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Stow Away with Bill & Mary Ann for 181 days on Amsterdam's So. Pacific & 2020 WC

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A world cruise blog by Bill and MaryAnn is a wonderful post-holiday gift to us all...thank you for continuing to share your travels.  It makes me excited about the possibilities to come once my husband and I have the time to experience longer cruises to more exotic locations.

 

Happy sailing!!

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Have a wonderful cruise, Bill and MaryAnn. We will be hanging on your every word! 
 

Cheers, Denise and Howie too 

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Looking  forward  to  following  you  on  the world  cruise. I enjoy  your perspective of the places  you visit , will be watching  tour sail away  tomorrow  from my balcony . Hopefully  next year  I'll  be watching  my balcony  from the ship.

Mary  

 

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You had a lovely final day in Ft Lauderdale yesterday by eating at the 15th Street Fisheries -- another place we have enjoyed.

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33 minutes ago, Krazy Kruizers said:

You had a lovely final day in Ft Lauderdale yesterday by eating at the 15th Street Fisheries -- another place we have enjoyed.

We also enjoy the 15th Street Fisheries very much. Biggest, best scallops we've ever had!

 

BON VOYAGE!

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Looking forward to your WC readings!!

Have a marvelous journey and a big Bon Voyage and Smooth Sailings 

Denise😊

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Bon VOYAGE 🌎

It's a chilly 55 degrees here in Ft Lauderdale..

So bundle up & have a hot toty as you sail...

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Report # 59   Boarding Day   January 4, 2020   Saturday   Mostly cloudy & 84 degrees    Part #1 Of 1    72  Pictures

 

 

Wish we could say that today went smooth as glass.  It did not, although the beginning of the day was good.  Last night we had our bag packed, to be ready for a 7:30am pick up.  And that meant getting up early to go to breakfast at Joe’s Café.   Bacon and eggs with lots of hot coffee gave us a jump start to our day. 

 

Back at the hotel, our plan for the day was to check out, and meet with our fellow travelers to take the buses to Port Everglades, a very short distance from the hotel.  The luggage had been brought to the boarding area in the hotel, and all we had to do was ID it.  All of the bags were then loaded into a large truck, then driven to Pier 26, where the Amsterdam awaited.  Only there was a delay, since the truck arrived a half hour late.  Although they did not show it, you could feel the stress level rise with our travel experts.  They probably knew the later it got, the longer the check-in line would be at the cruise terminal. 

 

It was around 10:45am when we finally left in the two small coaches, getting us into Port Everglades and Pier 26 by 11am.  Today there was a total of seven cruise ships docked.  Now that is an incredible number of people to off-load and re-load.  A few of the larger ones were the Adventure of the Seas, Nieuw Amsterdam, Celebrity Equinox, Sky Princess, Eurodam, and Carnival Magic.  The Amsterdam was small in comparison, and we were the very last to leave.

 

And was it crowded at the check-in desk after going through the security checkpoint?  Oh, you bet it was.  The separation for the Mariner groups were 1, 2, and 3 star members on the right, then Neptune and Pinnacle suites, 4 and 5 star members on the left.  On a trip of this length, the majority of folks will fall into the left side of the room category.  Nowhere to be seen was a sign for President’s Club members, of which number around 50 or so for this particular cruise.  So we were directed to the left line with the most people who were waiting up to two hours to check-in.

 

The only positive aspect with this wait time, was the fact we ran into many folks we knew well, and handshakes and hugs continued every few minutes.  But the other President’s Club friends of ours began saying this was not right, so one of us sought out some help from the shoreside crew manning this melee.  And that was all it took to have each member singled out, and brought around to the front of the line.  Later on, we learned this same thing happened even at 10am, when more of our PC friends were stuck in the long line.

 

In processing our info, we were asked to produce the New Zealand visa, as well as the yellow fever vaccination certificate, or official stamped letter of the non-vaccination.  Not sure the consequences of not having either of those documents, although it was printed that without them, you may be denied boarding.  We were cleared, pictures taken, and ready for our room keys.

