February 23, 2013 Sea Day

February 23, 2013  Sea Day

This morning we attended a lecture with Bill Crews where he discussed the progressive discovery of the West Coast of Australia. Back in 1606 the Dutch, followed by the British and other European explorers landed on the island all well before the time Captain Cook had claimed the East Coast of Australia for Britain.

The afternoon lecture by Bob Tonkinson explored the impacts and aftermath of the European settlement on the Indigenous people of Australia. The Europeans brought diseases, which reduced the population of the Indigenous people from 500,000 to only 150,000. Settlers did not treat the Indigenous people well and tried to put them in settlements with the expectation that they would soon die out and be gone completely. That did not happen and today the Indigenous population of Australia is around 600,000. As in the US, the natives have not been treated well over time but with better education and knowledge the government is trying to better assist the needs of the native people.

In the afternoon there was an Australian high tea in the dining room, which we attended with our friend Jenn (see 2/19).  She seems to be doing better and is becoming more engaged in the available activities.  Her spirits are lifting as evidenced by her showing Kent a video taken before she left for the cruise.  She won a dance contest which involved dancing with a six foot penis.  Yes…she was good and was very proud of it.  I knew I liked her.  She also told Kent about a sex video she had of herself and her Black boyfriend, but he hasn’t seen that one yet….maybe later!

The weather was windy with gusts to 35 mph causing the ship to roll a bit. This makes it difficult to walk and many of the passenger’s retreat to their cabins to lie down or to take motion sickness pills. When the seas are rough the crew begins to bring out the barf bags and hang them in the hallways just in case a guest needs them.

The time is changing regularly as we move from east to west along the southern coast of Australia. We moved our clocks back 30 minutes one day, followed by moving them back by 90 minutes. Tonight we moved our clocks and watches back another hour.

The entertainment on this night was an Irish comedian by the name of Adrian Walsh.

Internet availability—Although there is internet available on board, it is slow and very expensive.  So, we wait until we are on shore to find free Wi-Fi or an internet café with computers (increasingly hard to find because more and more people have smart phones and other devices of their own for internet use) to do emails.  These facilities are not always easy to find in remote locations and don’t always have good signals.  The one thing Kent misses while on the ship is being able to easily send and receive email to stay in touch with family and friends.  We are doing the best we can to stay in touch.  Please understand if we don’t get back to you or check in with you as quickly as we’d like.  We are thinking of you.

February 22, 2013 Sea Day

February 22, 2013  Sea Day

The Good Morning Amsterdam guests today were two of the young ladies onboard who are photographers and take your photo at every port stop, formal night and sail away party.

We attended a lecture from a new speaker by the name of Bob Tonkinson who spoke about two tribes of Australian indigenous people. Bob is a senior Honorary Research fellow at the University of Western Australia, a Life-Fellow of the Australia Anthropological Society and the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania. He has a Ph.D. in and has done extensive research with the Western Desert Mardu Aboriginies and the Southeast Ambrymese people in Vanuata (Melanesia) since 1966. He gave a very interesting talk on the nomadic lifestyle of the Aboriginal people and how they are often required to move due to weather conditions and food supply at any given time. They live in quite small tribes of 15 or 20 people who all have a job to do, whether it is hunting or gathering. The men generally do the hunting while the women do more of the gathering. They follow the stars to mark time and often travel to meet up with other relatives or tribes who may be having a special occasion or event.

In the afternoon we attended a lecture by Bill Crews on “Cattle Duffing and the Legend of Captain Starlight”. Captain Starlight was the basis of books and films about his life of cattle theft in Western Australia during the gold rush years. At the time there were many very large cattle ranches making it difficult for ranchers to always keep track of their cattle. Captain Starlight would steal cattle and move them sometimes hundreds of miles before selling them to unsuspecting butchers and ranchers. By the time the owners of the cattle would realize they were missing, Starlight would have taken off with the money. He was often caught and charged with stealing the cattle but most of the time there was not enough evidence to find him guilty and he would be set free and do it all over again.

