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Eclipse Day two: Celebrity Life Activities - Lets Dance and Taste

my on-board office - nice!Sunday morning early - the first full day on board and I was so eager to find out about the Celebrity Life Activities that I woke up before sunrise. It was 6 am and the Eclipse was moving swiftly but smoothly on her way to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  I was writing my travelblogue from the spacious balcony of our cabin, seated in a comfortable chair with a strong breeze whipping up my hair, and listening to the sound of the water rushing by against the hull of the ship. It seems that my internal clock wakes me at 6 regardless of the time zone.

We had ordered room service breakfast for later this morning – coffee for me, tea for Pat, and some fruit. As well I thought I would try out their plain yogurt. The tray arrived on time. The yogurt however was a no-fat variety and had that slimy texture that comes from thickeners. That’s why at home I love the thick Greek style yogurt that has no additives. Crossed this brand of yogurt off my list for the rest of this trip. But the sliced pineapple was sweet and delicious. And the coffee was hot.

Remy and Philippe teach cha chaToday was my first opportunity to check out the Celebrity Activity Lets Dance Program. The dancers who perform in the shows teach these lessons. The first one listed was a waltz lesson with Vitaliy and Anna.  It was held in the stunning Sky Lounge at the front of the ship on deck 14. There is a medium sized circular dance floor there. It’s a marble floor – so not great for the legs but certainly a nice space. The problem is that it does not come with dance partners!

Maybe twenty-six people showed up for the lesson. I was curious to see what they would cover in the time allowed. They demonstrated a basic box and a turning box, a hesitation step forward and sideways, and a promenade step.  At the end they played one waltz for people to practice what they had learned and I sat and watched.  It was fascinating to see the difference in what people had picked up and how they moved in time to the music – or not.

Shortly after that the next class was scheduled in the Foyer on deck 3, which also has a marble floor.  This class was cha cha cha with Philippe and Remy. About the same number of people crowded onto the floor.

Remy, who is English, said that they would be teaching International style cha cha cha and indeed they taught the basic step, the New York step and an underarm turn. I decided I could lead those steps so I partnered with Pat to practice.I am not a very good leader though as I have not developed that aspect of my dancing and in fact, my main objective these days is to be able to follow anyone on the dance floor easily.

We had a busy day planned what with the dance classes and the Wine Tasting 101 that we had signed up for a $10.00 fee.  It was scheduled for 1:30  PM in the Moonlight Sonata Restaurant upper level so after the cha cha experience we headed over to the restaurant.

wine tastingthe cellar  masterThe cellar master, Kara Halil, conducted the wine tasting. He gave a brief history of the origin of wine making and told us about the design of the Moonlight Sonata restaurant. the bubble chandeliersThat was where I heard about the lights being designed to resemble champagne bubbles.

For this basic wine tasting, he introduced wines that are generally available on the ship for order by the glass.

So for the white wines we tasted  a 2010 Bollini Pinot Grigio from Trentino, Italy; a 2009 Pouilly-Fume Michell Redde “La Moynerie” from Loire Valley, France and a 2009 St. Francis Chardonnay, from Sonoma, California. The last one surprised me. I thought it was unoaked as I did not get that rich buttery aroma and taste that I associate with California chardonnay but I was wrong.

the winesThe two reds were the 2010 Kendall Jackson Pinot Noir, from California and the 2004 Chateau Castera Medoc Cru Superior from Bordeaux, France. I enjoyed the tasting but got so frustrated with myself as I found I had forgotten so much of what I had learned in the WSET II course I did a mere 8 months ago. All those French wine villages, St. this and that - completely gone from my brain. I obviously do not drink enough to practice.

Finally he finished off with a tasting of the Fonseca Late-Bottled Vintage Port, from Porto, Douro, Portugal. I don’t believe he mentioned the vintage as I don’t have it in my notes. But it was a rich mellow port and I probably tasted more than I should have if I wanted to stay alert for the rest of the afternoon.

The tasting was quite informative and I enjoyed all the wines. But although it was a tasting, and I mostly tasted rather than drank, I was quite sleepy after it was over and instead of going to the line dance lesson afterwards as I had planned I ended up taking a short nap till it was time to dress for the formal night dinner.

I was interested to see what special creations would be on the menu for the formal night, and of course also interested to see the wide range of attire that people turned up in.

cherries jubileeThis time my choices were mainly from the special evening menu. I started with the cold smoked Atlantic salmon roulade with shaved cucumber and herbed cream cheese; then had the Caprese salad from the regular menu and finished with the rack of Colorado lamb roasted medium-rare.  

Overall I enjoyed these dishes a lot. The slightly acidic cucumber set off the smoked salmon nicely. The rack of lamb came just as ordered, medium rare.

For dessert Pat ordered the chocolate cake and I could not resist the Cherries Jubilee, dark sweet cherries cooked in burgundy wine, flambéed with cherry Liqueur and served with vanilla ice cream.

The have these interesting table lamps which resemble candles but actually have battery operated lights inside. Usually they use lamps which give a warm yellow tint  but this night they used fancy blue lights - so the food photographs are all red and not good for posting.

After supper I wandered up to the Sky Lounge where they had a DJ playing Ballroom Dance music, and sat at the bar and watched. There were maybe ten couples in the room. They took to the dance floor a few different times to dance. I sat on the bar stool  for about 20 minutes, my feet twitching in time to the music..

Skylounge dance floorThe DJ was playing really nice ballroom music. At one point the DJ announced that the next song would be a tango. That almost cleared the floor except for one couple who were doing a sort of nightclub shuffle and one couple who were definitely trying the American tango basics. I could almost hear the T A N G O count. Then the DJ announced a mambo but the song had a definite cha cha beat and several couples got up and clearly enjoyed doing the cha cha. 

It was really hard for me to sit and watch when my whole body was  telling me I should be out on the dance floor. A big drawback of this Celebrity cruise (which I knew in advance) is that they do not have dance hosts like the Cunard cruise ships do so if you are on board without a dance partner and there are no other single dancers around you are just out of luck. But this cruise is part of my grand experiment of trying out other cruise lines as a single with no dance partner. So I will see as the cruise progresses whether indulging in other activities like eating and drinking (!) and watching the shows can take the place of my dance addiction.

The Skylounge dance floor is beautiful to look at, as are the floors in the Foyer and the area outside the Quasar disco but in reality they are really awful for dancing on. The marble is hard and the many inserts make the floor a poor surface regardless of whether you are wearing dance shoes or not.

At 8:30 it was time to go down to the theatre for the evening show. I entered at the upper level on deck 5. The view from up there is actually great as you get a fuller perspective of the stage. The theatre is quite large.  I find it interesting that the cruise ship theatres are bigger, and have better sight lines than many of the theatres on land, but then they are newer than most theatres I have visited, and have to accommodate a thousand people or so at a time.

The captain welcomed everyone on board and introduced his senior officers. Then the show began and it was really excellent.  This show was called Edge and it was a non-stop high-octane Rock and Pop song and dance spectacular.

I realize that the dancers are a couple of decades younger than me but I am still amazed that they can do that show twice in one evening without being completely wiped out. And actually, when I chatted to Remy about that the next day, she mentioned that they do a full rehearsal in the afternoon – so they are actually dancing at that pace three times in a day. Wow is all I can say.

It reminded me of the interview I did with one of the dancers from the ultra high energy dance show “Burn The Floor”. He told me they immerse themselves  in ice water after the show  to cut down on injuries.

We wandered into the disco after the show to check it out. They were playing the rap/rock sort of music so I figured it was time for an early (before midnight) night.