Early Monday morning the captain made the announcement we were expecting. The seas were too rough for us to enter the channel to Geraldton. As I watched the sun rise, I saw a number of freighters mulling around a few miles off the coast just like we were doing. Apparently no large vessels were able to enter the harbor. Unlike the freighters who had to wait until they could enter, we sailed on toward Bali leaving Australia behind. I would have liked to see the last town on our Australian journey, but now look forward to essentially having an extra day in Bali. We were originally expected to reach port at 3:00 PM and are now scheduled to dock at 8:30 AM. This is probably a good tradeoff for having 6 hours in Geraldton. As a consolation, at dinner tonight we were treated to champagne with our meal. I commented to our wine steward, Ernie, that he must be busy tonight. He responded that he would be a rich man if he were being paid by the number of glasses he served tonight.
With not much going on, I will share some thoughts about our trip up to this point. We are approaching the half-way mark. We are all still very much enjoying the cruise but the pace is about to change. We reviewed our scheduled excursions for the next few weeks and ended up adding four new ones and there are still a couple of ports we are waiting on. We would like hear Barbara, our location guides, presentation before we make a decision.
I looked at our calendar and through February 26 we will have done 10 scheduled excursions in 53 days at sea. This doesn’t include the walking tours we did on our own. During the next 55 days we have planned 32 excursions, plus we will probably add at least another two. By the numbers this means we averaged one excursion every 5.3 days for the first 53 days. We will average about one excursions every 1.6 days during the next 55 days. Oh, I’m tired already!!! But this is why we are here, it will be physically tough but we have worked hard to keep ourselves in shape for the days ahead. But… we have 5 days at sea crossing the Atlantic as we head home. This should give us plenty of time to rest up and get our packing done.
On the other hand, since we have been cruising with the Wellborns over the past several years, it has become a running joke, started by Carl, that we are living the “Life of Riley”. This is reference to the old television show with William Bendix. For those readers too young to remember Bendix who played the character of Riley, he was waited on hand and foot by his wife and he took every measure possible to avoid work at any cost.
The “Life of Riley”
Most days this is how we feel, especially on sea days. The comment was made that the most work we do is putting our laundry in the pickup bag and leaving it on the unmade bed in the morning. Then someone commented that what’s really bad is how you felt when you returned to your cabin and the clean clothes had magically appeared, your cabin was neat and fresh and your only thought was “oh no, now I have to put these clothes away”.
The thought of Rileyism crept in again tonight at dinner. We had Surf & Turf (which had been preceded by escargot in garlic butter and a wonderful soup). I am not a huge lobster fan, and the first couple of times they were served, I opted for something else. Once I did try La Fontaine’s lobsters I haven’t missed another opportunity. They are large, beautiful and perfectly cooked. And the best part is you don’t even have to help liberate these crustaceans from their tomb. It is done for you, like almost everything else. I will draw the line however if a steward asked if I would like for him to eat it for me as well….
Our wonderful assistant dining room manager, Presty, liberating Kay’s lobster from its shell. The sun was brutal this evening, thus our curtain was closed until the golden orb passed below the horizon. Then we enjoyed the beautiful backlit clouds and the ocean.
Carl & Janet
Kay & I, just so folks back home don’t forget what we look like…
Just a few more thoughts in this post where there is not much else to talk about… After almost two months shared with about a thousand fellow passengers you began to develop patterns, habits, likes and dislikes. The four of us do many things together. We have meals together 99% of the time and our routines often coincide, but not always. As the trip progresses we each have found our own rhythm which we are happy with and that’s the great thing about long cruises. There is plenty of variety and plenty of space for everyone to do their own thing.
Personally, I have a couple of peeves about shipboard life. There are a few persons in the dining room who simply cannot have a conversation without every table within a 20 foot distance hearing every word. It is not every night this happens but unfortunately there is a table of 7 near us who tend to be quite loud (and they don’t even have wine, so that can’t be blamed).
My other major gripe is in regard to walking on the deck, which we all do quite a bit of on sea days. I have no problem that not everyone is capable walking as fast as others, or even wants to. What is really a pain are those people who walk slow and walk right down the middle of the deck, side by side, without any regard for who might be behind them. The other problem deck walker is the one who “wanders” from side to side. You come up behind them, start to pass on the left and they veer to the right. You then try the right side and they are there too. If I thought they were doing it on purpose, I would give them a piece of my mind, except I really don’t think they are even aware of what they are doing (or can’t help it.) You would think you are following a drunk down a dark alley while contemplating were his next bottle was coming from….
The last annoyance I will burden you with is rudeness. I have not had a problem with it directed at me, but it infuriates me when a guest is rude to a crew member who is not only doing his job but going way beyond what could be expected to please the guest. A few, and I do mean a few, passengers feel that they have paid all this money for the cruise and it gives them the power to lord it over all those who serve them. Oh well, they probably act the same way at home.
Despite these nuisances, the trip has been great and we are really looking forward to the second half which will be taking us to some very exotic places. The streets of Mumbai, Rangoon Myanmar, The Great Pyramids, Buddhist temples, Greek monasteries, Ephesus, Pompeii, the Valley of the Kings and too many more to even mention. I just hope I have time to post and share with you.
We reach Bali tomorrow where there will be crew “family” days. About 300 crew members of the Amsterdam are from Indonesia and the next three ports will allow them an opportunity to visit their family, most of whom they have not seen for several months. Holland America makes special arrangements to allow family members to visit on ship while in port and give crew members who the opportunity to perhaps spend a night at home. We have heard from several crew members over the years who have served on other ships how great HAL is to work for. Julia, the HR officer on the Amsterdam talked this morning at “Good Morning Amsterdam” and the question was asked how the crew maintained it great attitude through the long 9 to 12 months contracts at sea. She said it was difficult but HAL, unlike many other lines, doesn’t have a large mixture of different nationalities and cultures with their crew members. This leads to a continuity of training and support which is passed down from the older crew members to the new. On this cruise, they just recognized service for 30, 25, 20 and 15 years. There is a tremendous amount of experience onboard and it shows. HAL also not only has programs and events for the passengers but also for the crew. They have parties, competitions and they even organize shore excursions for the crew. Julia pointed out that all new crew members come aboard looking like deer in the headlights, but she and the older crew members help them to acclimate over the next few weeks and then homesickness begins and again there is support to get them through the difficult times. It appears that Holland America has found the secret to getting and keeping good personnel.
Well, I better close. I doubt if many of you stayed with this till the end, but if you did, thank you for listening.
One more thing, Happy Birthday to our grandson Bennett whose birthday is on Thursday the 26th. I will say it now, because at this point I don’t know whether I will get a post done tomorrow or not!