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


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Report #10    Sunday January 8, 2023    Transit The Panama Canal And End In Fuerte Amador 7am -8pm     Cloudy With Rain And Sun  82 Degrees Part #1 Of 4

 

Recently someone asked us how many times we have transited the Panama Canal.   To tell the truth, we had lost track of the exact number, but it is in the 20’s.  And we never tire of the sailing as it is a true wonder of the world.  The Zuiderdam was in line to enter the first set of locks at Colon quite early this morning.  So early, we missed seeing the new Atlantic Bridge which was completed in 2019. 

 

Breakfast was served at 7:30am, but not well-attended on deck three.  Perhaps the guests had forgotten to set their clocks ahead last night, or chose to sleep in a bit later.  No matter which direction the clocks are set, it does upset your internal clocks somewhat.  However, one of the nicest part of breakfast was the appearance of Panama Rolls, an HAL tradition since we can remember.  These rolls are made with a sweet yeast dough, and filled with a mandarin filling.  Yum.  We only had one each, but sure could have indulged with more.

 

While we were dining at a window table, a “mule” went by and the driver waved to us.   The ship was being raised in Gatun Locks and we happened to be at the ground level at that point.  We would be in three sets of locks, which would raise the ship 100 feet above from the Caribbean Sea to Gatun Lake.  In 2016, work was completed on a new set of locks here called Agua Clara Locks, which are capable of handling much larger vessels. 

 

Back in our room, we had the perfect spot to view this transit.  Most of the important sites would be visible to us as we are on the port side of the ship.  Weather conditions were on our side as well as it was mostly cloudy with a life-saving breeze.  Our room category included the use of Bushnell binoculars, which are adequate, but not as good as the Steiner’s we always use.  But now we each have a pair, and we could spot twice as much. 

 

While we were sailing in Gatun Lake for over two hours, we had time to look up some info on the country of Panama.  It is a Spanish-speaking country of 3.7 million people with the capital at Panama City.  Famous for their Panama Canal, it is the world’s greatest short-cut.  Cutting through the Continental Divide, it links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Riddled with setbacks and tragedies, the passage was completed  by 1914, and expanded by 2016 with new sets of locks.  These new locks can accommodate ships with more than 14,000 containers, making the canal central to the world’s maritime traffic.

 

Local speciality foods include sancocho or a chicken and veggie stew.  Ropa vieja is shredded beef served on a bed of rice, while patacones are fried green plantains.  Drinks are pipa, fruit juice or coconut water.  Seco is a locally made rum mixed with milk and ice.  Finally vino de palma is a fermented sap from the trunk of a palm tree…..refreshing they say.   

 

Reaching Gamboa, we saw the gate cranes, one of which is called the Titan, or also Herman the German.  Not sure it is still used, but it takes powerful large cranes to service the gates that hold back the water in the channels.  It is here that the river runs under the bridge from Lake Madden, and also the area where notorious Manuel Noriega was imprisoned until his death. 

 

Culebra Cut is where the canal begins to narrow and we crossed the Continental Divide. Gold Hill is located here, which was named that in order for the French to inspire workers to dig for it.  No gold was ever found there, but the work was completed.  Recently, rebar was added into the hillside to stabilize it from falling. 

 

Next was the Centennial Bridge, completed in 2004, which helped lessen traffic on the Bridge of the Americas.  We have had the pleasure of driving over it while on a tour several years ago.

 

We reached the Pedro Miguel Locks at 1pm, just as the Volendam was entering the first chamber.  We pulled up in the adjacent lock as she was being lowered 30 ½ feet to Miraflores Lake.  The ships were close enough for us to spot some people we knew on there.  The Zuiderdam was next to be lowered by 1:30pm. 

 

Sometime around here, the rain began to fall in a quick, but heavy shower.  It did help cool the air off briefly, but it remained humid the rest of the day.

 

It was time for lunch, but we did not want to leave the room, so we ordered room service again.  Expecting them to be very busy, we were pleasantly surprised to receive our food within 15 minutes.  While dining, we entered the Miraflores locks where the visitors center is located.  There were two levels of greeters today cheering the two ships onward.   

