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Stow Away with Bill & Mary Ann for 181 days on Amsterdam's So. Pacific & 2020 WC

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Report # 46   Taiohae, Nuku Hiva  Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia   December 10, 2019   Tuesday   Mostly sunny & 85 degrees     Part # 1 of 6   80 Pictures  

 

Today we are visiting the most remote archipelago on the planet……The Marquesas Islands.  The Marquesas consists of 12 islands, however, only 6 are inhabited.  These 12 islands are spread over 271 miles, therefore, giving each island its own personality.  And this archipelago is about 900 miles northeast of Tahiti.

 

Nuku Hiva is our port of call, which happens to be the second largest island of Polynesia, next to Tahiti.  With 127 square miles, this island rises out of the ocean with stunning peaks and deep lush valleys. It has been called the “Land of Men” in the Marquesan language.  And the scenery getting to the administrative capital of Taoihae is spectacular.  The population of this pleasant village is about 2950, while the total population of all six islands is 9200. 

 

High above this village are basaltic ridges planted with sandalwood trees. On some of the ridges, they have planted pinus caribaea hondurensis trees. These mountains are full of ancient temples or maraes, petroglyphs, sculptures, tikis, as well as decorative arts like tattoo and tapa cloth.  There is a waterfall here called Hakaui that is 1148 feet from top to bottom.  It is said that the falls are so long that the water actually evaporates before it reaches the bottom.  Also notable is the valley in Taipivai, where the novelist, Herman Melville, resided as a captive with his young friend, both of whom jumped ship and hid out on the island.  They lived with the natives for about three weeks in the late 1800’s, and this is the experience that he wrote in the book Typee.

 

The soaring spire-like peaks are best accessed by 4 wheel drive vehicles or by horseback.  In town, there is a post office, a hospital, city hall, banks, a school, and an airport (out of town).  Stores are few, and there is limited shopping.  There are wild horses, goats, and wild boar.  Locals hunt these wild pigs for meat.  The seafront in Taiohae has sculptures carved by artists from different archipelagos.  Really reminded us of the moais we have seen on Easter Island.

 

Lastly, there was only one ship tour here for three hours, which took the guests in 4x4 vehicles to tour the island and the valleys.  There was a stop at the church, a beach, and some souvenir stands.  The Taipivai valley was visited where the TV show The Survivor was filmed in 2002.  The cost of the tour was $130 per person, although we have seen it offered locally for around $50 (no insurance included). 

 

We were not in a big hurry to get to shore today, even though the weather was next to perfect.  It was a mostly sunny day with a few clouds drifting over.  But no rain, so we were happy about that.  Around the same time, the Captain was conducting yet another crew drill, and it would take 45 minutes.  These have been occurring on almost every port recently.  The Captain did announce at sail away, that they are due for their yearly safety check when we reach San Diego, so everything has to shipshape.  This means the following week will be full of more testing and sprucing up. 

 

There were a couple of kayakers from the village following in the wake of the tender boats.  They must do it for exercise we guess, but they are fun to watch.  Once safely onshore, we checked for signs of sharks where the local fishermen were cleaning their morning catch.  But we must have missed the action, and did not see them baiting for the black tip sharks today. 

 

There were the same souvenir shacks and a small café near the tender landing, but there was also a new building, which looked like restrooms.  This area has grown so much since we first came here in the early 2000’s.  Up at the produce market, we noticed that that restaurant had expanded, and by now, it was loaded with passengers drinking beer and doing internet.  We are not sure if it was free, but everyone was doing something with their phones or tablets.

 

We continued on to pass through three small buildings that offered souvenirs and tours.  Looking for a new t-shirt from here, all we could find were 3x.  All of the smaller sizes were totally gone.  Of course, checking out many of the local men, 3x would be a conservative size for them. 

 

Walking the seaside road with little traffic was pleasant, as a nice breeze came up along the water.  Some of the small shops and convenience stores were opened, and some folks were already buying beer and drinking it under the shade of the big trees.  We decided to hold off on the beer, since it was too early, and we had a long walk ahead of us.

 

The Notre Dame Des Marquises was about halfway on the hike, and up a small incline.  But when we saw at least six 4x4 vehicles convoy to the church, we decided to come here on our way back.  Hard to get good photos with 50 or 60 people crowding into the church.

 

We passed by the many volcanic carvings that have been placed here.  Around the same place, was a Monument to the Dead, dedicated to the deceased French colonial sailors from the 19th and 20th centuries. 

