Kilroy Was Here » Seven ocean roll

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by Kevin Keating

After boarding Oceania Cruises’ M/S Regatta in Barcelona, my friend Joe Lynch came to anchorage in a ship’s bar called Martinis. Lloyd Mthenby, a barman from South Africa, was juggling the ice and the olives, “And,” Joe told me, “this young man from Johannesburg is the best bartender I’ve ever met at sea.”

Now, that’s high praise coming from Joe, because he travels more than most people. And he’s a good judge of barkeeps over the waves and on the shore.

As a matter of fact, Joe had plenty of good things to say about all the ship’s crew.

“Jennifer Faust, an Assistant Cruise Director, is an energetic lass who seemed to be everywhere at once,” he said. “She kept all the passengers busy and happy at poolside.”

She was Mistress of Ceremonies for the clever carver who started with a block of ice the size of a Buick and crafted a perfect replica of the Statue of Liberty, spiked crown and all. She ran the bingo games at 4 p.m. and then ran off to host some other shipboard event. “Whenever I saw her,” Joe said, “she was whizzing by like a Force-7 gale.

“A steward from Croatia kept my Merlot glass full at the captain’s cocktail party,” he remembers, “and Carey Botis, a barmaid who, like Lloyd, is also from South Africa, had charm, personality and skill. Yet, most importantly, she made sure there were no whitecaps in my wine.”

Now, please don’t get the notion that my buddy Joe spends all his time in bars. He doesn’t. He had cheery chatter about the food on the vessel as well. The Grand Dining room is the main restaurant on the ship.

“The food there was excellent and the service was lackadaisical only one evening, which could happen anywhere, I suppose,” Joe reported.

There are three specialty restaurants that passengers may reserve at no additional charge: Tapas on the Terrace for samplings from southern Spain; Toscana for Italian cuisine, and The Polo Grill for steaks and chops.

“I had a splendid pork chop in the grill,” Joe said, “Big, thick, juicy and as tasty as any on the planet.”

Joe was enthusiastic about the ports as well. He enjoyed a drive from Marseilles to Monaco but didn’t gamble “because the nudge to enter the casino is 100 U.S. dollars. That’s before you risk even one euro on the tables.”

He was impressed with picture-postcard Portofino and the Italian seaside villages nearby. And he greatly enjoyed Spain.

Before joining the ship, Joe stayed at the Colon Hotel in Barcelona (Avenida de la Catedral, 7). “Close to very good restaurants, shops and the colorful Ramblas,” he said. “A bit pricey at $155 per night but four stars.”

Modern Spain is gradually accepting business hours not unlike those in the U.S. But it’s a slow evolution. For many, Spanish life still begins at 12:40 (a.m., that is). Up to midnight, the Spanish gentleman does a lot of cape passes with work. I mean he plays with it like a bullfighter with a bull. He doesn’t get too near.

That is the way it is. The Spanish gentleman goes to his office around 10 in the morning. He lunches at 1. He returns around 4:30 in the afternoon when the shops open again. The shops stay open until 9 p.m. The Gran Via is like Fifth Avenue at noontime.

The cocktail hour uncorks around 10 p.m. Dinner seldom gets underway until 11. Nightclubs open ‘round midnight, but nobody is there but the waiters. Life begins at 12:40 and the clubs stay open ’til 3:30. Then everybody staggers home to sleep late. ¡Que hombre! ¡Que torero!

This is difficult for the American visitor, who wanders around restlessly in the mid-afternoon. (The Spanish gentleman is taking his siesta at this time.)

Tours in Seville take cruise passengers to the Cathedral, with its famed Giralda Tower, the Royal Chapel and the tomb of Christopher Columbus.

“This is one of the places Columbus is buried,” the guide will tell you. (Cuba and the Dominican Republic also claim his remains.)

“The best way to get around Seville,” Joe said, “is by the ornate carriages drawn by a brace of noble stallions. About $30 an hour. A stylish way to see the city.”

What’s wrong with the cruise?

“I enjoyed it,” Joe said, “so complaining would be picking at nits, but I’d suggest to Oceania that they upgrade their onboard golf program. Hitting wiffle balls into a net isn’t enough action for serious golfers.

“The library has a good selection of books but no videotapes. Robes are not furnished in the staterooms unless you’re booked in a penthouse suite. No clocks in the rooms. (A disadvantage to the jet-lagged.)

“The drinks and shore trips are overpriced, in my opinion. Wine by the glass: $8. Cocktails: $5. ‘Drink of the day’ (such as a Scotch sour): $3.95. At one port the ship sold bus tickets to town for $6 and on the dock we found a taxi driver who, for $7, would take four people on the same trip. You must buy tokens at $1.25 each for use in the laundry machines.

“The single supplement is 175% of the ticket price. Pretty stiff jolt. That must be the reason there were few single passengers on board.”

There are no formal nights and the ship advises “Country Club Casual” for evening attire. “But many of the passengers dressed far too casually for most country clubs I know,” Joe said. “Some men came to the dining room in the evenings wearing jeans and T-shirts. Flood victims are better dressed.”

As they approached the windowpane waters of the Caribbean, Joe turned to his favorite barman and shouted, “Rum, Lloyd! Rum for all hands! Else, after 25 days at sea, I may stage a mutiny!” (There’s a little Fletcher Christian in us all.)

“It was a nice cruise,” Joe told me when he came home. “Would I sail on Regatta again? Sure.”

