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

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OK, we are ready for the rest of the story about the "Russian Priest".

Don't just leave us hanging...

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Love your detailed posts and will be sorry when your voyage ends. I have gotten into the habit of having my morning coffee while reading of your travels. You left us hanging on the Russian priest and hope you will share more about him. Enjoy your voyage!!

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OK, we are ready for the rest of the story about the "Russian Priest".

Don't just leave us hanging...

 

If you go back to the begiining of the blog, or check Johnny B's -- John and Diane are at it again -- he is well described.

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Report # 106 Praia, Cape Verde April 14, 2014 Monday Part 1 Partly cloudy, 72 degrees

 

Well, here we are in Praia, Cape Verde, definitely not an expected visit. We should have been in Bangul, Gambia, but as you know, the port was cancelled, as was Senegal, due to the ebola virus being too close for comfort. So this was one of the ports that could be substituted at the last minute for one of the cancelled ones. We have never been here, nor have we been to Mindelo in Cape Verde.

 

It was great that we had the use of small, but convenient free shuttle buses to the plateau where the center of the city is located. We left the ship around 10am with no waiting for the bus to leave to town. The ride was only 10 minutes, and after climbing a hillside, we were dropped off at the big white cross on the plateau above the bay. Built into the wall by the buses, were a row of ancient cannons, some of them pointed towards our ship, by the way.

 

We found streets made of cobblestone and sidewalks created out of tightly placed rocks. The grid of the old city fans out around a central square called Praca Alexandre Albuquerque. It is the gathering point for the people of this island by the name of Santiago. Cape Verde consists of several islands with Praia being the capital. We have to add that this island is not necessarily set up for tourists. The city of Mindelo, our ports for the next two days, is the tourist destination for folks that come here for vacation. They come mostly from Europe we understand.

 

We took our sweet time walking around the many streets, taking in the local sights. We saw pastel-colored buildings with iron balconies like you would see in Portugal. In fact, it was a Portuguese man, Diogo Gomes, that discovered the Cape Verde islands back in 1460. His statue was at the end of one of the streets facing the harbor. Looking out at the harbor, we saw Santa Maria Island and the barracks of the military we believe. Gamboa Beach was down below, with many rowboats or fishing boats pulled into the sand. It's definitely not a beach for swimming. We have been told the water here is cold.

 

We walked into the Se Cathedral Nossa Senhora da Graca, the local Catholic church. It was built in 1902, and has been well-preserved.

 

The highlite of the city was the marketplace for fruit, veggies, meat and fish. Built in tight quarters, the locals were busy hawking their fresh produce and spices. The only way to get good pictures, was to squeeze our way in there with the rest of the shoppers. Most all of the women pack baskets or plastic tubs on their heads to stash their purchases. They use a piece of cloth to wrap on the top of their heads, then they balance the tub on their heads. By the way, most all of the local citizens are Creole, African and Portuguese mix. This island, as well as Santiago, where we will visit tomorrow, was used as a provisioning station for ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean for the slave trade. We are guessing that these African slaves were primarily sent to Brazil, since their captors were Portuguese. And it is the Portuguese who lived in Brazil back in those days too, and involved in the slave trade back then.

 

There were a few cafes near the center of town, but they were overrun with folks from the ship. They were really here for free or cheap internet. We had been led to think that absolutely no one would accept US dollars, but we found that was not the case. Now they would more than likely charge you more to make up the difference for cashing the dollars in at the bank. Although we never asked, we do know that many people were spending dollars here for taxis, clothing, food and beer. We did find a cafe that served a margherita pizza, but there were no seats available, so we passed. Another thing we took note of was the fact that many of the store owners were Chinese.

 

Some of our friends rented a taxi for $50. for two to be driven to a nearby fort at Cidade Velha (old town), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The shore excursion department had put together a few tours to see this site for about $70 and $140 with a lunch. We decided that lunch on the ship would be better, since we do not eat fish. So we came back to the ship by 2pm, and ordered lunch in our room.

 

All aboard was at 4:30pm, and we were sailing by 5pm. We do not think that we are very far from our next port of Mindelo. Attending the sailaway party, we noticed that the crowd thinned out quickly as the wind picked up and it got downright cool. Something we noticed that was most unusual, was that we saw no birds today. Not even seagulls on the pier. It may have something to do with the extremely dryness of this island. There was a 100 year drought here many years ago, and the island looks like a desert. Without a good source of information, perhaps the only water here is underground.

 

We had noticed that the Lido restaurant on the port side was closed to traffic from the pool and the elevator landing. It finally dawned on us that it was closed for the Passover Seder Dinner at 6:30pm. People signed up for this special meal last week, and we found out that it was fully booked.

 

Margaret and Keith had gone to the Pinnacle Grill for dinner, but we had a guest, Sue, join us tonight. While discussing the gift of the Delft plate, Sue asked if we saw the blatant mistake in the map section dead center of the dish? No, we had not seen that Buenos Aires had been printed where Lima should have been. Gosh, they were off base completely, since Argentina is on the east coast of South America, not the west. Duh.....There would be more inconsistencies in tomorrow's newsletter.

 

All of our tablemates had come from the early 1/2 hour show in the Queens Lounge. The entertainer was Dan Horn, a ventriloquist, and very funny man we heard. Sometimes, they get it right with hiring some good ones.

 

It sure has cooled off. The weather today was completely pleasant. This evening, while taking our nightly walk, we noticed almost a chill in the air. We're not complaining either.

 

Looking forward to two days in Mindelo.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Have enjoyed your trip right along with you by reading about it.

Could you please tell me how many people play duplicate bridge,

if you have noticed.

Thanks

John

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If you go back to the begiining of the blog, or check Johnny B's -- John and Diane are at it again -- he is well described.

Bill and Maryanne said they heard more at the Captain's dinner. I read the earlier reports, I was waiting for the rest of the story.

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Report # 107 Mindelo, Cape Verde April 15, 2014 Tuesday Day 1 Partly cloudy, 85 degrees Part 1

 

The Amsterdam slipped into the harbor of Mindelo and was securely docked by 8am. Mindelo is located on the island of Sao Vicente, and is the second largest city in the Cape Verde group of islands. Even though it was discovered in the 1450's, the island remained uninhabited until the 18th century when it was set up as a provisioning station by the Portuguese for the slave ships. Those days are long gone by, but what remained are the colonial buildings and the people, who are a mix of African and Portuguese. The language is a blend of Portuguese and several African dialects . Lucky for us, they speak a fair amount of English as well.

 

This volcanic island is remarkably dry and arid. After the 100 year drought in the early 19th century, the British formed a colony in Mindelo, using it as a coal station. That was during the steam ship era. Today, the locals make a living from fishing and tourism.