 

School was in session, and the kids of all ages were just having lunch.  Guess there is no vacation time here yet.  In fact, we saw no signs of Christmas here at all.  Boy, they really are remote. Or they are not overwhelmed with the commercialization of this holiday.  Not a bad thing, is it?

 

Right next to the Paahatea Cemetery with the old grave markers, we found the wood-carved monument, a tribute to Herman Melville and the book he wrote.  He helped put this island on the map.  We also saw two Marquesan horses tied to trees, small in size, and the cutest puppies with their mama dog.

 

Eventually, we reached the end of the road…the cul-de-sac so to speak.  From here, we made our way up the steep road to the Keikahanui Pearl Lodge, that sits up high above the Taiohae Bay.  The views up here are really impressive, especially with the Amsterdam anchored in the middle of it.  This is the first time we have found the restaurant to be full of guests….most all from the ship.  And most all of them doing…..internet, what else?

 

It was obvious that they were a bit overwhelmed with the crowd, but we were in no hurry.  We ordered Hinano beers (in cans), and one chicken panini with fries to share.  With two more beers and one banana split, we were ready to leave.  They never bring a printed bill to the tables, so you have to go to the register and pay there.  That’s when something strange occurred.  The food and drinks we ordered were not adding up just right.  But it was in the ball park, so we paid with our credit card.  As we were leaving, the waitress said she made a mistake, and forgot the dessert.  We knew something was not right, so when we asked to see the itemized bill, there were items we never ordered.  Like a cheeseburger, wine, sodas, and wifi.  Yes, they were charging for wifi here.  We had none of the above, so she refunded the charge for the dessert, and we called it even.  Note to everyone – keep track of what you order, add it up, and be prepared to catch any mistakes before you pay.  Too bad, we cannot always assume they always get it right.  But the wifi mistake (or not) was obvious, since we did not use it, and never asked to use it.

 

On the way back, we did see the church and we had it almost to ourselves.  The wooden carvings outside and inside the church are carved from trees throughout the archipelago.   The old mango trees in front were full of fruit and also filled with the white terns.  One green parrot flew overhead as well.

 

Checking out the souvenir stands, we decided we already had enough treasures from here.  But the produce market did have one thing we did want.  A bunch of the small bananas was the only purchase we made for 100 CFP francs or $1.00 US.  We were back to the ship by 3pm with a short tender ride, and the last ride for this cruise.

 

Then we had another pleasant surprise when we went out on our veranda.  Directly below us in the water was a giant manta ray, feeding with its wide mouth opened as big as it gets.  They seem to be gentle creatures as they glide effortlessly near the surface.  Even the officers on the navigation deck were watching it, and taking some photos.  It stayed in the immediate area long enough to get plenty of pictures, then it left.  Had it not been for the veranda room, we never would have seen the Fakarava shark or this manta ray.  Lucky, we guess.

 

The last tender boat was hauled up and we were on our way by 5pm.  The Captain cruised the island for almost two hours, before he turned and headed northeast.  We now have 2824 miles to reach San Diego in seven days.    By 6:03pm, the sun went down on the horizon, and we got the last photo of an island sunset. 

 

Dinner found monkfish on the menu once again, so one of us was game to try it.  Have to agree, it had the texture of lobster, and tasted all right with seasoning and a tomato-based sauce on it.  As a backup, we shared a plate of kolbi beef ribs….. very tender. The chicken kiev was really tasty also.  Desserts were one scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a small plate of sliced watermelon with fresh blueberries.  Also very refreshing.

 

Six days of ports have caught up with us, so we passed on the show of a magician, Naathan Phan.  He will return later in the week, so we can catch the show then.

 

Bill & Mary Ann  

 

https://cruisingwithbillandmaryann.blogspot.com/

 

 

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Report # 47   Day at Sea   December 11, 2019   Wednesday   Mostly sunny & 79 degrees   Part #1 of 1

 

Today begins the start of a seven day run from French Polynesia to San Diego, California.  The weather could not have been better too.  Even though we are still south of the Equator, there was a noticeable difference with the humidity.   It was mostly gone, and the breeze was most pleasant without it.  We are so used to the California heat, but humidity is something we have a hard time getting accustomed to. 

 

The ship’s itinerary was full of things to do, except for us.  We had plenty of catching up to do with the internet work.  The connection today was up and down, and we think it has something to do with the direction we are headed, which is mostly north at the moment.  We are afraid in attempting to send the photos, they may have repeated over and over.  Sorry about that, but it was out of our control. 

 

There was a kitchen tour once again for those who may have missed the first one.  It is always nice to see what goes on behind the scenes.  We guarantee it is a whole lot of organized work for many crew members on this ship.  And with the right direction, it has gone off like clockwork.  Serving so many meals a day has to be the greatest challenge on this ship.