 

The new set of locks was not visible as they are located on the starboard side of the ship.   Cocoli Locks were completed in 2016 and have three lanes to transit instead of two.  This whole new complex is quite visible from the ships, and it is possible to see the water-saving basins that reduce the volume used during the operation. 

 

Once we passed Miraflores Locks, we knew to keep a lookout for capybaras , the world’s largest rodents.  And we mean BIG.  We did spot just one, and it was near 150 pounds, the size of a pig.  In the past, we have seen many more, but today we were exiting earlier than usual, so they were not all out grazing.  In addition, some folks spotted two caiman on the banks, where we always see them. 

 

Finally, the ship went under the Bridge of the Americas near Balboa which spans the entrance to the Canal.  It cost the USA 20 million dollars in 1962, and is 5,425 feet long, almost a mile wide.  It is part of the Pan-American highway linking the Americas from north to south. 

 

The Captain took his time heading towards Fuerte Amador because he had to off-load pilots and bring on a new one.  The plan is to overnight in Fuerte Amador, leaving tomorrow around 5pm.  Much to our surprise, when the Captain rounded the corner, we found the Volendam docked in a new cruise terminal, and we docked directly across from it.  This is all new since we were here in 2019, so there is no more tendering.  However, we have been advised we cannot walk out of this terminal and will have to take shuttles to two different areas of Panama City.  But more on that tomorrow. 

 

Dinnertime arrived at 7:30pm, and all were present, including Ellen who was dining alone once again.  Aart tested positive today, and cannot be released from his quarantine until he is negative.  He looks and feels fine, but the test says otherwise.  So Ellen joined our table and it was fun for all.  We realized that the majority of us are President’s Club members and should have the Club Orange menus.  It has one extra entrée compared to the regular menu, so our waiter promised to give us those menus from now on.  This is the first world cruise that Club Orange has been an option for some folks.

 

Not sure what our plans are tomorrow except maybe a ride on one of the shuttles.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Report #11    Monday  January 9, 2023  Fuerte Amador, Panama    Arrived Yesterday At 5pm Leave Today At 6pm   Mostly Cloudy With Rain Showers 80 Degrees  Part #1 Of 2......72 Pictures

 

Last night we received a letter explaining (ahead of time) that our internet service will be experiencing slow speed, partial loss of the signal, and temporary outages.  This is due to the fact that we’re heading into the middle of nowhere as we traverse the Pacific Ocean.  We know this fact quite well as we recently sailed back to San Diego from the Marquesas in November.  In fact, we had no internet.  We have been asked to reduce our use of video streaming and large downloads as much as possible from January 10th to the 17th.  When we reach French Polynesia, the service should be better.   

 

The day started off very warm with the sun shining in our room.  We were the first guests to arrive for breakfast and got the best attention ever.  By 8am, a few more folks showed up.  Something tells us that the rest of the President’s Club members did not read the message in our original letter of perks saying that we had our own special place for breakfast in the dining room.   

 

Anyway, there were some tours today that took people mostly out of the area.  There was an excursion to see the new set of locks on the Pacific side for $85 or a ride to see Old Panama for $75.  An aerial tram offered views of the jungle for $130, while a canal cruise took the guests to possibly see monkeys in the canopy for $110.  The Best of Panama covered the basics for $160, and there was always a visit to the Embera Indian Village for $120.  That was a hoot…we did it 20 years ago.

 

Watching from our veranda, we noticed there were few folks taking the tours.  Maybe because there were shuttles taking people to either the Multiplaza Mall or Perico.  We have no idea where Perico is located, but Greg and Heo were going to check it out after dinner last night just to see where the bus went.  They promised us all that if they felt it was not safe to go off of the bus, they would ride back to the ship.

 

The line waiting for the shuttles at 9:30am was very long.  Since it was very hot and steamy this morning, we decided to wait until 11:45am to leave the ship.  There was no walking in the terminal area at all, and no way to access where we used to tender in the small boat marina.  Once we boarded a small mini- bus, we saw why there was no walking.  The entire area around the new terminal was still torn up.  It will be a long time before this project will be complete. 

