Living in Florida, we were able to cruise around the world without taking a single airline flight. Our 113-Day World Cruise on the ms. Amsterdam was awesome. This cruise appealed to us because it visited Africa. Other exciting destinations were the Caribbean, Central America, French Polynesia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Philippians, Hong Hong, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka and several smaller island. All the extra entertainment, themed balls, Gala Dinners and give-aways, special gifts for each segment and higher quality food choices all made this World Cruise a special one for me. We saw so many wonders at exotic ports that I will never forget this voyage or, the guests and crew that I met on board.
Here's my cabin description.
Our stateroom, cabin #2599 was quite comfortable, bright and close to the mid ship elevators. We prefer being down low, mid-ship for more stability in case of rough seas. Our cabin had plenty of storage space for our belongings and all of our suitcases fitted under our beds. For the most part, the A/C, heating and water pressure worked fine throughout the cruise. Once we did have water intrusion that was corrected immediateThe one thing missing was a small fridge for my husband’s medication that needed refrigeration. He needed to go down often to the Medical Center to retrieve it. It also would have been nice to have a small night light in the bathroom.
4 out of 5
As soon as we arrived at the cruise terminal, we went through security and waited for approximately 20 minutes on the Check-In Line. We recognized many passengers from our previous Grand Cruise in 2014, World Cruise in 2016 and Voyage of the Vikings, 2017.
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
We chose Open Seating Dining and stayed with our servers and table throughout the voyage. The food onboard was excellent. We were so satisfied with the choices that we rarely went to the specialty restaurants unless we attended dinners with our group or dined with friends. I ordered the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail appetizer many times - it was always on the menu. However, I did think that the hot soups were overly salty so I only ordered the delicious cold fruit soups. A big change was that the Brunch Extravaganzas were eliminated. Instead there were Sunday Brunch Samplers on sea days that were a big hit with almost everyone. We did use our 2 Dinners For Two in the Pinnacle Grill - perks that came with our five star Mariner level. Food and service in the two specialty restaurants were impeccable. We always ate breakfast in the Lido and many lunches, too. Although the former cookouts on deck were discontinued by order of the Health Dept., they did hold the events in the Lido.
5 out of 5
There were a variety of activities on the ship during sea days and a limited number on port days. We attended all the insightful port talks by EXC Guide Barbara Haenni. Other knowledgeable lecturers spoke on a large variety of pertinent topics. Although I had pre-booked all my shore excursions, I attended all of Nyron Peter’s (Shore Excursion Manager) informative shore Excursion presentations. I really enjoying the morning, Coffee with Hanish, our congenial cruise Director. He interviewed everyone of interest on the ship; the Explorer’s Lounge was always packed. Instead of earning Grand Dollars as in the past, participants in various challenging activities earned points toward Amazon Gift Cards. In addition to the more typical activities, there were knitting, Morning Tai Chi, water color/painting, drawing classes, Bible Study, Jewish studies and so much more happening around the ship. There were also three clergy on board. I enjoyed the frequent America’s Test Kitchen presentations but was disappointed that we weren’t able to sample the prepared dishes. Some more unusual activities were The Four Points Pajama Party (celebrating passing the point where the Equator & Prime Meridian cross,) Academy Awards Ceremony, Super Bowl Party, Book Club, HAL Chorale, Special Interest Groups and Public Forum to name a few. Another highlight was the Passenger Talent Show. Even the Captain appeared on stage to execute a dance number with a special passenger that brought tears to everyone’s eyes. I regretted that I had to miss Archbishop Desmond Tutu appearance on board because of the a previously booked excursion. We all had a blast when the Carnival Corporation executives came on board for several days - there were cocktail parties and multiple colorful tubes of lights decorated public areas.
