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  1. Report # 104 Day at Sea February 18, 2020 Tuesday Partly sunny, showers, & 68 degrees Part # 1 of 1 After five times changes with the clocks going back in about as many days, many guests are wondering why they are getting sleepy in the late afternoon. We figured that when we left San Antonio, Chile, for instance, the time there right now is 2:30am. Now the time here on our way to Pitcairn Island is 9:30pm. No wonder we are having trouble staying awake through dinner. Pretty difficult to adjust that quickly, in our opinion. Still, we believe going ahead an hour that quickly would be worse. And that is why we have never chosen to go on a world cruise that was going eastbound. Events of the day involved the ongoing photo contest, which is once again repeating the same categories as the first segment. We never did find out what the great prizes were for the winners. At least you get to keep your $5 entry photo, which is reasonable for that size of a photo. There was an unveiling of the Pitcairn Island t-shirts today in the Shops. Mentioning that there was limited quantities always motivates the folks. We do recall that the islanders will bring on plenty of souvenir t-shirts when they board the ship tomorrow. The Polynesian group has continued their string of activities and talks, and are doing a fine job. From exercise class to ukulele lessons, and a lesson on Hawaiian dancing, they have kept the guests entertained. Who knew that the coconut bra was never worn by the Hawaiian native women? Kainoa admitted that there were no coconuts big enough that would fit his two sisters anyway. He can be very funny. That practice was done by the Tahitians. For the first time in over three weeks, we finally made it back to the Seaview Pool for some sunshine. It really was much warmer than the predicted 68 degrees, but there was also a nice comfortable breeze. At least twice, we had some stray clouds drift over the ship, and we did get some sudden showers. Using a towel, we just covered up and waited it out. Actually it was rather refreshing. The decks were dry within 15 minutes once the sun reappeared. What a difference from this cruise to the Tales of the South Pacific as far as the deck space is concerned at the Seaview Pool. Today we would estimate that about 12 people were using the lounges. And we certainly appreciate that. We are taking the sun slowly, however, so as not to burn. When we reach Sydney, we intend to stock up on their excellent sunscreen, where they sell it by the quart. It is nice to finally be caught up with backed up reports and photos. The internet seems to be working, although, we don’t want to jinx it. Philip came to the aft pool briefly and we had a chat about what messed up the internet on this ship. He said it was the provider, who has since made the adjustments to their service. Will keep our fingers crossed…… Dinner was interesting this evening with a fish entrée called cobia in a banana leaf. Bill & Heo ordered it and said it was the best. The Hungarian goulash was chewy, but the General Tsao chicken was perfect. Barb had ordered a small portion of the beef goulash, but did not care for it. Instead, she had the quesadilla appetizer, which was delicious and the perfect size for her. BY 9:30pm, the entire dining room had emptied out. This is a sign that the folks are really tired. The show was a combo of a comedian, Scott Harris and circus acrobats of Yury and Nato, a duo from Russia, Greg said. Woody said the acrobats had some pretty interesting and impossible moves. And the clocks went back that one more hour again. Bill & Mary Ann
  2. Report # 103 Day at Sea February 17, 2020 Monday Partly sunny & 61 degrees Part # 1 of 1 The further west we travel, the warmer it has gotten. There was an increase in the humidity as well, getting us accustomed to the change gradually. During his PM talk, the Captain said that we were 300 miles from Easter Island and 820 miles from Pitcairn Island, our next sort-of visit. We never get off of the ship there, but a group of the islanders come out to us, and stay onboard for a few hours. More than once, the seas were too rough for them to come out, much to everyone’s disappointment. With all of the news revolving around the deadly virus, we are not certain of any of the upcoming ports. This ship has not been to China recently, where the virus originated, but these days, many other countries are being more careful as to who they will allow into their ports. For the first time ever, we received a health questionnaire for French Polynesia. It is required for every guest and crew member, we assume, to complete the form stating where we have visited in the last fourteen days. The questionable phrase on this form is: For the territory of French Polynesia to remain free of any contamination, prevention measures have been established. None of us knows exactly what this means. Many cruise ships have been denied entry in other places in the world, and now we are in fear that will happen to us. We do not have any ports in China this year, but will that matter? No doubt, this is a new experience for everyone, and we are sure that the company will do their best to keep us all safe, even if that means cancellations. On another subject, we got a notice that we can have an official Pitcairn Island immigration stamp put in our passports for $10. Now we are not sure why we would desire to have this, especially when the extra space in our books is important. On our last South Pacific voyage, we were warned not to get the offered passport stamps while in Vanuatu or Fiji, as they could make our passports voided. Can you imagine being out of the country with an invalid passport? We recently learned that even worn pages in an older passport book can also make them invalid. So no stamps for us. The Polynesian group continued their classes with pareo tying, dance lessons, and learning about the canoe, something that is found in every corner of Polynesia. One other activity included a port to table session with Chef Petr and Kainoa, who is really expanding his talents on this cruise. A special invitation had been sent to all of the President’s Club members last week for “amuses” around the pool. Beginning at 6:30pm, we entered the Lido Pool area to be escorted through a receiving line of the Captain, hotel director, and the cruise director. We guess you could call this a mini dinner, since the tastings began with skewered fruit, followed by many delectable vegetable-based items. They included Caesar salad with anchovies, mussels served in a shell, scallops, jalepeno peppers, little lamb chops, beef wellington, and lasagna. Then tiny desserts were served like tiramisu, a lemon ball of something gelatin-filled, and fruit. None of our group knew this much food was going to be served. And of course, any type of drink was offered. Actually several drinks if you wished. Many of our friends had just gotten into this club and it was nice to see them join the party. The Captain and his officers circulated among the tables for the entire hour. Neither of us ate too much…mostly the jar of mixed nuts, because we wanted to save our appetites for dinner. Truthfully, we had made reservations in the Pinnacle Grill, but cancelled them because of this party. So all of us did show up at our table, and enjoyed it regardless. Both of us ordered the meatballs and spaghetti, and agreed it was really good. Sometimes the simple meals can be most satisfying. Conversation continued with more new stories evolving from the spread of the corona virus. More cruise lines have re-routed their vessels, or have taken their ships away from the Orient. The internet seems to be ahead of the TV news also, as many passengers and crew members have been communicating with friends and families on other lines. Once again, time will tell. Entertainment tonight was another performance from Abba Fab. By 9:30pm, most all of the dinner guests had left the lower dining room, so we assume they either went to the show or called it a night, and went to bed. Of course there are other things to do like listening to the Station Band in the Crow’s Nest, go to the Wajang to watch a movie, or stay and play slots all night. And once again, the clocks went back one more hour this evening. Bill & Mary Ann
  3. Report # 102 Easter Island, Chile February 16, 2020 Sunday Chance of thunderstorms & 77 degrees Part # 1 of 5 80 Pictures Well, will we or won’t we? That was yesterday’s biggest question of the day, and the final answer was…..we did. We made it to Easter Island, and we were able to tender ashore, much to the delight of everyone. But it wasn’t quite that easy, as we will explain a bit later. Easter Island is part of Chile, although it is separated from the country by many miles. It’s about as remote as it gets. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the main attraction to this small island is the imposing stone statues called “moai”. The big question is who were the people that carved, moved, and erected these eerie stone statues? What do they mean, and where have these people gone? Anthropologists and travelers like us are still trying to find the answers. And that is primarily what folks come here for….the mystery of it all. There are about 900 statues that were created by the Rapa Nui natives that lived here since 300 AD. When a Dutch ship arrived in 1772, they gave it the appropriate name of Easter Island. There was an estimated 2000 people on the island, but their resources had been depleted. By the 1900’s, only 111 of them survived. Hanga Roa is the main town complete with a fishing harbor, restaurants, and craft markets. It is walkable, but many of the passengers book tours, especially if this was going to be their first visit. The ship’s tours included drives to see the moais that are located around the island. One excursion included a trip to see the quarry, where it is believed all of the carvings took place. Another pricey tour had a lunch where the food was cooked in the ground at Anekena Beach. Several years ago, we did a similar tour with a buffet BBQ lunch, but it sure did not set us back $470 each. Of course, it did not cost us $80 to enter the national park either. Now this is where things get complicated, in our opinion. Because the chances of getting over to the island are a toss-up due to the changing swells, many passengers feel forced to buy a tour in order to have the best chance of making it to the island. If nothing else, the tour groups will make it over there. In the past, those who have the highest priority tendering privileges have been mixed in with these tour groups. These days those folks are the President’s Club members, as well as deck seven passengers. This group does not have to get tender tickets, as we simply line up at the door down to deck A. Not too many of us were there waiting in the hallway at 8am, but we were left waiting there for over an hour. Turns out, the tour groups were being taken down the inside stairs to the tender boats, without filtering in our group. Many of us did send messages down to the platform via the “nice guards” at the door. Eventually, they began taking us down to join the tenders. Although we did not hear the words said, we are sure someone will say, “There are too many of you now”. We think it is bad enough that the 4 and 5 star Mariners have no chance at priority tendering as they do on other ships in the fleet. But now, this is beginning to include every Mariner, regardless of their status. And with shore excursions that were costing from $250 to $470 per person, you can see where we are going with this. Money rules……. We have been so lucky to have made it to Easter Island several times over the years. We have visited every site there, and have experienced some wild adventures tendering to the alternate landing place