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

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Hi to you both. I haven't been on this site for years, but great to see you are still travelling.

 

Lindy

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Report # 94   Day at Sea   Scenic Cruising Chilean Fjords   February 8, 2020  Saturday   Sunny & 63 degrees   Part # 1 of 4   80 Pictures

 

We welcomed another day with sunny weather and temps in the 60’s.  That chill in the air was close to being gone when we stepped out on the promenade deck around 10am.  During the night, the ship had gone out of the series of islands, and sailed north in the rolling seas of the Pacific Ocean.  Some folks must have asked why we did not have the scenic cruising of two glaciers yesterday.  The answer came with Captain Jonathon’s PM talk.  His explanation was that in order to follow the printed itinerary, it really would have taken an extra day to see all that was listed.  We needed to go out to sea to gain the distance we had already lost.  That’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.  The way we see it, the viewing of Glacier Alley after leaving Ushuaia was more than ample.  This was as good as it got.

 

All was not lost, as there were sightings of a pod of fin whales feeding quite near the ship.  These baleen whales are the second largest of the whales after the blue whale.  With a length of 88 feet, and the weight of 130 tons, they would be hard to miss.  Did you know that the fin whale is capable of taking 18,000 gallons of krill-filled sea water in one gulp?  They can live from 85 to 90 years, and are endangered.  There are an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 left worldwide.  It was a treat to be able to see them, but the sightings are unlike seeing humpbacks, as the fin whales do not dive deep with their tails showing.  They stay more on the surface, and can gain speeds of 21 mph.

 

Most of the morning was dedicated to working with the head IT manager, who was not altogether successful with resolving our computer dilemma.  Frustrating is a good word to describe this situation, since it has never occurred to us before this.  We know that many of the passengers as well as crew members have run into the same problem, but they are going onshore to get their emails received and sent.

 

Getting back to the Captain’s talk, he read a letter sent from Seattle concerning a Coronavirus Health Advisory.  It went into detail about how the virus can be spread, and the measures HAL is taking to prevent further exposure to this potentially deadly flu.  Working with the CDC and WHO, many steps have been implemented as far as who boards our ship, who goes home, and who may already have flu symptoms not related to corona.   And the message once again reminded all of us of personal hygiene, and how important it is to wash or hands or use hand sanitizer.  There is still a possibility that the ship may be denied entry into countries we have yet to visit.  Time will tell…..

 

With that, we went to lunch in the Lido, washing our hands before and afterwards.  Shortly after, the scenic sailing began as the Captain turned the ship east, and back into the series of islands. Going up to the bow, we discovered that it was beautiful out there.  Very little breeze, and lots of sun made this the perfect spot for seeing it all.  Heading into Ninualak Channel, we went between two large islands, where some fish farms were situated near the shoreline.  Eventually, the deeper we got into the channel, the more we saw.  A total of four in fact.   Several had houses, or sheds, and boat houses nearby.  More than likely, these floating growing areas are for salmon. 

 

These bays and inlets have always been known to have whales like the fins, humpbacks, and even the blue whales.  Although we did not stay for the entire scenic sailing, we highly doubt anyone saw a blue whale.  We would have heard about it.  Deeper into the channel, we saw many flocks of sooty shearwaters, birds that measure 17 inches long, and weigh under 2 pounds.  Their wingspan is 39 inches,  and these birds will often sit in the water in “rafts”.  That is, they look like a raft.  These birds will dig burrows underground, then lay their eggs there.  This protects the chicks from the predators, like kelp gulls and skuas.  They will migrate from Antarctica, north to Japan.  A typical migration path would take them in a figure eight pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which can potentially take 40,000 miles to complete.  That is unbelievable.

 

Doing some research, we figured the small birds flying over the waters yesterday may have been the common diving petrels.  They will leave footprints in the water as they attempt to fly.  And they also are known to dive under water, almost like flying under water.

 

Later in the day, we all got certificates for sailing to Antarctica, around Cape Horn, and traversing the Chilean Fjords.   Two more to add to our collection.

 

Dinner time was gala, with the company of Spa Manager, Renee, our friend for many years.   She knows all of us well, and  was happy to join us.  Of course, most everyone appreciated the wine that always accompanies our hosts.  In lieu of wine, we could have had Coke Zero, but we declined.  Ice water was fine.  The theme for this evening was “Paparazzi Dinner” referring to the upcoming Oscars.  Actually, the best-dressed people were the crew, who were decked out in gold-sequined vests and bow ties.  Entrees included lobster tails, bacon-wrapped tenderloin, and halibut with crab on the side.  Everyone said theirs was the best, but the fish entrée got the thumbs up.  You think we may be tired of it, but the carrot cake for dessert was a winner once again.  We adjourned by 10pm, a bit late for the show of the musical artist, Kenny Martyn.  He will be back for one more performance, and we can attend then. 

 

Tomorrow’s port will be Puerto Montt, which will require a tender boat ride to shore.  And since tomorrow is a Sunday, it will be interesting to see what is opened.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Bummer about the email and photos. You are having to spend way too much time figuring out what is going wrong. 😢 We will all be patient. We haven't sent any emails because we didn't want to exacerbate the problem.
 

The fin whale sighting sounds exciting. Happy the plants are growing. We loved Puerto Montt. Have fun! 
 

