GWV 2014 — Celebrities, Parties, Special Events Galore!!

It only takes one person to change your life…. you. ~~ Ruth Casey

A special speaking engagement and question and answer session with Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a truly special event. I came away thinking that Bishop Tutu was a happy man who spread joy just by being!! Although I do not agree with all of his positions, I recognize a truly good man in him. On Sunday Bishop Tutu celebrated the Holy Eucharist Service. It was an uplifting service and a once in a lifetime experience of receiving Communion from him.

A cocktail party hosted by Stein and Linda Kruse was exceptional. Mary and Ed, Mary Ann and John, and I consumed cocktails, took photos, and laughed as only good friends can do.

At the 5 Star Mariner luncheon Stein Kruse circulated, talking with Mariners. Stopping at my table, he was interested and concerned about the experiences of longtime cruisers. He is very observant; he picked up the woven metal breadbasket and noted a metal sticking out and pushed it back into the weave. After our conversation, he gave me his card and asked me to contact him concerning my views. And in the receiving line prior to the luncheon, Linda Kruse commented on my bracelet which I had purchased in 1000 Hills outside of Durban.

At a question and answer session, Stein Kruse introduced Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp. He is very personable. He was handpicked by Mickey Aronson last July to take his place. They discussed the position at a Miami Heat game. The Heat won. Arnold joked that if they had lost, he might not have the job! His driving force is to “exceed our guests’ expectations” on the 10 brands under the Carnival umbrella.

We were entertained one evening by the Soweto Gospel Choir, winner of two Grammy’s and an Emmy. They also participated in the Holy Eucharist service. Another evening the Soweto Strings performed; four African men playing eighteenth century instruments. Most enjoyable!!

All in all, the three sailing days between Durban and Capetown were an exhilarating experience!!

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GWV 2014 — Durban, South Africa

Learn to be calm and you will always be happy. ~~~ Paramhansa Yognand
(An aside, he was Pam’s yoga guru!!)

The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama passed by the east coast of Africa on Christmas Day near the end of the 15th Century. He saw a large bay and named it the Rio de Natal, the Christmas River. Natal became the name of the region. In the 1820’s, the Zulu chief Shaka forged the scattered clans of the region into a fighting force which lasted for 60 years. Durban is now the largest container port in Africa.

Charlotte organized a super tour of 20 for $125 US pp. It was an excellent value. We visited the Valley of the 1000 Hills, the Isithumba Zulu Village, and the Phe Zulu Park for traditional dancing and a walk through the reptile park. For lunch, we stopped at Hillbillie’s Trading Post. Do not miss this!! Beautiful view, welcoming staff, delicious food, and small shops! I had the Bunny Chow which is actually curry (I had chicken) in a hollowed out shell (hence, the bunny hutch) of bread. Superb! I bought 3 handmade shirts, a wooden bowl, and a painted basket. And a bonus… they had free wifi!

Complimentary South African Food and Wine Sail Away Party
Executive Chef Daniel prepared a variety of appetizers while the wine and beer flowed! The Lido Poolside was filled to bursting with happy guests, imbibing, laughing, and eating. Joe, Jill, and I shared a table with a delightful couple… and spent the time spotting celebrity guests, as well as enjoying the complimentary beverages!

Celebrities Galore!
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah Tutu and members of their extended family are aboard. He is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate as well as a recipient of other commendations. Robert Taylor, President of the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation in New York in also aboard.

Stein Kruse and his wife Linda are aboard. Mr. Kruse if CEO of Holland America. As such he oversees HAL, Princess Cruises, Seaborn, and HAL-Princess Alaska land operations. Additionally, he is chairman of the board of MANKO which oversees the operations of Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia. In total, he oversees 41 cruise ships.

And, Mr. Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation, parent company of Holland America. He has held the post since July 2013. He is also Principal of AWDPLC LLC, a private investment company. (And, he’s good looking too!)

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GWV 2014 — Sailing to Africa

Courage is very important. Like a muscle it is strengthened by use. ~~ Ruth Gordon

Shipboard Life
A private kitchen tour arranged by AAA again showed the talent and organization of the staff at providing culinary delights for a thousand passengers! A miracle! All meals are prepared under the supervision of the Executive Chef and served by the service staff under the direction of the Dining Room Manager. The galley consists of 96 employees, among which 6 are pastry makers, 2 butchers, and 4 bakers. The 122 people on the service staff include 28 assistant dining room stewards, 36 dining room stewards, and 9 wine stewards. There are two escalators which are used by the stewards to deck 5 of the La Fontaine Dining Room. The average weekly consumption of food includes: 8500 lbs of meat and meat products, 3814 lbs of poultry, 1875 lbs of fish, 2575 lbs of seafood, 12,500 lbs of fresh vegetables, 200 gallons of ice cream, 18,040 eggs, 232 cases of beer, and 1636 bottles of wine.

