Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - Day 3 Ė At sea
At noon today I spot Cuba from the right side of the ship. The captain announces
we are passing within 6 nautical miles from the tip of Cuba at 2PM. The island
of Hispanola is visible from the other side of the ship, but it is really just a
smudge on the western horizon as we sail between these two large islands. I take some photos of both, but because it is
midday the results are washed out despite using a polarizing filter.
I have a very nice breakfast this morning in La Fontaine, the main dining room.
I am seated at a table for four, and meet a couple from Chemainus who used to do
the mapping for BC Parks interpretive signs, and a young woman from California
who is debarking in Callao/Lima to realize her dream to see Machu Picchu. The
couple relate how they traveled to Ft. Lauderdale by train using Amtrack from
Seattle to Chicago, then to Washington, DC, and finally to Ft. Lauderdale.
Apparently their arrangements cost about the same as flying, and it took 3-4
days. This strikes me as a great way to avoid the hassle of the airlines
and airports if you have the time to spare.
I attend a presentation by Martin, the Shore Excursions manager this morning,
where he reviews all the excursions for the first half of the voyage. He
mentions that all Holland America excursions to Machu Picchu depart the day
after our scheduled arrival in Callao/Lima because the ship is often late
arriving if the seas are rough off the South American coast. This is a concern
of mine, since we leave on a flight from Lima airport around 2PM on the first
day of arrival, so I hope the seas cooperate and the ship arrives on time. Iím
resolved to not worry about it, since there is absolutely nothing I can do about
weather in the Pacific or when our ship arrives in port some two weeks from now.
It is formal night this evening and we go to Canaletto, the Italian-themed
restaurant. The food is wonderful, and the serving staff is very friendly.
Afterwards, we we go to the deck above the bridge to observe the night
sky. It is nice and dark up there - Jupiter is directly overhead, Orion is
laying on his side in the East, the Pleiades (M45), Andromeda Galaxy (M31), the
M35 open cluster, and the red star in Taurus are all easily observed with both
my image-stabilized Canon binoculars and unaided eyes.
I go to the late show at 10PM, which highlights Broadway song-and-dance. This is the
first time I have seen the shipís singers and dancers. The numbers they perform
are really well done and it is fun to watch.
Thursday, November 24, 2011 - Day 4 Ė At sea
I decide to go to La Fontaine, the main dining room again this morning for
breakfast. I am seated at a table for six with a couple from Calgary and a
couple from Houston, Texas. The woman from Houston is originally from South
Africa and spots my JoeTourist Africa t-shirt Iím wearing, so she and I talk for
quite awhile about South Africa. She was pleased to hear I drove from
Johannesburg all the way down the Wild and Garden coasts to Cape Town. She
related some interesting stories about the gold mines, when she was living in South Africa
many years ago. As many South Africans did, she decided to emigrate when she was a
young adult because of the personal security issues plaguing the country.
I attend another presentation by Martin, the Shore Excursions manager this
morning, where he reviews all the excursions for the second half of the voyage
from Ecuador up the Pacific Coast to Mexico. I might decide to book a tour in
Guayaquil, but otherwise I think the shore excursions I have prebooked will work
fine for me.
After lunch, I sit out on the Lower Promenade Deck in a deck chair and read
Echo Ė a book on my iPad. It has taken me awhile to get into this book,
but now Iím actively reading it. This is classic cruise ship stuff Ė reading a
book in a deck chair, and Iím not alone. There are dozens of passengers doing
exactly the same thing.
It is American Thanksgiving today, so roasted turkey is on the menu in La Fontaine the main
dining room this evening, however I have the grilled salmon instead. I also
order a bottle of California white wine, since my friends and I feel like some wine with
dinner this evening. Most times we donít bother drinking with our meals since it
is pretty expensive. We have some nice desserts and cappuccino to finish.
We manage to find some of the last seats available in the first show in main showroom to see
Lance Ringnald, a two-time Olympic gymnast gold medal winner who does a great
acrobatic show using silks hanging from the stage ceiling. I saw his act on the
Volendam on last yearís cruise, and was eager to see a repeat performance. He
didnít disappoint. This is not typical of the featured entertainment you expect
to find on a cruise ship, but Lance has perfected a nice combination of
gymnastics, acrobatics, and funny banter with the audience that works well and
I go to bed after the show, since we are in port tomorrow in Santa Marta,
Columbia, and I have a half-day shore excursion
to catch at 8:35AM.
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