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This was our first cruise on the Amsterdam. We'd previously sailed on the Rotterdam and the Volendam, so the Amsterdam layout was familiar, and we had no trouble finding our way around the ship. The Internet Cafe was in a different location, between the Java Cafe and the Atrium, on deck 4. The Amsterdam is a beautiful. well run ship. As a long time handbell ringer at my church, I was fascinated by the atruim clock and the mechanism that rang the suspended hanbells every hour. Our cabin was a cat. D on Main deck. We had "Main Upper," 8 pm seating for dinner, at a table for 8 - wonderful tablemates! Our stewards served us well, a very efficient team. We never went hungry, the food was wonderful. Breakfast and lunch in the dining room or Lido were also well done. We had several theme nights in the dining room, besides the 4 formal nights. There was Dutch Night, with NO hats, an Antarctic Night, with an "Ice Ball" in the Crow's Nest, Oriental Night and Carnivale, all with interesting decorations at the entrance to the dining room. The Black & White Officers' Ball was held in the Crow's Nest on the 3rd formal night. The Dessert Extravaganza was on the last formal night in the Lido. Music in the Ocean Bar was the best for dancing. The football playoff games were shown in a decorated Casino Bar. Entertainment, on the whole, was "typical cruise ship." I like the shows by the ship's singers and dancers best, and was disappointed that they only performed 3 times, but the productions were new to us. Activities during the day were plentiful and the young activities staff were delightful. Many times, what you wanted to do overlapped something else. Most interesting were the "Exploration Speaker Series," three Antarctic explorers who shared their experiences with us. A fourth gentleman , our "Ice Pilot," gave interesting talks on Antarctic ice, how we get around it and if we could follow "plan A" on our itinerary. They were, Dr. John Splettstoesser, a geologist, Dr. Bernard Stonehouse, a zoologist, Dr. Charles Swithinbank, a glaciologist, and Captain Patrick Toomey. It was like taking a college course with a fantastic field trip topping it off! Dr. Stonehouse's book was available for sale, and sold out. The Port Talks were well done, not "shopping talks," like on some cruises. As on other long cruises, we were treated to the Filipino and Indonesian Crew shows. Surprisingly, there was no "Future Cruise Consultant" on board. (I think Bob breathed a sigh of relief!) The photographers were everywhere but not "in your face." The shops carried the usual items, but were nicely stocked with t shirts and sweatshirts pertaining to the Antarctic cruise, there were some wonderful alpaca sweaters for adults and children, leather crafts, Brazilian gemstones and penguins in many shapes, sizes and materials. The Ship's Staff:
Commander, Captain J. Peter Harris Hotel Manager, Brian McNeill Cruise Director, Lynda Konarski Executive Chef, Pedro Lontoc to name a few. Coming next, The Trip.
Thanks for writing this review. It will help me for next January even though it will be on a different ship.
__________________ Our Cruises:
2015 Ocean Princess - Singapore to Cape Town - 32 days
2015 Celebrity's Solstice - Sydney to New Caledonia and Vanuatu - 9 days
2014 Diamond Princess - Kyushu & Onsens Mystery Cruise around Japan due to 2 typhoons - 9 days
2014 Ocean Princess - Australia and Asia - 20 days
2013 Noordam - Adriatic & Roman Explorer - 22 days
2013 Ocean Princess - Land of the Midnight Sun - 16 days
2013 Celebrity's Solstice - Auckland to Sydney - 12 days
2012 Emerald Princess - New England Cruise Tour - 15 days
2011 Royal Princess - Tahiti to Ft. Lauderdale via Sth America - Farewell Cruise - 26 days
2010 Ocean Princess - Capetown to Dover - via West Africa - 30 days
2009 Prinsendam - Athens to Ft. Lauderdale - Transatlantic - 24 days
2009 Azamara's Quest - Hong Kong to Beijing - Far East Asia - 14 days
2008 Tahitian Princess - Vancouver - Vancouver - Alaska in depth - 14 days
2008 Oceania's Nautica - Hong Kong to Athens - the Pirate run! - 35 days
2007 Tahitian Princess - Tahiti to Hawaii - 12 days
2007 Pacific Princess - Sydney - Sydney - the Pacific Islands - 10 days
2006 Veendam - Vancouver to Tampa via the Amazon - 33 days
2006 Galapagos Explorer ll - Galapagos Islands - 5 days
2006 Regal Princess - Rio de Janeiro to Valpariso via Antarctica - 21 days
2005 Maasdam - Boston to Rotterdam via Greenland, Iceland & Norway - 17 days
2004 Prinsendam - Athens to Venice via the Black Sea - 12 days
2004 Tahitian Princess - Tahiti & the Cook Islands -10 days
2003 Noordam - Copenhagen to Rome - 14 days
1999 Maasdam - Dover to Copenhagen via Russia (Baltic) - 13 days
1995 Olympic - Athen to Athens via Greek Islands & Istanbul -7days
I remember Dr. Stonehouse very well. The lecture series, commentary while in Antarctic waters, and the availability of the team out on deck was a big plus.
And Linda Konarski was the CD on my So. America/Antarctica cruise, too!
Oh, this is such fun reliving that cruise! Thank you!
