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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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14 minutes ago, Florida_gal_50 said:

If you have been to most locations in the world I imagine perks do matter.  I know they do to me. Do you turn down perks when you go to interesting places?

I’m not saying anyone would turn down perks- what I am saying is I would not choose any holiday based on the perks. the destinations would come first for me.

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2 hours ago, Florida_gal_50 said:

If you have been to most locations in the world I imagine perks do matter.  I know they do to me. Do you turn down perks when you go to interesting places?

We'll see which Perks Mary Ann is talking about.

 

Think it's probably along the line of what my husband & I do.

We have our TA book the segments B2B that ends up being the same as the Grand Voyages as a whole.

 

Reason:  Often Get more in total OBC $ from HAL & our TA booking it B2Bs vs as a Whole.

Plus our TA company offers us a "Cash Back or Credit Card upfront" for each segment.  When we book B2B say as 3-4 Cruises vs 1 Grand Voyage these perks will often total more $$. 

TA also gives us Excursion Vouchers, Resort Day Passes., etc. 

If we book just the Grand Voyage as one long cruise - we only get 1 Vouncher/Pass, 

But let's say if we book the Same Grand Voyage as 3 B2Bs - we get 3 vouchers/passes.

TA gives us a bottle of wine at beginning of each segment - vs - just 1 bottle of wine at beginning of the Grand Voyage.

 

HAL's PC perks - will often multiply by her booking Grand Voyage via B2Bs vs just as one cruise.

So let's say instead of one welcoming Bottle of Champagne - she would receive multiple as each new Segment (B2B) begins.

 

While some B2Bs will not have enough significant savings in doing this - most often it pays to book B2B.  One has to weigh the options

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9 minutes ago, CruisingGrandmaW said:

We'll see which Perks Mary Ann is talking about.

 

Think it's probably along the line of what my husband & I do.

We have our TA book the segments B2B that ends up being the same as the Grand Voyages as a whole.

 

Reason:  Often Get more in total OBC $ from HAL & our TA booking it B2Bs vs as a Whole.

Plus our TA company offers us a "Cash Back or Credit Card upfront" for each segment.  When we book B2B say as 3-4 Cruises vs 1 Grand Voyage these perks will often total more $$. 

TA also gives us Excursion Vouchers, Resort Day Passes., etc. 

If we book just the Grand Voyage as one long cruise - we only get 1 Vouncher/Pass, 

But let's say if we book the Same Grand Voyage as 3 B2Bs - we get 3 vouchers/passes.

TA gives us a bottle of wine at beginning of each segment - vs - just 1 bottle of wine at beginning of the Grand Voyage.

 

HAL's PC perks - will often multiply by her booking Grand Voyage via B2Bs vs just as one cruise.

So let's say instead of one welcoming Bottle of Champagne - she would receive multiple as each new Segment (B2B) begins.

 

While some B2Bs will not have enough significant savings in doing this - most often it pays to book B2B.  One has to weigh the options

That makes great sense. Even for my small cruises it's different. I've booked back to back cruises lately as 2 separate because it wasn't available as one.  On each one I've gotten 2 5 star freebies for dinners.  If booked as a 14 I get 2 total.  I understand this is totally different than your example.

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1 hour ago, CruisingGrandmaW said:

We'll see which Perks Mary Ann is talking about.

 

Think it's probably along the line of what my husband & I do.

We have our TA book the segments B2B that ends up being the same as the Grand Voyages as a whole.

 

Reason:  Often Get more in total OBC $ from HAL & our TA booking it B2Bs vs as a Whole.

Plus our TA company offers us a "Cash Back or Credit Card upfront" for each segment.  When we book B2B say as 3-4 Cruises vs 1 Grand Voyage these perks will often total more $$. 

TA also gives us Excursion Vouchers, Resort Day Passes., etc. 

If we book just the Grand Voyage as one long cruise - we only get 1 Vouncher/Pass, 

But let's say if we book the Same Grand Voyage as 3 B2Bs - we get 3 vouchers/passes.

