Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community

Enjoy the "Treasures of the World" with Bill & Mary Ann on the 2014 World Cruise

Recommended Posts

I love your posts on your African adventure.


Did you book the whole thing as a package from a travel agent? Or did you put it all together (plane, driver, lodge) as separate items yourself?


Would love to know some of the details for our future adventures!



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Report # 94 Cape Town, South Africa April 2, 2014 Wednesday Chance of rain, cool, 64 degrees


We had to get up early this morning, even though it was torture. Well 6:30am wasn't so bad compared to getting up at 4am the last five days. Even though we had free laundry at the bush camp, we still had plenty to send in here on the ship. We would have to keep our jeans, since they were the only pair we brought with us. Even with all of the game rides, we did not get dirty.


When we entered the dining room, we were greeted by our friendly morning waiters. We announced that the lions and leopards had not eaten us this time, and we were back to stay. Keeping the meal light, we ordered yogurt, fruit, cereal and ham and toast. We were hoping to get an early lunch at the Victoria and Albert Waterfront Mall. But it would depend on what time the restaurant opened.


The shuttle service began at 8am instead of 9am. It would not have helped us a whole lot, because nothing was opened that early. We lined up with a lot of other folks to catch the 9am bus, which was operating every 15 minutes. And they had supplied three shuttles, so it worked well.


The V&A Mall is the city's premier waterside shopping, dining, and entertainment district of Cape Town. We walked the several levels of the mall, finding that half of the shops and stores were opened. At least all of the center kiosks selling local souvenier items were open for business, and they were already selling lots of t-shirts and African items to the tourists. All of the stores here are the highend boutique shops, expensive, and can be found worldwide.


We were more interested in finding the grocery store to use the rest of our rand. The biggest disappointment was that the restaurant we visited last year was not open until noontime. Darn. They made a pretty mean margherita pizza and served great beer. It was not in the cards today.


So we found Pick and Pay, a new one, where we purchased a block of gouda cheese, a box of rusks (biscotti cookies), and some dips. All that for a grand total of $13. US. For some unknown reason, the price of food here is extremely reasonable. And we were not complaining.


If we had more time here in Cape Town, we could have been able to see a whole lot more of the city and the outlaying areas. Even though we have done most all of the tours here, some places are worth seeing more than once. One place we have not seen is Robben Island. You need to take a ferry from the waterfront to the nearby island, a short distance away from the mainland. It was here that Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years.


Other must see places are Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point, False Bay, Boulders Beach, Fish Hoek, the wineries, and Kirstenbosch Gardens. Number one on the list is a trip up to the top of Table Mountain. It is the city's most celebrated landmark. You get there by a ride on the Swiss-made cable car that rotates 360 degrees during the 3500 foot ascent. How cool is that? But cross your fingers and hope there is no fog, since it comes and goes a dozen times a day.


No time for any of that, we had to be back onboard by 12:30pm. Actually, we came back by the shuttle by 11:45am, thinking the buses would be too crowded if we had waited. We were required to go to the immigration officials for another face-to-face inspection, have our passports stamped (and inspected), and then keep them for our next port in Walvis Bay, Namibia. We will have to do this again when we get there.


It was the perfect time for us to pop into the dining room for a properly served lunch. Actually, it was our first noontime in here for this trip. Lunch was really good....we ordered caesar salad and meatballs and spaghetti (heavenly), and a shrimp caesar salad with fritters. Ice cream finished the meal. Eating right across from us was an elderly couple that had joined the ship yesterday for the final segment. They were Marion and Llyod from Georgia, segment tablemates from the 2012 world cruise. Recognizing us, Llyod came over and asked if they could join us at our table if we had room. We know better than to make that descision without consulting everyone, especially Barb, at our table. We had not remembered right away that the tabletop had been down-sized and we only had room for eight comfortably. Since Maureen has joined us, we are a table for eight now. Anyway, we said we would let them know, but Tom M happened to call us later and suggested that he could tell them for us, since they forgot to give us their room number. If we have tablemates going elsewhere one evening, we can always invite them to dine with us that night. We also found out later on that a mutual friend had suggested to them that we had room at our table, which we didn't. Wish people would not do that as it causes problems sometimes.


The muster drill was held at 1:15pm, with stern warnings that we all were required to attend, or be kicked off of the ship. This will be the last one for this voyage. Anyway, all was going well until until an elderly man next to us quietly slipped down to the floor, like he was crouching, and perhaps resting. But after the drill ended, he did not get up. Not noticing this, we had wandered over to the railing as we always do. We wait until the majority of the passengers have headed back to their rooms or whatever, before we go back to ours. Behind our backs, some staff members had this fellow on the ground and appeared to be giving him chest compressions. The medical team arrived with a wheelchair, but he still was not moving. We left to give them more space to work, but never did find out what had happened to him. Sure hope he was OK.


The sailaway was delayed, but we eventually left the harbor at 3pm. It was chilly, windy, but no rain yet. We forgot to mention that early this morning the rain had come down hard. Judging how wet the streets were, it must have rained all night. As the Amsterdam was sailing out of the harbor, a rain cloud came across Table Mountain, leaving a very peculiar rainbow in its path. It made for some unusual photos. The further out to sea we got, the rougher and windier it became.


Captain Jonathon had come on the outside speakers, but not one of us could hear what he was saying. If it was the same message as last year, he may have warned us to lash down anything breakable in our rooms, because we would be having "rollers"...deep swells that will rock the ship. Doubt that stabilizers would help with that ocean movement.


Well, he was right, because it got worse during dinnertime and continued into the wee hours of the morning. It does lull one to sleep, and can be enjoyable if you do not get seasick. In case you were wondering, we have traveled 21,418 nautical miles since leaving Ft.Lauderdale in January. That's a long, long way.


Bill & Mary Ann

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for taking time to post these wonderful entries of your journey. Along with the blog pictures, we have really enjoyed your journey. Your safari was so exciting and we could hardly wait for your

next entry. Safe travels.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Report # 95 Sailing Towards Walvis Bay, Namibia April 3, 2014 Thursday Partly cloudy, 85 degrees, but really 63 degrees


We were successful in sleeping in later this morning, but still not too late to make the dining room. At 9:30am sharp, they will close the doors, and suggest that you either go to the Lido buffet breakfast or order room service. While reading the dinner menu that is always posted near the entrance, we heard two ladies who arrived late, ask to be seated. They were gently turned away. Since we had come at 9am, our waiters had a table ready for us. Within minutes, they arrived with orange juice, coffee, and sweet rolls. We do know that the minute we finish our meal, they will be getting the tables ready for lunch, and will be off for a few hours.


It was much cooler today, but the sun was out and there was no fog or rain. What we did have were white caps and swells that made the ship continue to roll. Walking was difficult at best.


We came back to the room by 11am, and used the last of our original 1100 minute internet plan. Attempting to purchase another plan, we ran into problems when the name and password did not match. We had been told we had to start over to register, but that was not correct. With some help from Emily, the librarian, we figured it out and got going once again. We ended up working non-stop all afternoon, only stopping for a few walks before dinner.


Around the ship, not a whole lot was happening today. Did we mention that the watercolor teachers have left the ship due to illness? One of them ended up in the hospital in the Seychelles, we believe. The plan was to get better, then fly to Durban. But since they did not get better, they flew home instead. So watercolors is non-hosted now.


The new guest speaker, Dan Benedict, talked about stargazing on the Amsterdam. He discussed the possibility of seeing the stars, planets, and other celestial sights we might see during this trip. Later in the morning, a brewmaster Jorg created a special brew with local African ingredients using roosbos tea and maguni wild orange. Sounds really different. Another speaker was John Palmisano who presented a series on marine animals. So far his talks have been the best.


At dinner tonight, we discovered that most all of us had been working on photos like us. Remember the old days when we had rolls of film? There were few options as to when you developed those rolls. Usually it was when you got home. Who would have ever thought we would have the capability of taking 500 or more photos daily, then download them to a computer for instant satisfaction, or not, depending on what kind of photographer one is.


Looking forward to Walvis Bay and pizza. At least we should have plenty of time to enjoy it.