 

The ride to the Multiplaza took about 20 minutes, and we were glad we had worn our masks.  Most everyone, except crew, went mask-less and lots of them were coughing. Probably not Covid, but the start of colds or flu, who knows?  Neither of us want any virus, so the masks will stay on.  Buried within the downtown city of mega-towers, we arrived at the mall where we immediately recognized the entrance at Luxury Avenue.  We had done this same transfer back in 2019.  This mall was very nice and upscale with tons of shopping from everyday stores to the high- end ones.  Basically, we went there mostly to take a walk in a comfortable air-conditioned setting.  If we spotted a restaurant serving wood-fired pizza, we may have eaten lunch there.  Sadly, we saw nothing like that. 

 

No matter where we looked, we could not locate a map of this mall, so we just walked each level window-shopping.  Funny that in a mall this size that we would run right into tablemate Susie and Ellen outside the supermarket.  Ellen had already found some fresh flowers and Susie was working on a list of forgotten items.  They were heading back, and we were still wandering aimlessly.  Everything we needed we had bought while in Ft. Lauderdale.  One good thing was that the Panama dollar was the same as the US dollar, and they accepted both as well as credit cards. 

 

Time to head back, we left around 1:45pm and rode the little mini- bus back to the pier with Gyl and Howard.  The skies were getting darker and it sure felt like rain.  The weather can turn on a dime here as we saw yesterday.  Back in our room, we ordered room service with a promise the food would arrive in 30 to 40 minutes.   Honestly, the delivery came within 10 minutes.  These guys are good.  While enjoying our salad and sandwiches, we suddenly heard a huge bang outside like ka-boom.  The room lit up and we saw a flash and smoke.  Thinking it could be a bomb ( you never know in this part of the world), it looked more like lightning.  The Captain came on the speakers and said it was a lightning strike and it hit one of our antennas.  Not sure exactly what it damaged, but we are certain it can be replaced. 

 

At the same time the lightning hit, local workers were delivering produce and other items to the ship.  They never missed a beat as they used a crane to lift the heavy load into the ship.  Unconcerned with the blast we heard, they must have known what it was, and did not panic.  By the time the job was completed, the rain began falling heavily.

 

Around 4:30pm, the Volendam left the pier, tooted their horn, and headed south for their grand journey.  We left later than expected and followed their path around 5:45pm.  As we said, we will have eight days at sea in the wide-open ocean before reaching the Marquesas. 

 

We were all there at dinner, and shared stories of the day.  It is nice to hear what everyone did, since we all did something different.  We are getting used to the earlier dining time of 7:30pm.  It is better getting back by 9:30pm to the room or have time for the show.  The entertainment this evening was a show in the Mainstage called Panama.  Hope it turns up on TV, because we were way too tired to stay up that late. 

 

Tonight we were all given the Orange Club menu which offered a special of the day.  It was roast lamb, and one our tablemates ordered it.  We had one trout entrée and one cordon bleu plate….both delicious.  So far the meals in the dining room have been very good.

 

And we had a reminder to turn the clocks back one hour tonight.  That works for us.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Bill - Mary Ann,  Since I know you are from somewhere in California I hope it is not one of the areas under siege by Mother Nature. 

Thank you so much for again taking us along with you on your voyage.

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Report #12   Tuesday January 10, 2023   Sea Day   Cloudy With Rain Showers  80 Degrees    Part #1 Of 1.........25 Pictures

 

Our favorite “blue hat lady” (Barb) joined us at 9am for breakfast this morning, which she will do occasionally.  Most mornings, she will pay a visit to the Lido for a light meal.  She used to be able to get fresh-squeezed orange juice there, but no more.  We do have that served to us here, as well as mimosas if we wish….complimentary.  Martha and Bob joined us, which was nice.  We all stayed until almost 10am.

 

Perfect time for a couple of miles hike around the promenade deck.  There were some crew members working there today, which is a common thing to see.  The weather was mild although really cloudy.  It was obvious that there would be some rain showers today.

