April 10, 2023 – Monday – at sea offshore from the Bahamas in the mid-Atlantic
The Nieuw Amsterdam is sailing from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Grant Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands today, so I have the whole day to myself. It is a beautiful day at sea as the ship sails the warm mid-Atlantic offshore from the Bahamas, arriving in Grand Turk tomorrow morning.
I attend the grand opening of the new Library by the Captain this morning. Over the last few years, Holland America decided to greatly reduce or completely eliminate the libraries previously aboard all their ships. Feedback from their customers obviously caused them to reconsider this decision, so here we are today to celebrate a beautiful new library!
This afternoon I observe Caribbean Booby Gulls wheeling beside the ship near the bow, so I put my telephoto lens on my camera and take a few photos (see banner image above). I make an entry in my bird observing log, and note that the last time I observed these distinctive birds was back in 2018 when I was aboard the sv Royal Clipper near Gustavia, Saint-Barts.
I go to Tamarind Asian Fusion restaurant this evening for dinner, since it is my favourite premium restaurant on Holland America ships. I arrive early to have a martini at the Tamarind bar, but since they are hosting the martini hour this afternoon, it takes a half hour to get my drink so I just take it into the restaurant where my table is ready for me.
I have the Lobster and shrimp potstickers to start, Wasabi and soy crusted beef tenderloin with brown rice and sake braised oyster and shiitake mushrooms as my main, and exotic fruits with mandarin sorbet for dessert. The beef is a new dish for me, and tastes great, especially with the spicy sauce and the mushrooms. I give a good review for my server in the Navigator app, since she is so personable and gives me great service.
Our first day at sea out of Hawaii is pretty rough. Although the outside decks are not closed, everyone is weaving a bit when walking. Most passengers are wearing masks today – a good thing! I have breakfast in the Grand Dutch Cafe: cappuccino, blueberry muffin and a fruit and yogurt parfait.
Captain Cook – The often-surprising tale of a well-traveled explorer – an EXC Talk delivered by Cruise Director Jayme.
At noon, the captain reports we are averaging just over 16 knots but need to average 18 knots to arrive in Vancouver at the scheduled time. The 20 knot NE wind we are currently bucking is predicted to switch to a southerly later this afternoon, so that should help increase the ship’s speed. The captain also mentions there are cases of the virus onboard, “so be careful out there, wear a mask, and wash your hands often.”
This evening I listen to the two piano players playing pop tunes in the Billboard Onboard lounge while enjoying a Tanqueray 10 gin martini (see banner photo above), and then briefly listen to the adjacent Rolling Stones Rock Room musicians playing a good rendition of House of the Rising Sun while all us old folks get in the groove! I catch the late show of Shades of Buble performing on Main Stage – a 3-man tribute to Michael Buble’s music. They sound great, and put on a good show backed by the ship’s musicians.
Before retiring to my stateroom, I take another walk around the Promenade Deck, finding a White-chinned Petrel resting on the deck. I report it to the Customer Service desk, asking them to consult with the on-board naturalist to deal with the situation. White-chinned Petrels are known to follow ships out to sea, so this isn’t entirely unexpected.
The Tundra Wilderness Tour is an included excursion for everyone in our group. We are picked up from the main entrance to the resort this morning for our 3.5 hour road trip into Denali National Park. This was originally an all-day excursion, however we now turn around at mile 43 near where the road crosses the Toklat River. Access to facilities and services in Denali remain altered due to the Pretty Rocks Landslide and the associated closure of the Park Road at Mile 43. Nonetheless, we have a successful excursion, seeing a good selection of wildlife along the shortened route, and the scenery is spectacular. Due to cloudy weather, Denali the mountain escapes us today.
Our guide tells us the slide area is sinking several inches each day due to permafrost thawing, so the Parks Service cannot keep up with hauling in all that gravel daily to keep the road open. Building a new road using a different route is not an option, since it would take years to build and it is likely to suffer from the same sinking problem. This is being caused by climate warming – average temperatures in Denali have risen 7ºF since 1950, and are rapidly increasing over the last few years.