This acount will be continued in World Voyage 2003, Part Two at:

Returning to the ship, I sent my first e-mail bulletin to a distribution
list of friends and relatives, describing the cruise to date.  Then, at
6 p.m., we pulled up anchor and began two days' uninterrupted sailing south in the Atlantic towards our next port of call: Fortaleza, Brazil,
a distance of 1018 nm or 1885 km away.

Monday, January 13 was spent at sea.

At 9 a.m. I began a series of three Personal Training sessions with
Rebecca in the Ocean Spa gymnasium, learning to use the weight
machines--and found that I had particular trouble with the overhead
shoulder press.  At 11 a.m. my memory of the various artworks on
board was refreshed by taking the Art and Antique Tour with the
Social Hostess, Apollonia van Ravenstein, who apparently was given
her nickname of "Apples" by Frank Sinatra when she was working
as a fashion model in New York City.   One example of the ship's
artworks can be found gracing the indoor pool on the Lido Deck:
a two-ton pair of patinated cast bronze Grizzly Bears (2000) by
Suzanne Holt, USA (see below, and for other art works see the entry
for December 27, 2000 in the website account of My Trip to Panama).   Later in the day I watched on TV the second astronomy lecture by
Vic Stryker, which also had been scheduled for the 11 a.m. time-slot.
On Saturday January 4, I was picked up at 4 a.m. by Airways Transit
for transfer to Terminal 2 at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.
Horrendously long check-in lines awaited me upon arrival there at
5:10 a.m.  Fortunately, however, I was directed to the new Express
check-in, where (despite some initial fumbling with the unfamiliar machine) the check-in process was completed in a few minutes. 
After clearing both Airport Security and U.S. Customs & Immigration without any hitch, by 6:05 a.m. I found myself seated in the Gate Q lounge, waiting to board Air Canada flight 910 to Miami, which was scheduled to depart at 7:10 a.m. EST. 

Although AC 910 boarded on time at 6:45 a.m., take-off itself was delayed until 8:10 a.m. by loading problems and the need to de-ice.  Departing an hour late, we still reached Miami by 11:10 a.m., and
promptly were transferred by bus (minus our luggage, which was conveyed separately) to Port Everglades Dock 19, where the Holland America MS Amsterdam was tied up.  In the Port Terminal, we were greeted by musicians and presented with flowers and refreshments, including champagne.   The registration line-ups were numerous and
short, the crew dealing swiftly with the arriving passengers.   Thus, dodging the ubiqitous ship's photographers, I soon boarded and was ushered to Cabin 2632 on the Main Deck (Deck 2) by 1:15 p.m.
At once I sought out the cabin steward and instructed him to put the
two twin beds together to form a single queen-size bed and also,
with regret, to remove the attractive fresh flowers from the dressing
table in order to prevent the activation of my troublesome hayfever.

After lunch at the Lido Restaurant on Deck 8, I went immediately to
the Purser's Office to investigate the possibility of getting a good last-
minute deal on an upgrade to a veranda suite on Deck 6--which query
the Guest Relations Manager undertook to forward to the Seattle
head office, though he seemed dubious about a favourable response. 
Then I took the gift certificates from Five Seasons Travel found on
the bed in my cabin and set out for the Internet Cafe on Deck 4
(the Promenade Deck) and the Ocean Spa on Deck 8 (the Lido Deck)
in order to investigate how best to put to use these gifts of 100
minutes of internet time and 180 minutes of exercise classes. 
After that, at 3:30 p.m., I took the Ship's Tour announced in the Daily Program found on my bed, in an effort to refresh my memory of the
ship's layout--it being a full year since I last was on board her, taking
the Panama Canal Cruise over the two weeks including Christmas
2001 and New Year 2002, for which see the account at my website:            http://www.halsalltrips.homestead.com/TriptoPanama.html  

Only then did I learn that there would be no more than 494 (out of a possible 1380) paying passengers on board for this first segment of
the World Voyage ending in Rio de Janeiro, and that at no time would
the numbers rise above 600--even falling as low as 390 in the segment
from Tahiti to Auckland.  For that reason, the staff involved with passengers' needs (such as cabin and table stewards, kitchen staff
and even shore excursion staff) had been cut in half before the ship's departure from Fort Lauderdale and the superfluous employees sent home.  This otherwise sad piece of news inspired the mistaken hope
that I might be able to get a good deal on a cabin upgrade after all.

