Alright – the last couple of weeks…
So, I joined the Amsterdam with Stuart down in Lima, Peru, the port city of which is called Callao and is about 25 minutes from where the airport is. Flying down wasn’t too bad – it was three flights between Vermont and Peru, stopping in Washington, D.C., and Miami.
Stuart had asked the Crew Office (people that handle crew matters) to use the Port Agent to act as his “taxi” to come and get me (the Port Agent is a designated person ashore that is contracted by the cruise line to help get crew from the airport to either hotels or the ship depending on the situation). As I am not crew this cost some money, but based on the area that we were in it was the safest and most reliable way for Stuart to come get me.
The airport had fairly good free Wi-Fi (honestly, at this point why are there still airports that don’t have free Wi-Fi?) so when I landed in Lima I was able to send a message to my mom to let her know I’d landed safely and to let Stuart know I was just waiting for my bag. Stuart bought me a little balloon that said “Welcome Home” on it and was there smiling waiting for me once I got my bag. Anyways, all went well, we made it back to the ship without too much chaos.
Even though we were there for an overnight in Peru I did not get off the ship the next day. Getting back and forth from the port to the ship was seemed a little sketchy so I decided to stay onboard for the day and work on unpacking and getting some sleep.
The next day was a sea day. Fairly uneventful, did some laundry and finished unpacking.
After that one sea day we were in Arica, Chile. After seeing how rough the area was in Peru, I waited to get off the ship until I had a friend that was able to go ashore, too. I got off the ship with my friend Bienelisa and we walked around a little bit. Not an overly eventful day, and the port was actually very safe; we had lunch, went in a couple small shops, and overall it was pretty nice. They either took dollars or were okay using credit cards, even for small amounts which was good as I hadn’t exchanged any money into Chilean. One nice thing that happened in Arica was that the local tourism board had a dance troupe (or several) come out to perform dances for us as a farewell for the ship. (Side note, as we were only in port during the day Stuart wasn’t able to get off the ship today).
Next up were all of the sea days – 5 sea days between Arica and Easter Island. When I call home I get asked a fair amount “what do you do with your time?”. Let’s be honest though, I get asked that by people on board, too. It is surprising how many crew ask me “are you bored yet?” 1) my mother always told me only boring people get bored 2) if you think the ship is that boring, let’s do some more stuff! Anywho, I am working on learning French, and I try to read at least a few pages in Harry Potter every day. I sit up at the back deck by the pool with my French to English dictionary and slowly make my way through it. In the cabin I have a few DVD’s that I watch in French to help with my listening comprehension. Will I be fluent by the time we fly home? No, not at all, but I will be a heck of a lot better.
People ask a lot how much I actually get to see Stuart…. During the day Stuart works from 5:45am-12:00pm, 1:00pm-3:00pm, 3:30pm-6:00pm. So, that means that I get to see him from 12:00 until 1:00pm, from 3:00-3:30pm and after 6:00 at night. Not a ton, but it’s better than nothing.
So, five sea days later and we are at Easter Island where the longest tendering known to man happens – they try to tender from about 8:00am and by 4:00pm have only gotten half of the ship – or about 700 people off. Neither of us are able to get off the ship. We did go out on the bow to look around, and you could see a bit from there. We stop there next year though, so hopefully next year we’ll be able to go ashore.
Alright, Easter Island came and went, followed by a couple of sea days and then a stop at Pitcairn Island. Pitcairn Island is an island that only has 60 inhabitants. We did not get off the ship there, but had the people of Pitcairn come onboard to talk about what life is like there. Unlike what I was expecting, it is not an island of indigenous people, but a mix of people that have moved to the island (primarily from New Zealand, but some from the likes of England and other European countries), as well as some families that have been there for several generations. Approximately 70 years ago they had a population of over 200, but as people grow up and decide to move their population has dwindled. Here’s a picture of the island. If you look on the boat that is sailing back towards the island, it has supplies (and Styrofoam) from the ship. It looks like we traded a bunch of fish that they brought onboard for the supplies. The most interesting supply I could tell that we sent over was a couple of strollers.
Then, we had Valentine’s Day… we got all dressed up and went to dinner together, Stuart got me a bouquet of flowers, and it was a really nice day. The ship had a Valentine’s Ball, a big dance on the main stage, but we ended up falling asleep for a quick nap, and instead slept through the entire thing. Oh well, from what everyone said we didn’t actually miss much.
