Monthly Archives: March 2013

Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

Sharm el Sheikh
The Arabian Peninsula is geographically part of the African continent. Some 30 million years ago, the Asian and African plates shifted, and the Red Sea appeared. At first, the sea was little more than a thin crack, but water from the Indian Ocean flooded in and eventually the fracture grew. The Gulf of Suez is only 275 ft at its maximum depth. The Red Sea is still widening at the rate of 1/2 inch per year. It is famed for its high speed surface winds and swift currents. Even when the shore is calm, the sea can be churning.

Sinai Desert
Vicki arranged the tour with Sinai Safari Adventures (www.sinaisafariadventures.com) for 12 of us, $41 USD pp. We were picked up and dropped off at the entrance to the port; coming into the port to the ship would have cost considerably more, and the walk was short.

The drive to the camp took 20 minutes. After purchasing a head scarf, I climbed aboard a 4 wheel ATV with John driving. After the first five minutes, I wanted off. Almost 3 hours later, I no longer felt my legs. And I am sure that my rear end had been hammered to a size 8. The desert appears vacant. Bedouin dwellings dot the landscape intermittently. When we were about 2 hours into the drive, we stopped and climbed aboard camels for a half hour of more thigh building exercises. When the camel ride was over, I gleefully climbed back aboard the ATV.

The day was one of new experiences…. it is probably the best way to experience the Sinai.

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al-‘Aqabah, Jordan

Wadi Rum
Aqaba is Jordan’s only coastal city and is the port of call for Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon. It is a valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock and calls to mind the British officer T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) who based his operations here during the Arab Revolt of 1917-18. Geologists think that Wadi Rum resulted from a great crack on the surface of the earth caused by an enormous upheaval. Some ridges are 1000 ft. high, some worn smooth by the desert winds.

Jeff had arranged our tour with Bedouin Life Style (www.bedouinlifestyle.com). There were 7 (Jeff, Joy, Phil, Frankie, Pat, David, and me) of us who ventured out of Aqaba to Wadi Rum in 2 taxis. Joy, David, and I were packed in the rear seat tighter than sardines in a can. After 50 minutes, we arrived at Wadi Rum and transferred to a 4 wheel drive truck with seats in the back truck bed. Our first stop was a Nabataean Temple. These ruins date back 2000 years. We also watched climbers scaling the nearby mountain. Our next stop was Lawrence Spring. The landscape was one of incredible beauty. We saw the Small Arch, the Red Sand Dunes, and Khazali Canyon. After several hours in the desert, we returned to Wadi RumVillage and mounted camels for a blessedly short ride. My share of the tour came to 36 Jordanian dinars, approximately $50 US.

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Red Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba

Salalah Port Incidents
A tragic incident at the Salalah port was witnessed by several Rotterdam passengers including Helen. The beaches around the port were full of signs warning that the waters were very dangerous. A German man from another cruise ship, the Minerva, went swimming, was caught by a rip tide, and drown.

A couple from the Rotterdam hired a taxi for a set amount of money. When they returned, they claimed the driver asked for more than the original amount and the couple refused to pay the extra. The driver called the police. The couple were detained by the police. The ship’s staff intervened and the incident was resolved. I didn’t hear how… but surmise the couple paid the amount demanded by the driver.

Shipboard Life
Sue was playing the slot machines in the casino when she fell off the stool and broke her arm. The arm is immobilized, and she is on pain killers.

The South Americans, the eight of us who were on the Grand South America and Antarctic Voyage 2012, met in the Pinnacle for drinks, dinner, reminiscences, and laughter. Sue, broken arm and all, managed to sit at the 3 hour dinner with no complaints. It was Sue and Mike’s 30th Anniversary….. I guess romance is really taking care of someone you love. Byron, Linda, Joyce, Jeff, Sandy, and I wished them another 30 years of bliss.

Elaine Delmar who reminds me of a sultry nightclub singer performed the songs of George Gershwin and Cole Porter to a standing ovation.

The Singles and Solos, hosted by staff member Jan, had dinner at the Canneleto. The seven ladies were joined by the Social Hosts (dance hosts) Robert and Jeff.

Cruise Critic Cocktail Party
Captain Mateboer and Hotel Director Birarda hosted a cocktail reception for the Cruise Critic members. What a party! The Crow’s Nest was filled with cruise critic members and officers laughing and discussing a myriad of topics… plus eating yummy appetizers and downing drinks. Thank you, HAL, for a great party!