The first of what were to be many Champagne Sailaway parties began
at 4:30 p.m. on the Lido Deck, aft by the open-air Swimming Pool,
to the accompaniment of a small orchestra playing what I can only
term Golden Oldies--very suitable really, considering that the average age of the passengers must have been little short of 80 years.  The
lines were scheduled to be cast off at 5:30 p.m., as the MS Amsterdam set out from Fort Lauderdale on the first stage of this 2003 World Voyage, heading south for Martinique in the French West Indies,
at a distance of 1291 nm (nautical miles) or 2391 km (kilometres).

At the 6 p.m. Early Sitting on the upper level of the La Fontaine
Diningroom on Deck 5--the larger lower level having been closed on account of the small number of passengers and the resultant staff reductions--I met the other members of our table for six: a "young" couple (in their early 60's) from Edmonton, another couple (in their
mid 80's) from Hawaii, and a widower from the State of Washington
(also in his mid 80's).   Then, at 8:15 p.m., I put in the first of a very
few evening appearances in the Queen's Lounge on Deck 4 (venue
for the various nightly Showtime productions) in order to witness the
Welcome Aboard Introductions of the ship's managers and other
prominent personnel, including the all-important Executive Chef.  Returning afterward to my cabin, I found that my suitcase had been delivered at last.  So, before retiring for the night, I was able to unpack my belongings into the ample closets, cabinets and drawers and stow
my luggage away for the coming 54 days, until final disembarcation
on February 26 at Papeete, Tahiti, mid-way through the Amsterdam's
2003 World Voyage.

Sunday, January 5 was spent at sea. 

Following breakfast, there was the mandatory Life Boat Drill, when
we all donned bright orange life-preservers and made our way to our assigned lifeboat stations (such drills would be held at the beginning
of every segment of the cruise for the benefit of newly-boarded passengers; but this is the only time that I intend to mention them).
Then I borrowed some books from the Erasmus Library on Deck 5, intended to furnish a little light reading (to leaven the Chinese
language texts and tapes I had optimistically lugged along--only to
find that I had little time or inclination to study them).  At 10:30 a.m.
I attended the Introduction to Fitness Workshop, the first of many sessions with the two fitness instructors, both in the well-equipped
Ocean Spa on Deck 8 and in the Queen's Lounge (where morning sessions not requiring special equipment were held, such as the
popular Sit and Be Fit, which I attended almost daily at 8 a.m. but
do not intend to mention again in this account of the voyage).

After brunch in the Lido Restaurant, there was a Get-Together for
Solo Travellers in the Rembrandt Lounge--again the first of several
such events, including lunches, which will go unnoted hereafter.
At 2 p.m. in the Queen's Lounge occurred the first of a series of
sessions by the resident astronomer, Vic Stryker, who also could be found nightly on the tiny Sky Deck (forward above Deck 9) pointing
out constellations.  That afternoon, what he termed my "zebra blouse" caught his eye, when he was looking for someone with a January birthday; so he called me up on stage to explain to me what my
"real birthday star" is and then gave me a copy of his Birthday Star Catalog for acting as guinea pig.  Back in my cabin at 3 p.m., I
watched on T.V. half of the first of the regular series of talks given
in the Queen's Lounge by Frank Buckingham--each talk dealing with
the next port to be visited, in this case Fort-de-France, Martinique
(again, I shall not mention any more of his witty commentaries, even though I either attended or watched them all, since this detailed
account of the first day at sea is intended merely to afford some sense
of the aspects of daily cruise life on the Amsterdam that attracted my interest).  At 3:30 p.m. I met with Vera Deane, who would be hosting several cocktail parties (not noted here in future) for the small
number of us whose travel agents subscribe to the Select Traveller programme, which offers "rewards" such as free excursions in
certain ports.  By 4 p.m. I was at the Internet Cafe, using up a lot of
my free internet minutes in a vain effort to establish an interactive connection with mcmail (my McMaster University e-mail account)
via the ship's system, which involved a log-in fee of $3.95 US plus
a 50-cent-a-minute charge.  Then, at 4:30 p.m. in the Ocean Spa,
I took part in my first Stretch and Relax session (which, although it became a regular feature of my day's activities when not off on a
shore excursion, will never again be mentioned in this account).

Returning to my cabin that evening after dinner, along with the
usual items (a bedtime chocolate, the New York Times Digest and
the Daily Program for the following day), I found on my pillow a card reminding me to put my watch forward one hour.  None of these
routinely appearing items will be mentioned again in this account; nor
will the various "gifts from the Captain" (most of them orange-hued, perhaps in honour of the Dutch royal family) which were found on
my bed from time to time and were described on their accompanying cards respectively as: an ID Card Case, a Cruise Calendar Portfolio
& Pen, a Terra Cotta Robe, a Glass Brain, a World Atlas, a Hand-
Crafted Wooden Shoehorn, Playing Cards, an Antarctic Hat, Scarf & Mittens, a Plush Penguin, a Wooden Model of a Pitcairn Longboat,
two separate Delft Ceramic Tiles (blue this time, the first depicting
the SS Amsterdam II and the second the route of the 2003 Grand
World Voyage), a 2003 World Voyage pin and a Holland America Mariner Society pin.

