After a fast and early check in, we boarded the ms Amsterdam in Rio de Janeiro for a voyage rounding Cape Horn to San Diego, California.
We were ushered to the Lido buffet, as our cabins were still being prepared. Beautiful live orchids in full bloom adorning each table welcomed incoming passengers. Holland America spends at least two million dollars providing their ships with live plants and fresh flower arrangements to keep up with Dutch tradition. The Lido holds 386 guests for casual dining.
The Lido offered a varied selection of hot and cold food. There were sandwich bars, stir-fry/omelet stations and an all day ice cream counter. A capuccino/expresso machine sits along coffee dispensers together with packets of herb/regular tea and cocoa powder. Freshly squeezed orange juice was also available.
Bejay an amiable maitre'd from India mentioned that ice cream, hot chocolate and capuccino/expresso were on the house. Rey, a chef from the Philippines reminded us not to miss the outdoor barbecue and Mongolian cookout held during the trip.
The La Fontaine dining room seats 838 diners on two decks. Impeccable silver settings and china grace linen covered tables. High glass windows and a flower-adorned ceiling evoke a bright and cheery ambiance. The wait staff was friendly, courteous and polite reflecting the hospitality of Indonesia where most of them come from. Filipino chefs prepared the food, pastries and baked goods. They worked magic with the cuisine turning them into five star gourmet meals. The Odyssey is an alternative restaurant that provides grilled cuisine and personalized service that is worthy of mention.
A clock tower located at deck 3 dominates the ship's atrium. It is connected to the ship's time system and a built in carillon chimes every hour. It serves as a centerpiece and a focal point for guests trying to find their way.
The 157 seat Wajang Theatre showed first run movies (free popcorn included). It also served as a chapel for religious services. The Java Bar was a favorite traveler hangout. Its capuccino/expresso machines were quite busy from 7:30am to 10pm. An Internet cafe (75cents/minute) had a waiting list specially during sea days.
The personnel mostly from the Philippines at the purser's office were helpful and very efficient. They filled up landing cards and immigration forms and delivered the documents to guest's cabins for signatures.
A highly energetic cast performed Las Vegas type shows canned in Los Angeles at the 557 seat two level Queen's Lounge. Experts also held talks there on Inca, Mayan history, aerospace and diverse topics.
Our 192-sq. ft. cabin had a large window and a good view of the ocean. It had a shower over a tub, ample closet space, a safe, a small TV and 115 volts ac. It lacked an icebox and audio/video inputs for a VCR. Moelyadi our cabin steward from Indonesia kept the stateroom very neat and well stocked with towels and fruit.
The ship returned to port as soon as we left Rio de Janeiro to leave a critically ill passenger. An outbreak of Norovirus occurred that week we left Brazil and flared-up again the week before we reached San Diego. The Captain ordered that food be handled by employees only. Long lines formed at the Lido due to the need of more servers. It took the ship at least two weeks to alleviate the Norovirus situation.
We missed Iguazu Falls and the Falklands on an earlier trip and made it this time. We got rained out in Iguazu Falls but it was a worthy sight to behold. We encountered rough seas approaching the Falklands. Stanley their only town was cold and windy. A city tour took about two hours. They showed us uncleared mine fields from the 1982 British/Argentine conflict that are now a tourist attraction.
The Amsterdam is a friendly, comfortable ship and very easy to know. Most of the passengers were much-traveled repeaters, who graciously shared their cruise experiences with us. Some had at least 100 cruises to their name and visited equally the same number or more countries. We met several people that were on previous voyages with us and we were equally elated to have sailed with them again.