 

Greg had told us that the Shops were selling the 2023 world cruise t-shirts, but they did not all have the itinerary printed on the back.  So we went to check it out, and did find a long sleeve lightweight t-shirt with a partial list of ports.  Instead of each stop in Papeete, Moorea, and Raiatea, the shirt just said French Polynesia.  Same for some of the stops in Africa, such as South Africa.  Guess that this is as good as it will get because of the many itinerary changes that have occurred prior to the beginning of the trip.  Sizes were limited, so we picked up one itinerary t-shirt, and few other items that were in the correct sizes.  Right now, most of the sizes are small or xxxlarge.  We know from past experience that you have to buy something when you see it and not wait.  The sales folks said there may be more boxes of clothing, but they have not found them all.  Not the best answer to hear, but this is how they operate the shops.  The sales gal did put our name on a list if they find more regular 2023 t-shirts in the sizes we want. 

 

Then we read that the new library had a grand opening today, where the new collection of books was unveiled.  We are not sure what the room was called before, but we think there was a watercolor class held in there on deck three next to Merabella.   Actually, it was very nicely done with all of the subjects divided into sections.  Brand new mostly hardback books lined the shelves.  The popular ones have several volumes.  We are limited to two books at a time, and asked to return them in a timely manner.  Of course, the books need to be turned in before disembarkation.  No librarian is present, and there is a simple book drop cabinet.  In one corner, we spotted an exchange section.  Unlike the area of the Amsterdam, this library has no chairs or tables, just simply the books.  A nice addition in our opinion.

 

We retreated to our veranda to relax and watch the boobys flying alongside the ship.  Obviously they were eating something we could not see, like tiny octopus perhaps.  Normally these birds dive for flying fish, but today they were skimming the surface of the water.  Always fun to watch the action.

 

Today was the first time one of us attempted to try the jacuzzi jets in our tub.  Guess what?  It was broken and did not work at all.  So we placed a call to the front desk, and they promised to send a plumber this afternoon.  He did arrive shortly after our call, and found the broken part and replaced it.  Great…now we are in business.

 

Lunch for one of us was a bowl of chicken soup with a plate of rigatoni with marinara sauce.  It was the best ever, cooked fresh, and served piping hot with a side of garlic bread.  Nice alternate from sandwiches.  A Cobb salad and cheese quesadillas was the other lunch.  A few cookies ended the meal. 

 

We had an invitation to a President’s Club Reception in the Gallery Bar at 4:30pm to 5:30pm.  We were greeted by Captain Friso, Henk, Shiv, Ian, Michelle, Chantal, and other key officers and staff.   There are reportedly 44 in our group, and adding the staff members, the room was full.  Drinks were served and appetizers passed around while Captain Friso welcomed us back to another “full” world cruise.  Everyone clapped happily.  On past trips, these affairs would be scheduled between dinner times.  These days, there are too many times with open seating, not counting the fixed seatings.  So they did it early.  We left before 6pm, then had some down time in our room where photos got downloaded before our dinner time. 

 

For some reason, our meal service was slow due to the fact so many guests had ordered the scallops for their appetizers.  Not me as I am highly allergic.  Our mains included barramundi and veal piccata on a bed of orzo.  All very tasty.  Barb got antsy and left the table before dessert which was a nice caramel Brule-like serving.  On a side note, we have noticed that the chefs have re-introduced cold soups once again.  And I am sure we have mentioned how often we see one or two types of shrimp for appetizers.  All with no extra charges.

 

The entertainer this evening was pianist Elliot Finkel, an artist we have had the pleasure of seeing for several years now.  With credits including Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, and Broadway, you know his show will not disappoint.  Many years ago, he traveled with his father Fyvish, and also his brother Ian.  Both of them have since passed away, but they were quite a trio in the day.

 

So much for our first day at sea on our way to paradise.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Report #13     Wednesday January 11, 2023    Sea Day Enroute To Nuka Hiva, Marquises   Cloudy And Cooler 78 Degrees   Part #1 Of 1........43 Pictures

 

Our second day at sea was a relaxing one, just the way we like it.  More friends are showing up at breakfast in the upper dining room, so we hope that this service continues.  On our N. Statendam cruise last year, there were far fewer guests in the evening, and the upper dining room was closed completely, except for teatime.  Our fixed seating at 8pm, became mixed with anytime dining.  We did not care for the continuing meal service with some entering and others leaving around us.  Anyway, the breakfast continues to be top-notch and one of us is enjoying the complimentary almond milk cappuccino as the final cup of hot coffee.  

