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Cruise Diary: When the Theme Suits You to a ‘T’

Day 104, April 19:

When the crew and staff of the Amsterdam gets a hold of a theme, they never let go – enriching the experience with all manner of details and activities. Take our recent sojourn in India: The Amsterdam enriched it with a special Indian teatime in the La Fontaine Dining Room with typical pastries, goodies including a solid chocolate sculpture and teas, a dinner with Indian specialties including appetizers and a curry entrée also in La Fontaine. And they weren’t done yet. To top it all off in a grand manner, an excellent Indian cultural presentation, the Kala Bhairavi Dance Show, awaited us in the Queen’s Lounge including traditional music, lavish costumes and such numbers as the showy Peacock Dance. These themed events rounded out our three-night overland excursion to the Taj Mahal and the Pink City of Jaipur, and we felt like we came away not only with the sights, but the sounds and tastes of India after our visit and these activities.

Server and food display at Indian tea in the La Fontaine Dining Room.

Server and food display at Indian tea in the La Fontaine Dining Room.

Yep, the themes have suited us to a “t” – or a “tea” – with such teatimes as the Royal Dutch Tea and the Brazilian Tea, and such cookouts and banquets as an Outback Barbecue while sailing in Australian waters and a Kebab-ecue Middle Eastern Banquet while in Egypt. We have had a sumptuous Oriental Dinner, complete with Dim Sum appetizers and fabulous decorations and followed by a Chinese Cultural Arts Show from Hong Kong; ditto for Vietnam and Argentina, among others. We have had a ball at several themed events like the Valentine’s Day Hearts & Flowers Ball, with the Queen’s Lounge transformed with red decorations and following a themed dinner in a La Fontaine Dining Room chock-full with red and pink balloons and other decorations.

Dragon dance at the Chinese Cultural Arts Show in the Queen’s Lounge.

Dragon dance at the Chinese Cultural Arts Show in the Queen’s Lounge.

Food servers at Lumpia Dinner and Sate Barbecue on Lido Deck while in Vietnam.

Food servers at Lumpia Dinner and Sate Barbecue on the Lido Deck while in Vietnam.

 Decorations during Oriental Night at La Fontaine Dining Room.

Decorations during Oriental Night at La Fontaine Dining Room.

Food server at Kebab-ecue Middle Eastern banquet on the Lido Deck.

Food server at Kebab-ecue Middle Eastern banquet on the Lido Deck.

Peacock dance at Kala Bhairavi Dance Show in the Queen’s Lounge.

Peacock dance at Kala Bhairavi Dance Show in the Queen’s Lounge.

Carl LeBlanc’s New Orleans band entertains during Mardi Gras Afloat celebration on Lido Deck.

Carl LeBlanc’s New Orleans band entertains during Mardi Gras Afloat celebration on the Lido Deck.

Snake Gully Bush band entertains during Outback Barbeque on Lido Deck.

Snake Gully Bush band entertains during Outback Barbeque on Lido Deck.

One of our favorite theme evenings was just last Friday night: the “Paella Fiesta” while the Amsterdam was sailing off the coast of Spain. Talking about a theme suiting you to a “t” – both my grandparents and Humberto’s all came from Spain, so we felt right at home this evening. Also, Humberto loves “paella,” the yellow rice dish that incorporates seafood, chicken, sausage and more – traditionally whatever the cook has on hand – for a delicious combination of tastes. At a Lido Deck bedecked with Spanish flags and flowers, cheeses and olives and other Spanish products stations and fruit carving displays, Humberto sampled three paellas: seafood, chicken and vegetarian. I just had the chicken one, but Humberto had second helpings of all three. We also feasted on sausage empanadas, cod croquettes and flan – the latter reminding both of us of the flans our Moms used to make! Servers and cooks, in Spanish garb, of course, grilled thick steaks on the barbecue. We enjoyed all this with views of the New and Old Cathedrals in Cadiz and with a “side” of the music of the Amsterdam Orchestra, which played such Spanish and Latin favorites as “Malaguena” and “Guantanamera.” There is nothing like a themed night on the Amsterdam!

Fruit carving and local cheeses during Paella Fiesta.

Fruit carving and local cheeses during Paella Fiesta.

Seafood paella.

Seafood paella.

Servers in Spanish garb serving paellas.

Servers in Spanish garb serving paellas.

 Barbecuing steaks during the Paella Fiesta on the Lido Deck.

Barbecuing steaks during the Paella Fiesta on the Lido Deck.


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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