Friday, March 8, 2019

Viking Sun, Day Two - Ignoring Auckland

We sailed last night – all the way from Queens Wharf to Princes Wharf. So we woke up blocking the windows of the long-suffering Hilton guests and wondering what was so special about the ship we'd had to make room for. Everyone on board was busily readying themselves for a day ashore, many of them no doubt heading over to Waiheke Island to do the vineyard tour or mosey around Oneroa, but oddly we felt no such compulsion. (Having an afternoon, evening, night and morning in the city did feel generous, though.)
Instead we breakfasted in a leisurely fashion at Mamsen's - that's Norwegian for Mum's, and it's all modelled closely on the kitchen and food that Viking President Torstein Hagen grew up with. The thing to have here was apparently the waffle, so I did, but wasn't impressed - it was a bit dry, needed butter and lots more than the mingy amount of cream and fruit I was allotted. But the croissant I didn't have was, apparently, a (messy) triumph.
The fruit tea wasn't, though, so I popped ashore - mightily disappointed, I have to say, to see everyone offered a plastic bottle of water as they left the ship - to buy myself a box in town. Then I just nosed around the ship till sailaway at 2pm. We'd been looking forward to this, never having sailed in or out of the Waitemata before, but sod's law dictated that this summer's long hot drought broke today, and the cloud was so low that even the top of Rangitoto was blotted out, and there was no chance of seeing Waiheke.
There was a Halfway Point Party on the pool deck, celebrating Day 65 of the 130, which was rather spoiled for me by an American OWM getting territorial over a couple of chairs that - truly, reader - I reached first. The Cruise Director, Heather someone, was full of the news that Viking has done excellently in the just-announced Cruise Critic Cruisers' Choice Awards, getting first in 11 categories (trouncing Silversea, I have to note with surprise). People seemed smug and content - though there was some disappointment still swirling around that weather meant the cruise had had to miss out Stanley in the Falklands, and Easter Island, adding to the already pretty high number of at-sea days. (I, of course, regular readers 😃 will be aware, have been to both those places, so I had my own reasons to feel smug.)
Though we certainly weren't hungry, our lunch having been very nice, we felt obliged (it's tough, this job) to try out the High Tea in the Wintergarden as Minky G strummed away on her guitar. We eschewed the cake stand of sandwiches and fancies, which looked very good, and just had tea and scones. They too were good but I have to say the allocation of jam and cream was again on the mingy side.
I skimmed past a performance by the Virginia Gentlemen in the Atrium which was completely full, three levels and even the stairs jammed with sitters. These young guys, all very short-back-and-sides, smart suits, clean and wholesome, sing doo-wop which, while not in the same category of intolerably self-important nerve-janglery as jazz, requires a very specific kind of finger-snapping musical appreciation: you need to be American, for a start. Much more to my taste was the pianist later when we had pre-dinner drinks - though, again, they give out automatic PLASTIC STRAWS???! Whatever is Viking thinking? 
Dinner was at the much-vaunted Manfredi's, and my goodness, they spoke the truth. I really wasn't that hungry but the bistecca fiorentina was SO fabulously tasty and tender. All I had to do to cut it was to draw the knife across it and the mere weight of the blade was enough to do the job. A triumph. I ate the whole thing. And then, despite deciding to skip dessert, our lovely waitress was so enthusiastic about the Nutella panna cotta, showing me a photo of it on her phone, that I gave in, and it was indeed delicious.
I cruised through the shops - lovely Nordic stuff in glass, felt, silver, at typically Scandinavian prices - and then we took our seats in the theatre, for Gary Arbuthnot, who despite his name is Irish, and a whizz on the flute and penny whistle. I would happily have sat there and watched his fingers blur over the instruments, but there were clips from movies playing behind him. That was fine when it was a James Bond theme tune - slightly less comfortable when it was Rose and Jack dancing down below deck in Titanic. The movie's listed in the entertainment schedule, too. They like to live dangerously, on Viking Sun.

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