Pam, Sandy, and I have formed a team for the 5 p.m. pub trivia… we are sadly lacking some expertise, especially baseball. Teams may have 6 but we have not been able to find anyone else who wants to play with us. We soldier on… and have yet to be in the money (Dam dollars).

The shops sponsored an African souvenir sale on the Lido. It was billed to begin at 10 a.m. Luckily I was there a half hour early! I grabbed a couple of baskets and waited until they opened. It was a feeding frenzy. After charging my baskets, I sat at a nearby table and watched, waiting for blood to be spilled.

The Annual Silent Auction to support the Bernard Nordkamp Center in Namibia contained handicrafts by passengers and items from the various departments on the ship. Father Bernhard Nordkamp came to Namibia in 1986 and through his fifteen years of dedicated service, he focused on the plight of children. The contributions are used to pay a stipend for six Namibian teachers giving after school classes to the children, as well as 160 daily lunches. The Center is associated with catholic aids action and occupies premises owned by the Catholic Church of Namibia. I bid on several items and won a lovely handmade black scarf.

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GWV 2014 — Mauritius and Reunion, Islands in the South Indian Ocean

Keep five yards from a carriage, ten yards from a horse, and hundred yards from an elephant; but the distance one should keep from a wicked man cannot be measured. ~~ Indian Proverb

Mauritius
Arabs first came to Mauritius, then the Portuguese, but it was the Dutch who first settled the island. The French took it over and then the British seized it from the French. The French brought enslaved Africans to work the sugar cane plantations, and the influence of both cultures are still felt on the island today. The sugar cane was primarily used to make rum at that time. The British freed the slaves but brought in thousands of indentured workers from India and China. Mauritius gained independence in 1968 but remains in the British Commonwealth.

Maryann organized a tour for 10 of us… this was a bargain at $27 US pp…. for an entire day! We first visited an ancient volcanic crater… actually if you have seen one, you’ve seen them all…. then continued on a road which reminded me of the highway to Hanna in Hawaii….dramatic mountains, views of the sea, twists and turns. We visited the waterfalls of Black River Gorges National Park, the Champel with its seven different colored soils, and the sacred Hindu lake and temple to the god Shiva. Six of us had been together on the 2012 Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage so it was a reunion of sorts.

La Possession
125 nautical miles from Mauritius is the French island of Reunion. The island is dotted with tiny villages, sugar plantations, high-end seaside ressorts, and dramatic waterfalls. The island’s culture is primarily Creole. Vanilla is cultivated on plantations on the island.

I took the ship’s shuttle service to the Mail de Rodrigues, a seaside resort town about 40 minutes away. I love their roads! Their highways are new, scenic, and memorable. I kept thinking how nice it would be if 95 or 75 were a fraction as nice!

Shipboard Life
At Reunion, a local group, the Mascariegnes, performed in a folkloric show. It was billed as music, dance, and rhythm of the island. I found it repetitive and boring. I left after 10 minutes. And was distressed that I had made an effort to return to the ship for the performance rather than to continue to enjoy the island.

The old Terrace Grill by the Lido Pool has been transformed into the Dive In. It is great! They serve the best hamburgers and fries in the world… and the hot dogs aren’t bad either! I am so sorry that I have discovered this gem for lunch… my normal salad for lunch pales in comparison.

Debby Bacon, the entertainer in the Piano Bar, delivers an excellent show. However, it is a performance rather than the raucous, fun, casual piano bar atmosphere that we loved on the Rotterdam.

The Queen’s Lounge featured Elite, a vocal duo and leading ladies from London’s West End. These ladies provided world class entertainment. Their voices are spectacular!

I finished Harlan Coben’s Missing You. Someone please read it and tell me if at the end, Kat turned in Jeff or not. I hate stories without a definitive ending.

Notes
Deb & Gordon: Glad you are following me on my adventure. Wish you were along!
Barbara: I mistook you for my daughter! Welcome to my blog!
All: I do have photos and will attempt to upload some if I ever have free or inexpensive wifi while in port. However, most of the time, if I am in port, I am doing things rather than sitting at my ipad typing!! Trying to upload photos while using the ship’s internet is expensive and frustrating.