TA gives us a bottle of wine at beginning of each segment - vs - just 1 bottle of wine at beginning of the Grand Voyage.

 

HAL's PC perks - will often multiply by her booking Grand Voyage via B2Bs vs just as one cruise.

So let's say instead of one welcoming Bottle of Champagne - she would receive multiple as each new Segment (B2B) begins.

 

While some B2Bs will not have enough significant savings in doing this - most often it pays to book B2B.  One has to weigh the options

 

Just making sure I follow you....Assume you are booking the same cabin for each segment?  If so, another assumption is that you do not have to "check out" after each segment.  

 

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On 1/21/2023 at 11:41 AM, WCB said:

The only umbrellas we have seen on the ship are the large orange ones found in the Signature suites and above.

 

@WCB I would like to clarify for people that I have gotten umbrellas in my Veranda cabins, so not just for Suites. 

 

I sure wish I was in French Polynesia right now!!! 

 🏝️

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4 hours ago, djvand said:

 

Just making sure I follow you....Assume you are booking the same cabin for each segment?  If so, another assumption is that you do not have to "check out" after each segment.  

 

Yes I am able to book same cabin for all the segments.

But you'll have to book early - to make sure lots of cabins are available.

Once - the Cabin we had was already booked for one of the segments.

They bumped whoever was in the Cabin, sorry, so we could have Cabin for entire time.

(This was not the 128 Day Grand World Cruise it was a 28 Day So America B2B with 51 Day Tales of So Pacific.)

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Just now, CruisingGrandmaW said:

Yes I am able to book same cabin for all the segments.

But you'll have to book early - to make sure lots of cabins are available.

Once - the Cabin we had was already booked for one of the segments.

They bumped whoever was in the Cabin, sorry, so we could have Cabin for entire time.

(This was not the 128 Day Grand World Cruise it was a 28 Day So America B2B with 51 Day Tales of So Pacific.)

No we did not have to check out each segment on every cruise we've done this way.

But I do remember sometimes when in-transit back at FL or San Diego we did have to get off the ship for a short time.  Ship had to be at a "Zero Count" is what I think the terminology was.

Don't know if it was our because our last Port was in a foreign country - that necessitated us getting off the ship for that "zero count".

 

But I bet Mary Ann & Bill will know as they've done many B2Bs.

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Report #24   Sunday January 22, 2023  Bahia D' Opunohu, Moorea, French Polynesia  7am-4:30pm   Cloudy With Rain Showers 80 Degrees.......Part1 Of 5......60 Pictures 

 

Happy Chinese New Year…..the year of the rabbit we understand.  Normally this day would have been a formal evening in the dining room, but not anymore.  A few years ago, these types of events were moved to the Lido, which was decorated for occasions like today’s holiday.  All of the specialty foods are serviced there now, buffet style.  It used to be fun seeing the Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling in the main dining rooms, as well as the waiters dressed for the event.  Sadly, a thing of the past.

 

Anyhow, our port of call was Moorea, a tropical island with some coral beaches, vertical peaks, and very lush landscapes.  The Zuiderdam floated over to this island at 4:30am from the harbor of Papeete.  Only one of us was awake, the other definitely…not.  While on the way towards the sister island, Captain Friso came on the outside speakers around 5am to announce that all of Moorea’s peaks were visible….something seldom seen.  Not sure how many folks were up then, but at least one of us heard him.  

 

Arriving to Opunohu Bay, the Captain brought the ship straight in and dropped anchor before 7am.  The forecast was mostly cloudy and chance of showers.  On the way there, a sudden bolt of lightning came from an isolated cloud followed by loud thunder.  That was the one and only time that occurred. 

 

We were in no rush to go ashore, so we went to breakfast as we always do.  The service has continued to be over-the-top, since there were only about 10 of us dining in there.  The assorted berries appeared again, and the new fresh squeezed orange juice was the best.  Still enjoying the one cup of hot cappuccino. 