 

However, the problems did not end here, as you might expect.  When it came time to hand over our keys, the device that printed them was not working.  So we were asked to wait, and wait longer, with more folks in the same boat as us.  Now get this…..they had to go onboard to get these cards printed, but when they returned the keys were wrong.  Then one of the officials said the pile of President’s Club room keys were in a box on the counter somewhere.  They had been there the whole time.  What part of incompetency do they get?  Like no communication.

 

We have to add here that speaking to one of our friends later, several wheel-chair bound passengers had been lined up after check-in, then had to wait up to three hours to be wheeled to the gangway.  Suggesting they bring this to someone’s attention, that is totally unacceptable.

 

Just happy to be boarding, we found there was no regal reception by the Mariner greeters.  The same happened last year, although we did learn later that one special group did get photos earlier.  To tell the truth, we were almost relieved at this point we did not have to do this.

So we were welcomed back as we entered the ship, but only to find out one of our cards did not work.  Good grief….. this tedious day seems to never end. This required another long wait at the front desk to get a new room key printed.  And guess what…..a bunch of people had bad keys.  There went another lost hour.  Then we found out our credit card had to be re-swiped, because our names got switched on the account.  Wouldn’t you know it, we had locked the wallet up in the room safe.  So we had to go back later to fix that.

 

Sure was nice to be home in our old room on Dolphin Deck.  Two suitcases awaited our attention, and little by little, the other five pieces arrived by 6pm.  We did some, at least enough stuff to get through the night and tomorrow.  The rest could wait.  There was a Mariner Lunch in the dining room at noon, but we had long missed that.  So we grabbed salads to tide us over to dinner time.  The dining times for dinner were 5 – 9pm for open seating, 5:15pm for early seating, and 8pm for main seating.  The Lido was opened from 5:30pm to 8pm for dinner.

 

We had a few minutes to spend with our visiting agents in the Lido Pool Bar.  Promising to keep in touch, they said goodbye to many of us, as they had to leave the ship before the muster drill.  We thanked them for all they had done to make our stay in Ft. Lauderdale so much fun.

 

The announcements for the upcoming muster drill began right about then.  That took place at 3:45pm, and went well.  Short and sweet.  Tina, the Pinnacle Grill manager, is our boat captain.

 

The Bon Voyage Party in the Lido Pool area began at 4:30pm.  Earlier at 1:30pm, champagne was served in this area complimentary as well.  We knew not to indulge, since we had so much to do, and truthfully, it can leave us with headaches.  By the time we remembered the big party, it was half over.  They did serve free drinks and artisan-style snacks while being entertained by the Station Band, one of Barb’s favorite groups.  We viewed the activity from deck nine, but the better scenery had to be watching the many ships leave the port one after the other.  The Adventure of the Seas passed within feet of us, and we all waved to a much younger group, many of them young kids.  The setting sun gave the photos the best light this evening.  And by now, the promised weather change began to happen with the appearance of dark rain clouds.  By 7pm, when the ship finally left, it was pouring cats and dogs.  We think most of the luggage and supplies had been loaded before the dock flooded.

 

Dinnertime snuck up on us, and we made it to our table shortly after 8pm.  It was like home week with our six buddies…..Barb, Woody, Susie, Heo, and Greg.  And we also had a guest, Ron, who we have known from past world cruises.  He recently lost his wife and mother, and we did not want him spending the evening alone.  Our entrees were the alternate salmon, and it looked the best of all.  We adjourned our first dinner together after 10pm, then headed for the front desk.  Expecting there to be few people there, we found another long line.  Two front desk crew members had to take care of the never-ending guest’s problems.  There went another hour.

 

Anyway, it all worked out, and we both slept like rocks.  Thank goodness for a few days at sea now.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 


https://cruisingwithbillandmaryann.blogspot.com/

 

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Report # 60   Day at Sea   January 5, 2020   Sunday   Cloudy with rain & 61 degrees   Part # 1 of 1

 

It sure was nice going to breakfast this morning in “Ganville”, the new name coined by friends that had stayed onboard for the holiday sailing.  Since we all have our favorite tables in the center section of the dining room for breakfast and lunch, and our waiter’s name is Gan, he has claimed it his territory.  All in good fun, this is the best place to start the day.  The food is great, the coffee is always hot, and is served with smiles from our waiters.

