Friday, January 27, 2017

January 4, 2017 - It is great to be back on the ms Amsterdam.  Although we are going to different ports and countries on five continents on this beautiful planet, we are with mostly the same crew and many of our friends from our 2014 adventure.  Many of the passengers we have kept in touch with like Mike and Diane from Texas, Jay and Jean from San Francisco, and Maggie from Ohio.  Others we haven’t kept in touch with but we are delighted to see again.  It feels a little like a college reunion.   
The ms Amsterdam is the third ship to bear the name of the Dutch capitol in Holland America Line’s 140 year history.  Built in Italy, the Amsterdam blends the very latest in shipbuilding technology with the artistry, personalized touches, and superior service that has made Holland America Line one of highest rated cruise lines in the world.  
During the spring, summer, and fall the Amsterdam sails around the Pacific Ocean and to and from Alaska. During the winter she sails around the world.  
Our impressions of our ship, the ms Amsterdam, continue to be excellent.  The size of the ship appeals to us.  The ship is near its’ capacity of 1,380 passengers but it does not feel so. We are enjoying getting to know many of the passengers. Almost everyone is onboard for the full voyage and many have been on this voyage many times.  The ship travels a different itinerary each year and that is attractive to us and many travelers. 
We have seen the legendary Dolly!  She is in her 90’s and has extensively traveled the Holland America Line’s ships, mostly the ms Amsterdam.  At the end of this voyage she will have circled the globe 26 times.  She is spunky and very funny. She is the probably the source of the urban legend that many people live on a cruise ship.

Join us on the ms Amsterdam via this blog as we circumnavigate the globe on its 2017 Grand World Voyage.  You can find us in real time by googling “ms Amsterdam position”.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

St. Maarten,West Indies

St. Maarten and St. Martin are the two sides of the same island, an island shared by the Dutch and French.  Grabbed a taxi for 3 hours and went where he wanted to take us.  He was very upbeat, and talkative.  Fascinating to us to see two distinct cultures on the same island.  We learned a lot.

                 See Don, half in the Netherlands and half in France. 


A new bridge had recently been put in.  It is a draw bridge (typically a draw bridge goes up and down) that rotates to let in or out the sail boats. 


A visit to some of the beaches was interesting and beautiful, very "French" with us eventually ending up back in Philipsburg, the capital of the Dutch side of the island.


The West Indies islands of Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, and St. Maarteen (Dutch side)/St. Martin (French side) were all very beautiful and interesting for different reasons.  This was the end of the Caribbean cruise season and the majority of the ships have left for Alaska or other northern ports for the summer.  Typically there are 4-5 ships in these ports at the same time.  Because it was the end of the season, we were the only ship in each port.  Nice!

Epilogue – Heading for Ft. Lauderdale, Florida now, a two day sail from the West Indies. We are excited to see everybody at home.  So, after 4 months at sea, 33,500 nautical or almost 39,000 land miles, 9,000 airmiles, we are now convinced the world is round and that this is a beautiful planet.  We saw many great sites in the world from Machu Picchu to the Great Wall, but the best memories are of the people we have met on and off the ship.  There is still so much of this planet to be explored.

Dominica, West Indies

We have seen several tropical islands that remind us of our home and surrounding area in Kahalu’u Hawai’i.  Dominica was no exception.  We spent the morning in the mountains enjoying the volcanic mountains, water falls, hot springs, and the locals in the rural areas.  Fun to see familiar flora with different names.

The afternoon was spent wandering the town, seeing the old churches, and people watching.  A happy bunch of people.


You don’t this every day.  Fortunately, it was after school and the bus was empty.