 

Watching the tendering process from the promenade deck, we noticed the ship was being turned to find that “sweet spot” for the smoothest transfer of guests.  Once again, there were many helping hands assisting everyone on and off of the small boats.  The crew members are the best.  We left the ship at 10am, taking note that two platforms were being utilized.  This is much more efficient than on the Amsterdam, which had only one platform in use.  One nice thing is that the boats were not being loaded to the gills before we left.  So much better with Covid still lurking among the population.  (Another one of our friends has been infected.)

 

A quick ride brought us to the dock where Moorean dancers greeted us as we entered the protected area of the souvenir tables.  Many treasures can be found there from the famous pearls to the artistic seashell jewelry.  No need for one of us to drool over the black pearls, because we purchased an elegant strand on the last cruise.  We headed straight to the elderly lady we always go to.  She immediately remembered us, and pointed to my earrings, a creation she sold us in November.  Naturally, we easily found another set to add to the collection, making her smile. 

 

We decided to take our usual walk, even though there would not be the reward of dining in the hotel that had closed last year.  Running into friends Howard and Gyl made the day for the four of us.  They are walkers like us, and we seem to cross paths in every single port.  Now it has become like a tradition.  Taking our time, we enjoyed the fact that today was not as hot as yesterday, and for sure, we were going to get rain.  Once we got to the Intercontinental Hotel driveway, now blocked, it began to drizzle.  Within seconds the drizzle became a downpour, but lasting only 15 minutes or so.  Not a problem since we did remember to bring umbrellas.  In fact, we did see room stewards bringing the large orange umbrellas to the guest’s rooms upon requesting them. 

 

On the same property as the now closed hotel is the Dolphin Encounter, which is still in operation.  A visit there is by appointment only.  Since we were sitting outside the gate, a guard came and asked if we had reservations.  No, we were just waiting out the storm.   His English was limited, but he did suggest we try the restaurant across the road for lunch.  It was called the Holy Steak House, which we assumed it was opened for dinner only.  It was a short walk up a steep road, so we decided to check it out.  And guess what?  It was indeed opened for lunch.  Hurray!

 

Seated over-looking the lagoon and reef, we ordered two Hinano draft beers – ice cold – and a cheeseburger and fries to share.  Dessert was a large slice of a brownie with nuts and a side of vanilla ice cream.  Like good children, we cleaned the plate.  The nice part was the fact there were only a handful of locals eating here, and for most passengers on the ship, this might be a bit too far to walk.  But there is the pearl shop next door, and there was a free shuttle ride there.  Best not to announce that fact, because the next time we come here, we may not have a place to sit.  And yes, that has happened elsewhere.

 

On the way back, we did have a few more raindrops fall, but it never developed into a shower.  It had in fact cooled the air off nicely.  There was no wait for the tender ride to the ship, and we got back before 3pm. Greg and Heo were on the same ride back, having done a fun tour on a snorkel boat, which they booked independently on shore.

 

The remainder of the afternoon, we worked on reports and photos.  Sail away arrived by 5pm, but the skies had opened up and the Seaview pool party was moved elsewhere.  While the Captain was inching out of the bay, he blew the horn a total of 14 times.  Why…we do not know unless there was a boat in the way.  We cannot stop on a dime, so we assume if there was a boat, it moved quickly out of our way.

 

Since there was the Chinese New Year event in the Lido, the dining room was not crowded at 7:30pm.  Better for us.  We ordered one swordfish plate, and one spaghetti puttenese  with slices of juicy chicken on the side.  Both were good.  Dessert was cake with rocky road ice cream and a fruit plate.  We’re going to sleep good tonight for sure.

 

Tomorrow we will be docking in Uturoa Raiatea, which is not a usual stop for a Grand Voyage.  Most of our tablemates do not recall ever being there.  Hope the rain stays away, since we will spend two days there.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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Greetings from French Polynesia!

