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Cruise Diary: Off to the Amazon River We Shall Go!

HAL blogger Gary Frink is currently sailing on board Prinsendam’s 24-day Amazon River and Caribbean adventure and will be sending in cruise diaries throughout his time on board. Here is his first entry!

“Watch out for the piranhas.” “Don’t drag your hand in the water.” “Be careful of the alligators,” are the range of comments by friends and family when they learn that Jeanne and I were set to embark on a 24-day Amazon River and Caribbean adventure aboard Holland America’s Prinsendam.

This Fort Lauderdale round-trip HAL voyage is not your usual sun and surf Caribbean Island float, with overnight sails between a string of islands and a couple of days at sea on each end. The capstone of this HAL voyage is a 2,000 mile, eight day round-trip incursion in and out of the Amazon River. We will stop at three towns on our way to Manaus, a city of two million, where we will spend the better part of two days. As we retrace our way back to the Atlantic Ocean passengers will have the opportunity to explore two more river towns.

With headwaters in the Peruvian Andes, the Amazon River is over 4,000 miles long; it has 1,000 known tributaries; of these, 17 are at least a thousand miles long. Those are staggering stats. Here are more: The Amazon River basin covers 2.5 million square miles, encompassing two thirds of the South American land mass and touching nine nations. Brazil, of course, is the largest country in South America (larger than the continental U.S.) and the country containing the most of the Amazon rain forest; it makes up 54% of all the rain forests remaining on earth. The Amazon dumps into the Atlantic 15% of the fresh water spewed into global seas and oceans combined from all of the world’s rivers; its muddy water plume can be seen 100 miles distant from its Atlantic entrance. The mouth of the river is so vast that it has an island in the middle of it almost the size of Switzerland.

On November 5, 1912, Teddy Roosevelt lost his quest for a third presidential term as the Bull Moose candidate, split the Republican vote, defeated Taft and as a result, elected Democrat Wilson. The defeat put the Rough Rider into a deep funk. After a lifetime of frenetic action, purposeful, hyper-adventure would be the only antidote to his depressive state. On October 18, 1913, Roosevelt’s chartered ship, the Vandyck, landed in Bahia, Brazil. It offloaded the two-term president, his entourage and five tons of baggage. His life-threatening caper to traverse the unexplored Amazon tributary, The River of Doubt, had begun.

Jeanne and I don’t aspire to board the Prinsendam with five tons of baggage or spend months attempting to kill ourselves fighting off disease and Indian warriors while traversing an unpredictable, raging river. That stated, our check list of to-do items before beginning the two day drive south; medications and vitamins; clothing and shoes; gadgets (cameras, binoculars); protective stuff like slickers and bug repellant, to pack and bring with us has ballooned to over 70 notations.

While Teddy Roosevelt tested his endurance while facing the dangers and endless rain of an uncharted Amazon tributary, Jeanne and I will give in to the luxury afforded us by Mother Holland America: a balcony cabin, with twice daily service, three varied, multi-choice and delicious meals each day (and room service availability if one’s need is 5-6000 calories a day). We will enjoy evening show extravaganzas and daily lectures that Teddy would have envied. There will be six formal nights that Jeanne and I will dress up for and the dinner menu will be a bit more splendid as well. Teddy would have scoffed at our panty waist-luxury, and he would be correct. He went down the Amazon his way; we have selected the Holland America way, thank you very much.

  • Richard

    if I remember correctly Teddy caught the diesese that eventually killed him on his Amazon journey. Perhaps he should of done it the Holland America way. Lords knows when it is this Holland American employees turn, I will be more than happy to do it the HAL way. 🙂

  • guy

    thanks for the interesting reading. Mom and I are headed that way in jan when the prinsendam goes around south america and touches antarctica for the grand voyage.

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