 

Also felt good taking our first morning walk around the promenade deck.  The weather was comfortable, even though it was a bit muggy and very cloudy.  No doubt about it, later on, it was going to rain.  And what a better day to be dreary with showers, because we felt like we were not missing anything outside.  Definitely not a pool day.

 

Nope, we spent the next five hours room-bound, finishing the massive job of finding places for all of our stuff.  And you know what?  Miraculously, everything found a spot.  These rooms on the Amsterdam were built for longer trips such as this one.  And since we will be sailing into extremely cold places as well as exceptionally hot places, we had to have a variety of clothing.  The cold weather gear went into a suitcase under the bed.  That will be perfect for the Antarctica portion of the trip, and the lower end of South America.  Once we head north to Santiago, Chile, it should be warm for the remainder of the trip.  Tomorrow, we will complete the fine tuning with Command hooks for wall hangings, jewelry distribution, and stashing the “drugstore” goodies in the ice chest.  One hanging shoe bag will contain all of the small things that can be found easily, such as pens, cards, tape, paper clips, pins, q-tips, cotton balls, nail polishes, etc.  Over-the-door hooks will hold costume jewelry.  Tedious work, but in the long run, we only have to do it once.

 

When we finally got the bed cleared off, we stripped the bedding, and added the thick foam mattress pad.  Re-making the bed ourselves, saved our room stewards from the job.  They have enough to do.  We already notified them that the bed will appear higher, and they were fine with that.  Having this extra cushioning on the bed made a huge difference last year, and with the benefit of four pieces of luggage shipped free, we included it in the duffel. 

 

Shipboard life started off with all the usual activities, with team trivia being one of the highlights.  Barb is a trivia whiz, and has found a new group along with her friend Karleen.  There are no big prizes anymore, but it is more about keeping the minds active.  The lectures included port and tour presentations, and discovering Dominica and St. Lucia, our first and second stops.  One talk was about the real lungs of the world delivered by guest speaker Ginny.  Watercolors and arts and crafts began today, as did intermediate and duplicate bridge sessions. 

 

We stopped working in the room at 3pm to have lunch in the Lido.  We were happy to see that the pasta counter had been switched to the custom sandwich maker with pizza on the side.  The excellent salad bar began our lunch as always.  We did not want to overeat, since we had an invitation to a cocktail party for the President’s Club members at 6:30pm.  They always have some pretty tasty appetizers there, as well as beverages of our choice.  

 

This party was held in the Explorer’s Lounge with the Captain, Henk, and Hamish as greeters.  Other officers mingled with the group of 60 or more.  Also included were the new inductees, who get in when their days reach 1400.  This might be a good time to add that as far as we know, there has never been an “ by invitation only” to be inducted into this level.  If that was the case, no one would be admitted, as the oldies but goodies would want to remain “special”.  Two of the inductees happen to be our dear friends, Bill & Leta.  As they were each introduced, everyone clapped for them.  This was a really nice thing for the staff to do for a change.  The number of new PC folks will be 19 on this cruise.

 

At 8pm, we headed off to another nice dinner, which did last well after 10pm.  Tonight’s show was the Amsterdam’s singers and dancers with “On Tour”, a performance we have seen often now.  Greg and Heo excused themselves to go enjoy it.

 

Back in our room, we discovered presents.  They included one HAL tote, 2 mini daily planners, 2 messenger bags, and 2 smaller purses that can hold money, coins, key card, and a passport.  They can be worn around the neck or across the shoulder, and  are suitable for women and men.  Then the bad news…..we had to move the clocks ahead one hour.  We are sailing east this time, on our way to the Caribbean and down the east coast of South America, so it may be a while before we can set those clocks back an hour.

