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Around the World on Amtrak, KLM, and HAL

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Oh Roy, The Great Wall is on our bucket list!!! Can’t wait for photos from you! Happy seas calmed down and weather improved! Those waffles wow, Looks soooo good!

I really enjoyed your photo of the sunrise while you did your walk.

Thank you always giving us such a wonderful insight on your travels.

Until your next blog, Happy Sailings Roy!

Denise:)

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Thanks az4ship, Nancy, and Denise

 

Special note on internet

 

It happened again today. BEWARE if there is no response to hitting the “confirm” button; you may still be logged in but may not realize it. If you don’t get a confirmation the only way to be sure you are not using up minutes is by typing logout.com. That saved me today after I had previously learned the hard way.

 

[ATTACH]411553[/ATTACH]

 

Roy

 

Thanks for the reminder about typing in logout.com. When I get on Koningsdam next week, I think I'm going to plan to do that every time I go offline to be sure I don't have any problems. I am not buying a very big plan, so I won't have any minutes I'd be willing to lose.

 

Speaking of Koningsdam, I just put waffles on my must do list! Good thing we will be doing a lot of walking, and active excursions! :eek:

 

I can't wait to hear about your trip to the Great Wall! I am looking forward to your pictures, and your excellent description of your day! :cool:

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Enjoying your posts and all the details you include. Always interesting to read.

Certainly have had your share of bad weather.

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Quick progress report. Return from Great Wall was 9PM instead of 8PM as expected. I have my photos ready but am only up to my arrival at Tianjin in my narrative and leave soon on my tour. (now 8AM Wednesday). I'll post as soon as I can.

 

Roy

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Hey, we can wait, Roy. Just don't you miss a thing! I'm excited for you and your cruise. It sounds terrific despite the weather.

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Thank you, roy! So looking forward to your update on the Great Wall.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I will wait patiently for those pictures!!! You take the time to soak in all around you the culture and beautiful scenery.

I’m so happy for you.

Enjoy the other tour and see you later!

Denise:)

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Day A23, Tuesday, October 24, 2017, Tianjin (Beijing), China

 

Thank you all. For those wondering about the pictures that didn't load you weren't imagining things but must have tried soon after I posted. I list the photo names on a separate list and then do a" replace all" to add the folder name and then merge that into my narrative document. I had a typo in the folder name and the pictures wouldn't load when I posted but I noticed the typo and was able to fix it within the 20-minute edit window.

 

The Oosterdam is in Puerto Vallarta. The Prinsendam is in Ashdod.

 

When I went to the lido for coffee just after 5 my the TV screen indicated we were getting close to Tianjin but it was too dark outside to see anything except lights in most directions.

 

Sunrise was officially 6:25 AM and when I went back to the promenade deck we were very close to the terminal. As the time approached I could see a reddish color behind us. I thought the sun might have been obscured by a cargo ship behind us but on the next couple of laps it gradually emerged from the haze.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/dawn1024.jpg

 

I have been to Beijing several times, 2001 on a Yangtze cruise, 2003 arriving from Moscow by train, and 2004 embarking on the Crystal Harmony. I think at that time we boarded from a cargo pier but this time there was a large passenger terminal, which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. I had to detour inside for the last few laps of my walk, as the gangway is on the lower promenade deck from the atrium and connecting to a LONG jetway.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/tianjinramp.jpg

 

There were probably fewer tours from here than most ports. There was a 4 day overland tour to Xian for $2,899($3,399 single), a 1-night “Best of Beijing” for $899/1,194. Day 1 tours were The Summer Palace and Great Wall for $240, and a simple transfer to Tianjin and back for $80. On either day there was a free shuttle to the Aeon Mall. For the first day I had booked the 12-hour Great Wall tour and the meeting was at 7:45 although we were delayed waiting for the ship to be cleared. Once we were called we went with our passports and copies given by the ship to immigration. Both were stamped and we returned our original passports to ship personnel, keeping the stamped copies for the duration of our stay in China. Our bus was mostly pretty nice but the knee room in the seats was very tight. We left the port at 8:30.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/wallbus.jpg

 

We knew the bus ride would be at least 3 hours. We made a rest stop at about the half way point. Nearby was one of the longest car carriers I have ever seen carrying at least 8 Toyota sized cars

on each level. I’m glad they don’t have trucks like that in the US.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/longtruck.jpg

 

We continued north around the east side of Beijing (with one nasty bottleneck); many of the streets looked wide and lovely but I also noticed that the tops of many of the tall buildings were mired in haze.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/hazy.jpg

 

We got our first look at the Great Wall about 12:30 as we approached the parking lot.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/wallahead.jpg

 