Bill & Mary Ann

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

We really enjoyed your posting on your safari. we leave this fall for the Rotterdam's voyage around Africa. Your safari sounds like something we would really enjoy. Could you email me on a contact person for this tour and what camp you stayed at? mrfranssen@cox.net


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have very much enjoyed following this amazing voyage from the start but I need some help from someone who can tell me how to access the photos that have been posted. I have gone to the other blog site but still can not find how to get to the photos. Any help will be much appreciated.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
I have very much enjoyed following this amazing voyage from the start but I need some help from someone who can tell me how to access the photos that have been posted. I have gone to the other blog site but still can not find how to get to the photos. Any help will be much appreciated.


Just click on this link. http://cruisingwithbillandmaryann.blogspot.ca


The photos are imbedded in the text. Older posts are down the right hand side of the blog. Just click there to see other postings

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
We really enjoyed your posting on your safari. we leave this fall for the Rotterdam's voyage around Africa. Your safari sounds like something we would really enjoy. Could you email me on a contact person for this tour and what camp you stayed at? mrfranssen@cox.net



I was also wondering how to get this information Please could you let me have recommendation Thanks yafm11@tpg.com.au

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Report # 96 Walvis Bay, Namibia April 4, 2014 Friday Mostly sunny, but foggy am, 70 degrees


The Amsterdam arrived to Walvis Bay, Namibia, around 7:30am, although if you happened to be awake to watch our entry into the harbor, we doubt the dock could have been seen. Something very familiar to us, dense fog, had obscured everything in sight. For us, and everyone we know, it is an eerie feeling sailing blindly. We were glad to be safely docked by 8am.


It was required of all guests and crew to attend yet another face-to-face passport check with the Namibian officials. The drill was the same as we did in Durban. We also were required to pack our passports with us today.


But first we went to breakfast around 7:45am. Hoping to go out to lunch early this afternon, we kept our meal light. Even lighter was our coffee consumption. Our number to go see immigrations was 12, and it sure was taking time for them to get to that number. While waiting for the drill, one of us finished typing last night's report, while the other took a long walk on the promenade deck.


Eventually, we were called around 10am, leaving the ship by 10:30am. Even though it was still foggy, we wore our shorts, a light weight jacket, and a long sleeve fleece. We knew that the fog would lift, and the sun would come out later We were right...it did.


There were complimentary shuttles running from the pier to downtown Walvis Bay that took about 10 minutes. When we got off the bus in town, there were a dozen taxi guys offering cheap tours. Since we have taken every tour here, we said no thanks. That was enough to get them to go to the next possible customer. The busiest store in town was the new Pick and Pay. We did not need anything, so we kept walking towards the lagoon area of the town. Armed with a map, we walked block after block, seeing no one outside at all. Except for the busy downtown, the streets were virtually empty of people. The homes seemed to be empty of people, probably because they were all at work elsewhere. Just like last year, it gave us a very isolated feeling of lonliness. The only traffic we saw were taxi drivers, who beeped their horns as they passed us in case we needed their services.


At the lagoon, which is an extension of the shoreline, we spotted hundreds of greater flamingos, pelicans, comorants, and numerous waders and sea birds. Hunting in the shallow waters offshore, was a group of four seals. Fish about one foot long were jumping out of the water everywhere we looked. So we figured the seals were chasing them. When the seals surfaced, they displayed a behavior of fin lifting, where they look like a small sailboat. We understand it is an attempt to warm up in the sun. We found it peculiar that so few people were on this stretch of civilized beachfront. The only folks we saw out and about were from the ship like us. Perhaps that was a good thing, because the further down the Esplanade we walked, we ran into a massive amount of flamingos, who were stirring the water with their feet so they could scoop up the plankton. There must have been a whole lot of feed in the pooled surf, because they ate continuously. As long as we approached them slowly, they stayed still, and we got within 20 feet of them.


We figured we had walked several miles at this point, and needed to begin heading back. Our destination was The Raft, a restaurant built over the water on stilts. They are not fancy, but they serve an excellent margherita pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven, no less. Perfect. We wandered into the restaurant side, instead of the bar side. We did not realize until we read the menu, that they will not serve burgers or pizza in that side. Not a problem, we got up and moved to the bar and cafe area, where we were sipping Hansa beers in minutes. We were really happy campers when the pizza arrived. Excellent. And when we asked for the bill, we were pleased to find that all of our meal was under $10. US, and that included the tip. Sure can't beat that.


All aboard was 4pm, and we wanted to take some time to check out the carvings and souveniers at the port gate. Walking back, a lady, a fellow passenger, directed us to take a left turn to see some shops, cafes, and souvenier stands. It was around the corner, past the yacht club, and once we saw it, we remembered we had been there many years ago while on a tour. It's called The Jetty, but not really worth our time for what we were looking for. There was a unit of stalls selling some small carvings and trinkets, but the big attraction was a young native Namib woman, who was dressed in local garb. The fact that she was practically topless, an accepted custom here, she drew the tourists to take her photo as she sat in front of her wares. If you were not buying her things, she kept covering herself up. Can't say we blame her, but then, she was using her dress or undress to sell her things.


The pier gate was a fairly short walk from The Jetty, and many more vendors had set up their things while we were gone. We ended up negotiating for a pair of stick warriors, a brightly-painted man and woman in native dress. Larger and heavier than we usually buy, these were well done. The two vendors were asking 1200 rand ($112.US), but were willing to sell them for $70. With that amount, we knew that we could cut it in half, and deal from there. The vendors reluctantly agreed to $40, saying it was late in the day, and they knew they may not sell them. With the deal sealed, they made us promise that we would tell no one how much we paid. But we know they say that to everyone, leaving you to think you got the deal of the century. Since no other vendors had these same figurines, we had no way to compare prices, but we think we did well and were happy with the purchase.


We got back to the ship well before the magic hour of 4pm. We happened to be boarding when the kids from the Bernhard Nordkamp Centre for Namibian orphans and vunerable children were leaving the ship. The staff has been collecting donations for this society since the beginning of the world cruise. From what we understand, they raised over $4000. for the cause. The group of kids were here today to sing for us in the Queens Lounge at 2pm. We did catch it later on TV. A funny thing happened while they were leaving. A few ladies have marked their rooms with some of the helium balloons from the decorations in the dining room on formal nights. We had to laugh when some of the kids snatched a few of the balloons off of the hallway railing on their way out. Great....we hoped they had taken them all, because they drive us crazy. Everytime we pass by them in the hallway, they hit us in the face, giving us whiplash. We have no problem with marking your door with a decoration, but not three huge mylar balloons. Bet the room service fellows love them too, when they try to deliver trays full of food to the cabins.


Back onboard, we had to go back to the immigration check, and turn in our departure slips to the officials, and hand in our passports to the front desk folks. Not sure how many more times we will have to do this.


As tired as we were, we dragged ourselves to the sailaway on the aft deck. Joined by Larry and Cheryl, and Bill & Marianne, we all shared our day's activities with each other. One couple were most disappointed that they did not see many flamingos. Their bus driver had driven down one street to the lagoon, but the birds had moved further up the road and out of sight. Their guide said the birds were not there this time of year, an obvious lie. They could not believe we had seen hundreds and not just a handful. Come to think of it, we were told the same thing in 2005 on our first visit to Walvis Bay. We also did not know that the birds come in and out with the tides at the time. It is the luck of the draw to see them like we did today.


Bill & Marianne had gone on a 4 x 4 drive in the dunes and had a ball. They said they had so much fun, although Bill is still not feeling well since he came back from their trip in India. Unless you have had this malady (Delhi-belly), you'll never know how inconvenient it can be.


The dinner menu offered a delectable warthog entree, which one of our tablemates had ordered. When we checked the entrees in the Lido, we noticed that the recommended warthog looked like slices of rare beef. Thanks, but no thanks. The best part of dinner is hearing about everyone's experiences, because we all did something different today.


While working on reports tonight, we watched a Brad Pitt movie about zombies. It sure gave one of us some pretty bad dreams, which could have been blamed on the warthog if we had eaten that tonight.


All in all, we had a great time in Walvis Bay. Tomorrow would bring some surprising news, so keep tuned........


