ART, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Shopping, TRAVEL

Our First Day at Sea

Photo Won at the Art Auction

TRAVEL THERE: ENJOYING THE BOAT

There she is!  Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas.  On our day at sea, we explored many of her charms and suffered a few of her deficiencies.  Come along and see how it went.

Up & At ‘Em

First up, the gym!  I’m an early riser, so I take advantage of it to get in an hour on a stationary bike.  The gym on Vision of the Seas is nice, but quite small.  On this morning, pretty much every spot on the equipment was filled.

I got my hour in and headed back to the room via the the buffet.  I filled up my soda cup, got Bill some ice water and picked up a few pastries in case Mr. Bill was ravenous.

More Like Eggs Benedict Arnold

Breaking Our Fast

We enjoy the luxury of sit down service and convivial company, so we returned to the Aquarius Dining Room for our morning repast.  There is no assigned seating, so you get the luck of the draw in table mates. The luck of the draw in food was pretty marginal, especially their sorry excuse for Eggs Benedict.

We ended up at a table with a bunch of round dancers, who were nice, but only interested in their dancing, so we were relieved when a mother and her daughter arrived.  After a little chatting we discovered they’d been caught in all the flooding from Harvey and it was interesting to hear about their experiences.  They became our new cruise buddies and we enjoyed seeing them several other times during the week.

We went back to the room so Bill could wrangle with his computer and the market.  I took a shower and got ready for the day, in part by perusing the Cruise Compass and picking out the good stuff, like the Art Auction

My Free Gift

Champagne Art Auction

One of my favorite things at sea are the Park West art auctions. How can you lose if you’re spending your morning looking at art and hearing tidbits about artists and the art world, while you sip free champagne?  I’m probably not ever going to be bidding, but it’s relaxing, fun and interesting.  Bill doesn’t exactly feel the same way.  He’ll attend, probably more for the champagne than the art, but he sits there, giving me a running commentary on the dangers of buying art at sea, just in case I get the urge to lift my bidding card.

Were I to actually bid on something, it would be because I thought it was a pretty picture and I’d enjoy looking at it.  Occasionally I’ll say something complimentary about a painting and Bill reacts as if I’m considering purchasing a fake Mona Lisa and he demands to know which wall we’d hang it on.  It sort of takes the fun out of the dreaming, but I just shake my head in amusement and have another sip of champagne.

Beyond the champagne, there’s always a free gift of art.  This time a 7×7 seriolithograph by Yuval Wolfson.  If I had any space on our walls, I could frame it and hang it.  Instead it will end up in my scrapbook.  There was an extra bonus this time which will also find its way to my scrapbook.  To hold the audience’s attention, they also have drawings for Royal Caribbean chotkies, like t-shirts and water bottles.  To my amazement I won one of the drawings and I got two lovely 8×10 photos of the ship – one of which is shown above – and which will kick off my scrapbook of this adventure.

Winding Up the Day and Gearing Up for the Night

The auction lasted past the sit down lunch, so we were forced to go back to the Windjammer for a buffet lunch.  It was marginally better than the Embarkation Buffet, but that’s not saying much.

Usually we would have explored more of the boat, but on this trip, Bill had to keep an eye on the market, so we went back to our room.  I really can’t complain about the relaxation.  The room was comfortable, the sea was just outside our window and after catching up on my travel journal I did a little reading.

Come back next week and I’ll tell you about formal night.

ART, Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Shopping, TRAVEL

Artless Auctioneer on Norwegian Epic

Welcome Aboard!
Welcome Aboard!

TRAVEL THERE: SPENDING MY MORNING WITH AN ARTLESS AUCTIONEER ON NORWEGIAN EPIC

After my workout in Norwegian Epic’s marvelous Pulse Fitness Center, I returned to our stateroom and freshened up. Eventually, Bill woke up and was ready for breakfast. Unfortunately, by the time he woke up, the sit down breakfast was just about over. He wasn’t particularly happy about a buffet breakfast, but a man’s gotta eat.

The Breakfast Buffet

I’ll be honest with you.  I loved the Garden Cafe breakfasts.  You could get anything you wanted.  There were a lot more choices than we found the next day at Taste.  Bill didn’t really have any trouble with the food, he just wanted the sit-down experience with people waiting on you.  I don’t think he realized, at that point, there were people at the buffet to make omelettes to-order or Eggs Benedict or whategger else you wanted.