 

Group games continue to be popular during the day.  Trivia is held at 1pm, and again at 4pm.  Another fun activity has to be the game Call My Bluff at 8:30pm in the Explorer’s Lounge.  When we left the dining room after dinner, people were hooting and hollering with laughter as the cruise director, Justin, led the questions.

 

Speaking of dinner, we had simple entrees tonight.  One was a spaghetti dish with pancetta, and the other was the alternate salmon with dill and capers.  The time has really arrived to begin cutting down, even though we did leave a bit of room for desserts of a tiny cake and one peach cobbler.  They are just too tempting.

 

Philip introduced us to our new waiter for the world cruise tonight also.  He will be taking over where Slam left off.  His name is Wira, and is definitely familiar, and although he never waited on us, he seems to know our entire group that will be here in January.  

 

The entertainer for this evening was a sax virtuoso, Akos Laki.  He played some really smooth melodies that the crowd enjoyed.

 

And the clocks went ahead one half hour tonight.  Now we only have one hour left to go ahead to be on Pacific time.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Report # 48   Day at Sea   Crossing the Equator   December 12, 2019   Thursday   Sunny & 80 degrees    Part # 1 of 1   20 Pictures

 

Today was another day at sea, but also one with many things happening.  Sometime around 8:30am, we heard one long blow of the ship’s horn, indicating that we had crossed the Equator.  We have left the Southern Hemisphere, and are now sailing in the Northern Hemisphere. 

 

So to commemorate this event, a King Neptune Ceremony was held at 10am under the Lido Dome poolside.  If you have ever had the chance to cross the Equator on a ship, this is something you need to see at least once. We have gone to these events many times, so today, we chose to enjoy the aft pool while it was quiet for a while.  Denise did attend the show, with the intent on taking photos from deck nine.  However, the roof was mostly closed, claiming the wind was too strong.  Well, many other folks showed up, and they succeeded in getting the crew to open the dome up.  We did hear that the ceremony was well done by the cruise director, Justin, and the “kiss the fish” part was funny as always.  Of course, when the party was over, the Seaview Pool was totally full of sunbathers.

 

There was something happening back there we have never seen before.  Some people had dragged the umbrellas and the stands to the back section of the deck.  When the wind blew hard enough, these umbrellas were falling over.  In our humble opinion, this is an accident waiting to happen.  Someone is going to lose an eye or worse.  When the couples left for an hour for lunch, leaving these umbrellas unattended, they blew over, so we asked the attendant to remove it.  He did, but when the couple returned, they brought it back.  Now all of the tables where the umbrellas belonged had no shade.  There is always plenty of room under the overhang to sit at a table in the shade, so why drag the umbrellas out in the sun?  Go figure.

 

This day was also dubbed “Orange Day” to point out the link between HAL and the Netherlands.  The history dates back 150 years, and because orange is the color of the Dutch Royal Family, it has always be worn on special occasions.  So this evening, the guests were asked to don the color orange.  To help those who did not bring anything orange, the shop onboard was selling orange t-shirts with the HAL logo printed on them.  And these were reasonably priced as well.  We did see a few of them being worn all day.

 

At 7pm, we had another party in the Crow’s Nest with the Captain and hotel director, Craig Oakes, and other staff officers.  It was titled “King Neptune’s Trident Dunkin’ Drinks Fest” for the shellback members of the President’s Club.  It was held in the Captain’s Corner with the foldable wall drawn separating us from the bar area.  Thomas, the food and beverage manager, the beverage manager, and also Philip joined our small group.  Cocktails of our choice were served, along with canapies on three-tiered plates.  As many of our group had already eaten dinner, little of the food was consumed.  But the company was good as always.  Captain Jeroen is very easy to converse with, and he moved between the groups to be fair with all.  We stayed until almost 8pm, then left for dinner, arriving a bit late.  Tama and Dede knew we were at a party, and promised to save the table for us. 

 

The dining room was decked out with orange seat covers and orange lights on the serving tables. And dinner was really good with the best avocado tacos for appetizers.  They were crispy and tasty with salsa and shredded lettuce.  Honestly, we could have ordered doubles, and called it a night.  But we added crab cakes with grits, and one order of the barbeque ribs.  Both were good, but the ribs would have taken the prize.  Sometimes they are dry and chewy, but tonight, they were tender and very meaty…..full of sauce too.  And there were enough ribs to share.  It is really interesting how these menus are so diverse, with few repeats, except for the alternates.  It is a tough act to follow when we go home.