Bill & Mary Ann



PS In reading the previous posts, we forgot to follow up on the story about shining a flashlight in the eyes of the animals. It's the big ones and the carnivores where you run into trouble. Joseph described it well on one of our bushwalks. He told us a true story about an unfortunate accident with a lion and a giraffe at night. The tracker was shining the light from his front seat on the road, as he always does when it gets dark. The ranger spotted a giraffe on the road in the distance, and had the tracker put the light on him. Unknown to the ranger, a lion was stalking the giraffe, who was blinded by the light. When the lion charged the giraffe, the giraffe headed straight for the light, landing on the tracker, killing him. The giraffe landed on top of the vehicle, causing more injuries. That is why you do not shine the light in their eyes.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Report # 97 Sailing Towards Jamestown, St. Helena April 5, 2014 Saturday Mostly sunny, 72 degrees


It was great to sleep in this morning, and having breakfast at 9am. Even though the sun was out, the breeze was cool as we took a nice, long walk on deck three. Of course, we are still working on photos from the safari. And we still are encountering problems with the internet. More times than not, the wifi shuts down, but you think you are online, because the minutes continue to tick away. Then trying to log off, the system will not allow it, ticking off more minutes. The staff has been very cooperative in replacing lost minutes with us filling out a form to be reviewed. They can check it on their master computer, and know if they were having problems at the time we indictated. Sure hope this gets figured ut someday soon, because it takes all the fun out of emailing.


A new speaker joined the ship in Cape Town by the name of Dan Benedict. He will be speaking on astronomy, specifically the stars and the planets as we see them from the decks of the Amsterdam. We did hear by the grapevine, that his talks were a tad bit boring. On the other hand, John Palmisano, the animal expert, agreed to stay onboard because a new speaker failed to make it to the ship on time. Lucky for us, because his talk will be all about seabirds, a favorite subject of ours.


A newly-embarked guest chef joined the ship too. She is Paulette Mitchell and her son Brett. She is an author of 13 cookbooks among other accolades, and will give a demo on African cuisine while we are in the area on this part of the cruise. We know her from previous trips, and have learned a lot from watching her demos on our room TV.


During his daily talk, Captain Jonathon had a surprising announcement. Due to the ebola scare in West Africa, an almost always fatal viral disease, the ports of Gambia and Senegel have been cancelled. Ascension Island has also been eliminated, although we do not know the reason behind that. The Captain said he would not put any passenger or any of his crew in any possible danger. We have a feeling that the folks in Seattle had a bigger say in this descision as well. So did the CDC, Center for Disease Control. What will replace those missed ports? We will be visiting Praia, Santiago Island in Cape Verde for one day, have an extra day in Mindelo, Cape Verde, and visit St Lucia on April 23. The rest of the ports will remain the same...Barbados, Dominica, and St. Maartin will be the last ports before we reach Ft. Lauderdale. All of the tours booked for the cancelled ports will be credited back to our accounts, and we will not need to spend money for visas for Gambia ($55.per person) and Senegel ($100. per person). Is everyone happy about this change in itinerary? In a word.....NO. To be perfectly honest, we had a gut feeling about the West African ports from the beginning. After hearing first-hand reports about the conditions in both places, we wondered why HAL even put them on the list of ports. Three years ago Keith and Margaret had stopped in both places, and said that fruit was thrown at their bus as they left the tour. Not a great welcome at all. However, we are not happy about the cancellation of Ascension Island, as we see no logical reason not to stop. Last year, we could not tender into the island's landing, due to high waves, but that is no excuse for this year. Hope they reconsider, and try it anyway. Anyway, stuff happens, and sometimes for a good reason.


While working in our room, we were happy to see that the Soweta Gospel Choir's performance while we were gone was televised and repeated for us to hear and see. They were really professional dressed in their native costumes, singing African melodies.


Bill got another haircut in the spa by a new gal that joined in Cape Town. She did a better job than the first girl, and this should last until he gets home in May.


Dinnertime arrived when we were still busy in our room. There were only 5 of us, and finally 6 when Maureen joined us at dessert time. She always brings her questions and answers from the afternoon trivia game, and tests our minds after we finish dessert. Sometimes we get them, but most times, we are stumped. Fun, anyway.


Some good news....the clocks went back one hour tonight for a much needed extra hour of sleep.


Bill & Mary Ann

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Report # 98 Sailing Towards Jamestown, St. Helena April 6, 2014 Sunday Mostly sunny, 72 degrees


It was nice to sleep in later this morning, since we got that extra hour back last night. We have not done this since we we on our way to Durban at the end of March. So it's about time we do this.


The dining room was much busier at 9am, because many folks decided to try the cuisine in here, instead of the Lido for a change. Our morning waiter, Arisnov, was off this morning, which was unusual. Hoping he was not ill or something, we asked Presti. He told us that every waiter will get a chance to sleep later on the evenings when the clocks go back. They will substitute a different waiter in that same section. That was nice to hear. Perhaps that helps to keep the staff healthy In fact, we were recently remarking that despite the cold virus that went around and around, this trip has been pretty free of the gastro-intestinal bugs that have plagued the world voyages in the past. The staff has been going the distance with spraying and wiping surfaces with disinfectant, and it appears to be working.


We spent most of the day doing homework. It is getting harder to do this, because the warmer weather has been calling us outside. The weather is definitely getting warmer, and the seas have been improving...less rolling.


It was a fairly lay low day on the ship. The morning speaker was out of this world with his talk on the skies of the southern hemisphere. And the afternoon speaker spoke about the top 10 marine animals, a very interesting subject. But we think the more interesting conversations revolved around the new itinerary and the sudden cancellations of ports and tours. Rumors are about saying that many longtime cruisers have sent messages to the Seattle office about missing these ports. Of course no one wants to chance getting the ebola virus, so the ports of Gambia and Senegel are understandable. They are not thrilled about Ascension Island, or the addition of an extra day in Mindelo. We have never been to this city or the new stop at Praia. So it will be all new to us. It is what it is.


Room service lunch was in order this afternoon, and we had swiss cheeseburgers and chips. We had added two chocolate chip cookies to the order, but never got them. But then, our order has only been completely correct only once on this trip. Something is always missing. When we give the order, it is repeated back to us word for word. But when the food arrives, it has been short of something. We have never complained, but made do with what we got.


Dinner was formal tonight, with only two more formal nights left on this trip. The theme was Great Gadsby, followed with a ball of the same name at 9:30pm. We did not even have our dessert by 9:30pm....how do they expect all of us at the late seating to attend this affair on time? Bottom line, is they do not care, because the majority of folks like this earlier time for the ball. By the time we all finished dinner, and ran through the trivia questions and answers, half of the dance was over. No one seemed to care if they missed part of it. Anyway, the decorations in the dining room were black and gold with black top hats for the fellows and black feather boa headbands for the ladies. We did see some of the gals wearing the men's hats, and they really looked better on the ladies. A small size, most of the guys could not wear them. Oh well, it was the thought that counted.


One of the entrees was beyond excellent this evening. We both ordered the Bronx-style veal chop, and found that it was the best piece of beef we have had on this trip. And that includes the rib eye, filet mignon, and New York cut steaks we have eaten in the Pinnacle Grill Restaurant. The veal was so tender, we used a regular knife to cut it. Needless to say, the bones were about clean-as-a-whistle when we were done.


We had notes on the bed telling us to put the clocks back another hour tonight. We sure don't have to be told twice.


Bill & Mary Ann

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Report # 99 Sailing Towards Jamestown, St. Helena April 7, 2014 Monday Mostly sunny (not), 72 degrees


Another day at sea, and another morning of sleeping in. We can get used to this very easily.


The temperatures have climbed over the last couple of days, since the Amsterdam has been going north as much as heading west. Despite the daily newsletter stating that it will be mostly sunny today, it was mostly cloudy, with noticable rain on the horizon. The humidity has picked up significantly as well. Yes, we are going back into the Equatorial conditions....hot and sticky.


Caught up on some homework in our room this morning, but made it a point to quit and go to the pool at noontime. Even though there was heavy overcast, it was very nice out. Today they were having an African Sizzler BBQ on the aft deck. It seems like every time they have attempted this, it has rained. Looks like it may be OK today. Anyway, sizzling away on the grills were slices of crocodile, warthog, emu, and zebra. They all smelled good, and according to friends that tried it, they admitted it tasted a lot like chicken. With the right sauces, they all tasted fine we bet. Some of the sauces served today were Peroni brand, and the little sample we had of two of them, we judged them hot and hotter. Can imagine that basting the meat with the hot sauce while being BBQ'd would be really good.