 

So right now, the time is 1:20am, and it more than time to try out that new comfortable bed.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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My understanding is it's always 1400 sailing days but "invitation only" is for if their sailing days weren't all  accumulated on regular tickets.

 

Not travel professionals on dirt cheap or free interline tickets. Probably also not officers family living on board. 

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Report # 61   Day at Sea   January 6, 2020   Monday   Mostly sunny & 61 degrees   Part # 1 of 1

 

Today was pretty much a repeat of yesterday, except the cloudy skies cleared in the afternoon, and we finally saw the sun.  After our morning walk, we ended up back in our room doing the fine tuning, half of which got done.  We did miss the lecture, Islands in the Sun, with Charles McClelland, but we can surely catch this on TV later tonight.  And we are not sure what the talk from the Brazilian Cultural Ambassador Ida was about, but we wonder where HAL is getting these ambassadors?   He spoke about the history of the Amazon today.   This will give us many choices to watch later in the day. 

 

First thing this morning, we made a visit to the clothing shop onboard.  We heard that the 2020 world cruise t-shirts would be selling soon.  The last couple of years, we found that the t-shirts sold out quickly, so we asked to be put on a list.  No problem, we are guaranteed to get two of them.  Other new arrivals were in the Chico line, and some items looked promising. 

 

After that, we walked to the Seaview pool, and found the aft deck almost empty.  Sure was a huge difference compared to the Tales of the  South Pacific.  On that trip, if we did not secure our spot early on, we would be out of luck.  Or sitting on someone’s head.  Today, we had our pick of any lounge.  It was warm enough to sunbathe, but we did not have our swimwear on.  Perhaps in a few more days, the weather should be more summer-like.

 

After lunch in the Lido, we made a visit to Barb’s inside cabin.  This one is not the long, thin style, but a sideways one on the Dolphin deck.  It has a strange layout that gives one a feeling of claustrophobia. With very limited closet space, Barb requested a clothes rack.  And one bed to be taken out.  They brought the rack, but refused to take the mattress out, making it even more crowded in there.  The TV sat on the desk, taking up half of the surface.  And it was not working.  There was a mess of cords in the back of it, some of those not even plugged in.  No matter what we tried, we could not fix the TV.  Using the excuse that the ship is completely sold out, she could not be moved to a better room.  We asked what would happen if her room flooded, and she needed to spend a night in a different room.  Bet they would come up with an empty cabin.  Shiv, the head housekeeper, promised to work on it, and knowing him, he will do everything he can to make her happy. 

 

And the highlight of the day was the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Reception in the Mainstage.  The first one was at 4:30pm, and the second was 6:30pm.  We went to our favorite seats on deck five, and listened to the Ocean Quartet during that time.  It is always fun to watch the crowd when they come out of the party.   As far as the dress code for Gala was concerned, most of the men wore suits or sport coats.  Very few tuxes these days.  The ladies always dress nicely.  Cocktails and appetizers were served. 

 

Then at dinner, we found black and gold seat covers on the chairs.  Matching napkins were on the tables.  Our waiters had left 8 chairs at our table, and they thought perhaps an officer would join us.  It never happened, much to (our delight), and we had the chair pulled.  The usual suspects were on the menu such as escargots, surf and turf, or petrole sole, which one of us ordered.  And since an entrée salad is seldom seen, it was offered tonight and enjoyed by one of us. 

 

The only problem was getting done by showtime, which was 9:30pm.  The fellows excused themselves and went to listen to the music and comedy of John Bressler.   The five of us stayed behind, and totally missed the show.  Leaving the room after 10pm, we were among the last ones out.

 

One more day at sea, and we will be in Roseau, Dominica. 

 

Bill & Mary Ann  

 

 

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On 11/7/2019 at 8:24 PM, DAllenTCY said:

Yes,  Dolly is aboard this voyage.   

 

I did not visit with her this time, but her name is on the manifest.

 

David

I visited with her.  She was proud to report that HAL gave her the Panama Canal cruise after the South Pacific cruise for free.  Dolly is not walking well at all I'm afraid to report.  

