April 15, 2013 Jamestown, St. Helena

April 15, 2013  Jamestown, St. Helena

Napolean's Longwood House

Napolean’s Longwood House

View to Sandy Bay

View to Sandy Bay

Jamestown from top of Jacob's Ladder

Jamestown from top of Jacob’s Ladder

View of Jacob's Ladder from below

View of Jacob’s Ladder from below


Sailing Away from St. Helena

Sailing Away from St. Helena

Saint Helena is a British Overseas Territory and one of the last relics of the colonies in the South Atlantic Ocean. Located 1,200 miles west of Africa, St. Helena is of volcanic origin, and its surface is rugged and mountainous, reaching an altitude of 2,700 feet. The entire island is only 47 square miles, with a population of 4,000, about 850 of which live in Jamestown. St. Helena was discovered in 1502 by a Portuguese navigator, Joao de Nova; it was then uninhabited. In 1659 the English East India Company founded the first permanent settlement. The island was used as a place of exile for key prisoners, including some 6,000 Boers, Chief Dinizulu, Bahraini princes and of course, Napoleon, who died on St. Helena.

Rising dramatically from the South Atlantic, the island has sheer barren cliffs that are intersected with deep valleys, which slope steeply from the central ridges. The island has no sandy beaches. There is little flat land, and access to the sea level by vehicle is very limited. On higher ground, bush and semi-tropical vegetation is abundant. This changes to grassland and pastures before the terrain becomes drier and almost barren below 1,500 feet. The only inland waters are small mountain streams, which occasionally dry up in the summer months. There is currently no airport so the only access to the island is by way of the sea. The two nearest islands are Ascension Island (703 miles to the north-west) and Tristan de Cunha (1,200 miles south-west).

On this day, we tendered ashore and found a local tour company that was offering a two and a half hour tour of the island for $25 per person.  This compares with the same HAL tour for $80…we have learned for the next cruise. We were taken around the island with five other of the ship’s guests in a 1950’s Ford SUV of the day. Due to the remoteness of the island, many of the vehicles found on the island are quite old. The roads on the island are very narrow and very steep, although very well maintained.  Most have rock guard rails/walls.

Our first stop was at an observation point at the side of the road where we could get a birds eye view of The Briars Pavilion, Napoleon’s first residence in St. Helena, whilst the renovations to Longwood House were being completed. The Briars Pavilion was originally a summerhouse on the Balcombe Estate, a British Family. After Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo by Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, he was exiled to Mediterranean Elba Island. After he escaped and was recaptured, his captors decided Elba was too close to home. Sailing aboard the HMS Northumberland, he landed at St. Helena after a journey of ten weeks. It was believed that the island was escape-proof.  From what we saw, we agree!

Our second stop was at the Sane Valley, where the original tomb of Napoleon is. The Emperor chose this beautiful, lushly wooded valley as his burial place in the event that orders were given for his body to be buried on the island. The site is accessed via a ten-minute walk down a grassy path into a scenic, quiet valley. The site where he was buried has a concrete slab with a black wrought iron fence around it and a flag- pole flying the French flag. His body has since been exhumed and moved to Paris along the Seine, which was his wish.

Our next stop was at Longwood House, where Napoleon last resided and where he died on May 5, 1821. The site is now a museum owned by the French Government. The residence is a generous sized single story home on a large parcel of landscaped grounds and views of the ocean. The home has a large living room, dining room, family room, bedroom, bath, study and kitchen. The rooms are generous in size and have been furnished to give you an idea of how it may have looked during Napoleon’s time. Many of the original furnishings have been sent to Paris. The house is filled with photographs, copies of letters and memento’s from the time of Napoleon.

Next we visited Plantation House built in 1792 by the East India Company as the country residence for the Island’s Governors. The residence is a large two story colonial home nestled on a clearing in the forest. It is still used as a residence by today’s Governor so we were not able to go inside. The grounds of the residence are home to the Island’s oldest inhabitant, Jonathan the tortoise, and several of his friends. Jonathan is believed to be about 178 years old.  We didn’t see him  there.