at Anakena Beach. With some damage to the tender boats and pontoons, we have had to crawl over the front of the tender boat to enter through the front window. Oh those were the days. So we do not take tours here anymore. Just go off on our own, and walk for miles. The When & Where advertised a scenic narration at 7am for the arrival to Easter Island. But someone should have told the narrator that it was dark that early, as the sun did not rise until much later. We know, because one of us had risen around 5am, a common habit these days, to see if there was an internet connection. It was working for a short time, but looking outside our window, all that we could see were the lights on the island. And passing rain showers. In addition, a line had already formed sometime after 4am on deck five for the folks to get tender tickets. The time tickets would be handed out was 8:30am. Getting into the tender boat this morning was slow-going. The swells were making the transfer very dangerous. Seems that they doubled up on the expert crew members that assist every passenger. It took up to 40 minutes to load one boat, and only about 10 minutes to bring us into the small harbor at Hanga Piko. By now, the time was 9:45am, which turned out to be just right for us. The area was crammed with vans and private cars and trucks to take the folks on tours. The souvenir tables were already crowded with customers, as the early birds might get the worms, figuratively-speaking of course. Wiggling through the confusion, we followed the very muddy road to the main street. By the way, it had rained heavily on the island before the sun came up at around 6:30am. It was slippery in parts with some deep potholes along the way. Most all of the guests had joined the ship’s or private tours, so we were among the first ones to head towards town. So nice to be free of that mess, we encountered a few island dogs, one of which insisted on following us. Good thing they were friendly. Today was Sunday, so the locals and vacationing people were not out and about yet. This rural road was dotted with cafes, restaurants, and hotel facilities all the way from the harbor to the next town of Hanga Roa. One nice thing was that there was little traffic, with some older kids riding horses. Many horses reside on this island, often seen grazing in fields tied to a rock. Several of the ship’s recommended restaurants were in this area, but were far from being opened. We intended to come back to this area on our way back, when they should all be opened for business. And it was here that we were joined by one local dog, who insisted on taking a walk with us. Figuring he was territorial, this first dog bailed at the next set of bungalows, where he obviously lived. The surfers were out in full force in this area of the island. Fun to watch, they were experts at staying away from the dangerous volcanic rocks that filled the shores. The waves were pretty impressive today, but that water sure looked cold. In this same area was the street full of tented handicraft vendors. About one dozen tents had many tables of treasures from t-shirts, hand-made jewelry, island clothing, hats, honey, body oils, and the biggest array of Easter Island trinkets you could ever want. Small to large moais were available as a reminder of the visit here. Naturally, we already have one at home. Continuing up the road, we walked past the crossroads where a small boat marina held many colorful wooden fishing boats, and a street lined with cafes and bars, most of which were not opened. Close to this area is a stage-setting for outdoor concerts and other entertainment. This area has built up over the recent years, and now it looks like a real attraction for the visitors that vacation on this remote island. Another friendly dog escorted us through town, but stopped at the edges. We passed by the somber cemetery, where many of the relatives of the oldest residents now have a commanding view of the Pacific Ocean. Since today was a Sunday, there were several family members among the grave markers. Beyond here, we lost the paved sidewalks, and had to hoof it on the graveled muddy road. Along the way, we came across the Tahai complex, where many restored moai were perched, facing inland, staring without the obsidian eyes that had been inserted into the faces. Only one was complete with the eyes and headdress, which may be a hat or their hair. Most of the tour vans were stopping here, and one group of them were already piling out to get their photos. Lucky for us, we got the snapshots well before the ceremonial grounds were invaded. With the sun at our backs, the lighting was excellent for photographing. Pastures had been roped off for the horses, that seem to roam these slopes, but also cut off access to some of the sights. We did find an opening, where a playground was built complete with wooden benches. There is a small shrine which faces the ocean here, but the info is written in Spanish. Nearby, there is an Anthropological Museum Artifacts, Sebastian Englert, dedicated to a German priest who lived here. Most certainly, this shrine is tied to him. And this is a spot where one of us takes a break, relaxing on one of those benches. Perfect spot to contemplate the mysterious history of this island. The final conclusion is that without the remains of the moai, there would not be much to draw travelers here, other than its remoteness and fresh clean air. Keeping the mystery alive is the magical secret to their success in the travel industry. After exploring the furthest moias and mixing with a herd of horses at Hanga Kioe, we re-united and make our way back towards Hanga Roa, passing through the now-crowded Tahai area. The few vendors there were doing a brisk business, although their prices were a tad higher than at the harbor. Now we had time to check out the treasures of the vendor tents, spotting some unique beaded jewelry that had possibilities. Trying not to be impulsive, one of us thought about the selections, and did go back after lunch. By the way, lunch was at the same restaurant we went to last year called Pea. It was noted for upscale Latin-influenced seafood, empanadas, and salads. But they did have more selections. Now the good thing was that it was on HAL’s port guide, but was mismarked as to the location. Better, because it would not be overflowing with guests. We were able to choose our table by the railing, where we could watch the green turtles of all sizes rolling up in the strong surf. Difficult to film, we counted five at a time, trying to eat algae near the volcanic rocks. Kids were entering the water here with surfboards and boogie boards, but the turtles seemed indifferent to this. Anyway, we ordered ice cold Heineken beers in bottles, and added a large BBQ bacon cheeseburger to share. It did come with some deep fried potato slices , so we asked for an order of French fries too. Perfect and tasty. Later, we split a slice of Torta Pea, cake topped with meringue. Also decadent. The sun had come out, but the breeze was most enjoyable while we sat under the roof-covered deck that expanded over the water. It did not come cheap, but then, we rationalized that we did not spend $940 for a tour with a lunch, so we got by good. We were back at the pier by 4pm with the help of a few more dogs, including one cute puppy. Some folks were just making their way towards town after being dropped off of a tour. They would have a short time to get deeper into the island. At the pier, we all had to get a tender ticket to board a boat back to the ship. Tents had been erected so the waiting passengers were out of the sun and sitting in chairs. That gave us some time to peruse the treasures since we had #14 and they were boarding #10 through #12. It was moving rather quickly at this end, because the tender boat was protected from those impressive waves. Back at the ship’s tender platform, it was a different story. The wait was long as the previous boat had problems off-loading their guests. It had to be done very carefully so the folks would not get hurt. Later on, we did hear of some accidents that cause some people to get injured, but we are not certain where it happened. Once again, the crew were wonderful at assisting every one of us. We bet that all involved with the operations today were going to be glad when this day was over from the sailors to the officers and especially Captain Mercer. The internet was still not working when we got back to the room. Not a surprise, but perhaps they took this opportunity when most folks were off of the ship to try to fix it. It did come back later in the day, at least for a while. The sail away was held in the Crow’s Nest instead of the aft deck. Most times when we leave a port during the dinner time, there is no organized sail away outside. We went to deck nine and watched while the rest of the late tour folks got back to the ship, and stayed while the tenders were loaded back into their slots. That is quite an operation watching the sailors attempt to hook the boat up to the cables. Dangerous is an understatement here. The ship left shortly after the Captain gave a late talk. We could hear the relief in his voice that we made it to this part of the world, then he gave the predictions for tomorrow’s sailing. We could expect much of the same with some occasional showers. Fine with us. Dinnertime was fun as we all shared stories of the day. Greg and Heo were table-hopping, making our group of five easier to serve. Dinner was a Rapa Nui theme (meaning Easter Island), but the biggest part of that had to be the decorations of a plastic moai with a turquoise light on it as a centerpiece. The chairs had been draped with silver and turquoise covers, making the dining room special. Our waiters were dressed in the tweed vests and top hats, resembling the moai hatted heads we guess. Entertainment was different tonight with a circus-acrobatic duo, Yuri and Nato, performing in the Mainstage. Most all of us were totally beat, so we did not attend. A couple more sea days, and we will be making a brief scenic stop at Pitcairn Island, another remote place in the world. Bill & Mary Ann
