Day 26 – Sunday, January 30 – At Sea

We had another great day at sea today. We have actually come to look forward to a break from the hectic routine of port days. The sea days give us a chance to catch up on our rest, relax, and attend some of the special classes and presentations. We especially needed a rest day today. Last night after a full day in Ilheus we again moved our time ahead by one hour. Currently we are operating 3 hours ahead of EST. In addition; tomorrow we arrive in Rio de Janeiro. We will be entering the harbor at daybreak, a sight that is not to be missed. Supposedly a sail in at Rio is one of the most beautiful in the world. This former capital of Brazil is situated around a spectacular natural harbor ringed by beautiful and famous beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema. We plan to be on deck at about 5:45 AM and should have about one and one-half hours of “sight-seeing” prior to docking. HAL is providing early morning coffee and sweet rolls on deck. So, I need to get to bed a little early tonight. We will be spending two full days in Rio.

Kay spent some time today talking with the H. Stern representative onboard. She explained her interest in gems from her work at the Tellus museum. He provided her with a beautiful book, and informed her that when we visit the showroom in Rio to ask to visit the Museum. It apparently is not “open” for walk in visits, but they are happy to arrange tours. It not only includes a lot of historical information on gem mining in Brazil but also H. Stern’s private gemstone collection. The showroom is located in the Ipanema Beach area so we plan to do a little sightseeing while there. On Tuesday we have arranged for a private van and driver for the day. We plan to hit all the major tourist attractions, Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain and of course Sugarloaf Mountain with its cable car.

Today was spent reading, eating and relaxing. The only “organized activities” I participated in today was “Good Morning Prinsendam “a continuation of the interview with Carme, who I mentioned in an earlier post. Carme is quite a fascinating person. He has been Las Vegas entertainer most of his life. He is definitely Italian with “family ties”. Carme has worked with all the Vegas greats, Dino, Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., etc., etc. He also has had monor parts in many movies. He shared with us today many photographs and told some fascinating stories of the trials and tribulations throughout his career.

In the afternoon I went to an informal gathering to talk about coffee. David Pengelly, the entertainer from last night (who was quite good), is not only a coffee lover, but has a roasting company. It was most informative and interesting. David only lives about an hour south of Atlanta and he invited me to come down sometimes and he would show me his roasting process. This I will definitely do.

The dining room staff decorated the ship for CARNIVAL. Bright banners and streamers were everywhere and the staff and many of the crew were dressed in Rio Carnival costumes. After dinner each guest was presented with a Carnival mask. I expect the grandchildren will enjoy these! The meal was outstanding as always. My appetizer tonight was a small salad containing calamari, shrimp and scallops with a delicious dressing. This was followed by a seafood bisque and finally grilled swordfish. Dessert was coconut custard. I almost had an entirely seafood dinnerJ.

 

 

Our wine steward with some of the decoration in the background

After diner entertainment tonight was a return of Lee Bradley and Simone Welsh, it was a two part show of outstanding music. They will each be departing in Rio to return home. Lee hales from England and Simone from Scotland. David Pengelly is also leaving in Rio to return to Atlanta. We have enjoyed all of their performances and wish them all a safe return home.

When we arrived back in the room tonight, we found another gift from HAL. We each received a very nice money belt/pouch, with the Grand Voyage South America Antarctica 2011 logo. The little gifts received are always a pleasant surprise and generally very useful. I can’t remember but I guess we have received five or six gifts each so far on the cruise.

Just for information— anyone in trying to communicate with Janet, she is having difficulty with her email. She can receive but has been unable to send. She’s not really ignoring youJ.

Now for a couple of responses to questions asked on the blog.

Comment:

Have you eaten any interesting or unusual foods in any of the cities you have visited?

Hi Carol,

Actually, we have eaten very little in the cities we have visited (unless you count the beer). I have had a few local fish dishes, but as a rule we have been discouraged from partaking in local foods at the ports along the Amazon. You might remember an episode I talked about a few weeks ago of GI problems. The ship felt sure the culprit was traced back to food someone consumed ashore in the Amazon and the bug was propagated onboard. Fortunately it was quickly contained with avid disinfection and special short-term procedures. We have now reached an area where I am sure we will be sampling more local foods, but the problem is the ship’s food is so good and plentiful; it is hard to pass up the known for the unknown.

 

Comment:

Hi Wendell,

Great, great post today. Deb and I really enjoyed it.

The photos are amazing!

Is that Brad in one of the photos.

Of all your ports you’ve visited so far IN BRAZIL what would you rank as your top 4 ports (in order). Also what has been your best tours you’ve done.

As always we’re very grateful for all your efforts. It looks like you’re really enjoying yourself.

Thanks,

Paul

Hi Paul,

To my knowledge Brad wasn’t in any of the photos. I’ll take his photo for you however if you want me toJ.

I asked the group about your question this evening at dinner. Our unanimous opinion of the Brazil ports so far is:

Salvador
Ilheus
Maceio
Boca de Valeria (the village)

I can’t say that I could actually rank these in any particular order. Each one has its own charm which makes it special. The one thing you might notice is that except for Boca de Valeria, all of these are on the coast and NOT on the Amazon. We could not rank any of the cities we visited on the Amazon as favorites. Please understand, we are glad we visited them, but they are not the kind of cities you would normally want to make a designated trip to for a holiday. By most western standards, they are dirty, unkempt, and unsafe. By contrast, the Atlantic coast cities are much nicer, cleaner and generally safer.

That said, our best tour was in Macapa. Well, not actually in Macapa, but from Macapa. This was the Anaconda Tour we had arranged with the Cruise Critic group. We were never in the city, just on the river. It was a fantastic tour.

And finally, yes we are enjoying ourselves. It is incredible that we have been on this ship already for almost four weeks. The time has flown by. To my knowledge I haven’t heard any fellow passengers complaining that the cruise is too long or boring. And the best parts are yet to come; Uruguay, Falkland Islands, Antarctica, Patagonia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and the Panama Canal.

 

Comment:

Hi Wendell!

We are loving being able to travel along with you through your blog. Thank you SO much for sharing! Tony and I have never been able to consider group travel like this because of dietary issues (gluten-free, specifically). I’m drooling over the food and then I think, “this is why we could never do this—nothing would be safe for us to eat!” With all the impressive service HAL offers, have you seen or heard anything regarding the accommodation of special diets?

The scout photo was a big plus! Hope you continue your travels in excellent health.

Hi Marge, good to hear from you.

It is my understanding that HAL can and will accommodate almost any special diet. I am sure gluten-free would not be a problem. One of the specific questions asked is about any special food restrictions. I am sure you could call a HAL representative and get the information. When I get back I will be happy to supply you with my Travel Agents number if you like. They are the largest booker of HAL cruses and I am sure they could give you the information.

Wendell

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