Never Get Between a 4 Star Mariner and a Free Drink
4 Star Mariners were given a cocktail reception by Captain Mateboer and Hotel Director Birarda. The cocktail party started at 7:15, and the stampede started at the same time. The goal of the 4 Stars was to down as many free cocktails in 45 minutes as is possible and still remain upright.

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The Arabian Sea to the Red Sea

Happy Birthday, Captain Hans Mateboer
Best wishes for a long and happy life.

Letter from Daughter re Pirate Waters
Dear Mom,
Glad you are still safe in pirate country. Due to the increase in payroll taxes and insurance costs, we would have to tell the pirates to keep you should they attempt to ransom you.
Love, Lisa

Shipboard Life
The 11 remaining members of the book club unanimously agreed that Murder in Amsterdam was a terrible choice made by Seattle. More over, the book was poorly written, the plot elementary, and the culprit obvious. Our Librarian Desiree who is the staff member for the book club is doing a good job as moderator of the group. For the last meeting of the group, we plan to discuss Beyond the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. A novel which takes place in Mumbai; a much better choice since we have spent so much time in India.

Approximately 12 Singles and Solos met to discuss single travel. A big item was the cost of cruising single which seems to range between 1.5 to 2.0 times the cost for a cabin. This particular cruise was discussed at length. Many of us booked the cruise before it was broken into the multitude of segments which changed the complexion of the voyage. And, although we know IT ISN’T A GRAND VOYAGE, we felt that due to the length of the cruise, it should have some of the amenities and feel of one. By the way, the staff member Jen assigned to this group has done a yeoman’s job. She has organized various lunches, dinners, cocktails, and never fails to have a smile on her face.

Cruise Critic lunches, organized by Jill, have provided ample opportunities for CC members to socialize. Barbara, Jack, Sara, Ron, Diana, and Jill were at my table today.

The Interdenominational Devotionals on sea days with Reverend Little usually have about 25 congregants. There was a short lived brouhaha with the Sit and Be Fit people but it was settled amicably.

Captain Hans Mateboer and Hotel Director Francois Birarda hosted an “exclusive” luncheon for the 88 and 90 day passengers. It was a lovely Indonesian lunch…. until it was rumored that those passengers who boarded in Singapore were sent a bottle of champagne instead of the lunch invitation. It was further rumored that the bottle of champagne could be exchanged for a bottle of wine. Needless to say, quite a lot of grumbling occurred.

Happy Birthday, Peter
Our table mate Peter turned 84 this week. Peter, a geophysicist (B.Sc, M.A., Ph.D., P. Eng.), is one of the smartest men I have ever met. His knowledge of history is amazing. One of the joys of traveling is the opportunity to meet special people. Peter is one of the special ones.

Television
Several of us have noticed that no matter where in the world we may be, the Cartoon Network comes in clear and strong. Just mentioning it. Especially since ESPN is not coming it at this time… and the NCAA basketball tournament starts today. Go Gators!

“This isn’t a Grand Voyage”
This phrase is repeated over and over. And for the fixed early seating diners, it is especially true. Happy Hour is from 5 to 6. Leaving diners to chug 2 drinks or scurry from one end of the ship to the other, carrying a drink, to make the 5:45 seating. More over, until recently, there was no music during happy hour. And just forget any dancing.

Afternoon Concert Series
One is always supposed to end on an up note. So hats off to the Showroom at Sea Entertainers (Adrienne, Kat, Patty, Talia, David, Greg, and Kurt) and pianist Steve for their Broadway Our Way concert. Note to Seattle: This concert rivals and exceeds many of the evening “brought on board” entertainers in the Showroom at Sea.

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Oman

Muscat
Muscat has been an important trading port between the west and the east since the early 1st century. Since the ascension of Qaboos bin Said as Sultan of Oman in 1970, Muscat has experienced rapid infrastructural development. Their roads are state of the art. There are new hospitals, schools, and housing developments. Flowers and trees line the avenues in Muscat and surrounding area.

Muscat, Day 1
12 of us were scheduled to be on a private tour. The tour operator did not appear so arrangements were made with taxi drivers for the excursion. Our driver/guide did not speak English. It was frustrating to be riding through the country without knowing where we were going or what we were seeing. My congenial companions sharing the vehicle were John, Dot, and Ed.

