Cruise Report # Twenty-Three– Day 39 – Monday, October 30, 2007

In the Timor Sea north of Australia
From the Ships Navigator

Today we will sail on a southeasterly heading with an average speed of 18 knots. We still have to cover approximately 400 nautical miles to reach our next port of call Darwin, Australia. The weather forecast predicts an outside temperature of 84 degrees and a light breeze blowing from the south with a force of 2. Yesterday after his daily 1 PM report the Captain gave us a short description of how the Beaufort scale was developed. It seems that a gentleman (probably a navigator) by the name of Beaufort, after observing weather over the years concluded that there was a relationship between wind force and wave action so he developed a scale from 0 to 12, with zero representing flat calm waters and twelve for hurricane wind and wave action. I always assumed that the number pertained to wind force only.

Life onboard the ms Amsterdam – some observations

Since this is a sea day with few activities that interest me, I thought I would take some time to write about random observations. We do have a couple of events later in the day; Cruise Critic meeting at 4pm and a Cruise Specialist cocktail party at 4:45pm

After 38 days traveling in a closed environment with close to 1900 other people one tends to notice certain behavioral patterns that develop, especially between the crew (600) and the passengers. Amongst the crew there is a definite class system regarding interactions with the passengers:

The Captain and Senior Officers are mostly Caucasian from Europe, mostly are from Holland. Most will greet passengers when encountered, but will not engage in lengthy conversations. If you have a problem that requires solving by a policy not covered in their training or writing, it will be referred to this level for resolution.
Department Heads and area managers. A few Caucasians but mostly Asian or Indian nationalities. The beverage manager, Anurag, is from India, if the handling of alcoholic beverages is their responsibility they are usually Filipino. The front office staff are all Filipina Women, and the shore excursion staff are white females/males from North America. A lot of Canadians work as staff in this area. Most will greet you on sight if eye contact is made.
The Hotel Manager is Dutch, with mostly Indonesian males as department managers. All will usually greet you on contact, as I think that is a requirement of the position.
Spa Staff seem to feel that they are of a breed that only needs to engage passengers if it is a part of their job in their work space – otherwise the passengers seem to be invisible.
Singers and Dancers and support staff, seem to be visible only when in their work space, however, some are required to be work on shore excursions helping to keep track of passengers on their assigned tour bus. In this capacity they are friendly and engaging. They come mostly from North America.
Stewards; Stateroom and Dining Room. All are Indonesian young men. It is not only their duty smile and greet you each time they meet you, but also are given the latitude to engage passengers in conversation, when they have time. Their English is not perfect but after all the different accents they encounter on a daily basis, I am not surprised.
Wine Stewards and Bartenders are nearly all Filipino as their religion of the Indonesian staff does not permit them to handle alcohol.
Deck and Engine room staff we hardly see, all deck workers are Asian, I think a mixture of Filipinos and Indonesian. They will speak only when spoken to.

Maintenance of the ship is ongoing whether we are at sea or not. Paint is getting chipped off and the surfaces repainted somewhere all the time. Windows and glass are kept sparkling clean, and all metal surfaces that are not painted is polished daily. Pads for deck chairs are set out every morning and collected and stored every night. The teak decks get a fresh water wash down every morning. This is the best maintained ship I have ever sailed on. Carpets, public and private are vacuumed every day, and staterooms are meticulously cleaned each morning usually before noon, and the fresh fruit bowls replentished. There is one staff person and her assistant who are in charge of making sure all fresh flower arrangements are watered and sprayed, and maintained on a regular basis. Beautiful live orchid plants grace every table in the lido dining room, with small bouquets are on each table in the main dining room. All tables in the main dining room are completely stripped after every sitting and reset for the next; they are not just brushed off as we have seen in some restaurants. We are told that while we are in Australian ports all plants and flowers must be kept behind closed doors, and the roof to the lido above the swimming pool must be kept closed because there are four live palm trees by the pool.

I have never encountered a messy public restroom, and there are many onboard.

Of all the staff and crew we have come in close contact with, none have offensive body odor or bad breath. All wear clean uniforms that reflect their position on the crew and are all well groomed. Every steward who serves you on a regular basis makes sure they know you by name.

In closing I want to mention the subject of time zone changes. As we have traveled westward for most of the trip up to Indonesia, we have had the luxury of turning our clocks back by one hour, thus we have had a lot of “25 hour days”. Now it is our turn to “pay father time back” as we start advancing our clocks. But we will enjoy two 13 Novembers when we cross the International Date Line. Last night, because we entered the time zone for the Northern Territory of Australia, we had to turn our clocks ahead by only one half hour. But that’s the Aussies for ya, mate.

We send our warmest, most humid regards as we prepare to visit three ports in another favorite country; Australia.

Jack and Barbara

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