Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Report # 87 Sailing Towards Durban, South Africa March 26, 2014 Wednesday Partly cloudy, 79 degrees

As the Amsterdam made her way around tha southern tip of the island of Madagasgar, the temperatures have dropped to a much more comfortable degree.79 to be exact. It sure made life easier as we walked this morning. Many more passengers have come outside to relax on the teak chairs. Honestly, some stay all day. The only sealife we have seen are very small flying fish. No birds.

We took some time to pack a few essentials for the upcoming trip. It brought back memories of past excursions we have done in Africa. The best were in 2009, while sailing on the Rotterdam's world cruise. That was the year we stopped at Mombasa, Kenya, for an overnight stay. We joined several members of our travel group, and went to Tsavo East, where we saw every plains animal like the elephants, zebra, antelope, giraffees, wildebeest, wart hogs, and lions. The second area we flew to was Zambia/Zimbabwe and Botswana. We stayed at a lodge at Victoria Falls, enjoyed a sundowner cruise on the Zambize River, and rode elephants the following day. Chobe in Botswana was our next stop, which we reached by car and boat across the river. It was there that we boarded a boat to see the wild river animals like the hippos, crocs, and numerous birds. A safari by Landrover followed the banks of the river. It was there we saw elephants, kudu, antelope, zebras, and giraffees.

Last year, we had the luck of picking an excellent camp near Kruger Park. We spent five days and four nights at a family-owned lodge, where we did two game drives every day, along with daily nature walks with armed guides. We saw the "big five" as well as every other African animal you can name. We lucked out last year, because it had rained almost every day the week before we arrived. Despite a few muddy puddles, we were able to make every game drive. We do hope for the same conditions this year, as this is the same place we are going to once again. We know the drill, or the routine now, and what to expect. And today we start the malaria meds, which we will continue to take until all 30 pills are gone. Can't wait.

Today's activities included a Mongolian Cookout in the Lido pool area. Lots of folks like the venue, and this must be the fourth one they have done so far on this cruise. In addition to this food fest, they had a Lido Pool Party which included happy hour drink specials (select beverages), games, and plenty of DAM dollars to be given away.

Barbara H. gave a talk on Durban, and one of the guest speakers lectured on marine reptiles. We did catch most of his talk on TV, and found it really interesting and informative. The Bucket List was shown in the Wajang Theater.

After spending a short time outside by the pool, we went down to watch a movie in our room. It was an older movie with Steve Martin, who adopted a 2 year old orphan girl. The title was A Twist of Faith, and we highly recommend it.

It was Dutch Night in the dining room , and it was also formal. We also had company...two ladies we know well from previous cruises, Ellen W. and Sue A. It is a funny thing about those who eat on deck five at the same dining time as us. You seldom ever see them. So it was our pleasure to share an evening with them. Maureen had come up with a trick to play on our guests. We rehearsed around five questions from trivia so we would all know the answers, beating the girls to the punch. The only thing was they were almost as fast as we were in answering. Hard to fool the smart ones....

While chatting with Ellen and Sue, we learned a little more about the Mariner Appreciation Days coming up after the ship leaves Durban. There will be a few lunches in the Crows Nest, but those will be for the people that have 850 days and higher. The President Club members will have a dinner in the Pinnacle Grill with the esteemed guests. The rumor mill has it that in lieu of the big cocktail party, a donation will be given to Tutu's charity. To start with the donation theme, there will be a silent auction held tomorrow in the atrium on deck five. Some of the things to be bid on are two tickets for a shore excursion in Cape Town, cooking classes, dance lessons, a monogrammed bathrobe, and a complimentary drinks with our cruise director and hotel manager. The ship's shops have gotten into the mix offering a globe, free photos and DVD's, casino packages, and some wine packages.

And the clocks went back one hour again tonight.

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