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Seek Timeless Treasures with Bill & Mary Ann - 2019 World Cruise -131 days

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Wonderful report.

 

I did have a good laugh about the vases and roses.

 

We were on the Zaandam many years ago and noticed that everything in the cabin was always dusty.  We asked to have the air filters changed.  They came and did them right away.  When they changed the first one, huge chunks of dust flew everywhere -- some even ended up in my hair as I was sitting near the one vent.  After the filters were changed, I had to wash my hair.

 

 

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Love the pictures especially the embarkation photo with Gerald and Orlando -- glad you finally got it.

 

The 6 plates look lovely.

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Report #14   Salaverry & Trujillo, Peru   January 31, 2019   Thursday   Partly sunny & 81 degrees       Part #1 Of 4         80  Pictures

 

The port of call for today was Salaverry, Peru, an industrial community located on the coast of the country.  Technically, the pier is where the ship docked, directly across from a busy freighter unloading corn all day.  An interesting process to watch, four cranes scooped their buckets into the hull of the vessel, and filled one truck after another for transport. The dust created from the process was incredible, making it necessary for our crew members that worked the gangway to wear masks and sunglasses.  In a matter of hours, every outside surface of the Amsterdam was covered in that dust.

 

So the real attraction was nearby Trujillo, the third largest city in Peru.  What has put this area on the map are the ruins of Chan Chan, the largest pre-Colombian city in the Americas, and the pyramids of the sun and moon.  Peru consists of an indigenous peoples with rich ancestral heritage.  We calculated that we were here 16 years ago, having taken an all day tour of these ruins.  So, it was nice to be able to explore the city of Trujillo, and even more so, with the help of a complimentary shuttle bus.

 

Yesterday, we had inquired about the destination of the free bus, and were told that we would be transferred to Palacio de las Letras.  Asking which city we were going to see, no one at the front desk knew.  We did not know if the port guide map would help, and of course, every time we tried to watch the port guide’s talk on TV, something else was on….not his lecture.  Guess our suggestion to dedicate one channel to the lecturer fell on deaf ears.

 

So after a proper dining room breakfast, we headed off the ship by 10am, hoping most of the tour groups had departed.  By the way, the HAL group that went to Machu Picchu left quite early to make their flight on time.  That’s why the Captain got the ship here by 3am. 

 

Nice and roomy buses arrived for the long line of folks that were going to Trujillo.  As the crow flies, the distance would not be that far.  But we had to drive for 40 minutes in stop and go traffic to reach the center of town. Right on the pier, there were several huts set up with souvenirs, but we would check them out when we got back.

 

Coming into the outskirts of the city, we spotted some modern malls with the usual stores you see worldwide.  The bus kept going, so we realized we were not stopping there.  At the bus stop, we were handed maps from the locals with the main tourists sights listed.  As long as we could figure out the map’s details, we should find our way to the Plaza de Armas.  In fact, there were several taxi drivers offering tours of that area for $5 a person.  Most of us walked, since it was overcast, but warm.

 

We have to add that the weather on the coast here in Peru is unique.  On the edge of the desert, there is a constant heavy haze that is suspended for most of the day.  Although it appears that it might rain, we understand that it seldom does.  All of the water that is needed for the communities and for growing crops comes from the nearby Andes Mountain range. The further inland we went, the haze parted and some sun appeared later in the day.

 

So following the map and getting directions from a few locals, we found our way to the spacious plaza.  An impressive statue was in the center of the park, and the entire square was lined with the nicest Spanish-colonial buildings.  They included many churches, a cathedral, museums, private mansions, government buildings, and McDonald’s.  We popped in and out of the most impressive structures, especially the Cathedral of Basilica Mayor. On the opposite corner was a very nice hotel, and although the map had the name of the Hotel Libertador, the name was different on the outside.  Once through the entrance, we found a central courtyard with a swimming pool in its center.  Now this would have been the perfect place to have lunch and some cold beers, but it was not opened for lunch.  Too bad.

 

Nearby, we spotted a familiar fast food restaurant, McDonald’s. It was full of people, locals and cruisers, buying meal deals and working on their computers.  We did learn that the only money they accepted was the Nuevo Sol (3.32 to the US$1). Many folks were going to ATM’s or the bank to exchange some money.  All credit cards were accepted as well.

 

The main pedestrian-only street was Pizarro.  It was lined with restaurants, bars, shops, pharmacies, and casinos.  Some of the larger hotels were here, along with some fancy casinos.  Most restaurants were not opened, and we figured they were dinner venues. Guess there would be no lunch out today.  There was a palace located on this street, but we only took photos of the outside.

 

From here, we made our way back to the bus, about three blocks away.  Our timing was perfect because the coach arrived within minutes, and we made the cut to get seats.  The traffic was worse on the way back, but it was better for taking photos as the bus went at a crawl.

 

Lunch for us was in the Lido, which stayed completely open until 3pm.  The dining room had been opened today, but only from 12 to 1pm.  If there are a lot of tours booked, we think the lunchtime dining room is closed on those port days. And it does give some waiters the chance to go off of the ship, which they love.

 

Around 3pm, we strolled back to the souvenir stands to find we already have many of the items being sold.  The vendors were very polite and pressure-free.  Our big purchase was a $2 zippered leather pouch for pills or coins that has a Trujillo design on it.  We know that the same merchandise will be offered in Callao and Lima , our port for tomorrow and Saturday.