 

Linda 

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Report # 62   Day at Sea   January 7, 2020   Tuesday   Mostly sunny & 61 degrees   Part # 1 of 1   2 Pictures

 

Yesterday, we forgot one other highlight of our day which happened to be “planting day”.  While in Ft. Lauderdale, we paid a visit to the Dollar Tree and purchased 4 little boxes of seed starters (As Seen on TV).  Each box contained a type of dissolving foam that had been implanted with 500 flower seeds each.  Having shipped the soil and pots, we planted these discs along with sunflower and nasturtium seeds.  If all of this germinates, we will have a jungle.  But that is wishful thinking.  It will be fun watching how they progress.

 

At breakfast in the dining room, we finally noticed that vases or small bowls of flowers have been added to each table. The public areas have larger displays with flowers that will last longer.  So glad this tradition has continued at least on the grand voyage.  There still are a few of the white branch displays that hold vials of orchids or single flowers, but they are small in number compared to the newer HAL ships. 

 

At his 12:30pm talk, Captain Jonathon informed everyone that at 7:15 am, there had been a strong earthquake in the Caribbean, causing a strange type of vibration with the ship.  We were still asleep at the time and never felt it, but it did wake Barb up.  The Captain claimed this was the second time in his entire career that he experienced this type of event.  During the day, we tried to find this information on TV, but other news stories took precedence.  But now that we have the much better megabyte internet plan, we should be able to get complete news reports online.

 

The temperature must have been higher than 61 degrees, since we were able to spend a few hours out at the Seaview pool.  The winds were blowing at least 40mph, but we clamped the towels down and laid low.  It was a good afternoon visiting with friends as well. 

 

There is a guest chef traveling with us now by the name of Carlos Esteves.  He is doing a series of port to table cooking featuring the flavors of authentic Caribbean food.  On January 12th, he will host a guest chef dinner in the Pinnacle Grill ($39), serving various dishes from that region.

 

Lectures continued that revolved around the region we are visiting.  They are getting us ready for the first port of Roseau, Dominica tomorrow.  We had heard a rumor that there were no more port guides or the nifty currency conversion cards we have always gotten on world cruises.  However, they did appear today, so you cannot depend on rumors. 

 

Later in the day, we spent some time in our favorite chairs on deck five.  It just happened that there was a table of Beach Essentials for $10 each, or buy 4 and get the 5th one free.  This was an assortment of caps, visors, sun hats, beach bags, and flimsy tops.  And this table sat right in back of our chairs.  So we had fun with this.  Many folks we knew strolled by, and made offers with us on the merchandise, only because there was no salesperson there.  We assume the person manning the liquor shop was also selling the sale items outside.  We did get her attention when she heard us say three for $10, at which point, she came out and joined in the fun.  By the way, we made no sales.

 

Dinnertime snuck up on us again, and the entrees were good.  One of us ordered the barramundi, while the other went with the linguini pasta dish.  Both were quite good, equal to the quality of the meals we had on the Tales of the South Pacific recently.  They even had a soup new to us….cabbage/bacon with a clear tomato broth.  Dessert got mixed reviews.  One of us ordered a pavlova, while the other a chocolate cake.  But they had run out of the cake, and in an attempt to make a quick one, it melted according to Angga, our assistant waiter.  Oh well, we can always get two desserts tomorrow night.

 

The entertainer this evening was a comedian by the name of Tim Kaminski, who we definitely saw on the prior cruise.  Greg and Heo jump-started their meal, so they could leave at 9:30pm.  They really like the shows, and this is the only way they will be able to make it on time.  The rest of us stayed until almost 10pm, and by then, the dining room was almost empty.

 

We are all ready to be on land tomorrow with our first stop at a Caribbean Island.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

https://cruisingwithbillandmaryann.blogspot.com/

 

 

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Report #63   Roseau, Dominica   January 8, 2020   Wednesday   Mostly sunny & 83 degrees    Part # 1 of 3   80 Pictures

 

Roseau is the largest city and capital of Dominica and has a population of 14,700 people.  It is also known as the Nature Island because it has 365 rivers and peaks with gorges full of green tropical trees.  Settled in the 16th century by the French, it was taken over by the British 200 years later.  Today the city reflects both colonial influences with their architecture. 