Other stuff happening on the ship included chef Paulette speaking about the African markets, which we will not be visiting. Having seen these types of open-air markets, and seeing the gunney sacks of spices opened up on the ground, you may think twice about buying these items. In most markets, they sell the spices in small plastic bags that are sealed and weighed. With our vivid imaginations, we picture these markets at night, when the rats are out and about, running over these same gunney sacks. In fact, it has been reported to us that some of the passengers have seen these rats scurrying about even in the daytime. Buy the spices now? We think not.


John Palmisano spoke about penguins, while Dan B. hoped to treat passengers to star gazing at 9:15pm, and 11pm in the sports court on deck 10 forward. We know they did this on the Statendam last fall while we were on the Hawaii/Tahiti cruise, and it was most popular. All you need is a clear sky with no clouds. Moonless would even be better.


During the afternoon, we snacked on crackers and cheese while watching an old DVD , the Brothers Grimm. "Parkland" was playing in the Wajang Theater, one venue we have yet to take advantage of. We are missing out on the buttered popcorn there, but we really don't need the extra calories at this point.


Dinnertime had a few favorites of ours on the menu. Simple, but good, was the entree of spaghetti bolognese, which we ordered appetizer-size. We have had great success by being creative with the menu choices. Our waiter is very good about switching veggies and potatoes with the entrees, keeping us all happy sailors.


Really looking forward to Jamestown, St. Helena tomorrow. It is a delightful place to visit, even if we only "do" the town area.


Bill & Mary Ann

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Report # 100 Jamestown, St. Helena April 8, 2014 Tuesday Chance of rain, 73 degrees Part 1


We slept late this morning, knowing we did not need to get up too early. We had no tour booked today,since this will be our fourth time to St. Helena. By the time we woke up, the island was looming right outside our window. The seas looked fairly smooth, but there was definitely a swell happening, which may make for a slow transfer to shore.


The skies were very dark with rain clouds, and surely looked like rainwould come down sometime today. Should we pack the umbrellas? If we don't...it will rain. But if we do, it will NOT, right? Doing everyone a favor, we tossed them in the bag just in case.


As five star Mariners, we were able to board the aft tenderboat without getting the tickets in the Wajang. In fact, we could go anytime we wished, and by the time we did at 9:30am, there was no wait at all. The swells were pretty high, but the sailors made sure each and every one of us got into the boat safely. Around 9am, there was an announcement that all tendering was halted, due to failing engines on boat # nine. It had been on its way to shore fully loaded, then had to be hauled back. Glad we had waited to get off.


The boat we boarded was not one of ours, but a local boat that only held 30 of us. And just as we thought, the swells were delaying the debarking process at the landing. By the way, it had been announced that only able-bodied folks would be allowed ashore today. Not that they listen. Some try it anyway.


Here's a little history on the island. Jamestown is the capital of St. Helena, founded in 1659 by the East India Company. Because of its location, it was of stratigic importance for trading ships traveling from England by the Cape of Good Hope to the Orient. Once the Suez Canal was in use, offering a quicker route from Europe to Asia, this island was left behind. The entire island is home to under 5000 residents, and consists of 47 square miles of mostly volcanic rock.


Once onshore, we could tell that the shore excursion staff was having a bad day, because it was taking so long for the tour group to arrive to shore. People are starting to get grumpy at this point in the cruise, and today was not helping.


Anyway, we never set off with the idea of taking a tour today, but it just happened.. We had been advised that few, if any, taxis or prvate cars would be available for hire. But today, we saw more vehicles than we have ever seen. Most of the drivers were looking for groups of four to eight, but one smart fellow offered his services for the two of us for $20. per person. A private tour for 4 hours? A no-brainer. Our driver's name was Aubrey, born and raised in St.Helena, who had moved to Ascension Island for 25 years, then returned to his homeland for the last 21 years. We figured his age to be around the late 60's. He spoke perfect English, with a slight, but proper English accent. How lucky could we get?


We sped up the left-hand side of the road out of town. The first stop was at a viewpoint of Heart-Shaped Waterfall, dramatic due to the heavy rainfall that they have had for the last two weeks. The next stop was at the gravesite of Napoleon, reached by a grassy downhill road about 1000 yards long. Slippery and muddy, our driver came with us to serve as a guide. According to the records of St. James Parish, Napoleon died in 1821. He was interred here in this tropical setting, but was ceremoniously removed in 1840 and sent by ship back to France, where he remains today.


An interesting thing happened on our way back to the car. A reporter from the local newspaper, The Sentinel, asked if we would give him a quick interview for his paper. Sure, no problem. With that, he whipped out his microphone and proceeded to ask questions about where we came from and what did we hope to see on St. Helena today. Taking a few photos of the three of us, he said we would be on the radio tonight, and by next Thursday, an article may have our interview and photo in the paper. Well that was fun, and Aubrey seemed to like it too. Having lived most of his life here, we are sure everybody knows him and his family well.


Our third stop was at Longwood House, the final home of Napoleon during his 6 year exile from 1815 to 1821. The house was civilized, well-appointed, considering that this was his "prison". His real prison was being so far removed from France with no hope of ever seeing it again. But this was not a bad place indeed for one that had just met his "Waterloo" and was soundly defeated.


Far from spacious, the conservative rooms held living and dining space, large enough for him to entertain and dine with his entourage from France, who lived here as well. Some of his top men and their families had come here with him, so it was not like a solitary confinement. Far from it....they had many social affairs, dances, music, and good times according to the local guides in the house. Napoleon's bedroom and attached dressing room were remarkably small....big enough for a narrow, short canopied bed that resembled a child's bed. And the dressing/study room included a desk, chest of drawers, and a cot. It was on this cot that he died, and laid in rest for four days after his passing. his death mask, a common practice in those dyas, was displayed on a table near the cot, although it was a replica. The real one is in a museum in France, as are many of his personal items. Aubrey mentioned that every single artifact or piece of furniture has to be sent back to France to be restored. Then it is sent back here to be on display.


Before exiting the home, we signed the guest book, then entered the garden grounds. We estimated that this manicured garden surrounding the home was about 1/2 acre, which included an expanse of green lawn in front. If this was our abode, the gardens would be our favorite spot. Planted with dayliles, agapanthus, deep blue morning glory, daisies, geraniums, cockspurs pontsettias, and hibiscus, it was a lovely setting.


There was a convenient pit stop across the road from the house and the parking lot. Also tea and cakes were for sale on the greens, along with a few tables of souveniers. Quite unique necklaces were on display by a small group of ladies. The "beads" were created from cereal boxes, of all things, cut in strips of triangles, then rolled and glued. The real kicker was that they were all made by a local lady who is blind. Incredible. The price? Five dollars. Could not pass that up, and will have to show Maureen our craft expert tonight at dinner. She makes similar pieces in her class.


Aubrey asked if we would like to see the golf course and the future airport being built. He said if you wanted to play 18 holes, then you would have to do it twice, since it is a 9 hole course. Makes sense to us. The greens were being mowed, but the roadside was being trimmed by tethered goats. In fact, when goats, sheep, cattle, and horses were introduced to the island by the Europeans, they eventually stripped the land of all vegetation and indigenous plants species. There are severe restrictions now, and conservation efforts have been successful in restoring the balance. Today pigs, sheep, goats, and cattle are ranched here. We did see a few donkeys out and about, but no horses. There are no large predators and no snakes or foxes, but there are feral cats, rats, and mynah birds that eat smaller wildlife, especially the birds and their eggs.


The future airport site was a beehive of activity from our vantage point. It began two years ago, and is manned with workers from South Africa. They live in a workers camp near the site. It should be completed by 2016, according to Aubrey. We wonder how that will change the dynamics of this quiant island that modern day technology has barely touched?


Another project in the talking stages is a breakwater in the area of the current tenderboat landing. He thinks it would guarantee that every ship that stops here will be able to get in, no matter the waves or high tides. He surprised us when he said that only half of the ships are able to tender the guests to shore due to the swells. of course, creating a new pier means a new road as well as probably a real terminal building. All that costs money, so it may be awhile before that is done.


