Friday, February 20, 2015

Feb 17 – A Busy Sea Day

Today would have been D’s father’s 104th birthday.  Sparky never took the entire world cruise but he and Grandma Jane took segments of it several times. 

Today saw the latest Cruise Critic meeting.  This was the third since we boarded in Ft. Lauderdale and attendance was nowhere near as high as the previous meetings.  As the cruise has progressed, passengers have become involved in a variety of activities including attending presentations by guest lecturers.  Our meeting was scheduled opposite one of these this morning and there was nothing we could do about it.  Our schedule was set months ago, but the speakers often don’t know from day to day when they will be working.  Still, we were pleased that 50 people showed up. 

The Cruise Director and Hotel Manager both came and spoke briefly.  Gene, the CD, brought koala clips [like bulldog clips with koalas on them] and managed to upstage D who was going to give some out, too.  No harm, no foul.  Everyone had a good time and that is the important thing.

Today was also Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras.  We dressed up in our finest Louisiana beads which were a present from friends Don and Beryl from Baton Rouge.  Very few of the other passengers wore anything suggesting Mardi Gras, but the MDR was decorated for the holiday and the wait staff was in costume.  Each had a fool’s hat complete with bells; a multicolor bow tie; and a matching vest.  Our waiters brought D a hat which he wore with pride if not dignity throughout dinner.  As we left, one of the waiters gave him a bow tie to go with the hat.

The Jewish holiday of Purim celebrates the defeat of an evil tyrant Haman as told in the Book of Esther.  It is one of the few happy Jewish celebrations and people dress up in costumes and generally act the fool.  On the Amsterdam it will include a parade of passengers in costumes as arranged by Arthur.  MA brought Emily’s Cookie Monster costume from Halloween, but D had none.  Since he already had the hat and bow tie, he asked one of the MDR captains if he could borrow one of the vests.  Getting the vest was no problem; getting into it was.  Although it was marked “large,” it must have been based on the Indonesian concept of large.  The costume may actually be more ridiculous with the tight vest than it would have been if an extra large had been available.

TOMORROW -- Another sea day.


Feb 18On the Way to Albany

Today was a normal sea day full of trivia and reading, rest and relaxation.  We did attend the talk on Bali but found it of little value to us since we have our plans already made.

Feb 19 – Albany

We were docked in Albany today.  Pronounce Al-bany [not All-bany], it is near the southwest corner of Australia.  We had no tours planned and thought we would just check out the town.

Others who had been here said it was a good place to stock up on supplies for the rest of the voyage, so we made a short list and hopped on the shuttle to the town which was about a mile or so from the dock.  Following a map supplied by the port authority and information from Ginger, we found the local mall with little difficulty.  Even though it was a full-service shopping center, it was practically in the center of town.

We stopped first at a “dollar store” where we bought supplies to package baby presents for Kadek and Mukti’s new babies and snacks for the cabin [as if there is not enough food on a cruise ship].  Readers may remember that D already bought shirts for them in Waitangi, NZ.  From there, we went across a parking lot to Target [yes, that Target].  It was much smaller than stores in the US, but the staff was friendly even if we could find only one item from the list.  Back in the shopping center itself, we bought a Coke from a kiosk and MA waited on a bench while D explored Cole’s, the local grocery store.  The priority item on the grocery was Tim Tam cookies which Arthur and others have raved about.  There were 7 varieties on the shelf and D bought 6 of them, leaving only the raspberry.  Tim Tams are chocolate covered cookies which are a cross between Twixt and Oreos.  We are hoping to save ours until we get home, but the odds are not good.  Ken and Lois brought coconut ones to Trivia this afternoon and they were really good.

After we finished shopping, we found our way back to the shuttle stop and then onto the ship for lunch, Trivia and Tim Tams. 

Ken and Lois joined us for dinner tonight to help celebrate D’s 70th birthday.  D was forced by MA to wear a button which said “Aged to Perfection,” but that wasn’t the worst part.  After the main courses were cleared, Kadek brought a chocolate birthday cake and fried ice cream [Indonesian style] for dessert; the fried ice cream had been Ken and Lois’s idea.  As if this were not enough attention, we found ourselves surrounded by a dozen or so of the MDR staff who serenaded us with the Indonesian birthday song and the Chinese birthday song in honor of Chinese New Year.  For better or worse, Ken captured the Amsterdam Chorus and the laughter on video.  As he said later, “It was the longest minute and 47 seconds on record.”


Feb 20 – A Sea Day Like All the Rest

We stayed in bed so late this morning that we never got breakfast but went straight to the port talk on Semarang and Jakarta.  Like the others in the series, we did not find this one particularly useful.  The traffic congestion in both ports was stressed and Barbara discouraged anyone from trying to travel to see the Borobadur temple on his/her own.  Time, tide and the Amsterdam wait for no one.  We are familiar with the traffic in Jakarta from our visits to see Jon, Briton and The Boys.  After the talk, D asked Barbara how long it would take to get to the old port [the Batavia area] because we want to go there for lunch.  She said it could take 60 – 90 minutes and seemed affronted when I said that Jon told us it was 5 minutes away.  Once again, we have found an “expert” who isn’t. 

Insert the sea day routine here.

At dinner tonight, we asked Afid, our “old” waiter, about the HAL hiring system.  We wondered if the staff applied for specific departments or if HAL decided on who went into which area.  He told us that people apply for either the dining, housekeeping or “other” by which he meant the below-decks jobs such as maintenance, engine room, etc.  The requirements for each are different; dining room staff must have better English skills and 1 year of experience, but housekeeping applicants need only 6 months of prior experience and do not need to be as proficient in English.  We had noticed a marked difference in English between our cabin and dining room stewards, so this explained it for us.

TOMORROW – Freemantle





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