 

We left the Amsterdam around 10:30am and took the complimentary shuttle to the downtown area. The ride only took 15 minutes, although we could have walked to town. Taking the shuttle got us past the line of taxi drivers, who always compete for your business. How many times would we have to say no thanks today? Probably about thirty, since there were that many drivers available.

 

Driving the length of the beachfront road, we passed monuments, shops, cafes, colonial buildings, and the fish market. The streets and side walks were made with old cobblestones that were once used as ballasts on the sailing ships. They served as weights in keeping the ships steady. You can find these cobblestones under most port cities in the world, including where we grew up in San Francisco. Many of the rock-filled streets were covered with asphalt preserving these stones. As authentic as they are, it makes walking a bit difficult. Good shoes with thick soles with support are a must here.

 

The bus dropped us off across from the tourist information center. From there, we followed the beachfront road, taking many photos of the local sites along the way. Some local fishermen were cleaning their morning's catch right on the beach. The smell of the fish scales and guts was potent, but it did not seem to bother them, as they flung bucketfulls of this in the surf.

 

We passed by the monument of Diogo Afonso, the Portuguese navigator that founded the islands. Next was the Tower of Belem, an exact replica of the one of the same name in Lisbon, Portugal. It was built here in the 1920's. We are not sure what the use for it is today.

 

The pastel-painted colonial buildings on the waterfront were attractive with their trim done in white. Sure reminded us of Aruba in the Caribbean, although that is Dutch.

 

The fish market was at the end of this road. It was much nicer than the one we saw yesterday in Praia. With plenty of space between cutting tables, we were able to get some great photos without getting into their way. Tiled art lined the inside walls.

 

Taking a left turn, we walked up to another marketplace, or the veggie and fruit market. This open-air building was again, much nicer than yesterday's crowded market. It was less busy, and there were even a few cats resting peacefully as we walked by them. All of the produce looked clean and healthy.

 

Across the street from this market was Praca Estrella Square, where some African vendors had some wood carvings and some trinkets like jewelry. The problem we had with a few of them was that they tried to pressure us into buying something quickly from them. It does not always work to ask how much something is. They come back with how much do you want to offer? If you take a wild guess and start very low, then you chance insulting them. The problem was that we were just asking, but not totally committed to any particular item. They do not want you to do comparison shopping, because you may find the same items elsewhere much cheaper. So what happens is they drive you away. We have learned not to point to or touch any particular item, such as a wood carving, unless you were prepared to buy it. As it turned out, we bought nothing.

 

Next to this square was a series of shops selling most all the same stuff. One of the biggest items for sale are flip-flops, but few t-shirts are available. We spent very little time here, so maybe tomorrow we will come back.

 

More veggies and fruits were being sold in this square, but under huge tents. Walking up the small streets from this square, we found the Catholic church, Nossa Senhora de Luz Church built in 1862. We were lucky to be here today, instead of the original date of Friday, the 18th, which happens to be Good Friday. All of these venues would have been closed, since the days prior to Easter Sunday, the 20th of April, are considered holy days and become like holidays.

 

Near the church was the African market, an even nicer indoor veggie and fruit market housed in a two story colonial building. Several small cafes lined the outer walls of the market, and the upstairs had a few shops and a very clean set of restrooms. On the walls, were Portuguese tiles made into art.

 

Have you ever heard of "morna" music? We have not, but heard it during our lunch stop today. To us, we thought it sounded like the music of the islands in the Caribbean. It is a combination of guitar and drums with a definitely carnaval type of beat.

 

Speaking of lunch, we knew if we looked hard enough, we would find pizza somewhere, even though Barbara H. had said we would not find it here. Well, guess what? We did see a pizzeria advertised above a bar on one of the main streets. There was a huge problem, however, because it was closed and probably would not open until later this evening. How cruel is that? We continued to wander around, trying to follow a map we were handed on the ship. Just by pure accident, we found a nice-looking balcony on top of a business. A narrow doorway held a stairwell up to the top, where we found a menu with all the local fare, mostly fish. Lo and behold, a whole page of pizzas was on the back page. Eureka.....we found it. Margherita pizza, Strela draft beers, and a cool breeze blowing across the balcony..... what else could we have asked for? How about the prices? Expecting expensive, we were surprised to find our bill came to under $10 US. Enjoying watching the people walking by down below us, we lingered for an hour before heading back towards the bus stop. The nice thing about today is that we are staying overnight and don't need to worry about getting back early.

 

On our way to the bus stop, we checked out the information spot in a store on the waterfront. There were not the usual printed maps there, butthere was a lady who told us that there were no African fabric shops in downtown Mindelo. We would have to take a taxi to get to one out of town. No, we are not that interested. Very near the bus stop, was another table set up with maps, but they appeared to be for sale. We will have to check this place out again tomorrow, because the maps could have a wealth of statistics about Cape Verde that we do not have access to.

 

We rode the shuttle back with Johnnie and Yvonne from the Netherlands. They had gotten some local currency, then rode a bus that took them all the way around the island. It cost them the equivalent of 50 cents each. They saw all of the villages and beaches the island had to offer. Perhaps a 40 minute ride, they thought it was a good deal, since a similar tour with a walk around town cost about $60 per person on the ship's excursion.

 

While we were busy watching a movie in our room and playing with photos, another cruise ship sailed into the harbor. Fred Olsen was the name and the ship was the Braemer. Looked like it may hold around 800 passengers, judging by the number of lifeboats they had. We will have lots of company in town tomorrow, which may be a good thing. Those vendors in the plaza will be busier trying to sell their wares, giving us a chance to look better without the hassle.

 

Six of us were at dinner, with two going to the final Le Cirque dinner in the Pinnacle Grill. With everyone sharing daily stories with each other, it is one of our favorite times of the day. We all saw something different, and if we missed something, we have the chance to see it today.

 

Also there was a Cabo Verde BBQ at the Lido pool area. Some of the barbequed favorites served were steaks, chicken skewers, shrimp, and suckling pigs. Many folks were enjoying this fare, except for the cold wind that came up making it downright chilly. An excellent local band of guitarists and violinists entertained while the guests were eating and drinking. A different type of music, we liked it, but we only heard one complaint that it was too loud.

 

At the aft pool, Debby Bacon was decked out in a long, sleeveless gown, and she must have been freezing. She was playing her special piano until 11pm.

