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Around the World on Amtrak, KLM, and HAL

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Good morning Roy!!

Good advise with those insulated bags!!!

I am still so surprised with the weather on your trip so far. I am still sending warm weather your way from San Diego! At the coast here it was 89 yesterday!! Here at the beach no breeze. I’m trying to send it your way☀️🌬


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Thank you all. I'm about 12 hours off of home time but as I write it's about 6:30am local time and I almost saw a sunrise. Got nice photos just before and after but was on the wrong side of the promenade deck when it actually topped the mountains. Another morning tour today and I need to get laundry ready first so it will be post and run.

Day A16, Tuesday, October 17, 2017, Shimizu, Japan


The Oosterdam is in Mazatlan on an Atlantis charter. The Prinsendam is in Zakinthos.


One thing that has been significantly better than expected, at least until yesterday, was the internet. I had a great deal of trouble with that in 2014, often being completely unable to get a useful connection. This time it has generally worked well even in the Western Pacific where I was expecting problems, and even When & Where loaded promptly. Imagine my dismay after posting yesterday when my minutes remaining were much less than expected. The current login process has 2 steps, first selecting “Connect to paid internet” from the Navigator app and then hitting a “confirm” button to approve use of your plan. Earlier in the evening (before dinner and between dinner and the show) I had attempted to sign in and got no response to the confirm. After waiting a couple of minutes with no response I hit the cancel button and was never given any indication I was connected to the internet but was charged for 60 minutes of internet in each case. After reporting the problem to guest services they kicked the matter to the technical expert. A phone call indicated “due to the fact that you were never connected we’re returning 45 minutes of internet time. Not a good response, HAL. In any case, I should be ok if it doesn’t happen again.


My first foray out onto the deck in the morning has been to go to the forward entrance of the lower promenade deck, around the bow and the stern, and then up the aft stairs to the lido for coffee. At 5:30 this morning powerful winds were driving the rain near sideways into the deck and my early walk ended with that one “lap”. I did go back out when we were in more sheltered waters and completed 1 ½ miles as we arrived at the dock in Shimizu.


My tour today was “Sunup Castle Park & Views of Mt. Fuji(Yeah, Right)” We left at 9 and had about a 45-minute drive along the coast through fields where numerous hot houses supported the growing of strawberries.




Our first stop was at Sunup Castle Gardens. The castle itself has been destroyed but the moat and the grounds remain. I cannot say I much enjoyed tramping through the grounds in the rain but a mound on the grounds named mini-fuji was kind of interesting.




Next stop was a complex of 3 Shinto shrines. Apparently at this time of the year youth take part in festivities at the shrines with elegant traditional dress. I did not find the guide particularly helpful and there was little information given at this site.




Our final stop was at Mini-No-Matsubara,, a beach site where the views of Mt. Fuji are supposed to be spectacular. Access was by a half-kilometer boardwalk followed by a further trek on a sand beach. Pine trees apparently have a significance to views of Fuji and a nice pine grove was there but by then my shoes were quite soaked and I was not in a mood for adding sand to my already waterlogged feet.




A grilled ham and cheese was on the dining room lunch menu that looked very nice, but the tour was due back as the dining room closed and I was on the one bus that returned late, so there was no chance of a last minute seating. It was not on the lido menu so I walked to the terminal to use the wifi for our remaining half hour in port. At that time the rain had finally subsided and Shimizu looked like a nice town without the rain.




All aboard was at 2:30. As preparations for sailaway were made we had a nice sendoff. A group of drummers who appeared to be about middle school age were playing as we started taking in the gangway.




We singled up at 2:50 and another group of youth (appeared to be elementary school age) had been waving what looked like wands. As we started taking in the lines it became clear that the wands were actually there to create a huge cloud of bubbles that wafted in the air. Several fireworks were set off as we started backing away from the dock.




Once we were in motion I dropped down to Dive-In for fries. It was a quiet late afternoon with a nice long bath, an opportunity to get soaked in warm water without clinging clothes.


We were at 6 at table 43. I had the coconut soup, turkey, and berry tart.




The featured entertainment was Vox Tempura, a male vocal quartet billing themselves as classical crossover. It was kind of the vocal equivalent of a Symphony’s pops.




My parting shot again comes from my fire department email. There was a death announcement for former Phoenix Fire Chief Alan Brunacini. Chief Brunacini inaugurated a website detailing firefighting accidents to make firefighters aware of the hazards of the task and the need for training and vigilance. In doing so he saved many lives. Rest in Peace, Chief.



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A quick question that would be great if you could answer. My wife and I board the Zandaam on Jan. 28 for a 34 day South America/Antarctic/Brazil cruise, and we will be needing internet. How does pricing work? Is there a one price unlimited option? If not, what is the largest plan offered? Also, if we purchase a single plan for us both to share, is it useable on multiple devices?

Continued happy travels! We’re doing a similar 28 day itinerary on the Westerdam next October, the “Japan, China, and Taiwan Collection.” Any advice?

Thanks so much for such interesting and informative posts!



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Disappearing internet minutes seems to be a common problem that still hasn't been solved. If you lost 60, they should replace 60. I had that problem on Koningsdam this past summer.

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Hi Roy!!!!

So enjoyed the reading!! Mini Mt. Fuji really looked peaceful,

And still shades of gray with the weather.😔

I wish HAL could at least with late arrivals back from excursion would accommodate

For a late lunch some where in the MDR!! Too many times this has happened to us.

HAL should of given you back all 60 minutes!

Relax and enjoy as I always say!

I’m sorry for the Chief! May he Rest In Peace. That’s being sincere. It is never good to hear something like that especially on your cruise.

That happened to me last year on Oct 19th when we were on The Eurodam finishing our 2 months in Europe. My father passed away at 94.

Take care Roy.



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Great reading as usual. Sorry about your firefighter friend.

One picture didn't open up for me, food pictures were sideways. Still see lots of grey skies and umbrellas.

When will your weather ever improve?

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Thank you all. Sorry about the sideways picture. Barbarianpaul, I'll get back to you.


Day A17, Wednesday, October 18, 2017, Osaka, Japan


The Oosterdam is in Puerto Vallarta on an Atlantis charter. The Prinsendam is in Idra.


I had mentioned earlier that I use a small insulated packing cube type container to keep things clear. I’m adding a photo of how I combine what I’m chilling with a couple glasses of ice.




I first stepped out on deck about 5:25 and the sky was starting to show a little bit of color in the sky. I went back out about 6 and completed 4 laps around the ship(just over a mile), I was on the wrong side of the promenade deck when the sun actually peeked above the mountain, but the colors were lovely just before that.




We arrived at the Osaka dock about 7:45 and by 8 a band was playing outside to welcome us to the city.




On the Amsterdam Grand Voyages a “welcome home” banner is displayed above the gangway at each port. Today we were blessed with near perfect weather, especially in the morning I set off on the tour wearing my gortex jacket (it came off before leaving the bus) but leaving both my fleece and umbrella “home”.




The highlight of today’s tour was Osaka Castle and we left the terminal promptly at 8:45 for about a 45-minute drive through fairly heavy traffic. The castle dates back to the 16th century but has been burned and/or bombed several times. What is old is the stone work, starting with the outer moat near where the bus was parked.




After a 5-minute walk we were at the inner moat, a portion of which is dry.




Just inside the moat there were a couple of exhibits. The largest stones weighed up to 130 tons and were sent from another island by ship and then hauled up to their present location bu brute force of an army of workers. The original well head was also on display, moved to it’s present location for display when the buildings were equipped with running water.




The present tower was built in 1931. It has a small elevator; the lines for the elevator were extremely long and the best way to the top was actually walk the 230 steps. It’s actually a pretty easy walk as there are museum displays at each level along the way.




Once at the top the views of the city were quite nice.




We were at the castle about 90 minutes before leaving for our second (and final) stop. There are many Buddhist temples in Japan and the one we visited was one of if not the oldest. ****ennoji Temple has about a 1400 year history. Over the years it has been damaged and repaired a number of times but still is in active use today. We saw the 2 main buildings, the main temple where priests were chanting as we looked on and the pagoda a few feet away. Our guide also led us around to several other parts of the complex.




We returned to the ship about 12:45. I ate both breakfast and lunch on the aft pool deck behind the lido, I think the first time the weather has permitted that since I was on the Oosterdam. While at lunch I noticed ship across the harbor; it turned out to be a ferry which ran to Korea and back; I learned the voyage is about 19 hours.




The terminal building in Osaka is very big but only a small portion of it is actually cruise terminal. Most of the building is a shopping and entertainment complex with a large Farris wheel. I used the wifi for a while in the terminal but couldn’t get a connection when I tried the IPAD, and took a quick look around the shipping complex. It had a large food court and several familiar names, Wendys, Subway, and Baskin Robbins. I got a coffee at Wendy’s (small and expensive) and while sipping it was able to download some things to the IPAD. I returned “home” about 3.




All aboard was 5:30. Being an impossible sailaway addict I turned in my order in the dining room and went back on deck. Unlike our other Japanese sailaways this one was very businesslike with nobody at the dock to send us off. We backed out of the harbor with several blasts of the horn a couple minutes before 6. For this evening I enjoyed the fruit appetizer and the Veal Cutlet plus the Pineapple Crisp.




The featured entertainment was the Amsterdam Singers and Dancers with Variations.


My parting shot today is it seems a bit strange to be trying to keep track of the baseball playoffs when they are happening almost 12 hours offset from my schedule. I did see a game at the sports bar this evening and assume it must have been a replay.


Thursday is a late port day with a sea day morning and arrival in Beppu at noon.



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It’s almost 4 on The afternoon here in Dan Diego! Came back from a walk saw our first Sailaway in FLL! Was nice to see. The best was seeing your blog!! Many memories with Osaka for us. Still have a bottle of Sake from years ago still unopened! Nice sunrise and all your pics Roy!

Thank you and glad to see a break in the weather alittle but.


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Thank you Denise. BTW, all, it will likely be a while until my next post with an excursion into the evening today and a morning tour tomorrow.





A quick question that would be great if you could answer. My wife and I board the Zandaam on Jan. 28 for a 34 day South America/Antarctic/Brazil cruise, and we will be needing internet. How does pricing work? Is there a one price unlimited option? If not, what is the largest plan offered? Also, if we purchase a single plan for us both to share, is it useable on multiple devices?

Continued happy travels! We’re doing a similar 28 day itinerary on the Westerdam next October, the “Japan, China, and Taiwan Collection.” Any advice?

Thanks so much for such interesting and informative posts!



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Paul, while HAL has occasionally experimented with unlimited wifi I haven’t seen it recently. There are 5 basic pricing options:


$0.75 per minute pay as you go

$55 for 100 minutes

$100 for 250 minutes

$175 for 500 minutes

$250 for 1000 minutes


You can only use 1 device at a time on a plan but you can logoff one device and log on another device as often as you want. As a solo there are some gaps in my understanding but you should have a choice of using 1 account or 2. You register on the ship’s internet and select a plan with a login consisting of your first initial, last name, and room number and then a self selected pin. If you both register and select a plan either of you should be able to use 2 devices simultaneously as long as the other is logged off. One thing I don’t have a clue about is what happens if you and your wife have the same first initial; perhaps others can help out with that.


Have a look at the “Indulgences” in your online checkin. You should be able to register for a wifi plan there. On my Grand Voyage I was given 10% extra minutes for buying in advance but that may be only for Grand Voyages. It won’t hurt to have a look.


I posted the internet information page to my blog. Here's a link:



Enjoy the Zaandam–I’ve loved the ship and it’s a great itinerary.



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Great posts Roy.


So envious on you visiting Osaka Castle. that is one place I would really like to see in person.


thank you for the pics.

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Glad your weather improved. Have really been enjoying your reports and photos.

Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

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Sorry to see that Bloomberg is reporting major storm "typhoon LAN" south of Japan and heading to the island. Per Bloomberg , winds up to 138 mph. We have friends on board - sure has been a heavy weather cruise.

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Thank you all. I'm posting a bit on blind faith right now, gotta get ready for my tour and forgot to hit send on my blog post. I HOPE the photo links will work out this time but can't check on them right now..


Day A18, Thursday, October 19, 2017, (Hososhima) Beppu, Japan


The Oosterdam is at sea from Puerto Vallarta to San Diego on an Atlantis charter. The Prinsendam is Piraeus (Athens).


A warm dry day with some sunshine turned out to be a nice interlude. When I went on deck this morning it was very windy with drizzle as we rounded the tip of Honshu Island. I went back out about 6 for the sunrise and walked an additional 6 laps for a total of 2 miles but the sun was imitating Mt. Fuji.


About a couple of months before we set sail planned ports in South Korea were dropped and 2 additional Japanese ports were added. Beppu was the first of these ports. I think I had also said earlier in this account that this trip was my first visit to an island other than Honshu; I see now that Nagasaki, which I visited on the Crystal Harmony in 2004, is also on Kyusyu.


While we were at sea all morning the only program item of interest to me was Ian’s talk on Beijing/Tianjin; the extra time gave me a chance to work on a few backlogged writing tasks. As our first lines went out in Beppu a line of women in kimonos were standing (in the rain) in front of the terminal waving.