 

The rest of the afternoon was spent sorting photos and taking notes for the report.  Sail away was prompt at 5pm, and presented itself with more photo-taking.  It was better attended this time, mostly because it was cooler than Panama.

 

Oh yes, we promised you the dirt story.  We were not planning a window garden this year, but while in Ft. Lauderdale, we picked up a couple of little pots with sunflower seeds in the Dollar Store.  Well, the seeds came up rapidly, and we realized if they are to survive, we needed larger pots and, of course, dirt or planting soil.  We found all that we needed in Panama City, and proceeded to distribute the soil in the four pots.  The dirt had to be the most unusual stuff we have worked with.  The description was in Spanish, so we had no idea what was in it.  Soaking the four pots first, we discovered this dirt became like a sludge….a black pudding-like substance that turned our fingers black….like charcoal dust.  Thank goodness, it did not have an awful smell.  We would have been in trouble if there was fertilizer in it.  And doing this all in the bathtub (carefully), we cleaned everything up with paper napkins we had brought from home.  The napkins worked to wick the excess water that refused to drain out the bottoms.  Now the seeds and smaller pots have been planted, and we hope this concoction does not kill everything.  We will let you know the progress if they grow.  This time we had black thumbs instead of green ones.  Oh what fun we have…..

 

Dinner was good as most of it was geared towards Spanish-style food.  Spicy and tasty, except for one of us that had KFC (almost) chicken and mashed potatoes.

 

The next two days we will be in Callao for Lima.  Still not sure where the shuttles will take us.  Normally, it was always Miraflores, but we heard it may be a different place.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

PS  The dining room shades on deck four have been repaired.  Wonder how long they will stay put?

 

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Wonderful report.

 

Your "dust all over the ship" sounds like something that happened on our cruise on the Rotterdam on the Orinoco River cruise.  We got to Puerto Ordaz around dinner time where we would overnight.  We were on the port side and did not see what was happening on the starboard side.  By morning the entire starboard side of the ship -- all verandahs and balconies, Promenade deck, Lido aft deck, etc., were completely covered in red iron ore dust.  It took the crew 2 days to get rid of all that red iron ore.

 

The plaza sounds wonderful -- too bad nothing was open for lunch.

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Report #15   Callao (Lima), Peru   February 1, 2019   Friday   Partly sunny & 83 degrees   Day One     Part #1 Of 2    81 Pictures

 

The Amsterdam arrived to Callao at the earliest hour we have ever gotten into a port……3:30am.  This was for all of the folks that were scheduled on an early flight out of Lima for the tour to Machu Picchu.  Well, later in the day, we learned that the original flight had been cancelled by the airlines a while ago, and made at a much better time in the morning.  However, the schedule had been set, and there was no changing the ship’s arrival time.  In the end, all went well we heard.

 

We did not recognize the pier, since much of it has been updated.  Gone are the rickety buildings that housed the souvenir stalls.  There were tents set up, much the same as we saw in Salaverry.  It is not a surprise that there were fewer vendors, because the security in the port area is very extreme.  In many ports now, the docks are off limits to any sales people.

 

Today’s newsletter was full of info, geared to this part of the world.  Traveler’s tips were suggested on the front page.  Or should we say, warnings about pick pockets, vulnerable purses, wallets, and back packs.  It was suggested not to wear flashy jewelry, of course, and be aware that anything is possible. This is a first….check any US$ change given back, because fake bills are in circulation.  Makes us wonder why are we here?  But then, this same advise will apply to just about anywhere we visit.

 

There are many things to see and do here in Lima, the capital of Peru, and we have done most of them.  The highlights are a trip to colonial Lima, an hour’s drive from the pier.  There you can visit Plaza de Armas, the main square, the government palace, city hall, the cathedral and the bronze fountain.  Museums and churches are everywhere also.  Still a good tour they offer is the Inca civilization and Pachacamac.  It takes you out of Lima to see the ruined city in the desert dunes.  The best part is the visit to a private hacienda where you see the paso horse show with a typical Peruvian lunch.

 

These tours are explained in much more detail these days in the brochure.  They inform passengers of a more relaxed outing or a faster-paced one.  If a lot of walking is involved, it is pointed out.  Much better to be informed well before, than finding out during a tour.

 

There was a surprise waiting for many of us that decided to take advantage of the free shuttle bus today.  Previously, we have always had a shuttle that took us to the Indian Market and/or Miraflores.  Even a free bus ride to the Marriott Hotel was offered by the jewelers, Stern’s.  That is gone, but we did think we would be transferred at least to the colonial square.  Little did we know that Plaza San Miguel was not a plaza, but a modern shopping mall, about 7 miles from the pier.  There must have been 100 people or more in the line to leave on the first bus.  And believe us, the repeat guests will have an uprising for sure.

 

The one good thing was that the buses were nice ones, and some folks did not mind since they like malls.  Some friends told us they got as far as the mall, then negotiated a taxi to take them elsewhere.  That’s was another warning….the taxis.  You had to be very careful who you got in a car with, or you might be taken for a different type of ride.  There were plenty of fellows waiting for us all to get out of the bus to offer their services.  And for that reason alone, many people stayed on the bus, and took it directly back to the ship.

 

As long as we were here, we took a stroll through the mall to get some exercise and see what was there.  The information booth had no information.  No maps of the shops, and no English.  There were restaurants, and the most promising one was a Chilis, one of our favorite places where we live.  But unfortunately, it was so new, it was not opened yet.  Figures….. Now for the people that always seek free wifi, they had the opportunity here. The mall had some cafes and restaurants, but we decided to go back to the ship, and dine in the Lido again. 