 

Looking forward to one more day in Mindelo.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Report # 108 Mindelo, Cape Verde April 16, 2014 Wednesday Day 2 Partly cloudy, 79 degrees Part 1

 

Before we begin the adventures for today, we wanted to add the little bit of information we gathered about "Rasputin", the so-called Russian Orthodox priest, who left the ship, much to everyone's delight, back in Sydney. It just happened that both of the ladies we met at the Captain's Dinner lived within three or four rooms on either side of his room on deck three. Linda said she had noticed a very terrible odor coming from his room, and decided to report it daily to the front desk folks. Among other unimaginable things we cannot mention on this blog, the smell was coming from hording leftover food from his many meals onboard. We did witness him taking a bowl with food scraps and dumping it in a bag every night at his table for one. His reason for doing this, according to a person in the know, was his religion dictated that no food should go to waste. He claimed he would be feeding these scraps to the animals when he went onshore. Apparently, he did not realize that no food like that was allowed off of the ship in most ports. Eventually, Linda's complaints along with other passenger's comments, motivated the staff to de-contaminate and disinfect his cabin, with warnings to stop the prectice.

 

Lisa, our other tablemate that evening told us that the priest was stalking her at different times of the day. Many days, she found him standing outside her door as she exited. As a single woman, she was very intimidated by him and his inappropriate comments he made to her. She felt in fear of her safety, and also reported the incidents to the front desk staff. They informed security, who kept a eye on him at all times from there on out. Lisa said she felt much better when he was finally gone. Being a minister herself, she always suspected something was amiss with this man claiming to be something he was not. Anyway, that's all we know.

 

OK, on with the second day in Cape Verde. We left the ship once again around 10:30am, finding the weather was going to be a lot cooler due to a strong wind blowing. The climate stays pretty much the same year round. The islands are in a sub-Sahara climate and are naturally semi-arid. The temperatures of the air and the water remains constant, and there is always a breeze blowing. That is why these islands are such a perfect vacation destination, especially for the northern Europeans. Flights to here from Lisbon for instance is 4 hours, while from Paris and Italy, it is 6 hours. Tourists come from as close as Senegal for a 1 hour flight, and some fly from Boston on a 7 hour flight. Coming from Brazil, it is 4 plus hours.

 

The first stop we made from the shuttle bus was at a tourist info desk at Praca Aurelio Goncalvez Square.. We picked up a booklet and a map to have for reading later on. We would not find out until lunchtime, that the booklet was written in Portuguese.....duh. Oh well, maybe we can still figure it out.

 

This time we walked uphill first and turned left. We ended up at Placa Novia, where we ran into tablemates Bill & Marianne. In the middle of our conversation, a local man stopped to talk to the four of us. He suggested that we get out of town to see better sites, and by the way, he had a van, although he was not a native, he was from Norway or something. As he was telling us about owning a yacht somewhere, we quietly slipped away, while Bill & Marianne eventually did the same thing. Figuring there was not much to see up at this end of town, we walked across the street, and found the Mindel Hotel, the one we were searching for yesterday. Turned out, it was right down the steet from where we ate lunch yesterday. The hotel also advertised pizza and other local cuisine. Looking inside the lobby, we saw many people working on their computers, although we were not sure if it was free. A couple of our buddies that live down the hall from us, stopped and asked us where we suggested to eat lunch. She had been trying to get online all morning in town, and said she was quitting, and refused to spend one more minute on it. The last thing we would do is waste time like that too. Days in ports can be all too short.

 

We continued on the same path we took yesterday, getting some different photos of the highlights. By the time we got to the souvenier stands, many guests from the Fred Olsen ship filled the square, also shopping for treasures. This time the vendors were busy helping other folk bargaining for things. That did give us the time we needed to decide we really did not need any more carvings. Right now, every souvenier we purchased along the way is stashed away, hidden under the bed, and in the closets. Pretty soon we will be gathering it all together and start the packing. We will be glad with the decision to pass things up at this point.

 

As we were making our way from the Praca Estrella Square, two policemen approached us. At first we wandered if we had unknowingly taken photos of something we should not have. No, they just wanted to tell one of us to place the "machine" around our neck. Of course, they meant the camera. They motioned that it could be stolen easily, and of course, we complied. Obviously, they know something we do not.

 

It was already getting close to 1pm, and lunchtime. As we were heading to the same restaurant we liked yesterday, we found a neat shop that was selling artistic t-shirts. The price was right at $16. US, but the shark necklace one of us liked was way over-priced at $20. Outside OCocktail Restaurant, a street vendor was selling beaded African necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. He was making them right on the spot, so we bought a set to have a small memento of Cape Verde. Jewelry always packs easily.

 

Today we ordered a margherita pizza with chopped onions and tomatoes. While waiting for it to arrive, we figured out some basic info on the islands from the Portuguese-written booklet. According to the 2010 census, about 492,000 residents live on the ten islands of Cape Verde, or Cabo Verde as it is called here. The names of the islands are Santiago, Boavista, Santo Antao, Sao Vicente, Sao Nicolau, Fogo, Sal, Maio, Brava, and Santa Luzia. Most of the locals are women (50.5%), while only 49.5% are men. Roman Catholic is the religion of 90% of the folks, while the other 10% are mainly Mormon and Jehovah Witnesses. The celebration of Carnaval is big here. The parade happens on Fat Tuesday, the day before the start of Lent, Ash Wednesday. The date changes every year, depending on when Easter falls. By the time we translated all of this, the pizza arrived with the Strela beers, and we were happy campers.

 

We jumped on a shuttle that was almost full and ready to go back the short distance to the ship by 2pm. At 3:30pm, a local show was presented in the Queens Lounge by a group called Cape Verde Corda.......corda, meaning strings in Portuguese. It is possible that they are the same group that entertained everyone at the BBQ last night. We did attend the show, which was full of guests, and found the music similar to the Brazilian samba we have heard while in Rio. The mix of guitars, violin, and the mandolin along with the rhythym of the drums kept the audience clapping along with the beat. At the end of the performance, they got a standing ovation from everyone, at least on the upper level.

 

The Mindelo sailaway was held at 4:30pm, and it was downright cold when the ship headed out of the bay. Shortly after we left, the Braemer ship also sailed out of the the port. We headed west, but the Braemer turned south. The aft deck was cleared of guests within minutes after we left. The band followed, and so did the chairs and chaise lounges, which were stacked so they could not blow away.

 

Checking out the entrees for dinner in the Lido, we decided on the chicken cordon bleu. The Chinese noodle vegetarian dish also looked good, so we decided to share one of these entrees too. Hmmm, we are getting daring in our "old age", ha-ha. Dinner time came quickly as always. The Stroups took a tour up to the volcanoes, and around the island. Lucky for them, the had an excellent guide who explained the secrets of farming on the arid island. They use the drip system with water from wells. All of the drinking water is provided by desalination plants, as we had already suspected.