Located in the town of Jamestown is Jacob’s Ladder, built in 1829 as an inclined plane to link Jamestown with the garrison atop Ladder Hill. Soldiers at the fort had to haul ammunition and supplies along the makeshift route.  The ladder is 900 feet long and has 699 steps. The steps are extremely steep, large risers and only about thirty inches wide. Every year they have a competition to see who can climb the steps the quickest. The current record is just over five minutes.  Many from the ship climbed the ladder…some even jogged up in eight minutes!  Kent gave it a miss….he knows his limitations as “an older person.”

The island has a large amount of New Zealand flax plants growing as it was harvested and turned into twine and exported for over 60 years until the industry collapsed in the 1960’s. Donkeys were the main method of transport on the island for many years. Efforts are underway to make more use of the donkeys and to preserve the donkey legacy. They have a “donkey walk” much like in Santorini, Greece.  St. Helena coffee is amongst the rarest and most highly prized coffee in the world. Coffee was introduced in the 1700,s and is an Arabica bean. The island’s isolation means the coffee has remained pure.

After our tour we had lunch with Jenn at the Consulate Hotel in town, used the Internet and had a look around Jamestown. Mark climbed up Jacob’s Ladder before returning to the tender for our short ride back to the ship and the sail-away party.The island was a delight to visit with its narrow winding streets, unique flora and interesting history. Jamestown has a wonderful downtown with shops, restaurants, hotels, a small museum, all nestled in a narrow valley rising from the waterfront. They are in the process of building an airport, which will undoubtedly bring more tourists and unfortunately may change the island forever.The evening’s entertainment was a young woman by the name of Anne Rayner. Anne is a very accomplished musician who played a variety of music on the flute, saxophone and clarinet. …mostly without much passion!

April 14, 2014 Sea Day

April 14, 2013  Sea Day

This morning we attended a lecture by Char, the Future Cruise Consultant, who gave a bit of history on Holland America Line. She showed photos of some of the old ship’ s interiors and exteriors through the last 140 years of service. Also included in her presentation were a number of upcoming voyages for you to book with her.

Howard Walker lectured on The 21st Century World Order where he discussed Europe’s relative decline in global power and the reasons for it. He talked about the lack of military, changes in the global economy, and the strengths and weaknesses of the European Union.

We met with a friend by the name of Susan who had gone on two overland trips in Africa to see her photos. She visited Kruger National Park for three days and then took a three-day trip to Sossusvlei Dunes deep in the heart of the Namib Desert. Kruger National Park has five million acres of wildlife for the ultimate wildlife experience. Susan had wonderful photos of the lodge that they stayed at and tons of photos of the wildlife animals taken on several game drives. Sossusvlei Dunes is a 37,000 hectare wilderness reserve with luxurious accommodations. This was more about the flora and fauna found in the desert and the opportunity to experience stargazing at its best away from civilization.

The afternoon featured a cultural variety show by the Filipino crew. They performed many native dances and songs of the Philippines. The Filipino’s make up much of the front office staff and the beverage staff in all of the lounges and bars around the ship. The quality of the performances is not always the best but they make a tremendous effort to show us a bit of their culture.

We had dinner in the Canaletto Italian Restaurant with our friend, Cathy…whose favorite expression is, “baby, baby.” Following dinner we were entertained by a Spanish group who put on a show titled Kings of Pop, Queens of Soul. The group consists of a brother and sister who come from a father who is a well- known Spanish guitarist and her boyfriend and another young lady. They are quite young and performed musical hits from the past and present.  Kent had befriended them when they arrived on the ship and has been engaging them in conversation…some in Spanish!

