We start each day with breakfast in bed. The only thing nicer than breakfast in bed is breakfast in bed overlooking a vast expanse of open ocean -- or maybe, breakfast in bed watching the sun rise. And there's no extra charge for this delicious bit of luxury.
After breakfast, we do our morning walk. By now, Xingxing knows exactly where his box is and what he is meant to do there. then we go up and do a few laps on the jogging track. Being on a ship in the middle of the sea doesn't seem to faze Xingxing. But he is really an amazing little dog. Nothing fazes him.
There are daily crossword puzzles and sudoku in the Looking Glass. Also a library. And there's a lovely swimming pool, with two jacuzzis. But my favorite place is the spa. This costs a little bit extra, but it is worth every penny. At the prow of the ship, there is a magnificent, private, glassed-in area where you can sun-bathe out of the wind and watch the world go by -- it's like owning your own, private yacht. It is absolutely spectacular and -- perhaps because it costs that little bit extra -- quiet, uncrowded and idyllic. But the best part is the Thalassotherapy Pool. No chlorine, just salt water and minerals. The water is warm, and the bubbles give you a lovely, gentle massage. Floating in the pool, the blue sky above and the blue sea all around -- this is definitely living. Xingxing lies on the deck, puzzled (why does she want to get wet?) but resigned to the strange pastimes of human animals.
Now it's time for lunch. Ah, lunch. Shall we go to the buffet and pig out on sushi? (The sushi is to die for) Or dine in the always-wonderful Discovery Restaurant? Or go to the barbecue on the pool deck, which features a whole, roasted pig among other delights? Decisions, decisions.
We opt for the barbecue. Xingxing scores a rib bone, and is a very happy camper.
After lunch, there's bridge and scrabble and health lectures and games and a cooking demonstration and fitness classes and heaven knows what else. I'm happy to just kick back with a good book. Before I know it, it's time for Afternoon Tea. People are playing the slots in the casino, and there's an acupuncture presentation in the spa and an exercise class in the gym. I like the slots, but I only play for pennies. If I win, I'll only win pennies, but I don't mind. I don't win, but I have fun. Now it's time for pre-dinner cocktails. Where did the day go?
The Azamara Quest is a small ship and there are only 600-odd guests aboard. You soon get to know people. Xingxing knows everyone, and they all know him. No matter where we go on the ship, someone calls out, Xingxing! And then there's tail-wags and kisses all around. Someone always wants to chat, so we're never alone. That's nice.
Tonight, we're joining our new friends Jay and Terry for dinner at the Prime C, a specialty steak house restaurant. Words fail me. This is -- without qualification -- the best steak I have ever had in my life. It is simply divine. It is the Rolls Royce of steaks. The side dishes are equally exquisite, the wines are perfectly matched, and afterwards, there's dessert. How can I possibly eat dessert? Somehow, I manage. Xingxing scores two more bones, and after a quick visit to Deck Five -- so that Xingxing can do what dogs do --
we waddle happily down to our stateroom, where two little chocolates await us next to our freshly turned-down bed.
This has got to be the best holiday I've ever had.