Beta testing

Thursday was our third day in Monaco, and our first full day on the Silver Muse.   One of the concerns we had when we booked this cruise was that this is the maiden voyage.  Many people are excited about something like that, being first and all.  And let’s not even start with the other meaning of being first with a maiden.  But as a long time IT guy, I translate “maiden voltage” as “beta testing”.  As in ” we haven’t quite finished debugging yet, but let’s get some customers already”.  

Making us safe from the beta test, April 2017

I may have already described the seating chart issue from the first night, but to recap: the ship didn’t allow anyone to make any dining reservations for the first night, which are actually required every other night for every restaurant.  When we inquired upon arrival with the head of the restaurants, we found that they simply assigned people across the ship by cabin number.  So we were sitting with the couple from room 746 (we are 747), while Zelda and  Matteo were with two couples from 654 and 655, as they are room 653.  While a good way to meet people, not what any of the guests traveling with friends or family had in mind.

Not just loose, but missing, April 2017

Matteo came down this morning to breakfast with a cut on his hand.  When we inquired about it, we found out that the bedside reading lamp came off the wall in the middle of the night and cut him.   And when the electrician came to repair the lamp, he said that the screws holding it to the wall were missing, and that was a common problem across the ship.  Seems like the holes in the underlying baseplate don’t always align with the holes in the lamp unit, so they were simply left off during assembly.  Zelda went over to check the lamp on her side of the bed, and it came off in her hand (no injury this time).  When I checked our lamps, one had the required two screws and one had only one.  This is clearly a design problem, but also reflects the lack of time to fix a (minor) safety problem before the beta test maiden voyage. 

I wrote a couple of days ago about all of the work that the ladies put into organizing our diner reservations.  The effort was compounded, in part, by confusion over which nights were “formal” (black tie suggested) at which restaurants.  We wanted to avoid them, so Matteo and I didn’t need to bring suits or ties.  Which I didn’t bring as a result of the careful planning. It took many emails and phone calls with the travel agent and the cruise line itself before Sally secured the information.  Once we were on board and started reading the cabin information, it turned out that two of the restaurants are to be formal every night.   And we have dining reservations at those for four nights.  It also became apparent Wednesday evening that the passengers were taking this formal thing formally.  Even though Wednesday was formally informal (jackets required for men, but no ties), a significant number of men were in tuxedos, and woman in gowns.  I haven’t seen this type of dress widespread on a cruise in 30 years.  It definitely wasn’t the case on our previous Silversea cruise two years ago.

Saving us from beta testing, April 2017

Anyway, Thursday night dinner was at one of the formal restaurants, and we had a lot of conversation during the day about how to deal with it.   My response was, since I didn’t even have a tie with me, I’ll deal with it if and when it’s actually a problem when we show up there.  And I didn’t expect a problem.   

Well, I was wrong again.  

We arrived at the host’s station, and he informed me that the restaurant was formal and I needed a tie to be seated.  I informed him that, per the information the cruise line gave us, I didn’t bring a tie.  He informed me that it was ship policy and needed to be adhered to.   I informed him I came for dinner and wanted to be seated.  He informed me that he would be happy to lend me one of the ties they kept in back for uncouth idiots(1) like me who came without one.  I informed him that I paid a lot of money for the cruise, I didn’t want his stupid (2) tie, and I was going to have dinner in his stinking (2) restaurant.  

At this point he mumbled something about just following company rules, and proceeded to seat us in a nice quiet table in the back of the restaurant, where the fewest possible other guests would need to be exposed to my depraved dress behavior.  I, in turn, made sure I sat facing so that the maximum number of people could see my defiance to immoral and probably illegal authority.

Dessert was yummy: lemon meringue pie, April 2017

We then proceeded to have a lovely dinner, served by a friendly and attentive wait staff.  Although I need to say that three of us had to send our main courses back to be redone, and one of them had to be changed altogether to another choice.   But the desserts were excellent.

Monte Carlo at night, April 2017

After dinner, we went to the show, which featured the “Silversea Singers” (love the alliteration; very clever).  They were very good as they went through a program of songs from the 30s and 40s, which may have matched the age demographic of the passengers (3).  Sally then had to make a quick stop to chat with one of the restaurant managers about ensuring a garlic-free menu choice for Friday night, while I took a last picture of Monte Carlo.  The Silver Muse left port around midnight, headed for Marseilles.

(1) He didn’t actually call me an “uncouth idiot”.  I’m using literary license to describe my inner feelings at this point.  

(2) I didn’t say either “stupid” or “stinking”.

(3) I jest.  If you were a teenager in the 1930s, you are in your 90s now.  While the passengers appear older than we’ve seen on other cruises, they are not predominantly in their 80s and 90s.   

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