April 13, 2013 Sea Day

April 13, 2013  Sea Day

Good Morning Amsterdam this morning featured a new celebrity guest chef by the name of Chris Smith. Chris was diagnosed with Stage 1 Diabetes at the age of 27, which led him to begin thinking about what he was eating. He lectured all over the U.S. on healthier ways to eat and prepare tasty and easy to prepare meals. He has written several cookbooks.

Barbara, our Travel Guide, lectured on things to see and do in our next two ports of call:  St. Helena and Ascension Island.

One of the women onboard whose husband had died recently was granted permission to have his ash burial at sea today. He was fascinated with Namibia and wanted his ashes to be scattered in the ocean off of Namibia.

The afternoon brought back Howard Walker who lectured on West Africa where he discussed the historic influences of ancient West Africa kingdoms, Islam’s centuries old presence, Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the future for West Africa. It was a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time but it was very interesting.

It was a formal night onboard so we dressed up in our tuxedos for drinks, dinner and the show. The entertainment was the Amsterdam singers and dancers who performed a show called Hit List. The music was an upbeat journey through the world of popular, contemporary music from artists such as Prince, Madonna, Elvis, and Sting.  Earlier, we attended the dress rehearsal for the show, which was open to the public.

April 12, 2013 Walvis Bay, Namibia

April 12, 2013  Walvis Bay, Namibia Day 2

School Children

School Children

This second day in Walvis Bay, we took the ship’s shuttle into the town of Walvis Bay where we had a look around the town. The town is laid out on a grid pattern with numerical streets going north and south away from the harbor starting with First Street. Streets perpendicular to the harbor having numerical numbers from south to north, although they are called roads. I’m sure this has caused much confusion over the years. The town was fairly neat and tidy although there were a good number of vacant storefronts and many of the buildings were in need of a fresh coat of paint. We saw churches, markets, clothing stores and the usual shopping, yet nothing architecturally interesting or unique.

In the afternoon, back onboard the ship, we were treated to a concert by the Bernard Nordkamp Center children’s choir of 35 children. They were treated to a tour of the ship and a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and ice cream in the Lido restaurant before the concert. They gave a delightful performance of song and dance for about 45 minutes. After the concert they were presented with about $6,000 in cash to help with the work that the center does for the children here in Namibia.

Father Bernard Nordkamp came to Namibia in 1986 and throughout his fifteen years of dedicated service, he focused on the plight of children – especially those in Windhoek’s northern Katutura settlement. His goal was to provide a safe place for orphans and vulnerable children as well as a soup kitchen, thereby guaranteeing them at least one hot meal a day. Father Bernhard passed away in July of 2009, but the center continues to serve the children. Today they have a school with six Namibian teachers providing after school education for the children in addition to their public education. They also provide sporting and cultural activities like swimming, soccer, singing and dancing.

Naomi Edemariam, a concert pianist, provided the evening’s entertainment. She was an accomplished pianist who performed a wide variety of classic pieces.

One of the mid-ship cleaners on board has been very courteous, kind and dedicated to his work of vacuuming the stairs and cleaning the railings and glass mid-ship.  We have talked with him several times and decided to ask him to have lunch with us.  However, to do this, we had to write to his boss to get permission to have lunch with him.  The boss came to talk with us, only to say the Holland America policy was not to allow crew members to fraternize with the guests.  It is understandable, in that if we favor one crewmember, the others may feel left out and that might hurt morale.

The cleaning crew are like prisoners.  They work long hours, seven days a week for ten months at a time, go to the crew quarters in the lower decks of the ship to eat, sleep, exercise, etc., and stay there.  They are not to visit passenger’s areas when off duty and they should not interact with passengers except to greet them while working.  However, they do have opportunities they wouldn’t have back in their home countries.

