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  #1  
Old January 25th, 2007, 01:27 PM
arzz arzz is offline
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Default Live from Prinsendam Grand SA

DH and I are currently aboard the Prinsendam. We are sailing the “segment” of the Grand South America Voyage from Lima,Peru to Buenos Aires, Argentina. We added HAL’s five night pkre-cuise tour to Machu Pichu before boarding the ship and we will do an independent couple of days at Iguacu Falls before heading home. For those of you who are willing to bear with me I might share a bit of our voyage.

Our journey began January 11 at O’Hare airport in Chicago. We enjoyed an eventless flight to Miami -- and it came complete with free, live entertainment from the seat behind us. There was a woman flying who had clearly already had too many cocktails before she boarded. As we flew the friendly skies we were to discover that she had not seen her husband in four days (we suspect that she hadn’t been sober in at least that long), that she was concerned about how she would look when he saw her, because “you know as you get older it is harder and harder to look good” ... she then went on to question, out loud, what her prospects were for “having s-x tonight” -- it is not just that “it is harder for you to look good as you get older”, but it is also more difficult for her husband as he gets older. She then went on to describe ..... I will not go on. We think that she was speaking to a hard of hearing companion in the next seat -- or possibly someone in the next cabin -- who knows but our whole cabin could sure heard her loud and clear.

Our flight from Miami to Lima lasted less than 6 hours and we landed thirty minutes early, at 5 am local time. Time in Lima is the same as the east coast of the US.

All of our bags arrived. I wish I could say the same for the airport transfer “provided for us” by our Cusco and Machu Pichu tour operator. After we cleared customs, our transportation was no where to be found. To compound matters we remembered the warnings of our Peruvian friend about the dangers of getting into the wrong taxi in Lima. A clean cut, enterprising young cab driver offered to take us to our hotel (as he beat down the competition) and we agreed. Thank goodness he was one of the good ones and after a pleasant ride, we arrived at the hotel in one piece.

Even though the tour company failed to pick us up, the hotel did have our reservations. After a refreshing nap and shower the hotel concierge managed to make contact with our tour operator. The tour company called us later to apologize for their error and let us know where and when to meet them. We lost no part of the tour itself.

At the suggestion of the hotel concierge we then walked the two blocks over to the Lima Art Museum, hired a guide, and spent the afternoon with Peruvian art dating from from pre-Columbian to contemporary modern. We saw some incredible things and enjoyed the detailed explanations of the charming young woman who was our guide.
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  #2  
Old January 25th, 2007, 01:29 PM
arzz arzz is offline
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We Walked Through the Clouds

Saturday, January 13 - Lima

On Saturday we toured Lima. We were taken to a private home on one of the central plazas that was built in the 1530’s as was much of the oldest sections of Lima. We are constantly struck with how sophisticated and gracious the architecture and details of these early buildings are considering they were constructed a scant 35-40 years after Columbus. The home we visited has been occupied by the same family for at least 200 years. There are still family members in residence.

We also visited a monastery and a cathedral and then on to our last stop, the national museum of archeology and anthropology where we were able to view the cultural development of Peru from the ancient primitives through the much more sophisticated Incas.

Our guide was a lovely woman who shared what we needed to know, then what we wanted to know and still not satisfied, what she felt that we should know. Our poor brains are full and over flowing! Nobody could accuse her of short changing us on information.

Dinner was provided at a charming restaurant built on a pier over the ocean in the upscale, Miraflores section of town. Our meal was very nice -- this restaurant caters to the tourist trade and upscale locals. The Miraflores homes and condominiums on the water front are all modern architecture -- styles and colors remind me of the construction on some of the newer sections of Seattle’s water front.

Sunday, January 14

Wake up Call at 5:45 am
Breakfast
Lima airport for flight to Cusco --

The flight was well. The scenery that I viewed from the air was among the most spectacular that I have seen. After we emerged from the clouds and moisture that hovers over Lima, our first view was of arid mountains -- we were still in the desert. Across the tops of one of the mountain ridges was a long and well defined trail. -- Back into the clouds we went. When we emerged again we were over incredibly lush green mountains with sharp green peaks with occasional valley’s between peaks. Even over these mountains which seemed to be totally uninhabited there were trails that switch-backed up and down the slopes.