At this point some prefatory comments seem appropriate regarding
shipboard life, as I experienced it.

World cruisers clearly constitute a distinct cultural group, well worthy
of anthropological study.   Many of my fellow passengers had fully
earned their membership in that group, having participated in more
than a dozen cruises just as lengthy as this 108-day World Voyage. 
Typically, they proved to be elderly, affluent, socially and politically conservative Americans--some of whom never actually went ashore
at our ports of call, except occasionally to purchase souvenirs (mainly jewelry) at a convenient Port Terminal market.  These constituted
the true world cruisers; and the bulk of the activities listed in the ship's Daily Program were astutely tailored to match their interests.

Nightly Showtime in the Queen's Lounge auditorium consisted of
scaled-down Las Vegas acts: singers, dancers, comedians, magicians,
etc.  On the rare occasion when a classical concert was offered
(possibly as a sop to the small number of Europeans and more
culturally-pretentious Americans aboard), it never was well attended.
Otherwise, evening entertainment consisted of the casino, plus music
and dancing in the various bars throughout the ship.  Daytime
activities on offer were too numerous to keep up with: from normal shipboard games like shuffleboard, through lessons in dancing, bridge and cooking, to bingo, trivia games (mainly based on popular U.S. television programmes), crafts, singing groups, and tips on such topics
as table-setting, wine and cheese selection, dieting and cosmetics--
none of which activities, unfortunately, held even the slightest
interest for me. 

To be sure, other types of activity occasionally were offered, but only
a very few passengers (including myself) took advantage of them. 
For instance, excellent guided tours were advertised to view:
the Bridge on the Navigation Deck (Deck 7); the anything but
luxurious "Back of the House" areas below the passenger decks on Decks A and B, where the crew live and where the butchers,
vegetable chefs, tailors, carpenters, upholsterers, laundry and
storeroom personnel work (as well as where seawater is desalinated
and other water purified and recycled for use throughout the ship);
and last, but certainly not least, the many well-catalogued art works
and antique pieces adorning this beautifully appointed ship.

In summary, the shipboard activities alluded to in the remainder of
this account represent a small fraction of what was constantly on
offer and include only those few that held some interest for me and
which (along with a good deal of reading and watching the old movies
and documentaries shown on cabin TV) completely filled up my time
during the many days at sea.  On the other hand, some of my table-
mates at dinner in the La Fontaine Diningroom--as well as strangers
who kept insisting on joining me for breakfast or lunch at the Lido
Restaurant--often told me how (whether afflicted with very short attention spans or simply gluttons for variety) they had abandoned
one activity mid-way through in order to race to another being offered
in the same time-slot.  These passengers are the addicted cruisers,
those for whom cruise lines plan their daily shipboard programmes. 
One, who stands out in my recollection, was a diminutive 93-year-old
lady, whose luggage apparently remains on board year-round, since
she takes every cruise the ship offers.  I would see her at 8:45 a.m.
(when I was on a treadmill in the Ocean Spa) making gallant attempts
to hobble her way through an aerobics session; and I was told by
other passengers that, in the evening after Showtime, she could be
found in the Crow's Nest bar on Deck 9, insisting on having the most attractive of the young officers in attendance as her dance partner. 
For me, this insatiable nonagenarian will remain forever the epitome
of the world cruiser.  

Monday, January 6 was spent at sea.  

It should be noted that, on this day as on any other day at sea,
whenever I sampled a new shipboard activity or something unusual
or noteworthy happened, brief mention of it will appear in this account.  Otherwise, it should be assumed that each day at sea aboard the MS Amsterdam followed much the same pattern of activity as its predecessors; and my account will focus instead on the various ports
of call or on items of interest seen when the ship was doing what the itinerary termed "Scenic Cruising"(as in Antarctica).

After breakfast, I sampled the 8:45 a.m. Aerobics Class and decided
that this kind of activity on a moving ship requires a better sense
of balance than mine.  At 9:15 a.m. I visited the Guest Relations
Manager regarding upgrading to a veranda suite, but decided to turn down the head office's offer for a combination of reasons.  One was
the $10,000 Cdn upgrade fee--no price concession having been made, even though so many cabins stood empty.  In addition, (unlike my
D category cabin, number 2632) the B category cabin I was offered
on Deck 6 had no bath, but only a large shower; also, upon inspection,
the highly-touted veranda proved to be quite small and far too windy
for my comfort.  At 10:30 a.m. a sample Pilates class was offered in
the Ocean Spa; but, unfortunately, this type of class never was offered again (for lack of passengers willing to pay); so I could not use
my 180-minute gift certificate for that purpose.  Then, at 11:30 a.m.,
I went to the Shore Excursion Desk to sign up for the excursions
I had selected to make in the various ports where we were scheduled
to dock throughout the first half of the cruise. 

