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Cruise Diary: Games People Play at Sea

Days 88-89, April 3-4:

“What does a dipsomaniac crave?” Bruce, the Amsterdam’s cruise director, was not making intriguing cocktail party conversation, but was testing the general knowledge of upwards of 100 passengers who had gathered in the ship’s Ocean Bar for one of two daily team trivia competitions on sea days (one is usually held in port days). “His characters include Esmeralda, Cosette and Fantin,” Bruce went on, and followed that with “What do the initials H. G. stand for in H. G. Wells?” for a total of 15 questions. An additional bonus question (by the way, if you are intrigued, the answers are at the bottom of this posting), “for a Grand Dollar,” Bruce added, is “What is the name of the fictional city where Clark Kent/Superman lived?”

Guests can collect the Grand Dollars they earn at various activities and go “shopping” for nifty gifts such as a Holland America Line logo ball cap (35 Grand Dollars), travel pillow (30 Grand Dollars), ultra-light daypack (70 Grand Dollars) and universal travel adapter (55 Grand Dollars). So it is both fun to participate and fun to cash in on rewards. And with all the activities available, it is easy to say that there is never a dull moment at sea. Hard as you’d try chances are good you can’t get all that is available in on a given day. And if you want to play an indoor game that is not listed on the program, you can head to the Explorations Café where Dona and Emily, the librarians, keep a sign-up sheet for passengers looking for a friendly, un-hosted game of chess, Scrabble and other pastimes.

Trivia players fill up the Ocean Bar.

Trivia players fill up the Ocean Bar.

Cruise director Bruce (right) redeeming Grand Dollars from passengers.

Cruise Director Bruce (right) redeeming Grand Dollars from passengers.

Cruise director Bruce sports a Holland America tie you can win with Grand Dollars.

Cruise director Bruce sports a Holland America tie you can win with Grand Dollars.

“We have a guest who is desperate to play chess!” Dona told Humberto when he filled up the sheet and listed as his interest chess. Humberto got together with Juan, a passenger from Buenos Aires who was on for a segment of the World Cruise, and played three games with him, exchanging moves in the fine wood chess set at the Explorations Café, until Juan disembarked in Sydney, Australia. There is also a giant chess set on Lido Deck by the pool. What else is available?

 Humberto (right) playing chess in the Explorations Café.

Humberto (right) playing chess in the Explorations Café.

Well, there’s bocce ball, ring toss, football toss, Wii challenge, ladder ball, soccer kick, tennis serve, target toss, bean bag toss, tic tac toss, long and short golf putt, quoits, sticky darts, ping pong (including a “King Kong Ping Pong” challenge in which right-handed passengers had to play with their left hand, and left-handed passengers with their right), horseshoe toss, volleyball serve, ricochet, shuffleboard shootout, bridge instruction, duplicate bridge play, paper airplane challenge (yes, I kid you not!), ball toss, golf chipping challenge, Battle of the Sexes shuffleboard, wall ball, three-hole golf challenge, around the world basketball, chicken in a pot, Amsterdam Open Golf championship for men and women on the Lido Deck, relay race, paddle ball, sessions for party bridge, mah jongg and cribbage. Anyone for sticky darts?

Me playing ring toss in the Atrium on Deck 3.

Me playing ring toss in the Atrium on Deck 3.

King Kong Ping Pong players square off.

King Kong Ping Pong players square off.

Answers to the trivia questions:

1)A dipsomaniac craves alcohol.
2)Victor Hugo created the memorable characters of Esmeralda, Cosette and Fantin, among others.
3)H. G. Wells’ initials stand for Herbert George
4)Metropolis is the name of Superman’s city.


Freelance travel writer Georgina Cruz and her husband Humberto are currently sailing on Amsterdam’s 112-day Grand World Voyage and will be sending in cruise diaries throughout their time on board. She has logged 174 voyages to all seven continents and visited more than 100 countries.

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