  4. Report # 101 Day at Sea February 15, 2020 Saturday Partly sunny & 64 degrees Part # 1 of 1 At breakfast today, the most talked about subject had to be: Will we or won’t we go to Easter Island? The tension has mounted to the point of making odds about our chances. The going figures are 40% we go, and 60% we don’t go. The swells are nowhere near what they have been, and we saw no signs of white caps today. But as of noontime, we were still 350 miles away from the island, so the conditions there could be altogether different. With his PM talk, Captain Mercer reported the winds were currently 10 knots with two swells coming from the south and the east. He also warned that the sun factor was a “10” tomorrow, and we would need to take care by using sunscreen. However, in ending his talk, he warned that the tendering process was marginal at best. Then he elaborated about who would be allowed ashore such as the able-bodied guests only. Specifically, wheelchairs, scooters, and walkers would have to wait until open tenders were announced. Last year while we tendered to shore at Easter Island, it was taking 45 minutes to load one tender boat on the average. That was way too long, so this year, the decision to limit the access to those who can board quickly had to be made. President’s Club bi-monthly gifts arrived today with one flower arrangement and 17 Coke Zeros. It is a nice perk, but we do hope the flowers will last more than a week. The chrysanthemums and gladiolas are delicate, and do not have a long shelf life. And we will need to keep the room on the cooler side, because the heat will dry them out even faster. On a lighter side, the weather was quite pleasant today. The winds had died down, and walking the lower promenade was easy. No deep and long swells. Sure makes a difference. It felt a lot warmer than 64 degrees, especially in the sun on the aft of the deck. Many more folks were taking to the lounges in the back, as well as the guests in the lanai rooms. We did our two miles, then went down to work on the backed up reports and photos. It has been nice to have these laid back days at sea to get this job done. Now the internet was down more than it was up, but during very short periods, we were able to get some reports and emails through. When we took a break for lunch in the Lido, we did see a few people out by the pool in the lounges. Probably not in the pool, but laying in the sun. Since we have not been back there for weeks now, we will have to start all over again. Time to whip out that sunscreen. Things happening on the ship included another Easter Island deck sale for mugs, shot glasses, mugs, and postcards. Sounds like most of the t-shirts are gone. Kainoa did an amusing talk all about humpback whales. He added many stories about his growing up in Hawaii and his family’s interaction with seeing the whales. Nothing like a firsthand account of how awful the blow of a whale smells. Later in the day, lessons on ukulele playing happened in the Crow’s Nest. The Microsoft team conducted 5 classes during the day, which is super. However it would be even better if the internet onboard was working properly. Dinner was the highlight of the day. Every night with our group of seven has been nice. Even made better with good appetizers and entrees. One popular item was galumpi with ground pork mixed with rice and rolled in a cabbage leaf. A special sauce was poured over the top. The barramundi fish entrée was especially good, as was the fusilli pasta with Bolognese sauce…..a favorite dish for one of us. Made better with extra sauce and grated parmesan cheese. The show tonight was a familiar pianist by the name of Naki Ataman. He had been highly recommended on the Tales of the South Pacific, so we made it a point to attend his performance. He was even better tonight as we caught the tail end of his show. Hope he does another concert before he departs. So we wait for tomorrow and see how the weather and seas behave. Fingers crossed…… Bill & Mary Ann
  5. Report # 100 Day at Sea February 14, 2020 Friday Partly sunny & 64 degrees Part # 1 of 1 Our third day at sea found the Amsterdam 850 miles away from Easter Island, with light winds, and highs of 68 degrees. According to Captain Jonathan, we are experiencing two swells of six feet, one from the east and the other from the west. It has calmed down a lot since yesterday, for which, we are glad. But the most interesting comments at his afternoon talk, were about the internet, or should we say, the lack of the internet. Going online at 7am, we were able to connect, but after 8am, the system was down, for the most part, all day long. The Captain remarked that we are all in the same boat as far as the internet service was concerned. He claimed it has been the fault of the provider, Speed Cast, and it has been reported to Seattle repeatedly for weeks now. Inefficient service is putting it lightly, and we think everyone is up in arms over this. Especially the crew, who cannot connect with families at home. The best thing we can do is turn the computer off, and wait it out. At this point, it may take a miracle to get it to work normally. And on the lighter side, Happy Valentine’s Day to all. After breakfast and our 2 mile walk, we came back to the room to find a single red rose, two heart-shaped boxes of Seattle’s Best truffles, and a nice Valentine’s Day card from the Captain and his staff and crew. We also had a cute old-fashioned Valentine card from our hosts Luisa and Gene. Nice touch. We had wondered why we have not gotten the truffles on gala evenings recently, and now we know they have saved them for our gifts today. Everywhere we went on the ship, we saw red. Red heart cascading mobiles in the dining room and Lido, red lights in the dining room and Lido for special effects, and red and silver covers on the dining room chairs. For sure, the wait staff will be wearing red vests and ties at dinner tonight. We witnessed the funniest thing we have seen in a while. Sitting in the atrium on deck five, and also behind the backdrop for the photo sessions, we watched the two florists proceed to tear apart the Valentine’s decorations across from the front desk. This was during the dinner hours. Partially blocking the way to the Pinnacle Grill, they took all of the red and white branches and put them in florist boxes. The red hearts and yarn balls were next, then they tediously wound the strands of vines up to store for the next time. They were just taking out the foam in the vases, when Henk, the hotel director, came by and must have asked what they were doing. It was still Valentine’s Day, and they were taking down the decorations? Well, the moment he walked away, they systematically put the vases back together. It had taken them 45 minutes to dismantle them, and 10 minutes to put them back. The rolled vines stayed rolled. The few flowers that had been here and there were already dumped, so the props were the only things in the vases. Now we realized how much we miss our buddies Eddy and Calista. For one thing, Eddy would have put the vases on a cart, and taken them down to his area. Then he would bring new ones on the cart, and put them in place. They would never do their magic with the arrangements in public, let alone block the aisle during dinner time. Oh well, nothing stays the same forever, does it? A few lectures did take place today with the EXC group and the Polynesian Ambassador. Guess Kainoa is the speaker on this cruise. The same group of Tahitian gals and guys that were on the Tales of the South Pacific have returned here to the Grand World Voyage. During that trip, they mixed with the passengers and had a whole lot of fun, especially at the pools. Not sure this group is quite the same as that group. At 1:15pm, there was a Chocolate Surprise for Valentine’s Day. Instead of having the chocolate treats after dinner, they decided to do this after lunch instead. Probably a better idea, since most folks are totally full after dinner, and do not consume large quantities of chocolate. The little chocolate snacks were served on deck 5, 8, and the Crow’s Nest. Barb said they also came into the dining room to pass the sweets around the tables. Bet some of this also appeared at the Valentine’s afternoon tea at 3pm. So dinner was gala, of course, and most all of the guests wore something red. From what we saw, many more people dressed for the occasion this evening. At least, all of our tablemates looked fantastic. The entrees that were most popular were the rack of lamb, tenderloin, and sea bass dishes. There was no caviar, much to Barb’s disappointment, but there were some different substitutes. The best was the dessert of lemon cheesecake with a few blueberries on the side. Not sure if this was homemade or frozen. And being that it was so good, we did not ask. The party continued for those who could stay up later than 9pm. Actually that was the joke Hamish used yesterday at the beginning of the show. Seems that most folks tend to turn in very early here, and the later night parties have been kind of low key. Two time slots were listed for the Crow’s Nest…one at 9 and another at 10pm. Also, the show in the Mainstage was a performance by the singers and dancers with “Amour”. And yes, we saw it last fall. Good news: the clocks went back one hour, as we are sailing due west. Bill & Mary Ann
  6. Report #99 Sea Day, Enroute To Easter Island February 13, 2020 Partly Sunny 61 Degrees Part #1 Of 1 During the night, the seas continued to create what the Captain called deep, rolling swells. Not a huge problem on the Dolphin deck, it would have been a factor with seasickness for one of us, had we been on Veranda deck. This is probably normal for this part of the South Pacific, but if it continues, it may affect our tender boat landings on Easter Island. We are about half way there, so perhaps the seas will calm down. All of us are staying positive. Which is difficult, in light of the continuing problems with the coronavirus. HAL must have their hands full dealing with the ships that have directly been affected by this unfortunate new virus. Even though the Amsterdam has no people infected with this virus, the staff has gone the mile to keep us healthy with extreme cleaning measures. Every surface has been sanitized more than once, and we have had ample warnings about washing our hands frequently. Keeping a small Purell in our pockets also helps when we cannot wash our hands immediately. That still is no guarantee that other countries will accept us in their ports. Once again, time will tell. This morning, we found an email regarding the 2022 Grand World Voyage. It was a survey they use to create the itinerary for that trip. This used to come in paper form, but that practice has changed in order to save a tree, we guess. This survey is also available on the Navigator system, where it is free to fill it out. The mystery of the internet dilemma was partially uncovered when we sent a photo of our settings, which had been changed by the IT guy onboard to our son. A computer genius, in our humble opinion, our son had determined that the settings were incorrect and were probably blocking the sent emails from going out. Following his instructions, the “fix” worked, and we were back in business again. At least as long as the connection holds up. That has been off and on all day, but at times there was a window where we were successful in sending a few of the blogs with the photos. Now we are only 12 days back-logged. But with two more days at sea, we should be able to catch up with the waiting reports. It appears from reading the When & Where, that we do not have any speakers onboard to usually give lectures on sea days. We still have the EXC guide, Glenn-Michael doing a trivia of where in the world, and the Polynesian Ambassador, Kainoa, talking about Easter Island, but the usual speakers that deal with science or animals have not popped up. Valentine’s Day is coming soon, and many gift type sales have appeared in their ads. Like a sale on fragrances, Faberge eggs, pendants from the St. Petersburg collection, mix and match watches, and jewelry by Effy. Usually there is a hint to send your special friend or partner flowers. However, we do not think there is an abundance of flowers onboard. Most all of the public flower arrangements are created with props, and few flowers. For instance, the two large vases across from the front desk contain large plastic hearts, sticks wrapped with yarn, and balls of yarn connecting the two vases. There may have been a few vials of single orchids here and there for color. The fillers were feathers. We suspect that the allowance for fresh flowers has been cut as a money-saving thing. Perhaps this is happening in the entire cruise industry. Who knows? One of us got a haircut at 5:30pm with Clara, the lady barber. She did a fine job, using scissors only, and taking off exactly what was asked….about an inch and a half. This haircut will last for maybe six weeks, but it is safer than asking for a #1 buzz cut, and they use a #0 clipper cut, and you are about shaved. Going to our favorite seats by the atrium, we noticed that the ropes and ladder are back at the Astrolabium on deck three. The parts needed to fix the lights must be here. It does attract many folks we know to ask us what is going on with this. Greg and Heo really think they will be selling tickets for zip lining. They are very funny guys. We had hoped to listen to the Ocean Quartet, but they were off for the night. No music, and no dancing. We sure do not remember this happening when each band takes a day off once a week. By the way, a new group of dance hosts have boarded. All but one fellow went home in Santiago a few days ago. Dinner had some different items on the menu. The fish entrée had been hake, but when we saw the menu, it had been changed to cod. They either ran out of the original hake, and substituted cod, or never had it in the first place. One of us ordered it, and said it was really tasty. No smell, no bones, it met the test. Brochettes of beef was a close second, the recommended dish of Chef Petr. Greg had the cheesy breaded veal, a close relative of wiener schnitzel. Saying it was OK, he should have ordered the beef. By the time we got our desserts, most of the diners had left the room. We were among the last to leave, and it was only 9:30pm. The waiters were already decorating the room with Valentine’s Day mobiles and table centerpieces. It will look very red and festive tomorrow. We had a little preview of the show tonight, but earlier at 7:30pm. It was the group Abba Fab, who we recently saw while on the fall cruise. Five minutes into the routine, we remembered every song and every dance step. They were good enough if you were into that type of music. We hope that tomorrow the seas will calm down and the temps will rise. Bill & Mary Ann https://cruisingwithbillandmaryann.blogspot.com/