After lunch, I attended the first of numerous movies shown in the
Wajang Theatre on Deck 4: "The Road to Perdition", which I had missed during its Hamilton showing (none of the other movies I was
later to watch in that same theatre will be mentioned in this account).

After a formal dinner, I attended the Captain's Champagne
Reception in the Queen's Lounge, which was for all passengers.
Following that, as would be the norm with me, I decided to skip
Showtime at 8:30 in the Queen's Lounge, even though it featured
a "star act", Sandy Duncan.  Instead, I spent half an hour or so
vainly trying to access my McMaster e-mail account.

At 9 a.m. on Tuesday, January 7, we docked at Fort-de-France, Martinique, the first port of call on the cruise.  Martinique, which
means "Isle of Flowers" in the Arawak language, is a region of
France and its people are French citizens with all the rights and
privileges of those living in France.

At 9:50 a.m. a group of us walked in along the pier to our waiting bus
(see below) and set out on a four-hour excursion billed as "St. Pierre
and Island Drive".   This took us first to Balata to visit the 1925 miniature replica (second photo below) of the Basilica of Sacre Coeur
in the Montmartre district of Paris, then via La Trace road between
enormous bamboos and giant arborescent ferns and lianas to Morne Rouge, a village lying at the foot of the volcano Mount Pelee
which a century ago was totally destroyed by that volcano's eruption
on August 30, 1902.  From there we drove to Saint Pierre on the coast, once the capital city of Martinique and known in its 19th-Century
heyday as "the Paris of the West Indies", where on May 8, 1902
all 30,000 inhabitants (except for one prisoner protected by his windowless stone cell) died in a catastrophic eruption of Mount Pelee.  Between the back of the very interesting Musee Volcanologique
and the coastal road, one can see clearly (third photo below)
remnants of the deep layer of lava that once covered St. Pierre and
its unfortunate inhabitants.  Returning to the ship by the coast road,
we passed through a number of fishing villages, including Le Carbet,
at the point where Christopher Columbus supposedly landed in 1502
and where Paul Gauguin certainly lived in 1887 (as witnessed by
many a beautiful canvas; see, for example, the fourth photo below:
Gauguin's "Among the Mangoes at Martinique", 1887).
Late that afternoon, I spent so long trying various routes to access
my McMaster e-mail account (finally succeeding in viewing, but not using, it through mail2web.com) that I missed the First Sitting dinner
in La Fontaine Diningroom and had to take up the always-available second option of buffet dining in the Lido Restaurant.  The buffet
proved perfectly pleasant and, of course, far less time-consuming:
half an hour, as opposed to an hour and a half.  Some passengers,
in fact, boasted to me of never having entered the formal diningroom.
Already, as I sat there eating my dinner, we were well out to sea on
our way to our next port of call: Barbados in the Windward Islands,
the easternmost of all the islands in the Caribbean, at a distance of
128 nm or 237 km from Martinique.

At 7 a.m. on Wednesday, January 8 the MS Amsterdam docked at Bridgetown, Barbados.  Barbados (Portuguese for "bearded", in reference to the island's native Bearded Fig Tree) remained a British protectorate until it peacefully chose independence on November 30, 1986, thereby becoming the smallest independent nation in the
Western Hemisphere: just 21 miles long and 14 miles wide. 

At 9:15 a.m. my group took a shuttle to the Bridgetown Port Terminal
to begin a four-hour "Island Countryside Tour".  Our first brief stop
was at St. John's Church, which is noted for the tomb (see below) of Ferdinand Paleologus, the last descendant of Emperor Constantin,
last Christian emperor of Constantinople.  From there we proceeded
inland on roads lined with royal palms and fields of cotton and
sugarcane to Gun Hill Signal Station (second photo below), erected
at 700 feet above sea level with a 360-degree view.  The attendant
(see third photo below) explained how, using lanterns and semaphore,
the British soldiers stationed there could communicate with their counterparts at the south coast garrison and at Grenade Hill in the
north.   Our final stop was at Tyrol Cot Heritage Village.  The main building is an interesting coral stone house built in 1854, which is now part of the national trust and known as Tyrol Cot House Museum.
The home from 1929 to 1990 of the family of Sir Grantley Adams,
leader of the struggle for Barbadian democracy and the first premier
of Barbados, Tyrol Cot is filled with the family's furniture and memorabilia (see its exterior, fourth photo below).  It forms the centrepiece of an outdoor "living museum", including a reconstructed slave hut of the 1820's (see the thatched hut's interior, fifth photo
below) and several colourful 1920's chattel houses, where traditional
artisans now sell their wares.
                     WORLD VOYAGE 2003