We are having a wind storm today beyond anything we have seen in years. Canceled a drive to Monterey. It’s way too crazy out there. 
 

Miss you, Denise and Howie

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Report # 95   Puerto Montt, Chile   February 9, 2020   Sunday   Partly cloudy & 66 degrees   Part # 1 of 4   80 Pictures

 

The Amsterdam arrived to the Bay of Puerto Montt, Chile around 7am.  Since the bay is shallow and there is no dock area, we had to drop anchor, and use the tender boats to go ashore.   As we are hardly ever chomping at the bit to go ashore, we went for our usual breakfast at 8am.  Sure was nice to see the sun shining in this pretty bay.

 

Puerto Montt is considered the gateway to the scenic Lake District with eucalyptus and pine forests, icy lakes, and Bavarian-style hamlets, not to mention many snow-capped volcanoes.  In the old days (late 1800’s), this town was the end of the road, as far as travel went from the north.  That is, until a railroad was extended to here.  As many  as 30,000 German immigrants populated this region, bringing with them their traditions and cuisine.  We will still find sausage, cakes, and pastries on the local menus.  And many of the last names of families here have German origins.

 

Today Puerto Montt is an important city, as well as a boat and ferry port.  And for the tourists that come here for the outdoor hiking, fishing, and sport activities, they are in the right place.  Most of the ship’s excursions took guests to the Lake District, a 30 minute ride out of town.  In fact, we recalled that we had taken the tour that took in Puerto Varas (The City of Roses), Lake Llanquihue, a lake boat ride, and a visit to Petrohue River Rapids.  And we did it twice on two different trips to South America.  While in Puerto Varas, we bought a ball of dyed yarn that was “raw”, with bits and pieces of straw in it.  Oddly enough, the turquoise dye stained my fingers when knitting a cap with it.  To this day, 10 years later, it sits in a basket of yarn balls, unfinished, at home.  

 

A strange message came with every tour here……a warning about horse flies that could be present  near the lakes and rivers.  They advised folks to bring insect repellant, and we know from firsthand experience that those fly bites can pack one heck of a wallop.  So we decided to stay in town, and check out what was here to see.  Glad we did…..

 

We noticed that after leaving the tender boat, the ramp was at a steep incline. Later we learned that there was a 20 foot tidal change here, which is significant.  Our plan was to turn left, and follow the crowd to the several craft stands that lined the main road here.  Most all of the souvenirs being sold sure looked like what we would see in Peru.  Only the name on the ponchos, sweaters, knit scarves, hats, and llama wool wall hangings were labeled Puerto Montt on them.  There were hundreds of knickknacks, as well as a selection of Chilean jewelry items.  Many guests from our ship were in shopping heaven, as the prices were fairly decent.

 

Further up the street, we came upon Angelmo Artisan Market with more cafes, souvenir shops, and a fish and produce market.  This market is housed in stilt houses built on the sea side.  Since the menus were in Spanish, of course, we were not sure what the dishes were.  One of their famous dishes is called pulmay, which is boiled curanto made out of seashells, smoked pork meat, and mashed potato bread.  Now that is different.  They also serve sea urchins, as well as a variety of fish and seafood soups.  Shrimp cerviche is popular too.

 

We found all of this food and more in their fish and produce market.  The majority of the fish being sold were very large salmon, which may have been farmed in the fjords.  A few other types of fish looked like barracuda, and we do know Chilean bass is a big seller.  Their produce was healthy-looking with over-sized lettuce and cabbages, grown large due to the amount of daylight they get this time of year.  Kind of reminded us of the Alaskan produce during the summer months. 

 

At the back end of the market, was an area where locals can buy pre-dished food items, and sit outside to enjoy their meal.  That’s when we spotted something very large in the shallow water in this canal.  It was a giant sea lion, that had the head of a lion, more or less.  We estimated that this behemoth weighed over 800 pounds.  He swam to the rocky bank, almost beaching himself, then proceeded to hoist half of his body erect, pushing out his chest, and looking towards the sky.  Many people began gathering near him, as if they might feed him something.  If he decided to lunge at people, he could have crushed them.  Wanting to get some good close-up photos, Bill went down with the crowd, and did get some good shots.  About 10 yards off the shore, a female sea lion popped her head up, but came no closer.  Overhead, many birds were flying, like gulls, terns, and even vultures.  The draw must have been the low tide that exposes some good food for them.  Some old wooden fishing boats were laying on their sides, so this must be as low as the tide would go today.

Well, this sighting made our day, as we were not expecting much to see here.  You just never know.

 

Continuing on, we decided not to search here for a place for lunch, because the menus were unreadable and one of us cannot eat shellfish, which might be added to any seafood dish.  Pizza was nowhere to be found.  But there was one more option, and that was hiking past the cruise terminal, and following the  pedestrian waterside path along the bay.  This led to a most modern shopping mall, which we do not believe was here eight years ago.  

 

We ran into many friends that were doing the same thing, as it was such a perfect day for a walk.  Talking to Wendy and Steve, we found out they had taken a 30 minute taxi to Puerto Varas, the City of Roses, for $5 each.  Then they used a local bus to come back, which set them back 90 cents each.  They were lucky the buses were running today, considering it was Sunday.  But we are sure they checked it out before they came here.  Everyone we talked to spread the news that the internet on the ship was not working for anyone, including the crew.  This is becoming a problem with the people that depend on the internet for banking for instance.  Bills need to be paid, not to mention keeping in touch with family and friends.  We have kept up with the blog with photos, and will send all of it when we can.

