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Navigate the World with Bill & Mary Ann on the Zuiderdam's 128 Day 2023 Grand World Voyage


WCB
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Hi Bill & Mary Ann,

Happy and a safe New Year.

I look forward to following along again and please remember me to Barb.

Wayne from Downunder.

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Report #5    Tuesday January 3, 2023    Embarkation Day And Away We Go!!!!    Sunny And Breezy 80 Degrees    Part 1 Of 2......67 Pictures

 

Another early start to the day found us on the way for our last hearty breakfast in Ft. Lauderdale.  We had been given specific instructions on today’s string of events, and we needed to stay within the time limits.  So we left the hotel at 8am, returned by 9am, and packed the rest of our stuff.

 

As always, the hotel elevators were getting busier, and we knew going down to the lobby might take too much time the longer we waited.  So Bill brought our one duffel to the holding area where it would join the mountain of luggage to be hauled to the cruise terminal.  The next time we would see it would be in our room – hopefully.

 

All of us met in the lobby at 10:15am, then proceeded to board the two coaches for the quick ride to Port Everglades.  Well almost “quick” as both drivers had to wait for a few guests that were resolving some problems.  Frankly, we could have walked faster, but not hauling our heavy carry-ons.  Being patient is not one of our fortes. 

 

Our driver had us to the terminal, Pier 26, around 11am, where he was told by a local security guard we would have to wait to park because the Zuiderdam was loading for a huge world cruise.  Well, HELLO, that was us.  With that, we got off to wait in one undesignated line to enter the terminal.  Normally, there would be another entrance for President’s Club and suite guests, but not today.  However, that line did open later, unknown to us. 

 

At the door, an HAL rep was asking to see our bar-coded embarkation papers.  If we did not have them (Barb did not – it was on her computer), he printed one right on the spot.  Informing him that the three of us were President’s Club members, he directed us to the right end of the building and said enter where the new line for us had formed.  

 

Barb was the first to break around the corner, followed by us.  We could hear some grumbling in the back round, at which time we told them we had been sent that way.  Now this next part was kind of funny.  The three of us had accidently missed the quick screening of our docs, Covid tests and booster cards, proof of yellow fever vaccinations, and the Australian and New Zealand visas.  We assumed that would be done at the final desk as we always did in the past. 

 

So we all proceeded through the xray screening with no problems, even though the buzzer went off with the new knee.  No one bothered to scan it.  The first stop was at the facial recognition kiosk, which refused to work properly.  The rep handed us our passports back and said let the next set of agents know we failed the screening. 

 

Finally up at the last desk, the only thing they required was our passports.  No one asked for the rest of our documents, especially the ones that we had stressed over for weeks.  On top of that, their computers were slow as molasses.  Another head supervisor had to come facilitate the boarding for all of us. Thanking us for waiting (did we have a choice?) we were given the green light to proceed up the escalator and wait to board the ship.

 

We would estimate there were 300 impatient guests cooling their heels there already.  Luckily by 11:30am, Captain Friso and hotel manager, Henk M. were in place to greet us as we headed for the gangway.  Funny, we heard Henk summon the Captain just prior to this, and he said he needed a few minutes to finish the other half of his sandwich. 

 

We breezed by them, no time for chatting as we were the first group called to board.  That is one nice perk of being PClub (President’s Club) members, which is not always honored.  On the other hand, if this was a shorter cruise and there were fewer PClub guests, we would have been personally escorted onboard.  The three of us were just as happy to be on the ship no matter how we got on. 

 

Familiar crew members greeted us as we passed by the room card check point .  From here, we found our staterooms, and dumped our heavy bags.   We had noticed there was a Mariner’s Lunch in the dining room at 12pm, so we decided to try it for a change.  But we had a problem….the room safe did not work.  It was dead.  Calling the front desk, they sent up one of the managers, who re-set it.  Now we were free to go.

 

There was a set menu with salads and a choice of three entrees. Complimentary mimosas were offered.  One of us had the pot roast and the other a quiche.  Both were tasty and hot.  Dessert was a thin slice of Key lime pie, which we have had three servings now since we have been in Florida.  Many of the waiters came to say HI, since they remembered us from the Tales of the South Pacific, ending just a mere 6 weeks ago.

 

One important job we had to do was visit our muster station and log in with the staff there.  No lifejackets required and no standing up for a group muster drill.  That suits us just fine.  Then we had to watch the safety video on our stateroom TV.  It had to be viewed to completion before the TV would advance to the main menu.  Public summons continued for the next 2 hours, asking people to do this right away.  Until the entire population did this drill, we would not be able to sail away.

