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Explore the world with Pete & Judy on the 2018 Holland America Grand World Voyage

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19 April – Day 105 - Praia, Cape Verde

 

After our terrible experience in Dakar – we were a little apprehensive about our visit to Praia as it was one of the countries listed in the letter the ship sent us on April 9th. You can read a copy HERE

 

I didn’t find anything of interest during my pre-cruise research on this port. After reviewing the excursions offered by Holland America, we decided to go on the tour called Cultural Praia.

 

Here is the description of the $69 tour from the excursion booklet:

 

Cultural Praia

 

 

Welcome to Praia, the most cosmopolitan Cape Verdean city and an authentic cultural storehouse. On this excursion you will get to know the culture and traditions of Cape Verde in general, and of Santiago Island in particular. Praia has absorbed various influences from the other islands due to interisland migration, as well as influences from abroad. Visit the center of the city, the plateau and Ethnographic Museum, founded in 1997.

 

Don't miss the vegetable market, whose atmosphere is as colorful as its wares. From there, a short walk takes you to Praça Alexandre Albuquerque -- an iconic gathering spot for the people of Santiago. View the Palace of the President and the viewpoint of Statue of Diogo Gomes. Gomes discovered the Cape Verde Islands in 1460. You'll see one of the oldest buildings in Praia -- the Jaime Mota Barracks -- dating from 1826. Pass the Prime Minister's residence and various embassies en route to the breathtaking view from the Cruz de Papa Monument above Quebra Canela Beach. Avenida Cidade de Lisboa, the most happening street in Praia, leads you past the Government Palace and the all-important soccer stadium. Before heading back to the port you will stop to browse at the lively Sucupira Market.

 

Notes: Tourism infrastructure is limited in Cape Verde; the coach may not have air-conditioning or a PA system. Public markets are closed on Sundays and holidays.

 

Queen's Lounge tour meeting place

 

Getting an early start, at least for us, we met our tour group in the Queen’s Lounge at 8:15 AM. In a few minutes they called for our tour to assemble and head down to the pier where we found our 24 passenger bus.

 

Port Area

 

The ship moors in the container port without any tourist infrastructure nearby. The port gate is about a half mile away and this is where some people had to meet private tours that they had arranged earlier. They ended up having to walk the half mile to the gate to meet their tour.

 

After about a 10 minute ride, we reached the first stop and were let out on the sidewalk in a commercial area. Unlike Dakar, we weren’t greeted by throngs of people pestering us or trying to sell souvenirs or tours. There were plenty of people in the area, but they were friendly and continued to go on about their business when we arrived.

 

Ethnographic Museum

 

As we walked down the pedestrian promenade towards a Museum we would visit, it was immediately obvious that the city was much nicer than Dakar, and was the nicest city we visited since Cape Town.

 

Our first stop was the Ethnographic Museum which maintains a vast collection of pieces that tell the everyday life of people in Cape Verde including tools used in agriculture and raising livestock along with pieces of pottery, weaving, and clothing. The museum was mildly interesting, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit.

 

We left the Museum and continued walking on the promenade towards a municipal market, a quarter mile away. Along the way we discovered several nice cafés, shops and a collection of kiosks selling souvenirs.

 

Municipal Market

 

The municipal market was typical of what we have found throughout the cruise only this one was very clean and well organized. Fruits and vegetables were the main products sold, along with some meat and fish. One section had counters that offered prepared foods where people were buying their lunch.

 

We continued walking about a quarter mile and came across an open public square where a bandstand was getting set up for a musical concert later today. If we were going to be here longer we would definitely come back here to enjoy what looked like it might be a nice concert. Praia was turning out to be a very nice town, and I’m surprised now that it was on the Africa warning letter. Maybe there are other parts that aren’t quite as nice as where we were, but this downtown area is something that you should stroll around when you visit.

 

The Cathedral

 

The Cathedral, Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graca, was our final stop on the walking part of our tour before we got back on the bus. The Cathedral itself was quite ordinary but there were some children visiting at the same time and we were able to engage with them which was interesting.

 

We were now a couple of blocks away from the ship’s shuttle bus, which I’ve marked on the map that is posted on the blog.

 

There is a large park across the street from the church where we found public bathrooms and had a few minutes to enjoy the beautiful weather before we got back on the bus and headed off to the Mercado de Sucupira.

 

Mercado de Sucupira

 

On the hill above the main town, the Mercado is much larger than the first one we visited. This market sold mainly dry goods such as clothing and household items and things you might find in a drugstore or Walmart back in the USA. The people were not especially friendly, refusing requests for photographs which was a little surprising for a place where you would think they would want to encourage visitors to browse around and spend time looking at their wares. Consequently, we didn’t spend much time here, and neither did anyone else in our group. We were all back on the bus in about 15 minutes.

 

Pope John Paul II

 

Our next stop was an overlook, about 2 miles away, where there was a large statue of Pope John Paul II. The statue was constructed in 2007 by the Praia Chamber of Commerce. The Amsterdam was visible off in the distance and we had a nice view of the town off to our left side.

 

The Lighthouse

 

Our final stop was a lighthouse at the end of a Peninsula overlooking the harbor. About half of the tour group, including myself, climbed up the 100 steps to the top of the lighthouse. At the top, there was a small catwalk around the outside of the lighthouse. Stepping outside we had to hang onto our hats because the wind was blowing at least 30 knots. The view from the lighthouse was spectacular, with a great perspective of the city, the harbor and the Amsterdam moored across the harbor.

 

It took about 20 minutes to get back to the ship, the whole tour was about four hours.

 

Sail Away Party

 

The highlight of this afternoon on the Amsterdam was the SailAway party featuring live music by the Station Band along with hors d’oeuvres and complementary beverages. Table 303 assembled at several tables near the forward port corner of the pool. The party was well attended but not overcrowded. Everyone who wanted to find a seat was able to find one somewhere. The festivities concluded after the band stopped playing which prompted about a dozen guests to jump into the pool fully clothed. Here is a video that gives you a good feel for what took place.