 

Cruising Grandma said it all regarding the perks for booking back-to-back cruises.  We did this last year, because there was no GWV in 2022.  Booking in advance, our TA got us the same room for 11 cruises.  The President's Club perks were given for every 10 or 11 day trip, while if this was a GWV, we would get one SBC.  Since our SB account carried over, we accumulated a very nice SBC.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Report #25    Monday  January 23, 2023  Uturoa, Raiatea, French Polynesia   Cloudy With Showers And Some Sun, 90 Degrees Hot And Humid  Part #1 Of 4.........77 Pictures Day #1

 

We are not sure that today’s port of Uturoa, Raiatea has been a stop on a world voyage in many years, since our well-traveled tablemates do not recall ever stopping here.  We have been here numerous times because we have cruised on the Tales of the South Pacific every fall, except for 2020 and 2021.  One of the Leeward Islands of the Society Islands, Raiatea has a population of 12,250 French-speaking people.  The island can be circled on a 98 km road, but the best known fact is that this island has the only navigable river in French Polynesia.  Also this island is considered sacred having the biggest marae of all of the islands by the name of Taputapuatea, which earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.  A marae is a temple that is built with basalt blocks placed side by side and piled up.  It was a place for worship, burials, and human sacrifices.  Glad to report this practice does not happen in modern days. 

 

Modern Raiatea has many activities to attract snorkelers, mountain climbers, lagoon fishing, and motu picnicking.  It is also the nautical base for the yachting crowd where canoe races and regattas take place annually.  This all takes place in the town of Uturoa, where our ship docked this morning, and will stay until late tomorrow afternoon.  This main village is the administrative center of the Leeward Islands.  And we feel it is a far different island than some of the ones we have visited already.  It is opened to tourism, but still has the feel of a town in the 1950’s.  And when you come to Raiatea, you get two islands for the price of one.  Its smaller sister island is Taha’a, a very rural tropical setting filled with remote villages and vacation rentals.  They share a lagoon also.  While Raiatea grows the majority of the tiare plants, Taha’a grows vanilla beans, coconuts, and a certain type of sugarcane which is used for rum-making.  Black pearls are also produced here.

 

A few tours offered today were a motu picnic for $140, the highlights for $120, a tour of a pearl farm and snorkel for $130, a drift snorkel at Taha’a for $140, or a sunset catamaran cruise for $120.  Many folks we know hired a boat driver for a few hours for lots less.  While we were chatting with friends on the pier, a taxi driver came along selling a 3 hour trip to a beach 10 minutes away for $25 a person.  We all forgot to ask if that was a round-trip price.  He got no takers, but thanked us for listening. 

 

The ship was docked by 7am after it made its way through the lagoon of Taha’a.  Normally we leave that way, but for some reason, the Captain chose to approach a different way.  The dock area is spacious and all rocked and tiled.  The buildings are within feet of the gangway, which was super steep today.  The Amsterdam had lower openings at the pier, but this ship, the openings are higher up, creating problems with low and high tides in some of these ports. 

 

We left the ship around 10am, because earlier, the rain had come down like we had expected.  It was passing showers, and it did slow down by the time we left.  We took a right turn after passing through the tourist building, and made it up to the church and yacht area.  Nothing special was happening today like canoe racing.   We missed  that one that took place last October.  We did pass by the small harbor where the tour folks boarded many different vessels for snorkeling the reef.  They do not have to go far to drop off the swimmers near the breaking reef and a motu or tiny islet.  The experience may have been better if the clouds had left and the sky turned blue.  For our own tours we have done in the water, the sun made all the difference with the colors of the fish and the corals.   Today, the afternoon excursion guests may have had a better snorkel trip.  One of those trips included some of the crew members and the Captain.  They were headed towards a catamaran as we were going for lunch.  Nice to see them have enough time to enjoy an excursion like the guests.

 

We did stop at the restaurant directly across from the ship by the name of La Raie Gate.  It is small, but their food is very good.  Many people were having their salads, burgers, fish and chips, or pizza.  They make the best pizza here, which are a bit on the pricey side, but so good, it is worth it for us.  We added two Hinano Gold draft beers – the large size in a heavy cold mug.  By noontime, the sun began peeking out and it became darned hot and muggy.  The beers went down just fine.  The pizza we ordered was a pepperoni and cheese, and cooked perfectly.  Their dough was more like French bread and cooked until it was crispy.  We did have a bit of a language problem when we asked for the menu to order dessert, but were handed our bill instead.  Guess we had enough for lunch, and there is always tomorrow. 