 

We did notice that several stores had back to school sales, and kids were everywhere in the mall on a Friday.  Then we remembered that the seasons are opposite in the Southern Hemisphere.  Winter at home in California is summer down here, south of the Equator.  This is their summer vacation.  Back to school should begin in a few weeks.

 

It was actually nice being on the ship without any crowds.  Good chance to work on photos and have salads and sandwiches in the Lido.  While in our room, the sky became darker, but not with clouds.  There had to be a gazillion birds over the water, in the air, swirling in flight…. like in the movie “The Birds”. The ships in the bay were stirring the water up, probably presenting a buffet of sea food for these birds.  The only place we have seen similar activity had to be while in the harbor of Cape Town last year. 

 

Later in the day, we went to check out the stalls on the pier.  They were selling the same things that were in Salaverry, and truthfully, we already have the llama sweaters, ponchos, wall hangings, pillows, llama fur teddy bear, woven purses, and native beaded jewelry.  No, we don’t need more.

 

We did consider buying the transfer to the Indian Market for tomorrow, then walk to Miraflores from there and back.  It would have cost $60 for both of us, but would we have time to do it all in 3½ hours?  The ship will be leaving after 6pm, and we sure don’t want to chance missing the bus ride back from the market.  So we changed our minds.

 

There was a Churrasco Steak Dinner served in the Lido tonight.  This is the replacement for the deck BBQ that we used to have.  The only difference this evening was that the waiters wore ponchos and leather hats, and the overhead lights had been changed to red.  Since there was a tour at 7:30pm to see the light show in downtown Lima, many folks were gone from the ship.

 

Barb was waiting for us in the dining room, and as always, we had a relaxed meal with our fun waiters.  Sometimes the waiters will go out in town when we are staying overnight.  Thank goodness, our waiters are smart enough not to go out of the gates here.  Slam had a friend who got attacked some years back, and was lucky to get back to the ship dressed only in his underwear. Robbed and roughed up. No kidding.

 

There was a folkloric show at 9:30pm tonight.  It was almost over when we left the dining room.  We are sure we have seen it more than once.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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Report #16   Callao (Lima), Peru   February 2, 2019   Saturday   Day Two   Partly sunny & 83 degrees     Part #1 Of 3    80  Pictures

 

Happy Groundhog Day!  We even received a cute greeting card from our travel agent (via our hosts onboard) wishing all of us an early spring.  Seems that is what the official groundhog “said”.  

 

So, day two was sort of a repeat for us today.  All morning we were hearing fellow passengers voice their disappointment with the transfer to the modern mall yesterday.  The smart ones used the shuttle to the drop off point, the negotiated a taxi to the destination they wished to go from there.  This particular port is not easy to exit, because you are not allowed to walk anywhere away from the ship’s area.  The dock is so big, you would never even find the gate.  And going out last night was tricky.  A few friends we spoke to had to pay for a cab from the ship to the gate, because the shuttle bus would not let anyone off at the gate.  Once outside the port, it is very dangerous, and for those who did go out last night wished they had not gone that route.

 

We overheard people talking in the elevator that they were going to write the Share Your Thoughts cards to ask why we were not taken to the Marriott in Miraflores.  And thanks to a reader of our blog, we discovered later today that the Prinsendam passengers on the Grand South America Voyage did in fact have a free shuttle to Miraflores.  And that was just a week ago.  On the other hand, if the folks complain too much, we may not have complimentary shuttles to anywhere.  The service is a very nice perk, but it is never guaranteed it will be available in every port.

 

As it turned out, when we arrived to the mall on this Saturday morning, we saw the best entertainment of the trip so far.  The main thoroughfare, Avenue de la Marina, has stop lights that are quite long.  The cars, trucks, and buses have to stop for 5 or more minutes in some busy intersections.  Enough time for a group of teenage fellows to dance in between the cars.  Not only dance, but perform acrobatics.  Even one guy was dressed like Spiderman.  He was the best.  His buddy hoisted him on top of a bus, where he did poses and handstands.  It was the funniest thing we saw, as he jumped down from the roof before the bus continued.  Then the group worked the traffic for tips, and by golly, they got them.  The thought passed by us that while we were watching the action in the street, other guys might be picking pockets.  Never happened, at least to us, although, we did hear stories at dinner that some people and crew may have had problems with theft.  Hopefully, they were simply rumors.

 

Walking through the grocery store, Wong’s, again, we did locate a pharmacy near it.  They still did not carry the aspirin we were looking for, but something close.  However, 100 tablets cost 58.00 nuevo sol, which computes to about $18 US dollars.  No way Jose.  We will wait until we reach New Zealand.  At least we got a good walk in a safe place.

 

Before we re-boarded the ship, we checked out the souvenir stalls again.  One of us had spotted some silver–clad butterfly pendants and earrings yesterday, and perhaps suggested it would be a suitable birthday present.  That’s when DH went right into the bargaining mode, and within minutes made the purchase for a very fair price.  So much for not needing anything…..

 

Lunch was back on the ship in the Lido.  It has been a while since we made use of the salad bar there.  It has changed to full service, which is so much better than it used to be.  Customized salads are made by a server, even the dressings are poured by the staff.  Adding a shared sandwich, we had a healthy meal.  The waiters are very good about serving ice water, tea, or lemonade too.