 

We have been here at least twice in the past…the most recent was in 2014 while on the world cruise.  At that time, we had taken a tour which took us up high to waterfalls and the rain forest 1200 feet in elevation.  One stop was made at the Botanical Gardens, established in 1890.  So by studying the map, we decided to walk there today.

 

The ship arrived by 7:30am, and we were docked very close to downtown by 8am.  The weather sounded comfortable with temps in the low 80’s, but the humidity was high, making it a bit sticky.  Starting the day with a high protein breakfast in the dining room is always our plan.  Today there was no guarantee that we would find a suitable place for lunch.  We did some internet searches, and did locate a few pizza places within walking. So we would check those out. 

 

Leaving the ship by 10am was wise, since a full-blown crew drill was being held, and the alarms were being set off every few minutes.  After the long walk on the extended pier, we located the info center, only to find there was no info.  It appeared they were selling independent tours there.  And there was no lack of drivers offering cheap tours.  We said no thanks, we were out for a local walk. 

 

We had to wiggle around parked vans and cars to make our way up the street to the Methodist Church.  Running into walkers Howard and Gyl, they gave us directions to see the sites.  This old church had its roof blown off in the hurricane of 2017 called Maria.  The historic Free Library also was missing most of its roof from the same storm. 

 

Walking here was difficult, if not downright dangerous.  The streets were quite narrow, full of potholes, and flanked with deep sewer and rain gutters.  The  foul water draining from them looked as if it contained something like Lysol, or a bug spray.  We carefully passed by the wall of the church’s cemetery, making our way towards the Botanical Gardens.  That’s where we ran into Greg and Heo, who had just explored the 40 acre park.  Heo made it to the top of the vista point, but later, he was sporting a nice sunburn.  This park is considered the largest oasis in the center of the city, and it contains 50 types of both indigenous and imported trees.  Some were blooming, others were not. 

 

There was a parrot enclosure with endangered Sisserou or Jaco parrots.  Right now, there are only 4 birds there.  But the most interesting feature here, is a display of a crushed bus, still laying under a massive baobab tree that fell on it during Hurricane David many years ago.  Had anyone been in that bus, they would have died.

 

At the back of the park, was a stairway that led to the vista point on top of the mountain.  It was mentioned in the tour book, that there could be monkeys here, but none of us saw any.  There was an elementary school nearby, with the kids out for recess.  They sure looked cute in their matching uniforms. 

 

Leaving the park, we headed towards the river, making our way back down towards the waterfront.  Hiking the side streets, trying to find some of the 4 and 5 star pizza restaurants, we only found small bars and cafes that sold take-away.  Nothing looked suitable, even for a few beers.   What we had read online, sure did not match what we found.

 

Making our way to the Old Market with their produce under umbrellas, we discovered the vendors only had a small amount left.  It was so warm, most of them were sleeping.  The fish market had already sold most of the daily catch, with only one yellow fin tuna left to sell.  The ladies really did not like their photos taken, so we left.

 

Finding the nicest-looking café, Le Petit Paris Restaurant, was disappointing, since it was not what we expected at all. The most modern store there was the Fresh Market, the only air-conditioned grocery store in the city.  The only warning we had been given was to watch the money conversion.  They use the Eastern Caribbean Dollar which is worth 2.70 to $1 USD.  Some of the vendors tried to sell their products saying the price was in US dollars. For those who were not aware of the money difference, they paid 2.7 times too much. 

 

Other places to see and things to do included out of town spots like Trafalgar Falls, the rainforest, Layou River, and the Caribbean Native Village.  Snorkeling at Champagne Reef, or a beach experience, or fishing tour with lunch were options.  Or you could try river tubing.  Maybe some of the younger guests did that.  We do have 5 kids onboard, we learned later on. 