 

 

Maria Lyn

 

Tonight’s entertainer was a talented vocalist from Wales, Maria Lyn. She has a beautiful, powerful voice and sang hits from Broadway and other pop tunes including:

 

Tonight from West Side Story

Thank you for the music - Abba

This is my life Shirley Bassie

 

Don’t miss seeing Maria Lyn if she is performing near you.

 

Back in the cabin we found our new Silver Medallions that would be officially awarded tomorrow evening.

 

Great video, looks like people having lots of fun. Congratulations on receiving Silver Medallion.

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Day 106 - April 20 - At Sea

 

Today is the first of five sea days before we arrive in San Juan Puerto Rico. We will clear Immigration in San Juan, but we won’t clear Customs until we arrive at Fort Lauderdale. Clearing Immigration will make our Fort Lauderdale arrival faster as the longest lines are typically the queue for the Immigration officers.

 

The Amsterdam was moving quite a bit today, nothing that would knock things off tables but enough where we certainly were aware we were on a ship.

 

Fedex Shipping

 

With about a week to go in our Grand World Voyage, it’s time to start thinking about packing. The surest sign of the approaching end of our cruise is the announcement about when the FedEx representative, Sarah Coles, is available for consultation on Deck Three in the Atrium. A schedule was set up for each Deck to avoid people waiting around like we remember happened in 2016.

 

Our concern was that we are going on another cruise after we arrive in Fort Lauderdale and would not return to San Diego until May 17. We wanted to delay our shipment en route so we would be home before it arrived. Sarah advised us to use the phrase ‘Hold at Station’ which meant that the local FedEx office would hold our baggage until we arrived at home and requested delivery. As it turned out, we learned that FedEx will only hold items for seven days before they return them to the sender. FedEx did try to call us before they shipped our bags back but we were at sea and couldn’t receive a phone call. Then I got an email from the FedEx tracker saying our bags were now heading back to Fort Lauderdale. I was able to contact Sarah and she turned our shipment around. We ended up getting our bags without a problem. If you contact the station where your bags will be held as soon as they arrive I suspect they’ll be allowed to hold them longer than seven days, but this is something to be aware of for future travelers who may not arrive home immediately after the cruise.

 

Ask the Captain

 

Capt. Johnathan Mercer hosted an “Ask the Captain” session this morning at 11 AM in the Queens Lounge. Capt. Mercer opened his presentation with a very interesting slideshow showing the bridge and other behind the scenes areas of the ship. After his remarks, about 20 minutes worth, he spent another 20 minutes answering questions. The questions were all good, on point, and no one was crabby or asking questions about issues that would best be directed to the hotel director one on one. I always go to these events on every ship when offered, and even though about 80% of it is the same, I learn something new every time.

 

Artist in Residence

 

Ben Sack, our artist in residence, opened his exhibition today where he displayed his original drawing commemorating the 2018 Grand World Voyage. He is offering six different sizes from 14 x 12” up through 60 x 72” and ranging in price from $100-$2000. He was also offering the original drawing for $24,000. Judy and I purchased one of the middle size reproductions. It was shipped to our home about a month after we returned home.

 

Whole Chicken Challenge

 

You may recall that back on Day 80, the ship sponsored a Silent Auction to raise money for the Mondesa Youth Opportunities Organization located in Namibia. We successfully bid on an auction offered by Grahame, the Holland America Orchestra drummer, for a Whole Chicken Challenge. It was never exactly clear what this consisted of. We later learned that Grahame would quite often eat half of a rotisserie chicken in the Lido during lunch. He and I decided that we would both try to eat an entire roasted chicken in one sitting at some point in the future. Well tonight was the night. Judy made arrangements with Presty, the Assistant Dining Room Manager, to reserve the table next to Table 303. She also asked for two whole roasted chickens, stressing that they needed to be whole and not cut up. (Presty decided to provide three whole roasted chickens, just in case.)

 

We invited the other members of the HAL Orchestra to join us at the Competition Table. Grahame and I decided that we would approach this like a Championship Prize Fight. We entered the ‘Competition Area’ wearing a fighter’s robe, the terrycloth robe from our stateroom, with towels draped over our heads trying to capture the atmosphere of heavyweights entering the arena prior to a prize fight.

 

Here is a video of the Whole Chicken Challenge and as you will discover after watching, Grahame was victorious in overtime.

 

 

Tango Cervilla

 

Tonight’s show was a tango dance team from Buenos Aires called Tango Cervilla, featuring

Victor and Denisa. Unfortunately, due to the excessive ship motion, they had to cancel their tango show and reschedule that for later. They presented a different show tonight that was easier to perform when the deck was moving. Their dancing was marvelous and we enjoyed their show very much.

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Just want to add my thanks to all the others for your detailed blog. Your picture of a World Cruise is lovely and the many tips greatly appreciated. I hope you will also post information on your follow-up Crystal Cruise. :)

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Just want to add my thanks to all the others for your detailed blog. Your picture of a World Cruise is lovely and the many tips greatly appreciated. I hope you will also post information on your follow-up Crystal Cruise. :)

 

I will start my Crystal Cruise when I finish this one - almost there!!

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Day 107 - At Sea - April 21

 

 

 

There was considerable deck motion this morning. We can probably expect this to continue through most of our transit of the Atlantic to Puerto Rico.

Coffee Chat

 

Mark Beasley, the Event Manager, was the guest this morning for Coffee Chat at 9:30 AM in the Explorers Lounge. Mark is from Houston, Texas, and has been on ships for the last 10 years. He attended Johnston and Wales University in Florida majoring in Culinary Arts. He worked at Disney and at an Italian restaurant called Carrabbas before getting hired by Holland America. His first ship was the Ryndam on an Alaska cruise.

Mark is quite the pizza aficionado and he has one rule about what’s appropriate on a pizza topping, and that is No Pineapples! This led to a lively discussion with some of the guests as to the pros and cons of pineapple toppings and why they are or are not appropriate.