 

We went back to the comfort of the ship, and decided to save the stroll through town for tomorrow.   It was close to 3pm when we returned to our room, where we chilled out until dinnertime.  Even reading on the veranda was too warm.  Looking at the thermometer outside, we found it read 92 degrees in the shade.  The rain never returned and the breeze had stopped.  Now it was warm and humid.  Some of our lady friends are not happy how the heavy humidity makes their hair go frizzy. 

 

Around 5pm we heard the sound of a drum coming from the terminal building.  Sure reminded us of being in Hong Kong or Singapore.  Looking from our veranda, we saw two lion dog figures performing for Chinese New Year.   The tradition brings good luck we understand.  We happened to be in the right place at the right time to take photos.  In the backround, we could hear fire crackers going off. 

 

An early birthday happened for one of us at dinner tonight.  Susie and Woody brought a gift of narcissus bulbs ready to plant, and two sets of chaise lounge ties for both of us.  Great idea and very sweet.  Of course, the hand-painted birthday card was more appreciated, since both of us have a collection of cards Susie has painted since 2007.  She is very talented in that area.  Our dinners were good.  One of us had the swordfish, and the other tried the breaded pork chop…..excellent choices.  By the way, our plates were hot as could be and we thanked our waiters for listening to our request. 

 

Last night the entertainers were a trio of Irish ladies doing a comedy act.  It was called the comedy of the Biddy’s.    Some of our tablemates liked the show, but some did not. We have seen these ladies last year while on the N. Statendam we think.   Tonight there was a movie shown – the remake of Love Affair. None of us went.

 

Another day in Raiatea tomorrow, although it sure would have been nice to make that stop in Bora Bora.  We are still trying to figure out why we were able to stop there last November with more guests and crew, but not now.  Perhaps their rules changed in January, or another cruise line paid more for the privilege.  Too bad as it is considered the “pearl” of Polynesia.  We tend to agree.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, WCB said:

Report #25    Monday  January 23, 2023  Uturoa, Raiatea, French Polynesia   Cloudy With Showers And Some Sun, 90 Degrees Hot And Humid  Part #1 Of 4.........77 Pictures Day #1

 

Another day in Raiatea tomorrow, although it sure would have been nice to make that stop in Bora Bora.  We are still trying to figure out why we were able to stop there last November with more guests and crew, but not now.  Perhaps their rules changed in January, or another cruise line paid more for the privilege.  Too bad as it is considered the “pearl” of Polynesia.  We tend to agree.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

they why NO Bora Bora no bigger than 1200 pax  https://www.cntraveler.com/story/as-more-ports-ban-mega-cruise-ships-what-is-the-future-of-the-largest-vessels

 

 

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Report #26  Tuesday  January 24, 2023   Uturoa, Raiatea, French Polynesia Day #2   Leave 4pm Today   Cloudy And Hot 90 Degrees  Part #1 Of 4..........60 Pictures

 

 

The Zuiderdam overnighted in Uturoa, Raiatea which usually happens in other major cities such as Auckland, Sydney, Singapore, or Hong Kong for instance.  We think this extra day was added to replace the missed port of Bora Bora.  Thanks to research done by fellow readers, we now know that the government decided to further limit the size of the ships arriving in the lagoon of Bora Bora beginning at the start of this year.  We are far from a mega-ship, but still have too many passengers to satisfy their new rules.  Hate to think that we will never visit that island ever again unless we go there on a smaller ship, which HAL does not own anymore.  Bet that puts a big dent in their tourism industry.

 

Our day began early with a knock on our door at 7:30am.  Who could that possibly be that early?  Turned out it was a delivery of flowers from a very favorite officer onboard that we have known for years.  By the way, it was a birthday for one of us, although I like to keep it under wraps.  Pretty hard on this ship.  We celebrated at breakfast with mimosas, but then we do that most every day. 

 

The weather was much better today since the rain stayed away.   It did eventually reach 92 degrees with a slight breeze and high humidity.   Ready for another walk about, we turned left and hiked the road out of the town.  On our first visit here years ago, we read that there was a resort up this way and a possible restaurant to get lunch.  Well, the further out of town we got, the more dogs began to appear, protecting their territory.  By the time we reached the resort, we discovered it had been damaged by a hurricane and was completely closed.  We came upon the same property today, and nothing had changed, except there was a taller metal fence around the whole area.  The good thing was that most of the dogs were behind gated driveways.

 

Time to head back to town, we took our time while enjoying the breeze in between homes.  All of their rock walls blocked what breeze there was.  The closer to noon it got, the hotter it got.  We did want to see what the town had to offer, so we went into their department store where the Hinano t-shirts were sold among other things.  Something we forgot was that everyone and their brother had visited this store yesterday, and the most popular sizes were about gone off of the shelves.  We did find one new design and bought it.  The grocery stores were quite busy with local shoppers, so we did not go inside.  We did head for the two story Marketplace, and took photos of the locally grown produce.  On the second level is their jewelry collection, clothing, and artwork.  The only way up there is by stairs, and since we did not need to buy anything, we skipped the climb. 

 

Time for beer and lunch, we headed back to the La Raie Gate restaurant right across from the ship.  About half of the guests were locals, and the other half from the ship like us.  We did a repeat of yesterday and had beers, pizza, and one dessert.  Smoking is allowed here, but we had the outside seats, and the wind was blowing the right way to avoid the smoke. 

 

Back in the coolness of our room, we discovered a covered tray had arrived with a single chocolate cupcake frosted with whipped cream and sprinkled with colored coconut flakes.  On the rectangular plate were the words Happy Birthday.  A card was placed next to the tray with birthday wishes from Captain Friso.  And here we thought they had forgotten my birthday.

 

All aboard was 3:30pm, and we were in place on our veranda to watch the sailing out of the harbor.  The Captain took the ship through the lagoon that is shared with neighboring Taha’a, an island much smaller than Raiatea.  Going very slowly, he blew the ship’s horn many times, but we do not know why.  Perhaps there were small boats in our way.  Located on the port side of the ship, we did not get the view of the island as we left.  But one of us had seen it while sailing in yesterday.  Truthfully, the light was better early yesterday morning for pictures.   We did have the sun and the heat until the Captain turned the ship to exit through the largest gap in the reef.  Now we are heading towards Tonga, and will arrive in four days. We will also cross the International Dateline on Friday. So Saturday will not exist for us.

 

One of our favorite entrees was on the menu tonight…….spaghetti with Bolognaise sauce.   Marlin was the fish plate, and although we had all ordered desserts,  a small mousse cake arrived for the birthday girl.  Many waiters gathered to sing the special song, which was much appreciated.  Short and sweet. Yes, it had been a very nice day in paradise.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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A blessed Happy Birthday. We always take a month long vacay in August to celebrate my wife’s birthday and our anniversary. Drives her nuts lol because we have celebrated around the world and she does not like it! 

Anyway its been going on for decades, Enjoy and treasure! 

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Report #27    Wednesday  January 25, 2023    Sea Day Enroute To Nuku Alofa, Tonga   Cloudy With Sun  80 Degrees Calm Seas   Part #1 Of 1........16 Pictures

 

A day at sea is what we all needed today.  In fact there will be a few more of these lazy days as we head towards Tonga.  The weather has remained warm and humid, but there has been a saving breeze, mostly on the port side of the ship.  Perfect for relaxing on our veranda off and on during the day. 

 

The biggest event of the day had to be the “Seaday Brunch”, instead of Sunday Brunch, since it was a weekday.  Our morning waiters told us that the previous brunch attracted 600 guests, and that number was expected this morning as well.  A few days ago, they started taking reservations, although we are sure a place would be found if you showed up anyway and were willing to wait.  Frankly, it is not our cup of tea, so we went to our regular breakfast at 8am. 

