Saturday, April 5, 2014

Report # 97 Sailing Towards Jamestown, St. Helena April 5, 2014 Saturday Mostly sunny, 72 degrees

It was great to sleep in this morning, and having breakfast at 9am. Even though the sun was out, the breeze was cool as we took a nice, long walk on deck three. Of course, we are still working on photos from the safari. And we still are encountering problems with the internet. More times than not, the wifi shuts down, but you think you are online, because the minutes continue to tick away. Then trying to log off, the system will not allow it, ticking off more minutes. The staff has been very cooperative in replacing lost minutes with us filling out a form to be reviewed. They can check it on their master computer, and know if they were having problems at the time we indictated. Sure hope this gets figured ut someday soon, because it takes all the fun out of emailing.

A new speaker joined the ship in Cape Town by the name of Dan Benedict. He will be speaking on astronomy, specifically the stars and the planets as we see them from the decks of the Amsterdam. We did hear by the grapevine, that his talks were a tad bit boring. On the other hand, John Palmisano, the animal expert, agreed to stay onboard because a new speaker failed to make it to the ship on time. Lucky for us, because his talk will be all about seabirds, a favorite subject of ours.

A newly-embarked guest chef joined the ship too. She is Paulette Mitchell and her son Brett. She is an author of 13 cookbooks among other accolades, and will give a demo on African cuisine while we are in the area on this part of the cruise. We know her from previous trips, and have learned a lot from watching her demos on our room TV.

During his daily talk, Captain Jonathon had a surprising announcement. Due to the ebola scare in West Africa, an almost always fatal viral disease, the ports of Gambia and Senegel have been cancelled. Ascension Island has also been eliminated, although we do not know the reason behind that. The Captain said he would not put any passenger or any of his crew in any possible danger. We have a feeling that the folks in Seattle had a bigger say in this descision as well. So did the CDC, Center for Disease Control. What will replace those missed ports? We will be visiting Praia, Santiago Island in Cape Verde for one day, have an extra day in Mindelo, Cape Verde, and visit St Lucia on April 23. The rest of the ports will remain the same...Barbados, Dominica, and St. Maartin will be the last ports before we reach Ft. Lauderdale. All of the tours booked for the cancelled ports will be credited back to our accounts, and we will not need to spend money for visas for Gambia ($55.per person) and Senegel ($100. per person). Is everyone happy about this change in itinerary? In a word.....NO. To be perfectly honest, we had a gut feeling about the West African ports from the beginning. After hearing first-hand reports about the conditions in both places, we wondered why HAL even put them on the list of ports. Three years ago Keith and Margaret had stopped in both places, and said that fruit was thrown at their bus as they left the tour. Not a great welcome at all. However, we are not happy about the cancellation of Ascension Island, as we see no logical reason not to stop. Last year, we could not tender into the island's landing, due to high waves, but that is no excuse for this year. Hope they reconsider, and try it anyway. Anyway, stuff happens, and sometimes for a good reason.

While working in our room, we were happy to see that the Soweta Gospel Choir's performance while we were gone was televised and repeated for us to hear and see. They were really professional dressed in their native costumes, singing African melodies.

Bill got another haircut in the spa by a new gal that joined in Cape Town. She did a better job than the first girl, and this should last until he gets home in May.

Dinnertime arrived when we were still busy in our room. There were only 5 of us, and finally 6 when Maureen joined us at dessert time. She always brings her questions and answers from the afternoon trivia game, and tests our minds after we finish dessert. Sometimes we get them, but most times, we are stumped. Fun, anyway.

Some good news....the clocks went back one hour tonight for a much needed extra hour of sleep.

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