 

The sidewalks of this promenade walkway began to fill with street vendors with different items from what was being sold back at the Angelmo Market.  This was typical sportswear, handmade knit items, scarves, and even toys for the kids.  Looking for a belt, we found just the right one for a mere $6.  Back at the market, they were $25 and up.  An embroidered scarf was also added to the collection for $5.  We never did get any Chilean pesos, but we did recall that the vendors were happy to take US dollars.

 

At the mall, we entered the Ripley store, which we suspect was here first.  Oddly enough, every store window had either been boarded over or covered with corrugated aluminum.  Must be due to sudden riots that occur suddenly, the same situation we saw while in Punta Arenas.  You can always get the feel for the area by studying the local graffiti.  The mall was three or four levels of high end boutique shops, something we never expected to see here.   All of the restaurants were more of a fast food type, so we did not choose to dine here either.  They did have very nice restrooms, and there was no charge to use them, unlike those in Punta Arenas.  A quick walk on each level, we exited at Ripley’s, and walked back to the ship.

 

We had run into Greg and Heo at the fish market, and then again, they followed us out of the mall while walking with Renee.  They were feeling the results of a long walk, although they are the “kids” at our table.   It was getting late, and all of us agreed it was time to get back “home” for a late lunch.  That turned out to be 3pm by the time we re-boarded the tender boat.  At least walking down the gangplank to the boat was easier.  Terry, the head security guard, told us the tide has risen 20 feet since they started tendering at 8am.  

 

Back on the ship, we ordered chicken Caesar salads, with one club sandwich. Then it was time for the sail away festivities on the back deck.  It was not fully attended since dinner was starting at 5:30pm in the Lido.  There was a full seafood spread tonight, so many guests took advantage of this, and skipped dinner in the dining room.  On busy port days, a large number of folks will eat early, not wishing to change their clothing, then retire for the evening.  Not at our table, as everyone showed up on time.  The best salmon entree was served tonight, and we think it may have been fresh from here.  

 

There was no live show tonight, but the televised Academy Awards Show, which was due to begin at 10pm.  To entice the folks to attend, they offered a free glass of sparkling wine from 7 to 8pm.  Or, it could be watched from the staterooms on channel 39.  That’s what we did.

 

A day at sea tomorrow will give us a chance to catch up on backed up reports, and we hope we will be able to start sending them.

 

Bill & Mary Ann    

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Got behind on your wonderful reports.

 

Sorry to hear that the e-mail and photo posting is still a problem.

 

One thing I learned many years ago when we realized we were going to be gone for a long time -- I set up a utility bank account where the utilities are automatically taken out.  That way I did not have to worry about internet while we were away.  I just made certain that special account had enough money in it to cover everything while we were away.

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I just got caught up with your reports. Thank you for being so descriptive as it allows the reader to get a better idea of what you have experienced. Have fun and thank you for these posts.

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Report # 96   Day at Sea   February 10, 2020   Monday   Partly cloudy, foggy, and 54 degrees   Part # 1 of 1

 

If there was a day to kick back and relax, it was this one.  To begin with, the weather took a turn from mostly sunny, to mostly foggy and cooler.  Once we had reached the open seas of the Pacific Ocean, the swells increased, but not so much to cause any problems. 

 

After breakfast, we had another session with the IT tech to put our computer back to its original settings.  Without getting too detailed, an attempt was made to help us send and receive emails, however, changing the entire set-up proved incapacitating.  Thank goodness, he was able to retrieve files we thought were lost in the transfer.   It may take all day or two days to complete, but it appears things are coming back slowly.  Hopefully we do not lose the internet connection for a while, since that tends to set us back even more.  But once we are back to normal, we will catch up on every day we have been behind since January 31st.

 

Since there were no lectures today, we spent most of the day working in the room, taking several walks, as well as taking time for lunch in the Lido.  The biggest activity on the ship today had to be sales of all merchandise in every shop.  Yesterday, we happened to see a man wearing a 2020 Grand World Voyage t-shirt with the ports printed on the back.  These HAL t-shirts had not made it to the ship when we boarded last month, so we put our name on a list to hold two t-shirts for us.  They promised to phone when they arrived.  So with no phone call, we stopped by the shop and inquired about the shirts.  Most all of the sizes left were small and medium, but they did have a box of the saved ones behind the counter.  Low and behold, he found ours.  So we did buy them on the spot, because they will not last.  For the first time that we can recall, these t-shirts were priced much better than in the past.  And with our 15% discount, they came to about $25. for both of them.  Not bad.

 

During his PM talk, Captain Jonathan (thanks for the heads-up), mentioned that tomorrow will probably be foggy, as much as he hated to say the word, that is the way it is in this part of the world.  Reminds us of San Francisco, where it can be foggy.  But if you travel out of the city either north, south, or east, you will find sun.  The same applies to the port of Valparaiso, where we normally dock.  It is always cool and overcast, but the city of Santiago, east of the coast, it is mostly sunny, and at times smoggy.