  7. Report # 98 Day at Sea February 12, 2020 Wednesday Partly sunny & 54 degrees Part #1 of 1 Having the extra hour last night was very good for everyone. Of course, some people still wake up at the same time no matter what. One thing we noticed was the actual daylight hours have decreased the further north we have traveled since leaving Antarctica. We still are discussing what it would be like to travel to Antarctica during their winter months of June through August, for instance. Darkness would really do a number on our minds and bodies. Anyway, the sun did come out today, and actually had some warmth in it. Things are looking up. However, the seas have become increasingly rolling with deep, long swells the further west we go. It began last night during dinner, and continued on during the day. Barely noticing it on deck one, going up each deck made a difference. The ship was being hit with 40mph winds, causing some pretty impressive waves spraying across the promenade deck. The folks that have those lanai rooms with private lounges have not been able to use them too much for the last three weeks. If they do come out, they need to bundle up with blankets or towels. We are not too sure the weather will warm up for another week, which will be most welcomed by all. Lots of promotions were happening on the ship today, the main one being “sales”. Now that we are on the way to Easter Island, there was a deck sale with exclusive merchandise to commemorate our visit to this exotic place. The quantities were limited, so we are not sure what we will find in the shops tomorrow. We have always found t-shirts to buy on the island, so really do not need more. In fact, there is much speculation about even getting on Easter Island, or any of the upcoming ports on this cruise. With the coronavirus, we may be turned away, even though we do not carry the dreaded disease. This is new territory for all involved. A good sign we are still going to Easter Island is the fact shore excursions were opened to sell more tours there. And they come at a steep price. The Polynesian Ambassadors have joined the ship now. They will be having activities like sea shell necklace-making, cultural lectures, ukulele lessons, and eventually, dance lessons. One fellow of that group has been on many of the South Seas cruises we have sailed on. His name is Kainoa, and he is one person that would be hard to miss. We have not seen him yet, but we are sure this group will stay on until we reach Tahiti. Our day was simple……we stayed mostly in our room catching up on missing photos due to the internet problem. It has been tedious work, but we will catch up soon, we hope. In this part of the Pacific Ocean, we may have the usual areas that having spotty internet as well. Also, the TV reception was off and on all day. Good time to watch lectures and movies instead. All of us were present and accounted for at dinner this evening. It is fun sharing what we all did during the day at sea. Most all of us were happy to kick back, and do little at all after the busy ports we had in Chile. We heard that the spa has been very busy on days like this. Many specials have been advertised for face and hair treatments. Massages are also popular, as we have seen many folks in the elevator heading up to deck 8 in their bathrobes. Surely there must be a changing room up there? Anyway, tonight there was a different entrée on the menu that many of us wanted to try. It was chicken fried steak with hush puppies. We have enjoyed chicken fried steak with biscuits and gravy with eggs for breakfast. But we have never tasted hush puppies, and did not know what they were. Living in the South, Barb, Woody and Susie knew them well, as it is a common food there. Then Philip came by with Petr, the head executive chef. They were asking how we have been liking the food, which we said it has been wonderful. Petr said he looked up the recipe for hush puppies, because this was also new to him. The story behind this food was that the balls of corn meal were deep fried, and given to the dogs to hush them up. Thus….. the name of hush puppies was created. Made them happy campers, and us too. In other parts of the world Hush Puppies are shoes, and nice ones at that. A thin slice of chocolate-covered lemon layer cake was the hit, while one of us tried the hokey pokey sundae. It was made with vanilla ice cream with crushed butter finger candy on top, then drizzled with caramel. Not a bad idea, it actually worked. Three more days at sea, and we may be in Easter Island. But who’s counting. Bill & Mary Ann
  8. Report # 97 San Antonio (Santiago), Chile February 11, 2020 Tuesday Mostly cloudy & 66 degrees Part # 1 of 4 80 Pictures The best news of the day was that, finally, the clocks would go back one hour tonight. Music to our ears, which will be appreciated by the guests and the staff. From here on out, the clocks will go back as we head west, which is fine with us. Many of us remarked that is was nice to see we would be docking in a new port at San Antonio, and it’s not in Texas. So upon inquiring as to what to see and do here, we were told this is a commercial port near Valparaiso, where we usually dock. So this city lies among the rolling hills and coastal dunes, and is reportedly one of the busiest fishing ports in western South America. According to the port guide, there is a local fishing market and a main shopping street close by. One museum, a casino, and a harbor promenade may keep many of us busy. But we still wondered why we did not dock in Valparaiso, a much nicer place. We would find out later. The shore excursions included one tour to Valparaiso, and several trips to Santiago. Wine tasting with a lunch, museums, or a visit to an artist’s home were among the offerings. Two excursions ended up at the Santiago airport, an indication this might be the beginning and end of another segment. We were told about 12 people were leaving and about the same amount joining. We arrived in the darkness of early morning to the very industrial port of San Antonio at 7am. The ship was cleared before 8am, and the tour groups were off and running. It was very overcast with high fog, but not all that cold in our opinion. Much like San Francisco to us. Breakfast was fun, because we found Gan, our waiter, had gotten an extreme haircut last night. His new style was shaved on the sides and back, with very little on the top. Yikes…..all of his regulars had the same reaction as us. Saying he got his “$5 worth”, he will not need hair gel for a while. And by the way, we can call him Pablo, because he looks so totally different. Needless to say, he is a fun and crazy guy. Shortly after 10am, we discovered we had no water in our room. Somehow, they forgot to mention to all of us that emergency maintenance was taking place until 1pm. We found the printed notice in our mail slot when we came back from town. Better late than never, we always say. Leaving the ship around 11am, we boarded the mandatory shuttle to the terminal building. It took a total of 2 minutes. This was as far as many guests and crew got, since there was free WIFI, and a whole lot of chairs for people to sit to do it. Many passengers will not buy any of the ship’s plans, and depend on local WIFI, free or not, to do their emailing. That may or may not be such a safe thing to do in many ports. We simply do not trust that we are not getting hacked. But that is just us, and we have been happy with the ship’s internet until while on this trip, except when it malfunctioned. There were a handful of taxi drivers offering tours to Valparaiso and Santiago, but they were fairly low-key…..no pressure like in some other countries. Some of our buddies were going to attempt a trip to a winery and lunch, and we’re sure they will have no problem getting a ride. Turning left at the gate, we followed the crowd going towards the mall, a three story complex that might have been built in the 1970’s maybe. Much smaller than the one in Puerto Montt, it still had the same type of stores. But first, we located the beginning of the malecon, or paved walkway, which followed the seawall for quite a distance. Arriving at the boat harbor, we fully realized we had come upon the busiest fishing port in Chile. Small wooden boats filled the floating docks, each boat covered with birds. There were a lot of the black backed gulls, regular gulls, pigeons, and even vultures. The sidewalks were loaded with more street vendors than we found in Puerto Montt. There was a difference though, as we saw no Peruvian items for sale here. What we did find were scores of locals walking this pathway and filling the markets. This must be where they do most of their food shopping. Heo was already on his way back to the ship, not particularly liking this port. But we had just run into Sandy and Jack, walkers like us, and they loved it. Different strokes for different folks we say. Jack told us not to miss the fish market, and the sea lions that were laying on the rocks on the seawall. Perfect, we were already liking it . So after purchasing 2 sets of earrings, and one cool beach bag, we were headed in that direction next. Getting closer to noontime, it was getting more crowded. Many food stalls were in this area, and the locals were coming out for the empanadas, churros, chocolate-dipped marshmallows and strawberries, and smoothies. At the end of the malecon, we found the fish market, chockful of the fresh catch of the day. Lots of shellfish and unrecognizable sea creatures were mixed with the packaged smoked items of questionable origins. Would have helped if we understood more Spanish. We did have to be careful walking through here since the floor was really wet with potholes. The streets were fairly clean, but the seaside was littered with plastic and aluminum floating in the surf. We made our way to the fenced backside of the market building, and located the giant sea lions that were sunning themselves on the rocks. The males do have a head that resembles a lion, complete with a mane. Many females were laying on the boulders too , but there were no pups. Probably not the time of year that they have babies. Walking to the end of the fish market, we saw several pelicans standing on the same boulders. Standing under a sign post, we did not know that a few large black backed gulls were perched there. One of the fish vendors pointed this out to us. She knew at any moment we could have been splattered with something not so nice. Even though she spoke Spanish, we got the message she was sending. Those kind of things are universal. Directly