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

by Kevin Keating

After boarding Oceania Cruises’ M/S Regatta in Barcelona, my friend Joe Lynch came to anchorage in a ship’s bar called Martinis. Lloyd Mthenby, a barman from South Africa, was juggling the ice and the olives, “And,” Joe told me, “this young man from Johannesburg is the best bartender I’ve ever met at sea.”

Now, that’s high praise coming from Joe, because he travels more than most people. And he’s a good judge of barkeeps over the waves and on the shore.

As a matter of fact, Joe had plenty of good things to say about all the ship’s crew.

“Jennifer Faust, an Assistant Cruise Director, is an energetic lass who seemed to be everywhere at once,” he said. “She kept all the passengers busy and happy at poolside.”

She was Mistress of Ceremonies for the clever carver who started with a block of ice the size of a Buick and crafted a perfect replica of the Statue of Liberty, spiked crown and all. She ran the bingo games at 4 p.m. and then ran off to host some other shipboard event. “Whenever I saw her,” Joe said, “she was whizzing by like a Force-7 gale.

“A steward from Croatia kept my Merlot glass full at the captain’s cocktail party,” he remembers, “and Carey Botis, a barmaid who, like Lloyd, is also from South Africa, had charm, personality and skill. Yet, most importantly, she made sure there were no whitecaps in my wine.”

Now, please don’t get the notion that my buddy Joe spends all his time in bars. He doesn’t. He had cheery chatter about the food on the vessel as well. The Grand Dining room is the main restaurant on the ship.

“The food there was excellent and the service was lackadaisical only one evening, which could happen anywhere, I suppose,” Joe reported.

There are three specialty restaurants that passengers may reserve at no additional charge: Tapas on the Terrace for samplings from southern Spain; Toscana for Italian cuisine, and The Polo Grill for steaks and chops.

“I had a splendid pork chop in the grill,” Joe said, “Big, thick, juicy and as tasty as any on the planet.”

Joe was enthusiastic about the ports as well. He enjoyed a drive from Marseilles to Monaco but didn’t gamble “because the nudge to enter the casino is 100 U.S. dollars. That’s before you risk even one euro on the tables.”

He was impressed with picture-postcard Portofino and the Italian seaside villages nearby. And he greatly enjoyed Spain.

Before joining the ship, Joe stayed at the Colon Hotel in Barcelona (Avenida de la Catedral, 7). “Close to very good restaurants, shops and the colorful Ramblas,” he said. “A bit pricey at $155 per night but four stars.”

Modern Spain is gradually accepting business hours not unlike those in the U.S. But it’s a slow evolution. For many, Spanish life still begins at 12:40 (a.m., that is). Up to midnight, the Spanish gentleman does a lot of cape passes with work. I mean he plays with it like a bullfighter with a bull. He doesn’t get too near.

That is the way it is. The Spanish gentleman goes to his office around 10 in the morning. He lunches at 1. He returns around 4:30 in the afternoon when the shops open again. The shops stay open until 9 p.m. The Gran Via is like Fifth Avenue at noontime.

The cocktail hour uncorks around 10 p.m. Dinner seldom gets underway until 11. Nightclubs open ‘round midnight, but nobody is there but the waiters. Life begins at 12:40 and the clubs stay open ’til 3:30. Then everybody staggers home to sleep late. ¡Que hombre! ¡Que torero!

This is difficult for the American visitor, who wanders around restlessly in the mid-afternoon. (The Spanish gentleman is taking his siesta at this time.)

Tours in Seville take cruise passengers to the Cathedral, with its famed Giralda Tower, the Royal Chapel and the tomb of Christopher Columbus.

“This is one of the places Columbus is buried,” the guide will tell you. (Cuba and the Dominican Republic also claim his remains.)

“The best way to get around Seville,” Joe said, “is by the ornate carriages drawn by a brace of noble stallions. About $30 an hour. A stylish way to see the city.”

What’s wrong with the cruise?

“I enjoyed it,” Joe said, “so complaining would be picking at nits, but I’d suggest to Oceania that they upgrade their onboard golf program. Hitting wiffle balls into a net isn’t enough action for serious golfers.

“The library has a good selection of books but no videotapes. Robes are not furnished in the staterooms unless you’re booked in a penthouse suite. No clocks in the rooms. (A disadvantage to the jet-lagged.)

“The drinks and shore trips are overpriced, in my opinion. Wine by the glass: $8. Cocktails: $5. ‘Drink of the day’ (such as a Scotch sour): $3.95. At one port the ship sold bus tickets to town for $6 and on the dock we found a taxi driver who, for $7, would take four people on the same trip. You must buy tokens at $1.25 each for use in the laundry machines.

“The single supplement is 175% of the ticket price. Pretty stiff jolt. That must be the reason there were few single passengers on board.”

There are no formal nights and the ship advises “Country Club Casual” for evening attire. “But many of the passengers dressed far too casually for most country clubs I know,” Joe said. “Some men came to the dining room in the evenings wearing jeans and T-shirts. Flood victims are better dressed.”

As they approached the windowpane waters of the Caribbean, Joe turned to his favorite barman and shouted, “Rum, Lloyd! Rum for all hands! Else, after 25 days at sea, I may stage a mutiny!” (There’s a little Fletcher Christian in us all.)

“It was a nice cruise,” Joe told me when he came home. “Would I sail on Regatta again? Sure.”