Farewell, Insignia            

The real world is approaching on the horizon.  We won’t be in NYC until Saturday, but proximity to home is evident: we have started packing, settling accounts, filling out surveys and departure forms.  Meanwhile, our email is reminding us of home tasks we’ve put off.  It will be good to be home with reliable internet on which we don’t need to take turns, a shower that is maybe three times the size as the one here, and the mobility without “motion of the ocean” to toss us into walls and one another. We are relishing these last few days on the balcony looking out to sea; I’ve read three pretty awful mysteries in these last days and Bob is deep into another of his beloved Saxon tales. Even the time issue is settling down; as of tomorrow, we will be just one hour different (I think).

My blog will return soon to ponderings on aging; I’m already thinking about the decline of cognitive processing skills in seniors.  Before we left, a man I have greatly admired commented with great sorrow that it wasn’t his hearing loss that kept him socially isolated, but his brain which couldn’t process the auditory input even with his cochlear implant.  Another of our residents known for his stubborn and feisty nature called me to ask a simple computer question, explaining that those guys at Geek Squad just talked too fast.  Here, passengers complain about the accents of staff and guides: “we just don’t understand them, your guides need to speak better English.”  That may be partially auditory but I’d bet money that much of their problem is the inability to process the information quickly enough. I’m gathering some data to augment my insights, and pondering the question: Shouldn’t we be talking more about this as seniors?

Before I close this “Transatlantic Treasurers” portion of the blog, it seems fitting to comment on Oceania’s food service, especially as Oceania markets themselves as the culinary experts.  For those who might wish details, here’s a photo of one of today’s menus.

From today’s Terrace Cafe, dinner buffet.

Bottom line: Oceania’s food ranges from good to fantastic. At lunch today, Bob had a sumptuous Moroccan meal, with chicken pastilla, beef kefta in yogurt, aubergine chickpea salad, Moroccan bread, cheese briouates and tabouleh. He polished it off.  The best samosa I’ve ever had was served as an appetizer on the buffet the other day; flaky tender pastry around a perfectly seasoned, moist chicken/potato/pea filling. The Italian specialty restaurant, according to its Italian maitre’d, has an Italian chef who does nothing all day except make pasta, experimenting with items for the newest of the Oceania ships.  I found their Gorgonzola ravioli perfect, and thus was willing to try the egg yolk ravioli in parmesan sauce which was new to me and worth it.  Lobster risotto has been another of my favorites, and my go-to lunch has been grilled teriyaki salmon, crunchy on the outside and moist inside.

Worth commenting upon is the ambience and service in the Main Dining Room and the specialty restaurants. Infinite amounts of silverware and plates left me confused about which was a salad fork, a seafood fork, or a butter fork. We learned to wait for staff to push the chair in, and artfully place the napkins on our laps. The wait crew was attentive, fun and interactive. Upon hearing a passenger express gratitude for small servings, one waiter exclaimed laughingly: “In my Serbia, such small servings would be an insult!” Another time, a waiter teased me that she had placed an entree “refill” order for me which was on its way.  Almost always, we were called by name.  Meanwhile, the buffet restaurant included grill stations and ice cream stations and salad stations and a ton of sushi, along with appetizers and entrees, leaving passengers to roam along the long serving areas to scope things out—not so easy in rolling seas.  Ten feet or so of the serving area was dedicated to unbelievably caloric desserts.  I requested a fruit plate once, and got mango, pineapple, grapes, honeydew, cantaloupe and kiwi. In the buffet, the waiters bring only drinks and napkin-wrapped cutlery.

Hopefully, I’ve left you hungry and with a visualization of why we may roll home….  Again, thank you all for your support and your comments.  See you soon!