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GWV 2014 — Victoria, Seychelles

When one door closes another one opens; but we often look long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us. ~~ Alexander Graham Bell

The Seychelles is composed of 115 islands, and Victoria, on the island of Mahe, is their capital. It is among the smallest national capitals in the world. France colonized the islands in the 1700’s, then Britain controlled them until their independence in 1976.

Location Guide Barbara was very helpful when we questioned her about the feasibility of taking a ferry to neighboring Praslin Island. (It wasn’t.)

The local port authority provided a shuttle to town. I took it. Walked around town. Found wifi at Double Click and had a coke… total expense $4 US including tip. Took shuttle back to bus. Hot, hot, hot. And not very interesting either!

Shipboard Life
The culinary department prepared a Creole BBQ…I had the best bbq’d ribs ever!! Then the grand piano was lifted (I don’t know how) to the aft deck. Chairs and tables rearranged and the evening performance by Debby Bacon was on. Perfect venue. Perfect evening. The stars were out, a gentle breeze, and the view of the lights twinkling on the Seychelles was spectacular. Debby is an accomplished musician. The evening was magical.

Pizza and Beer (or wine) Sail Away Party. It was free. Enough said… the Lido was jam packed with passengers eating and drinking!

Barry Hilton from South Africa performed his comedy routine… normally, I skip comedians or last about 10 minutes. However, Barry had me laughing the entire show. The next night the show featured Gary Guthman playing his trumpet…. songs from the 30’s and 40’s. I loved it too!

The movie was Diana, 2013, starring Naomi Watts, Naveen Andres, and Cas Anvar. It tells the story of the last two years of Diana’s life and her love affair with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan. I had not known of her affair, nor the theory that she had used Dodi Fayend to make Hasnat Jealous. I also learned that Diana was very self-centered and controlling. I highly recommend this film.

Finally, standing on the top deck looking at the stars!! The southern skies are incredible. If you have only looked at stars in the northern hemisphere, you have missed the best.

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GWV 2014 — Razor wire and fire hoses! It’s pirate waters! And we crossed the Equator!

The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. ~~ Marcel Proust

Piracy
Precautions taken by the Amsterdam while sailing in pirate waters in the Indian Ocean include charged water hoses ready for use on both sides of the lower promenade deck, rigged razor wire surrounding the ship on deck 3, and extra security guards rotating on 24 hour anti-piracy watches. The latter are wearing large silver badges reminiscent of those found on policemen years ago. In the attempt of a boarding by pirates, one long ring of the ship’s alarm will sound. Passengers are to move to the interior corridors (away from glass) and sit down since the ship may maneuver resulting in heeling at high speed.

Missing Malasian Jet
The search for Malaysian flight 370 which disappeared on March 8 includes the Amsterdam. Our radar is searching for any debris as is our security officers on deck. The passengers have followed the story with interest since we have been sailing in the waters where the plane disappeared.

Pinnacle Surprise Menu Dinner
The Pinnacle was transformed into a Mogul’s Palace for the evening; the servers were attired in sari’s and elegant Indian suits. Every guest received an elephant figurine. Menu included: an assortment of tandoori kebabs and items fried in chickpea batter; tomato broth flavored with tumeric; chicken in a creamy curry sauce, shrimp in a spicy coconut sauce (heavenly!), green peas and cauliflower (excellent), basmati rice, and several types of Indian flatbreads; jalebi with cardamon ice cream. Plus all the wine one could drink…. in my case, all the beer!

Heroines who Braved the Ocean Waves
(a lecture by Melvyn Foster)
In the mid 1800’s the Yankee Clipper ships sailed from New York City around Cape Horn to San Francisco in about 89 days. In 1856, the ship Neptune’s Car was carrying cargo to the miners of San Francisco. Mary Patten, 19 years old and pregnant, accompanied her Captain husband. When he falls ill (perhaps to encephalitis), she takes command of the ship primarily because she is the only one left on the ship who can navigate. She guides the ship safely through the icebergs in Drake Passage and, after 136 days, arrives in San Francisco. Mary’s husband is still unconscious. She takes him to Panama and crosses the isthmus by rail and then sails to Boston. A month after arriving in Boston, her child is born. Three weeks later her husband dies. Four years later Mary dies of TB.

Shipboard Life
The latest pillow gift was a package of Crane notecards featuring vintage Holland American posters. Pam donated hers to me, as she does with most pillow gifts.