Did we mention that the RMS St. Helena was also in the harbor today? This vessel sails with supplies and as many as 130 passengers from Cape Town to Ascension Island, then onto St.Helena once a month. Since there is no airport, all supplies and mail for the islanders comes via this ship.


We saw many birds today such as white terns, pigeons, mynahs, and the elusive wirebird, a type of plover. These birds may help in keeping the population of mosquitoes down, which they have tons. But no malaria or yelllow fever here.


While traversing the upper switchback road, Aubrey drove us past hillsides covered with flax plants. This invasive plant was imported by the British so it could be turned into fiber and used for rope-making. It was exported back to England. Since there is no use for this plant today, much of it has been eradicated. However, where it is holding back the soil on the steep hillsides, it has been left to flourish.


We passed St. Matthews Church with its front yard grave site. Along the road, we also passed a local grocery shop, which had gone out of business due to the owner moving. Recently it had been sold, and the new owner plans on cleaning it up and opening for business.


Noticing that some of the large roadside trees had been pruned in half, Aubrey said that was done to feed the cattle. Never knew that cows would eat tree leaves, but he said that it was extra nutrition for them.


The hillsides were dotted with dozens of small homes on small plots of land. They had solar water heaters, LP gas for cooking, electricity, gravity-fed water, and septic tanks. He estimated that each government-built house may cost about 50,000 pounds. Most all of the homes had dish TV, which residents pay for by the month...just like everywhere else in the world.


Driving around Diana's Peak at 2700 feet, we figured it was the tallest point of the island. Two spires loomed before us in the volcanic caldera...Lot and Lot's wife. The two large calderas created by volcanoes are now extinct. The valley below is called Sandy Bay, home to the blind lady who made my new necklace. Solomon and Company, a large business owner here, has pig and cattle ranches in this valley. Other valleys have the names of Levelwood, Blue Hill, Alkarm Forest, as well as Longwood.


Our next stop was at the georgian-style Plantation House, the home of the governor and his wife. The house is a two story mansion and is quite handsome. Built in 1792, the governor resides here, and is appointed for five years by England. The current governor is British, and his wife is Italian, according to the park guide at the paddock. She claimed that the wife is not overly fond of visitors over-running the property. We think the more interesting sight is that of the tortoises in the large paddock in front of the mansion. Get this.....a tortoise by the name of Jonathon lives here. he was a gift sent here from the Seychelles in 1882. He was estimated to have been 50 years old at that time. Doing the math, Jonathon is pushing 182 years old. That is a big WOW. He is undoubtedly the oldest living specimen of his breed in the world. He may be the oldest living animal in the entire world. And what do you think Jonathon was doing this fine morning? Yep, he was "misbehaving" with one of the three female tortoises in the paddock. Three girls are with him, as well as one other smaller male. Their names are Emma, Myrtle, and Fredricka. Speedy, a younger tortoise recently died, so they have only five in this area. We wondered if any of the eggs have ever hatched, and the answer was no. They have to be incubated artificially, and so far, none of them have been viable. Anyway, Jonathon was a happy camper this morning.


On the bottom end of this paddock was a veggie garden used for the governor. Beyond that, the gardens were rented out to locals to grow crops. With the weather a constant warm temperature, they can grow all types of fresh produce easily. We also saw tree saplings planted by the Duke of Edinborough in 1957, and some planted by the Duke of York in 1984. They are screened so the tortoises cannot harm them. Further down the road, groves of eucalyptus trees and Norfolk Island pines had been planted. The pines were used for masts on the sailing ships in the old days, and these trees made the best and straightest ones.


The next stop was at Ladder Hill after driving through Half Tree Hollow. Love these names. Jacob's Ladder (meaning steps to heaven) is a landmark staircase here. Built in 1829, it has 699 steep steps straight up a mountainside to the island's fortress. Actually, these stairs were added later, because the original pathway was made for a horse-drawn sled. Fertilizer, in the form of manure, was hauled up in the sled, and once off-loaded, fresh produce was let down for trade below. Electric lights were added in 2000. Did we climb the stairs today? Heck, no. Many who did, will be hurting tomorrow, even though they will not admit it. The majority of climbers today were young crew members, who wanted the certificate for the climb. However, they were surprised to find out that it cost $5.00, a donation to the town's coffers.


In 2005, on our very first visit to St. Helena, we walked from the tenderpier to the top of the ladder. Once at the top, we climbed down 6 steps, and took pictures. Then we headed back to town, taking the same switch-back, narrow road to town. It was one heck of a long walk, that we would not choose to repeat..a one time adventure.


Today was much better, having our driver drive us back after an excellent private 4 hour tour. We thanked him, and showed our apreciation by leaving him an extra tip.


Last year, we had gone to the Consulate Hotel on Main Street for beers. But since Barbara H. had highly recommend that folks go there, it was swarming with too many people. So we opted to walk down to Anne's Place, located above the nice Castle Gardens. A bit more out of the way, we found it was not crowded at all. The way the service works here is you place your order for your food, take your beverages, and find a table you like. The food arrived, a shared cheeseburger and cheesy fries, while we were sipping the ice cold Windhoek beers. The price for the meal was not extraordinarily high, but paying the equivalent in dollars for pounds, it was a little pricey.


After resting up for a half hour, we continued back up the street in search of a new t-shirt. We were too late...all of the sizes had been picked over and all that was left were extra small and 2 & 3 extra large. Glad we purchased the necklace at Longwood, because similar ones in the tourist information shop were double the rice, and not as nice.


Ice cream sounded good at this point, but do you think we could find a store that sold them easily? We were eventually directed the to DVD store, where they served vanilla softies in cups. It was across the road from the Castle Gardens, so we found an empty bench and took our time with the sweet treat.


St. James, is the oldest Anglican church in the southern hemisphere, built in 1774. Directly across the street from the gardens, we listened to the pastor ringing the old bell for several minutes. They were serving banana bread and tea to anyone who wished to partake. It was getting late, so we passed on the cake, and headed back under the tunnel entrance towards the pier.


There was a stand set up in the old Mule Yard with a couple selling neat bottles of St. Helena gin, tequila, rum, and a coffee liquere....all locally made here by them. One of us loves spiced rum, so that bottle found a space in the bag. It was the bottle that sold it. Steps of Jacob's Ladder were on one side, and will be a keeper once the booze is consumed.


All aboard was 4:30pm, and we made one of the last boats back. The waves were getting more dangerous as the day progressed, so we were glad to make it back safely.


At the sailaway party, Captain Jonathon announced that the port of Ascension Island had been re-instated for April 10th from noon to 6pm. It was met with cheering and applause from the passengers. However.......will we be able to tender ashore? henk Mensink told us that a 3 meter swell had been reported for the last few days, making that landing impossible. Time will tell.......


Bill & Mary Ann

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I went to St Helena on a cruise in 2012 on the old "Athena" formerly the "Stockholm" built in 1948 and carrying 600 passengers. She was the ship that collided with the Italian liner "Andrea Doria" in 1952 off the Nantucket coast. I enjoyed the visit to St Helena which was one of the highlights of the cruise largely because of the features mentioned in your report namely Napoleon's house, the old tortoise and the ancient colonial buildings. I was intrigued at the age of the taxis - one was a 1921 Chev open tourer. Like you we could not visit Ascension Island because of the weather.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks from St Helena for a great write-up. There's been lots of positive things said on the island about the Amsterdam's visit.


I heard you on the radio talking to Richard and you do indeed appear on page 6 of yesterday's edition of the Sentinel (download http://www.sams.sh). I will castigate Richard accordingly for getting Mary Ann's name wrong :)


It's so nice that you've mentioned so many of the less known things about the island.


Enjoy the rest of your trip and your bottle of White Lion!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Report # 101 Sailing Towards Georgetown, Ascension Island April 9, 2014 Wednesday Mostly sunny, 72 degrees, but feels warmer


We forgot to mention that we got a new itinerary covering the final segment of the world cruise. One of the formal evenings had been eliminated. The last formal would have been the final farewell dinner. Now it has been changed to smart casual by popular demand we understand. We heard that when Stein Kruse was onboard, a hand count was done during his talk on the stage. More than half of the guests voted for casual. Not that it matters a whole lot, but that has traditionally been the big night of frivolity, celebration, and tears for those who would be going home soon. In the old days (now we sound old), the baked Alaska parade with the kitchen staff filing throughout the lower and upper dining rooms to music was always a high point. Won't be the same. On the other hand, most everyone will have the majority of their luggage packed if they are smart. All of the formal duds can be stashed now.