When we arrived at a stop, the driver from another car told us where we were. We drove to the Dayjah Dam, the largest dam in the Middle East. The dam park was new and lush with many families picnicking. We visited the Bimah sinkhole which was filled with water where several of our group went swimming. We had a pleasant lunch at the Wadi A’Shab Hotel on the Arabian Sea. My lunch of a lime-mint beverage and tea sandwiches of tomato, cucumber, and cheese was less than $5 US. Driving the Qurayat-Sur coastal highway was picturesque. We walked down Wadi Tiwi, known as the wadi of nine villages which are spread along the pools and creek. We took a boat across the river at Wadi Shab, in Arabic “gorge between the cliffs,” a beautiful spot.

But, all in all, it was not a very good tour. I felt I wasted an opportunity to learn more about Oman. The tour cost approximately $90 US per person plus lunch and extras.

After almost 12 hours, the ship was a welcome sight.

Muscat, Day 2
Jackie, Sandy, Sue, and I went to the 200 year old Mutrah souk shopping. Called the Market of Darkness because of the wooden covering, it’s a great place to escape the sun. Taxis were 3 Omani Rials each way, approximately $9 US each way. I purchased a khanjer (dagger) of silver with a handle of camel bone ($75 US) which was confiscated when I returned to the ship. It will be returned the day before we dock in Southampton. Apparently the ship feels that there will be less of a chance of my causing havoc with it if I only have it in my possession for less than 24 hours. I also purchased a blouse ($18 US), necklace ($105 US), and silver earrings ($40 US), none of which were confiscated on my return to the ship.

Salalah
Salalah, capital of Dhofar Province, is the second most important city in Oman, and the birthplace of the present Sultan. The 72 year old Sultan is not married and has no children; there are rumors abounding concerning his sexuality. It is also rumored that his heir will be one of his cousins. Oman is an absolute monarchy. The white sand beaches, emerald-blue sea, and steep Dhofar mountains add to Salalah’s exotic and dramatic beauty. It is apparent that the Sultan is planning to make Salalah a resort destination.

Salalah excursion
18 of us ($47.50 US pp) joined the tour by Salalah Safari with our guide Mohammed Ali, alishaharya@yahoo.com We were picked up and returned to the ship.

We began the excursion by driving by the Royal Farm, a modern agricultural endeavor, and the Mamura Palace. Although, according to our guide, the Sultan prefers use term Mamura House. Apparently he dislikes the use of the word palace to describe his residences. We stopped at Ayn Razat, a park surrounding a spring. We visited Taqua Castle in Taqua. At the gift store I purchased a pillow cover ($5 US) and a scarf ($15 US).

Khor Rouri was the trading post 2000 years ago for the frankincense route and one of the most important ports on earth. The ruins there date from the first century B.C. Inscriptions at the site indicate a fortified city was built there to protect traders. Old coins that were found indicate the site was known as Sumhuram. This is where the legendary palace of the Queen of Sheba is believed to have been built.

Our next to last stop was the town of Mirbat with its historical houses and colorful fishing boats. Here we found, perhaps the best treasure, a “western” toilet. Although missing a seat, it provided welcome relief.

Our final stop was at shops in Salalah. I spent my last Omani rials and more US currency to purchase another pashmina, this one heavily decorated with mirrors and pearls ($25 US).

Shipboard Life
Although I was not excited to go to a performance by a flutist, I was delighted by the performance of Stephen Clark who received a standing ovation from the audience.

The afternoon concert series featured Patty Lohr of the HAL singers and dancers and Steve Iveson on piano from the HALcats. This was one of the best performances of the voyage. Patty belongs on Broadway. Her acting and singing are superb.

More about shipboard life in the next installment.

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Mumbai

Mumbai
Mumbai was formerly known as Bombay when it was under British rule. In 1662 Charles II of England married Catherine of Braganza, a Portuguese princess. As part of the dowry, England received the islands which made up Mumbai. It was leased to the British East India Company for 10 pounds per year. It is the wealthiest and most populous city in India and the fourth most populous city in the world with a population of 20.5 million.