 

There was no live show in the Queens lounge this evening. Instead, they showed a movie, Grudge Match, a 2013 flic with DeNiro and Stallone. Eventually, it will be on TV, where we can watch it without falling asleep.

 

We will have 5 days at sea now, as we head for Barbados and the Caribbean. Bet they have some busy days planned for us during this crossing. They always do......

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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I'm sorry that WC 2014 is drawing to a close, for all of you, but also for your readers. It's been a wonderful journey. Thank-you for taking us with you:)

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Report # 109 Sailing Towards Bridgetown, Barbados April 17, 2014 Thursday Partly cloudy, 73 degrees, cooler

 

Today begins the long trek across the Atlantic Ocean as the Amsterdam sails towards the Caribbean and the island of Barbados. It should take five full days at sea to get there. With all of the recent ports, we really need this time to take a break, and perhaps do as little as we want. Today was perfect for that.

 

It was a gray and overcast day this morning when we went to breakfast. And it never really improved as the day wore on. Did we mention that the clocks went back one hour last night? Despite getting tha extra hour of sleep, setting those clocks back still affect your routine. For some reason, you end up feeling much more tired towards the end of the day. Now that we are heading primarily westward, we will be doing more of these hours back, which will not give us any time to adjust. Bet this catches up with the crew as well. The only thing that they have over most all of us is........you guess it..... youth. Works miracles.

 

It always give us a chuckle when the newsletter starts with the ship's fire drill as one of the main activities. We did see the fake smoke coming from somewhere down below us while we walked this morning. On another HAL ship last year, we did see what we thought was real smoke barreling out from under a closed door on the promenade deck. We were not aware that it was part of a drill at the time. When we saw some of the crew come running, we remembered it was a drill, thank goodness. In light of the recent accident in South Korea, we would not mind if these exercises were done on a daily basis.

 

Things to do and see in Bridgetown and Castries was the subject of Barbara H's talk. Even though we have visited these islands many times in the past, we always enjoy going there again. Even if there are other ships in port, it makes the visit more interesting. With many beaches and resorts, those that like the sand and water will be happy there. And there are always the tours that take you to the rum factories. Those are always fun, especially if there are tastings....and rum cake.

 

Finally, a new guest speaker has joined us. She will give a talk on the birth of the Atlantic Ocean, and what happened to separate Africa from South America. She is an expert on fossils as well.

 

For a welcome change, the Indonesian Crew Show was held in the Queen Lounge at 3pm. Usually, it is held late at night, like 11:30pm, when the crew is done with their work for the day. Although we did not attend in person, we did watch the show on TV later on. Unless you have front row seats, it is difficult to identify each performer. Much better to watch on the room TV, because you can get up close to see who is dancing or singing. Surprisingly, it can be your waiters or room stewards or stewardess, as we have a few ladies this year. The show was conducted with a lot of humor added, which may not have happened with our previous cruise director Bruce. For a change, it was better than most shows, according to our friends that attended.

 

The aft pool was mostly empty of sunbathers for two reasons. Very little sun, and packing, we suspect. Despite the cloudy skies, the sun did peek through occassionally, and when it did, it was intense. We are slowly heading southwesterly, which should improve the weather over the next few days.

 

Dinnertime was fun. Maureen, our friendly crafts teacher, joins us for dinner most nights, but sometimes leaves for special Debby Bacon singing games at 9pm. Since she is our trivia guru, she has been stumping us with some hard questions either before our meal or after. We all love to give some stupid silly answers as well as the real ones. Getting it right only happens about 50% of the time. Last night, Maureen said she would fire about half of us if we were on her team. Only kidding, of course. She has been a most welcomed addition to our family.

 

Tomorrow will be a busy day. Light breakfast, early brunch, cocktails with our travel group, and dinner in the Pinnacle Grill. And the best part, it is someone's birthday today.

 

Mary Ann & Bill

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Speaking of Bruce, what happened to him? We took segments on the 2012 and 2013 world cruise and he was our Cruise Director. We thought that he was ok. Is the new cruise director better? Since we are not on board this year, we are really enjoying your posts and photos. Thank you for taking the effort and time to post your blog.

 

 

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Speaking of Bruce, what happened to him? We took segments on the 2012 and 2013 world cruise and he was our Cruise Director. We thought that he was ok. Is the new cruise director better? Since we are not on board this year, we are really enjoying your posts and photos. Thank you for taking the effort and time to post your blog.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app

We saw Bruce in November on the Volendam. He sure seemed happy.

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Report # 110 Sailing Towards Bridgetown, Barbados April 18, 2014 Friday Partly cloudy, 73 degrees, muggy

 

Just want to mention that we are not ready to go home yet, as we are staying on and sailing through the Panama Canal after the world cruise ends in Ft. Lauderdale. Our final destination will be San Diego on May 13th.

 

When we got back to our room last night, we had the surprise of a gift with a balloon tied to it. Tablemates Marianne and Bill had gotten Bill a large bottle of Strela beer for his birthday while in Mindelo a couple of days ago. We had a huge laugh when we saw the fish balloon in our room from the King Neptune dinner last Sunday. Got to admit, the fish is cute, as long as he stays tied up to the coat hanger on the wall.

 

On the outside of our door, Tom, our host, must have visited early this morning, and taped a happy birthday sign on it. Three cards were on the door.......one from our hosts, one from tablemates Margaret and Keith, and one from the Captain.

 

Today was different in that everything we did was planned for us. Even though we kept breakfast light, the 11am Mariner Brunch came too soon. Toying with the idea of not going, we figured with the gray weather outside, it was something to do. So we went at 11am to find the dining room doors opened and guests were being seated. Only the President Club members had assigned tables in the middle of the dining room. Earlier at breakfast, we had mentioned to Pandi that we would like a table for two. He said come early, and he would take care of us. Judging from the size of the group this morning, they will have to have two more brunches like this in the next couple of days. They always begin with the folks with high number of days, then work their way down to the newbies. To be precise, this brunch was for the 500 Star Mariners and up to the President Club members. Tomorrow, they will host another brunch for the 4 Star Mariners, and on Monday, the final meal will be for those under 200 days.

 

The menu was nice, and also different from the fish, pot roast, and quiche menu they always serve. Today they offered a Dover sole meuniere or a filet of Double R Ranch beef entree. We did not see a vegetarian choice, although we are sure they could find something suitable for those folks. The brunch consisted of a shrimp cocktail, a chilled berry soup, fish or beef, and a nice custard Napoleon dessert. Champagne was served while the Captain welcomed us all with a toast. And our glasses were filled at least twice, or more if we wished.

 

Before we left, we each got a Delft tile with the ship's picture on it. We have a drawer-full of these at home, and will add two more to the collection. In fact, we should get two more at the next Mariner affair on the Panama Canal trip in less than two weeks.