 

Then at 9:30am, there was an Orange Party in the Crow’s Nest, celebrating the Dutch heritage in a festive sea of orange, of course.  Bet more people went to that instead of the singers and dancers with the show Amour. 

 

The Captain mentioned that tomorrow might bring some rain, but more important, he hinted that the sea conditions might be changing.  Guess we will find out soon enough…….

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

https://cruisingwithbillandmaryann.blogspot.com/

 

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Report #49   Day at Sea   December 13, 2019   Friday   Cloudy & 76 degrees       Part #1 Of 1     19  Pictures

 

Another day, and more activities kept us busy today.  Except there was one big difference.   In a word…..the weather was not the best.  We have been a bit premature in reporting that the humidity has gone, because as the night advanced, so did the heat, humidity and the ocean swells.  The Captain was right, we were in for a change.  There was little or no sun all day, and the clouds brought some rain with it.  When we went for breakfast, our waiters assumed it was cooler outside.  Nope, it looks like Alaska out there, but it was warm and muggy once again.  Considering the length of this voyage, we have been most lucky to have had such good weather so far.  It is the movement of the ship that is giving some folks a problem with a touch of seasickness.

 

We had an invite to the Mariner’s Reception at 10:15am in the Mainstage.  Our group of 12 President’s Club members had been requested to enter on the left side of the lounge, as we always do.  However, the entire area was full of guests waiting to get in, and we did not have a pathway to get through the crowd.  This seems to happen at every one of these affairs.  Anyway, we did eventually have an escort from the front desk, and she did lead us to the door.  But on the way, one very rude lady made remarks to us as we passed. She said she had 300 days and told us to get in line.  Her mistake, one of us told her once she earns the 1400 day pin, she will also be among the first ones taken in.  One other member had the same rude person grab her arm to stop her from going forward.  She was quite upset by this and rightly so.  We need to come up with an alternate plan for avoiding this in the future, like using one of the magic inside stairwells.

 

After passing the receiving line, we were seated in the center of the lounge, and offered champagne or mimosas.  We probably could have ordered any beverage, but we did not feel like the hard stuff this early in the day.  Three-tiered plates of canopies had some nice treats on them, as well as jars of mixed nuts.  Seems like we just ate breakfast….oh wait, we did…..

 

The ceremony was much longer than usual.  We counted about 102 medallions to be awarded, and these were all silver, gold, and platinum.  The bronze medals had been delivered to the rooms of those recipients yesterday.  They stood as a group for their applause.  This has to be the first ceremony with so many high number awards given, even compared to the grand voyage.  They saved our group for last, which was the smallest.  However, because the time had gotten so short, they called us up as a group for one photo.  It came as a disappointment, since for some, it was their first time to be acknowledged at this gathering.  As for us, we have many  of these photos, that we did not take offense.  Not so sure that was true for some others in our group.

 

Brunch followed, and we were seated at two reserved tables in the center of the dining room.  The Captain and hotel director hosted these tables. Champagne was poured, but we did not see wine. The food choices were a crab cocktail and a cold apple soup.  The mains were short ribs, cod, or cheese raviolis, and three were excellent, especially the fish.  A small slice of Key lime pie finished the meal nicely.  Two guests were missing from our table, so with only four of us, we had a nice conversation with Captain Jeroen.    He shared several personal photos of one of his recent trips to South Georgia in Antarctica.  Not many ships are allowed to go there anymore, including the HAL vessels.  That would be one port on our bucket list for sure., although his photos sure looked mighty cold.  By 12:30pm, he realized that he was late for his noon talk, so he excused himself.  The four of us stayed and chatted even longer.  Usually there is another brunch seating at 1pm, but not today.  There will be a repeat brunch for the remainder of the guests tomorrow.  And we all received the free ship tile of course. 

 

Back at our room, we found the certificates for crossing the Equator yesterday.  We have been lucky enough to have crossed this line so many times, we are rock-hard shellbacks by now.  With the afternoon bubbly, we relaxed for the rest of the afternoon on the veranda.  The weather had improved briefly, letting some sun through the clouds.  Later in the afternoon, it did begin to rain, and the seas became rougher as well.

 

At 4pm, we went down to the Ocean Bar to listen to some music.  It would take our minds off of the ship’s motion.  Remember, the higher you are, the more motion you get.  Unfortunately, the band was not playing.  So when Twinkle, the assistant beverage manager stopped by to visit, she explained that they had played well into the night in the Crow’s Nest.  The Orange Party had drawn quite a crowd.  So with the overtime, they earned this early session off.

