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Pete and Judy's 2020 World Cruise on the ms Amsterdam, Holland America Line


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Hi,
 
I've enjoyed reading your blogs here and on your inside cabin.  
 
I have a question: From my reading over the years,  I know you served in the US Navy.  But I don't recognize the medals you wear on your tux on "gala" nights.  You are not wearing a uniform.  So, what are the medals you proudly wear on your tux jacket?  (As you can guess, I have no military background.)
 
Thanks in advance for your response.
 
Charles

Those medals are my 3 most senior personal awards as opposed to unit awards and campaign ribbons, medals. They are, from L-R : Legion if Merit, Meritorious Service Medal and Navy Commendation Medal. The gold stars represent an additional award for the same medal.


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A quick video fro this mornings coffee chat. Roseau & St Lucia posts later today.

We have a sea day today enroute to Devils Island tomorrow.

Tonight is another Gala Night with the Grand Party in the Mainstage followed by the Chocolate Surprise!





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2 minutes ago, The-Inside-Cabin said:


The Pasta straws was not a typo. This is from one of the bartenders.

https://www.pastastraws.org/

No toothpicks onboard either.




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Fascinating.  I couldn’t find an ingredients list so I am guessing they’re not gluten-free at the moment.  Thank you!  Luckily I’m okay with no straw (but not with my food touching lol.)

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Day 6

 

9 Jan 2020

 

St Luicia,

 

At first I thought they were washing our deck from above, but it turned out it was raining.  It didn’t look like rain because the skies out toward the horizon were clear, but there was a cloud directly over the ship.  That would be the last we would see of any rain as the rest of the day was clear and sunny. 

 

We arrived well before our scheduled time of 8 o’clock.  Since there were two other cruise ships in port, our arrivals were staggered since only one ship at a time could navigate through the narrow channel into the harbor.  Joining us today was the Carnival Fascination and the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas.  

 

There are three spots for cruise ships in St. Lucia, all in the same harbor.  Two being located at the cruise terminal and the third spot across the harbor adjacent to the downtown area.  If you’re going on a tour it probably doesn’t make much difference where you moor but if you want to do some shopping and see the city, being moored across from the cruise terminal puts you much closer to the city. 

 

COOK LIKE A LUCIAN

 

Today we are going to learn how to “Cook Like a Lucian”.  We discovered this class through Internet searches for cooking classes which we enjoy and always seek out when visiting a new port.  Cooking classes give an opportunity to meet local residents in an informal setting and while preparing dishes we have an opportunity to learn more about our hosts and life in their country. 

 

CLAL.jpg

Here is a link to Cook Like a Lucian’s website if you would be interested in taking this tour on one of your future visits. 

 

After leaving the ship, we walked along the seawall towards the entrance to the cruise terminal, which today was shared with the of the other ships.  Upon entering the terminal, there is an exit on the far side of the room with a large group of drivers and tour guides holding signs.  We learned that this is the back entrance and is where the ship’s tours gather.  To find our pre-arranged tour guide we turned right after entering the terminal, walked across a small courtyard surrounded by various shops and exited the terminal in the direction of the main entrance where there is a larger parking lot and many more tour operators holding signs with names. 

 

The operator of our tour, was also the chef, and our driver.  He met us at the main entrance in a small air-conditioned van and we were on our way. 

 

Dean is very friendly and shared his extensive knowledge of the culture and history of St. Lucia.  It’s about a 15 minute drive to his kitchen where he holds the cooking class. 

 

This class could probably accommodate no more than six people so while the classes are not guaranteed to be private there is a good chance it will be because of the few number of guests that can be accommodated. 

 

GREEN FIGS AND SALTFISH

 

Today we would be making the National dish:  green figs and saltfish.  We learned that green figs are actually green bananas but they are called figs which is the way they are described in their local Creole dialect.  Salt fish is actually salted cod which was a staple on the British sailing ships from years ago. 

 

Also on the menu was red snapper and chicken, both prepared Lucian style.  We also fried some plantains and made a fresh salad.  Prior to our arrival, Dean had prepared some bread dough which we kneaded one more time when we arrived and then set aside to rest before making ‘Bakes’ or ‘Floats’ as they are called here. 