 

Dinnertime was special tonight, because we were back to the original three of us.  That is Barb and Bill and me.  The fellows were attending an anniversary celebration in the Pinnacle Grill, and Susie and Woody were elsewhere for dinner.  The fish of the day was swordfish, and it was really good. Both of us ordered it, although we substituted a baked potato or French fries with it.  Wira, our waiter has been very good about customizing our entrees, and all of us appreciate it.  Barb had the short rib entrée, which turned out more like pot roast.  She should have ordered the fish.  We stayed until most of the guests had left the room by 9:30pm.  The singers and dancers were performing Crossroads, a show we have recently seen on the previous cruise. 

 

Tomorrow should be interesting, and although we have made no special plans for the day, we will find something to do.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Report # 97   San Antonio (Santiago), Chile   February 11, 2020   Tuesday   Mostly cloudy & 66 degrees   Part # 1 of 4   80 Pictures

 

The best news of the day was that, finally, the clocks would go back one hour tonight.   Music to our ears, which will be appreciated by the guests and the staff.  From here on out, the clocks will go back as we head west, which is fine with us.

 

Many of us remarked that is was nice to see we would be docking in a new port at San Antonio, and it’s not in Texas.   So upon inquiring as to what to see and do here, we were told this is a commercial port near Valparaiso, where we usually dock.  So this city lies among the rolling hills and coastal dunes, and is reportedly one of the busiest fishing ports in western South America.

 

According to the port guide, there is a local fishing market and a main shopping street close by.  One museum, a casino, and a harbor promenade may keep many of us busy. But we still wondered why we did not dock in Valparaiso, a much nicer place.  We would find out later.

 

The shore excursions included one tour to Valparaiso, and several trips to Santiago.  Wine tasting with a lunch, museums, or a visit to an artist’s home were among the offerings.  Two excursions ended up at the Santiago airport, an indication this might be the beginning and end of another segment.  We were told about 12 people were leaving and about the same amount joining.

 

We arrived in the darkness of early morning to the very industrial port of San Antonio at 7am.  The ship was cleared before 8am, and the tour groups were off and running.  It was very overcast with high fog, but not all that cold in our opinion.  Much like San Francisco to us.

 

Breakfast was fun, because we found Gan, our waiter, had gotten an extreme haircut last night.  His new style was shaved on the sides and back, with very little on the top.  Yikes…..all of his regulars had the same reaction as us.  Saying he got his “$5 worth”, he will not need hair gel for a while.  And by the way, we can call him Pablo, because he looks so totally different.  Needless to say, he is a fun and crazy guy.

 

Shortly after 10am, we discovered we had no water in our room.  Somehow, they forgot to mention to all of us that emergency maintenance was taking place until 1pm.  We found the printed notice in our mail slot when we came back from town.  Better late than never, we always say.

 

Leaving the ship around 11am, we boarded the mandatory shuttle to the terminal building.  It took a total of 2 minutes.  This was as far as many guests and crew got, since there was free WIFI, and a whole lot of chairs for people to sit to do it.   Many passengers will not buy any of the ship’s plans, and depend on local WIFI, free or not, to do their emailing.  That may or may not be such a safe thing to do in many ports.  We simply do not trust that we are not getting hacked.  But that is just us, and we have been happy with the ship’s internet until while on this trip, except when it malfunctioned.

 

There were a handful of taxi drivers offering tours to Valparaiso and Santiago, but they were fairly low-key…..no pressure like in some other countries.  Some of our buddies were going to attempt a trip to a winery and lunch, and we’re sure they will have no problem getting a ride.

 

Turning left at the gate, we followed the crowd going towards the mall, a three story complex that might have been built in the 1970’s maybe.  Much smaller than the one in Puerto Montt, it still had the same type of stores.  But first, we located the beginning of the malecon, or paved walkway, which followed the seawall for quite a distance.  Arriving at the boat harbor, we fully realized we had come upon the busiest fishing port in Chile.  Small wooden boats filled the floating docks, each boat covered with birds.  There were a lot of the black backed gulls, regular gulls, pigeons, and even vultures.

 

The sidewalks were loaded with more street vendors than we found in Puerto Montt.  There was a difference though, as we saw no Peruvian items for sale here.  What we did find were scores of locals walking this pathway and filling the markets.  This must be where they do most of their food shopping.

 

Heo was already on his way back to the ship, not particularly liking this port.  But we had just run into Sandy and Jack, walkers like us, and they loved it.  Different strokes for different folks we say.  Jack told us not to miss the fish market, and the sea lions that were laying on the rocks on the seawall.  Perfect, we were already liking it .  So after purchasing 2 sets of earrings, and one cool beach bag, we were headed in that direction next. 

 

Getting closer to noontime, it was getting more crowded.  Many food stalls were in this area, and the locals were coming out for the empanadas, churros, chocolate-dipped marshmallows and strawberries, and smoothies.    At the end of the malecon, we found the fish market, chockful of the fresh catch of the day.  Lots of shellfish and unrecognizable sea creatures were mixed with the packaged smoked items of questionable origins.  Would have helped if we understood more Spanish.  We did have to be careful walking through here since the floor was really wet with potholes.  The streets were fairly clean, but  the seaside was littered with plastic and aluminum floating in the surf. 