The colonial waterfront monument of the Gateway to India is considered the entrance to Mumbai. The arch was built to commemorate the visit of Britain’s King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. It is the place where the last detachment of British troops embarked in 1947 marking the end of imperial rule. The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is located on the waterfront near it. After the Parsi industrialist J. N. Tata was refused entry to the British Watson’s Hotel (since closed), he built the Taj Hotel in 1903. The hotel and other sites were attacked by terrorists from Pakistan in 2008, killing 173 people. The last terrorist was executed by the Indian government recently.

Built in the 1880’s Victoria Terminus, the railway station, is one of India’s most elegant imperial buildings. Although rail service began in the 1850’s, the building opened for Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. On a street lined residential street we found Mahatma Gandhi’s home which is now a museum and bookshop. The park fields are filled with cricket players on Sundays.

The Hanging Gardens are gardens built on top of the city’s large water reservoir. They are adjacent to the Parsi community’s Towers of Silence in which cadavers are hung for vultures to devour in accord with Parsee tradition.

Known as “the Queen’s Necklace” Marine Drive lines Back Bay. Chowpatty Beach is the gathering place for residents, an endless stream of Mumbai life passes from one end to the other throughout the day. It is exceptionally crowded at night.

Departing from the Gateway of India, ferries take passengers for the 45 minute ride to Elephanta Island. UNESCO recognized the caves which were sculpted between the 5th and 8th centuries. The carvings are dedicated to the god Shiva, creator and destroyer. We were there on Shiva’s birthday, a festival day and exceptionally crowded. Small boats filled to over capacity with standing passengers were arriving continuously while we were there.

Day 1 Tour
Sue organized the tour with Namaste City Tours, http://www.namastecitytour.com Our guide was Vasu vasu_mumbaitour@yahoo.com The cost was 2350 rupees plus tips (approximately $47 US plus tips), including lunch.

We took the ferry to Elephanta Island; quite a pleasant cruise. After the majority climbed to the caves and back, we had beers (Foster’s, $3 US) in the local restaurant before returning to the ferry. Thank you, Jeff, for footing the bill!

After a delightful lunch at the Indian Summer Restaurant, we continued the city tour. We saw the Dhobi Ghats (laundry), the Fisherman Village (where the terrorists landed in 2008), Marine Drive which becomes the Queen’s Necklace at night, the Hanging Gardens, the high point view of Mumbai, the Towers of Silence, Gandhi House, Victoria Terminus train station, and much more. We arrived back at the East Gate of the port about 6 p.m.

Night 1 Tour
During the day, we arranged a private tour in the evening for 6 of us with Vasu for $20 pp. This was the best value and the best tour of the voyage! Jeff, Joyce, Sue, Mike, David, and I piled into an SUV with Vasu driving and guiding. We visited the Red Light District to see lovely women in saris plying their wares. Prostitution is legal in Mumbai. It was reminiscent of Amsterdam. The pay-to- use toilets were open, the stalls readily seen. Wine shops were doing a great business.

We drove through the Muslim slum where families of 12 or so live in closet sized houses. There is one public toilet for 1400 people. Open cooking fires were at the street side. Apparently the electricity is pirated; televisions were plentiful.

The city came alive at night. Streets were thronged with people. You do not want to drive in Mumbai! On Marine Drive, we saw an Indian wedding whose guests numbered in the thousands and was held in a cricket field and club.

Finally we stopped at the InterContinental Hotel on Marine Drive. We went up to the top floor to the Dome, an open air bar and restaurant. The evening was perfect. Gentle breeze, stars bright, view of the Queen’s Necklace fantastic. One vodka and tonic: $16 USD!!

Day 2 Tour
Again we had pre-arranged with Vasu for a shopping excursion. Sue, Ine, and I met Vasu at the Green Gate at noon. He had a car and a driver. Taking us to various shops, he escorted us shopping while our driver stayed with the car. We visited Crawford Market and Cottage Industries Emporium among others. We stopped at Starbucks India, the most elegant Starbucks I have ever seen, where Sue treated us all to beverages. Three hours later, we were exhausted from shopping and returned to the Green Gate.

Shipboard Life
The big screen movie in the showroom was Life of Pi, the story of a 16 year old boy whose passage on a freighter ends in a shipwreck in the Pacific and he is left to fend for himself. Although this book was released several years ago, I had no desire to read the book or see the film. However, Sandy, Sue, and I decided to give it a try. We all agreed it was superb!

We are now back in pirate waters and taking precautions. Next stop is Oman.

