GWV 2014 — Five Days at Sea

It is the mark of an educated man to be able to evaluate a thought without accepting it. ~~ Aristotle

Captain Jonathan Mercer
A native of Sussex, England, Jonathan Mercer joined the British Merchant Navy in 1968. After years at sea, he obatined the rank of Captain in 1987. In 1995 he joined HAL as the Captain of the Veendam and the first British Captain. (My personal favorite Captain… Captain Tim… is also a Brit.) Captain Mercer lives in Merritt Island, Florida.

Holy Week Activities
Pastor Don, a former Navy Chaplain, led the Maundy Thursday Communion service and the Good Friday service. On Easter Sunday, there was a sunrise service beside the Lido Pool. It was conducted jointly by the Catholic priest, Father Bob, and Pastor Don, while the water of the pool sloshed noisily in the background. Following the Ecumenical service, there was a Protestant Easter service with Communion. At this service Pastor Don read the cards which had been distributed earlier to the congregants. The completed cards read,”Easter means…”

Executive Chef Daniel and the Amsterdam Kitchen Brigade created a spectacular world of culinary delights, an exclusive feast for both the eyes and the palate. I ate at least a pound of lobster!!

One of the Major Reasons I Cruise with HAL
Perhaps one of the major reasons that I cruise with HAL is the staff. Our Indonesian and Filipino crew members are the finest in the world!! Out cabin attendants, Buddy and Jon, are continually asking if they can do more for us. Out dining room steward Eko Prittandono makes excellent suggestions as to what we would like. And the assistant dining room steward I Putri Satya Okaarimbawa always gets my iced tea without my asking.

Indonesian Crew Show
Wisely the Crew Show was moved from 11 p.m. to 3 p.m and was played to a standing room only crowd. This time change should be made a permanent one! Hendrick from the dining room played the drums in the crew show bank. Wangonly (Jon), our cabin steward, is a great singer. Ketut, my attentive waiter from the Lido, was in the monkey troops. Beautiful Tri and Ita from the Lido danced a Balinese welcome. Ardian who does the coffee trolley in the Lido was also in the show. Presty was the crew show director and has tremendous talent. Many more of the wonderful Indonesian staff performed.

Filipino Crew Show
Again, the show was scheduled for 3 instead of 11 and was standing room only! Traditional song and dance followed the Philippine national anthem. Our wine steward Antonio performed in a song number; the Ocean Bar waitress April performed in the candle light dance; and many more worked to give the audience an afternoon of entertainment. The performers received a standing ovation.

Mariner Society Functions
Jill and I attended the 5 star luncheon together. It was held jointly with members of the President’s Club, those passengers who have logged 1400 or more days!! I have over 600, and am pretty sure I will make the 700 day medallion, but beyond that, I don’t know!!

At the Mariner Appreciation Cocktail Party, I was surprised to be among the roll call for the new 500 day Mariners. I had my photo taken with the Hotel Manager and Captain and enjoyed the recognition. I had actually participated in the ceremony and received my medallion last fall while on the Zaandam. This function was far superior!!

Shipboard Life
On HAL’s 141st birthday, Joan, Sandy, Maren, Pam, and I had a hilarious dinner in the Cannelto. The food was excellent and the company meshed so well that the dinner lasted for hours!

Obviously I can be bought. The pillow gift was a Steiff teddy bear. The little animal in his sailor jacket sitting on a pillow alleviated my disappointments of the voyage.

The AAA cocktail party hosted by Jack and Gloria was first rate. We sat with Gene and Verlyn and others and laughed and drank our way through the party.

The guest speaker series featured Tom Goltz presenting a biography of Bartolome de las Casas, an early reformer and humanist. At the age of 18 in 1502, de las Casa went to Hispanola and was exposed to the brutal exploitation of the natives. In 1507 King Ferdinand appointed him Protector of the Indians. While in Cuba, he wrote “I saw here cruelty on a scale no living being has ever seen or expected to see.” The Haitian Chief Hatuey who had been taken to Cuba and was awaiting death by burning at the stake, was asked to convert, replied, “I prefer to go to hell if heaven means meeting up with any of you again.” 90% of the New World population died between the years of 1492 and 1600. In 1555, de las Casa wrote The Limits of Royal Power in which he said, “You cannot preach the first commandment if you cannot live the second.”

Queen’s Room Shows
The Incognito, three singers from the UK, get my award for the best show of the cruise. Emma, Adrian, and Christian provide top flight entertainment. Their operatic voices need no gimmicks, no props, just superb voices.

Marty Henne, singer, pianist, and raconteur, entertained with stories and songs of the Gershwin brothers. It was a very good show, but I still liked Incognito the best.

The Amsterdam singers and dancers continue to disappoint. The Irish Soul production may have been timely around March 17, but it failed to wow in any fashion.

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