Guest Talent Show

 

The guest talent show was today in the Queens lounge at 3 PM. I wanted to get a front row seat in the balcony, so I could have a clear view for my camera, so I got there an hour early. The place filled up but there were a few seats available right up until show time. A total of 22 guests performed and each guest was allocated three minutes but most ended up taking closer to five minutes. And there was probably at least a minute between performances so the entire show took about two hours. Here is a short video that includes a few seconds from each of the 22 acts.

 

Motown Dinner Theme

 

Tonight was not a formal night, but they did have a special theme for dinner: Motown. The dining room was decorated with plenty of gold records and the waiters wore different colored velour shirts.

Jason Lyle Black

 

Jason Lyle Black was the featured entertainer this evening. He played a variety of theme songs from various movies including Indiana Jones and The Sting. He played a few songs while lying on his back on the piano bench, upside and backwards.

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Day 108 – At Sea - April 22

 

The guests for Coffee Chat this morning were three members of the band Savannah Jack: Don Gatlin – lead vocals, Jay Smith – fiddle and Kenny Ames - bass guitar. The front man for the group, Don Gatlin, took most of the questions. Don is from Nashville and the other members of the group are from Fredericksburg, VA and Farmington, Maine. Don has written songs for Kenny Rogers, and his group has been the warm-up act for Kenny Rogers on some of his tours. Toward the end of the interview, Don sat at the piano and played a nice rendition of Barry Manilow’s Mandy.

 

Mariner Society Lunch

 

Today was the Mariner Society lunch, hosted by Captain Mercer and Hotel Director Henk Mensink, where we would receive ceramic tiles emblazoned with an image of the ms Amsterdam. There were two luncheons today, one at 11 AM and the other at 12:30 PM. We were in the first group at 11 AM.

 

Even though we arrived about 5 minutes early, we were among the last to be seated. One thing you’ll find on World Cruises is that many people arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled starting time for any event. They handled the seating much like they do for lunch or breakfast. Everyone is seated at empty tables as they arrive starting with the lower level and those closest to the door and then working their way around. Our seats were on the upper level.

 

Here is a picture of a typical table. I’ve included a copy of the menu on the blog, you can find a copy of it HERE along with the invitation.

 

Table-for-Lunch.jpg

 

 

We were seated with two other couples and had a pleasant conversation. It’s always interesting that as long as we been on the cruise there are still many people that we’ve never spoken to and in many cases, we don’t recognize from our wanderings around the ship. Most people tend to get into a routine and it’s quite easy that you’ll never cross paths with people who dine at a different time or go to different venues.

 

We both picked the Filet Mignon with the shrimp. While we are waiting to be served the Future Cruise Consultants, Lynn and Larry, made a few brief remarks, followed by Hamish who led us in a toast. From where we were seated we couldn’t see the people speaking because they were on the first floor of the dining room. I walked around to the other side of the upper level and was able to take the following video of the toast and give you an overview of the dining room.

 

 

Once the toast was over the official party left and didn’t join any of the tables.

As usual on Holland America, the food was very good, and we were finished and on our way about 12:15 PM.

 

LCR

 

Before dinner, everyone at Table 303, all 10 of us, assembled in Rick’s Neptune Suite where we played another round of a dice game called LCR which stands for Left, Center, Right. More about the game HERE.

 

LCR is a simple game, requiring no skill and be can learned to play in about 30 seconds. The game consists of three dice. Each die has three dots in addition to the letters L, C and R. Everyone gathers around a table and there is no limit to the number of players. Each person starts with three chips or three $1 Bills depending on whether you want to use real money. The gameplay consists of each person rolling three dice. If an L, C, or R appear that person passes one chip in the direction indicated either Left, Center or Right. Chips that are passed to the left or the right remain in play as they are now in the possession of another person. But once the chips are passed into the center they form the pot which will ultimately be won by the last person to have any chips remaining.

 

The play continues clockwise with each person rolling as many dice as they have chips remaining, up to a maximum of three. We added a twist that when a person rolled three dots meaning you didn’t transfer any of your chips, everyone took a drink from their beverage of choice. The game continues in this fashion until only one person has any chips left. Repeating her win from our previous games of LCR, Judy again won the last game.

 

We had a great time playing the game as well as enjoying the camaraderie of everyone from our table. We played until it was time to go to dinner when we proceeded down to the main dining room for another wonderful meal.

 

Monster Cut

 

One of the featured items on the menu this evening was the prime rib which is usually pretty good. People often ask for a small piece or a small cut and sometimes the menu even mentions that there is only one size available. I asked our waiter, Deden, for a monster cut. When our meals arrived, he didn’t disappoint and you can see in the following picture the size of my prime rib which was quite tasty.

 

Monster-Cut.jpg

 

Suzanne Godfrey

 

Suzanne Godfrey was the featured entertainer this evening in the Queen’s Lounge. She plays the flute and put on an amazing performance featuring such songs as the theme from the Pink Panther, The Penny Whistle Jig, the famous song from the movie Frozen, “Let it Go” and a classic from the movie Titanic, “My Heart Will Go On”.

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Day 109 – At Sea - April 23, 2018

 

Coffee Chat

 

The guests for Coffee Chat this morning were Twinkle, the assistant beverage manager, and The Station Band consisting of Sonny, the band leader and Twinkle’s husband, along with Ricky, Federic and Arnie. They have all been sailing on cruise ships and with Holland America for over 20 years and have no intention of slowing down anytime soon.

 

Mariner Society Reception

 

The highlight of today’s activities will be the Mariner Society Reception in the Queen’s Lounge. There are two receptions, one at 4:15 PM and the other at 6:45 PM. Since we have late seating we will be going to the reception at 6:45 PM. At this reception passengers will be recognized for having achieved a new Medallion level which is different than the Star levels that give you actual perks on board.

 

The Mariner Medallion program is not as well publicized or promoted as much as the 1 to 5 Star Mariner Program. The only place I was able to find the Medallion Program mentioned on the official HAL website was in the Mariner Society FAQ.