 

Unlike many cooking classes I’ve taken, we did much more of the preparation and cooking ourselves.  Most other cooking classes I have taken over the years, we may perform some minor task and usually only observe the chef who does the majority of the actual cooking.  

 

DANCING LIKE A LUCIAN?

 

As the meal preparation continued, Dean played some local music and we were all inspired to create impromptu cooking dances.  We had a wonderful time chatting, laughing and learning about St. Lucia as the morning progressed.  Soon enough it was time to eat, and we sat down and enjoyed a wonderful meal.  The food was delicious, who could complain since we cooked it ourselves.  For dessert we had a delicious cup of Cocotea, made from a local Lucian coco stick. 

 

We wrapped up around 1:45 PM and Dean took us back to the cruise port.  Instead of taking us to the port, Dean dropped us off at the Central Library so we could explore the city and then walk back to the ship, about 1 mile. 

 

BACK IN TOWN

 

The Library is small, with only one room with books on the second floor.  They do have free WiFi available. 

 

On the way back to the ship, we wandered thru a local supermarket looking for the coco sticks we used during the cooking class.  They didn’t have any in the supermarket, but we did find one for sale from one of the local street vendors on the way back to the ship. 

 

BACK ON THE SHIP

 

A Sailaway party was held at the Seaview pool at 4:30 pm.  Attendance was light and waiters passed hors d’oeuvres as we watched the other cruise ships leave in front of us before we headed out to sea. 

 

THE MAINSTAGE

 

Magician Jeff McBride was the featured entertainer and he put on a wonderful show.  He had an interesting mix of special effects, using quick change masks along with sleight of hand and some audience participation.  Very entertaining and highly recommended. 

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Day 7

 

10 January 2020

 

After two consecutive port days, we have a full day sea before our arrival at Devils Island, French Guinea.  

 

COFFEE CHAT WITH ANDY BUENGER

 

Coffee Chat with guest entertainer Andy Buenger was my first event.  Hamish did another wonderful job with his interview and Andy explained his background and how he started performing at a young age.  While his parents were both in show business, he was the only child to get into show business as his brother and sister pursued more conventional career paths. 

 

CASINO UPDATE

 

While I was in the casino playing Texas Holdem, Judy attended the presentation on the upcoming ports followed by a lecture on the Amazon River.  I had some good luck and won my first tournament when I had pocket Aces, and 2 other players had pocket Kings and Jacks respectively.  Everyone went “All In” and fortunately, my pocket Aces held up winning me a monster pot.  Judy enjoyed the presentations and picked up some useful information about our upcoming ports.  

 

GRAND GALA PARTY NIGHT

 

Our second Gala Night is this evening with Purple being announced as the color theme.  Today would be a Grand Gala Party followed by a Chocolate Surprise.  Whenever they call the Gala event a party that means there will be dancing in the Main Stage which is converted into a ballroom.  The band this evening was the Station Band.  The party was scheduled to start at 9:30 pm, which required the showtimes to be adjusted to 6:30 PM and 8 PM.  Since main seating dinner starts at 8 PM, we went to the show at 6:30 PM which was a split bill between Andy Buenger and Jeff McBride. 

 

After the show, we decided to get our pictures taken at all three of the formal portrait setups.  We joked that we will have a photo contest throughout the cruise and give a prize to the best ship photographer.  But I’m not sure we will be able to remember, who took which picture. 

 

In the past we would often have our table hosted by one of the ships officers.  Rarely is it one of the deck officers as officers from the Hotel Department usually have the hosting duties.  Alas, there wouldn’t be any host tonight and it would be just the three of us for dinner. 

 

Dinner service is blazing fast.  I think that because main seating is so lightly attended the kitchen can easily keep up with orders and the waiters can bring the dishes out immediately.  Having only 3 people helps as well, and we were ready to order desert after 45 minutes. 

 

We arrived outside the Main Stage at 9:15 and waited 15 minutes for the doors to open.  There was a receiving line with the Captain, Hotel Director and Cruise Director but many people rushed by in order to gain the best seats. 

 

The Station Band was on the stage playing dance music under two large mirrored balls.  Most of the stage was cleared for dancing as well as a large area in the center of the room.  On some occasions, many of the ships officers are available for dancing and mingling with the guests, but we didn’t spot many this evening.  The dance floor and the stage remained full throughout the evening until the final song played, a stirring rendition of the cruise classic “YMCA” by the Village People. 

YMCA.jpg

CHOCOLATE SURPRISE

 

About the same time as YMCA started, the room was flooded with waiters passing trays of chocolate treats for the “Chocolate Surprise”.  They have enough waiters moving around that everyone soon got as much of the chocolate delights as their hearts desired. 

PARTY ON IN THE CROW’S NEST

 

After the “Chocolate Surprise” Hamish announced that the party would continue in the Crow’s Nest.  The Station Band moved from the Main Stage and was playing in the Crow’s Nest in less than 15 minutes. 

 

NOTE:  While they are no longer using plastic toothpicks on the ship, they are now using 3-4 inch sticks of thin spaghetti in lieu of toothpicks.  They worked just fine in keeping the olives in my Martini together. 

 

I headed up to the Crow’s Nest and stayed for about an hour before heading down to my cabin.  The party was still going strong when I left with the Crow’s Nest full of happy people dancing the night away. 

 

More pictures on the blog at www.theinsidecabin.com

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Enjoying the blog, commentary and pictures.  Just wondering about the formal gala nights, the first was black and gold and second the purple, ( you both look great by the way), was just wondering if there are anymore different colours for the gala nights, or is it just the two colours?  

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Enjoying the blog, commentary and pictures.  Just wondering about the formal gala nights, the first was black and gold and second the purple, ( you both look great by the way), was just wondering if there are anymore different colours for the gala nights, or is it just the two colours?  

There are many different themes and colors throughout the cruise. Check out the blog - look at the drop down menus on the front page under Cruise Blogs, 2020 World Cruise, then 2020 World Cruise reference. Here you will find a link that shows what is going on during the various themed events.




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Day 8

 

11 Jan 2020

 

DEVILS ISLAND

 

We first spotted “Devils Island”, which actually consists of the 3 islands known as the Salvation Islands, around 10 AM.  The three islands are Ile Royale, the largest and where we will land, Ile Saint Joseph and Devil’s Island itself, which is off limits to visitors.  The Salvation Islands were part of the French penal system and were in use from 1852 until 1953.  This is the location featured in the book and movie, Papillon. 

 

TALES OF TENDERING

 

This will be the first tender port of the 2020 World Cruise and tendering is always a source of frustration amongst the passengers.  Since over 70% of the passengers are 4 or 5 star Mariners, who are all entitled to priority tendering, this perk has not been honored on previous cruises World Cruises as it would be almost meaningless with so many people entitled.  As they say, when everyone has priority, then no one has priority. 

 

Holland America is always trying to improve and they are going to try the following tender priority system for this cruise.  We’ll see how it goes. 

 

A – HAL Excursion participants have priority over all other passengers at the time required to make their scheduled tour. 

 

B – Neptune Suite and Presidents Club passengers – about 150 people.  These folks don’t need tender tickets, but simply show their room key instead of a tender ticket.  It is considered bad form for Neptune Suite or PC members to try and cut a tender line that is already moving down the stairs to the platform.  Their room key is a Universal Tender Ticket, not a “head of any line pass”. 

 

C – For Devils Island, they have set up 2 Tender Ticket distribution lines, one for 4/5 stars and one for 3 stars and below.  This will restore the priority tender perk to the 4/5 star mariners.  It remains to be seen if they will continue this at future tender ports.

 

The line for 4/5 stars to get tender tickets started near the aft entrance to the Ocean Bar - see the graphic below - and snaked forward between the elevators and then back aft into the Ocean Bar itself.  (red line)

 

Tender-Line.jpg

The 3 star and below line started outside the liquor shop and snaked aft into the sports bar.  (blue line)

 

The first person in the priority line arrived 2 hours early while the first person in the non priority line arrived 1 hour early.  

 

The colored lines in the graphic show the approximate line length when they started passing out tickets at Noon.  Once the lines started moving, they moved quickly and even joining the line at noon, would only be about a 10 minute wait to get to the front of the.  I joined the end of the priority line at Noon and received tender ticket ORANGE 9.  The 3 star line was passing out GRAY colored tender tickets. 

 

A few minutes later, the first tender tickets were called – Orange 1,2 & 3 and Gray 1.  I didn’t pay attention to see if this ratio was maintained for the next 2 hours until they called for open tendering, but this system seemed to work OK from my perspective. 

 

Devils Island was a good test port for this tender ticket distribution as there were no tours and no real stress for passengers to get ashore.  We’ll see how this works out at the future high stress tender ports for Falklands and Easter Island – where EVERYONE will try to get on the first tender to meet prearranged private tours. 

 

To avoid this stress, I decided to book only HAL tours for tender ports.  While the HAL tours have premium pricing, it was worth it to me to be able to avoid getting up at 5 AM and stand in a tender ticket distribution line for 2 hours or more. 

 

I’ll keep you posted on how the tendering plays out over the cruise. 

 

We were in no hurry to go ashore so we waited until they called for “open tendering” which means that tender tickets were no longer required.  We caught the next tender which only had about 15 passengers, and most of these were crew members. 

 

We noticed that the tenders still have that “new car smell” and they are shiny and new.  We were told that they were less than 1 year old. 

 

The ride ashore took about 15 minutes.  Once ashore we headed off to the center of the island. 

 

HIKING TO THE HOTEL

 

The island is not very big, and as we were walking toward the center of the island, we started to run into people who had spent 2 hours exploring the island and were heading back to the ship.  Those that walked quickly, could cover the entire island in that time. 

 

Once ashore, we headed off the left, toward the center of the island.  Some passengers took the path to the right. 

 

After a couple hundred yards as we moved along the coast, we were faced with a choice of 3 paths to get to the center of the island and the Hotel/Gift Shop & Bar. 

 

There is a road to the left, which is the longest but most gradual.  This road is used by the few vehicles on the island.  It follows the coast, rising slowly with good footing, until the Children’s Cemetery where a foot path hooks to the right up into the center of the island and follows a gradual climb to the hotel.  This is the easiest way to the top. 

 

The center road is steeper, but not as steep as the 138 stairs to the right.  This center road, is very uneven and hard to walk across.  Many people we talked to said they preferred the steeper stairs because this path was so uneven. 

 

We chose to use the stairs which were not too bad if we went slow.  We would take the longer, but more gradual coast road on the way back a couple hours later.  However, at the time we didn’t know that the coast road was more gradual, albeit longer.  If we had to do it again, we would have probably used the coast road to go to and from the center of the island. 

 

We were warned to use insect repellent, which we did, but we didn’t observe any flying insects or biting during our visit, but as always, conditions may be different during other times of the year.

 

Upon arrival on the top of the island, there are various old rooms and buildings to tour that were part of the prison system when it was still in use.  We quickly walked thru a few buildings before moving on to the hotel.  

 

The hotel/bar and gift shop was inside the main building and shared one end of a large room with the bar on the other end.  We browsed the gift shop for a few minutes, but the T-shirts were not very interesting and we didn’t find anything else that we wanted and we left empty handed. 

 

We bought a Heineken Beer and an Orangina  soft drink for UD$8 and went outside to enjoy them on the covered patio with a nice view of Devil’s Island. 

 

LIGHTHOUSE AND MONKEYS

 

After we finished, we continued toward the modern lighthouse and Children’s Cemetery before we headed back to the tender pier along the longer, but more gradual coast road.  There is an active radar tracking station here, and a few vehicles from that station came whizzing by on our way back. 

 

Monkeys, peacocks and other wildlife were everywhere, and we couldn’t miss seeing plenty of them as we walked around the island. 

 

We arrived back at the tender pier at 4:50 PM and caught the next tender leaving around 5 PM.  The last tender was scheduled for 5:30PM. 

 

While it was warm on the island, it wasn’t blistering hot and the humidity wasn’t too bad.  We kept moving slowly and I suspect if we were more energetic we might have worked up more of a sweat. 

 

TIM KAMINSKI

 

Tonight’s show was an encore performance by comedian Tim Kaminski.  Tonight he did a straight standup routine and didn’t pull up anyone from the audience.  His show was very good, presenting a great mix of old jokes along with contemporary observations.  

More pictures on the blog

 

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Day 9

12 Jan 2020

We enjoyed a lazy sea day as we sail south toward our next port in Belem, Brazil.

 

Coffee Chat

 

John Bressler was the guest this morning at Coffee Chat.  He was very interesting and told great stories about his earlier days as entertainer.  One of his most memorable performances was when he opened for Johnny Cash and was able to meet him before the show.  He is putting on his encore show this evening and we’re looking forward to seeing him again. 

 

Lecture

 

The first morning lecture by Charles McClelland was a summary of the book Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond.  I read this book a few years ago and found it fascinating.  Charles did an excellent job summarizing this lengthy book in less than 45 minutes.  For anyone interested in the history of human evolution and why certain cultures involved differently this book gives some great insight into how that happened.  There is also a multipart TV special on the subject that is available on YouTube.  Links are included on the blog: 

 

Casino update

 

I didn’t finish in the money today during the 11 AM Texas Hold‘em game.  We are getting six people for the tournament now.  This is a far cry from the 2018 World Cruise where people would line up an hour early to secure one of the 10 spots.  Maybe things will pick up as the cruise goes on, but in 2018 the buy-in was $30 and it’s now is $60.  If they lower the price to $30 they may be able to get a full table every day.  I had better luck this afternoon during the cash game and was able to walk away a winner for the first time.

 

Sunday Brunch Sampler

 

We went to the Sunday Brunch Sampler for the first time.  This is held every Sunday at sea in the main dining room on Deck 4 from 11 AM to 1 PM.  There is a set menu of small samples of various items.  Here is a copy of the menu.  Other than beverages, there isn’t any ordering.  You get what’s listed – period.  

 

We were seated at a table for eight and it was enjoyable meeting several of our fellow passengers.  We had a wonderful time discussing our future shore excursions as well as our previous adventures over the years. 

 

Brazilian Cultural Ambassadors

 

We have a Brazilian Cultural Ambassadors Team onboard offering various activities related to our upcoming port visits in Brazil.  Today they offered a class by the Lido pool to learn how to play Samba music. 

 

Main Dining Room

 

We were joined for dinner this evening by Andy Buenger, the wonderful performer who plays seven instruments.  He hails from Hamburg, Germany, and travels extensively on various cruise lines performing his outstanding show.  

 

The Main Stage

 

The current crop of entertainers will be leaving the ship tomorrow and we will pick up a new bunch that will take us through Buenos Aires. 

 

John Bressler was on the main stage this evening with his encore performance.  He put on another great show featuring hits from Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker, Elton John and Leonard Cohen among others. 

John-Bressler.jpg
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2 hours ago, The-Inside-Cabin said:

We used shore side tenders in Belém.

 

Local people made us feel welcome.

 

1c152e6e9a0a3ad6218407baee3ea539.jpge9eaf928b6ba9e8ebd52da519bb9af45.jpg

 

 

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So enjoying your in-depth reports! Have your main blog on my screen saver!! Your brunch photos are unique and like the various samplers👍 Beautiful day on Devils Island too!

Denise😊

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I followed your 2018 blog in preparation for our 2019 WC. It was very helpful. Reading this one since we're going again in 2020.
 
Few questions if you don't mind:
- what is the cost of the internet? We paid $799 for the premium package in 2019 (for 1 device at a time).
- Is there still a custom pasta station in the Lido in the evening?
 
We purchased the full photo package in 2019. The price was $380. I can't believe they raised it to $549. That's an insane increase!

There is a custom pasta station in the LIDO during dinner hours.


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3 hours ago, The-Inside-Cabin said:


There is a custom pasta station in the LIDO during dinner hours.


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Thanks Pete!  I appreciate you taking the time to check it out for me.

 

Love your blog. I read your 2018 blog prior to our 2019 HAL WC. It was very helpful.

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Day 10

 

13 Jan 2020

 More on the blog at www.theinsidecabin.com

Belém

 

market.jpg

After a long transit down the mouth of the Amazon River early this morning we anchored off the city of Icoaraci, which is about 10 miles north of Belem.  This is as close as we can get to Belem due to the depth of the Amazon River.  The ship will be running shuttle buses to the Docas Station Tourist Complex in Belem (about 13 miles and 45 minutes away).  The station consists of several renovated warehouses that are now full of shops and restaurants.  ATM’s and restrooms are also located there.  This complex is about a quarter mile from the Mercado Ver-o-Peso, the largest market in Latin America. 

 

To insure a timely departure, the last tender is at 4:30 PM but the last shuttle bus from town will be at 2:30 PM to allow for traffic, which can be bad.  Since we were there on a Monday, most shops and businesses were closed which probably helped with our driving time. 

 

Shoreside tenders were used today instead of the ship tenders.  These tenders are small wooden boats with an estimated capacity of about 120 people.  That’s not that much different than the capacity of our tenders.  When I first heard we were using shoreside tenders I thought they would be much larger and allow tendering to go faster but it didn’t appear to be the case. 

 

As I mentioned in my earlier post, we will be taking ship tours during most tender ports to avoid aggravation with getting tender tickets.  On the World Cruise there are so many four and five star Mariners that priority tendering is essentially meaningless. 

 

The 8 hour HAL tour we took today was the:  “Chef-Led Market Experience & Culinary Workshop.” described as being “led by a local chef, you will visit the Mercado Ver-o-Peso, before preparing and tasting your own Amazonian dishes”. 

 

The tour had a show time of 8 AM in the Main Stage with the departure listed for 8:30 AM.  We arrived about 15 minutes early and there were plenty of seats available.  The tour dots with the bus numbers were passed out as we entered the theatre, which was different than we remember on previous tours when they gave us the tour dots as we left the theatre.  Tendering started on time and our tour was the first group called down to A deck.  

 

The tender ride ashore was only about 10 minutes, and loading was fast and easy.  Once we arrived ashore, at the end of a 200 yard long pier, we were greeted by enthusiastic young people representing the community.  They passed out handmade necklaces and we were greeted by dancers and musicians and a person dressed as a blue bull frolicking in the street.  We didn’t have any time to really enjoy the ceremony as we were immediately ushered onto our waiting tour bus.  

 

When we arrived at the Mercado we were warned by our tour guide to keep our bags and purses in front of our bodies and hold our cameras close to avoid tempting thieves.  This was the second warning about this potential crime issue so we were on high alert.  Expecting higher humidity than we experienced, it was a pleasant surprise to find walking around the large market fairly pleasant.  The sections of the market we visited sold mainly food both fresh, and prepared, along with beverages.  We did not go through the sections that sold clothing or household goods. 

 

There were always three heavily armed police officers within eyesight of our group.  I’m not sure if they were following us intentionally or if they are just there all the time anyway. 

 

We met Philipe, our chef who would be cooking for us later in the day.  He accompanied our tour to various stalls where he picked up a variety of ingredients explaining them through his interpreter as he made the purchases. 

 

I bought a bag of cashews from one of the vendors and they were very good.  The vendors took US dollars everywhere in the Market without hesitation.  In fact, the ship made a note in the Where and When that it would not offer currency exchange in Brazil due to the ease of using US currency.  We are not sure if this is the case in every Brazilian establishment. 

 

There were a couple stalls where we sampled some of the local fermented beverages, which were unusual to our American taste buds.  One tasted more like extra strong cough syrup than anything I want to drink a second time. 

 

For such a large market in a hot area I expected it to have more of an odor.  It was actually fairly relatively smell free, and pleasant to walk around.  Only in the fish market did we notice an aroma and even there it wasn’t overpowering. 

 

After about an hour and a half of wandering around the various stalls we headed back to our bus for a short ride to the Gastronomical Institute where they would hold the cooking class. 

 

The people in the school only spoke Portuguese with one exception besides our guide.  They both translated everything the chef and his assistants said. 

 

There were about 20 people on the tour.  We have taken many cooking classes and tours over the years and when there are this many people we realize up front that we’re not going to get a lot of firsthand cooking or preparation time.  We would be mostly observing someone else, which was fine for us. 

 

For those people who may be taking a cooking class or tour for the first time don’t be surprised if you don’t do a whole lot of on hands preparation for cooking.  For the most part you may help out chopping up some ingredients or minding a pot but these tourist-based cooking classes are more entertainment than actual cooking lessons, which is fine with us because that’s what we are looking for.  But it is important to set your expectations if you haven’t taken many cooking classes previously. 

 

After a brief introduction from the staff, who explained the history of the school, we moved back to the large kitchen area which was set up with four tables were students could prepare ingredients. 

 

As it turned out, we watched Phillipe and his helpers prepare the 3 dishes with his helpers at one station while the students all gathered around to observe.  A couple of the guests did jump in to help peel some of the shrimp for the appetizer course. 

 

The main course was a large, freshwater fish, that was baked and then boiled in a broth before being served alongside a rice like side dish. 

 

As the meals are being prepared there is always a lot of time for informal conversations with the staff.  We find this time with local residents one of the side benefits of taking cooking excursions. 

 

About 3 hours after we arrived, the lunch was finished and ready to eat.  It was delicious and everyone had a wonderful time. 

 

A little after 3 PM, we headed back to our waiting bus.  After a short drive we arrived back at the port around 3:45PM. 

 

We shopped for a bit at the pop up craft center that was set up for our visit before heading back to the ship. 

 

I won’t be commenting on every dinner unless it is something remarkable.  The menus can all be found on the blog.  However, the food on the cruise so far has been exceptional.  We haven’t had a bad meal yet.  Service is excellent. 

 

Tonight’s entertainment was the second show by the Holland America Singers and Dancers called “Salsamania”.  Another wonderful show by a very talented group of performers. 

 

The college football championship game was on both big screen TV’s in the Sports Bar and it was also broadcast over the ships TV system as well.  Reception was perfect, but we did get TV commercials for South America.  I am now up to speed on the upcoming Cricket Matches that will be shown on ESPN soon. 

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Day 11

14 Jan 2020

 

The Brazilian Cultural Ambassadors were the guests at this morning’s Coffee Chat.  This is a group of 4 people that put on a variety of lectures and classes with a Brazilian Theme.  There have already been a few lectures, a samba music class and later this morning there will be a Capoeira class which “combines basic coordination, rhythm, strength and self-defense”.  

 

Glenn Michael, our EXC host, gave an interesting presentation on “The Secret Language of Ships” where he discussed the purpose of various flags, pennants and day shapes used by sailors around the world. 

 

CASINO UPDATE

 

I stopped by to check out the 20 guests who were taking advantage of the Capoeira Class being taught by a member of the Brazil Cultural Ambassadors Team. 

 

Judy was busy knitting with a small group of other “Judy’s” and a Kathi in the Crow’s Nest.  

 

SAMBA PARTY

 

The first of many Crow’s Nest themed parties was the Samba Brazil Night.  The waiters in the main dining room wore Samba themed costumes and some big Boa Feathers were presented to guests as they entered the dining room.  Information about every theme night for the entire cruise is sent out about 2 months in advance to give everyone an opportunity to bring any costumes or other items to help celebrate the event.  We always enjoy these evenings and brought one large suitcase to hold all the items we will be wearing on theme nights. 

 

Even though main seating starts at 8PM, they open the doors at 7:45PM and we are starting to arrive then so we have a head start on getting to the shows by 9:15PM so we can get our preferred seats in the balcony right by the railing.  We rarely miss a show, and Judy has a perfect attendance record over our last 2 world cruises.  I have missed only a handful. 

 

The Samba Party in the Crow’s Nest started at 8:30 PM, but we didn’t arrive until we had finished dinner, around 9 PM.  By then the party was in full swing with a couple of the Brazilian Ambassadors leading a Latin line dance.  Afterwards one of the Ambassadors posed for pictures in her festive costume. 

samba-party.jpg

 

Multi-Instrumentalist Mark Donoghue was the featured performer this evening.   His show was fantastic.  Some of his luggage was delayed enroute, so he was only able to play using his hand carry instruments  - a violin and harmonica.  He also played the ship’s Piano.  Mark is an outstanding entertainer with an amazing repertoire of songs – from the country hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” to “Funeral for a Friend”.  He played a beautiful instrumental rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah on his Harmonica.  Breathtakingly good.  Other hits were Nature Boy by Eden Ahbez – made famous by Nat King Cole where he sang acapella and played harmonica.  He closed the show with an amazing medley of the Abba hits from the musical Mamma Mia on violin.  

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