 

The Shops onboard are finally opened all day and are beginning to bring out some new items.  Today we saw white or gray quilted vests with the HAL logo on them.  Of course the thought of wearing these now is not appealing, but when we hit northern Europe, they may come in handy.   More Grand World Cruise t-shirts are appearing on the shelves too.  We have spotted more and more people wearing them.  The promotional sales are well-listed in the Activities at a Glance in the program.  There is something for everyone, especially those who have lots of shipboard credit to use. 

 

We took a walk on deck 10 for a change, but it was hot by noontime.  You can find shuffleboard and cornhole there, but seldom anyone playing the games.   Along the railing were dozens of lounges without sunbathers.  Looking down at the Sea View pool, we saw few folks in the pool and laying on the chaise lounges.  What a difference from the last cruise we did in this same area.  There was not a lounge to be found at that time.  We must have a whole different crowd doing this cruise.

 

Back in our room, we ordered a nice lunch complete with Cobb salads, a shared club sandwich, and a few cookies.  The meal was delivered within 20 minutes, and was followed up with a phone call to check how everything was.   So far, all has been perfect and we let them know.

 

We expect tomorrow to be much the same as far as the calm seas and weather goes.   Captain Friso mentioned to us that we need to enjoy the weather we have now, because there is a possibility of rain before reaching New Zealand.  But that will not be until February 2nd and a lot can change by then.

 

The dinner menu presented some new items.  Each one of us ordered something different, except those meals that came with French fries did disappoint some.  They were served almost cold.  A couple of our tablemates sent them back, but when they returned, they were not much hotter.  The only thing we could figure was that the fries were pre-dished and held in a warmer.  That is not quite the same as deep-frying them, and serving them within minutes.  Not happening tonight.  Desserts were good however.  But they always are.  One of us sticks to the fruit plate most nights, while the other has the special tarts, cakes, or tortes.  The rather small but decadent chocolate treat tonight was topped with caramel popcorn.  A combination you never would guess to be quite tasty.  This is when the smaller portions are appreciated.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Report #28   Thursday  January 26, 2023     Sea Day Enroute To Nuku Alofa, Tonga     Cloudy And Sunny  88 Degrees    Part #1 Of 1........36 Pictures

 

Yesterday we filled out an arrival health declaration form for entry in Tonga coming up this Monday.   All of the information was already filled out for both of us, so all we had to do was answer simple basic questions regarding our current health condition.   Then we were asked if we had been in contact with anyone who tested positive for Covid, or visited any healthcare facility in the last 14 days.  To be perfectly honest, we do not know for sure if we have been in contact with positive Covid guests.  At least not knowingly.  We have learned through the grapevine that some more guests have tested positive recently, but the actual number of those infected has not been released.  Nor will they be.  Anyway, we were supposed to bring the filled out forms to the mid-ship elevator landing this morning by 9:30am.  However, we were still eating breakfast and missed the time.  Not a problem, we took the forms to the front desk in the afternoon and they gladly took them.  That was our biggest job of the day.

 

Today there was a “Derby” Night with the ladies invited to show off their fascinator hats for the occasion.  This began at 6pm at the Lido pool, followed by the actual horse race at 7pm.  This is an activity we have not seen for many years, and we do think it will draw a big crowd once again.  Around the same time, we were invited to a cocktail party with our travel group in the Billboard Onboard at 6:30pm.  Half our group met at 4pm, since they were the early diners.  Our little group of friends was tucked into one of the tall booths and they made room for us.  Drinks of our choice were served and some canapies were passed around.  Our hosts came by and welcomed us all once again.  It has been almost a month since we had our welcome dinner in Ft. Lauderdale.  Time sures flies when you are having fun…………

 

An added treat was having a special guest join us for dinner tonight.  It was Renee, the spa manager, who we have known like forever.  It sure was interesting hearing about the chain of events she went through after all of us had left the ship in March 2020.  Getting home to South Africa was not easy for her and a few other employees that debarked in Durban.  They all had a mandatory quarantine time, which was longer than what exists now.  And at that time, the airports had grounded most all flights.  Eventually, she did make it back home, but her belongings did not.  Expecting to be re-assigned to the Amsterdam when they started cruising again, she had left most all of her things onboard.  Long story short….she never saw her possessions again.  And even worse, the ship ended up being sold and gone from the fleet along with three other sister ships.  None of us saw that coming….