 

The luggage began arriving one at a time, so we spent the remainder of the day unpacking.  Once again we brought the heavy duty magnets and dowels to hang shirts.  They work so well that Henk designed a similar device to lend to folks who wanted to do the same thing.   We read in a greeting letter that they were limited in numbers, as were the stacks of drawers, so it was first come, first served.  Our room is larger than we are used to, so we did not need anything more for storage. 

 

All aboard was 4:30pm, however, we seldom leave on time.  Today was no exception, as we eventually left the port by 6:30pm.  Just as well, we continued to make sense of the pile of clothing and supplies until it was dark.  No way would we be able to complete the job in one day, and there was no rush to do so.  By the way, we asked for the felt hangers to replace the heavy wooden ones.  Our nice room steward brought 40, then 40 more, and 20 more the following day.  They take up so much less space and nothing slips off of them. 

 

Fixed seating for the late dinner (or main seating) had been moved to 7:30pm.  We would not have known this unless we looked at our room key, which we did to check our table number.  We thought we had secured this particular table months ago, but the request had not been verified by ship services until last week.   Our group of tablemates, mostly the same since the 2007 World Cruise, were pleased with the location.  It was so sweet to be back together after having to leave the Amsterdam three years ago.  Our waiters were Nik and Gofar and they seem to be a good fit for our lively group.  Our appetizers were tasty, and the entrees were nice and hot, just the way we all like them. 

 

We talked until well after 10pm, but when we saw the drapes being pulled at the windows, we decided to call it a night.  Our best bet was to move everything we had left to store onto the large couch and worry about it tomorrow.  Rome wasn’t built in a day you know….

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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On 1/1/2023 at 8:38 AM, WCB said:

Report # 2   Saturday   December 31, 2022   The adventure begins from Clayton to Ft. Lauderdale     Tons of rain and 58 degrees    Part #1 Of 1........7 Pictures

 

Well, our adventure really began last night since neither of us slept well.  No sense because we had to get up around 2am anyway.   It would be nice to be able to turn your thoughts off, but you cannot help but go into overtime hoping nothing was missed.  So far, we think we have covered all of the details.

 

It rained all night, and as reported, it got heavier as the day progressed.  Our driver felt it wise to get out of town before we experienced mud and rock slides on the main road towards town.  One good thing about rain is that there was no fog.  That could have grounded the planes easily. 

 

Traffic was really light at 3:30am especially on a Saturday.  We made great time getting to SFO at 4:45am.  There were two slow downs on the downtown freeway with tow trucks already taking the crashed cars away.  Bet this continues all day because many folks do not drive safely in this kind of weather.

 

Check-in was easy without a lot of people there.  We were so glad we were not flying Southwest, although they were claiming it was back to business as usual.  A restaurant we like to go to in the terminal was opened by 6am, and we enjoyed sharing a hearty breakfast with lots of hot coffee.  Our boarding time was close to 8am, but that did not happen as planned.  There was a physically-challenged fellow in a permanent wheelchair that needed special assistance.  Traveling with family members, the group was there at the terminal about as long as we were.  But the staff waited until the last minute to discover his wheelchair did not fit down the aisle of the aircraft.  No one could board until he was transferred to an airport chair, which took almost an hour.  The United team kept saying the delay was due to cleaning, but we knew that wasn’t the case. 

 

The good news was that once we were allowed to board, the pilot was able to make up some of that lost time.  Except for a few patches of turbulence, the flight went well.  We had more fun trying to figure out how to work the TV screen and watch a movie.  They had dozens of choices, mostly old ones, but a few we had not seen.  Of course if there was a screen that malfunctions, one of us would get that one.  Asking a crew member, they reset the TV and it finally worked.  We both watched Cold Mountain and enjoyed it enough it made the time fly.  Many good actors in that movie, although it was sad, it reflected the times of the Civil War.

 

Another good feature of watching movies is that if you turn up the volume, you cannot hear the little kids crying here there and everywhere.  Perhaps because it is New Year’s Eve, there were many young families traveling today…mostly with little ones.

 

We landed in Miami around 5:30pm EST.  It was warm and partly cloudy, although by the time we got our one piece of checked luggage, it was beginning to get dark outside.  Normally, we like to fly directly to Ft. Lauderdale, but there were no straight through flights today.  So we joined the line for a taxi, and we were on our way to the Renaissance Marina Hotel within an hour.  We assumed that our driver would know the hotel we were staying at by just telling him where it was.  Yes, he did know the location, but wanted the exact address.  Of course, we had it, but it was buried somewhere in one of the hand carrys.  Finally finding it, it was too dark to read it and the driver did not turn on the inside light.  I did have a tiny flashlite in my purse, but do you think it could be found?  Oh well, something to remember next time.  Print the address with dark ink and big letters.  The driver put the address into his phone and got exact directions. 