across the street, we found the entrance to the mall. A bigger crowd was going in there through a different type of entrance. We had to go downstairs, then find the escalators up. There was no window visible on the outside of this building at the street level. If there were windows, they had been boarded up a long time ago. We did go inside mainly just to see what was in there. It was warm and muggy in there, so we ended up back outside within 20 minutes. The restrooms were different here. The women’s were by themselves, and the men’s were located in a different area. Must be a reason for this. We did see a whole lot of our crew in here, so this might be the last chance for them to find bargains. We slowly made our way back to the ship, deciding against finding some place for lunch. The recommended ones on the ship’s map were nowhere to be found. And we found nothing that resembled pizza anywhere in this area. Best bet was to eat lunch on the ship, where we know what we are eating and drinking. We stopped along the way to watch about three small ferries carrying the locals on a harbor tour. We think the big attraction was the Amsterdam. The only other vessels were container ships, having their contents being loaded or unloaded. In fact, we had gotten five containers of food and supplies this morning. We will have 10 days crossing the Pacific on our way towards Papeete, Tahiti. There will be two stops, but only Easter Island will be a real port of call. Or at least we think it will be. With another printed message concerning the coronavirus, this new message said that if we are screened for the virus, and lie about where we have been traveling prior to boarding, we could be put off or charged with misleading authorities. Rumors are flying that we might not be stopping at some of the upcoming ports, which could be bad. It is already happening to many cruise ships at the moment. That is, being denied entry into their countries. It is what it is at this point, and we have no control over the outcome. Back onboard by 3pm, we worked in the room until it was time for the sail away party at the aft deck. A few of the all day tours were not back yet, so we left the harbor around 6pm. Greg joined us as we sailed through the opening and into the rougher seas outside the bulkhead. Since the weather was a bit dismal-looking, not many folks came outside to participate in the drinks and small treats of sausage on bread. If you are lucky, you may be offered one during the sail away. And besides, dinner had begun in the Lido as well as the dining room. So we did hear that the reason we were moved to the commercial port, was due to the fact that Valparaiso had built a new facility, but wanted to keep it for cargo ships. Perhaps it was a money thing, but the city changed their minds, and said we could dock there. With everything planned in San Antonio, such as all of the tours, we ended up staying where we were. All of us were back to our table tonight. The spicy shrimp was the most-ordered meal, while one of us had pasta with an alternate chicken breast. Not a bad combination. By the time dessert arrived, we were the last guests in the lower dining room. Guess people were worn out. The fellows went to the show, a tribute to the Beatles by singer Jesse Kazemek. The rest of us turned in for the evening, except Barb, who was on her way to check out the newly-boarded dance hosts. She is like the energizer bunny……. Bill & Mary Ann
  9. Report # 96 Day at Sea February 10, 2020 Monday Partly cloudy, foggy, and 54 degrees Part # 1 of 1 If there was a day to kick back and relax, it was this one. To begin with, the weather took a turn from mostly sunny, to mostly foggy and cooler. Once we had reached the open seas of the Pacific Ocean, the swells increased, but not so much to cause any problems. After breakfast, we had another session with the IT tech to put our computer back to its original settings. Without getting too detailed, an attempt was made to help us send and receive emails, however, changing the entire set-up proved incapacitating. Thank goodness, he was able to retrieve files we thought were lost in the transfer. It may take all day or two days to complete, but it appears things are coming back slowly. Hopefully we do not lose the internet connection for a while, since that tends to set us back even more. But once we are back to normal, we will catch up on every day we have been behind since January 31st. Since there were no lectures today, we spent most of the day working in the room, taking several walks, as well as taking time for lunch in the Lido. The biggest activity on the ship today had to be sales of all merchandise in every shop. Yesterday, we happened to see a man wearing a 2020 Grand World Voyage t-shirt with the ports printed on the back. These HAL t-shirts had not made it to the ship when we boarded last month, so we put our name on a list to hold two t-shirts for us. They promised to phone when they arrived. So with no phone call, we stopped by the shop and inquired about the shirts. Most all of the sizes left were small and medium, but they did have a box of the saved ones behind the counter. Low and behold, he found ours. So we did buy them on the spot, because they will not last. For the first time that we can recall, these t-shirts were priced much better than in the past. And with our 15% discount, they came to about $25. for both of them. Not bad. During his PM talk, Captain Jonathan (thanks for the heads-up), mentioned that tomorrow will probably be foggy, as much as he hated to say the word, that is the way it is in this part of the world. Reminds us of San Francisco, where it can be foggy. But if you travel out of the city either north, south, or east, you will find sun. The same applies to the port of Valparaiso, where we normally dock. It is always cool and overcast, but the city of Santiago, east of the coast, it is mostly sunny, and at times smoggy. Dinnertime was special tonight, because we were back to the original three of us. That is Barb and Bill and me. The fellows were attending an anniversary celebration in the Pinnacle Grill, and Susie and Woody were elsewhere for dinner. The fish of the day was swordfish, and it was really good. Both of us ordered it, although we substituted a baked potato or French fries with it. Wira, our waiter has been very good about customizing our entrees, and all of us appreciate it. Barb had the short rib entrée, which turned out more like pot roast. She should have ordered the fish. We stayed until most of the guests had left the room by 9:30pm. The singers and dancers were performing Crossroads, a show we have recently seen on the previous cruise. Tomorrow should be interesting, and although we have made no special plans for the day, we will find something to do. Bill & Mary Ann
  10. Report # 95 Puerto Montt, Chile February 9, 2020 Sunday Partly cloudy & 66 degrees Part # 1 of 4 80 Pictures The Amsterdam arrived to the Bay of Puerto Montt, Chile around 7am. Since the bay is shallow and there is no dock area, we had to drop anchor, and use the tender boats to go ashore. As we are hardly ever chomping at the bit to go ashore, we went for our usual breakfast at 8am. Sure was nice to see the sun shining in this pretty bay. Puerto Montt is considered the gateway to the scenic Lake District with eucalyptus and pine forests, icy lakes, and Bavarian-style hamlets, not to mention many snow-capped volcanoes. In the old days (late 1800’s), this town was the end of the road, as far as travel went from the north. That is, until a railroad was extended to here. As many as 30,000 German immigrants populated this region, bringing with them their traditions and cuisine. We will still find sausage, cakes, and pastries on the local menus. And many of the last names of families here have German origins. Today Puerto Montt is an important city, as well as a boat and ferry port. And for the tourists that come here for the outdoor hiking, fishing, and sport activities, they are in the right place. Most of the ship’s excursions took guests to the Lake District, a 30 minute ride out of town. In fact, we recalled that we had taken the tour that took in Puerto Varas (The City of Roses), Lake Llanquihue, a lake boat ride, and a visit to Petrohue River Rapids. And we did it twice on two different trips to South America. While in Puerto Varas, we bought a ball of dyed yarn that was “raw”, with bits and pieces of straw in it. Oddly enough, the turquoise dye stained my fingers when knitting a cap with it. To this day, 10 years later, it sits in a basket of yarn balls, unfinished, at home. A strange message came with every tour here……a warning about horse flies that could be present near the lakes and rivers. They advised folks to bring insect repellant, and we know from firsthand experience that those fly bites can pack one heck of a wallop. So we decided to stay in town, and check out what was here to see. Glad we did….. We noticed that after leaving the tender boat, the ramp was at a steep incline. Later we learned that there was a 20 foot tidal change here, which is significant. Our plan was to turn left, and follow the crowd to the several craft stands that lined the main road here. Most all of the souvenirs being sold sure looked like what we would see in Peru. Only the name on the ponchos, sweaters, knit scarves, hats, and llama wool wall hangings were labeled Puerto Montt on them. There were hundreds of knickknacks, as well as a selection of Chilean jewelry items. Many guests from our ship were in shopping heaven, as the prices were fairly decent. Further up the street, we came upon Angelmo Artisan Market with more cafes, souvenir shops, and a fish and produce market. This market is housed in stilt houses built on the sea side. Since the menus were in Spanish, of course, we were not sure what the dishes were. One of their famous dishes is called pulmay, which is boiled curanto made out of seashells, smoked pork meat, and mashed potato bread. Now that is different. They also serve sea urchins, as well as a variety of fish and seafood soups. Shrimp cerviche is popular too. We found all of this food and more in their fish and produce market. The majority of the fish being sold were very large salmon, which may have been farmed in the fjords. A few other types of fish looked like barracuda, and we do know Chilean bass is a big seller. Their produce was healthy-looking with over-sized lettuce and cabbages, grown large due to the amount of daylight they get this time of year. Kind of reminded us of the Alaskan produce during the summer months. At the back end of the market, was an area where locals can buy pre-dished food items, and sit outside to enjoy their meal. That’s when we spotted something very large in the shallow water in this canal. It was a giant sea lion, that had the head of a lion, more or less. We estimated that this behemoth weighed over 800 pounds. He swam to the rocky bank, almost beaching himself, then proceeded to hoist half of his body erect, pushing out his chest, and looking towards the sky. Many people began gathering near him, as if they might feed him something. If he decided to lunge at people, he could have crushed them. Wanting to get some good close-up photos, Bill went down with the crowd, and did get some good shots. About 10 yards off the shore, a female sea lion popped her head up, but came no closer. Overhead, many birds were flying, like gulls, terns, and even vultures. The draw must have been the low tide that exposes some good food for them. Some old wooden fishing boats were laying on their sides, so this must be as low as the tide would go today. Well, this sighting made our day, as we were not expecting much to see here. You just never know. Continuing on, we decided not to search here for a place for lunch, because the menus were unreadable and one of us