5 out of 5
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
cruise so special They were all accommodating, most friendly, helpful, caring, professional and personable. We all felt that they became members of our family from our cabin Steward, Augus & Yadi, to our dining room servers and staff, Itan, Assistant Dinning Room Manager, Eban, Server, his assistant Made, Sugi, Asst. Maitre D, & Pam, our Wine Steward. The wait staff in the Lido often found a vacant table for us & offered to carry dishes to the table for those needing help. If you forgot to get something, they brought it to you. They were polite, helpful and remembered you after a few days. They delivered beverages to passengers and offered to carry your food to your table. Lido tables were quickly cleared and reset. The front desk staff, Shore Excursion Staff and the Senior Officers were all friendly and helpful, too. The Master of the Vessel, Captain Jonathan even made a slight change in course at my husband’s suggestion and we all received a certificate for the Prime Meridian & Equator cross. What fun!
4 out of 5
The ship was very stable when the seas were choppy. The Queen's Lounge seating needs to be changed. It was difficult to see the stage if you were sitting on a sofa behind a taller chair,. This will be fixed in dry dock.
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
Bring a sweater with you when moving about the ship. The A/C is uneven in many areas.
We visited the Wildlife Rescue Center and La Ceiba Private Preserve. These are very popular attractions. We saw toucans, hawks, monkeys, sloths, tamanduas, anteaters, deer and parrots. The two attractions are adjacent to one another and well maintained. They are worth a visit.
We visited the new locks, watched a video of its construction at the Observation Center. We were lucky to watch a ship going through the locks Nuku Hiva We took a scenic drive through Taipivai Valley and visited the Te Aitua temple. We stopped at the Hooum black beach, also. The drive was very scenic and took about three hours with stops.
Drove around the east coast stopping at Point Venus. Then took a panoramic drive through valleys, stopping at viewpoints.Ate lunch at Gauguin's Resturant in the South. Visitwed the Spring Garden of Vaipahi. Stopped at Parpara Surf Beach. Drov3e back along the west coast.
Before taking a sunset boat ride on the Pearl of the Pacific in the lagoon, we first walked to the downtown area in the late afternoon to explore our surroundings on our own. The boat ride is highly recommended for the beautiful views from the water. Enjoy some champagne as you watch the sunset.
We took HAL's Island Discovery Tour, which was basically a panoramic drive. First we viewed the main sights and learned about the history & culture of the island. We drove through the main township of Avarua. We stopped was the National Museum and later traveled along the ancient Great Road of Toi. that circles the whole island. Next we visited Ngatangua Harbour, Avana Passage and the Seven Stones Monument. Later we viewed the oldest church on the island, Titikaveka Church
There were no tours here so we just explored the island on foot. It was a Sunday so nothing really was opened. A walk down to the beach was pretty steep and a bit treacherous, worth the climb down if you are agile.
We took Davonport & the North Shore excursion, a 4-hour tour with HAL. Devonport is a beautiful suburb with wonderful views of the city. After the city drive, we stopped on our own at a main street pub. We enjoyed a Guinness at an outdoor table with Canadian visitors who were sightseeing also - so much fun getting to know them. Later, we took the ferry back to the ship.
When in Rotorua, be sure to visit the Hell's Gate Geothermal Reserve and the Kakahi Falls - a large hot waterfall. If you have time, be sure to include a visit the Mitai Village for a guided tour, a wonderful Maori cultural performance with traditional costumes and a delicious buffet lunch.
The area is known for its Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon. On a private tour, we visited Mission Estates & Brookfields Vineyards. The owners were so friendly and we tasted four different wines at each winery. Wines are available for purchase. We stopped off in the Art Decor shopping area in town by ourselves to do some shopping and to see the beach. .
With a friend, we reserved an independent tour through Awesome Tours purchased over the Internet pre-cruise. Our terrific & friendly guide, Patrick took us into Dunedin for sightseeing & shopping. Later we had a personal tour of Larnach Castle and then a private tour of Otago Peninsula Yellow-Eyed Penguin Reserve. This was one of my best tours. Patrick was so accommodating & we met the owner of the company, Mark at our lunch stop.
Since we have visited Sydney several times previously, we took a tour of Tobruk Sheep Station & Outback Show. It was very entertaining & educational. The working farm is about an hour from Sydney by car. The visit includes an Australian BBQ lunch. Try your skill at whip cracking and boomerang throwing. On our second day in port, we visited Darling Harbor & three attractions located right at the harbor.