                                           by Maureen Halsall


From January 4 to February 28, I participated in Holland America's
2003 Grand World Voyage aboard the MS Amsterdam--opting, in
fact, for only the first half of the 108-day voyage: from Fort
Lauderdale, Florida as far as Papeete, Tahiti.  What follows is an account of my experiences over those eight weeks.

Back on the Amsterdam, after lunch I finally managed to set up a
hotmail account, in order to both send and receive messages for 50
cents a minute, without having to pay $3.95 US every time I logged in.
Later, at dinner, the Maitre d' enlarged our table of six, in order to accommodate a couple in their late 70's from Florida, who had not
enjoyed going to the 8:15 p.m. Second Sitting.  So, from this point
until the pair's departure at Valparaiso, Chile, ours became a table
for eight.  While we all sat together at dinner, the MS Amsterdam
set sail for Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, a distance of 251 nm or 464 km.

Early in the morning of Thursday, January 9, we entered the mouth
of the Orinoco River, via the North Channel into the Boca Grande. 
Then, during the entire day, we sailed upriver, heading for Puerto
Ordaz at the confluence of the muddy Orinoco and the smaller, blue Caroni River (see the hard line where the two join in the first photo). 

In the course of his third voyage, Christopher Columbus and his fleet
reached the mouth of the Orinoco on August 2, 1498.  Later, the
Spanish adventurer and explorer, Diego de Ordaz was to explore
the river, before dying in Paria, Venezuela in 1533.  There is little
of historic interest in the port that bears this explorer's name:
it is but a small part of the greater metropolis of Ciudad Guyana,
a sprawling community (including also Palua, Matanzas and San
Felix) which supports the large state-owned ore loading terminal
at the port.

We did not reach Puerto Ordaz until late in the evening (see second
photo below).  Despite the lack of historic and other attractions, it
was to prove a good jumping-off point for a number of interesting
excursions, including the one I was scheduled for the following day.
As we sailed upriver to Puerto Ordaz, in addition to observing wildlife along the Orinoco, on the morning of January 9, I attended a fitness session at 10:30 a.m., "Don't Diet, Do Weights".  This was followed
at 11 a.m. by the first of a series of lectures by a political scientist specializing in Latin America, Dr. Daniel Mugan.  His introductory lecture was entitled "Latin American Values and Traditions" (and
even included such tips on etiquette as: how to indicate politely that
you have had enough to eat, and how to detect when the time has
come to say goodbye to your hosts!).

After lunch, I had a Metabolism Check, administered by Rebecca,
the younger of the two fitness instructors.  Unfortunately, it showed
my optimum weight as 114 pounds--an amount that I have not
weighed since I turned forty!   So, in order to begin losing 20 pounds,
I was persuaded to sign up for three sessions of Personal Training
using weights.

That night, knowing that soon we again would have to put on formal
wear for dinner, I took the unpleasant step of complaining to the
waiter that the air conditioning was freezing and blowing hard
directly onto our table, which was going to make it uncomfortable
for the four of us required to bare it all in evening gowns.

On Friday, January 10, our group departed Puerto Ordaz at 8:15 a.m.
and set off to drive for an hour and a half upriver, heading  for what
was once a sleepy river port known as Angostura (Narrows) at the narrowest point of the Orinoco (see photo below), hundreds of miles
from any important population centres.  Since 1846, the erstwhile Angostura has been called Ciudad Bolivar, in honour of El Libertador: the young Caracas aristocrat, Simon Bolivar, who resolved to rid his homeland of what he had come to see as Spanish oppressors and came
to Angostura in 1817 to set up a base for military operations.  In 1818 Bolivar chose Angostura as capital of the new Venezuelan Republic;
and it was here on February 15, 1819 that the Congress of Angostura made him president of Venezuela and later on December 17, 1819 decreed the formation of the short-lived Republic of Gran Colombia (Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador) with him as president (see one
of the many statues of Bolivar below; such statues are common throughout the five countries he is credited with liberating: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and, of course, Venezuela).  In the municipal centre, Bolivar Square (see third photo below), we visited the
Angostura Congress House (note below the modern mural inside the Congress House).  In the town's outskirts, we toured La Casa de San Isidro, where Bolivar wrote his famous Discorso de Angostura, in
which he surrendered all special powers Congress had granted him,
as he defined his vision for the new republic (see the entrance to the Casa, fifth photo below).  After that, we paid a visit to the Jesus Soto Museum of Modern Art, whose collection (in addition to paintings
and other works displayed indoors) includes a considerable number
of outdoor sculptures (such as the intricate metal cube in the sixth
photo below).  Finally, as we were returning to the ship at 2:30 p.m.,
we detoured in Puerto Ordaz for a visit to the Caroni River rapids
at Cachamay Park (last photo below)--very refreshing, with the
afternoon ambient air temperature up in the mid-nineties.
After the extreme heat of the day, the air-conditioning at dinner in the
La Fontaine Diningroom (unchanged, despite my earlier complaints) proved far too cold for me; so I left the table before placing my order, complained again about the temperature--this time to the Maitre d'--
and proceeded to the Lido Restaurant for my evening meal.