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Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Due to its large harbor and its strategic position along the East-West sea trade routes, the city was known to ancient traders 2,000 years ago. The name “Colombo” was first introduced by the Portuguese in 1505. It is believed to be derived from the classical Sinhalese name Kolon thota, meaning port on the river Kelani. The exchange rate is $1 US to 124 rupees, a rate which made the day very affordable.

Originally I was committed to a full day tour planned by Linda. However, my leg has been bothering me so I cancelled. Instead, after much research and planning, David, Sandy, and I set out on our own limited tour. We hired a taxi at the port to take us to the Pettah district ($20 US). After much driving, I questioned where the driver was taking us. Well, it turned out to be one of those “kidnap the tourists and take them to a store where you get a commission on their purchases.” I forcefully demanded the driver take us where we had requested.

Holland America distributes fliers for every port. Why I continue to consult these “Port at a Glance” brochures is a mystery since they have led me wrong numerous times. And it did again. The shops or stalls were wall to wall; however, we ended up on the luggage street and hailed a tuk tuk (approximately $3 US) for our next stop on our self-guided tour. Again, we erroneously trusted the brochure when we asked to be taken to the “iconic red and white Cargills and Millers Department Store which has wonderful antique brass signs and wood display cabinets.” There were little goods displayed and no brass signs to be seen.

With 2 strikes against us, I was worried about our third stop. After the tuk tuk (again about $3 US) delivered us to the Galle Face Hotel, I was pretty sure we had a home run. The British colonial hotel sits on the Indian Ocean facing the mile long Galle Face Green, a seafront promenade originally designed as a racetrack in 1859 but now a public park. We met Jill and Joe who were drinking beer on the gallery of the hotel. The three of us found a table, ordered Lion lager, watched the surf break against the beach, and enjoyed the cool breezes. We decided that it couldn’t get any better than this so we ordered lunch as well. My share of the bill for lunch and many Lion lagers was $16 US. The hotel employs a man with a large sling shot whose job is to discourage the birds from harassing the diners.

Outside the hotel we watched a man with a cobra in a basket for a while then hailed a tuk tuk ($4 US) back to the port where there were numerous stalls where I purchased 2 more puppets and other souvenirs.

Skipping dinner in the dining room, we watched the sail away from the windows of the Lido and then fell into bed.

Shipboard Life
Watched the film silver Linings Playbook and surprisingly liked it very much. Jennifer Lawrence gave her normal superb performance.

David Saunders gave a lecture in the Exploration Speaker series on Whoose Bird? Gripping stories behind the discovery and names of many birds. And Joe Daley continued the series with the story of Arabia’s great mariner and explorer, Ahmad Ibn Majid.

Glenn Coenen, our cruise director, continues to do a fabulous job. He has worked on 9 HAL ships.

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Penang, Malaysia – Phuket, Thailand

Penang, Malaysia
The harbor in which we tendered was Georgetown, named after King George III. The fort near the port is Fort Cornwallis. Both names recall the American Revolution. One of 13 Malaysian states, Penang Island covers 110 sq. miles. Once owned by the Sultan of Kedah, it was acquired by Captain Francis Light on behalf of the British East India Company in 1786. Captain Light’s son is credited with establishing Adelaide, Australia.

Sandy and I each took a trishaw for a tour of the city on the way to the Buddhist temples. We drove by the white St. George’s Church which was built by convicts in 1818. It is Malaysia’s oldest Anglican Church and features a Greek-style memorial to Captain Light. Wat Chayamankalaram, a fine classic Thai temple, contains on of the world’s largest reclining Buddha (108 ft) wrapped in a gold-leaf robe. Across the street the Burmese Dhammikarama Temple is flanked by a pair of stone elephants.

We then continued to the E & O (Eastern and Oriental) Hotel, a colonial hotel. The trishaw ride was $20 US each. While having lunch ($22 US each) at Sharkies in the hotel, we spied Jeff & Joyce and Mike & Sue and waved them over. They joined us for a hilarious time. The free wifi was great; the colonial hotel disappointing.

Phuket, Thailand
It is approximately the size of Singapore and is Thailand’s largest island. It is situated off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea.

10 of us shared a taxi van to Phuket town from the port. The cost was $10 each for a round trip ride with 3 hours in town. John and I walked around the town but there was very little to see. I purchased 2 puppets, the only ones I saw, and some other souvenirs. We stopped at McDonald’s but I was unable to connect to wifi. All in all, a very disappointing excursion.