We visited Mt. Field National Park. The walk to Russell Falls was so tranquil and the falls were beautiful. Later we visited Meadowbank Estate Farm where we sampled their wines, watched sheep shearing and enjoyed a very delicious lunch with a glass of one of their wines. Before heading back to our ship, we made a stop at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary where I fed the wallabies and photographed the Tasmanian devils and other animals there. If you use a wheelchair, it will be too difficult to maneuver the uneven surfaces in the sanctuary.
Six of us rented a van and toured the island independently. First we stopped at Seal Bay Conservation Park for a walk down the boardwalk to the beach. There we saw plenty of sea lions sunning themselves on the sand and surfing in the water. There are platforms along the boardwalk to rest or take photos. If there is time, stop at Pennington Beach, a surf beach for a photo. Then we visited the Wildlife Park where we saw the feeding of the penguins and many other animals all in a natural setting
We had visited this city previously, so on this visit, we took a trip to Hanhdorf township which is a German settlement that dates back to 1839. On our way there, we stopped at a beautiful lookout spot, Mount Lofty, which had beautiful views of the city. The main street of Hanhdorf is lined with many boutiques, cafes and restaurants. A great place to shop and just stroll. We stopped in at a bakery on a side street that sold large German pretzels. We took ours outside and enjoyed them at one of the outside tables & chairs. A few establishments had live German music playing. It is a great place to enjoy a wonderful German lunch. Browse the lovely jewelry, pottery, art & leather goods stores as well as souvenir shops and more.
We took a wonderful tour to the Valley of the Giants. Walk along the raised Tree Top walkways through the forest canopy. The loop is around 600 yards. If you have time, take the Ancient Empire Trail and see the old red tinglewood trees that only grow here. We had lunch in a local restaurant and visited a local winery
We arrived in the afternoon and walked into town stopping in at the stores and church. Later that evening we went on a dinner cruise along Swan River. It was a beautiful sight to see the skyscrapers light up as night fell. On board, we enjoyed a delicious buffet meal with wines from Water's Edge Estate, local beers and soft drinks. There was also live entertainment and dancing. The crew was very friendly and accommodating. The following day we took a panoramic city tour of Fremantle & Perth taking in all the highlights of the two cities. One particular highlight was our stop at the lovely Kings Park - a botanic garden. Be sure to see the State War Memorial.
Here we took a private nine hour tour to Bale Kambang floating pavilion and the Kertagosa Royal Court of Justice. We continued on to the ancient Pura Kehen temple complex where we had a guided tour. Later, we visited the walled mountain village of Tenganan. We learn how to weave Kamberi Grinsing the flaming cloth which is said to protect the wearer from evil. On our second day in Benoa, we took a 6-hour tour to the most popular Seminyak temple & Tanah Lot.
Here we cruised Honda Bay Island aboard a motorized banca. We stopped at two beautiful white sand beaches for a picnic lunch and swimming and snorkeling. The waters were calm, clear & warm. We took underwater photos with our Go Pro camera. I should warn you that it was a bit difficult to board & disembark the bancas. If you have aqua shoes bring them or wear the ones provided. You will need them. On our way home we stopped to shop in the marketplace near the ship.
This was my first visit to the Philippines. We were here for two days. On day 1, we toured Old Manila. Our first stop was historic Rizal Park & the walled city of Intramuros. Then we took a walking tour of Fort Santiago. At Manila Cathedral we admired the magnificent architecture, the stone carvings, stained glass mosaics and rosette windows. Next we toured Casa Manila, a reconstructed mansion. There was time to walk across the street to the oldest structure here, San Augustin Church built in 1571. On day 2, we visited Modern Manila on a 4-hour tour with a drive through the Cultural Center of the Philippines. We saw the Philippines International Convention Center & the Folk Arts Theater. Watch for the Coconut Palace - a building made mostly of coconut material. After a drive through the financial and commercial center, we visited the Ayala Museum. The dioramas really captured my interest.