Early on Saturday morning, January 11, having sailed all night back down the Orinoco to its mouth, we dropped off the river pilot and set
sail on an easterly course along the coasts of Guyana, Suriname and
French Guyana en route to Devil's Island, 515 nm or 952 km from
Puerto Ordaz.  Later, at 11 a.m., Dr. David Pasta gave the first of a series of ecological lectures entitled "The Amazon Rainforest and Global Warming".

After lunch, at 2 p.m., Dr. Daniel Mugan gave his second lecture,
entitled "Cafe con Leche: Oil, Race, Class and Image in Venezuela".

Despite dinner being designated "formal", I carried a warm cardigan with me and found it necessary to put it on over my evening gown,
as the La Fontaine once again proved to be freezing cold.   It was sad
that I am not a wine bibber, because that night we had as "host"
Amy Kreft, a member of the entertainment staff, who supplied the
normally costly bottles of white and red wine.

On Sunday, January 12, I went to the Purser's Office to see whether
I might get some action regarding the La Fontaine air-conditioning
by complaining to the Guest Relations Manager.  As was to emerge
that very evening, he did manage to have the air ducts partially
baffled with tape and the air temperature raised by two degrees, 
producing much more comfortable conditions at the dinner table.

At lunchtime we arrived at the pilot station off Devil's Island, which
is part of Les Iles du Salut (Salvation Islands), an island group
consisting of Ile du Diable, Ile Royale and Ile Ste. Josephe, situated
six nautical miles off the mainland of French Guyana.  The MS Amsterdam anchored south of Ile Royale and, as there were no
organized shore excursions on offer, we went ashore to Ile Royale
by tender (see first photo below) and then made our way individually
around the administrative centre of the infamous former French penal colony (where, of the 80,000 prisoners "transported" between 1852
and 1948, 50,000 died).  It was here, on Ile du Diable, that Alfred
Dreyfus was wrongfully imprisoned (1894-1899).  The only known escapee from Les Iles du Salut was Henri Charriere, a prisoner here from 1931, whose escape 12 years later was immortalized for cinema- goers by the Steve McQueen movie, Papillon.  For some reason, we
received no weather forecast for this sole port of call; but I, for one,
was left in no doubt that the temperature was truly "as hot as Hell".  

In such conditions, we gazed out across the 650-foot shark-infested channels upon the two other islands: the Ile Ste. Josephe, which was used for solitary confinement and can now be visited by ferry (second photo below), and the totally inaccessible Ile du Diable (third photo below), which was reserved for political prisoners.  Climbing up to the former administrative centre on Ile Royale, surrounded by sapajou monkeys, agouti and the ubiquitous free-range chickens (fourth photo below), it took some effort of the imagination to re-people the former prison grounds and buildings--especially the Wardens' Main Hall,
which is now a hotel (fifth photo below), and the Military Hospital,
which stands next to the modern heliport (sixth photo below).  Even
more bizarre was the close juxtaposition  (seventh photo below) of
a domed cinetheodolite for infra-red tracking of space launches to
the remains of the former Transportation Camp (prison buildings).
Returning to the ship, I sent my first e-mail bulletin to a distribution
list of friends and relatives, describing the cruise to date.  Then, at
6 p.m., we pulled up anchor and began two days' uninterrupted sailing south in the Atlantic towards our next port of call: Fortaleza, Brazil,
a distance of 1018 nm or 1885 km away.

Monday, January 13 was spent at sea.