 

Having no luck with a lunch spot, and due to the fact we were dying of thirst, we headed back to the ship.  Cooling off with ice cold sodas in our room, we eventually headed to lunch in the Lido.  A tasty ham and cheese panini was shared, and so was the salad.  Much better than eating in town.  Playing with the idea of taking another walk to check out the tented souvenir tables, we decided against it. 

 

 By 4:30pm, the guests were all onboard, and we were ready to leave shortly thereafter.  Going to the Seaview Pool, we stayed through the sail away party, and continued to stay for the sunset around 6pm.  While at the aft railing, we spotted a turtle, a pelican, and two frigate birds.  Then before the sun dipped below the horizon,  we spotted what looked like a submerged boat in the distance.  Turned out to be a whale, made clear when it sent a plume up in the air.   It never broke the surface enough to identify it, but there are humpbacks, sperm, pilot, and false killer whales here.  Definitely, it was one of them.  We searched for dolphins, because they do have spotted, spinner, and bottle nose dolphins here as well.  Too bad we never saw any of them. 

 

The sun set had a chance of a green flash, but when it actually went down, too many people ran to the railing, blocking our view.  We will know better to re-position sooner next time.  This is when we miss having the veranda.  Captain Jonathon said we had plenty of time to do some scenic sailing, so he took us up the north end the island for a few hours.  Nice of him, because we are fairly close to the next port of St. Lucia.

 

Visiting with friends Aart and Ellen, we found we were scrambling to get ready for dinner at 8pm.  Where had the day gone?  Joining our group was fun as always.  We all had done different things, and sharing our stories is always interesting.  Our entrees were kingfish and sweet and sour pork.  Both tasty, as were the little desserts of budin de pan, a type of pudding, and one apple crisp with a peanut crust. 

 

Another Caribbean port tomorrow, then we will head towards South America.  

 

Bill & Mary Ann     

 

 

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Thanks for all the great photos and wonderful commentary.  I didn't remember being in Dominica until I saw the squashed bus. 😝 We were there in April 2015. How fast we forget.
 

 Looks like the chairs are still being put out at sail away. Good capture of the turtle and whale. 
 

Cheers, Denise and Howie too

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Report #64   Castries, St. Lucia    January 9, 2020   Thursday   Scattered showers & 85 degrees   Part # 1 of 3    80  Pictures

 

Today’s port of call was Castries, St. Lucia, which is also the capital of this island.  The population of Castries is 4,173 people who speak a dialect of French Creole as well as English.  Founded in the 1600’s by the French, it eventually became a coal station for the Royal Navy.  Major fires destroyed this city three times over the years, as recently as 1948.  St. Lucia is a huge destination for tourism these days with lots of things to offer.  Tours and duty free shopping come to mind.

 

The Amsterdam arrived to the bay around 7:30am to mixed weather.  There was some sun, a lot of clouds, wind, and scattered showers.  It was much more comfortable compared to yesterday’s port of Roseau.  And we had company.  Across the bay at Port Carenage was the Carnival Fascination, ship launched in 1994.   At 70,367 gross tons, she holds 2056 guests and 920 crew members.  Then while we were having breakfast, the RCI Freedom of the Seas sailed within feet of the Amsterdam to squeeze into the berth next to us at Port Seraphine.  She was launched in 2006, with 155,000 gross tons, holding 3634 passengers and 1300 crew.  With these three ships in port, our numbers far exceeded the population of the capital.   In fact, it is more than double. We have to say, the folks in Castries have the resources to absorb that number of people with no problem. 

 

The secret is getting the guests to book tours.  Shore excursions offered 15 of them today.  Most all of the tours went out of town to beaches, boating, horseback riding, scenic rides, and island exploring.  That eased the foot traffic for the rest of us that do not take tours or taxis.  The town was full of shoppers and diners.  One place of interest that St. Lucia is famous for is The Pitons, two mountainous volcanic spires that seem to rise out of the sea.  A UNESCO World Heritage Site, these spectacular cones are the most photographed peaks on the island.  At 743 to 752 feet in elevation, these pinnacles stand out.  In the Sulfur Springs area, you can see the only volcano that can be driven into with a car.  There are smelly sulfur springs with bubbling mud pools there as well.