 

All aboard was 5:30pm, and it appeared we were on schedule to leave shortly thereafter.  That’s when Captain Mercer announced that a tour bus would be arriving late, and we needed to wait for them.  Watching from the Seaview Pool, we spotted some officers standing at the gangway with two pieces of luggage.  Guessing the delay was not a late bus, we were correct when an officer standing near us said it was a medical debark.  It was close to 6:30pm when an ambulance arrived with police escorts to load a woman from a wheelchair into the ambulance.  Hopefully she will be OK.  So far we have counted five people that have left the ship for medical reasons since we left Ft. Lauderdale. Undoubtedly there will be more.

 

We stayed out back, watching the ship leave the port, visiting with friends who shared their private tours they did in Lima.  As former travel agents themselves, they were able to see twice as much for half the price of the ship’s tours.  And they are smart enough to plan for plenty of time to get back to the ship on time.  It has already happened at least twice that an HAL tour was late, and the Captain waited.  Not so for the independent folks.

 

We now have one day at sea, and then we will be in the first port in Chile.  And the clocks went ahead one hour this evening.  No one likes losing the hour, but once we begin heading due west, the time will go back every three days or so.

 

Tomorrow……Super Bowl Sunday!

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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You are lucky you have a sea day between Peru and Chile.  On the Prinsendam we lost 2 hours in one night.

 

Roy

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 Wonderful report.

 

It is always so sad to hear that people have to leave the ship for medical reasons.  On one of our cruises, just going through the Panama Canal, we had 3 people who had to leave for medical reasons.

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Great pictures.

 

Thanks for the pictures of the pots were you are growing the sunflowers.

 

I tried growing sunflowers one year -- the squirrels dug them up and ate the seeds.

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Report # 17   Day At Sea   February 3, 2019   Superbowl Sunday   Partly sunny & 75 degrees   Part #1 of 1   6 Pictures

 

Usually sea days are predictably simple.  But that was not the case today.  Starting with Sunday Brunch in the dining room at 11am.  Actually, the menu is called a sampler, because that is what it is…..samples.  The first course included fresh fruit, Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail, smoked salmon, devilled egg with caviar, ham and coppa on a baguette, and cheese.  The main course was a veggie omelet with bacon, biscuit and gravy, broccoli and roasted potatoes, jumbo shrimps, tenderloin, chicken tender, and a pancake with syrup.  If you have room for more, there was dessert.  That was chocolate crème caramel, pecan pie, and apple strudel.  You don’t get a choice of the above, you get it all.  Like it or not.  A couple of years ago, we did attend one brunch, but decided it was not our cup of tea.  Out of the 17 items, we probably ate 4 things.

 

We went to breakfast as always, then took our morning walk.  The weather was most pleasant with mostly clear skies and decent temperatures.  There was a bit of humidity in the air, but we sense it is getting drier as we get closer to  Chile.  As we stated previously, we are enjoying it while it lasts.

 

On Deck for a Cause, the walk for charity, took place at 10:30am, and it was well attended.  This time the marching music was kept at a decent level.  Could be so as not to disturb the guests in the new lanai cabins on deck 3.  In case anyone is wondering, there have been no negative comments that we have heard about the addition of these rooms with an outside door.  The lounges for each room are well-marked and no one has challenged it.  The funny thing is that in the two weeks that we have been here, we have only seen a few folks sitting outside their rooms during the day.  It’s not exactly private, like when you are in a veranda room, but the occupants do have the chance to go outside for fresh air.

 

We spent a good part of the day at the Seaview Pool, visiting with buddies.  Barb always makes a sweep to visit with us for a bit.  The warm sun is good for her, although when it gets too hot, she is out of there in a flash.  Today we had the pleasure of seeing something really big in the water as it jumped several times.  It was far away, so judging by the splash it made, we thought perhaps a large dolphin or even a whale. 

 

The big event of the day was the showing of the Superbowl in the Mainstage, as well as in every public area around the ship.  We found that this event was not advertised as it had been in past years.  Come to think of it, there have been far less ads delivered to our rooms this year.  So unless you frequent the bars or lounges, you would not be aware of any specials that were being sold during the game.  For a price, we think $50, you would get ring side seats with unlimited drinks during the game time.  We heard those seats were sold out this year. 

 

Another thing that was different this year, is the fact that by this time of year, we would be much further west in the journey.  That meant that the game time would be around noon.  Because we left three weeks later this time, the starting time for the game was 7pm, dinner time for most.  Instead of mini burgers, chili dogs, nachos, and beans, there were dips, chips, sandwiches, and wraps.  We saw some popcorn and potato chip bags floating around, and of course, beverage service from the bar staff.  From what we saw, the food was barely touched, because most folks ate dinner before coming to the lounge.  We stayed long enough to hear the anthem sung, then had to head back to our room to get ready for dinner.  The game would last long enough to catch the last part after we finished our meal.

 

The service was excellent tonight, mostly since everyone ate early and there were few diners in there.  Most of the waiters were not busy, and they were milling around, visiting with each other and us too.  Bill and Leta’s waiter, Nas, is quite a character.  He visits us quite often at our table, and tonight was no exception.  Some of the waiters have known each other for a long time, and they are really like family with each other.  We are really liking our table, because of the excellent company of Barb and the pace of our dinner.  Everything comes on hot plates now, and we are not waiting forever in between courses for 6 other people to catch up.  We find we are ordering less than we normally do, especially eliminating the desserts.  Unless it is special, we can pass it up.  The same goes for the bread.  We are close to telling Slam not to even put it on the table.  OK, maybe three rolls.