Highlites of today were Barbara H. giving a talk on Ascension Island scheduled for tomorrow now. Although there is not a lot to do there, we have always liked the stop. Nothing like getting your toes sunk in the warm sand on the beach there, while checking out the turtle tracks in the sands. Sure hope we make it.


Paulette , who is an expert on soup-making, gave a demo on making Moroccan red lentil bean stew and blackened tomato and peanut soup. Who ever thought you would be adding peanut butter to soup? Bet it is good.


Another Mongolian Cookout was held in the Lido pool area. We opted for room service burgers instead. They are just too good.


Two of the sea's most charismatic animals, killer and humpback whales are the subject of Mr. Palmisano in the Queens Lounge. We try never to miss his talks on TV later in the day. Since so many of the room movies are reruns of reruns, it is nice to be able to watch something informative. Frankly, some of the movies that are out now are plain stupid.


Pool games were held at the Lido pool, hosted by Gene. They sell happy hour drinks (buy one get one for $1.) and give away grand dollar prizes. So far we have only seen one of these, since we are usually swimming and sunning at the aft pool. With the sun out, the waters in this area are deep blue. We heard someone had spotted whales on the horizon today, but we missed them. They will only appear when you do NOT have your camera. Once again, there were no ships in sight, making us feel quite alone in these South Atlantic waters.


The movie, Delivery Man, was shown in the Wajang Theater. And the entertainer this evening was Jeff Peterson, a hilarious comedian and amazing magician...at least that is what his description said. Will have to ask our tablemates to grade his performance.


Dinner was fun as always. Our trivia time with Maureen had us rolling in the aisles with laughter. She plays the 5pm game in the Piano Bar, and keeps notes of the questions and answers as she plays wth her team. She loves stumping us with them on the nights she joins us. Brings out the natural teacher in her, and gets us to think hard for those often useless answers to funny questions.


Now the real question is: will we, or won't we get to go on Ascension Island? Stay tuned to find out......


Bill & Mary Ann

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your adventures. Your African Safari was a real highlight! Smooth sailing.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Report # 102 Georgetown, Ascension Island April 10, 2014 Thursday Part 1 Partly cloudy, 81 degrees


The big question of the day is will we or won't we be able to get onshore today at Ascension Island at noon today? Captain Jonathon had put the pedal to the metal, and sped the ship up all night in order to arrive here by noontime.


After breakfast, we took a walk on the promenade deck to watch our approach to the island. We could not help but overhear two deck officers talking about the two meter or more swells here today. Now we really doubt we will be going there. The island came into sight around 9am, and all of our hopes were high as the Amsterdam approached the shoreline. To us, the seas looked calm and the winds not so bad.


By 11:30am, the line for getting tender tickets was long on deck four by the Wajang Theater. Everyone, but the President Club members, had to pick up a tender ticket. The line moved quickly and we got number 39.


The dreaded announcement came around noon. Despite the heroic effort to attempt a landing, the effort was unsuccessful. We could see from the bow of the ship that the little orange boat was bouncing up and down 6 to 8 feet at the tender landing. No way Jose, were they going to be able to take folks off of a boat safely. It was a NO GO. The islanders would have to come to us with their souveniers and much sought-after stamps and postcards.


The new plan was to have Barbara H. give a scenic cruising commentary as we circumnavigated the island...the exact same thing she did just last year. Truthfully, we ended up seeing more and learning a lot more than we would have by going onshore to the beach and the shops. Deep down, we figured that this would be the plan for the day, and perhaps the attempt to land was only for our appeasement. They never planned on going in the first place. Last year was handled differently in that the first boat was sent over to set up the landing equipment. Then two boats were filled with passengers to debark as soon as they set up that equipment. We remember it well, because we were in that first boatload of passengers. Bobbing up and down in the swells, some folks got sick, and soon we were turned around and heading back to the ship. The attempt had been called off. Today they never even began off-loading anyone. They already knew no one was going.


Time for a funny story. As Barbara H. was getting ready for her commentary, she said look at those turtle tracks near the rocks by the yellow crane. We happened to be passing by a lady who was sitting on one of the teak lounges on the promenade deck. We heard her ask her husband, "Where are those tracks.....in the water?" Everyone within hearing distance roared with laughter, including her husband who turned 20 shades of red. We will have to tell Barbara this story, because she will love it.


Well, what did we see and learn? The island is 14 miles long, and 10 miles across, consisting of 35 square miles of volcanic rock. Under 1000 people live here, but not permanently. The population consists of mostly folks from St. Helena, followed by British and American citizens. Most all of them work in the tele-communications, military, the tourist industry, and Royal Air Force.


Wind generators marked the area where the radio and power stations were located. Oil tanks were near the water's edge, as well as the start of the high towers for electricity. Sailing past the west end, we came upon the bird sanctuary where we saw sooty and white terns, petrels, gulls, four types of boobies, and frigates. The cliffs of the seaside were covered with white guano from so many birds that live here. The only real danger to the birds that nest here are feral cats. They became such a problem, that eventually they had to be eradicated. Another enemy of the eggs and young chicks are the frigate birds.


Along the shore, we passed cinder cones of volcanic origin. There are at least 41 of them. At this point, we turned and headed towards the south side of the island. We passed by Boatswain Island, a big rock off shore that was full of birds nesting. When Captain Cook and Charles Darwin visited this island in 1775, they would have witnessed these very same sights we were seeing today.


The sealife includes green and hawksbill turtles, sharks, sailfish, barracuda, wahoo, marlin, and bottlenose dolphins. It was in 2002, that the island was discovered by the sports fishermen. They came here for the sports fishing. Someone thought to build a small hotel to house these fellows when they came to fish. Now it is a popular destination for a chosen few. Diving is also big we hear. Except that due to the dangerous riptides and undertow, all of the beaches are marked with signs for no swimming. That brings to mind the Ascension Island Government Landing Permits we were given to sign. These forms had been signed and stamped by the immigration officer well before we got here. We also had a disclaimer notice that we were required to read and sign and add the date, provide our email address and passport number. Bottom line - we had signed our lives away. We had to agree not to sue for property loss, harm, accidents, personal injurues, and/or death. These are the only souveniers we have left.


Green Mountain is at the center of the island. All the agriculture is done here in these volcanic-rich soils Most of it is a national park, where bamboo and Norfolk Island pines were planted years ago. The pines produce an excellent timber for masts for sailing ships.


Despite the extreme wind on the bow, we stayed there for the duration of the sailing. We are sure that Captain Jonathon would have liked to made it onshore himself today. He tells a story of being stranded here early in his career at sea, eventually he and his fellow sailors being rescued.


Early in the 1900's, there was a telegraph relay station here. Later on, the BBC built a transmitter, and during WW II, the Allies built an airfield here to support flights to North Africa. It was and still is named Wideawake, named after a noisy bird that woke the folks up before sunrise. As ,many as 4000 troops had been stationed here, mostly Americans. More recently, NASA set up operations and the Lunar Landrover was tested here before being sent to the moon. In the 1982 Falklands War, the Brits used Ascension Island as a staging ground and re-fueling station.


Spotting a pod of bottlenose dolphins jumping across from us on the bow, we got a few good shots of them before disappearing under the front of the ship. They love playing tag with us. Gene announced at 2pm that the souveniers were ready for sale on deck five around the atrium. Checking it out, it looked like the half-yearly sale at Nordstroms. We left.....it was a zoo.


Back on top, we spotted a pair of beautiful tropic birds, rarely seen around here we heard. At this point, we were across from the volcanic hillsides where the terns nest. If these birds are spooked off of their nests, the frigates swoop down and eat the eggs and the live chicks. It is a very protected area and off limits to hikers.


