Admire the Beautiful Delft Pottery, But Do Not Touch or Buy

Day 52, 2023 North Atlantic Adventure

Sunday, July 2, 2023; Rotterdam, Netherlands.

I’ve instituted a new rule when it comes to shopping these days: If I wouldn’t pack it for a cruise, I don’t buy it.

Today that rule came into play several times, as we toured the Royal Delft factory museum in the town of Delft, the Netherlands. We saw beautiful (and very expensive) handmade and hand painted pottery, and I was tempted to make a small purchase as a memory – perhaps a Christmas tree ornament or a small bowl for jewelry.

But I actually have a few similar bowls and trays bought on previous trips. Where are they? Packed away, along with a few Christmas ornaments that follow a decidedly nautical theme. So today I simply admired them and the craftsmanship that goes into them.

My friend Barbara has painted porcelain – beautifully – for years, so it was especially fun to tour Delft with her and her husband Richard. We easily navigated from the subway (two blocks from the cruise pier) to the train in downtown Rotterdam to Delft. No need to buy tickets, just swipe your credit card. Easy peasy.

The markt, or market square bounded by the City Hall and the New Church (built between the 14th and 17th centuries) at the center of Delft was fairly quiet as it was Sunday morning, but by noon the sidewalk cafes were busy.

If there is a new church, there must be an old church, right? It’s called the Old Church (de Oude Kerk) and is best known for its skewed, or leaning tower. I just had to sketch it, but found it a challenge to actually draw the tower out of plumb. I may have to adjust my sketch later.

Back in the market square, we hired a motorized tuk-tuk to take us the mile to the Royal Delft factory. The walk would have done us good, but time was short as we had to be back on the ship by midafternoon.

Only a couple of people were working on Sunday, but the tour included two short videos. When Chinese porcelain became popular in Europe in the 1600s, dozens of Dutch companies in Delft opened factories to meet the demand. The industry was almost wiped out when English companies such as Wedgwood developed better techniques, but Royal Delft adapted and survived.

Perhaps a souvenir from a previous world cruise?

Artists use a water-based paint to create the beautiful designs – the traditional flowers and Dutch scenes as well as modern motifs. Unlike with my watercolor paint, these paints consist mostly of cobalt oxide, and when the pottery is fired to 2192 degrees Fahrenheit, the black paint under the glaze changes to blue.

Most of the blue-painted pottery being sold these days in Delft is made in Asia, but it is easy to tell the real thing by the price tags.

Before leaving the ship Sunday morning, while the cabin stewards were preparing rooms for new passengers, I stopped by the cabin I will have in January on the 2024 world cruise. It is a “fully obstructed” ocean view, which has the same size window as the door and window on a verandah. And a tender boat outside the window. It will be about $10,000 less than a regular ocean view with its 4×3-foot window above the bed. I will still have lots of light.

On Friday we docked in Invergordon, Scotland, where many passengers went to nearby Inverness and Loch Ness. As I had gone to both just a few weeks ago, I stayed on the ship. My only photograph was of the local church from the aft deck.

During the afternoon, I joined a small group in a tour of the bridge. I’ve been on several bridges before, but it is interesting to see how the technology continues to change. My sister Elaine would love to see all the country flags used as a courtesy as we visit each port – she always tries to get a picture of the appropriate flag raised.

It also was a good time to catch up on some end-of-the-month financial work and turn my planning attention to my South American cruise this fall.

Earlier in the week, my travel agency released its robust list of excursions for the 2024 Grand World Voyage. My sisters and I had spent hours researching them to decide which ones to book. We will take three overnights – two in China and one in India. When online registration opened Wednesday (at 11 p.m. my time), the demand slowed the website, but with the help of the agency coordinator, I got all my requests booked. And promptly maxed out my credit card!

Today begins our final segment, as we will disembark in Boston in just under three weeks. We still have some exciting ports in Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and New England. And a lot of new passengers who just embarked to meet.