 

Dinnertime was special, because we shared a table with friends Denise and Howie in the Pinnacle Grill.  Spending a couple of hours in deep conversation was good for all of us.  We all agreed the wedge salads were great.  Adding an order of the clothesline bacon per couple was our plan, but the waitress showed up with four sets of the bacon treats.  Not wanting to embarrass her, we said thanks, and cut the pieces of savory bacon and put them on our salads.  Truthfully, that was already a meal in itself.  But we added one steak, two halibuts, and one pork chop standing on end.  Three of us had just the Cherry Garcia ice cream, and one of us had a slice of Key lime pie.  Thoroughly full, we said good night. 

 

The last part of the entertainment was still happening, so we ducked in to listen.  Annie Gong had already performed, but we did watch the magic show of Naathan Phan.  It was the first time we ever saw a singing magician….and he was funny also.

 

The clocks went forward for the final hour this evening, so now we are on home time….. Pacific Standard Time.  Ready or not, we are heading for home.

 

Bill & Mary Ann 

https://cruisingwithbillandmaryann.blogspot.com/

 

 

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On 12/2/2019 at 1:25 PM, WCB said:

Report #37    Rarotonga, Cook Islands   December 1, 2019   Sunday   Mostly cloudy, rain & 76 degrees      Part #1 Of 4      81  Pictures

One place we did want to stop at was the Cook Island Christian Church, one of the oldest in the islands.  Mass was in progress inside, with the overflow of locals sitting outside.  We joined them to listen to the lively choir singing, when one nicely dressed lady (completely in white), came over and invited us to a tea following the services.  It would be served next door, and we were welcomed to join the large group.  That sure made our day, even though we did not have the time to stay that long, the gesture was quite thoughtful.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

Am catching up on your journey.  I can only dream of this cruise right now.  Maybe one day I'll get to do an extended voyage like this. 

 

I could relate to your experience here, as DH and I were once invited to morning coffee/tea with the bishop and his staff in Hamilton, Bermuda.  We had received permission to leave the ship, Majesty of the Seas, as it repositioned to the other side of the island, so we could attend Mass.  The bishop must have noticed us "newcomers" because as he walked up the aisle after the service, he stopped and asked us to join him and his staff.  (This was a weekday.)  They put on a beautiful spread in his office, and we all chattered away like old friends.  It remains one of the most memorable experiences from all of our cruises.  

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Report # 50   Day at Sea   December 14, 2019   Saturday   Very cloudy, rain & 72 degrees

 

Deteriorating.  That was the word the Captain had used yesterday to describe the conditions of the weather and also the sea.  And he was right on, we are afraid.  Hoping to see a little sun, the skies were not giving up the dense clouds with occasional rain. 

 

Walking on the promenade deck was challenging, as the ship was rolling and pitching quite a bit.  The fun part was stopping long enough to watch waves connect with the bow, sending explosions of water several feet high and away from the ship.  You had to be careful which side you chose to witness the spray, because you wanted to be where the water did not blow back into the ship.   And yes, that has happened more than once.  At least the doors to the outside have remained opened, and there have been no warnings to lash everything down in our rooms. 

 

It basically turned out to be a two-movie day, as well as watching the Indonesian Crew Show at 3pm.  The public areas of the ship looked like a ghost ship, because most all 1261 passengers must have gone to see the crew sing and dance.  Standing at the extreme back of the show lounge on deck five, we caught somewhat of the festivities.  We learned later, that Tama, our dinner waiter, was the black monkey in their main skit.  He admitted that they only had one chance to practice their routines, but they do it so often, they have it down pat.

 

At lunchtime in the Lido, we suggested to our two favorite Thai waitresses that they will need to also do a cultural dance to compete with the rest of the crew.  We think that frightened them, since there are only a very few of the Thai crew here right now.  And these girls are too shy to be in front of a huge crowd.  Given time, they may be up to it.  

 

Right now there is a photo contest happening in the photo department.  Several categories were open to folks submitting their best shots.  The sunset in Kauai had a dozen entries, Denise’s among them.  Of course, her’s was the best.  But the cutest one we saw, was the resident service dog, a small cocker spaniel, we think.  She was standing on a surf board somewhere on a beach.  Every time we have seen her here and there around the ship, we have not heard one bark from her.  Unlike the ones that boarded at the end of the world cruise this year.  Guess some pooches are better behaved than others.