 

A quick walk around the promenade deck, then we went back “home” to watch the last of the game.  For a Superbowl, it was a most unusual game for sure.

 

Arica, Chile is our port for tomorrow.  And to be on local time, the clocks went ahead one more hour tonight.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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That Sunday buffet sounds wonderful.  A little bit of everything would be a lot for me, but I would try and save room for desserts -- they sound so good.  My mouth is watering.

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Report #18   Arica, Chile   February 4, 2019   Monday   Scattered showers & 79 degrees         Part #1 Of 3       80  Pictures

 

Our first port in the country of Chile was Arica, located in the northernmost point of the country.  The capital, Santiago, is halfway down the coast, and the population of the Spanish-speaking country is about 16 million people.  This country is long and skinny – half the length of South America.  It houses the world’s driest desert, the Atacama.  There are huge copper reserves, famous wines, and home to northern Patagonia. It is also known for earthquakes, volcanoes, and the Andean condor.  Oh we would die and go to heaven to see one of those magnificent birds.  Another favorite is their Pisco Sours, a grape brandy with fresh lime and powdered sugar.  We admit they go down easy, and pack a mean punch.

 

A random fact is that tubers, potatoes, date back 14,000 years ago.  Today 99% of European potatoes can be traced back to an island called Chiloe.

 

The port of call, Arica, has a slogan – “Arica is always summer”.  Maintaining a fairly constant temperature, this area is a year-round resort destination of the Chileans.  There are 13 ½ miles of beaches with nice resorts and hotels.  The city is packed with historical sites such as the Cathedral of San Marco.  The iron and wood doors of this church were created by Gustav Eiffel, famous for his works like the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The Ex Customs House nearby has a long history as well.  Museums abound with parks scattered in downtown.  But the most prominent feature has to be Morro de Arica, a 456 foot high steep hill with spectacular views over the city and Pacific Ocean.

 

But first, we needed to board a local shuttle bus that would take us to the port gate, since walking is not permitted in this terminal.  It took only 8 minutes, then we had to pass through xray on the way out into the city.  It was also mandatory that we pack the declarations forms we filled out prior to arrival, although we were never asked to present them. 

 

There were mini vans with drivers selling city tours right outside the gate for the folks who did not book with Shore Exc onboard.  Since we have visited here twice in the past, we decided to see the town on our own.  Directly across the street was Parque Vicuna Mackena, a nice tiled avenue full of souvenir tents.  Everything being sold was Chilean folk art and typical treasures made here.  Prices were very reasonable, although there was nothing we needed.

 

At the end of the square was the Cathedral San Marcos.  Going inside, we forgot to look at the famous doors from Paris.  Since it was fairly cool, we decided it would be a good time to find the start of the road up to the hilltop of Morro de Arica.  The street was Colon and it immediately went straight up, as in steep.  The entrance to the Morro led to a monument called Mirador de la Virgen del Carmen, but there were steeper steps just to access that level.  So, one of us decided to relax in the shade, and watch the more able of us to make the hike to the top of the hill.  Sometimes it is important to realize limitations, such as going up might be OK, but coming back down could be brutal with a sore knee.  And besides we have seen the view twice in the past, and the photos that will be taken today was well worth the wait.  Truthfully, visiting with ship folks known to us and new ones, was a lot of fun. 

 

Re-united 40 minutes later, we made our way towards what looked like a market on the free map we were handed in the park.  The street market began as a veggie stand, but led to a real pedestrian mall filled with modern stores, cafes, and loads of locals out shopping.  It turned out to be a big area of central downtown with side streets full of souvenir stands.

 

There were not many lunch type places, except McDonalds.  It was crowded with customers, and a meal deal cost the equivalent of $5.00 USD.  However, with the exception of the souvenir hawkers, no one took US dollars here.  It was Chilean pesos, and we had none.  One store window advertised that they took all credit cards, which is always good to know.  So for that reason, we did not eat lunch out.  One of us did buy a leather-like small purse with Incan drawings on it.  It will fit a small camera, and is useful.

 

The ship offered a couple of tours today, but the longest ones were up to 7 ½ hours.  It took the folks for a 3 hour drive one way to Codpa village at 6,000 feet in elevation.  This is a tour we did back in 2003.  Another long drive took people to Putra village, but the elevation is 11,300 feet high.  This one came with warnings about the altitude and possible problems with heart and respiratory problems.  In other words, don’t do it if you have any of those conditions.  A tour not offered because of the distance, was to their wetland sanctuary that houses 147 bird species, in particular, three types of flamingoes.  They thrive in salt marshes in the highest valleys.  These fertile valleys produce corn, grapes, and olives these days.  The olive trees have proven to be a lucrative crop, since the trees are among the hardiest of crop-producing trees in the world.

 

By 2pm, we headed back for lunch in the Lido.  It sure was crowded there, because most of the short tours had gotten back around then, and that is the first stop for the passengers.  The pizza has been the best we have tasted this year.  The new recipe has produced a lighter weight crust which never gets soggy.  We have been successful at keeping the serving to one slice each.

 

Around 5pm, the cruise director, Hamish, announced that a surprise visit had been made by a group of native-clad entertainers.  If we wanted to see it, we needed to go to the promenade deck to watch the band and dancers strut their stuff.  What a show they put on.  It reminded us of the days when on a grand voyage, locals came out like this in almost every port to give us a royal send off or greeting.  With the increased security in most ports, this is becoming a rare event.