 

We made our way to the fenced backside of the market building, and located the giant sea lions that were sunning themselves on the rocks.  The males do have a head that resembles a lion, complete with a mane.  Many females were laying on the boulders too , but there were no pups.  Probably not the time of year that they have babies.  Walking to the end of the fish market, we saw several pelicans standing on the same boulders.  Standing under a sign post, we did not know that a few large black backed gulls were perched there.  One of the fish vendors pointed this out to us.  She knew at any moment we could have been splattered with something not so nice.  Even though she spoke Spanish, we got the message she was sending.  Those kind of things are universal.

 

Directly across the street, we found the entrance to the mall.  A bigger crowd was going in there through a different type of entrance.  We had to go downstairs, then find the escalators up.  There was no window visible on the outside of this building at the street level.  If there were windows, they had been boarded up  a long time ago.  We did go inside mainly just to see what was in there.  It was warm and muggy in there, so we ended up back outside within 20 minutes.  The restrooms were different here.  The women’s were by themselves, and the men’s were located in a different area.  Must be a reason for this.  We did see a whole lot of our crew in here, so this might be the last chance for them to find bargains.

 

We slowly made our way back to the ship, deciding against finding some place for lunch.  The recommended ones on the ship’s map were nowhere to be found.  And we found nothing that resembled pizza anywhere in this area.  Best bet was to eat lunch on the ship, where we know  what we are eating and drinking.  We stopped along the way to watch about three small ferries carrying the locals on a harbor tour.  We think the big attraction was the Amsterdam.  The only other vessels were container ships, having their contents being loaded or unloaded.   In fact, we had gotten five containers of food and supplies this morning.  We will have 10 days crossing the Pacific on our way towards Papeete, Tahiti.  There will be two stops, but only Easter Island will be a real port of call.  Or at least we think it will be. With another printed message concerning the coronavirus, this new message said that if we are screened for the virus, and lie about where we have been traveling prior to boarding, we could be put off or charged with misleading authorities.  Rumors are flying that we might not be stopping at some of the upcoming ports, which could be bad.  It is already happening to many cruise ships at the moment.  That is, being denied entry into their countries.  It is what it is at this point, and we have no control over the outcome.

 

Back onboard by 3pm, we worked in the room until it was time for the sail away party at the aft deck.  A few of the all day tours were not back yet, so we left  the harbor around 6pm.  Greg joined us as we sailed through the opening and into the rougher seas outside the bulkhead.  Since the weather was a bit dismal-looking, not many folks came outside to participate in the drinks and small treats of sausage on bread.  If you are lucky, you may be offered one during the sail away.  And besides, dinner had begun in the Lido as well as the dining room.

 

So we did hear that the reason we were moved to the commercial port, was due to the fact that Valparaiso had built a new facility, but wanted to keep it for cargo ships.  Perhaps it was a money thing, but the city changed their minds, and said we could dock there.  With everything planned in San Antonio, such as all of the tours, we ended up staying where we were. 

 

All of us were back to our table tonight.  The spicy shrimp was the most-ordered meal, while one of us had pasta with an alternate chicken breast.  Not a bad combination.  By the time dessert arrived, we were the last guests in the lower dining room.  Guess people were worn out.  The fellows went to the show, a tribute to the Beatles by singer Jesse Kazemek.  The rest of us turned in for the evening, except Barb, who was on her way to check out the newly-boarded dance hosts.  She is like the energizer bunny…….

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Report # 98   Day at Sea   February 12, 2020   Wednesday   Partly sunny & 54 degrees   Part #1 of 1

 

Having the extra hour last night was very good for everyone.  Of course, some people still wake up at the same time no matter what.  One thing we noticed was the actual daylight hours have decreased the further north we have traveled since leaving Antarctica.  We still are discussing what it would be like to travel to Antarctica during their winter months of June through August, for instance.  Darkness would really do a number on our minds and bodies.  Anyway, the sun did come out today, and actually had some warmth in it.  Things are looking up.

 

However, the seas have become increasingly rolling with deep, long swells the further west we go.  It began last night during dinner, and continued on during the day.  Barely noticing it on deck one, going up each deck made a difference.  The ship was being hit with 40mph winds, causing some pretty impressive waves spraying across the promenade deck.  The folks that have those lanai rooms with private lounges have not been able to use them too much for the last three weeks.   If they do come out, they need to bundle up with blankets or towels.  We are not too sure the weather will warm up for another week, which will be most welcomed by all.

 

Lots of promotions were happening on the ship today, the main one being “sales”.  Now that we are on the way to Easter Island, there was a deck sale with exclusive merchandise to commemorate our visit to this exotic place.  The quantities were limited, so we are not sure what we will find in the shops tomorrow.  We have always found t-shirts to buy on the island, so really do not need more.  In fact, there is much speculation about even getting on Easter Island, or any of the upcoming ports on this cruise.  With the coronavirus, we may be turned away, even though we do not carry the dreaded disease.  This is new territory for all involved.  A good sign we are still going to Easter Island is the fact shore excursions were opened to sell more tours there.  And they come at a steep price. 