At 9 a.m. I began a series of three Personal Training sessions with
Rebecca in the Ocean Spa gymnasium, learning to use the weight
machines--and found that I had particular trouble with the overhead
shoulder press.  At 11 a.m. my memory of the various artworks on
board was refreshed by taking the Art and Antique Tour with the
Social Hostess, Apollonia van Ravenstein, who apparently was given
her nickname of "Apples" by Frank Sinatra when she was working
as a fashion model in New York City.   One example of the ship's
artworks can be found gracing the indoor pool on the Lido Deck:
a two-ton pair of patinated cast bronze Grizzly Bears (2000) by
Suzanne Holt, USA (see below, and for other art works see the entry
for December 27, 2000 in the website account of My Trip to Panama).   Later in the day I watched on TV the second astronomy lecture by
Vic Stryker, which also had been scheduled for the 11 a.m. time-slot.
Otherwise, my January 13 activities were what had become the norm
for me during days at sea, with the notable exception that, upon my
return at 10 p.m. from watching a movie in the Wajang Theatre
("Spiderman", if you happen to enjoy coincidences), I surprised
a cockroach crawling on top of my dressing table.  There is no live
photo of small game hunting to insert here, however, though my
reflexes did prove fast enough to catch the little critter in a kleenex.

Tuesday, January 14 was another day at sea.

At 9:30 a.m. I presented my kleenex-wrapped cockroach to the
Guest Relations Manager, Jason De Leo, whose response (instead
of an apology) was to cry out, "Don't put that thing on my desk!" 
To me, of course, it seemed perfectly proper to place on his desk,
as evidence of infestation, the "thing" I had found crawling on my dressing table the night before; and I proceeded to say so...then pointedly asked for the e-mail address of the Holland America head office in order to report the incident, including his handling of it. 
This seemed to bring Mr. De Leo to his senses, whereupon he did
apologize, going on to explain that this kind of insect infestation was
"normal" on cruise ships and that, if I so desired, my cabin could be
sprayed that very afternoon.  When I responded that I did not want
to spend the night breathing in the residual fumes from a recent
spraying, he offered to find me a vacant cabin.  Late the same
morning, no doubt hoping to avoid any complaint to the head office,
Mr. De Leo had delivered to my cabin the key to nearby Cabin 2624,
with an accompanying letter of apology plus a bottle of wine--which
latter I took to dinner that night for my tablemates to enjoy.

At noon on January 14 we crossed the Equator, with the usual high
jinks taking place, as "King Neptune" and his similarly-costumed assistants tossed sundry persons into the Lido Pool.  These frolics
continued later at dinner, when "King Neptune" brought an artificial
fish to "kiss" each of the passengers.   Then, in a delightful contrast
to these childish activities, the 8:15 p.m. Showtime featured a rare classical treat: concert violinist Ole Bohn with pianist Geir Braaten.
At 7 a.m. on Wednesday, January 15, the ship docked at Porto
Mucuripe at the mouth of the Ceara River, the port of Fortaleza,
Brazil (first photo below).  Fortaleza (meaning "fortress") is the
capital of the state of Ceara, one of the nation's least commercially developed and most isolated areas. 

Having spent the night in Cabin 2624, early in the morning I moved
back to 2632--to find the fumes almost completely dissipated.  Then,
at 8:15 a.m., our first complimentary Select Traveller excursion began:
a seven-hour tour, concluding with a late seafood lunch at a beach-
side restaurant near the pier where the MS Amsterdam was docked.  
The forecast high of 91F was soon surpassed.  In the course of the
day, we visited a variety of very different spots.  First, we toured the former home of the 19th-Century poet, novelist and playwright, Jose
de Alencar, where the second floor has become a Museum of Cultural Art, displaying--amongst other things--the lace for which this region
is noted (second photo below).  Then we proceeded downtown, where
we visited the new concrete gothic-style Se Cathedal, whose Christmas creche had not yet been dismantled (third photo below) and the
nearby Teatro Jose de Alencar (fourth photo below), an open and airy design of ornate Scottish ironwork constructed in the early 20th
century (in whose adjoining gardens we were treated to a private
party with musical accompaniment, while local teenagers peered
through the high wrought-iron fence and giggled).  After that came
a visit to the Emceter Tourist Center (fifth photo below), a converted prison, whose former cells are now shops giving onto the prison corridors.  Then, following a brief stop at the so-called English Bridge
(the long pier shown in the first photo), from which, in the distance
down the coast, the Amsterdam was visible (see sixth photo), we continued to the Peixada do Maio beach-side restaurant (from whose second floor I took photo seven below). 
Immediately after returning to the ship at 3:15 p.m., we were
entertained in the Queen's Lounge by what was to become a frequent feature: a local folkloric show, this time put on by a group made up of twelve lively young dancers and six musicians.

Thursday, January 16 was spent at sea, sailing south towards our
next Brazilian port of call: Salvador da Bahia, a distance of 749 nm
or 1,387 km.

At 9 a.m. I had my second Personal Training session with Rebecca 
(once again it proved difficult for me to do more than a few repeats
of the overhead press exercises; and subsequently my shoulder felt 
rather sore).  Apollonia's regular morning Coffee Chat at 10:30 a.m. featured Ole Bohn, the concertmaster of the Norwegian State Opera
and his accompanist, pianist Geir Braaten.  Poor souls!  Their luggage
was lost by the airlines; so that they had been forced to rent ill-fitting formal attire for their concert on Tuesday evening.  Worse still, Geir
had sprained his wrist recently while skiing and was obliged to ice it
constantly before performances.   At 11 a.m. Dr. Daniel Mugan
offered his third and final lecture, entitled "Brazil: Destined Always
To Be 'The Land of the Future'?"

On Friday, January 17, we entered the Baia de Todos os Santos, and
by 8 a.m. were docked in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.

Sailing in on November 1, 1501 (All Saints Day), Amerigo Vespucci
gave the bay its name.  Later, in the mid 16th century, the viceroy
Mem de Sa initiated the construction of Salvador (Saviour), now one
of the nation's largest cities--with 365 churches, one for every day of
the year.  In the recently renovated Pelourinho district of the Ciudade Alta (Upper City), perched high on cliffs overlooking the bay and protected under UNESCO as an international historic site, are
preserved brilliant architectural remnants of colonial Brazil.

After a long delay for customs clearance, our group set out at 
9:30 a.m. on a three-and-a half-hour tour entitled "Sights and Sounds
of Bahia".  Beginning with the formidable Forte de Santo Antonio
da Barra, constructed in 1598 (see photo below), we proceeded to
the Upper City and the juncture of the Praca de Se and the Terreiro
de Jesus to view the splendid Cathedral.  Built 1657-1672 as the
chapel of the largest Jesuit seminary outside Rome, it combines
Renaissance severity of design with opulent gold interior touches
(see second and third photos below).   At the far end of the nearby
Praca Anchieta, the 16th-Century Igreja Sao Francisco, with its typical Portuguese twin towers (see fourth photo below), constitutes one of Salvador's finest treasures (note in particular its cloister, which
features a wall covered with beautiful azulejo tiles, shown in the fifth
and sixth photos below).  Descending from the Upper City via the Elevador Lacerta, we visited the market before returning to the ship.
At 9 p.m., with all back on board, the MS Amsterdam set sail for
Rio de Janeiro, 749 nm or 1,387 km to the south.

Saturday, January 18 was spent at sea.

I had the third and last of my Personal Training sessions with
Rebecca and once again had difficulty performing the overhead
shoulder press (this time the soreness in my shoulder did not
dissipate after a day or two, but continued to trouble me throughout
the rest of the voyage; hence I stopped using the weight machines
and, upon returning home, began a series of chiropractic treatments).

On Sunday, January 19, I had an early breakfast, so that from 8 a.m. 
I might spend the next couple of hours watching the ship's "Scenic
Sail-In" into Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as we headed straight for the
Copacabana Beach and the Pico de Corcovado (the Hunchback)--
whose statue of Christ the Redeemer was wreathed in cloud--then
along past Sugar Loaf Mountain and into Guanabara Bay, docking
at Pier Maua about 10:15 a.m. (see photos 1-4 below).

Rio was discovered on January (Janeiro) 1, 1502 by Gaspar de
Lemos, who mistook the entrance of Guanabara Bay for the mouth
of a river (Rio).  When the Portuguese monarch fled Napoleon's advancing armies and set up his court in Rio (1808-1821), Brazil was elevated to the status of a United Kingdom with Portugal and Rio
became its capital, remaining so after the nation became a republic in 1889 and right up until the inauguration of Brasilia as capital in 1960.
After lunch, I went ashore to the Internet Cafe in the Port Terminal
in order to send a second e-mail bulletin to my friends and relatives, updating events since my first such bulletin on January 12.  Then
I took advantage of the offer of one of the major jewelry firms,
H. Stern, to tour Rio in a private car--followed, of course, by a visit
to their combination workshop, museum and shop (see below)
Since January 19 is my birthday, there was a birthday cake for my
table that evening, just as there had been a card and flowers on my
bed in the morning--Holland America rarely miss an opportunity of making their passengers feel at home.  After dinner, rather than
going ashore to a club, I attended the Rio Carnaval Sensation, which came aboard to give its colourful performance in the Queen's Lounge
at 8:15 p.m.
This acount will be continued in World Voyage 2003, Part Two at: