Adrift, is probably too strong a word. As in reality, we simply sailed in circles for a couple of days.
|Tender at the side of our Nautica ship|
We were sailing from Cambodia to Nha Trang, our first stop in Viet Nam, on a 10-day Southeast Asian adventure aboard Oceania's Nautica. But when we checked the ship's navigational map, it appeared our ship was headed back the direction from which we had come. We joked with others at breakfast that someone had better tell the captain we were supposed to be going the other way.
|Blue line shows our circling the South China Sea|
Turns out the captain got the last laugh. We were going just the way he intended. The morning announcements confirmed we were going back the way we came as we were getting away from the storm and rough seas that would prevent our visit to Nha Trang. As the blue line on the map above indicates we didn't move very far either direction for a time.
Instead of one day at sea, we'd have two. Now we both like sea days, but when the selling point of the cruise had been two stops in Viet Nam, the news, I will admit, was disappointing.
|Koh Samui tenders were open to the sea and sun|
But the port we were skipping was a' tender port'; one that requires the ship to anchor some distance out at sea, passengers descend a portable stairway attached to the side of the ship and board small boats that take them back and forth between the port and ship.
Sometimes the shuttle runs in those 'lifeboat' tenders that dangle at the side of the ship and other times they are provided by the port. In Koh Samui, Thailand, we had colorful Thai tenders that opened to both the sea and the sun.
|Our ship at sea in a tender port, Koh Samui, Thailand|
Neither of the small boat options would be good in a storm when the ship is a healthy distance from the shore.
|View from the Nautica Horizon's Lounge|
It was a good reminder that the best laid travel plans don't always work out, especially when traveling on the sea and subject to the whims of Mother Nature and the weather gods. The nice thing about being on a cruise ship with such an itinerary change was not having to scramble to find an additional night's accommodations nor change airline tickets.
For two days, the ship and the sea would be our world.
|Days at Sea. . .|
In today's cruise world, our ship with just more than 600 passengers, is considered small. Yet, it came with a choice of dining venues (fine dining to grilled hot dogs and milk shakes), there was musical entertainment, a small casino, theater, movies, lectures, cooking demonstrations, and a wonderful wood-paneled library where you could spend hours.
Staying on board was not tough duty.
|Morning coffee on our cabin's deck - a daily event|
We didn't completely avoid that storm and our ship was rocked both evenings of our sea days with wind and waves. Think of a cradle rocking from side to side and you've got an idea of the motion. It was not frightening, but somewhat upsetting to those who don't have strong stomachs - luckily, we aren't among those folks.
|Sun and sea beaconed on those sea days|
The weather was hot, usually in the 80F to 90F, or 26 - 32C, range. The chaise lounges at poolside called out to many of our fellow passengers.
|Our cabin - Oceania Nautica|
We opted for the comfort of our cabin where we'd grab one of several books we'd purchased along the way and spend most of the afternoon reading.
|One of our delightful crew members|
A highlight of any cruise for us is getting to know members of the staff. . . and sea days certainly give you time to visit with staff. All of the service and hospitality personnel are primarily young people from all over the world. They are eager to talk about their families and the countries from which they come. Their home country used to be printed on their name tags, but Oceania has quit doing that for whatever reason.
A favorite Happy Hour waitress was from the Philippines. The ship's next cruise segment would get her back to the Philippines and afford her a day-long visit with family - she was thoroughly excited. But, the 28-year-old, added, she was in her eighth contract on the ship. She'd begun with the idea of doing a single six-month contract and had liked it so well, she found herself signing up for more.
|Senior Staff introduced at the Captain's Cocktail Party - guess the Chef|
There is usually one staff member who stands out above all others for us and on this cruise, it was Aye. This livewire seemed to work 24/7 behind the buffet counter. Always full of life, she was calling out greetings and flashing her smile whether she was serving early morning breakfast or late-night buffet.
|My name is Aye, that is A not I|
'My name is Aye,' she explained one morning, 'That is A not I.' Aye hails from Myanmar. And that is all that I learned about her as her job serving at the buffet didn't allow much chat time. However, in that brief name discussion I told her I was Jackie. From that point on she no longer greeted me as 'Ma'am' but flashed her smile and would call out, 'Miss Jackie'.
|Aye charmed us all|
One evening in Viet Nam, she was dressed in a traditional Vietnamese outfit to help serve a special Asian Buffet dinner. While always adorable, on that particular night she was simply stunning. I asked if I could take her photo and if I could share it with my friends on social media. I stopped her in her tracks, she was so flattered: 'Oh Miss Jackie, you want my photo? Of course!'
Early on I predicted that with her personality and skills, that we would likely have her as a cruise director one day. As our cruise went on, I changed the prediction: this young woman may well be the company's CEO one day!
And with the photos of Aye against a backdrop of Ho Chi Minh City, you have probably figured out that we eventually arrived in Viet Nam. HCMC was stunning and will be my focus next time around! Hope to have you back again and bring some friends with you! Until then wishes for smooth sailing to you and yours~