 

The Polynesian Ambassadors have joined the ship now.  They will be having activities like sea shell necklace-making, cultural lectures, ukulele lessons, and eventually, dance lessons.  One fellow of that group has been on many of the South Seas cruises we have sailed on.  His name is Kainoa, and he is one person that would be hard to miss.   We have not seen him yet, but we are sure this group will stay on until we reach Tahiti.

 

Our day was simple……we stayed mostly in our room catching up on missing photos due to the internet problem.  It has been tedious work, but we will catch up soon, we hope.  In this part of the Pacific Ocean, we may have the usual areas that having spotty internet as well.  Also, the TV reception was off and on all day.  Good time to watch lectures and movies instead. 

 

All of us were present and accounted for at dinner this evening.  It is fun sharing what we all did during the day at sea.  Most all of us were happy to kick back, and do little at all after the busy ports we had in Chile.  We heard that the spa has been very busy on days like this.  Many specials have been advertised for face and hair treatments.  Massages are also popular, as we have seen many folks in the elevator heading up to deck 8 in their bathrobes.  Surely there must be a changing room up there?

 

Anyway, tonight there was a different entrée on the menu that many of us wanted to try.  It was chicken fried steak with hush puppies.  We have enjoyed chicken fried steak with biscuits and gravy with eggs for breakfast.  But we have never tasted hush puppies, and did not know what they were.  Living in the South, Barb, Woody and Susie knew them well, as it is a common food there.  Then Philip came by with Petr, the head executive chef.  They were asking how we have been liking the food, which we said it has been wonderful.  Petr said he looked up the recipe for hush puppies, because this was also new to him.  The story behind this food was that the balls of corn meal were deep fried, and given to the dogs to hush them up.  Thus….. the name of hush puppies was created.  Made them happy campers, and us too.  In other parts of the world Hush Puppies are shoes, and nice ones at that.  A thin slice of chocolate-covered lemon layer cake was the hit, while one of us tried the hokey pokey sundae.  It was made with vanilla ice cream with crushed butter finger candy on top, then drizzled with caramel.  Not a bad idea, it actually worked.

 

Three more days at sea, and we may be in Easter Island.  But who’s counting.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Hi,

I just had a flashback when you mentioned Hokey Pokey sundae, I think it was you on last years blog mentioning about this ice cream, I had never heard of it, but I sure love ice cream, anyways we did a New Zealand cruise spring 2019 I kept looking for it finally found it while on a Hobbiton tour, sure is yummy.  Glad your having a great cruise.

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Wonderful report.  We have had hush puppies -- they are good.

 

Yes, the virus is affecting many ships in various ports for what ever reason.

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Report #99  Sea Day,  Enroute To Easter Island  February 13, 2020  Partly Sunny 61 Degrees  Part #1 Of 1

 

During the night, the seas continued to create what the Captain called deep, rolling swells.  Not a huge problem on the Dolphin deck, it would have been a factor with seasickness for one of us, had we been on Veranda deck.  This is probably normal for this part of the South Pacific, but if it continues, it may affect our tender boat landings on Easter Island.  We are about half way there, so perhaps the seas will calm down.  All of us are staying positive.  Which is difficult, in light of the continuing problems with the coronavirus.  HAL must have their hands full dealing with the ships that have directly been affected by this unfortunate new virus.  Even though the Amsterdam has no people infected with this virus, the staff has gone the mile to keep us healthy with extreme cleaning measures.  Every surface has been sanitized more than once, and we have had ample warnings about washing our hands frequently.  Keeping a small Purell in our pockets also helps when we cannot wash our hands immediately.  That still is no guarantee that other countries will accept us in their ports.  Once again, time will tell.

 

This morning, we found an email regarding the 2022 Grand World Voyage.  It was a survey they use to create the itinerary for that trip.  This used to come in paper form, but that practice has changed in order to save a tree, we guess.  This survey is also available on the Navigator system, where it is free to fill it out.

 

The mystery of the internet dilemma was partially uncovered when we sent a photo of our settings, which had been changed by the IT guy onboard to our son.  A computer genius, in our humble opinion, our son had determined that the settings were incorrect and were probably blocking the sent emails from going out.  Following his instructions, the “fix” worked, and we were back in business again.  At least as long as the connection holds up.  That has been off and on all day, but at times there was a window where we were successful in sending a few of the blogs with the photos.  Now we are only 12 days back-logged.  But with two more days at sea, we should be able to catch up with the waiting reports. 

 

It appears from reading the When & Where, that we do not have any speakers onboard to usually give lectures on sea days.  We still have the EXC guide, Glenn-Michael doing a trivia of where in the world, and the Polynesian Ambassador, Kainoa, talking about Easter Island, but the usual speakers that deal with science or animals have not popped up.

 

Valentine’s Day is coming soon, and many gift type sales have appeared in their ads.  Like a sale on fragrances, Faberge eggs, pendants from the St. Petersburg collection, mix and match watches, and jewelry by Effy.  Usually there is a hint to send your special friend or partner flowers.  However, we do not think there is an abundance of flowers onboard.  Most all of the public flower arrangements are created with props, and few flowers.  For instance, the two large vases across from the front desk contain large plastic hearts, sticks wrapped with yarn, and balls of yarn connecting the two vases.  There may have been a few vials of single orchids here and there for color.  The fillers were feathers.  We suspect that the allowance for fresh flowers has been cut as a money-saving thing.  Perhaps this is happening in the entire cruise industry.  Who knows?