cannot eat shellfish, which might be added to any seafood dish. Pizza was nowhere to be found. But there was one more option, and that was hiking past the cruise terminal, and following the pedestrian waterside path along the bay. This led to a most modern shopping mall, which we do not believe was here eight years ago. We ran into many friends that were doing the same thing, as it was such a perfect day for a walk. Talking to Wendy and Steve, we found out they had taken a 30 minute taxi to Puerto Varas, the City of Roses, for $5 each. Then they used a local bus to come back, which set them back 90 cents each. They were lucky the buses were running today, considering it was Sunday. But we are sure they checked it out before they came here. Everyone we talked to spread the news that the internet on the ship was not working for anyone, including the crew. This is becoming a problem with the people that depend on the internet for banking for instance. Bills need to be paid, not to mention keeping in touch with family and friends. We have kept up with the blog with photos, and will send all of it when we can. The sidewalks of this promenade walkway began to fill with street vendors with different items from what was being sold back at the Angelmo Market. This was typical sportswear, handmade knit items, scarves, and even toys for the kids. Looking for a belt, we found just the right one for a mere $6. Back at the market, they were $25 and up. An embroidered scarf was also added to the collection for $5. We never did get any Chilean pesos, but we did recall that the vendors were happy to take US dollars. At the mall, we entered the Ripley store, which we suspect was here first. Oddly enough, every store window had either been boarded over or covered with corrugated aluminum. Must be due to sudden riots that occur suddenly, the same situation we saw while in Punta Arenas. You can always get the feel for the area by studying the local graffiti. The mall was three or four levels of high end boutique shops, something we never expected to see here. All of the restaurants were more of a fast food type, so we did not choose to dine here either. They did have very nice restrooms, and there was no charge to use them, unlike those in Punta Arenas. A quick walk on each level, we exited at Ripley’s, and walked back to the ship. We had run into Greg and Heo at the fish market, and then again, they followed us out of the mall while walking with Renee. They were feeling the results of a long walk, although they are the “kids” at our table. It was getting late, and all of us agreed it was time to get back “home” for a late lunch. That turned out to be 3pm by the time we re-boarded the tender boat. At least walking down the gangplank to the boat was easier. Terry, the head security guard, told us the tide has risen 20 feet since they started tendering at 8am. Back on the ship, we ordered chicken Caesar salads, with one club sandwich. Then it was time for the sail away festivities on the back deck. It was not fully attended since dinner was starting at 5:30pm in the Lido. There was a full seafood spread tonight, so many guests took advantage of this, and skipped dinner in the dining room. On busy port days, a large number of folks will eat early, not wishing to change their clothing, then retire for the evening. Not at our table, as everyone showed up on time. The best salmon entree was served tonight, and we think it may have been fresh from here. There was no live show tonight, but the televised Academy Awards Show, which was due to begin at 10pm. To entice the folks to attend, they offered a free glass of sparkling wine from 7 to 8pm. Or, it could be watched from the staterooms on channel 39. That’s what we did. A day at sea tomorrow will give us a chance to catch up on backed up reports, and we hope we will be able to start sending them. Bill & Mary Ann
  11. Report # 94 Day at Sea Scenic Cruising Chilean Fjords February 8, 2020 Saturday Sunny & 63 degrees Part # 1 of 4 80 Pictures We welcomed another day with sunny weather and temps in the 60’s. That chill in the air was close to being gone when we stepped out on the promenade deck around 10am. During the night, the ship had gone out of the series of islands, and sailed north in the rolling seas of the Pacific Ocean. Some folks must have asked why we did not have the scenic cruising of two glaciers yesterday. The answer came with Captain Jonathon’s PM talk. His explanation was that in order to follow the printed itinerary, it really would have taken an extra day to see all that was listed. We needed to go out to sea to gain the distance we had already lost. That’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. The way we see it, the viewing of Glacier Alley after leaving Ushuaia was more than ample. This was as good as it got. All was not lost, as there were sightings of a pod of fin whales feeding quite near the ship. These baleen whales are the second largest of the whales after the blue whale. With a length of 88 feet, and the weight of 130 tons, they would be hard to miss. Did you know that the fin whale is capable of taking 18,000 gallons of krill-filled sea water in one gulp? They can live from 85 to 90 years, and are endangered. There are an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 left worldwide. It was a treat to be able to see them, but the sightings are unlike seeing humpbacks, as the fin whales do not dive deep with their tails showing. They stay more on the surface, and can gain speeds of 21 mph. Most of the morning was dedicated to working with the head IT manager, who was not altogether successful with resolving our computer dilemma. Frustrating is a good word to describe this situation, since it has never occurred to us before this. We know that many of the passengers as well as crew members have run into the same problem, but they are going onshore to get their emails received and sent. Getting back to the Captain’s talk, he read a letter sent from Seattle concerning a Coronavirus Health Advisory. It went into detail about how the virus can be spread, and the measures HAL is taking to prevent further exposure to this potentially deadly flu. Working with the CDC and WHO, many steps have been implemented as far as who boards our ship, who goes home, and who may already have flu symptoms not related to corona. And the message once again reminded all of us of personal hygiene, and how important it is to wash or hands or use hand sanitizer. There is still a possibility that the ship may be denied entry into countries we have yet to visit. Time will tell….. With that, we went to lunch in the Lido, washing our hands before and afterwards. Shortly after, the scenic sailing began as the Captain turned the ship east, and back into the series of islands. Going up to the bow, we discovered that it was beautiful out there. Very little breeze, and lots of sun made this the perfect spot for seeing it all. Heading into Ninualak Channel, we went between two large islands, where some fish farms were situated near the shoreline. Eventually, the deeper we got into the channel, the more we saw. A total of four in fact. Several had houses, or sheds, and boat houses nearby. More than likely, these floating growing areas are for salmon. These bays and inlets have always been known to have whales like the fins, humpbacks, and even the blue whales. Although we did not stay for the entire scenic sailing, we highly doubt anyone saw a blue whale. We would have heard about it. Deeper into the channel, we saw many flocks of sooty shearwaters, birds that measure 17 inches long, and weigh under 2 pounds. Their wingspan is 39 inches, and these birds will often sit in the water in “rafts”. That is, they look like a raft. These birds will dig burrows underground, then lay their eggs there. This protects the chicks from the predators, like kelp gulls and skuas. They will migrate from Antarctica, north to Japan. A typical migration path would take them in a figure eight pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which can potentially take 40,000 miles to complete. That is unbelievable. Doing some research, we figured the small birds flying over the waters yesterday may have been the common diving petrels. They will leave footprints in the water as they attempt to fly. And they also are known to dive under water, almost like flying under water. Later in the day, we all got certificates for sailing to Antarctica, around Cape Horn, and traversing the Chilean Fjords. Two more to add to our collection. Dinner time was gala, with the company of Spa Manager, Renee, our friend for many years. She knows all of us well, and was happy to join us. Of course, most everyone appreciated the wine that always accompanies our hosts. In lieu of wine, we could have had Coke Zero, but we declined. Ice water was fine. The theme for this evening was “Paparazzi Dinner” referring to the upcoming Oscars. Actually, the best-dressed people were the crew, who were decked out in gold-sequined vests and bow ties. Entrees included lobster tails, bacon-wrapped tenderloin, and halibut with crab on the side. Everyone said theirs was the best, but the fish entrée got the thumbs up. You think we may be tired of it, but the carrot cake for dessert was a winner once again. We adjourned by 10pm, a bit late for the show of the musical artist, Kenny Martyn. He will be back for one more performance, and we can attend then. Tomorrow’s port will be Puerto Montt, which will require a tender boat ride to shore. And since tomorrow is a Sunday, it will be interesting to see what is opened. Bill & Mary Ann
  12. Report # 93 Scenic Cruising Nelson Strait February 7, 2020 Friday Mostly sunny & 54 degrees Part # 1 of 4 80 Pictures For a day at sea, it turned out to be a pretty nice one at that, and for several reasons. To begin with, the sun was out and the skies were cobalt blue, something we have not seen recently. That sure does a lot to boost everyone’s mood. It was showing in the dining room at breakfast time with not only the guests, but the crew as well. Of course, it did help that we all had enjoyed being in port after so many days at sea. And we learned when we went to check up on the progress with the internet glitch (again), we discovered that most all of the crew as well as passengers, had to use the free WIFI onshore to do their emailing. So we are not alone with this problem. Sure hope it gets resolved soon. Listening to the news this morning, we found out that several cruise ships have been involved with this new outbreak of coronavirus. Most of them are or were sailing in the Orient, or had infected people flying home from the same areas. Even one HAL ship, the Westerdam, was denied access to several ports in Asia. Forced quarantines for 2 weeks have been imposed on some Princess and Royal Caribbean guests we heard. That could be a problem in many ways, especially with passengers with limited medications. Who would expect that a 10 day trip might turn into a 24 day trip? This is the first time all of us agreed that we are glad we are not going to Hong Kong this year. The closest we will be is in Singapore, and now we are concerned about our 2 day stop there. Hope we are not turned away, not that we have that virus, but we probably have something going on. For about the fifth day in a row, we got a notice on how to properly sneeze or cough. And we have to add here that many folks do not know how to do this. The message to wash our hands and use hand sanitizer has been repeated over and over. Now we are fortunate that we packed two quarts of antibacterial hand soap with us for our room. Every time we leave our room, we wash our hands upon coming back. Early this morning, we must have left the Strait of Magellan, and entered the Pacific Ocean. The ship began rolling with the giant swells, which we did not experience