Cusco, from the air, is a beautiful city of about 400,000 set into a large plateau or pampas, totally surrounded by lush green mountains. The bright orange tile roofs cut out incredible geometric patterns that belie much of the poverty below. The major industry of Cusco appears to be tourism. From the road in the countryside it was difficult to view the life of the Peruvian people of the highlands. At night, if there was an open window, what I could typically see was a bare room, painted in dark blue or dark green, a single circular fluorescent bulb on the ceiling, and a table in the middle surrounded by a group of people. I assume that away from the highway there might be middle class areas (we could see street lights and buildings with lights way off in the valleys at night) -- but what we could view from the road was depressing.

Our hotel in Cusco was a former palace of Pizarro -- a maze of medieval looking corridors surrounding beautiful courtyards. Some of the building was much newer and it had all been recently renovated into a peaceful, modern retreat.

Our afternoon tour started at a Franciscan monastery and cathedral. There we saw an incredible old library that would fit well in Harry Potter’s school Hogwarts, including the huge collection of ancient books which that sit on the shelves collecting dust yet cannot be touched as they were never properly protected from the elements over the centuries. The size of the Cathedral rivals those in Europe and contains many ornately decorated chapels -- typically the chapel decorations are carved out of wood and then gilded with the gold spoils from the Spanish conquest of the Inca civilization. Later the settlers, as they ran short of Inca gold, opened their own gold mines.

From there we went on to the Inca ruins at Sacsayhuaman. Here we were able to learn about Inca construction techniques and other details that made our trip to Machu Pichu more meaningful.

Monday, January 15

Wake up call 4:00 am
Breakfast 4:30 am
Bus leaves for Ollantaytambo 5:15 am -- it was still dark and quite cold when we left. The ride was almost two hours long as we wound up through the hills from the 11,000 feet of Cusco to 12,000 feet and then down to about 9000 feet to catch the train to Agua Calientes.

As the sun rose in the Peruvian highlands it revealed a lush green landscape that was too beautiful for words to do justice. There were bright green hilltops that peeked out above cloud filled valleys. There were terraced mountainsides that were cultivated like those found in the Japan. There were valleys filled with a patchwork quilt of odd shaped fields of different shades and textures of green outlined with hedgerow much like those in the English countryside. There was the solitary old man in a brightly colored poncho and a black hat standing in front of a large closed doorway in a stone wall. These fields grow some 3000 varieties of potatoes as well as a very large kerneled corn and other crops.

At Ollantaytambo we boarded the narrow gauge train for the 75 minute ride up to Agua Calientes -- a route that can only be reached by train or hiking trail. From the windows of the train the ruins of previous civilizations started to appear. At Agua Calientes we boarded a public bus for the last ride -- up the mountainside to Machu Pichu. The ride takes about 25 minutes as the bus snakes back and forth over many mountain switch backs.

We got to the trail head, picked up walking sticks and our guide, Karina, led us into the site. What can I say. Pictures do not really show what it is like. We spent the next three hours climbing for small intervals followed by informative stops and heart stopping scenery. Before we knew it we were touching and walking in the clouds. The experience was spiritual.

Our return to Cusco reversed our morning journey. We were back in our hotel by 8 pm thanks to the kamikaze bus driver who took us from Ollantaytambo back to Cusco.

The flight back to Lima on Tuesday morning was uneventful, and the afternoon at the gold museum in Lima was entirely anticlimactic.

I think that now that DH has finally seen Machu Pichu he is done with the trip. He has, however, graciously agreed to continue to accompany me on our cruise.
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  #3  
Old January 25th, 2007, 01:31 PM
arzz arzz is offline
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The Prinsendam

On the morning of January 17 we were transferred from our Lima hotel to the port at Callao to board the Prinsendam. At the port there were about 30 tense minutes when our bus, driver, guide, trailer full of luggage and group of 12 hearty Machu Pichu travelers were given a security escort and detained for 30 mysterious minutes before we were allowed to proceed to the Prinsendam.

On board we were met by cruise staff, champaign and orange juice as we completed the check in procedures in the atrium.

The ship remained at Callao, Peru the night of the 17th and for the day on the 18th. While many on board spent the day shopping and touring, we spent the day resting and washing clothes.

This ship was designed for long cruises -- every cabin has a walk in closet and with enough hangers we were able to comfortably stash all of our things. The self-service laundry facilities are free (including the laundry soap), but if you wish to wash in cold water so that your clothes will still fit when they are clean you have to be VERY patient as there is no cold water pressure at all -- the water literally trickles into the machine, virtually drip by drip, and it takes about a half hour to fill the machine for the wash cycle, and similar time to rinse.

The $12 all you can stuff into a bag method of washing looks better and better. At lunch various Prinsendam repeaters gave us elaborate and well tested suggestions for how to squash the whole contents of your cabin closet into the bag at one time.

The “elegant explorer” is a very fitting name for the Prinsendam. The public spaces are beautiful and sophisticated. Our mid-ships Dolphin deck cabin is comfortable and efficient with a surprising amount of storage space. We have a full window and a smooth, mid-ships ride.

The best part, however, is how the passengers are treated. We are treated like the ship is our home. Since the majority aboard will be here for 66 days -- to them it is home. Everyone is very warm and friendly.

One of the fun parts of this cruise that sets it aside from our other cruises has been the on board gifts. Since boarding we have received a beautiful flower arrangement (and an unexpected on-board credit) from our travel agent. Then there were the “welcome aboard” chocolate covered strawberries from the Guest Relations Manager, and the Hotel Manager’s “welcome aboard” gift of a “Narcis tete a tete” (planted bulbs in a small basket -- the greens are just a couple of inches high right now -- they expect us to be on board for a while....), the two leather bound personalized travel calendars fromthe Captain -- then there are the “South America Grand Voyage” note cards and not to forget the mundane, ubiquitous Holland America tote bag -- all of this in the first 24 hours! And how could I forget the chocolate truffles instead of the everyday HAL chocolates on formal night. We are being spoiled VERY fast.

When the ship left Callao it “threaded the needle” as it passed through the very narrow opening in the harbor wall to head out to sea for our sail to Arica, Chile. At that point we were something over 3000 miles from Ft. Lauderdale, with about 600 miles to sail to reach our next port Arica, Chile.
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  #4  
Old January 25th, 2007, 01:33 PM
arzz arzz is offline
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It is not Always As Good as it Seemed

Let me first say this -- life on board this ship is a delightful escape from reality. We are in the timeless valley of Shangri-La. With 24 days we feel none of the pressures that we find on 7-10 day cruises -- we are just living on the ship -- complete with the the twice daily services of our cabin steward, room service, and dining choices -- as well as several entertainment venues and quiet lounges. We share our space with folks who have gone around the world so many times they cannot even remember all of everywhere that they have been. We are spinning our cocoons and getting very mellow.

But, things are not always as they seem -- take, for instance, our shore Excursion at Arica, Chile. The Lauca National Park Adventure. (type that is underlined are direct quotes from the shore excursion brochure) -- Taking the international road to Bolivia you will pass the Taipicahue Stream. -- what they do not mention is that you will be riding through the driest desert in the world -- where it rains about once every 80 years. The aforementioned Taipicahue Stream is probably an extremely important natural formation for the Chilean people who live here because “HERE” is a desert. The stream is a small trickle that cuts between the sand dunes. The land is dry, sandy and monochromatic -- there is NO vegetation save for the very occasional “candelabra cactus” and there is one ancient hieroglyph in the sand -- and you will climb through this “exciting” scenery for over four hours on repeated switch-backs up to an elevation of 14,700 feet -- an altitude that does not contain enough oxygen to service an ant colony.

The landscape changes to a high altitude steppe, complete with Parinacota bofedal -- wet spongy ground and lush grasses .... Here you will find Lake Chungara, one of the highest lakes in the world ... That is, eventually, if you are still able to breathe and not comatose, you will see some scruffy looking vegetation that is similar in appearance to sagebrush, and eventually there will be an expanse of spongy moss around a large, shallow, mud puddle framed by a couple of snow peaked mountains in the distance.

What they neglect to mention at all is that the ship is scheduled to be in port from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm -- however, this tour is described, in the official Holland America literature as “approximately 9 hours” in duration. The math is already off, and that, of course, assumes that your bus does not break down.

We had this “incredible” (only word I can find) 5 hour ride up to the lake, driving along the desert switch backs in an ailing bus with windows that do not open, no fan, no AC, but it did have a couple of wind scoops on the roof that scooped the wind efficiently into the seats of others on board, and not us. We had to drive very slow, gears whining, rubber and oil burning odors -- until we were able to meet our “substitute” bus -- an older, not too clean, but mechanically swift vehicle that did have operable windows. Only to reach the summit unable to move (for lack of oxygen) to view a mud puddle -- actually DH, unencumbered by, and indeed unaware of his semi-comatose wife, bounded around the landscape and captured photos of the mud-puddle from many different angles. We re-boarded our substitute bus and were driven down a couple thousand feet to the village of Putre for lunch, where we were met by our now “repaired” original bus for the trip back down. Most of our group (ourselves included) were not fooled into re-boarding the supposedly repaired original vehicle -- so we now caravanned two buses back to the ship.

We arrived at the pier over 90 minutes after sailing time. The Prinsendam was, thankfully, waiting for us as we arrived to a deserted pier. It seems that there had been a large sail-away party planned, and executed, but passengers and ship not only did not sail away, they got tired of waiting. By the time we arrived, the band had left the deck and the party had long since broken up. The Indonesian crew members at the dock just said in a kindly, yet understated way, ”we were waiting for you”. That pleasant, understated attitude is one of the pieces that makes this trip special.

Shortly thereafter, on board friends who saw us drag into the Crow’s Nest knew immediately where we must have been.

We are both fine, and well rested -- the Prinsendam is currently docking at Antafagasta, Chile. There is a band playing right outside our window and there are dancers with colorful costumes. It is noon and we are here until 6:30 pm.
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  #5  
Old January 25th, 2007, 01:34 PM
arzz arzz is offline
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At Sea

Yesterday we were in Antafagasta, Chile -- a town of about 100,000 people -- water on one side -- Chilean desert on the other side and the largest copper mine in the world in the nearby area. In general the people of Chile seem to live much better than their neighbors in Peru -- there is a noticeable middle class and the poverty that we see, as well as the faces of the local people do not seem as desperate as their neighbors to the north. Of course, we have only seen the view from the bus through Arica and the surrounding desert and yesterday’s rather upscale view (yet to come).

And, what, you may ask, did we do in Antafagasta? Well,to be quite frank after our previous day’s fiasco in Arica, I have to admit not much. We took the complimentary shuttle to “the mall” -- and let me tell you, except for the prices that had far too many digits (there are 538 Chilean pesos to the US dollar) we might as well have been in Iowa City. We walked around a little bit and bused back to the ship. Actually it was a pleasant break from all of the intense, spiritual sight seeing that we have been experiencing.

By the time we dock tomorrow morning at Coquimbo, Chile we will be about 4500 nautical miles from Ft. Lauderdale, and our time is now three hours ahead of Chicago. (If it is 1 pm in Chicago, it is 4 pm here).

The sun doesn’t really set until after 9 pm and though our high temps today were still in the 70’s, it does get a bit cooler each day. Our seas have been calm, our skies sunny. The weather. so far, has been truly wonderful.

Today was just a quiet day at sea. Slept in, got up, ate breakfast, collected e-mail, read books, walked the promenade deck -- had dinner, got another gift from HAL (two nice zippered tote bags with the South America/Prinsendam logo on them), had our cabin steward ask us for our clothing size (say what?), and now DH is getting ready to tuck in for the night. It sure is a tough life on board.

From almost 30 degrees south of the equator.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 01:35 PM
arzz arzz is offline
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Tonight I Saw the Green Flash

This morning we docked at Coquimbo, Chile. The sky was a clear, clear, blue and the sun was bright. Temperature in the lower 70’s. What a perfect day. We are finally sailing out of the desert. The ground is still sandy in appearance but finally there is some scrub vegetation. In town there were lots of flowers and trees. A very pretty town.

We hired a taxi for a private three hour tour. Though our driver did not speak English he gave us an English brochure to explain each place that we went. We did the scenic views at the fort and the new third millennium cross. The cross is a 300 foot tall monument -- a concrete cross built on the top of a hill overlooking the ocean on one side and the inland waterway between Coquimbo and the resort town of LaSerena on the other. At the base there is a new Catholic Church. If you buy a ticket you can take two elevator rides that take you up inside the cross. From this very high vantage point you can walk from side to side and look down upon the towns of Coquimbo and La Serena through the windows that line the walls in all four directions. We also visited the Navigator Monument (again scenic views) and then we were driven over to La Serena. There we rode along a stunning beach front complete with hotels, condos and restaurants -- then into town where we got out and walked around the central plaza -- full of local vacationers, live music, vendors - lots of local color. Then back to the ship.

Tonight we must steam the 200 miles south to Valparaiso, Chile. We are dealing with winds that range from Force 10 to Force 11 on the Beaufort scale (“gale” to “violent storm”) -- the Prinsendam rides beautifully. There is some noticeable motion but nothing that would imply the strength of the winds that we are facing. This ship should do very well sailing “around the horn.” The swimming pool, however, did not -- there was some dumping of water over the stern during our dinner meal that had to have originated at the aft pool.

It was Dutch night at dinner tonight -- and though I have experienced many Holland America Dutch nights I have never seen quite as elaborate a presentation as we had this evening. All of the Dutch favorites (including herring) were on the dining room menu. The dover sole was superb. Not only was the dining room decorated and the waiters wearing their Dutch uniforms in black and orange, but the waiter captains were dressed in stereotypical Dutch outfits including wooden shoes!

It is not a myth. After years of chasing it DURING DINNER I FINALLY SAW IT -- AND DH MISSED IT. As the last little bit of the sun went over the horizon -- there it was -- a green flash as clear and bright as could be. Three of us at the table saw it. DH was too busy stuffing his face to notice. One of the women at the table who, until this evening, like me was sure that the green flash was a myth was afraid to admit that she saw it until myself and the third woman declared what we had seen. It is not a myth.

After dinner, we returned to our cabin to find the usual pile of papers, ads, cards with the HAL port agents name on them for tomorrow’s port, etc. -- amongst the usual “stuff” there was a letter from Captain Gundersen titled “The 2007 Grand South America and Antarctica Experience ... Holland America strongly supports the ‘zero overboard policy.’”

Funny thing -- so do we. We hadn’t planned on jumping anyway.

Actually the complete title ends “in an effort to conserve our environment”.

We’ll get back to you tomorrow after our tour in Valparaiso.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 01:37 PM
arzz arzz is offline
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Orion is Upside Down!

At 11 pm this evening the fourth officer in charge of ?? (stars?) met anyone interested on the top deck (number 13), turned the lights off and we stood there (or close as one can get to standing in 45 knot head winds, 7 foot seas, and moving 20 knots/hour.....) -- and with his “torch” that promptly ran out of battery, he pointed out the constellations (upside down Orion, the Southern Cross, and a comet that is currently visible in this half of the world). Wow! This trip just gets better and better.

Today we were in Valparaiso. Our travel agent gifted us with a tour here. This tour was not operated by HAL. A private mini-van that had our names on a piece of paper under the windshield met us at the pier -- it came complete with our driver (Alexandro -- I wish I could pronounce it for you as they do down here) -- who greeted me in the classic South American way -- a hug and kiss on the cheek -- all of maybe twenty years old and cute as a button, and a tour guide. They drove us out of town into the Casablanca Valley -- the country side here is very bucolic and looks much like California except that the native vegetation is a little different. We stopped at two wineries for tours and tastings. We learned much about the wines while we munched on all sorts of goodies like olives, almonds and cheeses -- and then we were served an elaborate lunch in an old and elegant villa surrounded by flowers and vineyards at our second stop. We kept a copy of the menu as it had clearly been translated by someone with a dictionary rather than any real knowledge of the two languages.

For starter, we had a choice of “Fillet Laminae of head of cattle with sauce of old mustard, Capers and parmesan cheese” (It was actgually Carpaccio -- thinly sliced beef) OR “Selection of the sea with crazy people, shrimps, scallops and razor clams, served with green salad and capers”. (It was actually fruits of the sea with “local” (i.e. “loco”) seafood like abalone) Honest, I am not making this up -- I couldn’t make this up.

For our main course we had a choice of “fillet of salmon pochado with lemon and laurel with chutny of tomato dry and served with mix as fungi skipped” (skipped fungi means sauted mushrooms -- it seems in South America they think the saute process causes the mushrooms to skip) OR “Medallion of fillet roasted to grill, served with cream and tarragon sauce accompanied with Chips Popes” (we really didn’t eat creamed, chipped, Popes -- the “chips popes” were potato chips).

It was truly a lovely day that ended with a tour of a private home built on the top of one of the very high hills over the port of Valparaiso -- the home had at least 5 or 6 floors each with very small rooms and incredible views.

And, oh, by the way, we managed to break another vehicle -- we ran over some sharp rocks that had been dropped on the road by a truck and got a flat tire -- but we made it back to the ship on time.

Tomorrow we are at sea.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 02:31 PM
lizzielady lizzielady is offline
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Default Thanks for sharing...

Love it! Love it! Love it!

Sounds as though you are having a great time.
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  #9  
Old January 25th, 2007, 03:25 PM
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Maryandi Maryandi is offline
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What an incrediblely interesting trip and the way you are describing it - makes it doubly so.

Thanks so much and keep the good times going.

MaryAnn

PS We'll be getting on when you get off ! only do harm to the tour buses - LOL
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Old January 25th, 2007, 03:26 PM
ldog ldog is offline
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Thumbs up Thank you so much!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to post all of this.

cheers
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Old January 25th, 2007, 05:07 PM
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thank you for taking the time to post your review, sounds like you are having fun
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Old January 25th, 2007, 05:11 PM
Mary Ellen Mary Ellen is offline
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Than you SO much for taking the time, effort and expense to post while on your cruise. I am really injoying your descriptions!
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  #13  
Old January 25th, 2007, 05:33 PM
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Grumpy1 Grumpy1 is offline
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Oh, how I've been waiting to hear from someone on Prinsendam. Thank you, thank you... I just wish we were there with you to enjoy. We certainly hope you will continue posting.

I imagine the clothing sizes are for the cold weather coats that will undoubtably be issued as you get further south.

Be sure to tell Captain Gundersen that Grumpy and Slinkie said Hi!
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Past Cruises: 3/92 American Hawaii Independence; 8/97 Rhapsody of the Seas; 9/02 Celebrity Constellation; 11/04 Carnival Fascination; 1/05 Prinsendam; 6/06 Rotterdam; 8/06 Noordam; 8/06 Prinsendam; 10/06 Westerdam; 06/07 Maasdam; 08/07 Westerdam; 1/08 Prinsendam; 7/08 Eurodam, 3/09 Prinsendam, 50 day Med/Black Sea; 6/09 Eurodam, Freedom Alliance/NRA Cruise; 8/10 Prinsendam; Circle British Isles, Atlantic Coast, Western Mediterranean, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Eastern Mediterranean.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 05:52 PM
judithbiggs judithbiggs is offline
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Thank you so much for posting. I was wondering how the cruise was. It definitely sounds like one I will want to take in the future. Your descriptions of the ship only heightens my excitement to get on when it returns on the 12th of March. Have loads of fun.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 05:57 PM
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I'm still laughing at the menu translations. .. you're right. You couldn't make that up!
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Past Cruises: 3/92 American Hawaii Independence; 8/97 Rhapsody of the Seas; 9/02 Celebrity Constellation; 11/04 Carnival Fascination; 1/05 Prinsendam; 6/06 Rotterdam; 8/06 Noordam; 8/06 Prinsendam; 10/06 Westerdam; 06/07 Maasdam; 08/07 Westerdam; 1/08 Prinsendam; 7/08 Eurodam, 3/09 Prinsendam, 50 day Med/Black Sea; 6/09 Eurodam, Freedom Alliance/NRA Cruise; 8/10 Prinsendam; Circle British Isles, Atlantic Coast, Western Mediterranean, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Eastern Mediterranean.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 06:19 PM
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hammybee hammybee is offline
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Your writing is absolutely delicious and I want more.

You could sell this to a major newspaper for a Sunday Travel feature.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 06:22 PM
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bump for the page break
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  #18  
Old January 25th, 2007, 08:55 PM
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RuthC RuthC is offline
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Location: Warwick, R.I. , USA
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Oh, this is one of two cruises that I yearn to take. Thank you so much for posting from it---and in such a delightful fashion, too!
If one could take only one segment of this fabulous cruise the mid-segment is the one to take. How I envy you.

Please, please, please, please, please keep up the reports.
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  #19  
Old January 26th, 2007, 09:47 AM
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LILynn LILynn is offline
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Location: Long Island, NY
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I am really enjoying your account of your trip - I feel like I am right there with you.

I am so glad that you are posting as I will be on the Prinsendam in September - my first HAL cruise. It sounds like I will love this ship!

I hope you keep posting and that you have a fabulous cruise....