 

There was no activity in the lobby and check-in was swift.  Good thing because by now we were getting tired and hungry.  We stashed our stuff, and headed to Duffy’s for dinner.  It’s lively sports bar within close walking distance, so with all of the assorted games happening, it was loud, but good.  A chicken salad and a plate of chicken tenders was just right.

 

Back at the hotel, we will enjoy New Year’s Eve activities on the TV.  It was heck of a long day. Bet we sleep really good tonight.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

Thank you for doing this review.   We are staying at the Renaissance this Friday night pre cruise.  It’s been our go to hotel precruise for a few years now.  How was your stay?

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Report # 6     Wednesday   January 4, 2023     Enroute To Falmouth, Jamaica    Sunny And Warm With Wind 80 Degrees      Part #1 Of 1.........0 Pictures

 

What a better way to start a day than enjoying a breakfast in the Dining Room on deck three with a small group of fellow President’s Club members.  Some we knew, some we did not.  On recent previous our trip, we dined in the Pinnacle Grill with suite folks.  Of course, there were fewer PC passengers, so there was not a problem with space.  However, a decision was made to separate the two groups, which works out fine with us.  The menu is the same, which includes a mimosa if desired, and extra special service.  This morning about one dozen folks showed up, so we had many waiters to serve us.  We lucked out and had Andri, who has been on many world voyages.  Hopefully we have him as our waiter every day.  While we were eating, Presty stopped by.  He has taken the job of dining room manager, which he has done for several years now.  We also had a visit from the new overall dining room manager for all of the restaurants (the new title escapes us).  He is most pleasant and will undoubtedly do a fine job.

 

We had forgotten to inform our room stewards that we go to breakfast at 8am, and usually return by 9:30am.  Our room had not be tidied up yet, but when Pur came by, he promised to do ours among the first of his rooms from now on.  That works for him especially when it is a sea day, and many folks prefer to sleep late. 

 

Good time for a promenade deck hike, we ran into Suzanne who just transferred with hubby Leon here from the Grand Africa cruise.  They had a fine time and are ready for another big one, like us. It was powerfully windy outside, as we remember from previous sailings this time of year.  So we did not stay out too long.

 

Back to our room, we continued the job from yesterday.  Took most of the day, but things were finding a place.  By 2pm, we realized we had missed lunch, and ordered the first of many room service meals we will probably have.  This room (SS) has much more space for dining with a very nice glass coffee table, a full-size couch, along with an armchair.  If the weather was better, we could always dine on the veranda because there is a round table and two chairs, not to mention two padded chaise lounges with ottomans.

 

Anyway, we ordered two cobb salads and a club sandwich to share.  The meal was perfect and served within a half hour. For at least this week, we prefer to stay out of crowded venues such as the Lido.   And that brings us to the subject of mask-wearing.  All of the staff are still wearing them, and the guests are required to wear them indoors for the first several days.  We shall be Covid testing again on Friday, and that will tell the story about how much longer we will continue to wear the masks. 

 

At 4:30pm, there was the first-ever world cruise “Block Party” where you meet with your neighbors, officers, and crew.  Captain Friso announced the activity to begin and asked everyone to bring a glass out in the hallways.  Complimentary wine was served as the Captain and officers traveled swiftly from one deck to the next, covering the entire ship.   We have done this on a Regent ship years ago, but never on an HAL ship.  With the chance that Covid is still a possibility, we decided not to participate.  One cannot drink wine and wear a mask at the same time.

 

The menu for dinner leaned more on the “dressy”  night fare.  Escargots, two types of shrimp cocktails, tenderloin, steak, yellow fin sole, and even lamb chops were the offerings.  We have to say that the serving size has shrunk compared to the meals we had on the recent Tales of the South Pacific.  If there is a dish you really like, you have to ask for doubles.  We had the fish entrée and a one tenderloin, both of which were tasty, although they could have been hotter.  Once again, we need to request hot food when we place our orders.  All the fellows ordered dessert, which looked really good, but that sugar can catch up with one in a hurry.  Nice to share a taste however which was offered by Bill.  Sweet.

 

Tomorrow we will be in or first port of Falmouth, Jamaica, a new stop for us.  Greg and Heo have been there and said not to expect a whole lot.  They also warned us all to be most careful if we go outside the immediate area.   We will heed their suggestion.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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Aloha.  Hope all is well. Love your reports and also those of some of your fellow world cruisers.  Have been blessed to sail countless times on HAL and other lines as well and to have visited most of the places as well.  If I may make a request to post the link to your blog because I love to look at the pictures especially food pictures lol!  Much thanks. 

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The block party sounds really nice and a great ice breaker particularly for newbies, but I agree about the mask wearing and drinking. Perhaps it would have been better timed the day after your upcoming tests?

