Cruise Report # Thirteen – Day 19 – Wednesday, October 10, 2007

At Sea – Yellow Sea

From the ship’s Navigator

Today we are sailing on a northwesterly heading with an average speed of 10 knots towards Dalian, China. The total distance between Cheju and Dalian is 419 nautical miles The weather forecast predicts an outside temperature of 71 degrees with a moderate breeze blowing from the north northeast with a force of 4. As I write this around mid day, the seas are quite calm and the skies are brilliantly clear – where was this weather yesterday!

The Languages of China

To many westerners, the Chinese language sounds and looks forbidding. Actually many Chinese find it difficult to understand their own countrymen. There are more than fifty regional dialects in China, as different from each other as French is from Spanish or English is from German. The languages of China fall mainly into seven major dialects. Mandarin is the most common, spoken by a least 70% of the Han people who constitute more than 90% of the population. The Pudonghua or “common speech” sub-dialect of Mandarin is the official language of china. The written Chinese characters are standardized into more than 50,000 distinct pictographic forms, representing things or ideas. These Chinese characters date back at least 3,500 – 4,000 years. Each character represents a single concept with no internal phonetic structure, and can continue to represent that character even if pronunciation changes through the centuries.

Great News!! Alexis has arrived

This morning our email brought news of a new addition to our family; Alexis Grace Strickland, born to our daughter Ana, and Alexis’s father, Anthony Strickland. We have received a few pictures and she is, of course, beautiful. We look forward to meeting her in person in a few weeks.

Shipboard food

In a previous report I wrote of the unending choices we have for breakfast in the Lido dining room. This is served buffet style, with many different stations, depending on the size of your appetite. The La Fontane is the major dining room, located all the way aft and is located on two separate decks. All meals are served on white tablecloths, and a full setting of flatware and fancy china. Dinner is the only meal where strict dress codes, listed in the daily program, are enforced. Last evening was “formal”. The menu consists of four courses; Starters, Soups & Salads, Entrees, and Desert. Each course will have up to six selections. One of Barbara’s favorite “starters” is “Escargots in Red Wine and Mushroom Ragout”, last night she selected a very strong “Kimchi”. There is no restriction on how many dishes of each course one can order. And nothing indicating one has to eat every course. Last evening “Surf and Turf” was a yummy serving of filet mignon and lobster tail, one of our tablemates, Mary, only wanted the lobster, so they served her two! Once the lobster arrived, one of the higher ranking dining room stewards came around to remove the meat from the shell, for each diner. Most all selections are given fancy names with “Chef Bernie’s Recommendation” indicated. Last nights Dessert recommendation was “Sticky Rice and Red Bean Pudding”. Usually a dessert tray is brought to the table so you can see what you are ordering. Of course there are always the standard selections of Ice Cream, Yogurt and “A spectrum of full-flavored cheeses, accompanied by dried fruits and nuts”.

If you don’t feel like getting dressed, you can dine in the Lido, or order room service from the dinning room menu. Tea and canapés and sweets are served in the Crows Nest, deck 9, every afternoon at 3:15. Going hungry is not permitted on the Amsterdam.

This afternoon we had another Cruise Critic meeting, where we regale each other with tales of our adventures ashore. We shared the news of our granddaughter’s birth. And our retired Navy Commander always gives us a report on what sort of weather we can expect for the next few days. According to his report today, things are looking pretty good. I also shared an email from an avid cruiser and CC poster “Blue Whale”. A friend of hers on the Regency, another cruise ship who sailed these waters a short time before we did, told of having to endure 80 mile per hour winds in the Bering Sea, and having to leave Shanghai a day early because of a typhoon. I guess we have been quite fortunate with our weather – so far.

Tonight’s show in the Queens Lounge was another outstanding performance by the ship’s dancers and singers. One of the young dancers, Ashley, was our escort on our HAL shore excursion in Cheju City. Her job was to stand out in font of our bus – in the rain – while directing us to our tour bus – needless to say she looked a lot different this evening, dressed in her expensive costumes. These folks are expected to perform other duties when not rehearsing their next show.

Tomorrow we have a big day in Dalian, People’s Republic of China, with a five hour coastal drive and kite-flying, with maybe a little time for shopping.

Till next time, Zai jian (goodbye)

Jack and Barbara

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