The HAL Amsterdam is a midsize ship carrying 1380 passengers and 615 crew. She is 62,735 gross tons, 760 feet in length and has a top speed of 22.5 knots. The CDC rated her 94 points in a recent inspection. She survived the long voyage without a case of Noro-virus which is amazing and rare with HAL ships.
This is our seond time to board the Amsterdam. What attracted us had been her unique itinerary. She offered ports like Manila Philippines,Rabaul, Papua, New Guinea,Guadalcanal,Solomon Islands, Vanuato and the Marquesas, new countries by sea for us.
The Americans and Japanese fought intensely for Henderson field in Guadalcanal during WW2. Part of the field is now occupied by the Honaira airport and the rest is rusty barbwire and razor grass. Vanuato is the source of prime kava root. The natives here still practice cargo cult where they create airplane replicas wth straw and worship them for material wealth. Paul Gaugin is buried in the Marqesas where Herman Melville and Thor Heyerdal wrote their their first book.
The port of Manila gave the ship a grand reception. Folk dancers in lavish custumes danced to the music of native musicians and welcoming crowds waved Filipino flags. A group of Filipino orphans perform[ng at one of the ship lounges brought the house down to a sro audience.
Captain Fred, Master of the Amsterdam stood in line at the Lido with the passengers for his favorite lunch of sushi,sashime(raw fish) and rice. Captain Fred a tall unassuming man is no stranger to the sea. As a young man he had sailed with his father also a sea Captain.
The Lido is a causal buffet style cafeteria that serves hot and cold food. The stations offer oriental stir-fry, a sandwich, omelet.a cutting board and hot international foods.
The dining room cuisine has superb choices like ribeye, lobster, baramundi and escargo. Shrimp cocktail and salmon are always available, Filipino and Indonesian dishes are part of the menu. Various desserts and pastries are elegantly served.
The wait staff come from Indonesia. The cooks,pastry bakers.beverage, technical, security and office workers come from the Philippines. The ship's crew is very friendly and make it a point to remember your name. They often anticipate your food preferences.
Our cabin located amidship had a good view of the ocean despite overlooking the lower promenade deck. Budi and Raschid our Indonesian stewards kept the room squeaky clean.
The library had a full time librarian and confortable seating. Most of the passengers had i-pads and kindles loaded with e books. Internet cost 75 cents per minute and 25 cents per page for printing. It was not only pricey but unreliable at best. Once the ship docks passengers make a beeline for WiFi that cost a dollar per hour or free from most coffee shops ashore.
After flying 20 hours to Singapore, we waited 4 hours for a paid transfer to the ship that did not arrive. We finally took a taxi to the pier that cost us less than the one arranged by the cruise line.
The passengers are served breakfast at the Lido and the main dining room before disembarkation. They are also allowed to use their cabins while waiting to depart