MS Amsterdam 64 Day Cruise Report 1 – 22 Sept 2007

At sea off the Queen Charlotte Islands BC

Embarkation day on the 21st went very smooth, thanks to or travel agency, Cruise Specialists. We were bussed to the Cruise Ship Terminal pier 30 near Qwest and Safeco Fields, earlier than most passengers and were on aboard in time for a cocktail lunch that was being served in the Lido (the ship’s buffet dining room). We had to wait until around 2 PM for access to our cabin. This was good because we were able to unpack our carry-on before the bulk of our bags arrived (5 total + carry-on). With one exception, all of our baggage arrived in great shape. One bag had “popped” open in handling, but was held closed by a luggage strap. We never travel without wide multicolored luggage straps.

Our dinner seating was early (5:45) in the lower dining room. We had asked to be assigned a table near a window, and we got a prime corner table overlooking the ship’s wake. As we sailed out through the Straits of Juan de Fuca, we were afforded gloomy views of the Olympic Peninsula.. It was dark and raining as we finished our 2 hour dinner and arrived off Port Angeles to drop off the pilot. We were disappointed not to be able to see our home town, but being able to arrive early and get good seats for the 8:30 live show in Queen’s Lounge was a plus. The performers were young, beautiful, extremely talented, and gave an outstanding performance, the first of many during the next 64 days.

When we returned to our stateroom our cabin steward, Agus, had turned down our bed and left a chocolate on our pillow. Agus is returning to his homeland of Java, Indonesia to see his son that was 11 months old when he last saw him some months ago. Approximately 90 percent of our crew is Indonesian. As we prepared for bed the ship entered the Pacific and headed into gentle swells that by midnight had become moderate seas. Our bed is positioned so that our heads face the side of the ship, We were gently rocked to sleep, with the light of the three/quarter full moon streaming in through the portholes. When we awoke around 5 this morning, the seas were a little rougher and the spray from the bow waves was higher than our two portholes.

Throughout the day the seas continued to assault the ship, with some waves more extreme than others. Since our stateroom is six cabins from the bow, we are getting quite a ride. We will endure!

Months before we boarded we joined a forum on Cruise Critic, a web site dedicated to bringing together folks who love to cruise and are extremely articulate in sharing their experiences with other cruisers. Each forum on the web site is separated into “threads” where only specific subjects are discussed. If the subject of the thread is of a specific ship and a specific cruise/voyage, then it is classified as a roll call. If you join a roll call, you are invited to meet others of that roll call on the ship some time after you sail. For this voyage, we had our initial meeting this morning with 39 of the 41 members showing up. We have a fine group of people that have almost become like family. I co-hosted this meeting with a wonderful christian lady from Vienna, Virginia. She and her husband are veterans of multiple cruises to places all over the world. The ship’s hospitality staff provided a private meeting space in the Queen’s Room, complete with coffee and cookies. It was great to see folks face to face that we had been “chatting” with for the past few weeks. Several have already made plans to go on shore excursions or shopping together.

The ship organizes many events in which guests can participate, but none are mandatory. So one can be busy practically every waking minute, or spend the days at sea just camping out in one of the deck chairs. Three and a half trips around the lower promenade deck (outside) constitutes one mile. The one exception is, prior to departure, a drill to indoctrinate passengers on procedures to follow in case of an emergency.

Today, I visited the ship’s Internet café in the ships library where I activated my Internet account. Shades of the early days of AOL when one paid for each minute used. Rates on board are quite high; I pre-purchased 550 minutes for $175, so I limit my sessions. All connections are linked to the web via satellite. WiFi hotspots are accessible pretty much throughout the ship (according to the Internet manager) but we shall see. I seem to be getting a great signal here in our stateroom.

Religious services will be conducted onboard by a Rabbi Marvin Ruben, Rev. James Walker, and Father William Gold. The Rabbi and his wife are our neighbor’s across the hall.

After a lazy afternoon, we joined our tablemates for another fantastic dining experience. We share our table with two widows and a couple from Canada. One of the widows is a retired physiatrist from California. Although she suffers from extremely impaired vision, she refuses to let that condition steal her life experiences! From her positive attitude, I don’t think she feels she is “handicapped”. And she doesn’t demand help, but gently asks for help when she needs it – what a great lady to share this experience with. Sadly, she will leave us in Singapore.

Our entertainment for the evening was a high energy group of very talented singers and dancers, performing a non-stop production of famous music from several popular Broadway shows. Even though the ship was still pitching and rolling, they never missed a step! At one point in one of the songs I felt the chills at the talent the lead male shared. What a great way to continue this grand experience.

During the night the seas abated and allowed the Captain to step our speed up a few notches. During rough seas he does regulate the speed during the dining and Showtime hours.

With our westward progress, the time will be set back an hour each night, really messes up my internal clock – Barbara loves the extra hours of sleep.

Good night all,

Jack and Barbara

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