while in the straits and channels of the hundreds of islands. Around 1:30pm, we entered Nelson Strait and began the scenic cruising through the inside passages. The deeper we got, the scenery of the inlet revealed placid waters with views of the many active volcanoes that exist down here. Soaring high in the distance, we saw snow and ice-covered peaks that were part of the Andes, the range that runs like a spine down the center of the continent. Majestic is the only word that ran through our minds as we enjoyed the wildlife sightings along the way. Even though the hatch was not open for access to the bow, we knew how to open it. For a while, we had the deck to ourselves. Yes, it was breezy with a coolness to it, but the sun made up for it. One of us went forward, and the other took a seat on the pontoon towards the back. No need to go from side to side, as the birds and seals were all around us. And due to our slow speed, it was as quiet as we have ever heard. Antarctic terns flew overhead, chattering as they checked us out. Never knew they made that much noise. Very small sea birds were sitting on the water, then flying as the ship got closer. They left streaks in the smooth bay as they flew close to the surface. It was so mesmerizing, we ended up staying until 4pm, missing lunchtime. Sometimes, food is not as important as taking in these sights. Our port lecturer reminded all of us that today’s weather was something that happened only about 5 days a year. We seem to remember wind and fog the last time we did this sailing. The itinerary had Amelia or Brujo Glacier site-seeing as well as Canal Sarmiento. However, something must have changed with that schedule, because we saw no glaciers. Could be due to the swells we ran into, the ship was slowed down, and the time for the deep inland sailing was reduced. If this was a substitute, then we were happy with it. Sailing in a northerly direction, we got closer to the actual mainland of Chile. Then passing a very green and large island, Esperanza, we think, the lecturer described how sheep had been introduced to the island, and raised for meat and wool. There was no sign of them today, but it would have been a nice setting for them. One small fishing boat passed by the ship, after having set two fish traps or nets close to the shoreline. With the amount of fur seals in this area, the fishing must be very good. These seals popped up every now and then, but dove pretty quickly, making it difficult to film. These days, the fur seals are protected, so they flourish in the fjords and channels. We spent the remainder of the afternoon working in our room, which was warmed by the sun. Our plants are loving it. The soil we used was a rich mix for seed-propagation, so it holds water. However, with the dryness of the controlled air in the ship, the pots tend to dry out quickly. They require watering daily. The clue was watching the water level of the vase of flowers we have. It can go down four inches in one day. Dinner was with Leta and Bill at their table for four. What a nice time we had visiting with them. We have sailed with them ever since 2007, and most all of the world cruises since then. And shared a lot of laughs as well. At 10pm, we decided we better leave, since the waiters were yawning by then. There was a show this evening, but we missed it. A mentalist by the name of Alan Chamo performed his award winning show. He will be back for an encore, so we will check him out then. One more day of scenic cruising in the Chilean fjords tomorrow, then we will be on our way to another port of Puerto Montt. And we do expect the temperature to be going up gradually as we sail north. Bill & Mary Ann
  13. Report # 93 Scenic Cruising Nelson Strait February 7, 2020 Friday Mostly sunny & 54 degrees Part # 1 of 4 80 Pictures For a day at sea, it turned out to be a pretty nice one at that, and for several reasons. To begin with, the sun was out and the skies were cobalt blue, something we have not seen recently. That sure does a lot to boost everyone’s mood. It was showing in the dining room at breakfast time with not only the guests, but the crew as well. Of course, it did help that we all had enjoyed being in port after so many days at sea. And we learned when we went to check up on the progress with the internet glitch (again), we discovered that most all of the crew as well as passengers, had to use the free WIFI onshore to do their emailing. So we are not alone with this problem. Sure hope it gets resolved soon. Listening to the news this morning, we found out that several cruise ships have been involved with this new outbreak of coronavirus. Most of them are or were sailing in the Orient, or had infected people flying home from the same areas. Even one HAL ship, the Westerdam, was denied access to several ports in Asia. Forced quarantines for 2 weeks have been imposed on some Princess and Royal Caribbean guests we heard. That could be a problem in many ways, especially with passengers with limited medications. Who would expect that a 10 day trip might turn into a 24 day trip? This is the first time all of us agreed that we are glad we are not going to Hong Kong this year. The closest we will be is in Singapore, and now we are concerned about our 2 day stop there. Hope we are not turned away, not that we have that virus, but we probably have something going on. For about the fifth day in a row, we got a notice on how to properly sneeze or cough. And we have to add here that many folks do not know how to do this. The message to wash our hands and use hand sanitizer has been repeated over and over. Now we are fortunate that we packed two quarts of antibacterial hand soap with us for our room. Every time we leave our room, we wash our hands upon coming back. Early this morning, we must have left the Strait of Magellan, and entered the Pacific Ocean. The ship began rolling with the giant swells, which we did not experience while in the straits and channels of the hundreds of islands. Around 1:30pm, we entered Nelson Strait and began the scenic cruising through the inside passages. The deeper we got, the scenery of the inlet revealed placid waters with views of the many active volcanoes that exist down here. Soaring high in the distance, we saw snow and ice-covered peaks that were part of the Andes, the range that runs like a spine down the center of the continent. Majestic is the only word that ran through our minds as we enjoyed the wildlife sightings along the way. Even though the hatch was not open for access to the bow, we knew how to open it. For a while, we had the deck to ourselves. Yes, it was breezy with a coolness to it, but the sun made up for it. One of us went forward, and the other took a seat on the pontoon towards the back. No need to go from side to side, as the birds and seals were all around us. And due to our slow speed, it was as quiet as we have ever heard. Antarctic terns flew overhead, chattering as they checked us out. Never knew they made that much noise. Very small sea birds were sitting on the water, then flying as the ship got closer. They left streaks in the smooth bay as they flew close to the surface. It was so mesmerizing, we ended up staying until 4pm, missing lunchtime. Sometimes, food is not as important as taking in these sights. Our port lecturer reminded all of us that today’s weather was something that happened only about 5 days a year. We seem to remember wind and fog the last time we did this sailing. The itinerary had Amelia or Brujo Glacier site-seeing as well as Canal Sarmiento. However, something must have changed with that schedule, because we saw no glaciers. Could be due to the swells we ran into, the ship was slowed down, and the time for the deep inland sailing was reduced. If this was a substitute, then we were happy with it. Sailing in a northerly direction, we got closer to the actual mainland of Chile. Then passing a very green and large island, Esperanza, we think, the lecturer described how sheep had been introduced to the island, and raised for meat and wool. There was no sign of them today, but it would have been a nice setting for them. One small fishing boat passed by the ship, after having set two fish traps or nets close to the shoreline. With the amount of fur seals in this area, the fishing must be very good. These seals popped up every now and then, but dove pretty quickly, making it difficult to film. These days, the fur seals are protected, so they flourish in the fjords and channels. We spent the remainder of the afternoon working in our room, which was warmed by the sun. Our plants are loving it. The soil we used was a rich mix for seed-propagation, so it holds water. However, with the dryness of the controlled air in the ship, the pots tend to dry out quickly. They require watering daily. The clue was watching the water level of the vase of flowers we have. It can go down four inches in one day. Dinner was
  14. Report # 92 Punta Arenas, Chile February 6, 2020 Thursday Sunny & 48 degrees Part # 1 of 4 80 Pictures Although we have been to this port perhaps twice in the past, not much about the actual pier area looked familiar. This is a working commercial dock, and access to the downtown area of Punta Arenas was by a complimentary shuttle. Which was a good thing. While sailing on the Tales of the South Pacific last fall, we did not have the convenience of these shuttles. A city of 110,000, Punta Arenas is located in the Strait of Magellan, named after the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, who circumnavigated the world in the 1500’s. Difficult to travel to, this area has a vibrant fishing industry these days. After WW II, many Europeans migrated from Germany and Croatia to Chile, bringing with them sheep for wool and mutton, and the vines to plant wine grapes. That industry has certainly sky-rocketed. And to increase the economy, Chile has recently made this a duty free zone, making the tourists happy. There were several ship tours that took folks on the usual sight-seeing bus rides in and out of town. One such tour took the folks to a working sheep ranch, located on another island. Here at the ranch, the guests got to see a sheep shearing demo, and also see the sheepdogs at work. Lastly, you could learn how to milk a cow. Never know when you might need this skill. A trip to a national park, and one to islands full of Magellan penguins were offered. But the one excursion that stood out was the 11 hour tour to Antarctica on a 2 ½ hour plane ride to King George Island in the South Shetland Islands, where we already sailed around. This time the excursion would allow the guests to walk on the continent, and take a zodiac boat ride ……all this for the price of $3600. Will have to inquire tomorrow to find out how many people did that tour. The best thing we saw today was clear blue skies, and sun, although the temperature was still brisk, it was tolerable. The surrounding waters looked more like a placid lake, instead of a bay. At least the all onboard time was 7:30pm this evening, so we had plenty of time to go to town. Breakfast first, then some internet work would give the tour groups a chance to board their buses, and clear the gangway. The shuttle bus filled, and we were off for a slow ride to downtown by 10am. The road took us along the waterfront of the bay, with housing on one side, complete with walkways and bike lanes. Now it was starting to look familiar as we neared the downtown area. At one time, we had docked or tendered right near the base of the main drive, making the walk to town quite close. Today there were two ships there. One was the Balmoral, a Fred Olsen vessel, carrying mostly British passengers. The other smaller ship appeared to be a ferry. The town was going to be busy today. The drop-off point was at Plaza de Armas, or the main square. An elaborate statue in the center of this square was