 

After our breakfast in the dining room, where we all thought the Freedom might run into us, we stuck around until 10:30am before we headed off the ship.  We have been here a few times, but we figured the last visit had to be in 2014.  Once we walked through the terminal and the numerous duty free shops, it all came back to us.  The walk around the waterfront took us past the fisheries, over a bridge, and right to a series of souvenir, produce, and meat markets.  And they were very large markets with so much to see, it was overwhelming.  Not really needing anything, we ended up purchasing a $2 bundle of cinnamon sticks, and eventually one “diamond”-studded silky top suitable for dinner time.  Wandering through the fruit and veggie markets, we saw many locals doing their daily shopping.  Some of the vendors were not particularly friendly, nor did they like their photos taken.  Always good to ask first, although you might expect some of them to ask for money.  Prices were quite high we thought, but the numbers of tourists passing through here daily, these vendors do well. We did hear a lot of bargaining.

 

We ended up at Port Carenage, where a duty free building houses the typical Caribbean high-end shops like Effy Jewelry, Diamonds International, Columbian Emeralds, and Tanzanite International to name a few.  On the second floor, we remembered we had located pizza, so we headed there by noontime.  The restaurant was called Chef Robby’s, and is located facing the harbor.  Usually there is a nice view looking across at the Amsterdam.  But today, the Carnival Fascination was docked there, and it was like a building in the water. Blocked any view totally.  The cheese pizza was not exactly like we recalled, but more of an appetizer.  Now the beer was good….Piton, locally brewed, it was cold and reasonably priced.  Something that was unique to this restaurant was the bowl of water with a small fish swimming in it.  And right on our table.  The poor little thing looked frantic as it swam in circles for an hour.  Off the beaten track, this small bar and veranda seating was full of customers by the time we left.

 

Roaming around the shops below, we ran into Greg and Heo, who had walked like us to get some exercise.  We ended up hiking back together, and even got caught in a sudden rain shower on the way.  The umbrellas came out, but were not needed for long.  We got back to the ship by 2pm, intending to have a salad in the Lido.  But we never made it there, since we got caught up with room work instead.  

 

The sail away gathering at the Seaview Pool began at 4:30pm.  Captain Jonathon announced that the Carnival ship would leave first, making it easier for us to turn around to head out of the harbor.  So the ship ended up leaving closer to 6pm, but the Captain did take us by the Pitons to get photos, even though the sun had set, unceremoniously, and darkness was settling in.  By then, most everyone had left, and few of us got the pictures.  Oh well. Could be due to the fact we had a sudden shower that sent everyone running.

 

The Captain had also mentioned during his talk, that the seas would become rough as we head towards Devil’s Island.  The swells increased , and by the time we went to dinner, the ship was rolling pretty good.  That continued through the night, making walking difficult.  Conditions on the Dolphin Deck were not so bad, but the higher we went in the ship, the worse it got.  Better search for that meclizine…..   

 

As you might guess by now, dinner was good.  One of us had prime rib ( tender and delicious), and the other had the rainbow trout, which looked more like salmon.  Also quite good with no smell and no bones.  A KFC-type chicken dinner kept the fellows happy, while the ladies ordered the liver and onions.  One dessert of panna cotta was not quite cooked properly, so that was a bust.  But the strawberry frozen yogurt was perfect.

 

Jeff McBride, a mysterious magician, was the act this evening.  Greg and Heo said the 7 instrument musician was also good last night.  Normally by the time the rest of us leave the dining room, the show is over, since they begin at 9:30pm now.  No big loss for the rest of our group, because we have seen most of the acts already over the years.

 

And speaking of magic…..most of the sunflower seeds we planted last week have emerged in the window garden.  Hopefully, the rest of the seeds will sprout soon.  All it took was a lot of light, good soil, water, warmth, and perhaps a green  thumb.

 

The clocks had to go ahead one hour tonight, and none of us like that, especially the crew.  Good thing we have a day at sea tomorrow. 

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

https://cruisingwithbillandmaryann.blogspot.com/

 

 

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