 

Two guests speakers gave lectures today. Another new speaker, Tom Goltz, spoke about Columbus and separting myth from fact. Volcanoes was the subject for Jill Eyers. And our guest chef Paulette presented a series on food from India. We did watch this on TV later this afternoon, and found it very entertaining.

 

We spent some comfortable time at the aft pool, sort of sleeping off our champagne from brunch, but also trying to get some reading in. The clouds never did clear up, and it looked like rain any minute. It never did rain, but only sprinkled a bit.

 

At 7pm, we were invited to the Explorers Lounge for the final cocktail party given by our travel agent hosts. They also have one party for the early seating group. We decided that group must be larger, because our group was fairly small tonight. A few of the staff members, as well as ther Captain, did attend for a short time. We had a moment to chat with him and the hotel manager about the cruise, which has gone by all too quickly. The drinks were good, as was the company, as we visited with many people we knew.

 

Dinner was in the Pinnacle Grill, the last of our two freebies. Both of us ordered the grilled veal chop, which was really tender and tasty. Even a better choice than the steaks. We both had caesar salad, while only one of us had the crabcakes. Whipped potatoes, a baked potato, and mushrooms were our sides. Champagne was served once again for the 141st HAL birthday. Dessert was bread pudding and coffee ice cream. Totally full, we walked the promenade deck for a while after we finished the meal. What a way to spend a day..........

 

Surprise gifts this evening were two Steiff blond "sugar" bear sailors dressed in white and blue jackets. Established in 1880, the Steiff company boasts unmatched quality. Every Steiff animal comes with a "button in ear" tag, which is their famous trademark. Anyway, we have seen some of these bears turn up on auction shows on PBS, and have been worth surprisingly a lot of money. They will be a nice addition to our growing collection at home.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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"Dinner was in the Pinnacle Grill, the last of our two freebies. Both of us ordered the grilled veal chop, which was really tender and tasty. Even a better choice than the steaks. We both had caesar salad, while only one of us had the crabcakes. Whipped potatoes, a baked potato, and mushrooms were our sides. Champagne was served once again for the 141st HAL birthday. Dessert was bread pudding and coffee ice cream. Totally full, we walked the promenade deck for a while after we finished the meal. What a way to spend a day.........."

 

No veal chops on our Maasdam PG dinner on 3/30, nor champagne unless you brought it in yourself, as we did. Guess it was a perk for the WC.

 

I enjoy following along with your posts. It seems that you have enjoyed a wonderful cruise. Thanks for posting. :)

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Report # 111 Sailing Towards Bridgetown, Barbados April 19, 2014 Saturday Partly cloudy, 77 degrees, muggy, but no rain

 

First things first: Happy 46th Birthday to our eldest son, Bill ! Wish you many, many more........

 

Another day at sea, finds us more than halfway across the mighty Atlantic Ocean after noontime today. Things have been pretty quiet on the promenade deck as we took our normal walk. Bet many folks are packing by now, instead of reading or relaxing on the teak lounges. With one final formal night, certainly all of the fancy threads can be stashed away until the next cruise. Not for us, though, since the next cruise begins April 28th, and we still have five formal evenings left until May 13th.

 

The new speakers took turns in the Queens Lounge this morning. The first one, Jill Eyers spoke about volcanoes in the Caribbean. With images up on the big screen, she was able to show real volcanic activity footage of St. Vincent, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, and Monserrat. We have sailed around the island of Monserrat and saw the damage up close and personal. While on another smaller luxury cruise vessel, the cruise director gave a commentary as we circled the island, while he pointed out his home, or what was left of his home after the lava of the volcano had destroyed it and everything in its path. Very sobering and memorable as we will never forget what we saw that day.

 

Tom Goltz spoke about Bartolome de las Casas, an early reformer, humanist, and defender of the natives he protecteded against the excesses of Columbus and the Spanish colonizers. Now that is a different approach to the man we know as the famous discoverer of the New World.

 

Paulette M. gave a demo on scallops, salsa, curried shrimp, and tropical fruits incorporating spices and herbs from the tropical islands. Did we mention she was the author of 13 cookbooks? She does work that fact into her many talks and lets us all know where to find them on the website of course.

 

The Filipino crew show was held at 3pm in the Queens Lounge. Even though their numbers are far less than their fellow Indonesians, they were not to be outdone by their rival's earlier show. As well as the usual acts, Nestor, our favorite wine steward gave a performance of the man/woman act, where his costume is split in half, and so is his face. That is one side is typical Nestor, a man, but the other half is made up like a woman. He does it well, and always get a big applause for his efforts.

 

The weather was slightly warmer today than yesterday. Sitting at the aft pool was almost hot at times, despite the overcast. Captain Jonathon mentioned in his talk that this system will stay with us until we reach the Caribbean. At least it is not raining during the daytime. We would welcome rain at night, since it would cool things down. It has remained quite muggy with little or following winds.

 

We watched an afternoon movie, Turning Forty, a comedy about duh....turning forty. Not that 40 is old. Far from it, many folks on this trip are double that with as much energy as a forty year old. Anyway, the movie was funny, even though they all had potty mouths. Seems to be the norm for today's flicks.

 

Sunsets are getting later everyday, so we missed it this evening. Maybe tomorrow we will watch it, since the clocks go back another hour tonight. That will put it at 6:30pm. There is a small group of us regulars that make it a point to see it from deck nine.

 

There were only six of us this evening at dinner. Thinking we had escaped the birthday bash, our waiters surprised us with a cake and the special song. Even though it was a day late, we were happy to take the cake to our room, since all of us had already eaten dessert.

 

The Amsterdam singers and dancers will give their final performance of the cruise tonight. They featured Irish music, but not the music of the old days. No, they will mix some old tunes with modern Irish with songs by U2, Van Morrison, and the Corrs. The promise is they will keep your toes tapping.

 

In answer to a question regarding the new cruise director, we can say that Gene has grown on most everyone over the last four months. Comparing him to Bruce would be difficult, because they are horses of a different breed. In our humble opinion, we find Gene much more visible, and by far, easier to talk to. He goes out of his way to chat with everyone, and actually listens when you have something important to ask or suggest. We understand that he will be returning on next year's world cruise, and we are pleased with the decision.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Report # 112 Sailing Towards Bridgetown, Barbados April 20, 2014 Sunday Partly cloudy, 79 degrees Easter Grand Show Buffet Part 1

 

Happy Easter to all family and friends!

 

Our day began as usual with a nice breakfast in the dining room. When we arrived, we found it had been decorated with Easter balloons (oh no, we hope not to see more balloons in our hallways), and foil egg moblies hanging from the ceiling. The center raised portion of the dining room was being converted to a buffet for the Easter Grand Show Buffet. This is when the artistry of the chefs comes out and they go the distance to produce an extravaganza of culinary delights. This is the first year we have welcomed the new executive chef, Daniel Hrgic, as the top man. We have been most pleased with his new entrees, as well as the updating of the basic fare we have come to expect. Even though we do not partake in the buffet afterwards, we do like going early to take photos.

 

Since the viewing and picture-taking would not begin until 11am, we went for our walk, then worked on the computer until it was time to go. When we got back to our room, we found two boxes of Seattles Best Chocolate Candies on our bed with cards saying Happy Easter. A message in the bottom of each box said, "A little too much chocolate is just about right". Nice touch.

 

Grabbing our camera, we were among the first to view the buffet beginning with the fancy breads, veggie carvings, fruit arrangements, sandwiches, meats of all kinds (served cold), and fish. The seafood consisted of tuna, salmon, huge shrimp, lobster, and King crab legs. Desserts were the nicest with cakes, cream puffs, chocolate boats, and even a chocolate fountain with skewered chunks of fruit to dip in it. Watermelons were cleverly carved into animals and birds. Some of the ice sculptures were tinted red and blue, making them look like giant popsicles. Actually, they photographed way better than the clear ice ones.

 

The viewing ended at high noon, when the crowd was let in to help themselves to the beautiful trays of food. Bet it was destroyed. Last night at dinner, Barb had told us all to grab a chocolate bunny, and run with it. Then we could bring it to dinner, break it up, and eat it. Of course, we thought she was kidding. We did notice that the two foot tall chocolate bunnies were wrapped in saran wrap, protected from the "touchers". What was missing, were the small foil-covered chocolate Easter eggs that are usually scattered around the displays. These have always found their way into the pockets of the viewers, so they have been eliminated. Gosh, they spoil all of our fun. By 1pm, lunch was over, and we are certain all of the food was devoured.

 

One pm was also the time for the Easter Bonnet Fashion Showcase and Scavenger Hunt in the Ocean Bar. Earlier in the day, guest speaker, Tom Goltz, spoke about Spanish treasure galleons and how they got the riches back to their homeland. Also around the same time, Paulette presented a Central and South American food market show in the Wajang Theater. We are not sure how many participated in these talks, since the Grand Buffet was held at the same time.

 

A better time for a talk was at 2pm, when Jill Eyers lectured on stories in stone and rock, a favorite subject if you are a geologist. This talk will teach us how to look at rocks and the landscapes of the voyage with new eyes.

 

We spent our time at the aft pool, soaking in the sun with the regular sun lizards like us. Even though the cloud cover persisted, it was warm to hot, depending on when the sun peeked out of the clouds. As we are heading closer to the Caribbean, the weather is getting much more humid and warmer.

 

This evening was the final formal night of this cruise. Two Mariner Appreciation Parties were held in the Queens Lounge....one at 4:15pm and the other at 6:45pm. We went on time to the later one, but found the doors had already been opened and our usual seats were occupied. Moving over to the next set of two chairs, we sat down, and were soon asked for our drink orders. That is our reasoning for sitting in these seats.....you get the best service, and the first of the cold canapies, and the hottest hors d'oeuvres from the kitchen. Marianne, Bill, and Maureen sat across from us as we all listened to the music before the awards began.

 

This is when we noticed a different approach to the ceremony. For the first time we can remember, each one of the President Club members were introduced and they had their photos taken with the Captain and Hotel Manager. In previous years, they would stand up as a group, never being introduced. That was nice. But, this is where they made a mistake, we believe. The guests with days numbering from over 700 to 1399 should have been asked to stand. This never happened, as this group, probably not all that big, went ignored. Medals of platinum, gold, and silver were given individually as well, but to mostly a distracted audience. Everyone was talking, ignoring the goings on. The bronze inductees were asked to come up for a group photo, because they were so numerous, they could not mention them by name. While that was taking place, the majority of the folks were heading off to dinner. Maybe next year, Gene will get it right, because this crowd will set him straight.

 

A large number of the housekeeping staff were lined up with their vacuums, brooms, and dustpans as they needed to clean the lounge for the upcoming show at 8:15pm. The entertainment this evening was a repeat of the Incognito Artists, two fellows and a girl singer. We heard they were better than most folks expected.

 

We had an awkward moment at dinner this evening since Tom M, our favorite host, had been invited to dine with us. He was already seated when we got there, and with the last of our tablemates to come, we had a total of nine chairs. Unknown to us, we also had an officer coming to join us, but our waiters did not know that Tom was coming. They did a quick addition of a chair and table setting right before our officer, the young female revenue manager arrived. It worked, as she never saw a thing as we shuffled our chairs over to make room. We all kept her talking during the evening, and she even enjoyed our trivia session with Maureen. Dinner ended with dessert, and the sharing of the two foot chocolate Easter bunny Barb had liberated from the buffet today. And here we thought she was kidding. We had Firman break up the bunny, and we all got a chunk to eat. Delicious.

 

And an extra gift of time was given, as the clocks were turned back one hour tonight.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Bill and Mary Ann,

 

Again this year I am enjoying your commentary of your voyage. Thanks for taking all of us with you.

 

I am curious as to how many President's Club folks were introduced at the Medals Ceremony on the World Cruise.

Edited by SJSULIBRARIAN

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Given that the WC is > 100 days long, even newbies who take the entire journey would be earning copper medallions - don't know if they're given out at the end of the cruise but that would be a nice thing if so.

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Report # 113 Sailing Towards Bridgetown, Barbados April 21, 2014 Monday Partly cloudy, much hotter than 79 degrees, humid, following wind

 

It has been five days now that we have been at sea, and it really has gone fast. Compared to other trans-Atlantic crossings, this one has been pretty smooth. No storms, rain, or high seas. Well, OK, we did have lots of clouds, but with the sun peeking out, the days became increasingly warmer, and also humid. Today, it feels like the Caribbean. Even though we have not seen any signs of large sealife, we have been enjoying watching for the flying fish. No bird sightings however. One thing we find unusual, is that we have not seen one cruise ship or container or cargo vessel throughout the entire crossing. Lonely feeling......

 

The final ports on this cruise will be Dominica and St. Maarten. Barbara H gave her last talk on things to do and see while in these places. The general attitude among many of the passengers is that we are now on a 7 day Caribbean cruise, giving the impressionj of ho-hum boring. Not so for us. Any day in a port, no matter where, is a priviledge, that we hope not to take so lightly despite the number of times we may have been here.

 

The last Mongolian Cookout was held in the Lido pool area, and we are sure it was well-attended. As we have stated before, this is a favorite lunch for the staff, who always show up right before 2pm and closing time.

 

The guest talent show took place at 2:30pm. We heard that some of the singing acts were actually very well done, but some of the jokes told were the same, same. The good news is that the "bird lady" was back with her whistle act. She is an elderly lady who keeps to herself, and sings like a bird. Last year, she attempted to perform, but her whistle was gone. Today, it was back and she did well. Never, ever, ever give up, we say. Also present, were the guest choir group members who performed for the crowd in the Queens Lounge.

 

The ship's stores put all of their souvenier merchandise out to sell, along with Debby Bacon CDs, photos, HAL exclusive vases, and artist's sketchings. We know for a fact that whatever is left over, will go on sale on the next cruise. Some of it will sell for 75% off, so we will hold out and check it out then, not that we need anything.

 

Around the same time, the guests had an unadvertised "White Elephant" sale in the Explorers Lounge. This is where people took items that they either bought and had regrets, or took this opportunity to unload all of the ships gifts. That could be considered rude, but if you had weight restrictions with the airlines and shipping, then heavy unwanted items could be sold. The first to go, we heard, were the Tutu books, which weighed a ton. Many of those had already been donated back to the front office, as well as the library. This did provide a chance for the staff to purchase these things, since they are not on the receiving end of the gifts.

 

Dinnertime was much quieter at our table, since only six of us were there. Bill & Marianne had been invited to dinner elsewhere.....something to do with a couple that bid on a wedding vow renewal package, held in the Crows Nest. Will have to ask them about it tomorrow, since we have never been to one.

 

The entertainer this evening was Michael James, a high wire comedian who guaranteed laughs, gasps, and splitting sides. That takes some talent and nerves of steel to perform this while on a moving, rolling ship.......a true circus act.

 

No time change tonight, which is a good thing. With three hours back in the last five days, lots of us are dragging....tired. But not too tired to enjoy Barbados tomorrow.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Report # 114 bridgetown, Barbados April 22, 2014 Tuesday Part 1 Partly cloudy, 72 degrees, breezy

 

Well, today's port of call is our first one in the Caribbean...Bridgetown, Barbados. It is the capital of the island, and one that we have visited numerous times on previous cruises. The population of this island is 290,000 people. The size of Barbados is 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, with an area of 166 square miles. According to the guide on the map, the water is safe to drink and it is safe to walk here. That's always nice to know. Another tip is that taxis are easy to find. There is no doubt about that, because there were at least 50 of them outside the cruise terminal this morning. And we must have said "No, thanks" at least 50 times to each taxi driver as we attempted to walk to downtown. They are very persistant here. Anyway, the VAT is 17.5 %, built into prices, except for the expensive jewelry, which is duty free to a certain extent. That is one reason why there are the Diamonds Internationals, Tanzanite International, Colombian Emeralds International, and Little Switzerland highend stores here. And we will surely see these in the next three stops.

 

There were many tours here today to see the island, the beaches, Harrison's Caves, Orchid World, the Wildlife Preserve, and the Mount Gay rum distillery. Been there, done that, we opted to explore downtown and eventually work up an appetite for lunch and beer. Despite the warm, humid weather this morning, there was a strong breeze which made walking a bit more pleasant.

 

We found some side streets this time, and discovered a souvenier market, much like what you would see in the Night Market in Hong Kong, only smaller. Right in the middle of the street market, was a fabric store. We were able to find some nice yardage for a couple of blouses for a really good price. One of us is going to be busy sewing day and night to make these clothes, hopefully in time for our next adventure.

 

One place we found interesting was the local feed store and garden supply. Why, you may ask? Well they had crates of peeping week-old baby chicks for sale. Sure reminded us of home. Talking to the vendor, he said this time of year, he will be able to sell up to 5000 chicks a week to the islanders. They cost about 50 cents each, and they are raised for egg laying and meat. The chicken feed of crumble or pellet was about half of what we pay at home.

 

We made our way back to the Marina Restaurant located at the footbridge over the small boat harbor. There was a great spot upstairs to sit on a balcony that overlooked this marina. Now the best part was that they served pizza, along with $2.00 beers. How good was that? Our buddies Barb, Ellen and Aart were already sitting with their beers when we arrived. They had also ordered pizza, like us, but it looked like there was going to be a while before we got them.

 

Down below us in the marina, were several fishing boats that offered tours to catch wahoo, marlin, dorado, barracuda, sailfish, tuna, and even shark. By the time we were into our second beers, one of the boats pulled into the berth below us with four guests who had caught a large barracuda. One of the boat hands cleaned and fileted the fish within minutes. It appeared that he cut it into pieces, then bagged it up for the people to take with them. As he was dumping the fish guts into the water, a big green turtle came up to snatch the fish parts. We watched as the turtle surfaced every five minutes or so.

 

Finally, the margherita pizza arrived, and we were very pleased with it. We figured that the six beers we had cost a little more than one beer we had in Singapore. Hard to believe, but true. The pizza was about $11 US, about what we would pay at home. They do not rush you in Barbados, since we had to wait a long time for the bill. Not a problem today, since all aboard time was at 5:30pm.

 

Taking our time, we walked back to the pier, checking out the shops in the terminal. Nothing jumped out at us in the way of more souveniers, well except for the extras large bars of chocolate candy. But we really did not need those. We got back tp te ship by 3:30pm, and worked downloading photos for the rest of the afternoon.

 

The very windy sailaway party at the aft pool was jumping to the music of a local musician who played the steel drum to the beat of Caribbean music. This was the first time on this entire trip that we saw folks dancing, and even doing a congo line to the lively and loud tunes. Hope this sends the message to those involved with the music selections that we love something different. By the time the ship cleared the harbor, the sun went down and it was dark.

 

At dinner, the subject of having a passenger contest as the evening show was discussed. We are referring to the Dancing with the Stars at Sea and the final competition. Instead of the regualr entertainment with professional acts, they substituted this contest tonight at 9:30pm. They do this enough with showing a movie in the Queens Lounge while we are overnight in some ports. That sure saves HAL some big bucks by not paying for real shows. And besides that, if everyone wanted to go see it, there is only one show. How do they expect everyone, 1000 passengers or more, to fit in the showlounge? Some of our tablemates went, so we will get their report tomorrow.

 

The newly-added port of St. Lucia is one the agenda for tomorrow.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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"We have sailed around the island of Monserrat and saw the damage up close and personal. While on another smaller luxury cruise vessel, the cruise director gave a commentary as we circled the island, while he pointed out his home, or what was left of his home after the lava of the volcano had destroyed it and everything in its path."

 

 

Was that the same cruise where the cruise director flew across the stage in the showroom on a highwire during the last show? The last voyage of the Seabourn Sun? We were on board, and it was especially sad because we had sailed by Monserrat before the eruptions and seen how beautiful it was prior to the lava flow.

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Report # 115 Castries, St. Lucia April 23, 2014 Wednesday Chance of rain, 88 degrees

 

The port of call for today was Castries, St. Lucia. Located a mere 90 miles from Barbados, St. Lucia is an island of 230 square miles of volcanic and mountainous peaks and lush fertile valleys. The tallest peak is 950 meters high. It is 27 miles long and 14 miles wide. The average temperature is 70 to 90 degrees, and the annual rainfall is 90 inches. That is why it is so green and tropical high in the mountains. The population of 150,000 people speak an English/French based language, but also mixed with West African and Spanish dialects. Castries is the capital, and is ruled by the current prime minister, Kenny Anthony. Although it is within the British Commonwealth, St.Lucia has been an independent state since 1979.

 

And we have been here twice before, as recently as last year, and also 20 years ago. Since downtown is located so close to the cruise terminal at Seraphine Island, we decided to make a day of walking and touring the local markets and shops. Before we left the ship, we decided to get the computer work out of the way. However, when the gangway is located on deck A below us, our computer often goes blue-screen, or shuts down. This has not happened in every port that we dock portside, but when it does, it sure is frustrating. We did go to the library with our computer instead, but we did not have much luck there either. Wish we could say that their internet is trouble-free. but we cannot say that yet. Hope it improves.

 

Leaving around 10am, we walked through the cruise terminal building that has dozens of shops and some small restaurants. They sell all the typical Caribbean souveniers, only more expensive. So we headed out of the terminal and towards town, dodging the many taxi drivers once again. This subject came up at dinner last night with our buddies. We all agreed it would be nice to wear a t-shirt with, "No thanks, I'm walking" written on the front and the back. It would save so much time while navigating through the drivers, who all try to get you to take a special tour. We are afraid this practice keeps some of the older folks onboard, not wishing to go through this hassle. We do understand that our visit here is at the end of the high season, and fewer ships will be coming into port during the hot summer months.

 

Despite the threat of rain, it was very warm and humid outside. Thank goodness there was another strong breeze blowing, or it would have been intolerable. Most of the walk to town is on the waterfront, which is open to the small harbor and constant breezes. The birds sure liked the wind. Terns were gliding, searching, then skimming the water with their talons to catch the small fish on the harbor. Their competitors, herons and egrets, fought over their catches. We even saw some of the egrets in an empty small fishing boat that still had fish parts in the bottom. These birds are pretty much scavengers. If they don't get the discarded fish parts, the rats do. Disturbing, but quite visible, were large rats running over the big boulders along the waterfront. Some of the smelly scraps were washed up under these rocks, and the vermin were there to get it. Hope they have lots of cats in the marketplace across the street.

 

Speaking of the market, a huge one is built right in the center of town. The red-roofed Castries Market is actually rated in the top ten markets of the world, according to National Geographic. We have to agree that the souveniers are interesting such as the wooden jewelry, St. Lucian arts and crafts, sarongs, shirts, and swimwear. Talk about dazzling colors. Pinks, greens, oranges, yellows, you name it, they have it for sale. The food market offers fresh spices of nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon bark, vanilla, and curries. If we had been here on a weekend like last year, the meat and fish market section would have been crowded. But today, it was quiet. We sure were not complaining, because it gave us a chance to see things even better. We picked up some fresh cinnamon bark and limes for our room drinks.

 

We made our way deeper into town, and found where the locals were shopping. They tend to buy clothing and shoes (mostly sandals) from stands on the side streets, instead of stores. Across the street from the big market, was another building that housed individual stalls, all selling woven baskets, wood carvings, masks, costume jewelry, and the brightest-colored clothing you can imagine. Two charm bracelets found their way to our possession, a token of our visit here.

 

It was getting close to noon, and we had worked up a good thirst. Beer was sounding like a great idea, but where should we go? Leaving the marketplace, we found a small square called Constitution Park. We found it odd that the statues in this small park were of Simon Bolivar, the liberator of several South American countries. A very respected man in outh America, we are not sure what the tie to him in St. Lucia could be? Lining this square were the law courts, registry, and perhaps social security offices. In the center of this iron-fenced park, was a gigantic tree, which had to be hundreds of years old.

 

Up the street from here, were cafes and restaurants that started looking a bit more civilized for lunch. Now all we needed to do was find a place that offered pizza and beer. Just by luck, we found the La Place Carenage, a real shopping mall. A small 2 story mall, it held some of the highend stores like Diamonds and Tanzanite International. Upstairs on the second level, was a restaurant by the name of Chef Robby's, with a bar and lunch section called Caribbean Pirates. And indeed, there was pizza on the menu, and they had tables on a balcony with a breeze. Perfect. Once seated, we realized that we were right above Castries' second largest cruise dock. There was no other ship today, so this place was not crowded yet. We ordered a margherita pizza , and waited for it while sipping the locally-brewed beers....Piton. Perfect.

 

We could have sat there longer, but it was time to get moving. All aboard was 4:30pm, and we needed to cool down first to go back out for sailaway. Ending up back at the terminal, we did just that. The party at the aft pool was fun, since the same steel drummer entertained us with Caribbean music once again. It does not take much more than that to get the folks up and dancing. So much fun to watch. As it turned out, no rain ever fell in town today, although the dark clouds kept us from seeing the pitons (mountain peaks) at the sail out of the harbor. What was better, was watching the small craft airplanes landing on an airstrip right off of the harbor. This time of day, they landed about every 10 minutes.

 

Dinnertime came quickly, and we think all of us were tired after a warm, humid day in town or on tours. The food was good. Grandma's chicken noodle soup always makes one of us happy, and so did the entrees of beef ribs with garlicky mashed potatoes and gravy. All comfort food. And to end another great meal, the cappachino bomb was on the menu. Bet we sleep good tonight. Hope we do, because tomorrow's port will be Roseau, Dominica.

 

We have an answer to the question regarding the President Club members sailing on this trip. About 22 of them are onboard at the moment. Half of those were recognized at the second cocktail party a couple of nights ago. Many passengers got awarded the 100 day bronze medal, but there were too many of them to be awarded individually. However, after the cocktail party ended, they were invitied to have their photo taken with the Captain and Hotel Manager. In the past, we used to receive these photos complimentary. Don't know if they still do that, but will try to find out.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Thanks for the answer about the number of President's Club members that are aboard. Keep the Amsterdam in good spirits,as we get on for the brief 4 days up to Vancouver, when you get off in San Diego.

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Your blog has been a great read. Fun and interesting. Thank you for taking the time to share this incredible experience with so many of us.

 

DFD1

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