Fast forward a couple of days and we find ourselves in Tahiti. Tahiti is a magical place… blah, blah, blah. Sorry, I am sure that Tahiti is lovely if you rent yourself a fancy bungalow and stay at an expensive resort. This is what downtown Papeete looks like though: not glamorous, not postcard worthy. Add to it that everything is expensive (like big city expensive, not Norway expensive) and it was down pouring for most of the day – yup, our Tahiti day was a bust. The only good part was that Stuart was able to get off the ship at night, so we grabbed an umbrella and made our way to a restaurant to Stuart to get off the ship for only the second time in the last month and a half. This was my second time to Tahiti, and Stuart has been there quite a few times – it is certainly not our favorite of the French Polynesian islands… If you are going to fly all the way around the world to visit, I would go for Bora Bora instead.
The next day we were meant to go into Cook’s Bay in Moorea – it’s basically just across the way from Tahiti, but the weather was pretty rough and Cook’s Bay is a tender port, so we ended up canceling that and getting to Bora Bora one night early.
Bora Bora!! Stuart was able to get the afternoon off, and we had a just wonderful day. While still massively expensive, I like it better than Tahiti. It’s kind of like the difference between Maui or Oahu in Hawai’i. One feels more like a small town, the other feels like a big city that got lost and stuck on an island. We went back to the restaurant that we went to the day that we got engaged, went for a walk on the beach in the same place. Not a whole lot has changed in this area. YES, that is Stuart out in the water and the water is as clear as it looks. Perfectly clear and you could see straight through to all the pretty little fishes! We went swimming for quite awhile and pretty much had that part of the beach entirely to ourselves. It was pretty awesome. After that we walked down to a bar that is right on the beach and hung out there for a little while. I went back in the water and cut my foot a little bit on the coral (that stuff is SHARP). We ended up seeing quite a few other crew members there and stayed for awhile.
At about 5:00 o’clock we decided to walk from there to a restaurant that we had driven by on our way to the first restaurant/beach area. It was a beautiful walk. There were all these little crabs that were trying to get back into their little holes in the ground, and the whole walk was right on the water so we got to watch the sun go down. Unfortunately, the sunset wasn’t too special as it was clouded over.
So, a successful Bora Bora day. Yesterday was a sea day and fairly uneventful. After Stuart was done work we watched Top Gun in the OB (Officer’s Bar) with some of the other crew, and then I went and called Crew Bingo!
Tonight we are hosting a table for what they call “Captain’s Tables”. Normally these happen once or twice per cruise and are for the cruisers that have the most loyalty to the cruise line… but on this lovely World Cruise, there are like 700 people that are in the highest or next to highest loyalty levels, so they ask (tell) various Officer’s and Crew to host dinners in the Pinnacle (fancy restaurant on board), to make these guests feel special. The secret of tonight is that we picked out the guests that we want to eat with! They are some very nice people that we have sailed with quite a few times and know me from my time sailing. They saw me the other day and asked if they could request us! As some of the guests can kind of be dud’s for conversation or the complaining type, this definitely makes it a win-win for us!
In other exciting news – we crossed the International Dateline yesterday, so we skipped February 20th and are now onto February 21st. That means that instead of being 5 hours behind the East Coast (or 10 hours behind the UK), we are technically now 17 hours ahead of Vermont, or 12 hours ahead of Scotland, and we change time zones again tonight. So many time changes! Although the time change tonight means that Stuart gets a much needed extra hour of sleep.
For my day today I am going to work on applying for my visa for India and Sri Lanka, go to a computer class, maybe knit a little bit, and do some laundry for Stuart and I. Stuart is at work right now for another hour, but he’s excited to get out a touch early today to get to the fancy dinner tonight.
For those a bit more curious about what Stuart is up to at work… I will work on writing down the various things that he tells me about his projects. A lot of it is rather technical or something like changing this valve or that valve for this thing or that thing, and then he’ll toss in a “and we almost had a black out or brown out” (not often and I mostly think he’s kidding?) which means losing power to the whole ship or part of the ship… but know that overall work is going pretty well for him. It’s a job and there are frustrations that go along with it, but he has a good 4th Engineer on shift with him. This makes it better for him to get projects done and is someone that he can trust to do a good job and cover the Engine Control Room (ECR) when Stuart needs to go work on a project on his own.
Alright, here’s where we are headed next (days in between are Sea Days):
February 23: Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu (Kingdom of Tonga)
February 26: Auckland, New Zealand
February 27: Tauranga (Rotorua), New Zealand
March 1: Wellington, New Zealand
March 2: Picton, New Zealand
This last picture is of the ship in Bora Bora.