With my tour meeting at 12:20 I got a quick pizza at the lido as preparation of the gangway continued. For a little over half the 6-hour tour we were on the bus; the rest of the time we were outdoors. We had a steady drizzle, not pleasant but also not enough to really get wet. I carried my umbrella but it was not quite wet enough to use it. The stops were all within a relatively small area but it was about a 90-minute drive each way. The area was quite mountainous and we passed through a number of tunnels but also went by some colorful rice paddies.




Our first stop was the Rakanji temple, a Buddhist shrine dating to 645AD. The temple is atop a small mountain and our guide cautioned us about a “lift” to the summit. I was thinking the English sense of lift; I should have been thinking Mont Blanc. I have ridden many chair lifts in my skiing days and handled getting on fine but it got a little dicey at the top without skis to slide along on the ground as you transfer from a moving chair to having to stand up and walk.




There were a number of steps to climb both getting to the chair and continuing on the trail perhaps another quarter mile to the shrine.




There were few places where photos were allowed at the shrine, and the policy was that photos of the structure were not permitted unless there were also people in the picture. Another guest and I exchanged cameras.




On the way back down I noticed a divide where 2 trails were separated by a short fence. The trail on the left looked very treacherous in wet weather and went down to the base of the mountain. The one to the right went to the lift and there were some scenic overlooks on the way although the view was a bit foggy.




I was brave enough to get out my camera on the way back down.




The Yabeki River had been a quiet stream but became bigger and more dangerous after it was modified for irrigation. Our next stop was a crossing built after fording the stream became problematic; the 1923 bridge is the longest stone arch bridge in Japan.




The area has welcomed tourists since the 18th century. As the river rose with construction of irrigation dams, parts of the gorge became dangerous to negotiate. A local priest began digging a tunnel around one of the bottlenecks by hand. He worked alone for 5 years before other locals finally began helping out, The Ao-no-doumon or blue tunnel was completed after 30 years of hard labor. While there is now a highway sized tunnel parts of the original tunnel are still open. A statue of the priest stands at the end of the passage.




People did not linger too much at the stops due to the weather. I think we could have been back at the ship 45 minutes early if we had returned after this but the guide seemed unwilling to return early and we made a photo stop at a dam before heading back. I would gladly have skipped that stop.


It was 6:30 when we returned to the ship. I headed up to the lido for dinner which was serving pretty much the same menu as the dining room and I opted for the Ligonberry soup and Macadamia crusted chicken. I had hoped to join table 43 for desert but when I went down at 6:55 there were only used napkins remaining. I returned to the lido for the Apple buckle which was not a la mode in the lido but finished off with strawberry ice cream.




The featured entertainment was “object manipulator” Ouka with a single 930 show. I decided I’d seen enough after 5 minutes. All aboard was 10:30 and sailaway was uneventful. I went on deck at 11 and we had pulled away from the pier and were starting to move forward.


I’ll take my parting shot from the Rakanji shrine. Japanese shrines are not particularly english friendly and there was little caption other than some “No photography” or “No smoking signs”. There was just one other piece of english I saw there a pillar near the entrance to the lift. Their only substantive english message was “May Peace Prevail on Earth”. Sounds appropriate.





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Oh Roy loved the pictures!!!!!!!

Glad to see you enjoyed the chair lift and the weather!

So glad you did the excursion!

Your dinner looked good too!

Thank you so very much for doing this blog! It’s your vacation and I Thank you for wanting to take your time.


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Thank you all. Lawdog61, I haven't heard anything onboard yet about the typhoon.



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I’m in Tokyo having been here a week so far after getting off of the Volendam Last Friday.The typhoon is expected to effect this area with a lot of rain and some wind,but not as a full fledged typhoon. I am supposed to fly home Tuesday night, but so far it doesn’t look like the storm will effect my flight from Narita on Tuesday



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Alittle bit of good weather and now a possible typhoon?

I’m going to be sending as much sunshine ☀️ your way!

I hope it will be smooth Sailing your way Roy!

Look forward to more adventures with you!


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Thank you all and Carolyn I hope your flight goes off without a hitch and isn't too hard on your back.


Day A19, Friday, October 20, 2017, Hososhima, Japan


The Oosterdam is at sea from Puerto Vallarta to San Diego concluding an Atlantis charter. The Prinsendam is at sea from Piraeus (Athens) to Limassol.



The weather is becoming like a broken record. It is warming up but we had another day of drizzle, not enough so I never needed an umbrella but my gortex jacket is getting worn out. I circled the lower promenade deck once as I got coffee and another 6 laps after 6 (sunrise-hah, was about 6:25) for a total of 2 miles. We came into the port about 7:40 and were cleared a little after 8, but today’s tour wasn’t until 9:30/


Determining where we are is a bit challenging. The city featured in our itinerary, Miyazaki, is 30 miles to our south. Hososhima is the port itself, but it’s in the city of Hyuga. All 3 names seem to be used almost interchangeably. We were supposes to be here yesterday, but when Korea was dropped the sequence became Beppu/Hososhima/Kagoshima running North to South. It’s mostly an industrial area, there was no cruise terminal building.




My tour was called “Scenic Hyuga” and was apparently supposed to be the “easy” tour although it wasn’t that easy. I somehow drew the handicap bus with a scooter and about 6 walkers; other buses on the same tour had at most one walker each. Most of our time was spent outdoors, but some people rarely if ever got off the bus.


Our first stop was Omi, another Shinto shrine. Along with the shrine building itself, the guide pointed out the washing station where ritual cleansing was done before praying.




Next was Komenoyama, an overlook about 500 feet above the sea with very nice views, even with the less than optimal weather. The views at the parking lot were good but a trail led to an observation platform 150 feet higher where the views included Hyuga and the Amsterdam. I only saw one other group member go to the upper platform.




At Sea-cruz a group of rocks left a patch of water somewhat in the shape of a cross. Overlooking the formation there was a bell people could ring and make a wish.




Our final stop was Umagase, a scenic trail leading to two overlooks with tall cliffs and narrow sea passages.




We returned to the ship about 1. There was a shuttle today that was advertised as going to a train station but actually made 2 stops, the first at Aeon mall. I got off at the mall and looked around a bit, finally stopping at McDonalds. I was last there for “coffee with a side of wifi” exactly 4 weeks off the Empire Builder in Minot, ND, and did pretty much the same but not quite as easily. It took several tries to get the gal to understand what I wanted, several of the items were very similar on the picture menu. I finally was able to point at the pitchers on the coffee stand and she brought over a coffee cup to confirm. They had just run out and had to make a fresh pot. When it came to my table there was only 1 small creamer; I pointed at the creamer and held up 2 fingers. She brought me 2 more but they were small so it worked out well. (I brought my own splenda), The coffee was very much like at home, a much bigger cup than a couple days ago at Wendys and for less money (About $1.35). Wifi disconnected quite a bit but I got a lot done, briefly looking at the Ft. Lauderdale webcam but it was 1:35AM Florida time. I hung around after the coffee for an ice cream cone. That one was easy: I just pointed at the right picture.




The shuttle continued to the train station where there did not seem to be a lot around and then back to the ship. All aboard was at 4:30. In his sailaway message Captain Eversen indicated there was a likelihood of rain in Kagoshima. There was just one little girl with her mother waving goodbye along with several of the people from the visitor center who took a pause in packing to see us off. On the way out of the harbor we passed a Japanese navy ship.




It’s rare to have a Gala night on a port day; perhaps it was built into the schedule when we were supposed to be on our way to Korea. Table 43 was hosted by Steven, one of the 3rd officers. He’s been with Holland America for 2 years and is one exam away from his Masters License. He commented on the difference between the British and Dutch maritime systems; the Dutch tradition is that the deck department is more involved in ship maintenance and he has gained some experience on that side, although his main duty is in the navigation of the ship. He also commented that Amsterdam’s 2 captains are very different and the bridge mindset changes completely when there’s a switch. That also broadens his experience. Dinner was very nice as well; I chose the fruit cocktail, the turf from surf and turn, and the cherry crumble tart.




The featured entertainment was a repeat performance by Vox Fortura. I was sleepy and didn’t see the show but did drop in for a while with Jeff Warren and songs from movies.


As today’s parting shot Japan seems to be bracing for a typhoon. While it hasn’t been mentioned officially on the ship classical pianist Tomono Kamamura, a native of Japan, was on the shuttle and indicates it is a big storm. Steven thinks we can stay ahead of it and he and the bridge team are looking at options if it does appear to be nearing our path. May the storm spare populated areas of Japan from serious damage.



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I am leaving today with a 530 pm flight back to LAX,due to what I have heard about the approaching storm,3 days before I was supposed to leave,but don’ wish to be here if it turns out to be the super typhoon they are talking about I. News reports.Safe travels Roy.



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