Since we have been here before, we bought a 2-day pass on the Big Red Bus - a hop on, hop off bus. We used the included ferry ticket to access the red & green lines. The next day we rode the blue line to the International Commerce Center. We used the included ticket to visit Sky 100 a tower with an observation deck and beautiful views of the city. Later we shopped in the mall and then walked to the harbor area before returning to our ship.
Here we saw plenty of neglected colonial buildings in the rural township of Ba Ria. We visited a Buddhist Temple and stopped at a local marketplace where prices were quite reasonable & bargaining is accepted. We continued on to another lovely Buddhist temple and then to a local 100-year old Vietnam house. We were served some fruit and a potent moonshine rice wine. made right there on the property. Stepping outside we were invited to try our hand at making rice paper. Then we visited a charming Coa Dai temple, a fusion of many different religions.
We took an interesting tour of the Gardens by the Bay & Marina Bay Observation Deck. The gardens were stunning with a large collection of rare plants under a huge dome. The Flower Dome, our next stop, was another beauty to behold. Finally we visited the Cloud Forest with its 115-foot mountain & the world's largest waterfall. We then headed over to the Marina Sands Observation Deck for a spectacular view of Singapore - not to be missed. We had a perfectly clear day to enjoy the view. Our tour ended with a enjoyable riverboat ride along the Singapore River. Although I have taken this ride at least twice previously, it was still a wonderful part of the tour. On our way back to the ship, we left the tour at Chinatown and browsed the shops for several hours making several purchases. Chinese tea is a nice purchase for friends or family back home. The cab ride back to the ship cost $10 USD. The following day we took a 4-hour trip to Jurong Bird Paradise. I wished that we had more time to spend here. Enjoyed seeing all the macaws, flamingos, penguins and many more birds and other animals. A tram takes you around the park.
Our 7 1/2 hour tour took us on a scenic drive by the ocean and our first stop was Promthep Cape. From the top of the hill is a view of the rocky shoreline & the coastline. Next we visited the island's famous Wat Chalong temple. In Phuket town, we visited the main shopping center. Later we visited Phuket Thai Village and watched a marvelous cultural dance show with pretty costumes. We enjoyed a wonderful buffet meal at the village.
We have been here before so we took the 9-hour Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage tour. It was a long ride out here & back to the ship. You can take a train or a motor Coach to get here. What fun to have the elephants come right over to us searching our pockets and bags for food. It was fun watching the elephants playing & bathing themselves and we were invited to feed them bottles of milk later. We enjoyed a buffet lunch riverside.
We took a most scenic mountain drive, first driving through the smallest capital city in the world, Victoria. We passed several colonial-era buildings. I enjoyed seeing the silver Clock Tower, too. This is a replica of the one in London by Victoria Station. We passed lots of wooden homes with tin roofs and iron balconies. We stopped in the Botanic Gardens with its many unusual trees and plants. I took a photo of the giant tortoises and the view from the overlook of the City and port. We later stopped at Mission Lodge.
Our first stop was at the Railroad Station with it's bronze dome. We were not permitted to enter - just photograph. After a short stop at the nearby market, we headed to Maputo Fort, then on to Independence Square. See the statues of the presidents. the cathedral, city hall & the cultural center. Quite unusual is the house made completely of iron. We all enjoyed an excellent buffet lunch at a local hotel another highlight of our visit to Maputo Test you bargaining skill at another local market. We bought tee shirts here for a very good price.