There were lots of stalls set up at the port. I purchased a Thai decorative umbrella ($5) and 2 pairs of cotton pants ($15). Those passengers who did the elephant tour and those who did the James Bond boat trip both raved over their tours. I had been offered a free ticket to the elephants but was unable to go because I had a meeting scheduled.

Shipboard Life
Jonathan, the assistant dining room manager, offered us the option of moving to a table for 4 at a side window for the fixed early seating. Peter, Margaret, and I accepted his offer. The four of us are deliriously happy at dinner again. Unfortunately this meeting caused me to miss the elephant tour; however, the result was a satisfactory one.

I joined the Rotterdam Book Club. Our first book is a mystery, Murder in Amsterdam by A. C. Baantjer, a Dutch author.

The violinist Rafael is superb! He is advertised as strings on fire and does not disappoint. Barry from Boston at the piano bar is gaining in popularity. Don’t miss the operatic voice of Annette Wardell who received a standing ovation from the audience.

Shipboard Gossip
Sometimes I feel this ship runs on gossip. It is the spice that adds to the days at sea. We had the unrequited love affair of James and Miss A. He chasing; she playing with him as a cat with a mouse. Unfortunately both got off at the first Singapore. We now are watching Donald and Miss G in their dance of love but it is not nearly as satisfying. There is the added entertainment of the gay couples on board and their changing alliances which always add to an evening’s enjoyment.

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Singapore, the Second Time Around

Singapore
The people of Singapore are a melting pot of different nationalities. Buddhism is the most practiced religion, 33% of residents. The next most popular religion is Christianity, followed by Islam, Taoism, and Hinduism. There are over 5.3 million people in Singapore of which 2.91 were native born. The population is diverse with the Chinese the majority, with Malaysians and Indians significant minorities.

Raffles Hotel and a Day of Shopping
Sandy and I took a taxi to Raffles, $10 Singapore dollars. We were not allowed to enter the main entrance of the hotel. The doorman politely directed us to the side of the hotel containing the shops and bars. This had changed since I was here last in 2011 when we were allowed to enter the hotel if we arrived in a taxi.

We shopped in the Raffles store. I purchased a key chain; $12.90 Singapore. We then ventured into the Jim Thompson shop where I purchased a handbag, $95 Singapore. Jim Thompson is a figure of consequence in Thailand. He was a WW II vet who returned to Thailand and founded a silk empire. He disappeared in the late 1960’s, never to be heard of again. I would highly recommend his biography by William Warren, a wonderful man I met in Myanmar in 2007.

We returned to the ship for lunch instead of spending $178 for lunch at Raffles as Byron and Linda did. Return taxi was $10 Singapore.

In the afternoon we ventured to the terminal stores and to the attached Vivo City shopping center. Didn’t find anything interesting there but did use the Burger King wifi after purchasing a small coke for $2.70 Singapore.

Crossing the Equator
When a ship crosses the equator, a ceremony takes place involving King Neptune inducting pollywogs in the mysteries of the deep. Pollywogs are those who are crossing the equator for the first time. Originally, the tradition was created as a test for seasoned sailors to ensure their new shipmates were capable for handling long, rough times at sea. It could be quite a brutal event, sometimes involved throwing the victims over the side of the ship and dragging the pollywogs in the surf from the stern. Those who have crossed the equator previously are called shellbacks.

Shipboard Life
Four young men, The Rockafellas, are a fantastic vocal harmony group singing songs from the ’50’s and ’60’s.

The Retreat on Deck 8 has a shallow pool with deck chairs inside the pool. I finally used one. Fantastic to lay there and splash one self with water.

Although we were assigned to the table at the aft window in the dining room, a couple joined Peter, Margaret, Sandy, and me. This couple, due to senility, put a damper on the dining experience. After dinner, I approached Jonathan, an assistant dining room manager, and explained our predicament.

In Singapore, although about 500 guests debarked, a larger number embarked. As a result, the ship is bursting. The staff is running out of laundry bags and other items. This particular voyage has had many segments. I, personally, as well as many friends, have found this situation unpleasant to say the least. There is not the camaraderie fouond on other long voyages. Of course, some of this could be due to the largest number of passengers of one nationality being Dutch rather than from an English speaking country.

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