Wideawke Airfield was in this vicinity, although we could not see it. It is used primarily by the military. Pillars Bay was also there with pinnacles popping out of the water near the cliffs. As we rounded the island, the de-salination plant came into view. In the old days, water catchment basins provided all the fresh water used on Ascension Island. Finally, we were back where we started at Sandy Beach, where the green turtles come onshore during the night to lay their eggs in the sand.


The locals were scheduled to go back home, or were they? We heard a blip on the speakers from the Captain saying something about the boat losing their steering mechanism. What did we hear? Was he talking about us? No, something had broken down on the native's boat, and they would need to wait for another shore boat to haul them back on the island. We left somewhere around 4:50pm, with no sailaway party. It had been cancelled we heard. Just as well, we needed to work on photos and reports.


Dinner for us was in the Pinnacle Grill, the first of our two complimentary meals. In apology for aborting their call in Ascension Island, we were treated to a glass of champagne, beer, or soda. Had we read the card thoroughly, we would have had beer as well. The dining room guests did not get the offer of wine, like we did. Our meals of filet mignon and New York strip steak were good, but not quite the same as the Sterling beef served here a few years ago. We are not big fans of grass-fed beef, but rather prefer the corn-fed beef. The Sterling beef was more tender and flavorful we think. The service and rest of the food were excellent however.


And on the plus side, the clocks went back another hour tonight.


Bill & Mary Ann

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Report # 103 Crossing the Equator April 11, 2014 Friday Chance of rain, 82 degrees


Not realizing how much exercise we got yesterday by climbing the steep steps from deck three to the bow on deck four, we really slept soundly last night. Having the extra hour of sleep really helped too.


Shortly after breakfast, every passenger was invited to attend the King Neptune Ceremony held in the Lido pool area. At 9:15am, Equator Sling Drinks were served complimentary until the games began. The crazy ceremony began at 10am, and despite the early hour, the sun was hot and intense. The great sea god, probably Gene, reminded all humans to use gallons of sunscreen, wear hats, and drink lots of fluids...preferably the drinks sold here.


What is the point of the King Neptune Ceremony? We believe that this is really our fifth time crossing the Equator on this voyage. So for those of us who have sailed from Ft. Lauderdale, we are already shellbacks. The newbies may be pollywogs, or first time crossers. The ceremony today "christens" the pollywogs, inducting them into the "shellback" status. We are all assured to have a safe trip from here on out, but only until after some of the staff members get slimed with tinted blue and yellow egg whites, kiss the fish, and get dunked in the pool. Yes, the pool will be dumped also, and cleaned later.


As we all know, the Equator is an imaginary line on the earth's surface. It is equal distance from the North Pole and the South Pole. It divides the earth into a Northern and a Southern Hemisphere. The latitude of the Equator is 0 degrees. We both received certificates confirming that we crossed it today, however the actual time was really after 11pm.


At 11am, Barbara H and Irene from shore excursions gave a shared talk on the tours available for the rest of this voyage. That will include the ports in Cape Verde and several Caribbean stops. Cannot believe there are only 17 days left to go for most folks.


Easter is on the way too. There was a signup for the annual Easter bonnet competition. Last year, there were two winners....one lady and one man, who was daring enough to enter his decorated hat. That got a few laughs from the crowd for sure.


Mr. Benedict spoke about the Spanish Inquisition and the relation to discovering new constellations. We heard that the star-gazing on deck ten was pretty good at 11pm last night. Our tablemates learned a few things, because they participated.


There was an early show at 7:15pm, the only one for tonight. The Divas of Motown entertained the crowd. Some loved it, and others admitted it was not their cup of tea.


Dinner was good with entrees of turkey and chile rellenos. Maureen came late and quizzed us with trivia. We got 2 out of 15. Pretty bad.......


A Rock the Boat Party was held in the Crows Nest at 9:30pm. We think this was an attempt to sell more drinks. We have recently heard a rumor that the price of beverages may be going up next year, since the participation has been low.


Another day at sea tomorrow, and one day closer to Cape Verde.


Bill & Mary Ann

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Report # 104 Sailing Towards Praia, Cape Verde April 12, 2014 Saturday Chance of rain, 81 degrees, humid


We forgot to mention that last night's dinner had a King Neptune theme, with decorations of fish mobiles and balloons......many helium balloons of cute, but big fish, turtles, seahorses, and starfish. Bunches of five balloons were set on each table held by a cute seashell balloon weight. As the diners finished their meals, they walked out of the room with these weights and balloons. We have never seen the guests do this so much as they have on this trip. Well, when we got up this morning and went out our door, guess what lined the hallways for as far as we could see? Yes....balloons....fish, turtles, seahorses, and starfish were hung on the railings or taped to the door jambs. Good grief. Someone said they like them so they can find their room easier. Personally, we think they are a hazard, because when you walk down the hall, they float in your face, causing whiplash. And you can bet that the room stewards and room service waiters don't like them. We have a better suggestion. Let out the helium, flatten them out, and tape them to your door. Our travel agency put very small papermache fish on all of our doors, but they are small, and still work for us to find our room. We added bubbles (using paper circles) so we know it is our room for sure. And we do have a room number marked on the wall, and we can still read it.


The first activity of the day was a fire drill on deck three. Today they simulated a fire and an injury that required a stretcher and firehoses drawn out. It took place in the forward end of the promenade deck, and was closed off to the early morning walkers. It is a good exercise for them to practice like this, because if there was an injury like this, they will be prepared.


Barbara H. gave a talk on things to do and see in Praia and Mindelo, Cape Verde.....both new ports for most of us. We always make sure to watch her lecture on TV, but find it inconvenient when they cycle her with the two speaker series. It runs every three hours, so we do hope to connect with it before we are there on Monday. There are three tours offered through the shore excursion department, put together at the last minute we assume. A note on two of the tours warns people of the limited tourist infrastructure in Cape Verde. They also added that there may be a problem with the guides who have limited English skills. They also say not to expect air-conditioning in the coaches. Not exactly the best advertising to sell these tours.


Guest chef Paulette had a film on the food markets of the world. We did catch this on TV while working in our room, and found it to be very interesting.. We have visited many of the places she featured in the film.


Constellations was the subject again by Mr. Benedict. He will host two more star-gazing attempts on deck ten this evening. Lucky for him and the interested guests, the rain stopped this afternoon, and it looked good for the stars to come out later.


Mr. Palmisano continued his talks on exploration, physical phenomena, and persisting myths across the North Atlantic. That is where we are sailing now, after crossing the Equator.


Dancing with the Stars at Sea has begun again. Today the fox trot will be taught by the dance instructors and the Amsterdam dancers.


If you had a hankering for cupcakes, they served some fancy ones at the High Tea this afternoon in the dining room. We swear we could smell them baking when we were at the back pool. Actually, we made it to the pool today, well before the rain began. First it was hot, then the breeze picked up, and the horizon went dark. Thinking the rain was coming very soon, and it may be heavy, according to the Captain, we left around 3pm.


Spending some time in our room finally finishing up backed up reports, we decided to get some exercise and fresh air around 5:30pm. There is a small group of passengers that have created their own "sundowner" party every evening around that time on the promenade deck. Despite the deck steward picking up the lounge pads all around them, they sit tight with their wine, and do not leave. He has finally figured out that he can pass them up, and leave the pads out all night. Don't know if they will be able to do this next year, because they will only be allowed to bring on one bottle of wine each. If they enforce this new rule, no one will be able to buy local wines to enjoy in their rooms, as it will be confiscated until their trip is over.


At dinner, we had to inform everyone that we will not be present tomorrow evening, since we have been invited to the final Captain's Dinner in the Pinnacle Grill Unfortunately, it is Keith's 80th birthday, and we are sorry to be missing it. We were going to try to make it for dessert time, since our dinner starts at 6pm. However, Margaret suggested that she will invite two ladies she knows to dine in our places. So now there will be no room for us. They will have a fine time, and we doubt we will be missed all that much.


The preferred entree for six of us was the savory grilled lamb chops. Cooked perfectly, they were tasty and went well with the scalloped potatoes. Two of our tablemates always pre-order from the salt-free menu. Usually the entrees look identical to the regular ones, but tonight, Maureen ordered the steak and mushroom pie, and got something that looked much different that the slice of pie we saw in the Lido. Too bad for her, it was so different, she could not eat it. The pie was full of peas, which she likes, but these peas were so undercooked, they bounced on the table when she showed us how hard they were. Firman, our waiter, offered to replace her meal, but she declined. We were most happy with the dessert of watermelon pie, which has only been served once so far this cruise. Requesting a slice seedless, Firman laughed, because the "seeds" are really bits of chocolate. Really good.