 

Once they departed after getting a round of applause, we made our way to the Seaview deck to watch the sailing out of the harbor.  There was no announced sail away here, but there was one in the Crow’s Nest.  By the way, chance of rain was in the daily newsletter, but it was dry as a bone all day.  In the early morning, there was a heavy fog, but it cleared up once the day advanced.

 

Watching closely, we spotted seals around the bulkhead of the harbor, then we saw them here, there, and everywhere as they poked their heads up watching us leave.  Further away from the coastline, the swarming sea birds gave the location of feeding dolphins away.  There is a word for the “ball” of small fish that the dolphins charge from beneath.  This is what we believe we were watching.  We consider this a treat on top of a fun day in Chile.

 

Now we have a total of five full sea days to reach Easter Island, also belonging to Chile.  We look forward to it.

 

Dinner for us was in the Pinnacle Grill.  There was a party of 10 that were whooping it up.  Once they departed, it was really quiet again.  The entire meal was excellent as was the service.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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O always enjoy reading where all you both end up walking to and seeing new things.

 

I hate it when you get a noisy bunch of people in the specialty restaurants.  It spoils the ambiance. 

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Report # 19   Day At Sea   February 5, 2019   Tuesday   Partly sunny & 75 degrees

 

Today was a very special one for our best buddy, Barbie, since it was her birthday.  She will be a busy girl all day, but we will celebrate with her at dinner time.  It was also Chinese New Year, but not everywhere on the ship.  For as long as we can remember, this was one of the favorite evenings for a gala dinner in the dining room.  Lanterns, banners, and dragons would decorate both levels, and the guests always dressed for the occasion with Asian-style clothes that had been purchased from various travels. The waiters were also decked out in vivid reds and blues. The only sign of the Year of the Pig was in the Lido, where the lanterns hung for the day.  It would be a Chinese New Year at dinnertime there only.  Really a disappointment.  Nothing stays the same forever, we always say.

 

At breakfast this morning, our waiter Gan asked if we climbed up to the top of the cliff yesterday in Arica.  Unknown to us, he and one of his buddies had a bet that we would have done it.  Apparently, it has been noticed that we like to walk a lot.  Normally, both of us would have done it, but not yesterday.  We told Gan he was half right, since one of us did make the summit.  The bet was a draw.

 

The weather was not really sunny this morning, but it was not cold either.  Nice enough to relax out back for a bit.  Finally getting a chance to catch up on reading.  During the morning, we saw that the Polynesian Cultural Ambassadors have begun their necklace making.  This group always  have fun activities, since we have several days before we reach French Polynesia.

 

A new Explorations Central activity is walk for your cause – a one mile or more morning stroll.  This morning we spotted two places on the wall on the outside promenade deck with the slogan “Share a Goal” painted there.  Later in the day, we saw several guests had written messages with a black felt pen around the sign.  Some were serious, while others were funny.  Someone wrote they are walking to keep the extra 5 pounds off on this world cruise.  Five pounds is nothing.  Maybe 5 pounds a week is more like it.  Two messages were written in Chinese.  Now we are wondering if this is a new thing for all of the HAL ships?  Graffiti for the passengers….how fun is that?

 

Guest speakers are into their subjects, while America’s Test Kitchen is off and running with new chefs.  One thing we have noticed is that there has been far fewer advertising for the activities this year.  If you don’t read the daily newsletter or depend on the Navigator app on your cell phone, then you miss out.  We really miss the interactive TV we had on the Eurodam last fall.  Everything you needed to know for the day was listed on the TV.  The best aspect was having access to the daily menus in all of the restaurants.  Guess the modern TV system will never happen on these older vessels.

 

We are enjoying the music of the new Ocean Quartet that play in the Ocean Bar before dinner.  More and more people are coming to dance and listen like us.  They have a girl singer, who is really good, and even the piano man will join her in a duet.  Huge improvement from previous years.  Most of the tunes have moved into this century too.  Barb has told us that the Station Band in the Crow’s Nest is the best ever.

 

Another observation is that the bar servers are fewer in number.  For instance, at the Seaview Pool, we have yet to have a waiter come around to offer drink service.  Every other year, one or more of the bar staff will make a sweep through the sunbathers and pass out ice water or lemonade.  We are on day 15, and this has not occurred once yet.  The same is true with the seating outside the Ocean Bar.  There are beverage menus for the bar, but no one is hustling drinks.  Could it be the staff has been reduced, and fewer waiters are here?  It is possible.

 

At dinnertime, we had a message to deliver to the birthday girl from her friends at home in Virginia.  Lisa wrote to us and said to say she and the group were having a very special dinner tonight, and they would be toasting her special day.  It sure made Barb happy, as did the decorated carrot cake our waiters brought to her for dessert.  At least 30 waiters gathered to sing to her….no kidding.  The biggest group we have ever seen.  Sure made her day.  Not a sweet-eater, she had one little bite, as we also did, and donated the rest to Slam and Marco.  She had pre-ordered a carrot cake, since she knows the fellows like it. 

 

Good news…..we got one hour BACK on the clock tonight.  This works well for everyone onboard.  And we also received gifts – two sets of a tower game, which looks like a stack of dominos.  It will take reading the instructions to figure it out.  Better yet, our 8 year old granddaughter will know how to play it quicker than us.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Happy Birthday to your friend Barb.

 

It wouldn't surprise me if there have been cuts in the bar staff. And in the decorations for the Chinese New Year around the ship.

