After four hours of broken sleep it seems it is morning. There is nowhere that we can get breakfast so we take the most expensive taxi ride of my life ($60) and head for the ferry terminal. The one meal of the day I find difficult to miss is breakfast, especially since, bar the one and a half packets of pretzels, it is already twenty four hours since we last ate. The only advantage to the lack of breakfast provision is that we can put the notional cost towards the taxi fare. According to the taxi driver, Seattle’s highlights seem to be that it is home to the international headquarters of Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks.
The Royal Caribbean check in process is remarkably smooth and we have already encountered some of our party. I am feeling decidedly light-headed due to the combination of lack of food and intermittent sleep, so we make straight for the 11th floor buffet. Giving that it is 10.45am, it is by no stretch of the imagination any sort of meal time, yet folk are tucking in to three courses as if their lives depended on it. For us this is both evening meal and breakfast but I doubt our fellow diners are so food deprived. We then spend a very pleasant couple of hours on the sunny deck and begin to feel slightly more human. Some cruisers are already on a mission to get the most possible value from their drinks package. Then it is time for conference check in and the chance to greet many old friends and make new ones. The joys of the mandatory emergency drill follow. A keen wind and a raucous poolside party, complete with very loud muzack, drive us to seek refuge somewhere where we can hear ourselves speak. There is a distinct lack of such places.
We are first in the queue when the informal dining room opens for evening business. There is a crew member sporting a stars and stripes covered cowboy hat. She is manically screaming ‘washy washy’ as she squirts all on sundry with hand sanitizer. It may be sleep deprivation but I am somewhat irritated by this. It is reminiscent of meals I have taken in school canteens. Point one, hand sanitizer brings me out in a nasty rash and point two, I am an adult and as such am perfectly capable of being responsible for my own personal hygiene, should I deem it necessary. The staff clap us into the restaurant, amidst fist bumps and high-fives. I have my grumpy old woman hat firmly in place; this is just weird. There is however a great selection of food from which to choose. Today’s culinary theme is ‘Tex-Mex’. I pass on the steak that still looks capable of meaningful life and opt for chilli.
In another example of weird nanny stateness, the carpet in the lift contains an insert that informs us of the day of the week. We are already finding our way round the ship and we join our fellow conference goers for Dick Eastman’s lecture on going paperless. By this time I am struggling to stay awake, so we call it a night.