 

Taking our morning walk on the promenade deck, we crossed paths with Greg and Heo doing the same thing.  We all had a treat when we spotted many pods of jumping dolphins perhaps 100 yards away from the ship.  There must have been a string of dolphins one mile long.  The birds had left us however, even though we did see some small flying fish present. 

 

We did a bit of exploring, finally after being here almost a week.  Taking a ride up to deck 10, we checked out the Crow’s Nest where every table had folks playing cards or table games.  A few jigsaw puzzles were in progress, although one puzzle was missing four pieces.  Believe it or not, some passengers will take a few pieces then add them when no one is looking.  Why?  Don’t know….it’s a power thing.

 

The Shore Excursion folks were busy as was the Explorations Café.  It sure looks different from the bar and bands that used to be here.  Finding a narrow staircase, we went up to the Cabana area or the Retreat section on deck 11.  None of the tents were occupied today from what we could see.   Perhaps they are busier on shorter trips.  Last fall, we did have a wonderful President’s Club cocktail party with the staff up here.  It was really nice until it began to rain, when we took shelter in the cabanas.

 

From here, we walked back downstairs (there is an elevator) and made our way through the Seaview pool area, the Lido Restaurant, and the Lido pool area.  We spotted many folks we recognized from previous world cruises – all staking out their tables for the upcoming lunch buffet.  We searched for friends Pauline and Mike, but they were not there yet.  We did see the Lido manager Ronald, who is one of the most liked fellows onboard. 

 

Since we had a lot of sun shining on our veranda, we relaxed there and one of us began reading one of the library books.  We had a nice breeze and so far, the weather has been tolerable.  Still, we have to be careful because we are heading further south, and the rays are much stronger here. 

 

Lunch included two chicken Caesar salads, and a shared club sandwich.  Very good.  Even the 3 chocolate chip cookies have gotten better since the first day.  There must be a new baker onboard.  When we finished our meal, we had a phone call from the Shops.  The sales gal had located a couple of world cruise t-shirts in the size we wanted, and said she would hold them for us.  So we took another walk on the promenade deck, the ducked into the store.  There were no other customers at this time, so as well as purchasing the t-shirts, we checked out their collection of Maui Jim glasses.  Trying on several types, we ended up purchasing 2 pairs which we really needed.   They are polarized and well made. 

 

We have noticed that the service at our dinner table has been not quite as seamless as it had been earlier in the cruise.  If there happens to be a popular appetizer or entrée, like scallops or rack of lamb as there was tonight, our dinners do not arrive together.  Telling everyone to please go ahead and eat, they do so reluctantly.  This evening, we got our dinners late, even though one of our orders was the fish.  Could not help but notice that my rack of lamb was fried, not roasted.  It was tasty, but not the same.  Anyway, we survived and enjoyed desserts of frozen yogurt and a cheesecake with meringue.

 

And the clocks were set back another hour.  Good news.

 

Bill & Mary Ann  

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Report #14    Thursday January 12, 2023   Sea Day Enroute To Nuka Hiva    Cloudy With Some Sun  78 Degrees   Part #1 Of 1.........32 Pictures

 

You would think that since we are getting closer to crossing the Equator, the temperatures would be stifling.  Much to our surprise, we felt far less humidity, and temperatures than never exceeded 80 degrees.  This suits us just fine, as we are still getting used to warmer days.  It would turn out to be another day to enjoy our veranda. 

 

Our day started out with another nice breakfast, where we were invited by our “breakfast club” friends from what we all knew as “Ganville” to take a group photo.  Simply put, the six of us dined in the same area on the Amsterdam for breakfast, and Gan was our waiter.  One of the nice guys, he took care of us, but after Covid shut down cruising, he decided to get employment elsewhere.  Many of the fellows did the same thing, but it took many of them away from Holland America Line.  Now that he is not here, his colleague, Danu, has taken over as our assistant morning waiter.  Another really nice waiter, he posed with the six of us, and Linda will send this via Facebook where we know Gan should see it.  “Danuville” is the new name.  Hope he gets a chuckle from it, and he will know he is truly missed.  Andri is our main waiter, and we are so glad he stayed.  They make an excellent team.