 

Tonight was “dressy” again, and the menu was also notched up to match it.  The chefs have come up with some very different salads, as well as a cold soup every night.  For our entrees, we had one swordfish and beef wellington….both equally delicious and hot.  A praline cheesecake was served and the every day fruit plate did the job.   All in all, we had a super nice evening.  There was no entertainment in the Mainstage, but we did hear that the instrumentalist, Barry Seacroft, was fantastic last night.

 

And the clocks went back one hour again.  That’s always a plus.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Report #29     Friday  January 27, 2023      Day At Sea Enroute To Nuku Alofa, Tonga     Sunny And Warm 88 Degrees  Flat Seas   Part #1 Of 1...........42 Pictures

 

The days seem to be slipping by quickly as we sail towards Tonga.  One day in particular, Saturday, will not exist because we will be crossing the International Dateline, where one day ends, and the next day begins.  This lost day will be given back to us one hour at a time as we continue to head west.  Now the message in the Daily Program mentioned that the ship’s clocks will be advanced 24 hours, however, we need not do that.  The date will change from Friday the 27th to Sunday the 29th.  So some of our watches and clocks will have to be adjusted to change the date and day.

 

It was a lazy day for us and also a warm and humid one.   We noticed that during our walks that the waves indicated we have a following wind.   That usually limits the breeze on the promenade deck making it uncomfortable.  And the ship is going a measly 13 knots, compared to 18 or 19 knots.  It seems to cause more listing and pitching.  Usually we have a stop between Raiatea and Tonga, such as in the Cook Islands, Niue, or Samoa, but we do not on this trip.  That explains the slower speed we think.

 

There are two new speakers onboard.  Dr. Bruce Nocita is a geologist with lectures about plate tectonics, early history, and geological hazards.  Sounds like his talks may include tsunamis and possibly earthquakes.  That would be appropriate to the area we are now sailing since it is in the Ring of Fire.    Dr. Karen Woodman is an expert on world languages, culture, and history.  A very unusual subject, she was also a speaker on the Tales of the South Pacific last fall. 

 

Today we tried something we did not know we could do for lunch.  We placed an order for room service lunch during the serving time of the dining room lunch (12 to 1pm).  They had a cheeseburger with fries on the menu.  So we ordered two of those around 12:30pm, adding a salad and a few cookies, but to be delivered to our room by 2:30pm.   Guess what?  Our order arrived 10 minutes early, which was fine, and the burgers were hot and the fries crispy.   Now we’re talking.  The burgers were absolutely delicious, way better than Dive-In.  Ordering food this way has been the best we have seen, and we have told them so.

 

Later in the afternoon, we got a letter titled Health Reminder.  It was a general reminder to continue with precautions we have been taking for Covid.  The wearing of masks has been down-graded to recommended now and not mandatory.  So fewer guests are wearing them.  We are still uncomfortable in a crowded elevator, so have decided to keep the masks in or pockets just in case we need to use them.  We are all being asked to report any Covid symptoms to the medical staff who will provide testing at no cost to us.  We may be reading more into this message, but we feel that the Covid numbers are on the rise.  People on either side of us have had it, as we can hear the coughing and sneezing.  And with New Zealand and Australia coming up soon,  we bet there will be testing before our arrival.

 

Some new items popped up on the dinner menu.  They included coconut-crusted shrimp, kalbi ribs, and two types of soups.  The cold soups are back once again, although we prefer the hot ones. For dessert there was a blackberry crisp with ice cream, a decadent chocolate cake, and the always available fruit plate.  There seems to be something to make each of us happy.

 

The entertainment this evening was another performance by the Biddy’s, a trio of Irish ladies doing a comedy act.  Greg and Heo always attend the shows, and tell us about them the following day.  Most times they give a thumbs up.

 

Be back on Sunday……

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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