HAL blogger Gary Frink currently is sailing on board Prinsendam’s 24-day Amazon River and Caribbean adventure and will be sending in cruise diaries throughout his time on board. Enjoy!
AMAZON ADVENTURE, at dock, Bridgetown, Barbados, 12-15-11
It was an unusual time of day for Yoga, our cabin steward, to knock and ask to enter cabin 126, nine deck; usually he is in our cabin before noon to clean and again while we are dining in the evening. “This is for you,” he said as he handed Jeanne a small flower arrangement, built around four red roses and a small envelope.
The hand-written note began: “Dear Mr. and Mrs. Frink, We want to thank you so much for having us to dinner with you last night. We can’t overstate how much we always enjoy your kind company and fascinating conversation. We truly feel fortunate to have had the chance to meet and spend time with such wonderful people. It was very special.” And therein lies a story.
Jeanne and I boarded the Holland America S.S. Amsterdam in Singapore in mid-March 2010 to begin a luxurious, 38 day trek through much of southeastern and northern Asia, including Cambodia, Vietnam, China, South Korea and Japan. The final foreign stop (Canada doesn’t count in my compilation) was a fishing fleet city in Siberia; there, I gorged myself on the golden, little finger-end-sized caviar on Russian black bread (washed down with vodka, of course) graciously provided gratis by what I took to be the chamber of commerce of the unspellable city at the tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula.
During our portion of the HAL 2010 Grand World Voyage, we, as always, took special notice of the talents of the singers and dancers responsible for the periodic, spectacular Broadway-musical-esque shows presented after dinner. During our time on the Grand World Voyage, we became acquainted with the lead singers, Jini (Jeannie) Scoville and Josh Hamilton. They each have university-trained voices, which when combined in duets that include soaring reaches into their high ranges can, and sometimes do, give me tingling goose bumps.
At the time of the world voyage, Jini and Josh were entered a period of forced-breakup from their personal and professional relationships. Their contracts were to end when the Amsterdam completed its global circumnavigation in Los Angles; Jini grew up in Burbank and still lives in L.A. Josh was on his way back to the Midwest, where he was raised near Cincinnati and graduated from Bowling Green University, Ohio. I remember him saying: “I really hate to see this group break up.” It included another mixed pair of singers and four dancers. “It is the best I’ve ever worked with,” Josh explained to me.
The first evening after-dinner entertainment in the show theater aboard a Holland America voyage is always a prevue/promo of some of the shows passengers are free to enjoy during their time on-board. To our delight, on Sunday evening, November 27, Jini and Josh sang a short number. I didn’t remember their names on first flush, but I knew certainly that they were the young (she now 26, he soon to be 30) couple with whom we had become acquainted during our Grand World Voyage, now approaching two years ago.
For reasons known only to others, I was informed by Craig Oakes, the hotel manager, that during the Amazon Explorer voyage I have been assigned a “personal concierge.” I have, in fact, been given a bull pen of the darlings: Meirielle, Isabel, Noemi and Carolien, all bright and attractive front office employees. I have tended to conduct much of my business through Noemi (No-amy), an Italian young lady raised in Tivoli, a Roman suburb.
Gary and Noemi.
After checking with Linda, an English woman and the first female cruise director I have encountered, to determine Jini and Josh’s names, I had Noemi inquire of the young couple if they would wish to have dinner with us in the La Fontaine Dining Room.
Our foursome dinner date was a boffo success. Over after-dinner coffee, the conversation raged on, until our table was the near-last to be vacated in order that the waiters and assistants could set up for the next morning breakfast service. Thus, we received the lovely note, flowers and another sea-going story has been told.