 

One of us got a haircut at 5:30pm with Clara, the lady barber.  She did a fine job, using scissors only, and taking off exactly what was asked….about an inch and a half.  This haircut will last for maybe six weeks, but it is safer than asking for a #1 buzz cut, and they use a #0 clipper cut, and you are about shaved.

 

Going to our favorite seats by the atrium, we noticed that the ropes and ladder are back at the Astrolabium on deck three.  The parts needed to fix the lights must be here.  It does attract many folks we know to ask us what is going on with this.  Greg and Heo really think they will be selling tickets for zip lining.  They are very funny guys.  We had hoped to listen to the Ocean Quartet, but they were off for the night.  No music, and no dancing.  We sure do not remember this happening when each band takes a day off once a week.  By the way, a new group of dance hosts have boarded.  All but one fellow went home in Santiago a few days ago. 

 

Dinner had some different items on the menu.  The fish entrée had been hake, but when we saw the menu, it had been changed to cod.  They either ran out of the original hake, and substituted cod, or never had it in the first place.  One of us ordered it, and said it was really tasty.  No smell, no bones, it met the test.  Brochettes of beef was a close second, the recommended dish of Chef Petr.  Greg had the cheesy breaded veal, a close relative of wiener schnitzel.  Saying it was OK,  he should have ordered the beef.  By the time we got our desserts, most of the diners had left the room.   We were among the last to leave, and it was only 9:30pm.  The waiters were already decorating the room with Valentine’s Day mobiles and table centerpieces.  It will look very red and festive tomorrow.

 

We had a little preview of the show tonight, but earlier at 7:30pm.  It was the group Abba Fab, who we recently saw while on the fall cruise.  Five minutes into the routine, we remembered every song and every dance step.  They were good enough if you were into that type of music.

 

We hope that tomorrow the seas will calm down and the temps will rise.

 

Bill & Mary Ann


https://cruisingwithbillandmaryann.blogspot.com/

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Great report.  Glad your son was able to straighten out some of your computer problems.

 

Will spend some time later looking at the pictures.

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Report # 100   Day at Sea   February 14, 2020   Friday   Partly sunny & 64 degrees   Part # 1 of 1

 

Our third day at sea found the Amsterdam 850 miles away from Easter Island, with light winds, and highs of 68 degrees.  According to Captain Jonathan, we are experiencing two swells of six feet, one from the east and the other from the west.  It has calmed down a lot since yesterday, for which, we are glad.  But the most interesting comments at his afternoon talk, were about the internet, or should we say, the lack of the internet.  Going online at 7am, we were able to connect, but after 8am, the system was down, for the most part, all day long.  The Captain remarked that we are all in the same boat as far as the internet service was concerned.  He claimed it has been the fault of the provider, Speed Cast, and it has been reported to Seattle repeatedly for weeks now.  Inefficient service is putting it lightly, and we think everyone is up in arms over this.  Especially the crew, who cannot connect with families at home.  The best thing we can do is turn the computer off, and wait it out. At this point, it may take a miracle to get it to work normally. 

 

And on the lighter side, Happy Valentine’s Day to all.  After breakfast and our 2 mile walk, we came back to the room to find a single red rose, two heart-shaped boxes of Seattle’s Best truffles, and a nice Valentine’s Day card from the Captain and his staff and crew.  We also had a cute old-fashioned Valentine card from our hosts Luisa and Gene.  Nice touch.  We had wondered why we have not gotten the truffles on gala evenings recently, and now we know they have saved them for our gifts today. 

 

Everywhere we went on the ship, we saw red.  Red heart cascading mobiles in the dining room and Lido, red lights in the dining room and Lido for special effects, and red and silver covers on the dining room chairs.  For sure, the wait staff will be wearing red vests and ties at dinner tonight.

 

We witnessed the funniest thing we have seen in a while.  Sitting in the atrium on deck five, and also behind the backdrop for the photo sessions, we watched the two florists proceed to tear apart the Valentine’s decorations across from the front desk.  This was during the dinner hours.  Partially blocking the way to the Pinnacle Grill, they took all of the red and white branches and put them in florist boxes.  The red hearts and yarn balls were next, then they tediously wound the strands of vines up to store for the next time.  They were just taking out the foam in the vases, when Henk, the hotel director, came by and must have asked what they were doing.  It was still Valentine’s Day, and they were taking down the decorations?  Well, the moment he walked away, they systematically put the vases back together.  It had taken them 45 minutes to dismantle them, and 10 minutes to put them back.  The rolled vines stayed rolled.  The few flowers that had been here and there were already dumped, so the props were the only things in the vases.  Now we realized how much we miss our buddies Eddy and Calista.  For one thing, Eddy would have put the vases on a cart, and taken them down to his area.  Then he would bring new ones on the cart, and put them in place.  They would never do their magic with the arrangements in public, let alone block the aisle during dinner time.  Oh well, nothing stays the same forever, does it?

 

A few lectures did take place today with the EXC group and the Polynesian Ambassador.  Guess Kainoa is the speaker on this cruise.  The same group of Tahitian gals and guys that were on the Tales of the South Pacific have returned here to the Grand World Voyage.  During that trip, they mixed with the passengers and had a whole lot of fun, especially at the pools.  Not sure this group is quite the same as that group.

