Ready for Some Calm Days at Sea

Day 52, Grand Asia 2018

Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, At Sea:

If you liked summer camp, you would love sea days on the Amsterdam.

We are just finishing up our third consecutive sea day after a few weeks of ports with only the occasional sea day thrown in. It has been a welcome break. Unless you are one of those people who sign up for everything, and then your days at sea can be busier than ever.

In addition to the usual sea day routine options of watercolor, tai chi, Bible study, bridge, mah jongg, stitch and knit, walk-a-mile and dance classes, Holland America picked up a couple of “cultural ambassadors” in Darwin. They are native Australians who teach daily classes in Aboriginal art and customs. A couple of days ago I painted a boomerang with a dot pattern – a technique they once used to communicate.

I’ve enjoyed a break from writing daily posts and caught up on my sketching and watercolor. I managed to work in a massage in the spa yesterday. I can’t say that the promised “body exfoliation” was much – she spent about 20 seconds running a brush over my body for a dry exfoliation, as she called it. But if the treatments deliver as promised, my dry skin will be gone and I will magically loose inches as toxins flee my body! Regardless, the massage felt great.

The ship took on a load of coconuts at a recent port, and we enjoyed the coconut water one day at noon.

In Darwin we picked up a reef pilot, who is helping direct our path through the Great Barrier Reef. As we sail along, we can recognize nearby portions of the reef by the light aqua water over them. Occasionally we pass close to a small island or even breaking waves stretching for miles with no visible land. The reef pilot gave a presentation explaining the job, the dangers of boarding ships at sea in rough weather and the delicate nature of the reef.

I’ve made several friends who will be leaving the ship at the end of this segment when we get to Sydney next week, so we’ve scheduled goodbye dinners and exchanged email addresses. The friendships you build on the ship can be intense though brief. Sometimes they endure well beyond the trip. In other cases, I’ve found my emails to friends from past cruises don’t elicit replies, so I never know if they are getting through.

One night I had dinner with the chief environmental officer among others. One advantage of eating with an officer is that he or she supplies wine for everyone. We had a lot of wine, staying late to continue the lively conversation. Paul is from the U.K., as was one other couple. Two couples were from Australia. It was a good mix of people.

Today was Connie’s birthday, a friend who also cruised last year. The Indonesian crew serves cake and sings an Indonesian version (to a Dutch tune) of Happy Birthday. We hear the song once or twice many nights.