Pat: thanks for the first segment! Brought back wonderful memories! Pat Toomey and Capt Harris and the geologist were also on our cruise last year - all great individuals. We particularly enjoyed Capt Harris' wit and grace. Looking forward to reading more!
Our journey began on Jan. 3rd, as we flew AA from Cleveland to Dallas, to connect with our overnight flight to Santiago. We booked our air, transfers and one night pre-stay at the Sheraton Santiago, through HAL. We spent a LOT more time at the Dallas airport than expected! The plane that was to take us to Santiago was removed from service and we had to wait for another plane from LA, not due to arrive until around midnight. Throughout our long wait, we made aquaintances with others taking the cruise. One lady may be familiar to many of you - Mary Ellen, from Seattle. She has accumulated not DAYS on board HAL ships, but YEARS. She was boarding with us, but would not be disembarking the Amsterdam until it reaches Seattle, in May! So, instead of arriving in Santiago in the morning, we arrived in the afternoon. $100 per passenger from the US, is collected at the Santiago airport, to enter Chile. (They now accept credit cards.) Santiago time is 2 hours ahead of EST. We spent our evening in Santiago walking with another couple to have dinner at a recommended seafood restaurant. We wanted to eat before 7 pm, but found out that the restaurant wouldn't open until 8 pm, so we walked around the area for an hour and had a wonderful meal. It was worth the wait. Jan. 5th - our luggage was to be in the hall by 7 am. We had the breakfast buffet (included) at the outdoor restaurant near the pool. Very nice. We were loaded onto our busses for the two hour drive to Valparaiso. It was a very pretty drive through the Chilean wine country. At the terminal, check-in went very quickly. The Amsterdam was some distance away from the terminal, so shuttle busses took us to the ship. On board, we headed to the Lido for lunch and bread pudding, and soon were able to get into our cabin. There was lots to do and sign up for in the afternoon besides unpacking. Following the Lifeboat Drill, we got together in the Crow's Nest with a few CCers that I'd been in contact with on the Roll Call Board. Attending were Lee and Virginia, Laura, Patti and Kathleen. Later, we would meet Laura's room mate, Carol, Patti's husband, Eddi, Marty and Fern and Linda and John. (If any of you are reading this, please feel free to add any comments!) We set sail for points south in the Pacific Ocean. NEXT-our ports and sites in Chile.
Jan. 6th - Sea day. We left the warmth of Santiago/Valparaiso for a bumpy ride in the Pacific. "Near gale winds, partly cloudy skies, rough seas," says the Cruise Log. This was our first formal night and the seas calmed down by evening, but the weather had been too rough for the Amsterdam Cast to present their show, so it was cancelled. Jan. 7th - PUERTO MONTT, CHILE. We sailed here through calm channels. We take the "Petrohe Falls and Chilean Countryside" tour. It's very overcast and the scenic views are cloud covered. Our bus takes us along the coast of the large Llanquihue Lake and then to a smaller lake, "Todos los Santos," for a cruise on a catamaran. The lake water is a pretty green. Next, we go to the falls, where all the busses from the ship must have arrived at the same time, very crowded! There are nice paths to walk on to view the falls and the water is very blue. The Osorno Volcano should be visable here, but is covered with clouds. Our bus makes a quick stop to view a herd of llamas, (alpacas?) and then on for lunch in a German restaurant. This whole area of Chile was settled by Germans in the 1800's. Next was a stop in the pretty town, Puerto Varas, where most of the shops were closed for siesta. Back in Puerto Montt, we drive around the center of town and then have a short stop at the handicraft market. Too little time there! We just make it back on one of the last tenders. Jan. 8th - Sea Day, back in the bumpy Pacific. "Strong breeze, overcast with occasional showers." Jan. 9th - We have "Scenic Cruising of the Amalia Glacier," in the morning. It's very foggy and rainy. There's lots of glacier ice in the water, turning it very green. The ship sails slowly through the channel as one area is very shallow, and we have to pass it at high tide. This is our 2nd formal night and the Amsterdam Cast performs "Romance on Broadway." Jan. 10th - PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE. Our tour, here, is the Magdalena Island Penguin tour. Five busses from the ship are loaded onto a ferry that takes almost 2 hours to get to the island through the Straits of Magellan. You can get off of the bus and wander around on the ferry. There are outdoor viewing areas, though very windy, a small indoor seating area, small snack bar and restrooms. There are thousands of Magellan penguins on the island! They migrate north every fall and return in the spring to lay 2 eggs in their burrows. The young penguins we saw were adult size but had gray down instead of feathers. We spent 1 1/2 hours on the island and walked to the lighthouse and looked at the exhibits there. It was windy, but sunny. Back on the ferry, we had "bag lunches" on the bus. Once back to the ship, there was no time to go into town, which we heard was very nice. Jan. 11th - We viewed beautiful scenery in Beagle Channel through cold rain, fog and clouds. We passed 5 glaciers, named after 5 countries, on the port side. After lunch, we docked in USHUAIA, ARGENTINA. Here we boarded a small catamaran for the "Beagle Channel Wildlife " tour. The sun would come out and then it would rain, but we saw sea lions and many kinds of sea birds. Ushuaia is in a beautiful location. It's nicknamed "The End of the World." There were nice shops here in town and along the pier. Next - Cape Horn and Antarctica - which will have it's own thread.