 

At 1:15pm, there was a Chocolate Surprise for Valentine’s Day.  Instead of having the chocolate treats after dinner, they decided to do this after lunch instead.  Probably a better idea, since most folks are totally full after dinner, and do not consume large quantities of chocolate.  The little chocolate snacks were served on deck 5, 8, and the Crow’s Nest.  Barb said they also came into the dining room to pass the sweets around the tables.  Bet some of this also appeared at the Valentine’s afternoon tea at 3pm. 

 

So dinner was gala, of course, and most all of the guests wore something red.  From what we saw, many more people dressed for the occasion this evening.  At least, all of our tablemates looked fantastic.  The entrees that were most popular were the rack of lamb, tenderloin, and sea bass dishes.  There was no caviar, much to Barb’s disappointment, but there were some different substitutes.  The best was the dessert of lemon cheesecake with a few blueberries on the side.  Not sure if this was homemade or frozen.  And being that it was so good, we did not ask. 

 

The party continued for those who could stay up later than 9pm.  Actually that was the joke Hamish used yesterday at the beginning of the show.  Seems that most folks tend to turn in very early here, and the later night parties have been kind of low key.  Two time slots were listed for the Crow’s Nest…one at 9 and another at 10pm.  Also, the show in the Mainstage was a performance by the singers and dancers with “Amour”.  And yes, we saw it last fall.

 

Good news: the clocks went back one hour, as we are sailing due west.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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That is so funny about the florists taking down the Valentine decorations before the day was even over.

 

Great report.

 

Speed Cast for Internet -- strange name for a system so bad.

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Report # 101   Day at Sea   February 15, 2020   Saturday   Partly sunny & 64 degrees    Part # 1 of 1

 

At breakfast today, the most talked about subject had to be:  Will we or won’t we go to Easter Island?  The tension has mounted to the point of making odds about our chances.  The going figures are 40% we go, and 60% we don’t go.  The swells are nowhere near what they have been, and we saw no signs of white caps today.  But as of noontime, we were still 350 miles away from the island, so the conditions there could be altogether different.  With his PM talk, Captain Mercer reported the winds were currently 10 knots with two swells coming from the south and the east.  He also warned that the sun factor was a “10” tomorrow, and we would need to take care by using sunscreen.  However, in ending his talk, he warned that the tendering process was marginal at best.  Then he elaborated about who would be allowed ashore such as the able-bodied guests only.  Specifically, wheelchairs, scooters, and walkers would have to wait until open tenders were announced.  Last year while we tendered to shore at Easter Island, it was taking 45 minutes to load one tender boat on the average.  That was way too long, so this year, the decision to limit the access to those who can board quickly had to be made.

 

President’s Club bi-monthly gifts arrived today with one flower arrangement and 17 Coke Zeros.  It is a nice perk, but we do hope the flowers will last more than a week.  The chrysanthemums and gladiolas are delicate, and do not have a long shelf life.  And we will need to keep the room on the cooler side, because the heat will dry them out even faster.

 

On a lighter side, the weather was quite pleasant today.    The winds had died down, and walking the lower promenade was easy.  No deep and long swells. Sure makes a difference.  It felt a lot warmer than 64 degrees, especially in the sun on the aft of the deck.  Many more folks were taking to the lounges in the back, as well as the guests in the lanai rooms.  We did our two miles, then went down to work on the backed up reports and photos.  It has been nice to have these laid back days at sea to get this job done.  Now the internet was down more than it was up, but during very short periods, we were able to get some reports and emails through.  

 

When we took a break for lunch in the Lido, we did see a few people out by the pool in the lounges.  Probably not in the pool, but laying in the sun.  Since we have not been back there for weeks now, we will have to start all over again.   Time to whip out that sunscreen.

 

Things happening on the ship included another Easter Island deck sale for mugs, shot glasses, mugs, and postcards.  Sounds like most of the t-shirts are gone.  Kainoa did an amusing talk all about humpback whales.  He added many stories about his growing up in Hawaii and his family’s interaction with seeing the whales.  Nothing like a firsthand account of how awful the blow of a whale smells.  Later in the day, lessons on ukulele playing happened in the Crow’s Nest.  The Microsoft team conducted 5 classes during the day, which is super.  However it would be even better if the internet onboard was working properly. 

 

Dinner was the highlight of the day.  Every night with our group of seven has been nice.  Even made better with good appetizers and entrees.  One popular item was galumpi with ground pork mixed with rice and rolled in a cabbage leaf.  A special sauce was poured over the top.  The  barramundi fish entrée was especially good, as was the fusilli pasta with Bolognese sauce…..a favorite dish for one of us.  Made better with extra sauce and grated parmesan cheese.  

 

The show tonight was a familiar pianist by the name of Naki Ataman.  He had been highly recommended on the Tales of the South Pacific, so we made it a point to attend his performance.   He was even better tonight as we caught the tail end of his show.    Hope he does another concert before he departs.

 

So we wait for tomorrow and see how the weather and seas behave.  Fingers crossed……

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Glad the seas have calmed down and you are getting lots of sunshine.

 

Hope the flowers on your window ledge are doing well.

 

Prayers that you all will get to tender into Easter Island.

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