Day 38, Wednesday, April 2, Depart Cape Town

The Crystal Symphony is in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam. The Crystal Serenity is at sea from Walvis Bay to Luanda, Angola.

I still can’t say that I find a difference between HAL and other beds but I slept well anyway. After rising at 5 I had a pleasant 6-lap (1.5 mile) walk on the lower promenade deck. When the time for sunrise came around (about 7am) the rain told me there would be nothing to see.

Leaving the ship at 8:30 I inquired of Barbara the exact location of the shuttle back from V&A waterfront. She told me and suggested I take the shuttle there (it wasn’t supposed to start until 9 but was already running. Soon after I left a drizzle started and I had to work my way around some puddles but was soon at McDonalds where about 1:70 got me hash browns, coffee, and about 40 minutes of high speed internet. When I left the sun was out and I walked back toward the center of town, having another look at the train station where 3 wonderful journeys began or ended. I was back on board about 11, and the meeting with immigration took only a few minutes.

This is my first time on the Amsterdam. It seems more like the Zaandam than the Rotterdam, all in good ways. The entire lower promenade deck is public space, without loungers taken up by Lanai Cabins, there is an outside stairway all the way from deck 2 up to the Lido Deck, and there’s aa aft lido deck pool rather than a retreat (and no garish movie screen).

Muster was at 1:15. The letter from the Captain said “All newly embarked guests”, but in his announcement Cruise Director Gene Young made it clear the drill was for EVERYBODY. I expected sailaway to be at 2. At 1:50 and again at 2:05 6 stragglers were called by name to meet with immigration. At 2:30 Captain Mercer came on the PA and said we would sail at 3. At 2:40 the pilot appeared, and at 2:45 the lines were “singled up”, and we held that way for 15 minutes. After making a sharp turn to port we were headed for the breakwater. I stayed on deck until we passed Robben Island (about 3 miles off to starboard, and then started the painful process of setting up internet.

My table mates were no shows again, which both Fremin and the supervisor said was very unusual.

This evening’s entertainment was a concert by the duo Paige Mac with a mix of music styles. They were not really my style, and this was their first time on a cruise ship. They seemed to be having trouble with the ship’s motion. On the way back I stopped by the mix for Debbie Bacon. She was probably the best I’ve seen on HAL although I wasn’t impressed with the “SINGO” game. The song list she presented was limited to the 70 numbers represented on the Singo cards and I don’t really know what her repertory was, but she’s the first HAL Piano Bar enter I’ve seen who knew “Hello Dolly”.

As today’s parting shot, I’ll note a few things that have been different compared to my recent HAL voyages. The internet is likely the biggest irritation. I as I write this I haven’t yet tried to go online so there’s still a story in the making. Just trying to register was an exercise in frustration, as it refused to accept my data. When I visited Explorations the librarian (who apparently is the point of contact) suggested that I try my middle name instead of my first. After several false starts, we finally figured out that where it said “First name” it really wanted both my first and middle names. Just changing the wording to first name(S) would have helped. I also learned that while the prices have stayed the same, there is no longer a bonus for signing up early in the cruise. I was surprised that we weren’t getting the usual tote bags, although later Rifqi came by with a bag of goodies which included a shoulder slung bag and some other nice things. If I remember correctly, the washer prices on the R/S class ships are unchanged but I’m told the dryers are free. Life jackets (still not worn to muster) now have a new section that fastens across the chin. I’m sure I’ll find a lot of additional changes as the voyage continues.


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