Days 9-10 – Jan. 14-15 – At Sea.
On the morning of January 14, the words of novelist John Steinbeck “A journey is like a marriage – the only way to go wrong is to think you can control it” rang through my mind. So many things can interfere with a journey including, but not limited to, weather and local infrastructure. To seasoned travelers this is precisely the excitement of a trip or cruise: the adventure of letting go – of not being able to control all aspects of the journey. Yesterday, for example, a strong current in the Amazon Delta made it difficult for our tender to come alongside the Amsterdam and disembark passengers safely, so a tendering operation that normally takes minutes took more than an hour.
Instead of being exasperated I let the occurrence take over to see what I could experience. I looked around and instead of obsessing about the tender operations, I concentrated on the river and several fishing boats and other craft anchored in it and passing by. It was a very picturesque scene that I might have missed if the tendering had gone faster. Whenever the journey “takes over” I go with the flow. I’m happy to relinquish Georgina “Cruz control” to “cruise control” and my experience is so much more rewarding – perhaps the same thing has happened to you?
During these two days at sea we have thoroughly enjoyed the uncrowded ambiance of the Amsterdam. Listening to music in the Explorer’s Lounge one evening – just one of many musical venues on board throughout the night — there were just a few people with us at the time so it felt like a private recital. It is the same generally in other public spaces — you feel special, never part of a crowd. I asked at the front desk and there are 990 passengers on board this 66,000-ton ship so we have all the facilities of this mid-sized ship to ourselves. You always find a deck chair by the two pools, tables in the Lido Restaurant, seats in the theater, and so on.
One of the highlights of these two days at sea was the formal ‘Black And Silver Ball.’ Everyone got dressed up to the nines and went to the elegant Queen’s Lounge, accented with life-size statues of classical women that seem to be holding up globes, and the Amsterdam Orchestra provided music for dancing! It was a glamorous evening! A couple of activities we particularly enjoyed were an enrichment lecture and a behind-the-scenes tour of the galley. The lecture about whales, by Dr. Denny Whitford, a retired U.S. Navy captain, was beautifully illustrated with slides of blue, humpback, gray, Minke, Wright and other species of this awesome marine mammal. We’ll be ready to identify whales that we encounter, particularly in Antarctica waters where many whales congregate to feed in the Southern Hemisphere’s summer.
The galley tour was very interesting – we saw kitchen staff carving vegetables, preparing marzipan and carving meat. There were a fine display of cheeses and several chocolate sculptures including one of the Eiffel Tower. Staff gave us a list of food consumption during a typical week on the Amsterdam – it was mind-boggling: 18,000 eggs, 8,500 lbs. of meat and meat products, 4,000 lbs. of poultry, 2,000 lbs. of fish, 2,500 lbs. of seafood, 1,100 lbs. of butter and margarine, 12,000 lbs. of fresh vegetables, 4,500 lbs. of potatoes, 1,800 lbs. of watermelon, 4,000 quarts of dairy, 700 lbs of sugar plus 20,000 pieces of individual sugar sachets, 2,900 lbs. of flour, 2,100 lbs. of rice for crew, and 200 gallons of ice cream. And so far every meal concocted from all of this has been delicious. Speaking of food, we tried Canaletto, a no-fee casual restaurant that serves a delectable Italian dinner in a corner of the Lido Restaurant on Deck 8. It has all our favorites: antipasti (served tableside), minestrone soup for me and fish soup for Humberto, chicken marsala for me and seafood linguini for Humberto, and creamy gelato and tiramisu. We plan to return!
Freelance travel writer Georgina Cruz and her husband Humberto are currently sailing on Amsterdam’s 112-day Grand World Voyage and will be sending in cruise diaries throughout their time on board. She has logged 174 voyages to all seven continents and visited more than 100 countries.