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9 hours ago, WCB said:

Report # 6     Wednesday   January 4, 2023     Enroute To Falmouth, Jamaica    Sunny And Warm With Wind 80 Degrees      Part #1 Of 1.........0 Pictures

 

What a better way to start a day than enjoying a breakfast in the Dining Room on deck three with a small group of fellow President’s Club members.  Some we knew, some we did not.  On recent previous our trip, we dined in the Pinnacle Grill with suite folks.  Of course, there were fewer PC passengers, so there was not a problem with space.  However, a decision was made to separate the two groups, which works out fine with us.  The menu is the same, which includes a mimosa if desired, and extra special service.  This morning about one dozen folks showed up, so we had many waiters to serve us.  We lucked out and had Andri, who has been on many world voyages.  Hopefully we have him as our waiter every day.  While we were eating, Presty stopped by.  He has taken the job of dining room manager, which he has done for several years now.  We also had a visit from the new overall dining room manager for all of the restaurants (the new title escapes us).  He is most pleasant and will undoubtedly do a fine job.

 

We had forgotten to inform our room stewards that we go to breakfast at 8am, and usually return by 9:30am.  Our room had not be tidied up yet, but when Pur came by, he promised to do ours among the first of his rooms from now on.  That works for him especially when it is a sea day, and many folks prefer to sleep late. 

 

Good time for a promenade deck hike, we ran into Suzanne who just transferred with hubby Leon here from the Grand Africa cruise.  They had a fine time and are ready for another big one, like us. It was powerfully windy outside, as we remember from previous sailings this time of year.  So we did not stay out too long.

 

Back to our room, we continued the job from yesterday.  Took most of the day, but things were finding a place.  By 2pm, we realized we had missed lunch, and ordered the first of many room service meals we will probably have.  This room (SS) has much more space for dining with a very nice glass coffee table, a full-size couch, along with an armchair.  If the weather was better, we could always dine on the veranda because there is a round table and two chairs, not to mention two padded chaise lounges with ottomans.

 

Anyway, we ordered two cobb salads and a club sandwich to share.  The meal was perfect and served within a half hour. For at least this week, we prefer to stay out of crowded venues such as the Lido.   And that brings us to the subject of mask-wearing.  All of the staff are still wearing them, and the guests are required to wear them indoors for the first several days.  We shall be Covid testing again on Friday, and that will tell the story about how much longer we will continue to wear the masks. 

 

At 4:30pm, there was the first-ever world cruise “Block Party” where you meet with your neighbors, officers, and crew.  Captain Friso announced the activity to begin and asked everyone to bring a glass out in the hallways.  Complimentary wine was served as the Captain and officers traveled swiftly from one deck to the next, covering the entire ship.   We have done this on a Regent ship years ago, but never on an HAL ship.  With the chance that Covid is still a possibility, we decided not to participate.  One cannot drink wine and wear a mask at the same time.

 

The menu for dinner leaned more on the “dressy”  night fare.  Escargots, two types of shrimp cocktails, tenderloin, steak, yellow fin sole, and even lamb chops were the offerings.  We have to say that the serving size has shrunk compared to the meals we had on the recent Tales of the South Pacific.  If there is a dish you really like, you have to ask for doubles.  We had the fish entrée and a one tenderloin, both of which were tasty, although they could have been hotter.  Once again, we need to request hot food when we place our orders.  All the fellows ordered dessert, which looked really good, but that sugar can catch up with one in a hurry.  Nice to share a taste however which was offered by Bill.  Sweet.

 

Tomorrow we will be in or first port of Falmouth, Jamaica, a new stop for us.  Greg and Heo have been there and said not to expect a whole lot.  They also warned us all to be most careful if we go outside the immediate area.   We will heed their suggestion.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

Enjoying your posts immensely.  The overall Dining Manager was called the Restaurant Operations Manager on the Noordam in September. 

In reading your description of boarding I had the feeling that it was not quite "as usual" for a WC.  Not as organized with no real welcoming as before.  I think Gerald Bernhoft did a lot of prep work in the past before the guests started arriving at the terminal to board and did a wonderful, detailed job.  I remember seeing photos of him (and Captain Mercer, some Head Office people) with Dolly, you and many other Presidents Club guests in the terminal. I wonder if someone ahs been appointed to replace him?

Best wishes for an outstanding cruise.

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Report #7   Thursday  January 5, 2023    Falmouth, Jamaica  10 am- 5:30pm   Rain, Sun And Hot 82 Degrees   Part #1 Of 4........65 Pictures

 

Today’s port of call was a small historical town called Falmouth, located between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.  It is located on the northern coast of Jamaica, the 3rd largest island in the Caribbean.  And we have never been here, so we were looking forward to exploring a new area of the world.  Recently we have read some negative things about crime in some of the larger cities of Jamaica, so we would assess the situation once we get there.  We may explore, or we may not.