Lynn
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  #20  
Old January 26th, 2007, 09:12 PM
arzz arzz is offline
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Join Date: May 2001
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Puerto Montt, Chile

Yesterday we were at sea. The weather continues to be excellent. We continue to mellow -- the most serious thing we did all day was when DH decided to exercise. Though we have been greatly enjoying our ports, it was nice to have a break. At formal dinner last night we enjoyed delightful dinner conversation as our table was hosted by a ship’s officer -- a treat that we have not enjoyed on previous cruises. Oh, we could get used to this life.

During the afternoon the Captain announced that if you looked out the port side we would soon be passing the Queen Mary 2. So, I looked out the port side -- there was no Queen Mary, but there was a whole group of dauphins swimming alongside the ship. Eventually the Queen Mary crossed along side of us also.

The comet (I think its name is McNaught or McNaughton -- not at all sure of the name or spelling except that it was named after the Scottish scientist who discovered it) was again visible in the Western sky. At midnight last night I watched it set from our cabin window before going to sleep.

Today the ship’s officers appeared in their dark woolens instead of their summer whites. We now are officially in cooler waters headed to the Antarctic.

This morning we were moving, though not officially awake, early enough to make the 6:45 am call for our tour to the Alerce Lodge and the Lake of Reflections. We boarded the first tender to shore before the sunrise. (We shared Puerto Montt today with Celebrity’s Infinity.) We were then directed to a four passenger, four wheel drive vehicle. The five vehicles for our tour formed a caravan as we were driven out to the lodge. The trip was narrated by the English speaking driver of the first car and we listened to the narration over the radio. We first traveled several miles through town and countryside on paved roads. Along the way there were farms and small towns. Soon, we left the paved road for a gravel highway which we followed for another few miles. We then left the gravel road for the road up to the lodge. This road is an old logging road, and the lodge is located at the site of an old logging camp. The roads were “paved” with logs, gravel and boulders (a “corduroy road”). They were twisty and very uneven as we climbed. The closer we got to the lodge, the bumpier the ride.

The temperature was comfortable and cool as we drove through rain forest thick with vegetation as diverse as I have seen anywhere. Hugging the ground were mosses, lichen, ground cover with tiny round leaves and grasses with delicate, thin blades that created a lacy blanket. Everywhere you looked there were flowering plants, bushes and trees -- blossoms of yellow, blue, purple, red and orange. We crossed babbling brooks on small wooden bridges that were constructed of a few logs laid out to span the creeks.

This forest has been protected from logging since the 1970’s and was filled with both new and old growth trees with branches and stems that tangled and spread across the landscape. The Alerce Trees (pronounced al-er-say) are apparently a type of cedar -- we were also told that they were in the same family as California’s sequoias -- and they live to be 3000-4000 years old. One of our stops on the way up was to stand in front (and inside) of a 3800 year old tree. Very tall, very wide, knarled old bark and hollow due to the rot of age -- if you stepped inside you could look up and see the sky. These trees grow about one mm per year so that even very small trees are, in fact, quite old.

At about 10:30 am we arrived at a small lake with a flat, mirror-like surface. We got out of the cars and crossed the lake (6 people at a time) on a raft that is drawn across the lake by pulling on a rope. There was a short stop inside the lodge for coffee or juice and then those who wished embarked on a two hour hike that could have easily filled a whole day.

Back from the hike we were treated to a “typical” Chilean lunch in this romantic, rustic lodge (I would imagine that a few days at this lodge would be an incredible treat). Then the drive back to the ship.

Town (Puerto Montt) looked at lot different at 3:30 in the afternoon on a day with two ships in port than it had looked in the predawn hours before we left. Lots of open air shopping including extensive produce and fish markets. No time to stop, however, as “All Aboard” was at 4:30.

This evening we received two pairs of binoculars from the “Prinsendam Beverage Team”. As the sun set it ducked behind the few clouds that hovered over the water surrounded by a clear golden glow (no orange, no pink, no pollution) -- it left the clouds outlined in bright, glowing yellow until its whole mass slipped below the horizon. It was unlike any sunset we have seen before.

We are currently at 42 degrees south latitude cruising the Chilean Fjords from Puerto Montt to Puerto Chacabuco (tomorrow’s port) -- we are about 5500 miles from Fort Lauderdale.
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