I’ve been to this section of wall before but it did not look all that familiar. It looked like there were 2 or 3 parking lots that led to slightly different access points. The one I came to this time was quite steep.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/wall1.jpg

 

I climbed up one relatively short section and about halfway the next longer section, climbing about 300 feet in total on uneven steps with rises varying from about 3 to 16 inches. I might have gone longer if our stay had been more than the allotted 90 minutes bit was satisfied with my end point.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/walltop.jpg

 

On the way down I got a good look at a guard tower and was impressed by the network of trails comprising the wall.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/wall2.jpg

 

At the base there were a number of structures, some under repair but the South Tower was a good example.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/southtower.jpg

 

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant about half way back to Beijing. I bite my tongue a bit saying restaurant as we were escorted through a huge jade showroom on the way to the dining

area.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/lunch1024.jpg

 

Our final stop was a whirlwind visit to the Summer Palace, the Emperor’s huge summer hideaway. As we entered there was a building that served as the “office” although the guide indicated not much business was done during the summer; anything routine was handled by underlings elsewhere.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/summeroffice.jpg

 

The principal residence was actually the last of the Empresses. This lady was the effective ruler in the final stages of the dynasty, pulling the strings with several young child emperors who did not have the title for long. A large rock was perched outside her residence but I didn’t quite get the significance.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/empress.jpg

 

There are 2 main features at the Summer Palace, a lake and a long corridor. We walked along much of the 1km corridor but not to the end. It’s a covered passageway open on both sides.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/corridor.jpg

 

The lake actually takes up most of the property after artificial enlargement and has a nice island, although much of the site was difficult to photograph between the haze and the approaching sunset. The island is approached by an elegant stone arch “Emperor’s Bridge”

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/emperorbridge.jpg

 

Some things are pretty much the same world wide. As we were leaving the Summer Palace we passed one of Beijing’s fire stations; I could almost have been at home.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/firebeijing.jpg

 

The ride from the Summer Palace was about 3 1/4 hours. It was a bit difficult to photograph but on the way back I got my first view of the moon in a couple of weeks. It now sets about 8:30PM.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/moon1024.jpg

 

We returned to the ship about 8:45, went through security and a passport check in the terminal and I walked across the gangway about 9PM. Between fatigue, hunger, and a headache I broke down and rode the elevator up to the lido for a quick steak dinner.

 

My parting shot will be a quick summary. It was great to see old sights again but also very difficult and exhausting for a day from Tianjin.

 

Roy

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Good morning Roy!!

Tianjin Beijing.! All I can say is WOW.

I read your post several times and really enjoyed your pictures! The Great Wall reminds me of climbing Chichen Itza and doing the 22 switchbacks to Mt. Whitney! I had no idea it was all steps!!! What a magnificent view! China is know for there awful pollution but I did not think it would be so bad until seeing the Haze of Emperor’s Bridge. Also the jade showroom where your tour had lunch reminded me of when we did Milford Sound in New Zealand hiking we had a similar lunch. You made my day Roy!!! Loved your pictures and your dedication for giving all of us a glimpse into your fantastic Voyage!

Denise🤗👍

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Thank you, Roy! Incredible photos. You’re so fortunate to be able to enjoy places many of us can only see in photos!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Roy, I have especially enjoyed reading of your visit to Beijing. It brought back great memories of my visit, and a real appreciation that I was able to ascend the Great Wall at a place with a cable car and a fairly easy path.

Continue to enjoy.

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Roy, once again just wanted you to know how much I am enjoying your narrative and photos.

 

I know it is very time consuming to do this and really appreciate it.

 

Keith

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Day A24, Wednesday, October 25, 2017, Tianjin (Beijing), China

 

The Oosterdam is at sea from Puerto Vallarta to Huatulco. The Prinsendam is at sea from Ashdod to Rhodes.

 

The day’s tour was not going to involve much walking so I did walk 6 laps around the lower promenade in the morning, detouring inside around the section closed off for the gangway. When I went to the lido for coffee at 5:15 it was fully open as tours were leaving for the Forbidden City at 6 and for Tianjin at 7. Sunrise again was the sun emerging gradually through the haze rather than coming over the horizon.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/dawn1025.jpg

 

My tour was not until 9, a visit to the Haichang Aquarium, about a 45 minute drive from the port.

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/haichang.jpg

 

Our first hour or so there we had free time on our own (or with the guide at his pace) to view the 2 floors of exhibits. There was a large variety of life on display from most of the world, from penguins in the south to polar bears in the north, wolves, whales, eels, and most anything you care to name.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/polar.jpg

 

The highlight of the visit was the dolphin show. It actually started out with some stunts by a huge seal, and a walrus.

 

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/seal.jpg

 

The walrus was especially good spouting water on people, doing situps, and blowing a trumpet.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/walrus.jpg

 

There were about 6 dolphins and 4 handlers doing a variety of tricks, starting with swimming around with their tails out of the water.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/tailsup.jpg

 

There were a number of jumps but I was never quite quick enough with the camera to catch them. Several times they pushed or carried their handlers around and at one point 4 dolphins and 3 handlers formed a circle and swam around in kind of a star pattern.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/riding.jpg

 

Our seats were pretty much front and center and we got a great view of those majestic animals as they came out of the water and laid on a platform.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/beached.jpg

 

After the show we walked through the aquarium’s jellyfish display which was a separate ticket. The variety of jellyfish was amazing and we passed one spot (upper right in the collage) where we could see the tanks where new jellyfish are born.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/jellyfish.jpg

 

We were actually back at the port a little ahead of schedule, around 1:30. While we were the only ship in port during our visit there are several ships that either homeport there or call regularly. Prominently featured on signs around the terminal were Genting Dream, Star Cruises, Costa, and Quantum of the Seas.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/aeontianjin.jpg

 

Rather than go back to the ship I took the shuttle to the Aeon Mall, about 7 miles away. My impression is that Aeon is essentially the Walmart of Asia, except that their locations include other stores much as like independent malls in North America. I passed the door of the Aeon store on the way in which seemed to have everything, and then walked down the upper level of the mall and back the lower level. I stopped at KFC for fries and coffee, also hoping for wifi but the login was all in Chinese and I got nowhere. I was back at the ship about 3:20. Security ran quite slowly with just a few people arriving; I find it difficult to imagine what it must be like for a turnaround day on a 3,000 passenger ship. On the way back through the terminal I also checked wifi; while I could not get a connection the maps app on my IPAD did autolocate.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/cruisetianjin.jpg

 

Although the Forbidden City tour was not due back until 5:30 posted all aboard was 5:00. There were a couple of announcements about missing people during dinner and during desert Hamish came on the PA and indicated we would be leaving soon. I headed out on deck for sailaway and the last line came in just after 7. I had been curious about the ship behind us since afternoon. The Tian Ren is officially listed as a ro-ro passenger ship; it has the look of a cruise ship but also showed signs of having seen better days. It sat at the dock most of the afternoon without anything visibly boarding or leaving. My guess is that in it’s final days it is carrying large trucks from country to country. I got my best look at it as we sailed off.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/dishes25.jpg

 

There were only 4 of us at table 43. The Canadian couple, who had been on the Great Wall tour had a rough day as their bus driver got lost and didn’t return to the pier until 10:15, and they were still recovering. It was also mentioned that some of the crew, including both Jeff Warren and my waiter, had gotten a tour to the Great Wall in the morning. I suspect they left the ship quite early to both be back on the job in the evening. I opted for the fruit cup, salisbury steak, and mango crisp.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/tianren.jpg

 

The featured entertainment was EARLY. The only show in the Queens Lounge was “The Marriage Game” at 7. I watched one round and later went to the piano bar where Jeff Warren was having a request night. Having just visited Japan where there was a lot of talk about cherry blossoms I asked about “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White.” He said “I haven’t played that in years” and immediately dove into it. I wonder if he ever forgets a tune.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/marringe.jpg

 

I had planned to finish most of this post after leaving the piano bar but zonked out at my keyboard and accomplished almost nothing.

 

My parting shot will be a request for a time machine. Can somebody give me 3 more weeks on the Amsterdam and still have me in Rome November 2 for the Prinsendam.

 

Roy

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Hi Roy!

The pictures of your tour remind me of our

Sea World here in San Diego!

Glad to see you got 6 laps in this am.

Time is flying by so fast on The Amsterdam.

I too can not click my ruby red slippers to give you your wish!!

Looking forward to more!!

Denise:)

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Roy, I could not get 'jellyfish' to show and the ship and dinner are swapped.

 

Hope you get your wish of more time, I have no talent that way.

 

Carole

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Thank you all.

 

Roy...

How long will you be in Tianjin? Next year we’ll be there for two days on the Westerdam and I’m curious about the excursions. They offer some monumentally expensive overnight in Beijing, but I’m wondering if it’s possible to see The Great Wall and Beijing both, on a one day excursion for each.

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

 

It is possible, but it’s a very greuling, whirlwind 2 days. On the first day, which I did, the schedule stretched from 12 hours to 13 and that can easily happen with traffic. Pretty much count on it being a minimum of 10PM when you’re finished with dinner the first day, and the second day, which covers the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Temple of Heaven, left at 6AM and returned just in time for sailaway. That pretty much covers the major sites if you don’t get too tired to enjoy them.