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Report #20   Day At Sea   February 6, 2019   Wednesday   Partly sunny & 75 degrees      Part #1 Of 1    13  Pictures

 

Well, the mighty Pacific Ocean has been behaving itself as we head southwest towards Easter Island.  The swells have been between 1 to 2 meters, and despite the fact that Captain Jonathon mentioned some rain in the forecast for today, it never happened.  Not quite warm enough for swimming for us, it still was most pleasant at the aft pool.  So far, this is the first cruise that there have been so few people using the lounges back there.  Not that we are complaining…just the opposite.  We’re liking it.  Even the piped-in music has been updated and kept as back-round tunes.  It’s about time.

 

While relaxing in the mostly sunny day, we found out that someone had won a $20,000. jackpot in the casino last night.  Wow, that is always nice to hear.  Wonder who it was?  Later in the day, we would find out.  A year or so ago, someone really got lucky and won a $100,000. progressive jackpot.  Hopefully , that person did not have to put in that much or more for that win.

 

There are many times during a cruise that we pay a visit to the hotel director, Henk, simply because we have known him since 2008, and he is a nice guy.  Very open and approachable, as is his wife, Christel, the customer relations officer.  We had some questions regarding the new internet packages that are being sold onboard, for instance.  And we also inquired about the Share A Goal sign on the outside deck.  Henk had one painted on his wall in the office we noticed.  It seems that this is something on this voyage only, an activity created by the EXC department, we think.   One other observation we discussed was the fact that there are no flowers anywhere to be seen in the public areas of the ship.  It seems that their shipment brought onboard did not hold up well, and had to be thrown out.  The next delivery will be Easter Island, of all places.  Makes sense since there are flights there daily.  We also talked about conditions at Easter Island and the landings of the past….some were easy, but a few turned dangerous.  Henk happened to have photos on his computer from the time a tender boat and platform were damaged on the rocks, so he invited us to view them.  This is one spot that you never know for sure what the conditions will be until we arrive.  We are all keeping our fingers crossed for a successful day there.

 

Lunch for us was in the Lido around 3pm.  The arts and crafts class takes place at 2:30pm, and one side of the Lido was full of crafters, deep into their projects.  The same teacher is back from last year, and although we do not know her name, her projects are keeping the ladies ( and some fellows) happy.  Busy hands….happy heart!

 

The participation is picking up in the Ocean Bar during the pre-dinner performances of the Ocean Quartet.  It is apparent that some of the couples that have taken the dance classes are here practicing their new steps.  The teachers are Alex and Kirsten again, and between them and the dance host and one hostess, they are all fun to watch.  Today, the dance lesson was the bachata, which is unknown to us, but some of them must have been doing it.

 

At dinner time with Barb, we found out the gentleman that sits near us may have been the big winner in the casino.  We sure hope so, since those windfalls are few and seldom seen.  By the way, the offerings for starters and mains have been worked on since we were here last spring.  A few of the usual appetizers and entrees are the same, but most are new recipes, and being well received.

 

The entertainer this evening was a piano man by the name of Tim Abel.  His tunes included rock, classical, ragtime, and boogie-woogie.  We have been told that the source of the entertainment has been changed, and the comments have been most positive.  Both show times have been fuller than in the past, so the numbers speak for themselves.

 

Just noticed that the Paradise Lotto Jackpot drawing is up to $378,000.  Now that is what we call a jackpot…..

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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That is a shame about the flowers.  Hope HAL doesn't pay for them.

 

Nice that HAL is working on some new appetizers and entrees.

 

I think someone 2 -3 years ago posted a picture of the damaged lifeboat on the rocks.

 

$20,000 is a nice win for someone.

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Report # 21   Day At Sea   February 7, 2019   Thursday   Partly sunny & 75 degrees         Part #1 Of 1       35  Pictures

 

After enjoying a dining room breakfast, the morning began with an announced fire drill for crew purposes only.  It is a good idea for the staff to put this warning in the newsletter, because many folks prefer to sleep in later on these days at sea.  Those who live on the lower promenade deck surely must be startled when this alarm goes off. Using a set of ear plugs is a great idea also.  Speaking of unexpected noises, we heard hammering on metal in our room after midnight last night.  We have spotted outside contract workers onboard, so perhaps they are repairing things on a swing shift.  Lucky for us, the disturbance did not last very long.

 

While taking our stroll this morning, we spotted two small sea birds sitting in the wet gutter of the lower promenade deck.  Obviously, they were resting or injured.  By the afternoon, only one was left, and later in the day, the second one was gone.  One of our friends told us that another injured bird a few days ago was deposited into the trash can by a clueless passenger.  Someone spotted this, and reported it.  A crew member came to the rescue.  Very sad, as we have seen people a few years ago, pick some resting birds up, and toss them overboard.  We have seen it all.

 

Days without ports are good for the promotions in the ship’s shops.  For instance, one of the newer line of clothing, Helly Hansen, was featured.  This name brand is the logo brand for the 2019 Grand World Voyage in the way of t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jackets.  The big difference from what we always had available for keepsakes has to be the price, and the quality as well. One of the nice white and navy blue jackets cost $210, with whatever discount your Mariner status can give you.  We cannot say these items are flying off of the shelves yet.

 

While the lectures went on this morning, we were at the Seaview Pool in the half sun and clouds.  We can always catch up on Ian’s talk on Chile, Gloeta Massie’s lecture on giant brains and tentacles, or geoheritage and tourism with Phil Creaser, since these will be repeated on the TV today.