April 11, 2013 Walvis Bay, Namibia

Flamingos at Sandwich Harbor

Flamingos at Sandwich Harbor

Miles of Flamingos

Miles of Flamingos


Sand Dunes outside of Walvis Bay

Sand Dunes outside of Walvis Bay

April 11, 2013  Walvis Bay, Namibia Day 1

Walvis Bay is a fairly small, but busy industrial port. Most of the 60,000 residents work in the port area, but there is also a sizeable fishing fleet and a local operation that extracts salt from seawater. The first European visitors were Portuguese mariners seeking a way to the Indies in the late 15th century. Towards the end of the 19th century Namibia was annexed by Germany, except for the enclave of Walvis Bay, which was taken in 1878 by the British for the Cape Colony. In 1904, the Herero people (Bantu-speaking cattle herders) launched a rebellion, which was brutally put down. Diamonds were discovered east of Luderitz and the German authorities branded the area between Luderitz and the Orange River a forbidden area. German rule came to an end during World War I when German forces surrendered to a South African expeditionary army fighting for the Allies. South Africa was given mandate to rule the territory by the League of Nations. Although the mandate was renewed following World War II, the United Nations refused to sanction the outright annexation of the country to South Africa. In 1910, Walvis Bay became part of the Union of South Africa. South-West Africa and South Africa wrestled control of the area back and forth until 1990 when South-West Africa gained independence as Namibia. Walvis Bay was finally transferred to Namibia in 1994.

Our tour today took us to the Namib Dunes located just a short distance from the port of Walvis Bay. On our way to the dunes, we stopped at a large lagoon area just south of the port to see several varieties of Flamingos. Both white and pink in color, they must have numbered in the hundreds of thousands, spreading as far as the eye could see. Seeing the Flamingos flying through the air was spectacular, as the black accents on the underside of their wings showed so elegantly and distinctly.

The vehicles we took into the dunes were mostly Land Rovers with four-wheel drive and are able to navigate the sand dunes. Our group consisted of about seven cars, each with seven guests plus the driver who was also our guide. We roamed the dunes of golden sand so fine that any small breeze will pick up and carry the sand. Near the coast there are a variety of plants and insects that survive on the ocean air, fog and moisture from the sea. Once you get a half-mile away from the ocean very little plant life survives the heat of the desert and the dry conditions. It almost never rains in this part of the world. The sand dunes climb like mountains with one side being a gentle slope to the top with a sharp peak and falling dramatically down the back- side.

Along the way we stopped to see several dolphins swimming very near shore, ostrich’s, deer like springbok, dung beetles, and gecko like lizards. For lunch we stopped in a valley protected from the wind where a lunch was set up in fine fashion. Folding tables and canvas chairs, tablecloths, champagne, beer, oysters on the half shell, salads, calamari, fish, egg rolls, cheese, hardboiled eggs, and bread and butter were served. The lunch also gave us an opportunity to climb some of the sand dunes nearby.

The weather was very pleasant with cool temperatures in the morning warming in the afternoon, but never too hot. Two ladies in our vehicle were annoying as they screamed at every hill we climbed and talked non-stop, but this is life.

We returned to the ship in the late afternoon in time for the Biergartenfest served poolside. This authentic German Beirgartennfest, was a celebration of beer, food and life. Local German brewed beer was served along with pretzels, several types of bratwurst, roast pig, and several salads and many typical German desserts. A local German entertainment group performed both German and American songs. A German event may seem out of place here but not really. About 20 miles north of Walvis Bay is located the German town of Swakopmund, settled by Germans in 1892 and located on the Swakop River. The Germans built a jetty out into the water but never completed the dredging of the shallow harbor to make it suitable for shipping. This slice of Germany on the edge of the desert resembles a charming seaside Bavarian village resort. Today it is mostly a resort town.

April 10, 2013 Sea Day

April 10, 2013  Sea Day

The sea has been a bit rough since we left Cape Town and headed up the west coast of Africa towards Namibia. The sea is filled with white caps and the swells are quite large. Luckily the winds are blowing from behind the ship, rather than from the side where we would be feeling it even more. These are the roughest seas that we have had but people seem to be handling it quite well.

We had a new lecturer this morning by the name of Howard Walker. Over a 33-year career Howard was ambassador to Madagascar, Togo, and the Federal and Islamic Republic of the Comoros, South Africa, Tanzania, and counsel general in northern Nigeria, and political counselor in Jordan. Following his diplomatic career he has written about foreign policy for newspapers and journals, spoken at foreign policy conferences and taught courses on diplomacy and international relations at universities in Washington, Rome, and South Africa.

His lecture this morning was about South Africa’s Regional Power, Its Assets and Liabilities. He discussed South Africa’s geo-strategic power, economics, and politics, military and moral example. It was a very large subject and he was only able to cover a very brief overview of the subject.

In the afternoon we had a new speaker by the name of David Smith who spoke on Travel Photography Tips for Travelers. David demonstrated tips and techniques for taking and sharing better photographs of cruise activities, ports of call and excursions.

Deaths—There now have been four deaths on board and who know how many more were taken from the ship due to illnesses and accidents.  In our own lives, seven of our friends or acquaintances or parents of friends have died while we have been away.  Life is short…..eat dessert first!

The evening featured Pops Mohamed and Friends as the evening’s entertainment in the Queens Lounge.  Jenn was infatuated with the sax player.  Pops played several native instruments with unusual sounds.  The concert lasted 45 minutes and only 4 songs were played.

April 9, 2013 Cape Town, South Africa

Mark at Table Mountain

Mark at Table Mountain

April 9, 2103  Cape Town, South Africa Day 3

Once again our friend Bruno picked us up shore-side to take us up to the top of Table Mountain. We drove to the Lower Cableway Station located at 1,190 feet where we took the rotating cable car to the top of Table Mountain, a climb of more than 2,500 feet. Each cable car holds 65 people and is one of only three in the world including Palm Springs, CA and the Swiss Alps at Mount Titlis, that rotates while climbing. There are two sets of cable cars traveling about thirty-five feet per second, allowing them to transport 800 guests per hour. Once at the top of Table Mountain you can walk around the large plateau to enjoy incredible panoramic views over the bay, ocean, and city. Clouds often hang over the mountain creating what is called a tablecloth but on this morning we were able to see for miles with no obstruction from the clouds hovering above. It was not until we began our descent in the cable car that it began to rain lightly. The mountain is comprised of granite and sandstone but over time small grasses and blooming plants have grown out of the rocky surface, creating a beautiful park-like plateau. They say that there are 2,285 plant species growing on the mountain, which is a staggering number.

After descending the mountain on the cable car we took a drive over to another lower point of the city called Signal Hill overlooking the harbor. Just above Signal Hill is a taller peak called Lion’s Head for it resemblance to a lion. We then had a brief tour of downtown including the city hall, several churches, the convention center and many hotels and office towers. Much of this downtown area has been built on reclaimed land that was once a part of the harbor.

We had lunch back at the Victoria and Albert waterfront with Bruno before our all-aboard time of 3:00PM. The ship would not sail until nearly 6:00PM but immigration officials wanted to see each person individually to stamp passports before our departure and with over 1,000 guests this takes a bit of time. We also were required to have another emergency lifeboat drill prior to sailing due to the large number of new passengers onboard the vessel.

It was our tablemate, Gord’s, birthday yesterday so Kent had ordered a special chocolate bomb dessert to celebrate. The bombs are individual balls of ice cream dipped in melted chocolate that hardens when it comes in touch with the cold ice cream. This gives you a hard chocolate crust over the ice cream, which they decorated with chocolate mouse and a cherry on top.

The evening’s entertainment was Petrina Johnson, a star of the West End musicals Sunset Boulevard, Copacabana and Evita. She had a beautiful voice.

April 8, 2013 Cape Town, South Africa

April 8, 2013  Cape Town, South Africa – Day 2

Inverdoorn Elephants

Inverdoorn Elephants

Lighthouse at Cape Point

Lighthouse at Cape Point

Inverdoorn Giraffes

Inverdoorn Giraffes

Cape Town, was founded by the San and Khoikhoi tribes, collectively known as the Khoisan, long before the Dutch East India Company established a supply depot in Cape Town in 1652. But and large the indigenous people refused to deal with the Dutch, so slaves were imported from Madagascar, India, Ceylon, Malaya, and Indonesia to deal with the shortage of labor. There was also a shortage of women in the colony, so the Europeans exploited the female slaves for both labor and sex. In time the slaves also mixed with the Khoisan. The offspring of these unions formed the basis of sections of today’s Cape population and also helps explain character of the city’s Cape Malay population. During the Dutch rule of over 150 years, Kaapstad, as the Cape settlement was known, thrived and gained a wider reputation as the “Tavern of the Seas”, a riotous port used by every sailor traveling between Europe and the Orient. By the end of the 18th century, the Dutch East India Company was nearly bankrupt, making Cape Town an easy target for British imperialist interests in the region. Following the British defeat of the Dutch in 1806 at Bloubergstrand, 15 miles north of Cape Town, the colony was ceded to the Crown on August 13, 1814. The slave trade was abolished in 1808, and all slaves were emancipated in 1833.

Our excursion today took us to a private game reserve by the name of Inverdoorn, which is located almost a three hour drive north of Cape Town. The reserve contains 10,000 hectares of land where they have not only a fine resort, but also a wide variety of animals. Ten passenger jeeps along with a guide took us through several different enclosures where we saw rhino, buffalo, giraffes, lions, cheetahs, gazelles, zebra, wildebeests, and others. My favorite, although I have seen them many times in the zoo, were the giraffes. The way they walk with such grace and bend their long necks to eat from the treetops is so beautiful. The weather was cloudy and cold in comparison to the weather that we have experienced thus far on the trip. The guide gave us blankets to share, but it was still cold. Kent and several others in our jeep had to stop along the way for a potty stop. While the three men were peeing in the bush, those remaining on the jeep were photographing them like they did the other animals. The tour of the animals took about three hours before heading back to the resort for a buffet lunch served poolside. The lunch included several salads, pea soup, roasted pork, spaghetti and a couple of desserts.

The ride to and from the ship to the reserve took us through the wine valley where you see mile after mile of vineyards growing. It is early fall here so the vines are still lush green in color from one side of the valley to the other. On either side of the valley, the mountains rise protecting the area from the wind and much of the cool ocean air. It was raining on and off but it was beautiful none-the-less.   Once back at the ship, we headed to the mall for a short shopping effort.

Back onboard the ship we were entertained by a local group called “African Masala” who performed a variety of songs and dances. There was a boot dance which was performed by the miners dressed in boots and overalls, local songs and instruments and an operatic number sung by one of the young men. The group was comprised of about twenty people mostly black men.

April 7, 2013 Capetown, South Africa

April 7, 2013  Cape Town, South Africa


Bruno and Kent at the V and A Mall

Bruno and Kent at the V and A Mall

Boulder Beach Penguins

Boulder Beach Penguins

Cape Town is the third most populous city in South Africa and its legislative capital, as well as capital of the Western Cape Province. The city lies at the foot of Table Mountain, so named for its flat top, and on the shore of Table Bay. The peak of Table Mountain stands at 3,570 feet above sea level. Cape Town is a commercial and industrial center; oil refining, food, chemical and fertilizer processing, and the manufacturing of automobiles, leather and plastic goods, and clothing are the chief industries. An important port, Cape Town’s exports consist mainly of gold, diamonds and fruit. Cape Town is famous for its gorgeous natural harbor, as well as its location near the Cape of Good Hope. Much of the former dock area is now a commercial and tourist waterfront area with museums, craft markets, shopping malls and restaurants. Lastly, it is famous for the fine wines produced in the areas of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Robertson.

A friend by the name of Bruno whom we met in 2007 on a cruise from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Santiago, Chile lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. Bruno was in Cape Town to visit his daughter and to celebrate his granddaughter’s birthday so we were able to meet up with him in Cape Town. Bruno picked us up at the ship and took us for a look around the nearby waterfront area called the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront Center before heading south to the Cape of Good Hope. The drive along the coast is rugged with lots of whitewater waves crashing on the shoreline.  The vegetation at first glance looks like scrub brush, but on closer inspection you can make out the vast array of unique plants that makeup the brush. There are many grasses of differing shades of green, small flowering plants and shrubs each unique unto itself. We passed many beautiful hillside homes overlooking the rough seaside coastline in communities like Camp’s Bay and Hout Bay.

Once we arrived at the Cape of Good Hope, we entered the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, which has been set aside as a nature preserve for the 19,000 acres of local fauna and flora. Once inside the park, you are free to drive around the vast open space on your own to explore all that it has to offer. We came across Ostrich, Baboons, Cape Zebra as well as birds in our journey to the lighthouse at the tip of the cape. Once at the lighthouse, you have a choice of taking the funicular or walking up to the lighthouse built in the late 1800’s. We elected for the exercise and climbed the stairs and steep paths to the lighthouse on foot. The views from the lighthouse out over the ocean are beautiful. After our climb we had lunch at a restaurant at the foot of the lighthouse overlooking False Bay. False Bay is a huge bay between the Cape of Good Hope on the west and the actual tip of South Africa on the right, which extends quite a bit further south than the Cape of Good Hope, although not as famous or popular.  At the Cape, the Indian and Atlantic oceans converge.

After lunch we continued up the eastern shore of the Cape of Good Hope along False Bay to the town of Boulders. Boulders, has become famous for its thriving colony of African Penguins. From just two pair of penguins in 1982, the penguin colony has grown to about 2,200 in recent years. The population was believed to have been 1.5 million in the early 1900’s. Because of their donkey-like braying call they were previously named the Jackass Penguin. Since several species of South American penguins produce the same sound, the local birds have been renamed the African Penguins, as they are the only species that breed in Africa.

The penguin reserve has raised walkways for you to see the penguins while not disturbing their natural habitant in the sand and brush along the shore. You are able to see them very close including their nests, eggs, and baby chicks. The chicks are covered in soft down for about sixty days after they are born. After that time the down is replaced by a blue-grey plumage for a year or two until they attain their distinctive black and white plumage. They are just the cutest little birds to watch swimming and waddling along the shore. These penguins feed on squid and anchovy, and can stay submerged for up to two minutes.

After returning to the ship around six, we took the ship’s shuttle back to the nearby mall to use the free Internet service. By the time we returned to the ship it was too late to get dinner so we ordered our first room service dinner before retiring for the night.

April 6, 2013 Sea Day

April 6, 2013  Sea Day

The day started off with our usual Good Morning Amsterdam, except that the cruise Director, Bruce, was busy with a disembarkation talk for guests departing tomorrow in Cape Town. In his place was the guest chef, George Geary, who has been onboard for three weeks giving cooking classes and demonstrations. George is gregarious and loves to tell stories of his adventures of cooking around the world.

The morning lecture by Lawrence Kuznetz was titled: Life on Mars from Ancient Perceptions to Today. In his lecture he discussed how the evolution of science has changed our perception about the possibility of extraterrestrial beings in the universe.

In the afternoon George Sranko lectured on: Predators of Africa where he discussed the relationship between all the animals of Africa and how they are interdependent. He talked about animals as small as the dung beetle and how they help to fertilize the land up to the lions, and elephants and how they relate to each other.

We had dinner with our friend Jenn in the Italian specialty restaurant called the Canaletto.