December 29, 1999



We boarded the Spirit of '98 at Pier 35 in San Francisco at around 3:30 pm. The ship has four decks, as shown below, including 49 staterooms, lounge, dining room, and sun deck. We spent most of our time, when not in our room or out on shore trips, in the lounge, a comfortable room with view windows all around, easy chairs and sofas, a 24-hour-a-day coffee station, bar and player piano. There were books and magazines to read, and videotapes of movies we could watch on the TV/VCRs in our rooms. The lounge is also where all meetings and gatherings were held, appetizers were served every evening one hour before dinner, and entertainment was provided by Amandah and Kerry, singer and keyboard player, respectively, after dinner.

sondeck

We were shown to our stateroom, number 314 on the upper deck. It was a cozy and comfortable room, with duck prints on the walls, a wood-paneled wardrobe, a desk, and a view window. The layout looked something like this:

son2

Our first evening was spent cruising around the San Francisco Bay as the sun set. It's not the first time I've seen the San Francisco skyline from the Bay—I lived in San Francisco, and have taken the ferry to Sausalito. But it was a new experience to see it from the deck of a cruise ship, slowly circling along the waterfront and around Alcatraz Island. It was especially lovely to see the City gradually light up as the sky darkened.

In the photo below, you can see the Transamerica Pyramid (the tallest building in San Francisco, with the bright white light atop a pointed tower), and Coit Tower (the cylindrical tower at the left). Directly in front is the Fisherman's Wharf area.

dusk

At 6 pm, we gathered in the lounge for appetizers and cocktails. Here we met Anthony DiCarlo of Viansa Vineyards, who would be along on our cruise as our resident wine expert. He gave a brief talk about wine and wine making, and provided several kinds of Viansa wines for us to taste.

We also learned that, in addition to all the free wine that was flowing, the bar was providing free drinks to all for the duration of the cruise. It seems that our Millennium Celebration was going to be as well-lubricated as we could possibly want!

(I must note that neither my mother or I is much of a drinker; we don't really even like wine all that much, except for champagne. But there was something very luxurious and indulgent about all that free-flowing booze that lent the whole cruise an atmosphere of cheerful revelry. And, I must say, we were a very well-behaved group, for one that was being constantly plied with liquor!)

At 7 pm, a sumptuous four-course dinner was served in the dining room on the lower deck. The food was delicious and abundant. Afterwards, we retired to our stateroom to relax and read and dream happy dreams.