 

Around 4:30pm, we went to our favorite chairs in the atrium to listen to the music in the Ocean Bar.  Even though the ship was rolling, many couples were still dancing.  Maybe not really fast, but they still looked good.  The buy one, get one drink for $2 at happy hour really is a big draw in the bars.  At least on this trip, there have been at least two sessions of BOGO, and even a third time in the Crow’s Nest occasionally.  Twinkle indicated that this really only takes place on the longer voyages.  By the way, we noticed something really funny a few nights ago, while at the cocktail party in the Crow’s Nest.  Our drinks came with a swizzle stick made of spaghetti.  Yes, raw, uncooked spaghetti.  No more plastic or bamboo sticks.  They have gone organic by using one piece of spaghetti as the stirrer.  Naturally, one of us immediately broke it in half by accident, with the piece of pasta sinking to the bottom of the glass.  Guess this may not be the best idea they have ever had.

 

Back in the dining room, we had another relaxing dinner.  Appetizers of breaded shrimp and chicken soup, and a salad were the starters.  Entrees were turbot, another new fish plate, and the country fried chicken, like the Colonel’s.  A good home-cooked meal is always welcome sometimes.  Of course, if our buddy Barb were here, she would have ordered the liver and onions….one of her most favorite dishes.  Dessert was one slice of milk chocolate cheesecake, which was great, but sure looked like a frozen product.  Could be, it was.  The other dessert was one scoop of coffee ice cream with a touch of chocolate sauce. It really was not on the menu, but our waiters will make most anything possible when we ask nicely.

 

The show was a comedian by the name of Frank King.  We did take a few minutes to listen to the jokes, but did not stay very long.

 

And today, we also received our disembarkation package than contained the luggage tags we need to go home.  Oh boy, it is time to start packing……..

We do have a few more days at sea to do the job.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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Nice reports!  Makes us think of our 2018 WC.  Kiss the fish, kiss the fish!  Lol 😉

 

Are they still printing the daily NY times newspapers?  Heard rumors that HAL considering to stop printing these newspapers.

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Report # 51   Day at Sea   December 15, 2019   Sunday   Cloudy, sprinkles & 65 degrees    Part #1 Of 1

 

Another day at sea, and a carbon copy of yesterday’s weather and rolling seas.  Guess this will follow us for the remainder of the cruise.  It could be worse, but we hope not.  There is no doubt about it, the ride is much more stable on dolphin deck compared to the veranda deck.  And there is no doubt that having the balcony with the extended lounge chairs has been convenient, but it might not be the best in rough seas. 

 

In between walks on the windy and wet promenade deck, we did watch one movie, The Peanut Butter Wrestler.  Really good for a change.  We even dined on Dive In food for the first time this cruise.  We had one Cannonball burger and one Nathan’s hot dog. We did add one order of the Naked Fries, even though they are not our favorite style of fry.  A bit too heavy with oil, we think.  The best ones for us are the skinny fries in the Pinnacle Grill.

 

Another special performance by the Filipino crew members this time, was held in the Mainstage at 3pm.  And once again, the room was packed to the brim.  The performers wore the traditional costumes from their country as they danced to many styles of Filipino acts.  The second half was more of a modern day show, with some of the better singers and musicians among the group of bar staff, wine stewards, and front desk people.  The crew deserved the round of applause they got at the end.

 

Since it was close to the Ocean Bar band time, we snuck behind the set-up for the photos curtain on deck five.  We do this often, and one of the nicer photographers always comes around for a quick chat.  Actually, we had an invitation for a re-do on the Mariner Awards photo, which went awry that day.  Between 5 and 5:45pm, the Captain and hotel director would be posing with those guests who missed their picture taken.  A line formed by 4:45pm, so when the line of folks was gone, we jokingly said it was our turn, even though we were not dressed in gala outfits this early.  They were most welcoming, and said they did not mind in the least.  So we did.  Both of these officers are easy going, and not all stiff or formal.

 

Right before dinner, we did attend some of the entertainment in the show lounge.  It had been recommended to us to be sure to catch Naki Ataman’s performance.  And we were glad we did.  The only description of tonight’s show in today’s newsletter was Somewhere in Time.  Now this told us absolutely nothing about what type of show to expect.  So when we walked in, and heard Naki playing the grand piano, we were most happy.  That man has talent, and we wished we could have stayed longer, but we were already late for dinner.  If Mr. Ataman returns on the grand voyage, we will go to both shows for sure.

 

This was the last gala evening, which in total, numbered seven.  One gala a week is about right.  The menu had the usual suspects like escargot, shrimp cocktails (which we ordered), and surf & turf or rack of lamb for the mains.  One of us ordered the non-meat  tortellini, while the other had the fish entree…sea bass.  It was just as our waiter Tama said…moist, no smell, and no bones.  Desserts were flourless chocolate cake and one bosshe boll, a Dutch word for chocolate éclair.  Both good, of course.  Decadent, but small in size.

