A Swell Stop in Samoa

Day 69, Grand Asia 2018

Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, Apia, Samoa:

I hadn’t been to Apia, Samoa, before. I still haven’t been there, at least not on land.

We docked early in the morning as usual. A group of Samoan dancers and musicians welcomed us with a special performance before the local officials cleared us to come ashore.


Around 8 a.m. passengers started getting off the ship. Shortly thereafter, Capt. Eversen came on the intercom to say we would be leaving the dock shortly due to worsening swells.

I had noticed the swells after we docked. While tied to the pier, I normally don’t feel any movement of the ship. In this case, the ship was rocking. I had to keep one hand on the grip in the shower lest I lose my balance.

Later Capt. Eversen reported that he had tried to control the ship against the growing swells. But even against the full force of the bow thruster trying to keep the ship against the pier, three lines tore away. It obviously wasn’t safe to stay there.

So the crew quickly gathered those passengers shopping at the vender tents on the pier and then pulled in the gangway. I felt sorry for the local merchants who suddenly had no prospective customers.


Of course, some adventurous passengers had left early to explore the island. So the Amsterdam moved away from the pier a few hundred yards and settled down to wait. Originally there were 50 passengers reported ashore, and the last of them returned around noon to be tendered back to the ship as a brief afternoon shower left us with a rainbow. We spent the afternoon leisurely cruising around the two main islands of Samoa.

My main objective in Apia was to visit the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum in the house where he spent his last years. Alas, it was not to be. I never stepped off the ship, so had to content myself with sketching a scene of a local church from my balcony.

The ship’s staff quickly published a new When and Where, the daily schedule of events. On most port days there are few planned activities on the ship. Now we had a full complement of things to do, and I joined the afternoon watercolor class to catch up on my sketch journal painting.

Yesterday (a sea day between Fiji and Samoa), we had another “rude” reminder that this trip will eventually end. I met briefly with a staff member to schedule the shipment of two suitcases home. I had shipped one to the Amsterdam before departure (and checked two on my flight), but one of our “gala gifts” is a carry-on suitcase, so I will ship two bags home at a price of $70 per bag.

When I say ship home, I mean to my home at my sister’s house in Plano, a Dallas suburb. I will fly to my small apartment in Chicago where my family is meeting for Christmas and then return to Dallas for the winter. So I will need to put some thought into packing, making sure I take Christmas gifts and warm clothes to Chicago while sending my summer attire to Dallas.

But we still have two weeks to go, so I will channel my inner Scarlett O’Hara and think about that another day.