Days 35-36, Feb. 9-10:
Each ship has a heart, the place where passengers gravitate to, perhaps to meet friends, or just to relax and be comfortable. That hub on the Amsterdam is the Explorations Café. Humberto and I went there often during our five days at sea sailing in the world’s largest body of water, the Pacific Ocean, from Punta Arenas, Chile, to Easter Island. We found at The Explorations Cafe all we needed to meet fellow passengers in a convivial atmosphere, relax, read and be comfortable. The attractive, expansive, ocean-view space is decorated with fine woods, floral arrangements and comfortable seating – including leather chairs with ottomans and sofas and easy chairs facing panoramic windows. It is easy to while a morning or afternoon away in one of those chairs with a good book and the beauty of the sea.
There is a café serving freshly roasted Italian coffee drinks – the mocha café is the most requested – and complimentary pastries are offered. Walls and walls are filled with well-stocked bookcases, reference materials and travel books. A giant globe in a corner invites study. The Explorations Café is staffed by two librarians, Dona and Emily, who address you by name and assist with finding just the right book and periodical. We have enjoyed several bestsellers and National Geographic magazines in total comfort. Puzzle lovers find a corner devoted to this pastime, and a wood-carved chess set is available for a friendly game. Other board games can be checked out. The Internet Café is also situated here, so it is easy to stay connected with the folks back home and do research in the ports of call. Free computer classes, including photo editing, movie making and sessions to make the most of your digital cameras, are available next door. We sampled these and found them to be excellent – and quite a bargain (on other ships we have sailed on there is a fee connected to similar classes, but here they are free!).
Another highlight: the Amsterdam’s cute “adopted” penguin sits proudly behind the librarian’s desk – and there’s exciting news on this front: our entry to the “Name Our Penguin” contest with the name “Bergy Bits Bernie” won the Grand Prize! We received a gift bag with Holland America logo caps, a tie and scarf, coasters, pins and other souvenirs. Runner-up names were: “Tuxedo Tex” and “Percival Penguin” and those entries also won prizes. Better yet, we also won the penguin itself, so Duffy, “our bear that went around the world” now has a constant companion in our travels.
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.