 

There was a chocolate surprise at 9:45pm, but we missed it.  Having seen the goodies given out on deck five on other trips, we know it is chocolate overload.  And the surprise for one of us would be staying awake for most of the night with all of that chocolate.

 

Tomorrow we need to start packing.  Not so bad with only three suitcases.  This trip we really did well with the minimum of clothing, although we did add a few shirts along the way, as well as some seashell jewelry.

 

Lastly, there was a question regarding the printing and delivery of the New York Times on the ship.  We understand this will stop in the beginning of the year on all of the HAL ships. It is available on the computer though, and you do not need to be online to get it.  And it may be on the smart phones as well.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

https://cruisingwithbillandmaryann.blogspot.com/

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So glad you got to see part of Naki’s show.  We agree he is very talented.  Somewhere in Time sounds like a different show than the second one he performed on the Prinsendam.  Really hope he returns for the wc so you can see both shows in their entirety.  Naki is also a very interesting person to visit with.

 

Hope the seas calm down for the rest of your cruise.

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Report #52   Day at Sea   December 16, 2019   Monday   Mostly cloudy & 59 degrees    Part #1 Of 1

 

Perhaps with the wind chill, and there is a whole lot of wind, the temperature was 59 degrees.  However, we are still wearing our shorts, and walking with sweatshirts.  And with the swells we have been experiencing all night and into the morning, walking a straight line is next to impossible.  We have done this particular sailing many times, but never this part in December.  We have to keep reminding ourselves that we are voyaging back into winter, and that means storms.  For those who are staying onward and those that are joining in San Diego, we do hope they have better weather in the Mexican and Central American ports on their way to Ft. Lauderdale.

 

Today was packing day, although compared to the world cruise, this was fairly easy.  Even at that, it took all morning and into the early afternoon.  With the majority of the shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste, and mouthwash gone, that made room for the few items we purchased.  Good thing we resisted the exotic masks and carvings, because those end up weighing quite a bit more than you think.  For that reason, the shop was selling clever bags to take it home.

 

The second job we had was using the last of the shipboard credit which was under $18.  One white visor and a ship’s magnet…both on sale, took care of that.  With the change left, we suspect it will be credited to our card.  Even if it is under $1, they have to refund it, as it is still part of the returned port charges for Niue.  

 

Shipboard life went on as normal with all sorts of activities.  Since it was so chilly and cloudy outside, most of the folks stayed inside.  Sales took up most the activities, with Hawaiian clothing, souvenirs up to 15% off, fine jewelry clearance, future cruise bookings, and photo specials.  It was the photo shop that was busy.  While we were sitting in our special chairs, we noticed several different couples taking folders of large photos, and spreading them out on the desk across from the front desk. We surmised they were sorting through them, and picking out the best.  One couple must have had 100 pictures to go through.  Suppose they would make a good Christmas present for family.

 

Recently, we read that Tonga and Fiji have refused entry for cruise ship passengers, due to the outbreak of measles.  Now we are wondering if there will be the same thing happening while on the world cruise?  We are scheduled to stop in Nuku alofa, Tonga, and our question is how do you prove you had measles as a child?  We know that we both have had those childhood bouts, and never had a vaccination for it.  But we all consider ourselves lucky to have made those stops in Fiji and Tonga, as these places may be off limits for a while. 

 

We enjoyed our meal in the Pinnacle Grill this evening.  It was not as crowded as we expected, although we have heard that it is impossible to get reservations for lunch.  Also heard that some folks had gotten complimentary vouchers for a Pinnacle Grill lunch, but did not make their reservations soon enough.  Guess you cannot assume there will be space.  Unfortunately, these vouchers will go unused with no refund.  Always good to remember to make those dates well ahead of time.  Even on the grand voyage, we go the first or second day, and secure all of our dinner dates.  Next year, making these plans will be far easier, because there will not be any Captain’s dinners in that restaurant.  The rumor is that it took away too much revenue with so many full cruisers to accommodate.

 

One more full day at sea, and we will be in San Diego.  The good news is that the rocking and rolling will cease.  However, for one of us, the motion of the ocean stays for quite a while, even though we are landlubbers once again. 

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

https://cruisingwithbillandmaryann.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

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Sad to see this cruise is ending, as we have enjoyed reading your daily reports.

Can hardly wait for you to begin reporting the world cruise.  We read your blog.

with our morning coffee.  Have a great holiday.  Safe travels.