St. Lucia, West Indies

                                             A beautiful island!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Barbados, West Indies

Ann has transportation fantasies.  Yes, transportation fantasies.  Part of her bucket list has been modes or places of transportation.  She has always wanted to take a bullet train.  She has always wanted to travel through the “Chunnel”.  Both of these accomplished years ago.  She has always wanted to travel on the Queen Mary 2.  This was accomplished during the summer of 2012.  She has always wanted to walk on the Sydney Harbor Bridge.  Accomplished back in February.  Another one, and one that will not happen was she wanted to ride on the Concorde.  Their planes have been out of operation for close to 10 years.  But, she came close today.  On the island of Barbados is what is called the “Barbados Concorde experience”.  In its heyday, the Concorde, among other places, flew from London to Barbados.  It flew several thousand flights.  Today she gleefully walked into the “Barbados Experience”, ready to get as close to this fantasy as she could.  We were able to see a film about the research, development, production, and the flights of the Concorde.  We climbed into one of these fascinating planes, sat in the seats, walked the isles, and experienced the cockpit.  She is still walking on cloud nine, having reached mach two speed, and 60,000 feet.  Making this experience more fun was traveling to the Concorde Experience with, Maggie, Linda, Jim, and John, our fantastic “table mates”.  A good time was had by all.


Later in the day we hired a cab in Bridgetown, Barbados and told the driver to spend two hours and take us to “his island”. 

Heading north on the island he took us through some of the more wealthy areas, the big houses on the beach.  Noteworthy, we saw where Tiger Woods was married (wow), one of Oprah’s houses and Riahann’a home.  I sure you are all interested.  We then visited St. James Parish.  This Anglican/Episcopal Church was built in 1628 by the first settlers.  The church is still in use each week and appears to be well cared for and loved.


We then traveled into the northern interior of the island to see the sites and views.


Our driver, and new best friend was Komal.  He comes highly recommended by us and we have his contact information if you are ever in Barbados, West Indies. In addition, Ann left her iPhone in his cab and he tracked us down to return it 15 minutes after we exited his cab.   People are great.  A nice day.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mindelo, Sao Vincente, Cape Verde

Just when you think it can’t get any better in Cape Verde, it does.  The ship is docked at a pier about one mile from downtown Mindelo.  We headed into town looking for adventure. 

With another couple, we bought a taxi and driver for 3 hours and set out for the unknown.  The Cape Verde Islands are all volcanic and very beautiful.  We traveled to the eastern side of the island through a very beautiful oasis like valley with many small farms irrigated with well water drawn by windmills. 


Continuing east through desert-like spaces, we reached the ocean with its beautiful sand dunes, ocean views, and lava flows to the ocean.

                                          Friends from the ship.

 The next day we took the shuttle into town looking for another adventure.  We were able to get a cab driver to take us to the west side of the island, out on the point near the airport.  We found two delightful fishing villages and scenery that was incredible.


The local fisherman had just brought in his “catch of the year”.  Notice the large marlin in the boat.


Local boys doing the Cape Verde version of the “hukilau”, that is, herding small fish into a net and bringing their catch to the shore.  The boys are helping their dads by catching the fish used as bait. 


They were having so much fun and made us miss the grandkids even more
We also met a group of nurses and firemen who brought some patients from a nursing home to spend a day at the beach.  People are wonderful everywhere.     



Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde

This is part of three days we are spending in the Cape Verde Islands.  They are a former Portuguese Colony  off the coast of Africa.  Cape Verde was a provisioning station for ships crossing the Atlantic during the slave trade era. 

Early on in a small store Don struck up a conversation with a young man named Holden.  We found that he had served a mission in Portugal in the same mission that Jared had served in.  Before we knew it he had contacted a friend, Nuno, who drives a taxi and gave us a wonderful tour of the island.


Ann was excited to see that the main plaza in Praia was named after Alexander Albuquerque. 


We went to the Fortaleza Real De Sao Felipe.  From the Fort we viewed the old town which we later visited. 


This is the pillory where slaves who misbehaved were executed.  Gives a whole new meaning to behavior management, just saying.


Ann made friends with a teacher who wanted to practice his English skills and got to know his class.  So much fun!

Wonderful day