The entertainer this evening was Andy Bunger with his second show since he boarded. Four at our table were going, and they said he was pretty talented playing a marimbaphone and panpipes, whatever those may be. He appeals to most everyone since he plays classic and rock.


One more day at sea, and we will be in Cape Verde.


Bill & Mary Ann

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for your wonderful blog.


You are in for a pleasant surprise when you return. After you left, and before the new strict wine policy was imemented, HAL changed it to allow additional bottles (at embarkation and in ports) to be brought aboard if corkage is paid.

Whether than stops "sundowner" parties next year, at least wine can be brought aboard during a cruise.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi All


Just a status update that the blog is updated through report 104 now


Happy reading!




And just a reminder that not all postings contain photos -- I guess the camera operators need a rest every so often ;) You can navigate to the different days on the right side of the screen and feel free to sign up for email notification to be notified when new posts are updated as generally - the time it takes me to get the photos is usually up to a few days after the text only posts appear in this forum - Thanks!

Edited by WJBWJB

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Report # 105 Sailing Towards Praia, Cape Verde April 13, 2014 Sunday Partly cloudy, 81 degrees, much less humid


Finally, we have earned a day of leisure, having finished catching up on backed up reports. What a difference a couple of days make as the Amsterdam has traveled northwesterly. The sticky humidity was just about gone, and the breeze had almost a chill to it when we took our morning walk. Sure makes it a lot more enjoyable. As always, we were on the lookout for sealife, but only spotted one rather large flying fish.


At 10am, Mr. Palmisano talked about the fabled Seven Seas and the unique biological communities of each one. Pretty good how he has been able to improvise, since he was not the scheduled speaker for this long.


We have been trying to find Barbara's talk on Praia and Mindelo, but it has not been in the advertised spot on TV. We lucked out and caught her at her desk this morning and asked why she had been cycled with the two speaker's lectures? We were not the first to ask, nor were we aware that this talk had been pulled off of the TV due to the DVD citting in and out. In fact, she had just come from the programmer, who promised to delete all talks but hers for the next 24 hours. We are flying blind on this next port tomorrow, because most everyone we have talked to has never been there. That includes most of the staff as well as Barbara herself. She has been working on getting a good map of Praia along with all the information we may need to know before getting there. Even though this is the capital city of Cape Verde, it is not the most visited by tourists. So it will be a discovery for many of us. We are not even sure that US dollars will be accepted anywhere. We don't do ATM's, and the ship did not sell escudo, the local currency. So our visit may be short.


The annual guest talent show sign-ups took place in the Piano Bar. They are looking for people who can sing, dance, tell clean? jokes or short stories. Funny they have to stress "clean", because there have been a few guests that have a bad habit of dropping the F bomb during some really bad jokes. Even worse, they were the ladies in the group, not the men. Should be very interesting to see who volunteers.....


Dancing with the Star at Sea continued with folks doing the cha cha. The judges will be looking for finalists today.


At 2pm, Mr. Benedict shared HAL's 2014 destinations, a much different subject for him, since he is the constellation expert. However, he will conduct star gazing once again on deck 10 tonight, looking for the Southern Cross and other wonders of the southern sky.


As for us, we had a date tonight......the Captain's Dinner in the Pinnacle Grill Restaurant, preceded by cocktails in the Culinary Arts Center/Wajang Theater. It began at 6pm, but we arrived a little later, so we could go into the room last. There was a method to our madness......by going last, we could manuever towards the kitchen on the stage, and have full access to the bar and the hors d'oeuvres. Captain Jonathon greeted us as we walked in saying, "Well you finally made it". Guess he knew we had to cancel twice already, and opted to go to the final dinner. Better late than never we say.


Well you had to make your move fast to get a drink and some of the tasty treats of shrimp, veggies skewers, and most delicious bite-size rounds of prime steak. The bartenders did not have the bourbon or scotch we drink, so we had to wait for our beverages. We had about 10 minutes to drink, before we were summoned into the restaurant for dinner. During the half hour cocktail time, we met two ladies that were very friendly. One of the gals had seen us walking everyday on the promenade deck, while the other one, Linda, said where have you guys been hiding for 100 days? We have never crossed paths with her all this time. Anyway, we had a nice chat, and wished her good tablemates as she entered the room. As luck would have it, they seated her with us, and she was giddy about it. One more young gal was seated with us, Lisa, who we see in the elevator on her way to dinner many evenings. Our host was Peter Wallis, the ship's purser. We ask to be seated with him every year, as he is a very fun person with a dry British sense of humor. The evening was enjoyable, as well as informative. We learned many more things about the so-called Russian Orthodox priest that left in Sydney, and also some unknown facts about the Desmond Tutu visit in South Africa. Not everyone was as enamored with the event as we had believed. Some folks had taken offense at some political comments he made regarding sensitive subjects such as the oil pipeline proposed in North America. Some people, mostly Americans, actually walked out during his talk, including Linda. Later on, when she was gifted the 20 pound, it felt that heavy, Tutu book, she brought it back to the front desk and gave it back. Keeping all this in mind, we sure hope HAL decides to go back to the normal party they have for the passengers onboard. Even better, treat us to an evening out in a big port like they did in 2008 in Istanbul. That party rocked.


Our other tablemate for the evening, Lisa, said she was an evangelist minister, traveling with two members of her group. Her congregation had treated her to this once-in-a-lifetime world cruise. She had a 22 year career in the armed services, and shocked us by commenting that she killed people for a living, having been involved in the most recent Mideast wars. Almost fatally injured in a terrorist bombing, she recovered, and had a complete change in lifestyle, becoming a minister. You think you have heard all of the stories out there, but this one was a new one for us and our tablemates as well. Lisa has made friends with some of the crew, who have asked her to give services for them during their off hours. If we heard correctly, she will be performing a baptism for crew only after hours in one of the ship's pools.


Another story she told was about the sister of Tutu, who joined him for four days to Cape Town. She is 80 years old, and was seasick in her room. Lisa was in the room next to her, and saw she needed help. Seeking out Tutu, she let him know his sister was ill, and he said he would deal with it in two hours. Lisa took it upon herself to see after this lady for the next three days. Not sure how much thanks she got for her kind efforts. How about that for some different types of news?


Here is the menu for the special dinner. A Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand was served with a foie gras roulade with a fig compote. The fois gras literally melted in our mouths. Following that a potato and leek soup was served with a plate of delicious buttery rolls. The next course was a trio of poached lobster chunks with a dab of sevruga caviar on top. To cleanse our palate, an avocado and lime sorbet was served in small goblets. It was sweet and tart at the same time, and did not taste at all like avocado. With the entree, they served Grant Burge Benchmark Shiraz from Australia. The entree was grass and corn fed beef with a tiger prawn. Three spears of asparagus, three dots of dauphin potatoes, and a gravy slightly covered the plate. Translated, that means the servings were meager. Dessert was a trilogy of three petite creamy treats. One was a tart key lime filling in a graham cracker crust. A Chinese soup spoon was filled with creme brulee, and the last one was a white chocolate cup of creamy coffee pudding. Coffee or tea finished our meal.


Around 8:45pm, Captain Jonathon wished us all well, at which point, we were gifted with either a necklace or cufflinks. Both were made of Delft china...a pendant for the ladies, and cufflinks for the men with HAL's classic blue ship logo on them.


Back at our room, we found two commemorative plates, also Delft china, with the ports of the 2014 world cruise printed on the rim. This is the earliest we have ever received them. But we think that many passengers will begin packing once we start across the Atlantic Ocean for five days. But we still have three days in Cape Verde before we start that crossing.


Bill & Mary Ann

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

DW and I were on the FLL-SYD portion of your voyage and often, unfortunately, ran afoul of "Father Rasputin". What further info can you shed based upon comments at the recent Captain's Dinner? Last we heard he was having customs/immigration problems in Sydney, claiming to be enroute to Sochi for the Olympics!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
  • Create New...