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A gentleman currently on the Maasdam said that Figi’s authorities allowed anyone born prior to 1957 could go ashore without proof.  Everyone else needed proof.

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Report # 53   Day at Sea   December 17, 2019   Tuesday   Partly cloudy and sunny & 61 degrees   Part #1 of 1    15 Pictures

 

At his noontime talk, the Captain said that we had sailed a total of 13,548 nautical miles so far, and we have about 260 more to go to reach our final destination of San Diego.   The ship was currently doing a speed of 15 knots or 17.3 mph, slowing down to get to the pick-up stop for the pilot tomorrow.  At the moment we were 150 miles off of the coast of Mexico, and finally the seas have calmed down.   The swells have not stopped, keeping us rolling and pitching somewhat.  Compared to the last three or four days, we will take this any day.  It was mostly sunny later in the morning, but the breeze began having a chill to it.  Sure starting to feel like southern California in the winter……between 57 and 61 degrees.  The Captain added that we will be docked by 6:30am, and with the US  Customs and Border Protection Officials coming onboard to clear some select passengers, the debarkation should begin by 8:30am, give or take a few minutes.  That is……if everyone understands this process, and does not decide to sleep late.  Yes, that has happened on previous cruises, delaying the entire process.  Time will tell……

 

The final packing took place this morning, and was accomplished without any problems.  The usual activities were taking place, but we doubt many folks participated, as this would be the final day to get ready to leave.  People also needed to cash out on their casino accounts (if there was anything left), and take the time to buy stuff in the shops.

 

One thing we have noticed in comparing this cruise to the world voyage, is that many events that took place during the trip were not shown on the TV later in the day.  This would be the Coffee Chat with the cruise director, the Indonesian and Filipino shows in the Mainstage, and also the Passenger Talent Show.  By the time we remembered that guest talent show was on yesterday, it was mostly over.  Another aspect we missed was the Arts and Crafts sessions in the Lido at 2:30pm, which ceased sometime after we left Tonga perhaps.  It seemed to be so popular, but it stopped halfway through the trip.  Having these seven days at sea coming back, would have been a good time to keep people busy during the afternoon. 

 

The On Deck for a Cause, the 5k walk for charity took place beginning  at 1:30pm.  For the first time we remember, the sign-up sheets were not delivered to our rooms.  At least we did not get one.  Early on we did get a request for donations to the Bahama survivors of the hurricane several months ago.   That was a first.

 

Since a small period of sun actually was shining on our deck, we took advantage of the veranda, probably for the final time this trip.  We did enjoy the outdoor space whenever we wished to get fresh air, but we also missed our room on Dolphin deck.  Frankly, there is more space for the clothes, and with a very long cruise, that becomes more important.  In a matter of a few weeks, we will be back “home”, so to speak.

 

Dinner was fun, but also sad for many who will be leaving tomorrow.  Since we will be coming back so soon, it almost feels like we are doing an overland trip. Anyway, our choice for the entrees this evening was fish and chips, made with halibut.  Sure was good, even for the almost non-fish eater among us.  There were no bones, and that made us both happy.  Desserts were a lingonberry chocolate layer cake, and one scoop of vanilla ice cream with a touch of chocolate sauce.  These will be the last desserts for us for at least 12 days. 

 

Saying good bye to our waiters was not so hard, since they know we will be back.  They will be at another station on the grand voyage, and are promised to long time clients.  We are learning that many of the world cruise guests have their favorites, and Philip is happy to assign the waiters accordingly. 

 

So the Log of the Cruise was waiting for us when we got back from dinner.  In 51 days, the fuel consumption was over 874,000 gallons, and  122,400 eggs were consumed.  That always makes us laugh to know how many eggs people ate, in one form or another.   And another interesting fact is that there were 33 nationalities of crew members.

 

By this time tomorrow, we should be home, and enjoying the holidays with friends and family.  But we will be back, so stay tuned…….. and Happy Holidays to all!

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

https://cruisingwithbillandmaryann.blogspot.com/

 

 

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Thanks again for your wonderful daily updates. We hope you have a happy holiday and look forward to your world cruise updates!!! 

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Always a great read, thanks for taking your time to do this. Looking forward to the “next chapter”, and Merry Christmas!

Edited by ON cruiser
Typo

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1 hour ago, WCB said:

Another aspect we missed was the Arts and Crafts sessions in the Lido at 2:30pm, which ceased sometime after we left Tonga perhaps.  It seemed to be so popular, but it stopped halfway through the trip.  Having these seven days at sea coming

I heard that the couple who did the arts and crafts had to leave the ship due to a family emergency.  That is why there was no more arts and crafts.😐

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