 

Since I’ve been to Beijing before I was willing to do just half, but if it was my first time I would probably have opted for an overnight. I’m not sure you could actually see more on the overnight tour since we toured until dark and the second day’s would have arrived at the Forbidden City around 9 (I don’t think an overnight tour could have started sightseeing before that) but the pace would have been much more enjoyable.

 

An alternative might be a private overnight tour. You might check our roll call and search for Beijing; I think there was a group overnight tour and the roll call might have details.

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2336902

 

I think the last day I overheard someone coming back from a private tour and saying good things about “Beijing Touring Company”. You might google them and see if anything promising comes up.

 

Roy

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Thank you so much for your reports, Roy. They are the most interesting I’ve read...and I’ve been here a looong Time!

 

 

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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An alternative might be a private overnight tour.

I highly support this idea.

 

When I was there with four friends we went off together to tour Beijing. We had an overnight in the city, at a hotel of our choice, and were able to go at our own pace, while maximizing what we were able to see.

Since two of us are disabled, we were able to use one of the two handicap entrances to the Great Wall, and spent plenty of time there to take in the experience. Coming from the port, to the Wall, and to our hotel filled the first day.

Our second day took us to Tiananmen Square, under the road to the Forbidden City, and exhaustion. So, back to the ship when we wanted to go.

 

Being with a small group you can set a pace that is comfortable for you, while seeing what you like.

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WOW, Roy, what a trip.

 

I was going to post yesterday but I would have just said WOW again ;)

 

This trip seems unbelievable.

 

Since you are looking for another 3 weeks on the Amsterdam, it sounds like you are really happy with the ship!

 

So happy for you that you are having such an incredible voyage!

 

Thank you so much for all of the wonderful posts and pictures. It's magical.

 

BTW - since you won't have time to look on CC, even though I wished you Bon Voyage for the P'dam today, I will wish it again. Keep having fun and great adventures :)

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Thank you all, especially RuthC and jacqui. I'll look at the Bon Voyage a bit later, but right now I'm headed for the lido and my morning omelet.

 

Day A25, Thursday, October 26, 2017, At sea, MS Amsterdam

 

The Oosterdam is in Huatulco(brings back great memories of the day this spring when the Amsterdam and Crystal Symphony berthed there together). The Prinsendam is in Rhodes.

 

Well, today was not a big day for the camera so I’ll start out posting the photo I forgot to include yesterday. Again, the room with tanks where jellyfish in waiting are stored is shown in the upper right corner of the collage.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/jellyfish.jpg

 

It was a mixed day for weather. Seas were smooth as a mirror and winds were light and following but it was a bit chilly and the sun never really came out. Conditions were ideal for my 5-mile walk but it was just a bit on the foggy side, sunrise came and went with nothing. There were PLENTY empty loungers around the Seaview pool and I even declined to take my breakfast out to the aft deck but it was comfortable outside with a fleece or jacket. I even saw my shadow once after lunch.

 

It was a pretty standard sea day for this Grand Voyage starting with Bible Study at 9. At 10 Ian had a program called “Untranslatable words”. It was run kind of like the Liars Club and I only stayed for a few rounds. I understand that in the program he also had a section on funny signs.

 

At 11 Edward Murphy had his second of 5 talks, this time on North Korea’s immediate past leader, Kim Jung Il. His remaining talks, each sea day until Hong Kong will be on the current dictator, the capture of the Pueblo, and his experiences in captivity.

 

In his midday update Captain Eversen indicated conditions would continue much as they were for the rest of the day and on Friday. At 2PM we had a new lecturer, Terry Greenberg. He is on until Sydney and will be talking about Asia. His first talk was on the history of China through 1949.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/greenberg.jpg

 

There was a 5PM Q&A in the movie theater for guests disembarking in Hong Kong. Present were Captain Eversen, Cruise Director Hamish, Hotel Manager Hank Mensink, and Culinary Operations Manager Florin Dragomir. Service and food drew accolades while the biggest complaint seemed to be the wifi. I asked about the Cruise Log and Hank Mensink indicated that Holland America was on the cusp of returning the log with an updated format. I finally left about 5:40 as I’m sure the officers did not want to shut off discussion but I didn’t want to keep my tablemates waiting any longer. My choices today were the melon and raspberry soup, coconut chicken, and strawberry crisp.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/q-and-a.jpg

 

The featured entertainment was the Amsterdam singers and dancers in “Bellissima”. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen that particular show. There was just a piano in the Explorer’s lounge as Adagio’s violinist had a part in the show. Afterwards, Jeff Warren was concentrating on hits by songwriting duos. It was one of my better nights for staying awake until bed time.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/dishes26.jpg

 

As a parting shot it looks like the world series has started with me pretty much unaware, Congratulations to the Astros and Dodgers.

 

Roy

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