Art Auction at Sea

After breakfast we wandered the decks a little, learning our way around, until it was time for the art auction.  I really can’t remember which of my cruises was the first to include an art auction or when I  attended the first one, but I really look forward to them when I cruise.  The last one I’d participated in was on a Carnival ship.  To my best recollection, we were on board several days before the auction and we’d made visits to the gallery to enjoy the art previous to the actual event.

The Epic had an art gallery, too, but it was tucked away under the Epic Theater on Deck 5.  With the auction being so soon after we boarded, we hadn’t really had a chance to look over the art and fall in love with something.  Still we made our way to Le Bistro to enjoy the show.

Right off the bat, Bill wasn’t happy.  The bar they used for the auction on Carnival Ecstacy had been much larger than the Epic’s French Restaurant.  Strolling through the art on Carnival had encouraged lingering and we’d already been sampling it in the ship’s art gallery.  On Epic, too many people and too much art were crammed into too small of a place.  Bill was ready to leave as soon as we got there.  I reminded him of the champagne they’d be serving and he did stay for that, but not much longer.

The cramped display and bidding rooms were somewhat of a disadvantage to the auction, but the auctioneer was the last straw.  As soon as Bill’s champagne glass was dry, he high-tailed it out of the room. I was really interested in the art, so I overlooked the auctioneer’s lame attempts at entertainment.

Unpleasant Situation

Art is not a thing of passing interest to me.  It’s a passion.  I can’t afford to be a collector, yet, but I thrive on the opportunity to visit museums, learn about art and artists, and see pretty things.  The auctioneer for other art auctions I’ve attended aboard cruise ships understood their audience and devoted as much time to entertainment and education, as they did to actually auctioning off the items.  The Epic’s auctioneer took himself entirely too seriously.  He insulted both the audience and the art.  Someone needed to tell him we were on a cruise ship.

He was from Romania and had been working for Park West for five years.  In his opinion that made him an art authority.  If he had any formal art training, he didn’t bother telling us about it.  I’m not going to pretend that I know more than he did about financial side of things, but he wrongly assumed his audience was a bunch of rubes from down on the farm.

The auctioneer’s first sin, in my eyes, was to scold a passenger, before the auction even got going.  The auctioneer was up there bragging on himself and making jokes about Romania when the poor guy in the audience said something to his wife. Unfortunately, the passenger had one of those voices which carry further than intended.  I think the auctioneer was trying to be funny when he challenged the guy, but I didn’t see the humor.  The passenger didn’t even understand what he did wrong and was obviously embarrassed.  The auctioneer continued to pick on the same guy throughout the auction.  I wanted to punch out the auctioneer’s lights, but I remained quietly in my seat.

Then the auctioneer started his schpiel on what did and did not constitute an original work of art.  I happen to know a little something about the business of reproductions.  I understand the difference in a giclee and serigraphy, in lithography, etchings and engravings.  At least I know enough to know that this guy wasn’t someone I would trust.

I stayed in spite of the auctioneer, but I wasn’t happy about it.  Then he pulled out the Thomas Kinkades.  Now people either like Thomas Kinkade or they don’t.  I find his work pleasant, but it’s been overly reproduced, so I wouldn’t buy one.  Apparently, Park West feels the same way.  Before the auctioneer was through, he’d trotted out ten Kinkade giclees and was offering them for $1500 as a set.  I’m not saying the bidding started at $1500, I’m saying he had ten Kinkades up at the front of the room and he said whoever raised their hand first could get them all for $1500.  Even then he couldn’t find a taker.

He hadn’t read his audience at all and he made a mockery of the artist.  I looked at my watch and decided the thing had to be over soon and after putting up with all his stupidity, I should at least stay around for the free art they were giving away.  I cherish a very nice Marko reproduction I got at the Carnival auction, even though it was only am 8X10.  I survived through a trio of modern artist the auctioneer tried to shove down our throats with the same methodology he’d used with the Kinkades.

Next was a Rembrandt etching. As he extolled the value of the Rembrandt, I’d had enough.  Certainly there’s value in owning a Rembrandt etching, but he was going on about it like a carny barker and touting the etching as if it were the first one made, rather than one that had been printed several centuries later.  I relinquished my free gift and went to find Bill.

But let’s leave behind this less than entertaining activity and go to the pools.  See you here next week.