I heard that over Halloween weekend, the male population of Las Vegas, Nevada dressed primarily as pirates. Not sure what the significance of that was, but, for the folks on this ship, we’re hoping that all the pirates are still located in casinos and not in the Gulf of Aden.
Today, we practiced a “Compulsory Piracy Drill” for preparedness in the "unlikely event of an attack," as per the cruise director. We've been through this region several times and today's drill was, for us, a first. We exited our cabins and ended up on the floor, because as we were told, the Captain would be making all sorts of evasive turning motions to create a wake behind the ship, causing the ship to list before going full throttle, away from pursuing pirates. Being on the floor by choice is better than being on the floor by accident. We all complied and are now prepared should pirates approach. We have seen these blokes before, several hundred feet from the ship. They are not the swashbuckling dudes that roamed the Vegas strip. Rather, they are skinny, shabby looking guys who are very dangerous and heavily armed. Fingers crossed..no encounters!
We're at sea today, en route to Haifa, Israel. We'll undergo a required face-to-face inspection by Israeli immigration before being issued a landing card, tomorrow. We must keep this card with us at all times while on land, along with our passports. It's our understanding that only the landing card will be stamped, because no arab country will permit our entry if our passport has an Israeli stamp. Unfortunately, we need to return the landing card, and therefore, will have no permanent record of ever being in Israel.
We enjoyed a wonderful meal last night. The menu has a dizzying array of “wanna haves.” I did my best to be very selective and never touched the yummy looking breadbasket to save my appetite for surf and turf; both the lobster and the filet were outstanding. Harry enjoyed a fine looking cut of prime rib. We caved and shared a fantastic sundae with scoops of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, carmel popcorn, nuts and whipped cream. Delicious and rich. I am proud to report that we did not finish dessert.
This morning's lecture was an overview of Israel. It is a huge subject to compact in a 45 minute program, however, the speaker did a fine job and whet our desire to see as much of this country as we can in three days. It will be an exciting whirlwind.
Formal night this evening. We've been invited to join the Hotel Director at his dinner table. These are coveted invitations and it's unclear how we made the short list, but it will be a delightful evening with his very nice man. We spoke shortly after sail away. He said hello after recognizing me from previous cruises when I taught art onboard. It's so nice to be remembered!
In a cafe outside of Xanthi, Greece, this couple graciously allowed me to take their photos: