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

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We too have seen his yacht. He keeps it docked here in FLL for the winter usually at the Hyatt at the docks in front of the Pelican Bar. Quite impressive to see in person

 

 

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Yes, I believe that is where we saw it in FLL!! was kind of funny to be docked across from it, ( I have many pictures of it) and then to see it up close and personal in FLL!! wonder if the owner is ever aboard? the crew seemed to keep busy cleaning it and taking good care of it... they all wore uniforms, blue and red, shorts and tshirts. and I believe the captain and his crew wore black t shirts with khaki shorts. pretty impressive, indeed!!

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Bill and Mary Ann,

 

Was an explanation given for why 2014 will be the last Grand cruise?

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Report # 126 Sailing Towards Puntarenas, Costa Rica May 4, 2014 Sunday Partly cloudy, hot, humid & 79 degrees

 

Lightening illuminated our room all throughout the night as we sailed towards our next port in Costa Rica. Guessing that perhaps a storm may bring rain that would cool things off, we could not have been more wrong. We did get the rain and thunder, but not the cooler temperatures the Pacific Ocean usually brings with it. Even though our newsletter said the temperature was going to be 79 degrees, we think it was already that by breakfast time.

 

Speaking of breakfast, the dining room was crowded this morning, probably due to the fact we set the clocks back one hour last night. People tend to wake up early, and decide to try a served breakfast over the Lido buffet. Not everybody was happy with the slow service today, as we noticed a man sitting near us had to summon his waiter many times to get his juice and food. He must have been watching the time, because he said it took twenty minutes to get his orange juice. Truthfully, this has never happened to us in here, probably because we are never in any particular hurry to rush breakfast.

 

Going outside for our walk, we knew it was going to be a scorcher today. Having a following wind did not help matters. And speaking of following, directly behind us on the port side was the Coral Princess. She was keeping an exact speed to us, and more than likely is also heading towards Costa Rica. It's nice to have company out there within sight. Also keeping us company was a big pod of dolphins that were frolicking in our wake earlier this morning. Now that we are out here looking for them, they are gone. Of course.

 

Things to do and see today started with a talk on Puerto Chiapas and Cabo San Lucas, the only ports in Mexico on this cruise. Dancing With the Stars at Sea had a samba lesson. Computer classes have continued in the Digital Workshop. We could probably learn a lot by attending, but since our computer is old, it would be wasting our time. When we update to something newer, then maybe these classes will be useful. There was a kitchen tour, bridge lessons, and trivia. Bingo still happens at 4pm, enhanced with buy one get one for $1.00 drinks (select ones).

 

As always, we spent a few hours at the back pool, and also in the back pool. There were a total of 10 sunbathers in the lounges. The rest of the guests pulled their lounges under the overhang to lay in the shade. They almost successfully blocked the path to the restrooms, showers, and the Lido restaurant.

 

While working on a million Panama Canal photos, we watched a movie called Blue Jasmine, filmed in San Francisco. We recognized most of the scenes, reminding us that we have not been there for over 4 months. We have heard from Maureen, our tablemate, that the hills and canyons are are beautiful shade of green with the latest rains they got. We also heard from our kids that the weeds have taken off, and we will have fun getting them down when we get back.

 

Dinner was formal once again. And once again, several men did not comply with the rules. The majority are dressed correctly, but there are more than a few that come in long sleeve shirts with no tie and no jacket. We have even seen sandals with no socks on some men. Even the onboard doctor was wearing tennis shoes. Perhaps they lost his dress shoes back in January? This subject did come up last night at dinner with Henk and Christel. Henk admitted that a larger than usual number of fellows were not adhering to the dress code, but they have decided not to question it, or enforce it. Why, we do not know. We have seen that done on other HAL ships.

 

Dinner was good with entrees of chateaubriand and parmesan-crusted honey-mustard chicken. Dessert was coffee ice cream with amaretto sauce, and creme brulee with a carmelized topping. Following dinner at 10pm, was a repeat show of the Huber Marionettes. We are certain it was a good one.

 

Puntarenas, here we come.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Bill and Mary Ann,

 

Was an explanation given for why 2014 will be the last Grand cruise?

 

 

Tampa Girl: according to HAL's site there are a number of different grand voyages being offered for 2015 including the grand world voyage. They might have cancelled or changed some itineraries but they are still being offered.

 

And HAL just announced that the Rotterdam and Volendam will be doing grand voyages in Europe and Asia for 2015

 

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Edited by Huskerchick

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.

 

While we were dining on deck four, the Coral Princess pulled across from our berth. She must have a gazillion passengers. That means there will be about 4000 passengers onshore today, and that is not counting crew members. With the large number of buses parked on the dock, we assume many of those were on tours. We watched from the promenade deck while the people were coming off of the behemoth ship. The line never seemed to stop. Actually, there were two exits on the Coral Princess, which is a good thing.

 

 

 

 

The Coral Princess is a great ship, not quite a behemoth, the capacity is less than 2000 passengers, less than half the capacity of the Las Vegas of the Seas. We have enjoyed your posts for years, thanks for doing them, sure gives us something to look forward to on those cold winter mornings.

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Tampa Girl: according to HAL's site there are a number of different grand voyages being offered for 2015 including the grand world voyage. They might have cancelled or changed some itineraries but they are still being offered.

 

And HAL just announced that the Rotterdam and Volendam will be doing grand voyages in Europe and Asia for 2015

 

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Sorry, I should have specified the Grand Voyage Asia Pacific has been cancelled for 2015, according to several posters. I am so disappointed. Where did you get the info that the Rotterdam or Volendam will be doing an Asia Grand Voyage? Guess I had better check HAL'S website?

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Tampa Girl there was an article in USA Today. Google HAL news and you will see the announcement and I believe it also listed the itineraries. Not sure it's the same as what was cancelled but maybe a nice alternative??

 

 

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Tampa Girl there was an article in USA Today. Google HAL news and you will see the announcement and I believe it also listed the itineraries. Not sure it's the same as what was cancelled but maybe a nice alternative??

 

 

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Thanks for the heads up. The HAL website shows no Asia Grand Voyages beyond November, 2014.

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Tampa Girl there was an article in USA Today. Google HAL news and you will see the announcement and I believe it also listed the itineraries. Not sure it's the same as what was cancelled but maybe a nice alternative??

 

We're like a team.... Here's the article, link at the end:

 

From USA TODAY:

 

Holland America plans another epic cruise to Asia

 

Holland America has unveiled plans for another epic cruise from Europe to Asia and back. The 90-day Passage to the Far East sailing on the 1,404-passenger Rotterdam will kick off in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

 

http://usat.ly/1q6dtpz

Edited by POA1

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Sorry Bill and Mary Ann for hijacking your thread. So enjoy reading your blog. Big thanks for the time and effort.

 

 

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Report # 127 Puntarenas, Costa Rica May 5, 2014 Monday Part 1 Partly cloudy, 75 degrees, humid

 

Today's port of call was Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Originally, our port was Puerto Caldera, one of the country's main ports. However, as the time got closer, we found out that there was space for us in Puntarenas, where there is shopping, beaches, and cafes. As Barbara H would say.....cha-ching ! We could amuse ourselves without leaving the area near the ship.

 

The ship arrived to the pier around 8am, shortly followed by the Coral Princess. Again, we expected very overcast skies and perhaps some rain, because we had lightening flashes all night once again. Turned out, it was partly cloudy, but hot, very hot and humid. And it was only 10am.

 

There were dozens of buses and vans, taking folks on as many as 18 tours from our ship alone. Frankly, we have done about all of them, and some, more than once. We opted for a walk through town and on the beach. Doubt we will go to lunch, because there are few restaurants that would serve what we like. So walk, we did. There is a long pier before you reach the shoreline and the start of the numerous stalls on the beach. There was a little train that took passengers from the ships to the shoreline, and lots of people took advantage of them. Especially the crew members, who had limited time to stay onshore. They don't need to waste time walking when they could ride. Unlike us, they get more than enough exercise while working on the ship.

 

The stands and stalls were full of souveniers, and the prices were fairly reasonable. Even at that, the vendors were willing to bargain. We thought that may not be the case with the Princess ship here, but since most everyone was on tours, these stalls were not over run yet. Not really needing anything, we did more looking than buying. Pareos are colorful here, and one with monkeys on it caught our eye. So did a flourescent green visor. Both cost $10.....a bargain. Wood items are particularily nice in Costa Rica. However, we will be in Nicaragua tomorrow, and we know the same items will cost a lot less.

 

Beer sounded good, but it was really too early for the bars and cafes to open up. We still had a huge bottle of beer from a birthday gift, so we headed back to the ship to cool off and split the ice cold brew. We walked back later when we knew a breeze would crop up. Most of the passengers had already hit and run back to the air-conditioning of their ships. Doing a little more shopping, we found a neat shell necklace on sale...the last one of the day. While we were going through the security gate at the start of the pier, we noticed a swarm of bees coming up from under the boardwalk. They were everywhere in a matter of minutes...all over the guests waiting for the little train. Running quickly, we got through them unscathed.

 

The sailaway today was a combination of a party and a deck BBQ at the Lido Pool from 5:30 to 8pm. The first one on this trip, it was crowded more than ever. The steaks, chicken, fish, and skewered kebobs sure smelled good. As usual, we took photos, but did not eat there. We did listen to the HALcats play and Darleen sing from deck nine. From there, we could watch the ship leave the port and the Coral Princess behind. Talking to some pasengers from the Coral, we found out they will be in Nicaragua with us tomorrow.

 

We probably could have skipped dinner tonight, because we were dead from the heat. But since so many people had gone to the BBQ, we figured dinner would be quick. It was spotty with fewer guests, but we still got out around 9:30pm, our regular time. There was no way we were going to stay up until 10pm for the show by the singers and dancers. Now we would not mind if they started early, like they were doing on the world cruise. It was only done once on this trip, then all of the shows went back to the 8 and 10pm slot.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

PS The rumor has it that the Asia/Pacific Grand Voyage in 2013 was not a full ship, and it may have lost money. And probably since other ships are doing similar itineraries, the last "Grand" Pacific & Far East 78 day will be this fall. Next year, the closest to this cruise will be the 50 day Tales of the South Pacific, not labeled "Grand", and hopefully not priced a grand amount.

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Glad I didn't see those bees:eek:. I thought the prices were very good there as well.

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Report # 127 Puntarenas, Costa Rica May 5, 2014 Monday Part 1 Partly cloudy, 75 degrees, humid

 

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

PS The rumor has it that the Asia/Pacific Grand Voyage in 2013 was not a full ship, and it may have lost money. And probably since other ships are doing similar itineraries, the last "Grand" Pacific & Far East 78 day will be this fall. Next year, the closest to this cruise will be the 50 day Tales of the South Pacific, not labeled "Grand", and hopefully not priced a grand amount.

 

 

Unfortunately, I don't think any of the 2015 cruises is R/T from the West Coast, no do they go to both the Far East, Southeast Asia, Australia, and the South Pacific. Darn! Oh, well, back to the drawing boards. Thanks for responding.

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Report # 128 Corinto, Nicaragua May 6, 2014 Tuesday Part 1 Chance of rain, 84 degrees, very hot & humid

 

Our stop today was at Corinto in the Central American country of Nicaragua. It is so small that this is their only port. This time of year the weather is hot and humid, and shortly, it will be raining for several months. Even though rain was forecasted for today, it never did fall. Would have felt good if it had.

 

Anyway, there were a total of ten tours here today, most of the headed to the colonial town of Leon. That city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses a museum, a basilica, ruins, and geological sites like volcanos. Even though this must be our fourth visit to Corinto, we have never taken the tour to Leon. Maybe someday, but with a smaller group than the HAL crowded bus. Today we think we saw perhaps a Cruise Critic group going on their own bus. Actually, we forgot to check to see if there was a CC group on this particular voyage. The CC guests that organized private tours on the world cruise were very successful we heard.

 

We did not arrive here until 10am, and we fully expected to see the Coral Princess here. But she was nowhere in sight. We are certain that we did not hear it wrong that they were heading here, but, come to think of it, there is no way this town could have handled any more passengers on tours than one ship at a time. Bet they cruised at about 4 KPH, taking it slow, and will arrive tomorrow.

 

It was unforgivingly hot today. We held off until noontime to take a stroll through town. Even though it was the hottest part of the day, we knew that lots of folks had gone on tours, and the town would not be crowded. And we were right. The first thing we noticed was that there were fewer souvenier stands, compared to previous years. That is probably because the Amsterdam will be one of the last ships to stop here for the season. Most have already re-positioned to the northwest for the summer runs in Alaska. Our one objective for this port was to find a wooden salad bowl to replace a leaky one we have at home. It took one minute to find one just the right size. And it even came with six small matching wooden bowls. All of this for a final cost of $20. Doubt we could have gotten this yesterday in Costa Rica for much under $50.

 

We walked around town, taking some photos, until we started to get approached by too many kids wanting money and taxi guys pressuring us for a ride. One very elderly lady was selling sunglasses, nail clippers, bottle openers, etc, etc, etc. Feeling sorry for her, we ended up buying a $1.00 necklace with matching earrings. It was a donation.

 

Time to go back to the ship to cool off and maybe have lunch. What a surprise we had when we saw a line of people who had just gotten back from a tour to a rum factory. They were lined up past the xray machine with their purchased rum bottles being taken away and labeled for delivery at the end of this voyage. They are really adhering to the rules now. Security is even looking closer at water bottles in the purses and bags as well.

 

Lunch was two cheeseburgers and a shared caesar salad with lots of ice cold Coke. We wandered back over to town around 4pm, because some sandals looked like a good deal, and so did a woven straw basket, locally made. It was a quick purchase, and because it was still hot outside, we made our way back to the air-conditioned ship. We suspect that the workers are still repairing things onboard, because our room has begun to heat up from 68 degrees to 77 degrees. It is not unbearable yet, but we sure hope it gets fixed soon. Our guess is the work will be completed by the time we reach San Diego.

 

Sailaway was at 5:30pm at the aft pool with Darlene and the HALcats playing tunes. Lucky for all of us, a strong breeze had cropped up, and we had the treat of the sun setting by 6:02pm. Manny, one of the nicest of the bar servers, chatted with us for some time. He and his fiancee, who normally works at the front desk, but has gone home, plan on getting married next year. They are trying to get permission to do this onboard with Captain Jonathon presiding over the affair. We are glad to see that he has found his true love on a ship, no less. Having known him since 2006, it is nice to see him moving up in the cruise world.

 

Dinnertime came quickly as it always does. Bolonese spaghetti and chicken cordon bleu were the best entrees this evening. We saved room for the dessert of a walnut and maple-topped cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This extravagance will be hard to give up once we are home. And that is coming very, very soon.

 

Watched a movie tonight......Jack Ryan, but the newest version with Chris Pine. Was very good. The other three movies on TV were reruns of reruns.

 

Another port tomorrow.......Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Enjoying the continue of the world cruise. For your information the

Coral Princess was at Juan del Sur in Nicaragua a tender port. It puts one closer to the lake and the larger cities in the country. Again, thanks for all the report and we loved our estended holiday with you.

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We found a change in the breakfast amenities......no more little jam jars. We have the round packets of jams and jellys now.

 

Ooooooh... just like Denny's!

 

How much longer can HAL claim to provide a luxury or premium experience?

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Ooooooh... just like Denny's!

 

How much longer can HAL claim to provide a luxury or premium experience?

 

HAL has never claimed to be a luxury line and has never been positioned as premium. Mass market premium maybe.

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HAL has never claimed to be a luxury line and has never been positioned as premium. Mass market premium maybe.

 

I agree, luxury lines cost twice what HAL charges.

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Report # 129 Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala May 7, 2014 Wednesday Part 1 Partly cloudy, 75 degrees, still hot and humid

 

It was going to be another hot and humid day as we sailed into the harbor of Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala early this morning. While watching the news, we saw that the coast of Central America all the way up to Mexico was going to get hit by a rainstorm of significant size. It has been hanging in the air for days now.

 

Shore excursions here included nine tours. That is because, without taking a tour, there really is not much to do in Puerto Quetzal. The main attraction from here is the colonial capital of Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most of the excursions there included a stop in the convent, the jade museum and factory, and a stop at a coffee plantation. Another long tour took in Iximche, where you can see Mayan ruins and learn about the so-called 2012 end of the world theory. Many of us wondered about that, but obviously, the event did not occur. One other over-the-top tour took folks to Tikal by airplane to see the ruins there for a hefty price of $650. Not sure how many people, if any, did it.

 

Several years ago, on our first visit to Guatemala, we took a tour to see the volcanos and a coffee plantation in the mountains. It really was a nice trip with a delicious lunch, but it was a long ride to get there and back. We stopped in Antigua on the way back, but most everything was closed, except for the Jade Museum and shops. So a half hour stop was all we needed. Today, we chose to stay here at the pier for the day.

 

On our way out across the bridge that connected the ship to the shore, we saw Barbara H. and chatted for a while. She said that the Amsterdam will be the last ship in this port for the season. It will not resume until later in the year, at least until the rain and the unbearable heat relent. So we are thinking that the local vendors will be happy to bargain. And.....yes, they did. With a little back and forth dealing with a nice vendor, we ended up purchasing a tall wooden giraffe that comes apart to pack easily. He came down in price over half within minutes. Looking at it before on two stops here, we decided to buy it today, even though we are not sure where to put it when we get home. If nothing else, the grandkids will like it, because he is painted differently, almost whimsical, compared to the Mombasan carving we already have at home. Not wanting to pack the heavy bag all day, we took our new addition back to the ship.

 

We ended up going for lunch on the second walk over there. There was really only one restaurant there, and a fairly nice one at that. The name of it was Pez Vela Restaurant, with an outdoor patio that was exposed to a most nice breeze. Several our our crew members were dining and drinking there, so that is always an indication that it is good. Even Peter, the purser, was enjoying a beer and we assume, a fish lunch of some sort. We ordered two local beers, Gallo, and an order of chicken/cheese nachos, which was large enough for two to share. Since the restaurant was not too busy yet, we took our time, watching the many iguanas sunning themselves on the large pier rocks. Cold-blooded, they need the heat from the rocks to warm up. They were slow to move, unless you startled them. They are great subjects for photos, as prehistoric as they look.

 

Before we left, we checked out some tiny-beaded jewelry we had been admiring. Even though we were not planning on making any more purchases, the price was too good to turn down. So we ended up with two necklaces for the price of one, after he already dropped the price in half. Later on, we came back to find matching earrings, as no vendor had all of the pieces to sell at one place.

 

OK, time to leave. All aboard time was 5:30pm, and we needed to get back once again to the air-conditioning. You know, temperatures like these at 75 or even 84 degrees would not be too hot for us in California. But here, the humidity gets the best of you. No matter how much you drink, it is never enough to keep you cool.

 

By the time the sailaway party was in progress, it had finally cooled down with a strong breeze blowing across the decks. The music at the aft pool started late, but when David, the guitarist, started up, he had the crowd dancing once again. Then we waited and waited for the ropes to be dropped, but it seemed to be delayed. For some reason, maybe we were waiting for late passengers. It was getting dark, and the sun simply disappeared behind the clouds, going down unceremoniously this evening. The only cool thing about leaving in the near dark, was being able to watch the lightening show over the mountains in the far distance. We had been hearing rolling thunder for the last hour, and knew the storm was moving in. Although it never did rain today, it would later on.

 

We had just enough time to download photos, get cleaned up, and head for our first of two complimentary dinners in the Pinnacle Grill Restaurant. We had the caesar salad, now made with the anchovies placed on the top, not mashed. The dressing was already blended, we suspect it was the same dressing from La Fontaine Dining room. It was much less garlicky,which was actually better, we think. Oue entrees were a New York strip steak and a veal chop.....both excellent. Although it may have been better if one of us had not come down with a cold over the last couple of days. Darn, we were 2 two for Bill, Mary Ann for one cold this trip. Now we will be equal. At least it happened at the end of the trip, and not the middle of it.

 

Wanting to see if the storm had hit, we walked the promenade and found the decks were wet. We could still see some lightening and hear the thunder, so we went up to the top deck to check it out without all the lights lit. It had rained pretty good after we left Puerto Quetzal, and was drizzling at 10pm. Wonder what the next few days hold for us?

 

Oh no, we had a note on our bed saying to put the clocks ahead one hour. We do not like that, but since we will be in Mexico shortly, we must comply. Losing one hour of sleep is not what we need at this point.

 

Tomorrow's port will be Puerto Chiapas, Mexico, and if we thought today's port facilities were minimal, tomorrow's will be even less.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Have you heard or if you have time could you find out how many are leaving the Amsterdam and how many are expected to board for the 4 day- cruise up the coast. Thanks.

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Report # 130 Puerto Chiapas, Mexico May 8, 2014 Thursday Part 1 Chance of rain, 79 degrees

 

Well, the weather did not look too good as we sailed into our first port in Mexico, Puerto Chiapas, early this morning. It was raining, as it did all night. It would not matter that much to us, because since we have been here twice on previous cruises, we were not going anywhere special.

 

There is not too much here in the way of things to do, unless you take a tour. Shore excursions had a total of seven today. If you wished to see ancient Mayan ruins and a museum at Izapa with a stop at Tapachula, the closest town, then you had to book a tour. Or, instead of paying $90, you could take a local bus that was taking folks to Tapachula for a round trip that only cost $10. each. Not a bad deal. There is a town square downtown with scores of souveniers. If you were looking for regular shops or pharmacies, then this is the place to go. Been there, done that.

 

There are coffee and banana plantations, as well as a mangrove boat ride to see birds. We have also taken this tour, which was OK, but not the best if you compared it to the same tour in Costa Rica. We do remember learning a little bit about chocolate made from the local cacao beans, and also the cultivation of cashew producing trees. Not everyone knows that the cashew is produced as a seed from a fruit that grows on trees. We did not, until our guide pointed it out to us. The raw cashews are actually inedible, even poisonous until they are leached and roasted correctly. The by-product of the fruit is used for a local alcoholic drink we understand.

 

Before we went to breakfast, there was an announcement that we were staying here until 5:30pm instead of leaving at 4pm. The excuse they used was that our time was extended for an operational procedure. Wonder what that was about? We would find out later in the day. The good thing was the rain had stopped, and it appeared that it would remain that way. It was warm and steamy, but no where as bad as yesterday.

 

We finished our job of emailing, which by the way, has been working somewhat normally since the world cruise ended. Figuring that fewer people are using it, we have had less problems with the internet shutting down. We headed off the ship around 11:30am to explore the manicured gardens around the huge palapa, or thatch-roofed hut. We heard it was the second largest hut on the Pacific Coast. We were greeted by a marimba performance by three musicians. The marimba is a wooden instrument similar to an xylophone. We saw five people playing a huge one yesterday as well in Guatemala. Another group of dancers were entertaining the folks at the exit to the palapa. They were dressed in local costumes, made with brightly colored fabrics.

 

It took us about an hour to check out every shop, although we found nothing special to purchase. Most of the souveniers were the same as yesterday's, however, they cost more. Did not hear much bargaining happening either. Of course, they did have Poncho Villa Wanted Dead or Alive t-shirts for sale here. Like we said earlier, the best deal here was the transfer for $10. to Tapachula. There was a line of folks to take that ride too. Hopefully, they keep their time schedule as promised and leave every hour. Since it is not an HAL tour, you do take that chance.

 

On our way to check out the restautant/bar, we ran into Henk and Christel on their way for a run. They were taking a walk through the garden of trees planted around the grounds. We were happy to share our knowledge on the cashew tree, since neither of them had seen one before. We asked Henk about the time change for leaving, and he admitted that it was due to a medical emergency. Now we are really curious as to who was having the emergency. Usually the ship waits for no one, so we must assume this may not be a passenger, but a crew member. Don't know if we will ever find out. You will never hear it from the medical staff onboard.

 

If we had left the ship a bit later, we would have tried the nachos or tacos with beer at the cafe/bar. However, it seemed like we just ate breakfast (we did), and were not hungry yet. It was probably just as well, because if we had drank beer, we would not have felt like packing. Frankly, we never feel like packing, but it must be done, and the days are passing by quickly now. So that chore kept us busy for the afternoon, even though we already had two duffels packed. We even watched a movie while packing.....Ronin 47, a true, but brutal story about Japanese samuri centuries ago. Made the time go by faster for sure.

 

Sailaway was at 5:30pm, with the music from Darlene and the HALcats on the aft deck. A crowd of locals had come to the shores to watch us leave. We did get some good bird photos as they scurried away as we left the little harbor. By the time we reached the ocean once again, the ship did a zig-zag and a ton of water poured out of the pool soaking some sunbathers things. Must have hit a rough patch, because as we headed further out, the seas calmed down. And the rain never did fall for the best part of the day.

 

Dinner was formal again tonight, or was it? There has been no enforcement of the dress code so far on this trip. The majority of the passengers we see at the 8pm dinner are dressed properly. However, at many tables near us, we see no jackets, let alone a tie, and open-collar shirts. Some fellows even wore sanadals, with no socks. What gives? We asked our head dining room manager, upon leaving tonight, and he said they have not enforced the dress code, because the air-conditioning has not been working properly. We do know that a team from the Ukranie is onboard for that reason, and they are supposed to have it fixed. We are not really dining room snobs, but if they wish to come dressed casually, then it should be announced to the entire ship that formal is optional on this trip only. We are all sweating dressed in jackets and formal wear, even the waiters are uncomfortable. We just hate to see such a nice tradition bite the dust because of a few that choose not to adhere to the rules. We never thought that HAL would go the way of casual only, but nothing would surprise us.

 

We did enjoy our food however. Our starter was jumbo shrimp, followed by salad and soup, then entrees of Szechuan chicken. Desserts of creme brulee and strawberry ice cream finished our meal. Showtime featured the Amsterdam singers and dancers with Sessions, tunes from Billy Joel, Carol King, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, and the Beatles to name a few. This group is really earning their money on this cruise, as they seldom did more than a weekly performance on the world voyage.

 

Well, we now have two days at sea to kick back or continue with the packing. plan on doing a little of both.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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HAL has never claimed to be a luxury line and has never been positioned as premium. Mass market premium maybe.

 

Years ago HAL was a premium line - one of the best..my family sailed on HAL for years since the 50's, my first was in the 1970's. The Rotterdam V was a ship of state...strikingly beautiful.

 

Unfortunately Carnivore / Carnival Corp bought the line & its been downhill ever since & now they basically operate floating malls. I would of rather the line went out of business than see what has happened to it - floating deluxe Holiday Inns.

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Report # 131 Sailing Towards Cabo San Lucas, Mexico May 9, 2014 Friday Chance of rain...really? 81 degrees, humid

 

We just figured out what we did not like about putting the clocks ahead. It keeps you from falling asleep at night, then makes it harder for you to get up in the morning. That is what happened today. We barely made it on time to the dining room before 9:30am. Good thing we were ordering light, because we were invited to the first of the Mariner Society Brunches at 11am, preceded by a reception in the Explorers Lounge at 10:30am.

 

We quickly went back to the room to change into appropriate clothing, since shorts or tank tops were not acceptable. We would say that there were about 35 people at the awards reception, where the Captain gave out some medals at each level, ending with the final platinum one for 700 days sailed. We found it odd that only four of the existing President Club members were called up to have a photo taken with Captain Fred and Henk. On previous Panama Cruises, we have had our photo taken with the group of us that already had their platinum medals. That did not happen today. We do know that there were a few of us at this party that exceeded the 700 day mark...us by over double that number. Don't know why we should be surprised by this, because the same thing happened on the world cruise. Wonder who is responsible for the changes? Perhaps the new Cruise Director, Gene? How hard would it be to say those of you with 1000 days, for instance, please stand up? Some of these elderly folks at this level may not be here next year, and deserve some recognition.

 

The awards were wrapped up and done by 10:50am, and we were all invited to enter the dining room for brunch. Since we had just eaten breakfast, we opted out of the brunch, and asked Presti to save us the tiles we would have gotten after the meal. Actually, it was the best decision of the day, because we did enjoy mimosas, which definitely put us in the mood for a nice afternoon at the aft pool.

 

Another good call to go outside, because there were turtles everywhere all around the ship. If you stood at the railing, you could spot ten of them in about as many minutes as they surfaced for air. While watching them, we also spotted some tuna, we think, as they barely breached the surface. This part of the Pacific Ocean has always provided lots of sealife for us all to see. What we have missed since leaving the Caribbean Sea, are the sightings of flying fish. They are gone now. And since we are sailing fairly close to the shores of Mexico, we are seeing masked boobies once again. Always a joy to see as they dive for fish.

 

The weather was much better today, despite the warning of a chance of rain. It was partly cloudy, but still warm and humid. Our only saviour was a strong breeze blowing across the decks. Our days of relaxed reading are slowly coming to an end we are afraid. Perhaps we should make it a point to do more relaxing and reading at home. Summer will be arriving shortly after we get home, and so will the nice hot and dry weather. Every day we expect more people outside, taking advantage of these last days for sunbathing. True, there are a few more of them, but there is no trouble finding available lounges. For that, we are happy. The nearest company we had at the very aft of the deck, were two painters, who were taking their time with rollers on poles to cover the back end of deck eight with sticky and smelly white paint. They were so quiet, we barely noticed they were there.

 

Back to the room, we worked on double-bagging more formal clothes and things we will not need. We find the space bags and even the super extra large glad bags work well in packing the duffels. Watching a movie, one of the Lord of the Rings, while packing, with a stop for a late lunch helped pass the time.

 

It was still rather hot in the upper dining room this evening, indicating that the air-conditioning system has not be fully restored. Even our room, which has remained around 68 to 70 degrees, has jumped to 75 or more by the night time. We still wager that our Dolphin deck one remains the coolest of the passenger decks.

 

Dinner was good again. Having a table for two speeds up the process, which at this point, we appreciate. Our entrees of osso buco and the alternate New York steak were fine. One of us has to remember that eating chocolate, as in black forest chocolate cake, is not the best idea. Despite the time change of an hour back this evening, sleep evaded me until 2am. Of course, it probably did not help watching another movie while typing reports. This time it was helpful having the rerun of "Now You See It", as we had only caught bits and pieces of it the last two times it was airred. This is a movie you must see from the beginning in order to make sense of it.

 

Another day at sea tomorrow, and we will be in our last port of call, Cabo San Lucas.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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I so look forward to your daily reports, and will be sad when your cruise is completed.

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