Go Gators! SEC championship, ranked #1 in polls, and secures the #1 spot in the South bracket. Unfortunately ESPN and ESPN2 are not available at this time. I am hoping they will be back soon.

I read Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante. A good pool mystery… that is, it will not tax your brain, but will hold your interest! I started You Should Have Known by Korelitz. So far, so good.

The movie was Dallas Buyers Club

    , 2013, starring Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. In 1985 Dallas, Ron Woodruff works around the system to help AIDS patients get the medication they need after he is diagnosed with the disease. Definitely see this movie.

    The show was Journey South, a duo from England who played and sang songs which were familiar. Definitely enjoyable.

    Notes
    Thanks, Betsy, for keeping me up to date!

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GWV 2014 — Colombo, Sri Lanka

93 dress, humid…. HOT!

I took the HAL tour ($289) by train to the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage. The 2 hour trip through the countryside was wonderful. Once we arrived at Pinnawela, we transferred to a bus to the site. We walked to the hotel located on the river. Watching the elephants playing in the water was worth the trip. The luncheon buffet was plentiful and the hotel veranda very pleasant. After lunch we walked, in the heat, to the Pinnawela Elephant Orpanage. It was very crowded. At the feeding by bottles of the baby elephants, the crowd was so deep that viewing was near impossible. After this, I just sat down on a ledge and waited until the tour ended. Back by bus to the train… the a/c was broken, the windows did not open, luckily the trip was short… the train ride back was pleasant. After arriving in Colombo, we had a short panoramic bus trip of the city. The changes since last year were amazing. This is becoming a major city in Asia. The Chinese are funding a building which will be the tallest in Asia.

Returning to the ship, I showered, made a bourbon (thank you, Santa) and coke, and went out on the deck to watch the sail away. A quick dinner in the Lido, and I was in bed.

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GWV 2014 — Sailing to Sri Lanka

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. ~~ T. S. Eliot

Captain William Kidd: Fatal Fugitive of an Indian Ocean Scandal
(Another in a series of lectures by Melvyn Foster)
In 1695, Henry Avery, the richest pirate of all time, attacked the Great Mogol’s ship in the Indian Ocean and disappeared with the treasure. The Mogol’s daughter was killed in the incident. Understandably, the Mogol was not pleased with the British. Meanwhile, in 1690, 47 year old William Kidd, a legal privateer, married 21 year old Sarah Oort, a twice widowed rich young woman. The wedding reception in New York included the guests attending the hanging and beheading of the former governor Liester. Later, Kidd returned to the sea to legal privateering. He was involved in an incident in the Indian Ocean where he accidentally killed his mate. The British government, wanting to appease the Great Mogol, conspired to blame Kidd for the pirating in the Indian Ocean. He was tried and hung twice, the first time the rope broke. There is a theory that Kidd escaped the gallows by being replaced by another prisoner for the second hanging. In 1703, Sarah married Christopher Rousby and moved to Rahway, New Jersey. However, records show that Rousby had been murdered in 1694. The theory is that the Rousby that Sarah married was actually Kidd. Researchers are presently trying to prove the theory.

Shipboard Life
Mongolian Cookout. You picked the vegetables and meat that you wanted and then stood in a very long line waiting for your turn to have your food cooked in a skillet/wok. The result, however, was delicious!

Movie matinee: Nebraska, starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte. Filmed in black and white, the film featured unattractive people and a depressing story line. About halfway through, I left.

Rotterdam Reunion: Friends who traveled on the Rotterdam’s 2013 Voyage to the Far East met in the Pinnacle Restaurant for a lovely evening of memories and memories yet to be made. Jill, Joe, Sandy, Maren, Bill, Mary, Joy, Jeff, and I enjoyed each other’s company immensely. I do have to say that I was disappointed in the Pinnacle. The menu has changed… and not for the better…. the service does not seem to be as good… and the food was just OK, not what one would expect.

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GWV 2014 — Sea Days Sailing in the Bay of Bengal

Trying to upload again

Culinary Arts Center
Celebrity guest chef Pranee Halvorsen demonstrated the preparation of Thai chicken mint salad and red curry shrimp with pineapple. She suggested that we buy Thai ginger and lemongrass plants to grow at home if we lived in a warm climate. I definitely plan to try them in pots. She also suggested a website to purchase Thai cooking implements, importfoods.com

From Ceylon to Sri Lanka: A bouncing history of spices, coffee, tea, rubber, and rogues
(Another in a series of lectures by Melvyn Foster)

In the 11th Century the island was called Serendip from the Persians; Marco Polo referred to it s Zeilan in 1250; this was corrupted to Ceylon. In 1972 the name was changed to Sri Lanka. Horace Walpole coined the word serendipity about 1794 from Serendip. Until the typhoon of 1480, you could walk from India to Sri Lanka on limestone stepping stones called Adam’s Bridge.