 

Walking this morning was pleasant, since it had not gotten too warm.  When we did this run last November, we had rain all the way from Papeete to San Diego.  At least, it is dry, although cloudy, the sun did shine through off and on all day. 

 

Wanting to check out the limited collection of South Pacific pearls in Effy, we priced some of their necklaces and pendants.  Anything with diamonds was over-the-top expensive.  However a few of the strands were affordable.  The sales fellow seemed most willing to give discounts as well.  We do have time to make our minds up, but at least we got to see some of the items close up.  One problem we could see right off the bat, was that many of the stranded pearls were chokers, and we mean chokers…..too tight for the average woman’s neck.  Inquiring if they had the ability to lengthen them, they said they would work on a solution, and call us if it was possible.

 

Passing by the Ocean Bar after 10am, we saw the group of ladies (and maybe some men) working on their Linus Project items.  It is called the sit, knit, and needlework group, and the entire room appeared to be full of guests busy at their projects.  I have a needlework picture framed at home with the saying “Busy hands, happy heart”.  This sure could apply here and was nice to see. 

 

Of course the activities were numerous all day long, and there is something that would appeal to most everyone if they choose to be busy.  Compared to the shorter cruises, the various activities offered on sea days attract many repeat passengers that enjoy being busy.  And many of them know each other.

 

Today we inquired about the ability to order dining room food during the serving times.  Such as lunch from 12 to 1pm.  The nice room service fellow said we can order during any meal service time, and have it delivered to our suite.  And it still remains at no cost, unlike ordering from the Dive-In or the Pinnacle Grill.  One of these days we will try ordering the cowboy burgers from the dining room lunch menu, and see how that works.  On our last cruise, we tried two burgers and fries from the Dive In, and were disappointed as they were barely warm and the fries limpy.

 

Even though we are a bit late reporting this, we had been invited to a wine tasting held in the Crow’s Nest two days ago.  Even though we don’t drink wine, we have attended numerous tastings onboard the various ships over the years.  It was always a food pairing with the different wines, which made more sense to us.  In the end, we still came out not caring for the wine, but appreciating how food can taste better with it.  Now the reason for these wine tastings is to obviously sell their wine packages.  Yesterday we took that trip up to the Crow’s Nest to see the set-up for the second day of tastings.  The wines had been separated into three cellars (categories), and presented by whites and reds, along with their clever names.  And we had heard that no food was included with the tastings due to Covid restrictions.  We heard many comments that people really missed the assorted cheeses, crackers, and fruit, even though the servings were small, it was better than nothing.  Maybe someday, the food will return.

 

Our dinner service was better this evening.  We were all served in a timely manner, and at the same time.  It sure is awkward when one or two of us has to wait for an entrée.  We do believe the head waiter was aware of this situation last night, and stuck around throughout our entire meal.  He asked each of us if we liked our starters and mains, more than once.  Even followed us out of the dining room to make sure we were happy campers. 

 

The show tonight was a performance by vocalist Rebecca Kelly, and the fellows were on their way to listen.  By the way, since early this morning we have had no TV reception, as expected according to our warning a few days ago.  Luckily, the internet still worked for us.  We happened to notice a mysterious credit for internet on our shipboard account.  Tonight we had a message that due to the diminished connectivity during the 8 day crossing to Nuku Hiva, everyone with an internet package received the credit. 

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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16 minutes ago, WCB said:

And we had heard that no food was included with the tastings due to Covid restrictions.

 

Oh, that is ridiculous!  Wine tastings on HAL ships within the last couple of months have had food pairings!  I witnessed that personally on Nieuw Amsterdam and Rotterdam in September, October and November 2022.  

 

I'm enjoying all your posts.  We're trying to stay dry here in California and out here near Concord there hasn't been much flooding, but some downed trees have caused road closures on Ygnacio Valley Road and the ensuing traffic chaos.  

 

~Nancy

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Thanks for the "heads-up" on the wine tastings that occurred while on other HAL ships as recently as the fall of 2022.  We shall pass this information to the head sommelier.

The internet is spotty, but we have had luck in sending and receiving emails so far.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

PS  We did lose a few shallow-rooted pine trees during the worst of the rain we have been told by our son and neighbors.

