Day 28, Feb. 2
The Drake Passage, infamous for its winds and rough seas, was foggy and windy (gale force 9 winds) with big swells. We had taken this possibility into consideration when we selected a ship for our world cruise: we wanted a mid-sized vessel that would ride the waves better than a smaller, yacht-like ship. The Amsterdam did admirably well and offered many safety features like handrails in the hallways, tub/showers and even the elevators! By mid-afternoon, Captain Jonathan Mercer had guided us into calm waters.
Our time at sea, en route to Ushuaia, Argentina, was ideal to follow the advice from golfer Walter C. Hagen, “You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” We took in three presentations by our Antarctica Expedition Team, including one by the ice pilot, Dick Taylor, a retired U.S. Coast Guard captain. And we literally took time to stop and smell the fragrant, fresh flowers all over the Amsterdam.
A few days ago I attended a presentation by Eddie, one of the ship’s two full-time florists from The Netherlands, and the ship’s hostess Adele, about the flowers that are routinely brought onboard at such ports as Buenos Aires, Sydney and Singapore, and the art of arranging them. Eddie created four lovely arrangements right before our eyes, including a Dutch round, hand-tied bouquet, while he told us about the flowers on board: There are about 400 floral arrangements in the ship’s public spaces that include such blooms as exotic and showy lobster claws from the Caribbean and fragrant white lilies from Argentina. The cruise line spends about $5,000 for flowers every two weeks or so, Eddie added.
Two tips from Eddie for home gardeners who would like to display their flowers in a showy manner: use interestingly shaped branches you may have in hand to hold up and/or drape your flowers on them. And add two teaspoons of bleach per gallon of water to your flowers, so the blossoms stay fresh longer. The “flower food” that you get from your florist when you purchase flowers, Eddie said, is itself a form of bleach to get rid of the bacteria in the water that is what kills the flowers. Eddie also offered a second optional presentation that was hands-on, with the opportunity to create our own floral arrangement and bring it to decorate our cabin. We have now completed one-fourth of our Grand World Voyage – and it seems that we boarded just yesterday!
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.