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Moments To Remember From The Amsterdam’s
2014 Grand World Voyage

Georgina & Humberto encounter the moai on Easter Island with the Amsterdam at anchor off Hanga Roa
by Georgina Cruz

April 2014: “We do not remember days, we remember moments,” Italian poet Cesare Pavese once observed. A Grand World Voyage, like Holland America’s 2014 113-day Treasures of the World circumnavigation of the planet (Jan. 4 through April 28) from which we have just returned, yields many, oh, so many “moments to remember,” to borrow from the song’s lyrics by The Four Lads.

Here are just some notable ones:

 • Boarding the 62,735-ton, 1,380-guest Amsterdam in Fort Lauderdale for the Grand World Voyage and meeting fellow passengers (many of them veterans of several world cruises, who ask you if you too “are going around”). Enjoying a welcome aboard toast with champagne flutes, sail-away festivities up on deck and a send-off with banners, bells and whistles by residents of condos lining the Port Everglades’ channel. What a moment, all the while dreaming of the adventures to come. “It’s like having the whole world at your fingertips,” as our port guide, Barbara, exclaimed. And what a joy to think of 113 days with no cleaning, no cooking, and no chores (as four-star Mariner Society members, HAL’s loyalty program for passengers who have completed 200 days on HAL’s ships, we get unlimited complimentary laundry service too!).

• Admiring luminous blue morphos at the Butterfly Garden and the hiking trails in the Veragua Rainforest & Adventure near Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. And taking the park’s aerial tram to spot monkeys and sloths in the forest canopy.

• Enjoying an archeological day in Lima, Peru, a shipboard-bought tour with visits to two pyramid temples, the huaca pucllana and the huaca huallamarca, with such highlights as a small museum with pottery from the ancient Lima people and a mummy, and an enclosure with llamas. Climbing the steep ramp (similar to those of Mayan pyramids) to the top of one of the pyramids, the huaca pucllana, rewarded us with a panoramic view of the city.

• Standing face-to-big-face on Easter Island. Easter Island (or Rapa Nui or Isla de Pascua as it is also called) has national parks filled with the world-famous moai, ancient Polynesian statues that may have been part of a cult to honor ancestors. The often-photographed “big heads” are part of full-body statues that have been buried up to the neck by the elements and other factors throughout the centuries.

• Feeling at home on the Amsterdam. A drydock before the world cruise refreshed the public spaces and staterooms. One note, however, though the 14-year-old Amsterdam’s interiors are graciously adorned with fine furnishings, art and fresh flowers, during the world cruise, particularly the first half of the voyage, there were various leaks from ceilings in stairwells, the Lido, and the entrance to the show lounge, and pails to catch the water while the leaks awaited fixing marred the look of interiors. Also, a new Internet system had been introduced that had glitches. A handpicked staff shone, however, catering to passengers’ needs and presenting some of the most varied menus at sea... shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, surf and turf, and chocolate avalanche cake, anyone? Firman and Joseph, our dining room stewards from Indonesia, offered attentive, friendly service –remembering, for example, that we prefer olive oil and vinegar for our salads. Our cabin stewards, Yanto and Dwi, also from Indonesia, kept our oceanview cabin spotless and stocked with Elemis toiletries and fresh fruit. In addition to chocolates, we were pampered with occasional pillow gifts throughout the voyage including wheeled carry-on luggage, Tiffany mugs with a map of the world, and a logo tote filled with goodies such as a travel journal, mini-bag with practical necessities like lip balm, hand-sanitizer and band-aids, all perfect for our explorations ashore.

• Spending days at thatched-roof overwater bungalows in French Polynesia. Our bungalow at the Pearl Resort & Spa in Moorea had steps leading from its deck into the crystal-clear, coral-and-tropical-fish-filled lagoon. We also spent an idyllic day at the Four Seasons Bora Bora on a “motu” (white-sand-fringed islet) in this island’s breathtaking lagoon. Steps on the terraces of bungalows take to the warm embrace of the water for swimming and snorkeling. And we feasted on Polynesian specialties for lunch with fresh seafood and fruits at both resorts.

• Standing at the Amsterdam’s bow for the arrivals at Sydney, Australia and Hong Kong, China, two of the world’s most scenic ports and counting our blessings as we watched the iconic sights go by: the Opera House and Harbor Bridge in Sydney; skyscrapers, ferries and sampans (traditional boats) in Hong Kong. Then exploring each port via the convenient hop-on/hop-off tourist bus in each city. To fortify us at each narrated early morning, port entrance stewards went around bearing juice, coffee and rolls.

• Marveling at the eye-popping architecture of Singapore, including the “ship”-topped towers of its Marina Bay complex, riding the Singapore Flyer’s observation wheel and sipping a Singapore Sling at Raffles, where the world-famous drink was invented.

• Spending time with baby elephants that have lost their mothers at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in a coconut plantation three hours from Colombo in Sri Lanka. Watching babies being fed bottles of milk and watching them take long baths with the rest of the Asian elephant herd was another unforgettable moment.

• Going on safari to the Aquila Private Game Reserve out of Cape Town, South Africa. Spotting a herd of zebras and such diverse fauna as wildebeest, white rhinos, lions, and elephants in this reserve two hours from Cape Town further fed our sense of adventure.

• Enjoying talks by distinguished lecturers including Desmond Tutu, former archbishop of Cape Town and advocate of civil rights. Enrichment programs and entertainment on a world cruise are taken up a notch when compared to shorter voyages. And with Holland America’s new “On Location” programs, focus is on cultural shows, like a Peruvian folkloric troupe that came onboard and a Tahiti group who put on a show and conducted crafts lessons and ukulele and conch blowing classes, among other activities, as well as additional presentations that deepen understanding of destinations. The cruise staff also organized trivia quizzes, classic cruise games like golf-putting, shuffleboard and bean-bag toss, and other pastimes including varied entertainment and holiday celebrations (Valentines’ Day, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter all fell during our voyage and were marked with a Valentine’s Ball, Mardi Gras party and buffet with entertainment on deck, St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl and party, and an Easter brunch with the Easter bunny, of course).

• Touring the apricot-colored sands of the Namibian desert with enormous dunes that look like pyramids, including roaring dunes that produce a roaring sound when the sand slides on itself. What a moment!

• Feeling the sense of accomplishment at completing this “Holy Grail” of travel: a true circumnavigation of the planet. There is no other moment like sighting the beginning/ending point of a grand world voyage, in our case, Fort Lauderdale, as the circumnavigation concludes.

IF YOU GO: Holland America’s Amsterdam will feature a 114-day Grand World Voyage, a circumnavigation from Fort Lauderdale in 2015. Fares start at $19,999 per person, double. Visit hollandamerica.com. Other cruise lines that typically feature world cruises include Crystal (crystalcruises.com), Cunard (cunard.com), Oceania (this line’s first world cruise is slated for 2015, (oceaniacruises.com), Princess (princess.com), Seabourn (seabourn.com ) and Silversea (silversea.com).

Image Georgina Cruz


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