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On 1/12/2023 at 9:21 PM, oakridger said:

 

Oh, that is ridiculous!  Wine tastings on HAL ships within the last couple of months have had food pairings!  I witnessed that personally on Nieuw Amsterdam and Rotterdam in September, October and November 2022.  

 

I'm enjoying all your posts.  We're trying to stay dry here in California and out here near Concord there hasn't been much flooding, but some downed trees have caused road closures on Ygnacio Valley Road and the ensuing traffic chaos.  

 

~Nancy

March/April 2022 we had a small plate of cheeses and other things for the wine tasting on Zuiderdam.

37F8B34C-3E13-47CB-92E7-1ACBB061E4BB.jpeg

Edited by TiogaCruiser
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Report # 15     Friday  January 13, 2023  Sea Day Enroute To Nuka Hiva   Partly Cloudy With Sun  80 Degrees  Part #1 Of 1.........0 Pictures

 

Remember when we had a few specials of the day in the dining room for breakfast?  Well, that little notice was on our table his morning with a choice of a breakfast burrito or two Belgium waffles with special toppings.  The daily menu is fixed, so it’s nice to have some options. We have continued to enjoy the mimosas and cappuccinos. 

 

During our morning walk, dolphins were spotted once again, but on the starboard side.  Of course, we did not have the camera.  Making another stop in the new library, one of us picked up an exchange book.  That section had tripled in a few days, because many guests bring books with them.  On the way to the elevators, we ran into a couple from Canada that we had met a year ago while on the Caribbean cruises.  At that time, they had recognized us from our blog, and we chatted for a while.  Turns out we have lots in common starting with knee problems and a shared interest in the outdoors and animals.  What a combination.  We will surely cross paths many times on this long trip.

 

We took a walk to the Seaview pool where we noticed a new ramp was created for walkers and wheelchairs.  It ended at the two jacuzzis making it ADA compliant.  This must have been added during the recent dry docking.  Sitting nearby, were Barb and Greg.  We joined them poolside and sipped ice cold lemonade.  The tables were filling quickly because it was close to noon time and the folks were coming out with Lido food.  Barb and Greg were meeting Heo in the dining room, where they share the same table on sea days.  

 

Back at our room, we had a notice that we would be crossing the Equator today bringing us into the Southern Hemisphere.  The actual King Neptune Ceremony will happen in March, when we cross it again.  We have all been pardoned until then.  Hmmmm, the last time we did that on the Tales of the South Pacific, we had nothing but driving rain most of the way back to San Diego.  King Neptune was not so forgiving back then.

 

We had another small notice that a prorated credit had been applied to our shipboard accounts for the diminished internet during our 8 day crossing.  We had discovered the credit yesterday, and felt it was fair.  Other than losing the TV reception this morning, the internet was not completely gone.   Trying the TV around 3pm, we found it had returned.

 

After lunch, we took another walk and returned the card with our next President’s Club benefit of sodas.  We get this every two weeks, which works out nicely.  Also, we requested to have our air vent filters replaced.  You would be surprised how much dust can collect in them.  And this room has two of these vents.  After dinner, we found a note saying the work had been done.  That was quick.

 

This evening was the first “formal” evening for dinner.  In fact it was named the “Captain’s Dinner”.  A special menu was given and some of the larger tables were hosted by officers or staff.  We had the pleasure of the company of the first electrical officer, Ben.  Wine was provided for all, except those of us that requested diet Cokes instead.  This is the first menu where we saw a charge if you ordered an extra entrée of surf and turf.  If you preferred to have two orders, the charge was $7.50.  We have seen guests order numerous lobster tails, so this was designed to stop that habit. 

 

One of us ordered the salmon plate, while the other had tortellini with a filet mignon on the side.  There was no charge for doing that.  Crème brulee was on the dessert menu, but it turned out to be a small tart with a crust.  Not exactly what we expected.  We also shared a small slice of chocolate cheesecake, the better choice in our opinion. 

 

Following dinner was the Zuiderdam Ball, which was done differently.  It was not held in the Mainstage, but on the Music Walk on deck two.  It spanned the Rolling Stone Lounge, Billboard Onboard, and the Ocean Bar.  That began at 9pm and would last an hour where the dancing continued in the Rolling Stone Lounge.  Since we were still eating dinner, we missed most of that activity as we usually always do. 

 

Back in the room, we had two gifts of diaries for the world cruise as well as a towel animal, even though we did not ask for one.  They are amusing.  The better gift was setting the clocks back another hour, putting us on West Coast time we believe. 

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Hello OldTymeCruiser,

 

Could you tell us your brother's name?  We will be attending a special dinner for President's Club in the Pinnacle Grill tomorrow, and perhaps he will be there also.

We have not received a watch, nor have our President's Club buddies, who are all long time members.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Report #16    Saturday  January 14, 2023   Day At Sea Enroute To Nuka Hiva     Sunny With Clouds 75-80 Degrees   Part #1 Of 1........55 Pictures

 

Part of the fun of cruising is being able to share info with friends the following day regarding events, such as the Captain’s Dinner last evening.  A funny thing happened at dinner, depending on how one looks at it.  If this occurred to one of us, then it’s not so funny.  Anyway, towards the end of our meal, a full glass of red wine was accidently spilled , mostly in the direction of our guest host.  The look on his face was priceless as he politely said it was OK….not too bad.  The funniest thing was when our buddy, Barb, blurted out “It wasn’t me….I didn’t do it!   Well, that presented the perfect time to call it an evening, and thank our host for joining our lively group.  Not sure how he felt about the special “christening”, but if we don’t see him again, we will know why. 

 

Then we learned from a breakfast buddy that the Lido dinner did not offer lobster tails on the buffet for the formal dinner.  A frequent diner in the Lido for dinner, she told us only a handful of guests ate dinner there last night.  Only the filet mignon or baked tenderloin was served….no surf and turf.  On one world cruise, we spotted a lady in the Lido that had ordered six lobster tails, and had a waiter pack them to her table for one.  HAL has made sure that cannot happen anymore.  You want extra – you pay $$$.

 

The weather has remained perfect and the seas have been smooth.  Except for an occasional roll of the ship, we have barely noticed the movement.  What we have observed is the fact that fewer and fewer folks and crew are wearing masks.  Truthfully, the only time we still feel vulnerable is riding in elevators.  We did see a hand-written note on a cabin door up the hall from us saying do not enter without a mask.  Perhaps they are elderly folks with other complications.  Who knows?

 

After the morning walk about the promenade deck, we wanderd up to deck 10 and passed by the watercolors class in progress.  They use the Club HAL room and it is a small group.  Coloring for adults, something fairly new, was being held in the Encounters Room….still not sure where that is located.  So far our travels have not taken us by the arts and crafts session in the Lido, but we are certain it is full of crafters.  We used to eat lunch around the same time of the class while on the Amsterdam, but the loudspeaker drove us out.  Another great reason for getting room service.

 

We had the best chicken Caesar salads from room service today.   So far, their food and service has been top-notch.  We spent the afternoon downloading photos and reading a book.  Reading has not been a pastime that we always have the time to enjoy.  One of the books we picked up has to do with animals…right up our alley.  From dogs and cats to lions and tigers as privately-owned pets.  Really interesting.

 

Dinner was back to normal without the fancy clothes and an appealing menu.  One of us had the tomato soup, while the other enjoyed the salad.  Mains were English roast beef (no Yorkshire pudding), and a trout entrée, complete with two bones.  First time to find those.  But trout is notorious for tiny slivers of bone.  Cheesecake made up for the bones.  Tomorrow our table will be empty because five of us are invited to the Pinnacle Grill for the first group of the Presidents Club   special dinner.  Tina, the PG manager stopped by to double-check on allergies for me and Susie.  Shellfish and peanuts are off the menu for us.  Nice that she remembered to ask.  Greg and Heo are planning on a dinner in the Canaletto.  Wish they were PC like the rest of us. 

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Hello Bill & Mary Ann:

 

Always enjoy your posts/blog.

Thank you bringing us along on your journeys.

 

LOVE the Sunrise Pictures you recently posted on your Blog.

Sunrises/Sunsets at Sea -- are my favorite aspects of cruising.

 

Sounds as though HAL is really going out of their way to make this a Wonderful GWV.

 

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