Foster recommends the recently published book Encyclopedia of the Sri Lanka Diaspora. The largest group of people in Sri Lanka are the Sinhalese; the second largest the Tamils, and the third the Islamic cultures. Civil strife has occurred since the independence from Britain in 1948. In 1976 The Tamil Tigers began the fight for an independent homeland in the northern part of the island. In 1983 the Interminable Civil War began. On July 24, 2001, the Tamil Tigers attacked the airport and destroyed multiple aircraft. On Dec. 26, 2004, the tsunami occurred. In 2009, 26 years of civil war eneded.

Sri Lanka has had 125,000 years of human habitation. It also had the first female ruler in Asia in 62 B.C. Queen Anula poisoned her husband, her son, and four subsequent husbands.

Shipboard Life
Had a delightful lunch in the dining room with Inger, Gail, Pat, Sandy, and Maren. Again, friends with whom I have sailed before. During lunch the Captain made his daily announcement: At noon, we were 31 miles north of the Nicobar Island group in the channel between the islands and Sumatra. The sea temperature was 84 degrees and the air temperature was in the high 80’s with partly cloudy skies. We were sailing in the Andaman Sea in the morning and would sail into the Bay of Bengal in the afternoon.

The movie was Closed Circuit, 2013, starring Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall. A British production about a high profile terrorism case which unexpectedly brings two ex-lovers on the defense team discovering a government cover-up. I’d give it a 2 out of 5. I usually expect more from the Brits.

A wonderful party was hosted by AAA and their onboard hosts, Jack and Gloria Meerman.

The show in the Queen’s Lounge featured Stephen Clark with his flute. Entitled Golden Flute — Silver Screen — Music from the Movies and More, it was a delightful program, well received.

I am reading Dominion by C. J. Sansom. Highly recommend it.

Notes
Joe: Glad you are following the blog. Enjoy your daughter and grandson.
Jack and Barbara: Mike and Jeannie are fine. I sent your best.
Dave: The 2 deer was a dumb joke. Of course, I laughed.

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GWV 2014 — Phuket, Thailand

When life gives you lemons, squeeze it, add some love for sweetness and make lemonade. ~~ Anonymous
And from the ether, appeared my Singapore post!

Anchored in Patong Bay
90 degrees, sunny, sea breeze, very pleasant. We anchored in Patong Bay and tendered into the Kalim Pier. It was much preferable to docking at the port further south on the island as we did last year.

Elephant Trek
We were met by our driver Sam to take us (Sandy, Noreen, Ken, and me) to the Kok Chang Safari. The 50 minute elephant trek cost $33 US pp. Sandy was terrified but I must give her credit… she stayed on! And by the end of the trek was enjoying herself. We climbed through the forest to the top of the hills, the view was spectacular of the ocean from the top of an elephant! This is an absolute must if you come to Phuket! http://www.kokchangsafari.com or info@kokchangsafari.com

The Hunt for Jim Thompson
No, I don’t mean the hunt to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Jim Thompson, I mean the hunt for the factory store of Jim Thompson! Our driver Sam, a delightful young woman with little English… and of course, I have no Thai… did her best to try to find the store. After a couple of missteps, we found a store, not the factory store, but a store! I spent my allowance for a year but I have two silk blouses (which I will be afraid to wear to dinner for fear of spilling), a long sleeved shirt, and several handbags. After contributing to the Thai national debt, our sales clerk mentioned the factory store! Well, we were off again! And we reached our goal! I have a new hat, more bags, and PILLOW CASES for my bed…. sage green with gold tree designs in silk. If anyone puts their head on those pllows, they will loose said head.

Our driver Sam returned us to the port…. poorer but blissfully happy. She asked for 1000 baht for the day… from 9 a.m. to 3:30, ferrying us, waiting for us, being delightful. This comes to about $31 US…. Sandy and I gave her $80 US. If you wish to book her service, it is Mrs. Sam, international call: +6684 7468317

Shipboard Life
The show in the Queen’s Lounge featured Jeff Stevenson, a British comedian I had heard previously. He was well received with lots of laughs from the audience.

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