 

Unlike the Mariner Star Level Program, the Medallion Program only recognizes and rewards actual cruising days – there isn’t any bonus credit for suites or spending as there is in the Mariner Star Program. While achieving greater Star status gets you very specific perks, achieving a higher Medallion Station gets you nothing more than the commemorative medal itself and local recognition including invitations to these special parties. While not associated with a Medallion, there is the Presidents Club which requires members to have 1400 pure cruise days and be specifically invited. The invitation requirement weeds out people with many sea days but not as full fare guests e.g. lecturers, travel hosts and agents etc.

 

Here are the Medallion Award levels

 

100 days – Bronze

300 days – Silver

500 days – Gold

700 days – Platinum

1400 days – Presidents Club

 

While there aren’t any specific perks associated with the various Medallion levels, there are many perks associated with Presidents Club Membership, including, but not limited to:

• Annual Holiday Gift e.g. Waterford Crystal Vases

• Invitations to special onboard parties

• “Head of the line” tender service equal to Neptune Suite Guests

• Your choice of flowers/beverages/wine, etc. every 2 weeks

• Special seating and recognition at onboard events

 

Plus more – there isn’t a specific list publicly available, but these are the highlights I have discovered based on my research. Any updated information is appreciated.

 

The Holland America Mariner Star Program is well documented on the website. Here are the thresholds for the various star levels.

 

1 Star – completion of first cruise

2 Star – 30 cruise day credits

3 Star – 75 cruise day credits

4 Star – 200 cruise day credits

5 Star – 500 cruise day credits

 

If you are in a suite you get double credit for each day sailed. You also get one cruise day credit for every $300 in onboard spend.

 

See the HAL website for the various perks at the various levels.

 

We arrived at the Queens lounge right at 6:45 PM and had to go find seats in the balcony as everything down below was full. The HAL Orchestra was playing soft background music behind a very large flower arrangement. Standing in front of the arrangement were Capt. Mercer, Hank Mensink, Hotel Director and Hamish, the Cruise Director. The ceremony started with some general acknowledgments and thanks to all the Mariner’s present. The first people recognized were members of the President's Club who were all seated together back in the corner of the Queens lounge all the way aft on the starboard side. Hamish recognized them by name and asked them to stand or waive but we couldn’t see because they were hidden from view since we were in the balcony.

After the President's Club members were recognized, they proceeded to call up passengers receiving metals at the Platinum level followed by those at the Gold level and finally those at the Silver level. Passengers at the Bronze level were not individually recognized since there were so many but everyone was invited to come forward and pose for a picture with the Capt., Hank and Hamish afterwards if they so desired.

 

Gala Evening

 

This was the last Gala evening for the cruise which means there will be a special menu in the main dining room and usually this also means that the Hal singers and dancers will perform one of their production shows.

You can find a copy of the menu here along with copies of all the menus for the entire cruise HERE.

There wasn’t an advertised theme this evening, but the waiters were wearing sailor costumes which prompted me to line up and pose with the waiters and we all rendered a snappy salute.

 

Bellissima

 

The final cast show was called Bellissima and was a collection of song and dance numbers featuring classics such as “Time to Say Goodbye” along with rock hits such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. Other songs included “Danny Boy”, “I Love Paris”, “All by Myself”, and “Amadeus”.

 

Final Pillow Gift

 

Back in the room after a wonderful show we discovered our final Pillow Gift of the cruise, a Blue Delft earthenware plate from Royal Goedewaagen plate depicting the 2018 World Cruise map and routing.

You can find pictures of all the pillow gifts for the entire cruise HERE

 

Plate.jpg

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Day 109 – At Sea - April 23, 2018

 

Coffee Chat

 

The guests for Coffee Chat this morning were Twinkle, the assistant beverage manager, and The Station Band consisting of Sonny, the band leader and Twinkle’s husband, along with Ricky, Federic and Arnie. They have all been sailing on cruise ships and with Holland America for over 20 years and have no intention of slowing down anytime soon.

 

Mariner Society Reception

 

The highlight of today’s activities will be the Mariner Society Reception in the Queen’s Lounge. There are two receptions, one at 4:15 PM and the other at 6:45 PM. Since we have late seating we will be going to the reception at 6:45 PM. At this reception passengers will be recognized for having achieved a new Medallion level which is different than the Star levels that give you actual perks on board.

 

The Mariner Medallion program is not as well publicized or promoted as much as the 1 to 5 Star Mariner Program. The only place I was able to find the Medallion Program mentioned on the official HAL website was in the Mariner Society FAQ.

 

Unlike the Mariner Star Level Program, the Medallion Program only recognizes and rewards actual cruising days – there isn’t any bonus credit for suites or spending as there is in the Mariner Star Program. While achieving greater Star status gets you very specific perks, achieving a higher Medallion Station gets you nothing more than the commemorative medal itself and local recognition including invitations to these special parties. While not associated with a Medallion, there is the Presidents Club which requires members to have 1400 pure cruise days and be specifically invited. The invitation requirement weeds out people with many sea days but not as full fare guests e.g. lecturers, travel hosts and agents etc.

 

Here are the Medallion Award levels

 

100 days – Bronze

300 days – Silver

500 days – Gold

700 days – Platinum

1400 days – Presidents Club

 

While there aren’t any specific perks associated with the various Medallion levels, there are many perks associated with Presidents Club Membership, including, but not limited to:

• Annual Holiday Gift e.g. Waterford Crystal Vases

• Invitations to special onboard parties

• “Head of the line” tender service equal to Neptune Suite Guests

• Your choice of flowers/beverages/wine, etc. every 2 weeks

• Special seating and recognition at onboard events

 

Plus more – there isn’t a specific list publicly available, but these are the highlights I have discovered based on my research. Any updated information is appreciated.

 

The Holland America Mariner Star Program is well documented on the website. Here are the thresholds for the various star levels.

 

1 Star – completion of first cruise

2 Star – 30 cruise day credits

3 Star – 75 cruise day credits

4 Star – 200 cruise day credits

5 Star – 500 cruise day credits

 

If you are in a suite you get double credit for each day sailed. You also get one cruise day credit for every $300 in onboard spend.

 

See the HAL website for the various perks at the various levels.

 

We arrived at the Queens lounge right at 6:45 PM and had to go find seats in the balcony as everything down below was full. The HAL Orchestra was playing soft background music behind a very large flower arrangement. Standing in front of the arrangement were Capt. Mercer, Hank Mensink, Hotel Director and Hamish, the Cruise Director. The ceremony started with some general acknowledgments and thanks to all the Mariner’s present. The first people recognized were members of the President's Club who were all seated together back in the corner of the Queens lounge all the way aft on the starboard side. Hamish recognized them by name and asked them to stand or waive but we couldn’t see because they were hidden from view since we were in the balcony.

After the President's Club members were recognized, they proceeded to call up passengers receiving metals at the Platinum level followed by those at the Gold level and finally those at the Silver level. Passengers at the Bronze level were not individually recognized since there were so many but everyone was invited to come forward and pose for a picture with the Capt., Hank and Hamish afterwards if they so desired.

 

Gala Evening

 

This was the last Gala evening for the cruise which means there will be a special menu in the main dining room and usually this also means that the Hal singers and dancers will perform one of their production shows.

You can find a copy of the menu here along with copies of all the menus for the entire cruise HERE.

There wasn’t an advertised theme this evening, but the waiters were wearing sailor costumes which prompted me to line up and pose with the waiters and we all rendered a snappy salute.

 

Bellissima

 

The final cast show was called Bellissima and was a collection of song and dance numbers featuring classics such as “Time to Say Goodbye” along with rock hits such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. Other songs included “Danny Boy”, “I Love Paris”, “All by Myself”, and “Amadeus”.

 

Final Pillow Gift

 

Back in the room after a wonderful show we discovered our final Pillow Gift of the cruise, a Blue Delft earthenware plate from Royal Goedewaagen plate depicting the 2018 World Cruise map and routing.

You can find pictures of all the pillow gifts for the entire cruise HERE

 

Plate.jpg

 

I don't usually post much stuff, but I have to tell you I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your postings, I've been following you from the beginning as I'm taking my first WC next 2019. I saw your name and picture in the roll call and wondering if you are also going next year.

 

I have enjoyed many games of LCR, lots of fun, quick, easy to learn, lots of laughing.

 

Maria

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I don't usually post much stuff, but I have to tell you I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your postings, I've been following you from the beginning as I'm taking my first WC next 2019. I saw your name and picture in the roll call and wondering if you are also going next year.

 

I have enjoyed many games of LCR, lots of fun, quick, easy to learn, lots of laughing.

 

Maria

 

Thanks for following! We are scheduled to go on 2020 World Cruise, but not on 2019

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Day 110 – At Sea - April 24

 

There wasn’t any Coffee Chat this morning due to the crew drill which happened about the same time.

Today is the last sea day before we arrive in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where we will clear United States Immigration. Clearing Immigration in Puerto Rico should make things go faster in Fort Lauderdale since we will only have to clear Customs.

 

Amazon gift certificates

 

As earlier reported, the Grand Dollars from previous years has gone away and substituted with Amazon gift certificates. Each gift certificate is worth $.10. Vouchers for the gift certificates were handed out for participation in various events from Trivia to Miniature Golf to Shooting Baskets. There is no longer any premium given for those teams which come in first as there has been in the past. A group of us from Table 303 have been going to afternoon trivia almost every day since early in the cruise. My table mates have been giving me their vouchers after the games each day. At 4 o’clock today they announced they will be redeeming the vouchers for Amazon gift cards for the final time this cruise. I took mine down to the Explorer’s Lounge and waited in a short line. They accepted our word for the number of vouchers we had, not bothering to count them up, and then rounded our total up to the nearest five dollars and gave us the appropriate number of gift cards. It was a better process than the Grand Dollars was since we could only trade those in for a limited number of HAL trinkets which we may or may not have any interest in. With the Amazon Gift Cards we were able to buy something on Amazon that we would find useful.

 

Today I was able to cash in my 340 vouchers for US$35 in Amazon gift cards.

 

Indonesian Crew Show

 

The highlight of the day was the Indonesian Crew Show directed by everyone’s favorite assistant dining room manager, Presty. Here is a photograph of the program which consisted of six different numbers:

 

• Welcome Saman Dance

• Traditional Albutahu & Sipato – Pato Song

• Cendrawasih Dance

• Surprise Song

• Sesonderan Dance

• Kecak Ramayana Dance

 

Program.jpg

 

We arrived in the Queen’s Lounge around 2 PM and were able to get seats in the first row of the Balcony. The place was filling up quickly and was almost completely full around 2:30 – 30 minutes before showtime. The show was very entertaining, and most people were eagerly looking to spot their waiter/waitress or cabin steward amongst the performers onstage. The next evening, when Judy entered the dining room for dinner, she asked Presty if he had learned those dances when he was in school. He told her that the dances they performed were from a different island than the one he grew up on and he didn’t learn them until he was working on Holland America cruise ships.

 

Tina, the Pinnacle Grill Manager, and Nasirum, were the Masters of Ceremonies.

 

Maria Lyn

 

Maria Lyn was back for her second show this evening. She put on another fantastic show featuring big hits from Stage and Screen, including “The Phantom of the Opera” and “'S Wonderful” from Diana Krall.

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Day 111 – San Juan, Puerto Rico - April 25

 

Today is the first port day after five sea days and our final port day of the 2018 World Cruise. We will be entering the United States for the first time and are required to clear Immigration. Everybody on the ship must get cleared and no one will be allowed back on board until all guest and crew have been cleared.

 

Back in the USA

 

We received a notice in our stateroom assigning us letters or numbers to control the flow off the ship to Immigration. We were in no hurry to leave the ship so we waited until the final call and headed down to the pier about 9:30 AM. The line was short and only took about five minutes. Then we waited in a holding area in the terminal until the rest of the passengers cleared the ship before we could return. It was interesting that the US citizens on the crew (some of the entertainers, hosts, retail staff etc.) went first and then became guides for the rest of the passengers.

 

We waited about 20 minutes until the crew was cleared before we are allowed back on the ship. Getting back on the ship required us to go down to the first floor in the shopping area and then return through Security as if we were off the ship completely. There were two other ships in port roday, the Carnival Magic and the Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas which meant the terminal was very crowded. The signs to get back on the ship were different for each ship and were a little confusing. As it turned out, we ended up on the pier without having passed through metal detectors. We assumed that they would be on the ship as they sometimes are since we didn’t see them in the terminal. But once on the ship we realize that we had somehow bypassed Security altogether.

 

There was a short line to get on the ship and we ended up right behind Suzanne Godrey, the flute player, who performed a few nights ago. We learned that she’ll be performing one final time on the eve of our arrival in Fort Lauderdale. We were back in our stateroom buy 10:30 AM and spent the next hour and a half getting ready to go ashore leaving the ship around noon.

 

San Juan

 

The Cruise Terminal is very close to Old Town San Juan. Our plan was to take an Uber to the furthest point in Old Town, which was also the highest point, and then walk back to the ship which would also mean we would be walking downhill. It was a pretty nice day, sunny and not too hot.

 

Our first stop was the CVS store which was almost directly across the street from the Cruise Terminal. There is also a Walgreens nearby, either one has anything you may need if you’re visiting here on a cruise ship. We looked for some souvenirs and picked up a few T shirts before we headed off down the street to the Tourist Information center. The Tourist Information center is small with one person sitting at a desk. She had a few maps to hand out and was able to give us some recommendations about places to go and things to see.

Getting an Uber was quick, and we are soon on our way to the Museo de Las Americas, about a mile away.

 

Museo de Las Americas

 

The museum is in a large building, but only a small portion of it on one floor is used by the Museum. Admission is six dollars, tickets are sold inside the small gift shop and bookstore on the first floor. The museum itself is on the second floor. There are several areas which were not available for touring because they were damaged by hurricane Maria and were still being repaired.

 

Seeing all the exhibits took about half an hour as we were moving quickly and didn’t read all the signs. If this is something you know you will find interesting, I would plan on spending one hour here. We spent about another 30 minutes in the central courtyard relaxing and planning our route back to the ship.

 

Museum-piece.jpg

 

 

 

 

Plaza del Quinto Centenario

 

As we slowly made our way back to the ship down the narrow streets of Old Town, we came across the Plaza del Quinto Centenario which was constructed in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in what is now Puerto Rico and is located at the highest point in San Juan.

 

The main feature of the plaza is the Telurico Totem, a 40 foot high monument created by local architect and ceramicist Jaime Suarez. The totem is carved from granite and embedded with ceramic replicas of archaeological artifacts in honor of the Taino native culture of Puerto Rico.

 

Plaza de Armas

 

About half way back to the ship we came across the Plaza de Armas which is one of the main squares in San Juan. It was the original main square for the city back when it was founded years ago. City Hall is located on the north part of the square while the Puerto Rico Department of State is off to the west side. The main feature of the square is a round fountain with four marble statues representing "The Four Seasons", that were originally placed in the four corners of the square.

 

We took about an hour to get back to the Walgreens near the ship and spent a little time browsing and picked up a few birthday cards.

 

Back on the Ship

 

By 4 PM we were back on the ship and in our cabin.

 

The ship didn’t leave until 10:30 PM. Instead of live entertainment tonight in the Queen’s Lounge, they showed the movie “The Post”.

 

Only two more sea days until we will be back in Fort Lauderdale.

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Day 112 - April 26 – At Sea

 

Today is the second to last sea day of the cruise. We will have one more day tomorrow and then arrive in Fort Lauderdale early on the 28th.

 

Coffee Chat

 

Today is the final Coffee Chat of the cruise and the special guest was Hamish, our Cruise Director, himself. Mark, the Event Director, conducted the interview. Hamish has been working on ships for over 10 years and Holland America is his fourth cruise line. Hamish previously worked for Carnival, NCL and Bahama Cruise lines before landing with Holland America. His first cruise with Holland America was an Alaska Cruise and he is looking forward to visiting the Amazon River on a future cruise.

 

There is one question that had to be asked based on Mark’s recent appearance on Coffee Chat: does pineapple belong on pizza? Hamish replied in the affirmative much to the dismay of Mark who maintains that pineapple has no place on a pizza.

 

Filipino Crew Show

 

The Filipino Crew Show was this afternoon at 3 PM in the Queen’s Lounge. I didn’t feel like going an hour early to get a seat as we were starting to get into packing mode and wanted to stay focused on that. We were able to see a replay on TV and the show was outstanding.

 

Ben Sack Dinner

 

Our final dinner guest of the cruise was the artist in residence, Ben Sack. Several of us at Table 303 attended his drawing classes which were offered daily on sea days during the cruise. We have all come to know him during other times and found him to be quite friendly and a joy to be around. During dinner, he sketched our group on the back of one of the menus and a copy of is available here. Judy and Peggy both knitted shawls designed by Joji Locatelli and showed them off tonight. You can find the pattern HERE

 

Peggy-and-Judy-model-their-shawls.jpg

 

Grand Farewell Party

 

The big event for tonight was the Grand Farewell Party held in the Queen’s Lounge at 9:30 PM. The group Savannah Jack would perform for an hour and a half. The seating in the center of the Lounge was cleared to allow room for dancing.

 

Coming straight from dinner, we arrived around 10 PM. By then the party was in full swing with the lower floor packed with enthusiastic revelers. Savannah Jack invited all the earlier performers who were still on the ship to come to the stage and sing a song. We caught the end of Maria Lyn’s brilliant performance of Whitney Houston’s hit “I Will Always Love You” . As the party continued, we enjoyed performances from Paul, HAL cast singer, who belted out Garth Brook’s Hit “Friends in Low Places”. He was followed by Claire, from the HAL Cast, who sang the Journey hit “Don’t Stop Believing”. She knew most of the words but hummed a few and was prompted on other lyrics by Savannah Jack’s lead singer Don Gatlin.

 

Scheduled for 90 minutes, Savannah Jack played for over two hours, and the crowd was as enthusiastic at the end as they were at the beginning with very few people leaving. Several members of the ship’s crew commented that this was one of the best parties they’ve experienced on any World Cruise. While Savannah Jack may not be a household name, they put on a tremendous show that encourages crowd involvement with tremendous energy. If you are ready for a good time don’t miss Savannah Jack if they are playing in your area. Here is a video of some of the highlights.

 

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Day 113 - April 27 – At Sea

 

Today is our final full day at sea. We arrive in Fort Lauderdale early tomorrow morning and will wrap up another wonderful World Cruise.

 

Today is Koningsdag or Kings day which celebrates the birth of the Netherland’s King Willem Alexander. The holiday is known for Orange Madness so everyone was encouraged to wear something orange.

 

On Deck for a Cause

 

One of the morning highlights was the 5K walk to support the fight against cancer “On Deck for a Cause”. Everyone who wanted to participate met in the atrium on Deck Three at 9:30 AM. We headed down to watch the crowd get started and noticed that Henk, the hotel director and Christel, the guest relations manager, were there wearing orange T-shirts with orange wigs. It was quite a sight.

 

Henk-and-Christel.jpg

 

Final Texas Hold'em game

 

Today was my final Texas Hold ‘em game. I played in a total of 119 games and finished in the money in 31 games. I ended up netting out about $150 to the good.

 

Crew Farewell

 

The big event today was the Crew Farewell and Grand Finale which took place at 3 PM in the Queen’s Lounge. There is only one Farewell Celebration and we knew it would be packed. We got there quite early to get seats in the front row of the balcony for the best position to take pictures.

 

As we were waiting for the festivities to start, a slide show was projected on the theater’s screen. They cycled through many pictures that the ship’s photographers took throughout the cruise. It was fun to see ourselves in a picture now and then along with many people that we had come to know over the cruise. Hamish also showed a few videos from the SailAway parties that I edited as well as a six-minute video with 4 to 5 second highlights of all the entertainers that had performed on the Queen’s Lounge stage. I’ll be posting that video later.

 

The program started with Hamish showing his end of cruise video which was about three minutes long and very well produced. I’m not going to post it online but if you would like to see it send me an email through the website and I can send you a link.

 

After the video, Barbara, the Location Guide, gave five-minute slide presentation which summed up very nicely the entire cruise and the various ports we visited. After she concluded Captain Mercer recognized her years of service on Holland America as this is Barbara’s final cruise. She is retiring from Holland America.

 

is the video

 

 

The finale of the farewell was when most of the crew filed onto the stage to wave and thank the passengers for wonderful cruise. The festivities concluded with Capt. Mercer making some brief remarks.

 

is the video

 

 

Packing

 

We spent the rest of the afternoon packing and moving our suitcases and boxes out to the hallway. I encourage everyone to put the packed bags out as soon as they are packed because there are a lot of suitcases and they want to get an early start moving them down to the ship’s hold.

 

We received shipping labels from Sarah for the bags we were going to FedEx home. We put them out in the hallway with the rest our bags. Once ashore you will retrieve them with your other luggage and you clear customs with all your bags together. Then once out on the sidewalk you will drop the FedEx bags at a large FedEx truck which was parked right outside the terminal.

 

Final Dinner

 

Dinner this evening was a little bittersweet as we said goodbye to our tablemates after a wonderful cruise. We would see some of them the next day but not knowing who we might run into during the busy disembarkation process, we said farewell this evening just to make sure. It was also time to say goodbye to our wonderful dinner wait staff, Deden and Islam, along with assistant dining room manager Presty.

 

Other items to take care of on the final day were picking up our photos from the photo lab. We bought the all-inclusive photo package and throughout the cruise we would review the pictures and add them to our folder. For an extra fee, we were given all the pictures on a USB drive in addition to the hard copies.

 

Final Evening Show

 

The final show of the cruise in the Queen’s Lounge was a split bill with Suzanne Godfrey playing the flute followed by the dancers billed as Tango Cervilla. The tango dancers put on the show they had planned on doing for their first performance, but they had canceled that because the deck was moving too much so we saw the same shows but in a different order. Both Suzanne and Tango Cervilla were very good.

 

We were up late finishing packing and getting ready for our arrival in Fort Lauderdale. We will spend a few days in Fort Lauderdale before boarding the Crystal Symphony for the Panama Canal cruise back San Diego.

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Day 114 - April 28 – Fort Lauderdale

 

Today is the final day of our cruise, and it’s only a half day as the ship starts disembarking passengers early in the morning and we expect to all be off by 10 o’clock. We chose the latest disembarkation time since we were in no hurry to get off. We are staying in Fort Lauderdale for a few days until we board the Crystal Symphony on our Panama Canal Cruise back to San Diego.

One benefit of Holland America is that we can stay in our cabin until we were ready to leave the ship and full room service is available on this last day. Most cruise lines want you to be out of your room by 8 AM and wander the ship until you disembark, and room service is either not offered at all or limited to a small selection.

 

FLL.jpg

 

Our room service breakfast arrived at 8 AM and by this time many people were already leaving the ship. This disembarkation was a little different since it this is not a turnaround port. The Amsterdam will be going to drydock and not taking on any passengers. There will be about 1,000 contractors ready to board to start work during the transit to the drydock.

 

We had two wonderful stateroom stewards – Darma and Andri and they made our trip a joy.

 

The disembarkation was going slower than expected due to fewer than required Customs agents in the terminal. The ship is at the mercy of the Customs force as to how many agents they allocate to each ship. Additionally, since this is the end of the World Cruise there are a lot of bags, which I suspect, is another reason that everything slows down in the terminal.

 

Since disembarkation was running about 45 minutes behind, I took the time to wander around the ship while waiting for our color to be called. Wooden protective strips have been installed on the corners of the elevator doors to protect them from the heavy equipment that will be moved around the ship.

 

The main dining room was being converted into a large cafeteria style eating area. Serving trays were set up near the entrance so the construction workers could eat here in addition to the Lido Market.

 

Our cabin steward said that they had a little less to do on the turnaround since there are no passengers coming on board. The rooms are cleaned and made up as always, but they didn’t have to go around and deliver all the bottles of champagne, gifts cards and other things that go along with a ship full of new passengers.

 

Leaving the ship for the final time

 

Our color was finally called at 10:52 AM and we headed down to the pier for our one final trip across the gangway. Henk, Christel and about a dozen other crewmembers lined the exit bidding us farewell as we scanned our cruise cards one final time.

Since we were in the last group to come off the ship, the bags were scattered across the area in the terminal. We wandered around to find our bags and move them to a central spot to wait for a porter. There was sort of a line for passengers to wait for the next porter, but it was hard to figure out and by time we gathered all our bags the line was gone, and porters were readily available.

 

Typically, as you search for your bags one person in your group will stand with the bags you’ve already retrieved as you go look for the rest of them. Inevitably you spot a bag that appears to be already selected by someone else and you go over look at make sure that is not your bag. This is understandable as everyone is searching for bags and many bags tend look-alike --- it wouldn’t be the first time that someone grabbed the wrong bag. As I was looking for the last of our bags I saw some that were near an older gentleman. I walked by and glanced at the luggage tags. As I looked at the tags he roared a loud “NO” for at least five seconds. I wasn’t sure what the problem was and then I realize that he was taking offense that I even looked at his bags thinking they might be mine. I smiled and kept moving and found my bags a few minutes later.

 

Fort Lauderdale has Global Entry, and this is one of the few places where you need your Global Entry Card to access the Global Entry Line. I had filled out my customs declaration form earlier and handed that to the person guarding the Global Entry line along with my Global Entry card. The person took my customs form and tore it in half saying that I didn’t need a form since I was in the Global Entry line.

 

We cleared Customs in a few minutes with only cursory questions asked by the agent and we were soon on the curb outside the terminal. There was a large FedEx truck around the corner from the terminal’s exit where we dropped off our FedEx luggage and then we crossed the drive to the taxi stand and found a large cab in about 15 minutes.

 

Twenty minutes later we arrived at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort where we will be staying for a few days until we board the Crystal Symphony. Our room was not available until 3 PM so we left our bags with the bell hop and ordered an Uber to take us to the Microsoft store in a Mall about 50 miles away. I needed to buy a new laptop computer since my other one went on the fritz a few days before the cruise ended. Fortunately, it worked enough where I could get the data off and just move it over to the new laptop but it occupied most of our time for the next several days.

 

That concludes our World Cruise. I will post a final summary soon and then start blogging on our first Crystal cruise.

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On 10/9/2018 at 2:59 AM, The-Inside-Cabin said:

For an extra fee, we were given all the pictures on a USB drive in addition to the hard copies.

Do you know if it was possible to purchase just the USB and not the hard copies of the photos?

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3 hours ago, Sea42 said:

Do you know if it was possible to purchase just the USB and not the hard copies of the photos?

Yes.   You could get just the USB is you chose.   

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Pete, I have followed along the whole trip.  I love the addition of your fun videos and thank you for persevering and taking us all the way to Fort Lauderdale even after your computer issues!  I will be watching for your Crystal Panama Canal report next.......no pressure!!

 

~Nancy

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I am so happy you continued posting of the journey, even though you fell behind. I have enjoyed every post.
Thank you.

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On ‎10‎/‎23‎/‎2018 at 4:49 PM, RuthC said:

I am so happy you continued posting of the journey, even though you fell behind. I have enjoyed every post.
Thank you.

Thanks Ruth, appreciate the kind words

Pete

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On ‎10‎/‎23‎/‎2018 at 4:24 PM, oakridger said:

Pete, I have followed along the whole trip.  I love the addition of your fun videos and thank you for persevering and taking us all the way to Fort Lauderdale even after your computer issues!  I will be watching for your Crystal Panama Canal report next.......no pressure!!

 

~Nancy

Thanks.….I have to get busy!

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That’s entertainment!

 

We enjoy the entertainment offered on Holland America and that’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of a World Cruise. Every night the ship is at sea, which is almost every night, except for the handful of overnights, there is a different show in the Queen’s Lounge. Most of the shows are live entertainment with only a couple of evenings where they would show a movie instead of having a performer.

 

Judy and I attended every live show when we were aboard the ship. We didn’t go to any of the movies this year.

We are big fans of Broadway musicals and subscribe to the Broadway San Diego series here at home where we see about 6 shows a year. The Holland America singers and dancers presented 10 different production shows on this World Cruise. We saw nine of the shows, but we missed the one when we were on our Safari in April.

 

Here is a 7-minute video that has brief clips of 70 different live acts we enjoyed on the cruise.

 

Video of World Cruise Entertainers

 

Here is a summary of the different types of shows:

 

Pop Singers and groups - 11

Comedians – 8
Instrumental Performances – 18
Solo Singer – 10
Acrobat – 1
Tango Dancer – 1
Cast Shows – 9
Magic acts and mentalists – 6
Local Culture - 6

Here is a LINK to the page that shows the date of each performance along with a photo.

 

 

 

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Thank you so much for this entire, not only enjoyable, but informative, blog.  I not only followed along in real time, but often reread earlier posts, menus, etc. to confirm details.  Consequently, I feel much more prepared for my first World.  See you on the 2020 GWV !

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I hope you're still planning on posting on the Crystal Forum, starting up where I left off.

 

Roy

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20 hours ago, rafinmd said:

I hope you're still planning on posting on the Crystal Forum, starting up where I left off.

 

Roy

Yes

 

I will be posting my Crystal Cruise soon.   Thanks for following

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Thank you.  Your reviews are informative, entertaining & fun to read.

Looking forward to your next.

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