This was our favorite port on this cruise. The tour of Cape of Good Hope was stunning as we drove through the seaside suburbs of Sea Point, Bantry Bay and Clifton taking the Chapman Peak Drive. We passed the suburb of Scarborough as we headed to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Preserve. We enjoyed a delicious lunch on Boulder Beach. A highlight of this excursion was our visit to the penguin colony a short walk from the restaurant. What fun it was to see so many penguins surrounding the boardwalk where we stood watching them. If you love penguins, you will love this stop. Although our arrival was late, were able to take the funicular up to the lighthouse but had to walk down, which was not really a tough descent. It was too late to take the tour of the Botanic Gardens but we had seen so many gardens already on other excursions. As we headed for the ship, we passed the University of Cape Town and Grotte Schuur Hospital. We caught a magnificent sunset on the return trip. The next day visited the Aquila Game Reserve for a day safari into the desert of Karoo to see the game animals. Along with the animals we saw wetlands, a mountain range and three beautiful valleys. After a welcome drink, in the reception area, we set out in 4x4 safari vehicles to locate herds of zebras, giraffes, lions, hippos, elephants, crocodiles. flamingos and many bird species. After our ride, we enjoyed a delicious buffet on the property with time to shop in the gift shop and around the reserve. The following day we took a ride to Table Top Mountain driving through the city to the Cableway Station. Here we took an exciting rotating cable car up the mountain. You can stay on the mountain as long as you. After enjoying the view we descended on the cable car and returned to our ship driving along the beaches.
We took a marvelous private tour to Swakopmund, stopping to shop at two places, then enjoyed an excellent luch in a local hotel
5 out of 5
With police escorts, our caravan of vans drove along Marginal Bay stopping at Igreje de Senhora de Nazare and later the Iron Palace. At the Angolan National Museum of Anthropology, we saw many interesting exhibits. We then headed over to the San Miguel Fort for a private tour & photographs. Nearby be sure to see the obelisk a mausoleum of Agostinho Neto, Angola's first president. We then drove through the lovely Upper Town, a suburb to see the Presidential Palace and other notable building. If possible stop at the beautiful Catholic Igreja de Jesus Church before heading back to the downtown area to view other important building. Our final stop was at the large marketplace.
5 out of 5
Our first stop was at the National Museum, then we drove through the city with a long stop at the busy marketplace. Continuing we our drive, we stopped at Arch 22 for photos then visited the town of Serre-Kunda. It was fun to watch the tie-dying skills of the locals and many of us purchased the colorful fabrics. In Bakau, we stopped for liquid refreshments, then headed to the Tourist Market to sharpen our negotiating skills. Lastly, we stopped at Katchically Crocodile Pool. I see many crocs here in Florida so it wasn't a big thing for me but the guided tour was interesting.
5 out of 5
After a sightseeing drive through town, we stopped for a visit at the Cathedral and passed by the Great Mosque. We took photos of the University of Dakar before stopping for a presentation of sand painting - a good place to pick up art work for souvenirs. Another place is the Soumbedioune Handicraft Village. As you drive along the coastal road see a huge contrast between poor residential areas and more upscale ones. Stop at the impressive African Renaissance Monument & climb to the top for a magnificent view of the surrounding area. Take a photo of the nearby lighthouse. There are small vendor at the base of the statue. The Deity Mosque is a worthwhile visit. After a buffet lunch under a tent in the sand and a live show performance, we changed to 4x4s for a 1 1/2 hr. tour of the Pink Lake of Retba. Workers gather the crust of salt at the bottom of the lake & the local women carry it out from the boats in baskets on their heads to sell it to salt companies. The lake is surrounded by foam and the pink color is quite unusual. Our visit to the Fulani Village out in the bush was unbelievable. The chief gave us a tour of the small community and we all felt a desire to leave a donation to help the villagers. Most of us found something to buy, too. They had so little but were happy people.
Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde
5 out of 5
Drive to the village of Santo Domingo to shop the local arts & crafts cooperative.. Next visit the Cape Verdean Botanic Garden in Sao Jorge dos Orgaos. Take a scenic drive through many small villages to Assomada to shop in the largest wholesale market and visit the city center with its churches, shops & Portuguese-style buildings. See more of the landscape of the area on your drive to Tarrafel for an important stop at the concentration Camp, not my favorite place to see.
Since we have been here many times, we just took the complimentary trolley around the Old San Juan.. We did some shopping in the shops of Old San Juan.Then we walked down to the harbor looking at the ships in port & doing some shopping. This area has recovered from the hurricane, at least.
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