Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Grand World Voyage Part 12: the Amsterdam

The postings about the 2008 Grand World Voyage would not be complete without saying something about the ship we sailed on, her wonderful crew, and life on board. The Amsterdam is a nice size ship (just under 1300 passengers), and very nicely appointed. All the areas always had gorgeous flower arrang
ements, which showed great creativity.

There was a wide variety of activities available. I chose to participate in many of the 'dam dollars' activities, where one could earn 'money' which cou
ld be exchanged for goods at periodic times during the cruise. They had some really nice things to choose from, including a nice jogging suit and a really good windbreaker. These activities were a lot of fun because of the social aspect, but also (at least for me) because they offered a chance to develop some physical skills. My favorite of those was at long last being able to sink free throws on the basketball court.

Of course there was also team trivia, which is where I met my husband. That aside, it was a fun activity, which took place on sea days right around lunch time. That certainly kept our brains from going soft from all the luxury surrounding us.

The food was excellent, as expected, and all of the service on board was superb. I have always enjoyed getting to know crew members, and on a 4-month cruise one can really get to know them. Our dining room stewards (Fajar and Barkah) and our wine ste
ward (Ramiro) were the best of the best, and a lot of fun. Our cabin steward (Rusmadi) was also great, and a very faithful and hard worker - he has been a cabin steward for 35 years! Of course he made those wonderful towel animals for our bed each night. Sometimes it was interesting trying to figure out what they were, but they were always well done.

I enjoyed being able to dance to the music of the Station Band from the Philippines. They played a wide variety of songs, which were great to dance to. I'm talking real dance music that you could do specific dances to. They were doing their sixth world cruise, and deservedly so, as they were all excellent musicians, as well as being fun people. One great feature of this long cruise was that there were five or six dance hosts (technically they are social hosts) who were there to dance with us single women. Two of them I knew from a previous cruise, which was nice, and they were (for the most part) a lot of fun. There was one exception to that, but I solved that problem by eventually refusing to dance with that one (rest assured, the refusal was always polite).

We had a dessert (read chocolate) extravaganza the night we left Istanbul, immediately follow
ing that amazing party at the cistern. I don't remember eating anything, but the desserts sure were beautiful. The gentleman in the photo with me is Danny, one of the cooks, who is from the Philippines, and who became a special friend.

We had a 'regular' lunch time extravaganza also, with a pirate theme, which included quite a few ice sculptures. This, too, was beautiful to look at. The only problem with it is choosing what to eat when the selections are so numerous.

Another thing that was fun was that for every theme night, the dining room staff decorated the dining room to the hilt and of course had costumes to match.

We had a grand time on this grand world voyage. I am very glad that I did decide at the last minute to go on this cruise. It truly was the experience of a lifetime, something I would recommend to anyone who wants to see the world.

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