I greet my first day at sea with Holland America's ms Amsterdam with trepidation. Would I open the curtains to find the lightning storm of the night before had remained?
All prayers had been answered though when my eyes rested on the dreamy vista of ocean stretched as far as the eye could see and that persistent sun peeked through the smattering of clouds.
I had awoken with plenty of time to enjoy the dance class this morning but was leaning more towards "Good Morning Amsterdam", the 'Oprah-esque' talk show held onboard.
The 'Wajang Theatre' was filled with passengers keen to learn a bit more about the crew member of the day.
The theme music broke through the comfortable chatter as cruise director Gene was joined by cruise hostess Adelle to host the show.
The day's guest was Matt, the Cellar Master who had served us the divine Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc the night before at Pinnacle Grill.
Matt spoke of his time as a wine maker in various countries around the world and shared his dream to run a vineyard one day before offering passengers an early glass of champagne...much to their delight!
Having been onboard for 46 days thus far, the passengers were quite clearly all like family and I was reminded of one of the main reasons I love cruising so much.
The camaraderie you find onboard is like nowhere else. You essentially live with these people and share so many experiences together that your fellow passengers truly do feel like family.
Stories of the night before were shared and the friendly interaction between crew and passengers was simply priceless.
The Lido buffet was calling my name however, and I managed to find a table in the busy restaurant seated next to Dick and Grace from Connecticut who were more than happy to share their cruising stories with me.
Dedicated Holland America clients since 1986, their theory remains, why should they sail with another line when they are more than happy with this line's offering?
Having sailed on the 'World Voyage' two years ago, their eldest son insisted they travel for less time this year so the 'Grand Voyage' of 65 days seemed the perfect solution.
The picture perfect 'constant cruisers', Dick and Grace favour the R Class of ships and try as much as possible to only sail on the Rotterdam or Amsterdam, their ships of choice.
This voyage returns them to Sydney for an overnight visit, where they spent several days two years ago and promised themselves to return. It was the main reason they selected the voyage and the glisten in their eyes as they spoke of their love of my nation made me so proud to be an Aussie.
I bid adieu to my new friends and took advantage of the picture perfect sailing weather to capture some shots around the ship and truly take advantage of what Amsterdam had to offer.
A 'Tropical Cable Car' cocktail at the 'Seaview Bar', followed by a wonder along the decks, cooking demonstration at the ‘Culinary Arts Centre’, lounging by the pool and relishing in the Mongolian BBQ served poolside, filled my day quite nicely and before I knew it, it was time for me to tour the Galley!
This tour is available several times per sailing for guests and I highly recommend it as there is no way that one can comprehend the amount of organisation behind serving 9,000 dishes per day on a ship otherwise!
We are taken through the route of our waiters in the 'La Fontaine' dining room and experience crew prepping dishes hours before first service commences.
It is akin to a military operation in the Galley and it's no wonder, with everyone relying on each other for things to run smoothly.
We see bread being made and meat being prepped, table settings being arranged and room service trays being set.
I look forward to my dinner that evening as I feel I have a much greater understanding of the intricacies involved in being a waiter onboard now...I was impressed by their service before...now I'm in awe!
Somewhat guiltily, after seeing the hard work in the Galley, I head to the 'Greenhouse Spa' to indulge in what they call their 20-20-20 treatment.
I had selected three individual treatments to award me with an hour of pure pampering for only USD$99!
A hot stone massage, deep tissue massage and mini facial would guarantee that if I wasn't already relaxed and stress free that I soon would be.
My therapist Michelle really knew what I needed and when I asked for a strong massage boy did she deliver! The hour flew by and before I knew it I had to make my way back to my cabin to prepare for dinner.
Something else I had forgotten about cruising was, that as soon as you finish eating, you feel as if you're preparing for your next meal!
One thing I knew for certain though was that I was in desperate need of a nap before my pre-dinner tipple at the 'Crow’s Nest' so I allowed the gentle movement of the ship to lull me into slumber before frocking up for my final night onboard.
The dance hosts were in full force this cruise. With 20% of passengers sailing solo and a majority of these female, Holland America had hired five dance hosts to whisk these solo cruisers around the dance floor each night.
From the waltz to the cha cha, I relished watching these smooth movers at the 'Crow’s Nest' and was very tempted to join them in a line dance but thought better of it and headed to the 'La Fontaine' dining room instead.
Ketut was our maitre'd for the evening and ensured our group was settled and had everything we needed. He shared stories of his many years with Holland America and, once again, we heard of how well crew were treated by this line that really seemed to care on all levels.
Again tempted by the lobster, I enjoyed a lobster bisque and salad to start before a chicken tagliatelle and the possibly the most divine flourless chocolate cake I've ever sampled!
Holland America Line is famous for their lineup of Broadway-style shows and ‘Soul Mystique’ didn’t disappoint.
Direct from Las Vegas, this ‘quick change’ dance act wowed the audience and warranted a standing ovation before some chose to head to the ‘Crow’s Nest’ for a post-show beverage.
Enjoying a cocktail with the entertainment staff was the perfect ending to my little taste of life onboard Amsterdam.
With details exchanged and the promise to keep in contact made, I head to my cabin to catch a few hours rest before waking in time to experience the ever beautiful arrival into Sydney Harbour.
My time on Amsterdam would not be forgotten…
Thursday, 17 November 2011
ms Amsterdam Day 2: A day at sea before Sydney
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: Natalie Aroyan