 

Ukelele lessons, Tahitian dance, and watercolors have been popular this year.  Carol, the artist teacher onboard says that both of her classes are bursting at the seams, and many of the guests have taught her some new techniques.

 

The highlight of the day was a special invite to a Sliders & Sides Party for the 48 or so President’s Club members.  It was held in the Lido Dome, and hosted by the Captain and his wife Karen, as well as several officers we know well.  Cocktails would have been sufficient, but with the addition of mini burgers, fois gras, crab and caviar sandwiches, who would need to go to dinner tonight?  We did pretty good by snacking on a few fries and onion rings, mostly because the little sliders may have been more on our clothes than in our mouths. 

 

A few members of the staff attended as hosts for the guests.  One of them was a casino worker, possibly manager, by the name of Grezia.  A very sweet gal from Costa Rica, she enjoyed visiting with our table of four.  Of course, Barbie made her feel quite comfortable, as she often does.  The gathering lasted from 7 to 8pm, but we lingered, visiting with Karleen and Sue until 8:45pm, when we figured we had better head for the dining room.  Our waiters were ready and waiting, so all of us ordered only half portions of the entrees.  Slam surprised us with a dessert that was supposed to be mud pie, but was more like chocolate mousse.  Bless his heart, he asked the cooks to make it special for the three of us.  He thinks we may not be eating enough we guess.  Believe us, we are trying hard to be aware of every bite, and not over-do it.  So far, it is working.

 

We did finish our meal by 10pm, but we were all tired and missed the show, which was a singer by the name of Annette Wardell.  She will have a repeat performance, and we’ll make it a point to catch her show next time.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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I like that idea of the party with sliders and sides.  I know that we wouldn't have been able to have dinner after all that food.

 

Great report.

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Report # 22   Day At Sea   February 8, 2019   Friday   Partly sunny & 75 degrees

 

The day was pretty much a carbon copy of the previous three days.  The weather has been OK, with temps in the 70’s with mostly cloudy skies, some sun, but no rain.  We are lucking out.  There has been a constant swell of around 2 meters, which is tame for these seas. 

 

While taking in some rays at the aft pool, we spotted five birds that we think were either boobys or possibly tropic birds.  We thought they would stay with us all day, but by the late afternoon, there was no sign of them.  Since we still have hundreds of miles to reach the nearest land on Easter Island, it is a miracle these birds are out this far.  As much as we have searched the waters around the ship, we have not seen any signs of flying fish yet.

 

Various shipboard activities have kept the folks busy.  Many of them are Grand Activities which means everyone who participates receives a coupon worth the equivalent of 10 cents.  One of those games happens to be trivia.  It has to be the most played game on the ship, at least the one at 11:45am.  So far we have not heard any problems with the participants competing fiercely, but it is still early in the cruise, so give it time.

 

This evening, we had a date to meet in the Crow’s Nest at 7:30pm, for a group photo.  Don McD arranged for 12 of us to pose with Budweiser beer bottles with a sign saying “We miss you” to send to Peter, our good friend and purser of the Amsterdam for many years.  Since he retired after last year’s grand world voyage, we had to let him know he is missed big time.  The ship’s photographer met with us, and snapped a few shots of all of us dressed in our “gala” clothes for tonight’s Rapa Nui Mystery dinner (formal).  In his British way, Peter will be most amused and possibly happy we are thinking about him.  And by the way, he despises that beer, so he will get the twisted humor.

 

A neat surprise for the three of us was finding Eddie and Calista waiting for us as our hosts for tonight’s dinner.  Not expecting an officer, we were most happy to welcome them.  All of us have known this young Dutch couple since 2008 when they joined the Amsterdam as the florists.  They have to be the most talented artists onboard any ship we have ever sailed on.  Since gardening is one of our passions, we had lots to talk about.  We told them about our “dirt” story, and they are looking forward to seeing the sunflowers growing on our windowsill. 

 

They had an interesting story about procuring the flowers that were supposed to come onboard in Peru.  As we have mentioned, there are no flowers anywhere to be seen on the ship right now.  The real story is that the delivery they ordered was held hostage by the locals, who wanted over-the-top tax money before they would release them.  Really, it was extortion $$$.  So they had to decline the shipment.  Even their adventure to go pick up the shipment was hair-raising.  With all of the warnings about the danger around the port of Callao and even the city of Lima, they were nervous about taking taxis there.  What should have been a 2 hour job, turned into an 8 hour journey.  The end result was no big shipment, but a few boxes of blooms to make some smaller arrangements.  One of those happened to be a creation they sent to our room.  Now we really feel special.

 

Anyway, for dessert, we talked Eddie and Calista into trying the Jamaican Calypso Torte, which really is Mississippi Mud Pie.  They had never had it before, and decided it is their favorite dessert now.

 

Tonight’s show was performed by the singers and dancers of HAL.  The theme was Salsamania, a high energy Latin performance done well.  According to the florists, who spent time on the Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam recently, they said this group of dancers and singers are gone on the larger vessels.  They have been replaced by groups that come onboard for a one or two time performance, like the other assorted entertainers.  Of course, most of those trips are far shorter in duration that the one we are on now.

 

One more sea day, and hopefully, we will be in mysterious Easter Island.  It will depend on the size of the swells., according to  Captain Mercer.

 

One more hour back on the clock tonight will be appreciated by all.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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For obvious reasons I am excited to hear about your next stop.  I have been twice on land vacations and will go back again in the next couple of years. Can’t get enough!

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