers and musicians performing folk songs and dances. We didn't know quite what to expect but they were fun to watch and provided a taste of Quebecois culture.

Last night was Broadway performer Jeri Sager. She made her mark in Fiddler on the Roof, played Fantine in Les Miserables, was Grizella in Cats and Evita in the title role.

The string quartet performing during afternoon tea service
Sager was not only a great singer belting out show tunes, but also funny, though at times talked a bit too much about herself – even singing a song about how people think her name is Teri not Jeri…

She gave a bit of insight into show business, how she made her break in dinner theatre in Maryland – "view and chew" people in the industry nicknamed it. Not only did she perform on stage, but had to wait on tables too. Talk about multi-tasking.

Then tonight we were treated to a show called "Viva Italia" put on by the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers.

They sang or danced to anything Italian – from Galileo to Michelangelo, to Luciano Pavarotti to pasta, and Andrea Bocelli. Most humorous was the second number where they had almost all the dancers – men and women – wear long dark-haired wigs and carry picture frames so they looked like Mona Lisa. Then their bottoms were pulled off to reveal skimpy underwear or boxers.

The delectable fluffy scones we ate several times on the cruise
Some of the dancing was impressive, particularly involving some acrobatics, and the singing by the two men and two women were excellent. Some of the costumes were a bit on the tacky side, like the painting the Birth of Venus on a dress, or small lutes sewn onto ballerina dresses…

Today was a day at sea and we kept ourselves busy. We listened to a talk given by Sir Alan Collins, former British High Commissioner to Singapore and Taiwan, the Philippines and New York.

He talked about Queen Elizabeth II and how she has not only served her people well for over 60 years, but is also the best representative of the UK. Having worked closely with her on some occasions, Collins stressed many times how The Queen is down to earth, loves children and has a great sense of humour.

Standing ovation after the Viva Italia performance
One anecdote he recounted (though he was not there) was a meeting of the Privy Council that she presided over, and one of the members, a woman, had a large handbag and at one point her mobile phone rang.

Embarrassed, she tried to find it, but couldn't and resorted to dumping everything on the table before she answered the phone, by which point the person on the line had hung up.

"Oh dear," The Queen said. "I hope it wasn't anyone important."

And Collins also played the video of the opening of the 2012 London Games when James Bond picked up The Queen at Buckingham Palace to take her to the stadium where she jumped out of a helicopter to make her entrance.

The diplomat informed us that two dresses were made – one for her and one for her stunt double and this was top secret… uh sure.

We also caught the last half of classical guitarist Christopher Bundhun's recital. He played a variety of pieces by JS Bach, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and Isaac Albeniz.

The highlight was afternoon tea in the Queens Room. We got there half an hour early to line up and were surprised to find we were the first in line. Time passed relatively quickly, though an Asian man – Japanese? walked in and out and then back in with another woman. Didn't they see we were standing in line?

When we were finally allowed in, they and a group of others were already seated. So strange. One wonders why the staff didn't shoo them out, and anyway didn't they see we all had to line up?

In any event, a four-piece string quartet played for us as we dined on finger sandwiches – OK just one for me – and those amazing scones topped with icing sugar. The scones were the fluffiest and lightest ones I have ever tried. So good.

The atmosphere in this room is so elegant even though we're in casual clothes. The staff wear white gloves and it's a treat to be there, though it's all over within an hour. We might just have to go back again the next day at sea to soak it all in – and savour another scone!

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