We had afternoon tea in the Crow’s Nest with Alec (see 2/14) who filled us in on his drama with the ship’s security after the Aussie Boys show a few days ago. After the show he was escorted out of the theater and questioned about striking a woman in the theater. Evidently a woman had accused him of striking her across the face during the performance. He knew nothing of the incident although the accusation shook him up enough to loose a good nights sleep. He never met the woman and after questioning, security told him it must have been a case of mistaken identity and not to worry about. I can’t imagine what the woman must have said to the man to make him strike her?  We had a nice discussion with Alec about his gay life and are glad to know more about who he is.  He is traveling with Ingrid, a friend, with whom he has never had the “orientation” discussion.  Of course, Kent is making plans to resolve this situation.

Dinner in the dining room was a formal event this evening and the theme of the night was a medieval theme. The dining room was once again decorated like a castle with colorful banners and all of the wait staff was dressed like knights. Many of the guests had festive outfits to fit the theme of the night.

The entertainment was a young couple that performed a variety of musical numbers on the violin. Laszlo is from Hungary and Claudia is from Italy and they now live in Florida. They perform all over the world in concerts, for musical performances, films and on cruise ships. They are extremely talented violinists.

February 21, 2013 Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island, Australia

Kingscoat Main Street

Kingscoat Main Street

February 21, 2013  Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island, Australia

Penneshaw is a small picturesque country town located on the eastern end of Kangaroo Island with a population of less than 2,000 people. The island is located about nine miles from mainland Australia near the city of Adelaide. Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third largest island after Tasmania and Melville. The island is almost the same size as Long Island, New York. Most people arrive via Ferry from the mainland, which is only a 45-minute ride. 30% of the island is protected Australian National Parkland. The island has a large population of Kangaroo, sea lions, wombats, birds, koala, sheep and penguins.

We stopped at the local pizza and coffee shop for coffee, where we also used the Internet wi-fi. The walk around the town’s hand full of shops was short and uneventful. We then took a shuttle bus from the small town of Penneshaw to the larger town of Kingscote for a look around. Kingscote is the largest town on the island but still small. The town has several small motels, bakeries, a market, hardware store, a few art galleries and souvenir shops. We stopped at the bakery for meat pies and sausage rolls for lunch, which we ate along the water’s edge. We wandered the small town’s shops before shuttling back to the town of Penneshaw and the ship. All aboard today is 4:30 so we did not have too much time but it was sufficient for what there was to see.

Kent occasionally still gets stopped by people who inquire about his porn star days (see 1/20).  One lady was so excited to talk and told Kent she has about 4 tapes on board and will check them out to see if she recognizes him!  There is hope for old age!

The entertainment this night was a young 24-year-old pianist by the name of David Schofield. David grew up in Manchester, England where he learned to play the piano before being shipped to Chicago where he studied piano for the next nine years. When David was only nineteen-years-old he won a music competition at Carnegie Hall and since then he has been performing all over the world at concert halls and aboard cruise ships. He gave a very entertaining concert with a wide range of music choices.

February 20, 2013 Adelaide, Australia

Downtown Adelaide Park

Downtown Adelaide Park


Handorf Building

Handorf Building

Downtown Adelaide University BuildingDowntown Adelaide University Building

February 20, 2013 Adelaide, Australia

We explored Adelaide on foot after our shore excursion on this day. The city is beautifully laid out with parkland surrounding the center of town. Besides the parkland there are several large parks within the city center for the locals to enjoy. The city today has a population of about 1.2 million people. The downtown area is filled with beautiful old sandstone buildings including several museums, the University of South Australia, office buildings and government buildings. Rundle Mall is a pedestrian only street filled with the major department stores, shops, eateries and many local street performers from singers and musicians to jugglers. The mall receives 23 million visitors a year to its over 700 stores. We sampled the famous Haigh’s chocolates at one of the many shops in town. With Easter on the horizon the shops are filled with chocolate eggs dressed in brightly colored foil and all sizes of chocolate bunnies.

