Good Morning Amsterdam!
That is the name of the live closed circuit TV show hosted by the Cruise Director, Gene, every morning around 9:30 AM . I attended the first show in person in the Wajang Theatre. Gene explained to us how the show was going to start: He would say Hi to the guest and the co host who in turn would say hi to Gene and then each other, followed by the audience shouting out “Good Morning Amsterdam” and followed by the theme music.
After Gene explained the process, it was time to go live. They made the intros and the audience shouted “Good Morning Amsterdam!” and then the ships loud speakers blared: “This is a drill; this is a drill” – as the Bridge started a series of announcements about a simulated emergency.
Gene started the show over as the opening was ruined and this would be replayed throughout the morning on ships TV.
We get to the same spot in the opening and the Bridge provides a valuable update – ruining the second attempt at the opening.
Once again we get to the same spot and now there is an announcement – “Will the cruise director Gene Young please report to your emergency station.” Gene picks up his cell phone and calls the bridge and reminds them that he was excused from the drill by the Captain as he was taping his show.
Take 4 goes smoothly and we are off and running without further interruption.
The show is lively, interesting, and gives insight to a crewmember and what they do around the ship. It was a fun time and I plan to try and make this show often. As a special treat, the entire “studio” was given 5 Dam dollars. Dam dollars are awarded for winning and or participating in various events around the ship – from Trivia to a bean bag toss. After each segment they will set up a bazaar where you can spend you Dam dollars for a variety of logo items or other prizes. Not sure what $5 in dam dollars will ultimately be worth – maybe a paper coaster?
Barbara is the location guide and is on her 16th world cruise. She knows ports, what to do and how best to do it. She gave her first lecture in the Queens Lounge, an overview of her background and her services, followed by an introduction to our first Port: Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. Very interesting and her wealth of experience will be very valuable as we progress around the globe.
After we left the port lecture, we wandered into the shop that was selling the 2016 Grand World Voyage logo wear. They had caps, shirts, jackets and more. We were looking at a nice T shirt with 2016 Grand World Voyage on the front and a list of all the ports we would visit on the back. Wonderful – except the ports listed on the T Shirt were from the past 2015 World Cruise not the current 2016 World Cruise. The staff noticed the error and was busily starting to pull them off the shelves and box them up to be returned. Before they were gone, we bought two of the misprinted shirts which are now collectors’ items as they may be the only 2 shirts like this in circulation.
Judy spent the morning with the “Knit and Stitch” group which met in the Explorers Lounge. This exact time and place will vary throughout the cruise. Thirty women arrived to knit, stitch and share their stories. There were two very large boxes of Acrylic yarn which has been donated over the years and will be used to knit blankets for the Linus Project throughout the cruise. I stopped by an hour after they started and there were still about 10 women busily knitting and having a great time.
You really have to plan your day as many events take place simultaneously and the only regret is there isn’t enough time to do them all. Next up for us was a quick lunch in the Lido followed by Crafts.
We have yet to find any kind of a crowd in the Lido – never a line for food or a wait for a table – service for everything is almost instantaneous, but not overbearing.
The Crafts group met at 2 pm and I joined them with Judy for the project of the day. Judi, the craft instructor, is outstanding and she has prepared projects for every sea day on the cruise – all 68- and shipped 300 lbs of supplies that will eventually get used up as the cruise goes on. We made a small frame that holds a note card printed with helpful reminders before you go ashore. Don’t forget your ID etc. We were provided a magnet so it would stick on the inside of your cabin door.
There has been much discussion recently over the change in dress code and the introduction of the term “Gala Night”. I was pleased to observe that our first Gala night on the Amsterdam was the most formal and elegant of any formal night I have experienced. I didn’t wander around during early seating, but from 6:30 pm on – there were many, many men in tuxedos with most of the remainder in dark suits. I didn’t see a single person who didn’t meet the “old school” standard of tux or dark suit. There were probably a few out there, but I didn’t spot any.
The Captains reception was at 7pm in the Queens lounge. A fast moving reception line backed up beyond the reception desk on deck 4. Entering the Queens lounge we were greeted by the Cruise Director, Gene Young, and the Hotel Director Henk Mensink. With over 75% of the ship repeat World Cruisers, Henk and Gene seemed to know everyone, but they greeted the newcomers with the same enthusiasm as the rest and we felt at home immediately.
The reception was first class all the way. On shorter cruises, your beverage selection for these events is usually Champagne or a simple cocktail. Tonight they had a full range of cocktail or soft drinks to choose from and to my surprise a very good Martini was sitting on the tray just for me. We found some seats and were pleasantly surprised that even the ever present nut jar was upgraded from what I recall being available on an Alaska Cruise.
IT’S A SMALL WORLD
Everyone we have met so far is very friendly and in a constant good mood. While many people knew each other from previous journeys, it was always easy to join in and you were warmly greeted immediately. We greeted the couple sitting next to us and quickly discover that we went to the same high school! It was a big school, and we were separated by a few years, but it was amazing to meet someone who was in your same high school under these circumstances.
The Captain took the stage and proceeded thru the introduction of his team who are all very experienced as you would expect for any cruise and especially a Grand World Voyage.
The party broke up about a quarter to 8 and the group proceeded aft toward the dining rooms. We squeezed past long lines of guests who were waiting to get into the show room for the first show – another reason to enjoy main dining – you never wait to get into a show.
The dining room was all white. White table clothes with white chair covers – a very elegant introduction to our first Gala night. Our table has settled on 7 guests, but for tonight we were joined by the Ships Medical Officer and her husband – an accomplished magician we would learn later. The dining room staff squeezed in an extra setting – so we were 9 – but the table didn’t seem cramped in the least. Escargot and Shrimp Cocktail started the meal with a filet and broiled shrimp as one of the selections. The entire menu is posted on the blog. Dinner was a joy and we had wonderful conversations about their experiences in Halifax (their home town) as well as their cruises with Holland America over the years.
Tonight’s show was “An Evening with the Finkels” We were not familiar with their show, but it was wonderful and received a rare standing ovation. The two brothers, Xylophonist Ian Finkel and Concert Pianist Elliot Finkel peformed a delightful arrangement of songs before being joined by their 93 year old father, Fyvush Finkel, who required an escort to the stage as he appeared quite frail. But his voice and energy otherwise were over the top as he sung “If I Was a Rich Man” and followed by amazing stories and jokes. He stole the show which lasted over 1 hour with everyone frozen in their seats.
We returned to our cabin thru the Casino, deserted except for a lively Texas Hold-em game, and reflected on our wonderful day.