that of Ferdinand Magellan looking towards the strait. A statue of a Patagonian native was below him, and the legend is that if you kiss the toe, you will be immune to seasickness, travel in calm waters, and return here in the future. The monument was surrounded with a park of mature trees. When we arrived, there was a group of local dancers performing a ritual-like native dance to the music of the Andean flutes and drums. On the side street, there was a row of handicraft and souvenir stalls selling alpaca knit items, penguin knickknacks, which are becoming redundant now, and plenty of the blue lapis lazuli jewelry. It was so full of potential customers, we decided to hike to the next site. That was the Cerro la Cruz Viewpoint, located a few blocks uphill from the square. Climbing up a series of steps, you can see the panoramic view of the Strait of Magellan, the city below, and the island of Tierra del Fuego, where we were yesterday. Only one of us climbed the last set of stairs, while the other enjoyed the view from down below. There were a few small houses on this rocky, unpaved road, and a pretty female calico cat came for a visit. Much better than the dogs that chased us while in Rarotonga last fall. Bill reported that the same vendors were on the top street, selling the same souvenirs that we saw 8 and 10 years ago. Back down to the square, we saw the Braun Menendez Palace, home of a wealthy family that lived here. Inside this building was a restaurant as well as a pub. Had it been opened (it was only noontime) we would have gone inside for lunch. But a sign in the window said they would open at 1:30pm, and we did not want to wait that long. Following the ship’s map, we took a walk towards the main street, but could not locate any of the cafes on the map. In fact, a whole corner building had recently burned down to the ground. The smell of the smoke was strong, so it must have happened within the week. One of the tenants in this building happened to be a pizza place. Figures. Had we been able to listen to the entire port talk on this town, we may have known to head for the waterfront, as we heard later that many restaurants were located there. Many people were lined up to go back to the ship, where lunch was waiting for everyone in the Lido or the Pinnacle Grill. It was a Lido salad and sandwich for us. Back in our room, we worked on photos until we got a phone call from guest services offering to connect us with the IT tech to try to solve our computer problem. Meeting at the office on deck four, we spent at least an hour with the assistant tech, but eventually solved nothing. We do know that many of our friends are having the same problem with sending emails, so we know the glitch is not with our computer, but with something that has been tweaked onboard. Hope this gets resolved, because the photos are backing up. Dinner found only four of us tonight, since Barb, Susie and Woody went to another birthday celebration for a mutual friend. It was nice to be able to visit with Greg and Heo for a change, and since there was no live show in the Mainstage, we stayed in the dining room until 10pm. We have a few days at sea now, which should be nice. And maybe the days will heat up slowly. Bill & Mary Ann
  15. Report # 91 Ushuaia, Argentina & Scenic Sailing Glacier Alley February 5, 2020 Wednesday Partly sunny & 42 degrees Part # 1 of 4 80 Pictures Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world, closest to the Antarctic Peninsula, and capital of the province of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. The population went from 7100 in 1975 to 57,000 today, due to government tax incentives given to boost the economy. Tourism has continued to flourish, which has contributed to the area’s prosperity. Temperatures can range from 50 degrees in the summer to -4 degrees in winter. Summer days have 17 hours of sunlight, while winter has only 7 hours. The forests have several varieties of beech trees and shrubs called coihue, an evergreen. Penguins and albatross can be spotted in the channels, and condors, eagles, and upland geese can be seen in the interior. Guancos, a type of llama, and foxes roam freely in the National Park, while dolphins, seals, sea lions, and occasional whales can be seen in the Beagle Channel. Until the mid-1900’s, Argentina ran a penal colony for their most hardened criminals in Ushuaia. Today a museum is located in the former prison. After spending the evening docked here, we realized our day would be quite short here. The all aboard time was 1:30pm, and even though the sun did peek out off and on, the highest temperatures would not go beyond 45 degrees. We had our usual breakfast in the dining room, and as you might expect, it was not too busy. Our waiter Gan mentioned he and his buddies had gone off the ship last night, and found a Hard Rock Café there. With the internet not operable, we did not even think to look for one of those restaurants here. But then, looking outside, we realized how much this place has grown in eight years. The crew members sure appreciated getting off last night, mostly because they made good use of the free WIFI. So today many of the guests took tours that were from 2 ½ to 5 ½ hours for scenic sight-seeing and museums. There were several types of drives through Fuego National Park with forests, rivers, lakes, and peat bogs. That is the one we took 10 years ago. You can also see it by taking a vintage train ride. One unique excursion included a visit to a local family’s home for a crab lunch. This adventure included a boat ride where they casted nets to catch fish, shellfish, and crabs for instance. Before we left the ship, we made a visit to the internet manager, and did get some helpful hints for sending emails. Henk is still trying to work with the IT guru to fix this issue. We went off the ship by 10am to discover that three small expedition ships were in the process of taking on ample supplies for their Antarctic sailings. There were two fishing boats, two container ships, and several ferries docked here. With the Amsterdam tied up on the end slip, this was one very busy dock area. We walked through the narrow terminal building, then past a row of souvenir shops selling t-shirts, knit caps, sweatshirts, scarves, and a large variety of figurines made with local polished rock of pink, green, or black. The majority of the pieces were penguin-related, and fairly expensive. Locating San Martin Avenue, by going up 25 de Mayo Street, we remembered that was where the majority of the shops, pubs, and restaurants were located. There were also wine and cheese shops, ice cream stores, and chocolate shops. A common treasure to purchase here are mate cups made from small gourds with a metal straw called “bombillas”. Mate is a type of South American tea which is jammed tight into the cup, then hot water is added. When you empty the tea, more hot water is available in most of the cafes and restaurants. If you think about it, the Argentinians were ahead of their time. The gourd is a type of vegetable, so they are organic. The straws are metal, therefore, re-usable. And when the tea has lost its flavor, it can be used as compost in the garden. How about that? We hiked as far as the military area, uphill all the way. Ending up at one of the highest hillside streets, we made our way back down. Believe this – it is far easier to climb uphill, than go downhill. Just took a little longer to get there, especially with the condition of the streets and sidewalks. It was obvious that the winter snow and ice does a number on the concrete and asphalt. We had to mind every step we took on these side streets. Back on the main drag, we ran into Susie, Ellen, and Barb, who was celebrating her birthday today. She got big hugs from us of course. They were off to do some shopping, then later finding a good spot for a king crab lunch. The aroma of wood-fired grilled lamb filled the air, and it did smell really good. These large barbeques were made with the wood fires on the floor of the restaurants with skewered half lambs facing the flames in a circle. A chimney is located directly overhead to vent the smoke outside. Not only do they cook the savory meat, but they heat up the restaurant up at the same time. We continued with window-shopping and perusing the street vendor trinkets, some of which were rather nice silver jewelry sets. We came across the Hard Rock Café, where we did purchase two city t-shirts. For us, it was still too early for lunch, although we did see that our favorite haystack salad was on their menu. Had the ship stayed later in this port, we would have enjoyed lunch there. The dock was even more hectic with containers being loaded on trucks with heavy equipment. Other containers contained frozen boxed fish products, and were also being transferred to the waiting exploration ships. We had to stop more than once so we did not get run over by the big rigs. That was one thing we did notice. The car traffic was horrendous in town today. Crosswalks for pedestrians did not mean the locals will stop for you. They preferred to beep their horns, and cut you off, insisting on the right-of-way. Good thing there were a few traffic lights working here and there. As in many villages turned into cities, the streets were never meant for this type of traffic. Back on the ship, we had Dive In Grill food in the form of a cheeseburger and one hot dog and fries. The sail away was held in the Crow’s Nest, so we went to the bow once again to watch the ship pull out of the harbor. Scenic sailing of the Beagle Channel began around 3:30pm, which led into more scenic sailing of Glacier Alley at 4:30pm more or less. For some of the trip through the Beagle Channel, we stayed on the lower promenade deck, going back and forth across the front. Then when the scenery got really impressive, one of us went back up to the bow, and the other stayed in the shelter of deck three. The rewards were great for both of us, as we spotted two whales while in the Channel. They must be a smaller breed like the minke whale, since the diving revealed much smaller tails. Once we began to see the string of glaciers, we knew we were in for some awesome sights. The names of these glaciers were Holanda, Italia, Francia, Rongaglia Alemania, Romanche, and Espana, with Picos Azules in the distance. More whales were lazily feeding on the shoreline near the glaciers. The weather turned out to be fantastic, although cold, the sun had come out and we did have plenty of blue sky to give much-needed color to the photos. A little bit of high fog added to the majestic peaks that appeared from behind it. We stayed until 6:30pm, taking too many pictures. Now the work to catch up on these last couple of days will keep us busy. It was birthday party time for Barb tonight at dinner. Ellen, her longtime friend, joined us, making Barb’s day even more special. The theme for this evening was “Dinner with Darwin” with the menus printed with descriptions of the local cuisine, dating back to Darwin’s days of his specialized work on evolution. Even the wait staff dressed for the occasion with brown woolen vests and sport’s jackets to match. Both of us ordered the tuna entrée, but thoroughly cooked. For us, it was much better that way. Dessert was a huge carrot cake, which Barb really ordered for the rest of us, since she knows we like it best. Not a sweet eater, she only had one bite of it. Our waiters were more than happy to polish off the rest of it with their dinner later on. The entertainer tonight was Ruben Vilagrand, a comedian with musical magic and impossible escapes. Not sure what that means, but Greg and Heo will let us know tomorrow. The rest of us were too bushed to attend, as it had been one very long and active day. Punta Arenas will be our stop early tomorrow. Bill & Mary Ann
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