Out tour took us to the nearby town of Hahndorf, which was established in 1839 by a group of Prussian and East German immigrants. This is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. The town was named after Captain Dirk Hahn who was the master of the ship who brought the original settlers. Captain Hahn was so impressed with the immigrants onboard his ship that he helped them to find land to settle. The town today is mostly a tourist attraction with many small tourist shops and Inns where visitors can stay. The lovely old main street is lined with mature cork elm trees. We had meat pies at a local bakery for lunch, along with Ken from Detroit.

We traveled through the Adelaide Hills where you find a picturesque wine region. The area around Adelaide is known to produce many varieties of award winning wines from over 48 local wineries. Atop the highest hill called Mt. Lofty is a spectacular panoramic view out over the city of Adelaide and the ocean. Unfortunately on this day, smoke from the local bush fires had limited the view and all we could see was a cloud of smoke over the region.

We were in port until 11:00pm so they had an Aussie Outback Barbecue onboard the ship poolside in addition to the normal dining room option. The food included lamb chops, seafood and many salads. A local group called “The Old Gum Tree-O” performed many local Australian songs. No formal entertainment tonight.

February 19, 2013 Sea Day

February 19, 2013  Sea Day

This morning’s Good Morning Amsterdam guest was Matt, the onboard Sommelier who is a very tall South African gentleman. Whenever we passed him in the hallways he seemed to have no personality but at the show this morning he seemed very personable.

We attended a lecture by Bill Crews on: South Australia and the Federation. Here we learned the history of the discovery and settlement of South Australia. This area of Australia is very dry and not very conducive to farming. The area has some natural minerals including gold and copper. Germans settled here in 1839 and remain there today in the town of Hahndorf, which we will visit tomorrow.

We enjoyed a lunch with Jenn who is a young lady in her late 30’s traveling with her 80-year young cousin Mary Ruth. Jenn lives in Pennsylvania and left her job, boyfriend and life to take the cruise with Mary Ruth, who lives in Kentucky. Jenn is one of the youngest passengers on the ship and is hoping to meet some fun people.  We are happy to take her under our wings!

Food—Food on the ship is pretty good, although there are some who complain.  Kent has limited his breakfast to cereal, fruit and juice.  Mark needs a fuller meal like waffles and apples with syrup, followed by eggs and a side of ham.  For lunch, Kent has a soup or salad while Mark has something with fries, along with dessert.  We don’t go for Tea often, but if we do, there are more calories in the sweet and savory treats.  At drinks there are nuts, appetizers and other stuff for our enjoyment.  For dinner Kent has an appetizer, soup or salad followed by chocolate from the Explorer’s Lounge.  Mark usually has all 4 courses.  Who gains weight?  Kent.  As you can see from some of our photos, we have packed on a few pounds….Kent more than Mark.  Our pants still fit, but there is a hangover!  Guess we will have to give up the midnight buffet!

Tonight’s entertainment was a variety show by the Aussie Boys and Simeon Wood who have both performed on recent nights.

February 18, 2013 Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Port Arthur Penal Colony Harbor Setting

Port Arthur Penal Colony Harbor Setting

Port Arthur Penal Colony Church Ruins

Port Arthur Penal Colony Church Ruins

Hobart Area Fire Damage

Hobart Area Fire Damage

Two of the Aussie Boys, Andy and Todd

Two of the Aussie Boys, Andy and Todd

February 18, 2013  Hobart, Australia

Hobart is the capital of Tasmania and Australia’s second oldest city after Sydney. The city is located on the Derwent River at the foot of the 4,000-foot tall Mt. Wellington. Hobart has many elegant old buildings made of Sandstone and built by convicts in the 19th century.

Our tour on this day took us to the Port Arthur Historic Site, which is a World Heritage Site. Port Arthur was very unique in that it was not only a prison but also home to military personnel and their families and home to free settlers. The convicts worked at farming and industries, producing a large range of resources and materials. The historic site contains about 30 historic buildings, extensive ruins and beautiful gardens and grounds. A short ferry ride from the site is the Isle of the Dead cemetery where more than 1,100 people were buried. The cemetery was used for not only prisoners but for officers and their families as well. There was also a boys prison at a nearby location, where boys as young as nine but mostly between the ages of 14 and 17 were held. The boys were sternly disciplined and harshly punished as well as educated.

The Port Arthur penal station was established in 1830 as a timber-getting camp, using convict labor to produce sawn logs for government projects. From 1833 Port Arthur was used as a punishment station for repeat offenders from all the Australian colonies. The Port Arthur prison was fashioned after a new English penitentiary designed as “a machine for grinding rogues into honest men”. The idea was that through discipline, punishment, religion, moral instruction, classification and separation, training and education, that you could be rehabilitated. Many of the men left Port Arthur broken, but others left rehabilitated and skilled, some as blacksmiths, shoemakers and shipbuilders.

Port Arthur’s community of military and free men and their families lived their lives in stark contrast to the convict population. Parties, regattas and literary evenings were common. Beautiful gardens were created as places of sanctuary and the children played and attended school within the settlement.

By 1840 more than 2,000 convicts, soldiers and civil staff lived at Port Arthur, which by this time was a major industrial settlement. A range of goods and materials were produced here, everything from worked stone and bricks to furniture and clothing, boats and ships.

With the end of convict transportation in 1853, Port Arthur became an institution for aging and physically and mentally ill convicts. In 1877 the penal settlement finally closed and many of its buildings were dismantled or destroyed in bush fires. Others were sold and the area gradually became the center of a small town, renamed Carnarvon in an attempt to erase the hated convict past.

First hand stories of convict life proved to be a major draw and tourists began visiting almost immediately after the closure of the penal settlement. By the 1920’s, some convict-period buildings had become museums, hotels, shops and the settlement was once again named Port Arthur.

On Sunday April 28, 1996, a tragic chapter was added to Port Arthur’s history when a gunman took the lives of 35 people and physically wounded 19 others in and around the Port Arthur site. This led to the country banning automatic weapons and rifles and more than 800,000 weapons were purchased back by the government. With this came a dramatic drop in gun violence and suicide in the country, which is still enjoyed to this day.

The site is situated on a quiet bay with the hills rising around it. Many of the beautiful sandstone structures stand in ruins, but are at the same time elegant and beautiful. The solitary confinement prison has been restored, as has the asylum, which houses a museum. Several of the officer’s homes have been restored and furnished, and can be visited. Our time here was too short to see everything but at least we got an idea of the area.

Lunch was at a Port Arthur pub called Fox and Hounds. There we had a salad, breaded and deep-fried chicken breast with brown gravy, roasted white potato, mixed vegetables and a date cake with some type of very sweet syrup sauce.

On our fifty-mile return trip to Hobart we stopped at the small historic convict village of Richmond with its charming strip of sandstone buildings. It is a small town which today is mostly a tourist town including the oldest bridge and Catholic Church in Australia. The area between Hobart and Port Arthur was devastated in recent weeks (January) by a horrendous fire, which blackened miles and miles of bush land and towns. Many houses, shops and vehicles still remain heaps of ash and metal. Fifty-two lives were lost in the fires along with a large number of homes, businesses and out buildings. They are just beginning to clear some of the debris after replacing most of the telephone poles and electrical wires. No sign of rebuilding yet, with the exception of trailers brought in to replace a grade school that was destroyed in the fire.

At the sail away today, we talked with friends, the new Canadian fellas and some of the Aussie Boys, who are a delight!

The entertainer this night was a Soprano by the name of Colleen Williamson. She has a beautiful voice and performed a wide variety of music from opera to musicals.

February 17, 2013 Sea Day

February 17, 2013  Sea Day

On this day several members of the Amsterdam Orchestra were guests at the Good Morning Amsterdam show. The music director and pianist Irving, the drummer Chris and the trumpet player, who is also named Chris, were guests. They are all excellent musicians who are required to be able to sight read and perform any piece of music on very short notice. They accompany almost every guest performer who performs onboard, they perform at every sail away party, and they perform at every dance ball and for miscellaneous events onboard. They often have never seen the music until the rehearsal a few hours before a performer gives two shows that evening. In one case, Chris the drummer accompanied a pianist who performed a 45-minute concert without a break.

There is a celebrity guest chef onboard by the name of Denise Vivaldo. She has catered more than 10,000 parties, been a professor at UCLA’s Culinary Program, owned a catering business, authored numerous books on catering and food related topics and more. She is quite a character and gave a class on “Do It For Less! Parties” today where she made Spinach Sausage Beggar’s Purses—sure to be on our next dinner party menu upon return to San Diego.  These appetizers consist of the spinach, sausage and feta cheese wrapped in phyllo dough.  Salty and nice!

We attended a lecture on Tasmania as a Penal Colony where we learned about the history of British sending convicts to Port Arthur. Tomorrow we will visit the penal colony to get a better understanding of how it looked and operated. It was in operation for about fifty years in the early nineteenth century and housed over 150,000 convicts. Some of the convicts were as young as nine years old.

We had a luncheon date with Blair and Marie, French Canadians from Ottawa, on their second world cruise.  Marie is very fashionable and makes many of he own clothes.  (I mentioned her above—2/14 ).  Mark had a “spell” and returned to the cabin to rest while Kent kept the luncheon date.  Blair and Marie were fun and share an interest in meeting new people, seeing new places and learning new things with us.  Mark will join another time!

The entertainment on this night was a group of three young Australian men who call themselves The Aussie Boys.  There is also a fourth who is an understudy. They performed Iconic Australian songs.  Kent, already a fan from the sail away, had a front row seat!

43 Days on Board—We are in our 43rd day on the cruise.  Dryness is becoming a problem.  The air on the ship is comfortable but dry.  Nose, throat and skin are always dry.  The local advice is to spend as much time on the deck as possible and use lots of skin lotion.  Great lanolin oils and lotions are available in New Zealand and Australia, so there is hope!

February 16, 2013 Sydney, Australia

Sydney Harbor Bridge

Sydney Harbor Bridge

Kent and our student Olivier

Kent and our student Olivier

Manley Beach

Manley Beach

February 16, 2013  Sydney, Australia

The weather on this Sunday morning was rain filled but luckily it did not last too long and the sun came out for the remainder of the day.

We were lucky to be able to visit with one of our French students, who studied at San Diego State in 2008, whom we had mentored. Olivier has had the opportunity to travel the world and study in cities like Sydney, Montreal and San Diego. He also was able to travel in India while helping to film a documentary and to volunteer in a remote village in Ecuador. Olivier got his masters degree in Sydney and did a semester in Buenos Aires.  He had just arrived in Sydney from Paris, where his family lives, to try and find a job.

We were able to catch up over coffee while it rained both at a café and at the Museum of Contemporary Art Café overlooking the opera house and the Circular Quay. After the rain stopped we boarded a ferry across the harbor to the town of Manly where we had a quick lunch of take-away fish and chips on the beach. Even though it had rained fairly heavily in the morning the sun was out and the beach was filled with sunbathers.  Not many Hotties! The beach at Manly is a beautiful white sand beach, which stretches for quite some distance. Thank you Olivier for spending time with us and sharing your life’s adventures.  We wish you the best!

After our return to Sydney Harbor via the ferry it was time to head back to the ship since our all-aboard time was 4:15. As is usual when we sail out of any port we have a sail-away party on the rear deck of the ship. Today was no exception except that there were three times as many people at the party. Everyone wanted to be on deck to see us sail under the Sydney harbor bridge, past the opera house and through the gorgeous harbor before making our way out to sea.  Kent quickly identified and engaged some new ship entertainers (Aussie Boys) on deck and some new faces from Canada, all of whom might make these next few days more interesting.

At our usual 7:00 PM “Friends of Dorothy” cocktail hour, one of our group introduced his “find” for the day in Sydney.  Yes, you guessed it:  a kangaroo scrotum pouch.  Very popular souvenir with the tourists to serve as jewelry bags.  The size of the pouch is about 3” by 4” and looks a lot like a fine piece of leather. The top of the pouch has had a drawstring added to keep those jewels from escaping. Some even have beads added to the drawstring for color. We plan to buy several for our special friends!  They are fabulous with or without fur!

The entertainment on this night was another flautist by the name of Simeon Wood. Most every flautist does a few of the same songs, which are difficult to do on the flute like “The Flight of the Bumble Bee”, but Simeon’s show was entertaining. He was better at engaging the audience and his songs were more familiar to people than the last flautist who performed.

February 15, 2013 Sydney, Australia


Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Our Friends Greg and Tony at the Gunner's Barracks

Our Friends Greg and Tony at the Gunner’s Barracks

Sydney Harbor

Sydney Harbor

February 15, 2013  Sydney, Australia

Sydney is the most populous city in Australia with a population of over 4.2 million people. It is also the state capital of New South Wales and is located on the country’s southeast coast. Sydney was established in 1788 by Arthur Phillip who led the First Fleet from Britain. Sydney Harbor is the largest natural harbor in the world and is believed to have been populated by indigenous Australians for at least 30,000 years. At the time of the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, 4,000 to 8,000 Aboriginal people lived in the area and spoke three dialects. Several gold rushes, starting in 1851, brought waves of people arriving from around the world and the rapid suburban development that began in the last quarter of the 19th century continues today, giving Sydney its cosmopolitan flair.

With its distinctive white “sails” and commanding position on the harbor, the Sydney Opera House is the most recognized landmark of urban Australia. Not far from the opera house is the landmark harbor bridge, built in 1932 and still to this day is the world’s widest long-span bridge. The top of the bridge stands 429 feet above the harbor. The adventurous have the opportunity to climb the bridge under careful supervision, both by day and by night. Next to the opera house is the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens, first built in 1879 for the International Exhibition.

Our friends Greg and Tony (both retired from Qantas—Queens And Nymphomaniacs Traveling After Sex—Airlines), who live in Sydney, picked us up at the ship to spend some time catching up since our last visit to Sydney in 2007. Kent met Greg back in 1976 when he was working for the Air Canada and Greg worked for Qantas. We had coffee at a nearby row of converted wool storage warehouses along the harbor. Today these old warehouses have been converted to lofts, retail shops, restaurants and theaters.

We then headed north over the Sydney harbor bridge to “The Tea Room” at Gunner’s Barracks located at an old military installation that has been converted into a national park. The tea room is located on a hillside high above the harbor with incredible views across the harbor and to downtown Sydney. Located in an affluent neighborhood called Georges Heights, the lovely restaurant is frequented by local women (Ladies Who Lunch) enjoying a day of shopping and in need of a rest. It was a beautiful setting for a delightful lunch with friends. The food was impeccable in  taste, as well as presentation and the service was superb. Thanks boys for a wonderful time.

After lunch Greg and Tony dropped us off back in the city where we explored many malls, shopping arcades and did some people watching. In the evening we met friends for a special dinner with our past shipmates Stephen and Patrick from Boston. They had disembarked in Auckland, spent a week in Auckland and had recently flown to Sydney for a two-week stay.  They were able to get guest passes to re-board the ship for dinner with friends at the Canaletto restaurant. Everyone had a good time and enjoyed their visit.

There were a few new faces onboard the ship tonight. While we lost something like 130 passengers, about 200 new passengers boarded the ship today for the next leg of our journey.

February 14, 2013 Sea Day — Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day in the Dining Room

Valentine’s Day in the Dining Room

Valentine's Day Treats

Valentine’s Day Treats

February 14, 2013  Sea Day-Valentines Day

Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II, Rome was involved in many very unpopular campaigns. Understandably, “Claudius the Cruel” had a tough time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. He believed the reason was that Roman men did not want to leave their wives and families. As a result, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. Saint Valentine was a priest in Rome at the time. He and Saint Marius aided the Christians by secretly marrying couples. For this kind deed Saint Valentine was apprehended and dragged before the Prefect of Rome who condemned him to death. He was martyred on February 14, about the year 270. Legend also says that Saint Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend. He signed it “From Your Valentine.”  Pope Galasius set aside February 14th to honor St. Valentine. Gradually, February 14th became the date for exchanging of love messages and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers. The date was marked by sending poems and simple gifts such as flowers.

Good Morning Amsterdam today interviewed the Hotel Director and his wife who is the Guest Relations officer. They actually got a divorce many years ago so that they could work on the same ship because the company policies at the time forbade it. Once the policy was changed to allow couples to work on the same ship they were married again and they have worked with Holland America for the past twenty years.

When we returned to our cabin we discovered that the cabin steward had not only cleaned the cabin and made the bed but he left Valentine Day surprises. We each received a beautiful oval gold box of chocolates and a small white teddy bear.

Bill Crews lecture today was titled: The Pacific War Comes to Sydney. Bill recounted the events of late May, 1942, when three Japanese midget submarines entered Sydney Harbor, inflicting considerable damage and loss of life. This caused great anxiety in the Sydney community. The circumstances were eerily similar to those of Pearl Harbor, where obvious breaches of security and warnings of doom were ignored or discounted.

In the afternoon we attended a wonderful singing and dance showcase titled: Love in the Afternoon. The Amsterdam singers and dancers performed a variety show of songs with love themes while Bruce, the cruise director, hosted the event and included many famous people’s thoughts and comments on love. It was a very entertaining show and the cast received another standing ovation.

It was another formal night, and being Valentines Day, we dressed up in our tuxedos with red bow ties and cumber bunds. The dining room was decked out with an incredible over the top amount of red and white Valentines Day decorations. Every chair was slip covered in white, the tablecloths were white with and red and white heart printed runner, red and white napkins, every table had several heart shaped Mylar balloons, and this was just the tables. The room had Valentine Day banners, red metallic streamers, hearts, balloons, and tons of hanging party decorations for the occasion.

After dinner there was a Valentines Day Ball in the Queen’s Lounge. The show lounge was decorated with just as many decorations as the dining room, with red and white, everywhere. They gave away a variety of prizes including one grand prize to the person who guessed the closest number of red confetti hearts that were in a champagne glass. The small fluted glass had over 10,000 confetti hearts and the man who came the closest to the correct number of hearts won a variety of merchandise including internet time, gift shop items and spa credit.

Lunches—So that Kent wouldn’t gain 100 pounds on this cruise, his doctor recommended he eat oatmeal and fruit in the dining room at breakfast; salad in the dining room at lunch, and most of his dinner at night.  Avoid the buffets and don’t eat the usual 3 deserts a meal.  So to make lunch more interesting, we invite people we see who are HOT! or look interesting, to have lunch with us on sea days.  This week we had lunch with Ana (81) who lives on Long Island and has a home on Fire Island  (the Pines) and in Ft Lauderdale.  She is a go-getter and takes photos, dances, takes tours and loves her Ipad.  We also invited Ingrid and Alec to lunch.  They live in separate states, but have been friends for years.  Not sure what their stories are, but will find out next time.  Soon we will invite Jenn (under 40) and her 83 year old aunt to lunch with us.  After that, Blair and Marie, whose grandfather started the BVD underwear company.  They are from Ottawa.  Marie is a fashion plate and enjoys a cookie or two with Kent.

Departures—Tomorrow Tom, from Lake Como, and Matthias and Alain from Stuttgart will disembark in Sydney.  We will miss their company!  Perhaps we will see them this summer when we head to Italy and Germany for a wedding.  However we are scheduled to get about 200 new passengers when we leave Sydney.

News—Thank God for CNN.  Their international news division has “balanced” news and special programs about interesting places around the world.  This keeps us somewhat informed about what is going on.  We also have the NY Times Digest which is an 8 page condensed daily newsletter with US news articles.  Kent reads it cover to cover to help stay current.  Fox has its own satellite and we could watch it for “variety,” but don’t…very often.

Mark’s Ladies—Since he is such a tall, handsome drink of water, most of the older ladies position themselves to say “hello” to Mark as we walk around the ship.  He is unaware this is happening.  As we meet people, they know Mark’s name, but don’t know mine and have to ask.  It is easy to invite people to lunch if they know Mark will attend.  Maybe it is his youth.  I’m feeling a little like “chopped liver” on the plate with caviar.  (I’ll get over it!  More chocolate!)

We’re so grateful we are not on Carnival’s Triumph!  That would be a much different experience than on the MS Amsterdam!