February 12, 2017
Paul Groves

Backstage Tour with the Entertainers


Day 38 of 111. Sea Day in the Northern Pacific.

A fun event today was a backstage tour and a chance to meet the ten performers who travel the entire cruise with us. Four are singers (on the left) and six are dancers (on the right). They come from the US, Russia, Ukraine, and England. They all are very friendly and work everyday rehearsing. There are individuals who join the cruise for a few days, but these young people have rehearsed ten different shows as well as some extra individual performances. We also went behind the stage to see the dressing/make up areas and costume storage. On the stage you can see the place where the band plays. The drummer is behind plexiglass. The band on this cruise is amazingly good. They back up all of the visiting entertainers and get one rehearsal before performing. They never seem to make any mistakes.

February 12, 2017
Paul Groves

Galley Tour



Day 37 of 111. Sea Day

Today we got a tour of the galley where they prepare almost two thousand meals a day. I was very impressed with the 80 gallon soup kettles. The soups onboard are very tasty. The head chef, Petr, greeted us during the tour. One detail I found very interesting is that there are pictures and descriptions of each dessert served so they always come out the same.

Galley tour on the ms Amsterdam showed the various prep stations as well as the pastry area and fancy dining room with its separate galley. Not surprisingly, everything was spotlessly clean.

February 9, 2017
Paul Groves

Cooking Class–Asian Cuisine



Day 36 of 111. Northern Pacific

Besides the photo competition and the cancer walk, Ron and I attended a hands-on cooking class. Once again, it was fun and educational. After we finished our cooking of the four dishes, we went to the fancy dining room across the hall from the Culinary Arts Center show kitchen and enjoyed the same dishes prepared by the chefs. I guess there is a special dinner in the Pinnacle Grill tonight because they had very clever folded napkins that look like little tuxedos! Maybe it is a Murder Mystery Dinner or another of their James Bond Dinners.

February 9, 2017
Paul Groves

On Deck for a Cause




Day 36 of 111. Sea Day in the Northern Pacific

It is rather a grey day and while the sea is not totally flat, the travel seems fairly smooth. Today, there is a cancer fund-raising walk called “On Deck for a Cause” which occurs on all Holland America Ships. Since this began, the line has been able to raise $5 million dollars for cancer research. The funds go to six different international cancer organizations. This is a non-competitive 5K walk (11 laps around the ship).

There is also a travel photo competition onboard. Ron and I each entered five photos. There is a small entry fee and you get to keep the 8 x 10 photo that they print for the judging. There are categories such as People, Landscape, Nature and Architecture. It is just for fun, but we could win a photo album or some other small prize if the most people vote for our photos.

February 9, 2017
Paul Groves

Unexpected Sea Day



Day 35 of 111. Saipan, Mariana Islands

No stop in Saipan today. The seas are too choppy to make a safe stop at Saipan, so we are simply moving on to Osaka, Japan. The staff here on board regrouped smoothly and there are classes and lectures to attend. We were able to attend a cooking demonstration with Chef Bertrand. Butternut Squash Risotto and Spinach Artichoke Dip with lots of cheese. Yum. I’m very pleased and impressed with how hard everyone works to keep things flowing. Those travelers with a lot of experience simply take missing a port in stride because this happens at least once during a trip.

February 9, 2017
Paul Groves

Guam


Day 34 of 111. Guam

Guam is the first island of the Mariana Islands and is above the deepest part of the ocean. One third of the island is owned by the US military. Guam is a strategically very important location and has been occupied by the Spanish, the Japanese, and currently the USA. We toured the southern end of Guam where there are several important military sites, visited Jeff’s Pirate Cove for fun, and then visited an outlet mall. The tour was interesting because we saw some guns and bunkers used by the Japanese when they occupied Guam as well as a monument to Magellan.

February 7, 2017
Paul Groves

Super Bowl on Ship


I am not a football fan, but I must say that the Holland America Line certainly knows how to put on an event… in this case, a Super Bowl Party. Because of our location and the fact that we have crossed the International Date Line, our Super Bowl Party took place at 9:00 a.m. on Monday. We only stopped in long enough to see the set-up and grab some finger food (excellent hot wings). For me, I went to Watercolor Class and had a little more elbow room.

February 7, 2017
Paul Groves

New Zealand Day



Day 33 of 111. Pacific Ocean nearing Guam

Today is New Zealand 🇳🇿 Day (Waitangi Treaty signing). There was a cook-off between two of the New Zealanders on board. The third “Kiwi” was one of the judges. The two dishes were Mussel Fritters and Lamb burgers with beets, a fried egg and sweet potato fries (the winner). Each cook was allowed to bring a second team member. Again, a fun and friendly competition.

I’m having fun with my watercolor and sketching classes. I thought this latest picture of a lighthouse came out well. We also had a fun day making little post cards of seahorses. To practice my drawing, I take photos of pictures on the ship (Groucho Marx, for example) and try to get the proportions correct on their faces. The bottom sketch was of a gymnast performer who posed for us (Lance Ringnald). We had 10 minutes to do the sketch. I feel that I’m making progress.

February 4, 2017
Paul Groves

Sea Days on our Way to Guam




Day 31 of 111. Pacific Ocean on our way to Guam

We have four sea days between the Marshall Islands and Guam. Sea days on our way to Guam mean a variety of onboard entertainers in the evening including singers, comedians, and an Olympic gymnast demonstrating and discussing his abilities. During the day there are cooking demonstrations, art lessons and informative history and biology lectures. Ron has been learning about Magellan and the real story of the Mutiny on the Bounty while Paul is painting and drawing. The sea is calm, but the weather is keeping everyone indoors. It is warm, humid and rainy outside.

Another food competition was presented today… a cupcake decorating competition between some of the very talented shipboard dancers. The singers were the judging panel. It was a lot of fun. Two of the dancers are from Russia, one from England and the other is from New York.

Here are some of the creative cupcakes from the onboard dancers.

One other interesting note (at least I think it is interesting) is that there will be a big Super Bowl Party with a live telecast of the game in the main theater. For us, however, the game is on Monday, not Sunday, because we have crossed the International Date Line a few days ago. Additionally, for us, the game begins at 8:30 a.m.!

Our latest watercolor project involves the tail of a whale. Coincidentally, the chefs at the sushi station made these great koi fish out of rice. Unfortunately, someone ate the orange fish’s tail.

February 4, 2017
Paul Groves

Visiting Majuro, Marshall Islands



Day 29 of 111. Majuro, Marshall Islands

We had a fun time walking around Majuro. The flag was designed by the First Lady of the Republic. One of the stripes represents the equator. The Marshall Islands are a little south of the equator. One of the products of the region are coconut husks from which they squeeze coconut oil. I found a bottle of Majuro Islands Coconut Oil in one of the variety stores. There were also rows and rows of flip-flops. It was really not surprising to see this considering the climate, but it took us by surprise.

There were pretty flowers and the people were very friendly and helpful. Woven objects and hangings were plentiful and tempting, but I only purchased a tiny example that I think was made as a Christmas ornament. The wall hanging in the restaurant where we had “second breakfast” is a traditional chart used by the elders to teach the next generation about navigation. The various lines represented currents, stars, and all of the clues that people needed to use to navigate the oceans before GPS. We learned a little about that sort of navigation from one of the interesting guest lecturers on board the ship.

While we enjoyed our time in town, the heat and humidity really drained me. I got back to the air conditioned ship and had to drink lots of water, take a cool shower, and lie down for awhile before I felt back to normal.