2013 world cruise on the Amsterdam

Trip Start Jan 04, 2013
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29
33
Trip End May 01, 2013


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Flag of Saint Helena  , Ascension Island,
Sunday, May 5, 2013

The morning of the 102nd day saw Ascension Island off our starboard bow, and a beautiful day with a gentle southeast breeze and partly cloudy skies. This is a tender port so we have to get tender tickets and wait until they call us to board our tender to shore. We went to mass had breakfast and waited for the call to collect our tickets, in the meantime we attended a ecological talk about the island. The talk was very good and explained all the beaches on the island and those beaches we could go to and those that were off limits because the sea turtles were laying their eggs. They also gave us a virtual tour of the island including the mountainous parts, while they were talking, they gave us the ok to get our tender tickets, so we got two number 19 tickets and came back to the talk. Then they called those people with ticket numbers 10 through 15 to board the tenders, in the mean time we listened attentively to the two ecological officers, continue to instruct us on the beauty of their island and how we could help preserve it. They also gave us some history of the island for instance it was discovered in 1501 but apparently went unreported so it was rediscovered in 1503 on Ascension Day and was recorded. It became strategically significant with the exile of Napoleon to St. Helena, because the British worried that it could be used in a rescue attempt for Napoleon, so they fortified it and used it as a base. After Napoleon's death in 1821 the island was used to suppress the slave trade from West Africa. In 1922 Ascension became a dependency of St. Helena, and its main exports are postage stamps. Which, by the way, I overheard a few passengers say they were going to buy them and sell them on eBay. Sport fishing is the main attraction of the few guests who visit, along with what is billed as the worst Golf Course in the world. The course has 18 holes and is all sand and oil mixture along with rocks and volcanic ash, making for interesting rounds.

The Captain spoke interrupting the speakers with an announcement again prohibiting the use of scooters , wheel chairs and walkers from the tenders because there was at least 20 steep steps after docking and that the surge was so bad that everyone who goes ashore should expect to get wet. We no sooner got back to the talk when he came on again saying that the first tender could not dock because the dock was too short to tie up the tender and already the rubber around the vessel to protect it from the docks was destroyed. So he was canceling this landing and after a circumnavigation of the island we would head for our next port of call. While sailing around the island we came across an island covered with guano, it looked white in the sunlight a stark contrast to the mountainous Ascension Island in the background, with the thousands of birds flying overhead.

Needless to say everyone who planned to go ashore were unhappy with the Captains decision, but we are all so litigious today that could lead to big problems for HAL if there was a problem with the people in the tenders being hurt.

Georgetown is the only town on the island, but there are four villages with all island administration headquartered at the port. Islanders like in St. Helena do not have mail delivery systems; instead people go to the post office for their mail.

We have a dinner with the captain on Friday with a few passengers, all the around the world people get to do this and I suppose we must be the last group. It is held for us on a formal night followed by a ball, and held at a specialty restaurant called the Pinnacle, which we have not gone on this trip since you pay extra to go and the food in our dinning room is very good.

The dinner was preceded by a cocktail party and we spent all the time talking to Henk the hotel manager who finally let us on the boat without our passports, both he and his wife work for HAL. After the party we were ushered to the Pinnacle dinning room and seated with the first officer and 5 single women. Mary Ann and I sat on either side of the first officer who was Dutch and had a very heavy accent. This made it difficult to understand him. The five single women sat across from us and came from many different countries, a Philippino woman sat across from me and she was a nurse, the meal was very gourmet and had seven courses. This was followed by a ball in which Bill and Mary Jane won a bottle of champagne for their outfits. We danced a few dances then went to the balcony to see all the outfits from above, a number of other people won a bottle of champagne and by 11pm all the bubbly was gone. We headed to bed for another sea day, starting with mass and a 4 mile walk around the promenade deck which came to 14 laps, then a quick breakfast before listening to former Ambassador Walker tell us the problems China will have with becoming the world leader. This was followed by me taking a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch, Mary Ann does not eat lunch most days, and then going to the second lecturer a David Smith giving tips on digital photography. Afterward the Indonesian crew gave their show like the Philippines did a few weeks earlier. It was very good, but none of our cabin stewards or dinning room waiters was in the show, but the head waiter in the section next to us was a singing star of the show.
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