 

After another relaxed breakfast in the upper dining room, we heard the Captain announce that the ship had slowed down due to an engine over-heating.  He blamed it on the warmer waters of the Caribbean.  On past cruises on the Amsterdam, the problems with the air-conditioning were always blamed on the temperature of the sea as well.  Or could it be the ship was getting older?  Probably a little of both.  Whatever, it would not delay our time very much.  If he had not told us this, we never would have noticed a difference in the speed. 

 

By the time we got closer to the island, we could see that the Caribbean Princess was already docked.  She is a much larger vessel than us at 112,894 gross ton and carries up to 3000 guests.  We wondered if it was full?  By the time we were alongside the pier, it was close to 10am, our actual arrival time. 

 

Having been so busy with unpacking the last two days, we forgot to watch the port talk, which was on TV as well as in the Mainstage.  That is very nice since we seldom make it to those talks on sea days.  So we caught up with Nyron, the Shore Ex manager, and listened to his talk.  Or tried to.  The sound level turned up as high as could be was barely hearable.  Will have to let someone know so it can be adjusted. 

 

Some of the shore excursions offered today included beach tours for $70, bobsled and falls $135, Dolphin Cove & shark show $60, Dunn’s River Falls $70, Martha Brae rafting $100, or city highlights $55.  We have done many of these over the years, so decided to stick close to home.  The complex where we docked was similar to what we found in St. Kitt’s, St. Maarten, or Grand Turk.  We had been given a map showing the main shops which included Cariloha, Del Sol, Effys, Diamonds International, Gem Palace, Karinas among others.  An interesting kiosk in the center of the complex was called Patty Port where they served a famous Jamaican patty with beef , cheese, or chicken between a pastry dough.  The price was right at $3. To us they resembled a quesadilla and looked like a good snack for lunch.  Actually on the way back from our walk we did find some of our friends indulging adding hot sauce to make them spicier.

 

We waited until the majority of the guests left, including the tour groups.  There appeared to be fewer groups going off.  We entered the complex through the terminal hall, and explored the treasures the shops and kiosks were selling.   Undoubtedly, we have so much of these souvenirs, we don’t have room for any more.  But it is always fun to look and get prices.  What we saw today, especially the wood carved items, were quite expensive.  We can do better, especially in Namibia, not that we need any more.  By the way, it had begun to sprinkle, just long enough to dampen the umbrellas.  Then it stopped, and the sun came out.

 

While we were looking over the wooden bowls, someone came up behind me and offered to bargain for the prices.  Funny, it was really tablemate and friend Greg and Heo, who were on their way for a walk like us.  They have been here before, and knew the way to the historical part of town.  Since we were headed the same way, we stayed together as a group.  Always better to have company in unknown places. 

 

Once out the gate, we navigated through the downtown streets mixing with the local shoppers.  It was obvious this was a historic town with many old buildings, some built in the Georgian style of architecture.  Two of those buildings were a town hall and an old Anglican church.  This town was built with wide streets on a grid with a Water Square in the center of it all.  This would be the place where people gathered their drinking water in the old days.  We wove our way through the side streets to find the Anglican church which was built in the 1700’s.  Needing restoration, it will be a miracle if this church stands up to the ravages of time and weather.  Some of the clock tower had already caved in.  We did not linger too long inside the church because it did not feel really safe.  Street vendors had tables set up with their wares, trying to attract the tourists to buy lots of stuff.  We had been given a card with the exchange rates for the Jamaican dollar , but we did not need it since the US dollar was happily accepted. 

 

We all got our fill of photos, then slowly headed back to the pier area.  It was beginning to get crowded in the market areas with locals out and about doing their everyday shopping.  Most everyone was friendly, and not pushy.  Many years ago while in Kingston, we recall a local gal chasing us down the street demanding to braid my hair so other tourists could watch.  Really?  Don’t think so….. We saw none of that today…only high end shopping and souvenirs.

 

After our two hour walk, we were back to the ship by 1pm, and decided to have a room service lunch around 2:30pm.  Yesterday we had been given a notice that deck washing would occur this afternoon, and it was in process when we came back home.  It would have been nice to eat outside on the veranda, but the chair pads were damp and we stayed inside the room.  Once again we had salads and a shared  BBQ pulled pork sandwich, which was really good.  We did try a few cookies, but they were not as tasty as our last cruise.  Better stick with fresh crispy apples next time.  We ordered six of those for snacking.  One of us has developed a nice treat by mixing Splenda (or equivalent) with cinnamon and nutmeg and using it as a dip for apple slices.  Sure is delicious and much lower in calories compared to sweet desserts. 

 

The Caribbean Princess left the port around 3:30pm without blowing their horn, but possibly playing the Love Boat music.  It was hard to hear over the reggae band in the complex.  All aboard for us was 5:30pm, where we waited on the veranda to sail away.  Due to a late arriving tour bus of 25 folks, we did not leave until 6:30pm in the dark.    That must have been an HAL excursion, or the ship may have left them behind.  The Staff Captain took over the helm, sailed across the northern coastline of the island, then turned south towards our next port of Puerto Limon in Costa Rica.  That will be on Saturday, the 7th.

 

All of us were at dinner around 7:30pm, and we all had stories to share.  We thanked Greg and Heo for being such good tour guides, getting a chuckle from them.  At the moment Woody does not have the use of his motorized wheelchair, since they left the charging cables at home by accident.  Needless to say, they did not get off of the ship today.  The cables will arrive to Panama City which their daughter mailed a few days ago.  Barb stayed onboard, which she usually always does.  Friends Ellen and Aart are here, but Aart has Covid (not a bad case) and is quarantined until Sunday we think.  Sometimes Barb will go off of the ship with them.

 

Our meals were good again tonight.  We began with Thai beef and papaya salads, arancini Pomodoro, a shrimp entrée, and meatballs and spaghetti, my favorite.  It did not disappoint.  Black cherry frozen yogurt and one slice of  chocolate whisky torte finished the meal.  The best part of the dinner is the company.

 

Tomorrow will be a day at sea with early morning Covid testing for all.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Greetings all!

 

The Renaissance Hotel stay was fine, but nothing fancy.  Adequate.

Yes, the Block Party would have been much better if they did it tonight, the first "dressy" evening and after the Covid testing.

Now that Gerald (Mariner Society Director) has retired, there has been no replacement.  There were no special gatherings for photos with the officers as we had in the past while waiting to board the ship.  Those days are gone sadly.

Many thanks Denise.....you know our blog address better than we do!

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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33 minutes ago, WCB said:

Many thanks Denise.....you know our blog address better than we do!

 

Haha! We are enjoying your blog every day in between building our ark. 
Hugs, Denise and Howie, too

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Report #8     Friday January 8, 2023  Sea Day Enroute To Puerto Limon   Cloudy With Showers And Sunshine 83 Degrees    Part #1 Of 1.........59 Pictures

 

Breakfast at 8am in the upper dining room was really good.  Since there are so few of us that have participated, the service is over the top.  We have the undivided attention of the best waiters.  There has never been a very long wait for our order to arrive.  Today that was important because we had a “date” with a self-administered Covid test in our rooms between 9 and 9:30am. 

 

Last night, we all had a letter describing the need to perform the rapid antigen test, and a 13-step set of directions to complete it.  Our room steward had an envelope with two tests, although they were missing the cap for the liquid vial.  Going out into the hallway, everyone was outside asking where’s the cap.  Apparently none of us had one.  Perhaps HAL got a good deal on these almost complete test kits!  The cap would have been easier to drip the drops of the liquid into the test strip, but we did the best we could.  Those with problems with their eyesight may have had trouble seeing the drops go into the small hole.   Once the tests were completed, we waited the required 10 minutes for them to develop.  Hurray….they were both negative. 

 

In the letter, they said to take a photo of the results with a mobile device.  Well, we don’t have one, so we were ready to take a picture with the camera when our room steward came inside our room, checked the results, and collected the used test components in a trash bag.  Never got a photo.  We would hear later in the day whether or not we would need to continue masking for a longer period.  In the meantime, the mask requirement remained in place until we reach Puerto Limon.  Fine with us.

 

Shortly after that, we took a hike for 2 miles outside, until it began to drizzle.  Good time to come back and take some photos of the masked boobys that had suddenly appeared.  Joining them was a lone female frigate, who was dive-bombing them as they fished the surf.  Best entertainment on the ship for us.  While we were on the veranda, the missing bottle of rum had been delivered.  Our dinner buddies have not received theirs yet, but should get them soon.  We also received a very pretty flower arrangement for our President’s Club every two week perk.  The flowers designs are nowhere near the artistic quality we got from Eddy and Calista, but they were really talented.  So much so, they opened their own business in the Nederland’s after they left the employment of HAL.  By the way, Greg pointed out that there were no more flower decorations on each dining room table.  Doubt there are orchids in the Lido, but we need to check that out.   There are many hidden cutbacks like this that we haven’t even begun to see as of yet.  When we do, we will mention it.

 

We did stop at the future cruise consultant’s desk just to inquire about a few trips we were interested in for 2024.  There is a one-time 28 day cruise in Alaska that just came out before we left home.  The deposit was quite steep booking it at home, so we waited until we were onboard where they offer a reasonable deposit.  So we ended up putting down a refundable deposit and got the perks that went with the booking.  Another one that caught our eye was a round trip San Diego voyage to the South Pacific, New Zealand, and Australia.  That would take place during the same time as the 2024 Grand World Voyage, and we are not sure we want to do.  Too much China for one of us.  We will have plenty of time to think about it.

 

The Daily Program was full of activities all day which included a watercolor class, Project Linus (knit and needlework), arts and crafts, and bridge class as well as trivia.  There are no more dance instructors or dance hosts, which we are sure does not sit well with the ladies.  Oh well, another cutback.

 

Tonight’s attire was “dressy”, which most folks were.  Although we were prepared for different types of dressier evenings, the suit had to be pressed, and the sport jacket had to be repaired.  So it was the tux tonight and not too flashy clothes for me.  No glitter yet.  The Captain’s welcome in the Mainstage happened at 7pm.  Only Greg and Heo attended and said it was packed.  And that was one of the reasons we did not go.  Same with Barb, Susie and Woody.  The first performance of the singers and dancers was at 7:00pm, so the welcome had to be very short and sweet.

 

Dinner items were the Culinary Council picks, which included more shrimp on a bed of greens, crabcakes, and other special appetizers.  Most all of us had the crabcakes, which they raved about.  There was one large one, but Greg said he would have increased that number and had that for his entrée.  If it appears on the menu again, he will know to order it that way.  We had one order of prime rib and one entrée of cod, which was plated nicely and excellent according to Bill.  A puff pastry filled with chocolate was really nice and something new.  Frozen yogurt is always my stand-by, as anything dark chocolate keeps me up most of the night and not worth it.

 

Since some of us wished to attend the show, we ended our meal by 9:20pm.   And an added perk was turning our clocks back one hour, the first one of many on this cruise. 

 

During the late afternoon, Captain Friso came on the speakers to announce that the numbers of people that tested positive for Covid were acceptable, but he wants to be on the cautious side, and continue the mask-wearing for a bit longer.  Some of the captains will give the actual number of infected people, but Captain Friso has never revealed that information.  And like we said, we will keep the masks on and glad to do it.

 

We still do get a card with a reminder to set the clocks back along with a quote of the day compliments of the Captain and Crew wishing us many happy adventures.  And although we told our room steward we passed on the towel animals, there was one left on our bed anyway….along with two pillow chocolates.  The chocolates have been re-instated for a daily delivery every evening. 

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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3 hours ago, WCB said:

 The flowers designs are nowhere near the artistic quality we got from Eddy and Calista, but they were really talented.  So much so, they opened their own business in the Nederland’s after they left the employment of HAL.  

Yea Congrats to them. They were amazing what they could put together even when supplies ran out and they had to shop in port. 

3 hours ago, WCB said:

 

The Daily Program was full of activities all day which included a watercolor class, 

 

Is Carol and/or Siri still teaching watercolor? 

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Report #9      Saturday January 7, 2023       Puerto Limon, Costa Rica  8am-4:30pm    Hot And Humid 85 Degrees    Part #1 Of 4.......67 Pictures

 

Costa Rica is a Central American country of 4.8 million Spanish-speaking citizens.  The capital is San Jose, and the area is quite diverse with lakes, waterfalls, volcanoes, jungles, and many beaches.  It is a tropical paradise where growing bananas (among other fruit) has put them on the map.  Their slogan is “Pura Vida”, which translated means pure or good life, and also reflects the standard of living which is high for this part of the world.  Wildlife includes caimans, turtles, night herons, monkeys, and sloths, some of which we did see today.

 

Our port of call was Puerto Limon, located on the Caribbean side of the country.  Hot and steamy, it is a working town, so most passengers leave the area and take tours.  We arrived  by 8am, and found that the Volendam had beat us here.  They are on their way to circle South America on a grand voyage, and we do know many folks on that cruise.  While we were eating breakfast, the Marella Discovery 2 pulled into the third slot.  It looked familiar to us, and upon looking it up in the cruiseship book, we realized it was the former Legend of the Seas (RCI).  It appears to belong to Tui Cruise Line now.  Smaller than us, we sailed on that ship in 2000 from Auckland to Sydney crossing the Tasman Sea during some pretty rough and windy conditions.  Wow, 23 years ago now.  Anyway, she houses up to 1800 passengers, mostly family, friendly British folks.

 

Having taken most of the tours here already, we were in no hurry to go to shore.  We like to watch the exodus from the promenade deck with the “sticky” people (tour groups with numbered stickers on their shirts) and others off for a stroll through town.  We had gotten the currency conversion card, which showed 575 Costa Rican colons which equaled $1 USD.  Good luck with that math.  Our little cards help with the scale going up to the equivalent of $1000 USD.  All of the vendors gladly accepted the USD for payment, and from the few things we priced, their quotes were correct.   There is a very nice souvenir shop that we have to go through to get to the gate.  We decided to check out their wares on the way back.

