Friday, January 28, 2011

Aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

When I woke-up this morning, I looked out from our verandah windows and we were still at sea. I spotted a ship parallel to our position and determined it was the Ruby Princess. What fun it is to see other cruise ships at sea in their element, doing what they were built to do…cruising. Today we arrived into St Maarten. The sun was bright and the weather was clear. The Ruby Princess docked at about the same time the Nieuw Amsterdam was easing up to the dock, so I got some great pictures. Having been to St Maarten many times, as much as I wanted to go somewhere, my family decided they wanted a relaxing day on the ship so we did just that and stayed aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam. I did go ashore to take some pictures and video, but for most of the day I worked on producing some video content and taking pictures. My son wanted to swim in the pool so we went to the midship pool on the Lido Deck and he swam for a couple of hours, while my wife and I enjoyed a relaxing time in the sun on a lounger.

I didn’t mention this but yesterday, Tuesday night my wife and I ate in the Pinnacle Grill. What a treat it is to dine is such an exquisite environment. My wife had the steak and I had the salmon. I like this Pinnacle Grill because it has chandeliers and a very classy décor. Of course for a steak house or grill restaurant, the Pinnacle Grill is comparable to some of the finest restaurants in a metropolitan city. My son would rather eat in the Lido every night if he could, so that’s what we did with him, he had Pizza and then checked into Club Hal while his mother and I had a date in the Pinnacle Grill.

This evening we somewhat repeated our routine from the previous night. My son ate at the Lido then checked into Club for an evening of fun activities, while my wife and I joined a small group of people for the Chef’s Table in the Pinnacle Grill. This was a three-hour plus event with eight different courses and a choice wine to go with each course. It was a set menu that was created by the famous Chef Rudi and prepared by Chef Biplab Mondal. I think everyone particularly enjoyed the Frappe of Lobster and Porcini Bisque…wow what an amazing taste! The Goose Liver, Mache, Avocado, Raspberry Kaffir Vinaigrette was interesting because I wouldn’t normally care for liver, but it didn’t have that liver taste. The liver had a rich and exquisite fatty texture that is considered a delicacy and is very expensive. The main course was veal, or more specifically, Duo of Veal “Maitre Cusinier de France” – Black Truffle, Pearl Onion and Puree Artichokes. We were served a fine wine for each course with an explanation from the head wine steward. The eight-course dinner event ended with super fine chocolates and a choice of coffee or tea. The tea options were brought out in a beautiful wood case that was illuminated from inside displaying the different raw tea flavors. Along with excellent conversation was exquisite dinning that made for a wonderful evening event.

I sat in on some of the big show tonight featuring the Garage Band singers and dancers. This show was pretty typical of what I have seen on just about every major cruise ship. It’s nice to sit and watch these beautiful women sing and dance and the guys of course look like they walked out of a fashion magazine.

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Today we arrive in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and we have elected to go on a special shore excursion to see the rain forest. I have been to San Juan about fifty times, but I have never been to the rain forest so this was a special day. We brought our son on this excursion. My son didn’t want to go to the rain forest tour because he thought it would be boring. I made him go and he loved it. My wife and I enjoyed it too. It was about an hour drive to get to the rain forest and we made several stops, one at a nature center, another stop at a tower where you can get a great view above the trees and then we walked on a trail into the rain forest where the Red Trees were, and finally we made a quick stop to see a water fall. We learned a lot about the rain forest from our guide and even my son enjoyed himself, so this tour was a big success! I didn’t realize there were over 225 species of tress and thousands of species of plant vegetation. Because this is a rain forest, this area gets a lot of rain and produces a lot of water too as a result of the thick vegetation. It’s a complicated eco-system and I have acquired a deepened respect for the rain forest. I was so thrilled that my son enjoyed this tour. The last time we were in San Juan as a family we explored the forts and did a huge amount of walking, so this visit to the rain forest was a great family excursion option.

Today after our rain forest tour my wife and son boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam while I walked over to see the Club Med 2 which is the world’s largest sailing vessel. The “Bounty” was also in port today. This old vessel is a re-creation of the original Bounty used for movies like Mutiny on the Bounty and Pirates of the Caribbean.

The rest of the afternoon my son played in the pool and my wife enjoyed some lounging in the sun time. I have a tough time just sitting while I’m on a cruise like this because for me, this is a working trip and I have so much to do with interviews and capturing video and taking pictures, that it is really challenging for me to just sit and relax. As much as I’d like to just lay in the sun and do nothing, my brain is telling me to get this picture or that video or that audio clip. Don’t get me wrong, I am completely enjoying this cruise and it is particularly rewarding for me to get the video and pictures.

During our tour of the Rain Forest my son found a friend to play with so we went to dinner with this little boy and his parents. A cruise is also a great way to meet nice people and make new friends. So our kids can eat together we all decided to dine in the more casual environment of the Lido Café. After dinner we went to the show together. The show tonight was Andy James, a comedy magician. Having worked on the ships as a magician myself, it’s always fun to watch another magician perform. I happen to usually watch with a critical eye, however; I enjoyed the performance.

Access America, Sea-Band, Victorinox Swiss Army, The Cruise Web

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