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Cruise Diary: Embarking at Rio de la Plata, Buenos Aires

Dutch TV host and adventure seeker Charlotte Squarcy is on board for segment of Amsterdam’s Grand World Voyage, and she is chronicling her journey. Enjoy!

Charlotte 2

Ahoy! We’re underway in the Atlantic — smoother than the narrow ships’ traffic lane — leaving Buenos Aires to Montevideo. Apparently, I’m never going to get fully unpacked with all the activities and arrangements planned to get the most out of the cruise. I haven’t even had time to relax and do nothing.

It was a snap to get on board as only 160 guests embarked in Buenos Aires since many aboard are on for the entire 112-day world cruise. It was a warm and efficient welcome, from the shoreside personnel to the Captain’s welcome last night. In keeping with the theme of this blog as to what is special about choosing a long voyage and in particular a “Grand” one, let’s start with the swag bag. Can’t list the goodies or I’ll have to share them with my sister on returning home! The Amsterdam is set-up for longer voyages with plenty of closet space, self-service laundries with ecologically sensitive detergent and all the hangers a girl could ever wish for. As for personnel on board, it is obvious that the company has put a lot of thought into the choice of staff for a group of seasoned travelers with high expectations. Interestingly, so far I have noticed that there are four couples among the officers. So this is a lifestyle choice, not just a job to them, and it shows in their attitude to listen to what is an eclectic demographic.

I’ve done a bit of meeting and greeting. Plenty have been long time fans of HAL, but of interest to me was how many signed on for all or a portion at the last minute. The gal I spent yesterday with, walking around Montevideo, has never been on a single cruise before — brave soul! Off to learn…

Dreamland While Being Rocked to Sleep
Been pleasant sailing, though the barometer is dropping and our days sunning outside in shorts are over for awhile. Really hit the parties last night — there are affinity groups like scuba divers and paddle tennis meet and greet times and it is obvious that many of the guests make an effort to get to know those with whom they will be traveling for some time.

Besides the scheduled parties, HAL staff put together a private event so smoothly as well, which I enjoyed last night. So many aboard are here in commemoration of a wonderful event in their lives and believe me this is the way to celebrate it! Lastly, it was Vegas night when Tom the maitre’d opened his closet of decorations throughout the dining and casino areas – and topped it all off with a loop running Elvis’ return to Vegas. Something for everyone – a really nice string of events. And all on the same day … going to be hard to relax with all this excitement … just going to have to stop reading the daily program before I turn in so that I can sleep.

Running Before a Gale Toward the Falklands
I’m really hoping that the storm on our way to the Falkland Islands will not preclude our port call. I dearly hope to walk among the King Penguins on the two-hour 4×4 vehicle trip across the island to the penguin colony nesting.

Meanwhile, I’ve been chatting up the staff and crew about the distinctive features of a voyage such as this, with an eye toward what my goals are, as well as those points of interest of you, the reader. For myself, I wish to learn some fine points on the computer and there are two classes each day to cover that and two hours of tech support available — this is so useful. After all, you can only spend so much time out in the sun with no ozone layers.

Next up, I am finally going to learn how to bid and play bridge. There are 70 classes from beginner on up, and starting in Buenos Aires is just about where I fit into the class that began as rank amateurs to the game. It’s also nice to have two water colorists aboard with a morning and evening class — very good instruction.

It’s a given that there have been fine lecturers on board preparing us for the sights and environments this adventure provides. I attended the briefing for those who have chosen to set foot on the 7th continent. Lucky ducks. They are getting what they paid for. The detail level Leondra the leader went in to prepare for an encounter with such a pristine environment was extraordinary. When visiting the penguin colony, all guests must have their clothing decontaminated and the expected behavior of guests includes not approaching the penguins, not contaminating their environment, not disturbing them with sound or being in their “right-of-way” and much, much more.

I think it will be like the chance to go to the moon and can well understand why it is on many peoples’ bucket list. They even stamp your passport and sell you a t-shirt (hahaha). We are having more and more trouble transmitting from the ship and so this version of events is shorter than an earlier draft, but I need to try to communicate this much … that it is starting to get really primal in the sense that you are slipping the bounds of the continents and going far, far away.

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