 

On our way to the gate, there were several locals hawking tours, most very reasonably priced.  The vehicles used were the mini vans and you had to wait until the vans were filled before they left the parking lot.  They had many takers between the three ships.  Some of the ship’s excursions included rides to the mountains and canals, or a town tour.  We had not remembered to check these out on the TV earlier.  So we missed the exact tours and prices because they had been removed from the site.

 

There is a small park near the port where some sloths hang out in the canopy.  Today there were a pair…a mother with a baby.  Locals like to pretend they own them, and will point them out for a tip.  Most of us know this, and do it on our own.  Unless the sloths move, they are hard to see. We did cross paths with Greg and Heo briefly as they looked for the lazy creatures too. Circling the park, we came out at the seawall, where locals will have picnics later on, especially today since it was Saturday.   They add some music, and you have a big party.  Pura vida!

 

Walking the seawall, we noticed there were no beaches here.  Access to those might be private resorts out of town.  What we saw were locals out and about, some of which were homeless people sleeping along the wall.  Guess we wandered into the seedy part of town.  Heading up one of the avenues, we made our way to the largest church here…..the Cathedral.  It is old, but filled with beautiful stained glass windows and a vaulted wooden ceiling.  Having one local coin in my pocket, I used it to light a “candle”, which was battery-operated.  It is an old Catholic tradition, which we still follow today (secretly wishing for a safe and uninterrupted trip).

 

Since we were not given a port map or guide on the ship, we had to depend on the town’s directions and map.  These days, it appears we are on our own due to the fact many people have cell phones with access to all that information.  It has saved HAL a lot of paper for sure.  As for us, we miss that info and a convenient local  paper map helping us find our way.

 

One of the places we wanted to see was the produce and local market.  It was rather crowded, so we did not linger too long.  Most of the stalls were under cover and quite dark for taking good photos.   And besides, the humidity was high today, and it was uncomfortably hot too.  So we headed back to the ship, stopping in the souvenir shop.  We did purchase an unusual wooden carved bowl to hold our pillow chocolates.  We had completed a two hour hike.  And it is worth mentioning here that one of us has developed a very sore shoulder and upper left arm.  This could have occurred while stashing the luggage under the bed a few days ago.  In the meantime, we hope the pain eases up and goes away. 

 

Back to our cool room, we downed sodas right away, then spent the afternoon relaxing on the veranda, after down-loading all of the photos.  A room service lunch was perfect.  One of us tried the chicken noodle soup, which still has the spaghetti for noodles, but the soup was delicious.  We shared a beef panini and cheese quesadilla.

 

We left around 5pm, with lots of horn-blowing from both HAL Captains.  The Marella Discovery 2 remained behind.  The Volendam followed us as we are both heading for the Panama Canal tomorrow, we assume.  We had a very nice sunny day today, but tomorrow the Captain said we might hit some rain….something very common for the canal zone.  We always welcome it, since it cools the air off somewhat.

 

Dinnertime had all of us show up to share stories of the day.  Barb, Susie and Woody had stayed onboard, while Greg and Heo had taken a mini van tour after our walk in the park.  They had a nice time, they said.  The dinner entrees have remained varied and interesting.  Because we are traveling in the Caribbean Sea, the dinner have been heavy on the spicy side, like jerk chicken or fish.  Not too spicy, but hot to the lips.  No complaints here.  One of us had the mahi-mahi and it was really good.  The everyday alternate strip sirloin steak was the best ever…tender and tasty with steak fries on the side.  The quality of the food so far has been a step above what we had on the Tales of the South Pacific.

Of course at that time, we spent many nights dining in the Pinnacle Grill.  We have yet to book a date there, but will do so soon. 

 

The guys were on their way to the Rolling Stones Lounge to listen to Steven Scott, the comedian onboard.  Greg admitted he was slightly disappointed with the Mainstage singers and dancers the previous evening.  The dancing was great, but the singing?  Just so-so.  One good thing is that the shows are 9 or 9:30pm now, and are better attended than later performances.

 

The clocks were ahead tonight, taking back the hour they gave us a few nights ago.  At dinner, Woody jokingly told our waiters he thought that was rude to give us something then take it back.

 

Tomorrow, we will be transiting the Panama Canal , a trip we have done well over 20 times.  We still marvel over the history behind it and look forward to watching the transit from our veranda.  One good thing is that the outdoor speakers in our area of the ship seem to be working better than they were.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Carol and Siri (watercolor gurus)are happily sailing as guests on this world cruise. 

 

Bill & Mary Ann 

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Thank you, Bill & Mary Ann, for bringing us along.

I was on the recent Grand Africa Voyage.  We had a map & port information for the first port, then nothing.  The last few ports had some maps & port info available at the front desk - if you asked.  Try asking.

We had eight good singers and dancers.  I heard that one or two of them gave dance lessons in the Ocean Bar - after someone had asked.

Your World Cruise might see some good changes, if enough people ask.

Barbara

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