Friday, January 28th, 2011
We had some sea time this morning on our way to Grand Turk before arriving at 10:30am. I have never been to this little island of Grand Turk in the Caicos so I was looking forward to the visit. Again we chose an excursion that I thought my family would enjoy called the Horseback Riding and Swim Adventure. It almost seemed like the captain was taking the Nieuw Amsterdam right onto the beach, because the pier and the berth was so close to the beach. You could nearly see the whole island from the top decks of the massive Nieuw Amsterdam, in fact the ship was without question the largest man-made land-based structure within about a three hundred mile radius, except for other ships. Throughout this cruise we have been shadowed by another big cruise ship, the Ruby Princess, and she docked again next to us in Grand Turk.
I took care of some video work and sound, then we got ready as a family to leave the ship and go on our horseback riding excursion that departed at 11:30am. It was a perfect day with lots of sunshine and not too hot or humid. We got on a large van that took us to the southern tip of the island where our horses awaited us. After a short training session of how to ride the horses, one-by-one the guides selected various people from our group of eighteen people to saddle-up onto their horse. They made it really easy with a ramp that the horses would walk up to and we simply threw our legs over the top of the saddle and we were mounted to our horse, rather than trying to mount from the ground which could be challenging for some people, particularly if they had never ridden a horse before.
We rode along the sandy beach area in single file with several guides making sure the horses behave themselves. It was fun to watch a couple of the ponies running and playing freely around us. This was the first time my son had ever ridden a horse so it was a thrill for him, and I know he enjoyed it immensely. He will be talking to his friends about his horseback adventure when he gets back to school. After about a twenty-five minute ride we went back to the corral and dismounted from our horses so the guides could change the saddle for phase two of our horseback riding adventure. In smaller groups, the guides took our horses and us onto the beach and into the ocean. The horses ran in the ocean up to our knees. It was so refreshing, and as the horses powered through the water everyone seemed to get caught-up in the thrill. I almost fell off the horse when he was running through the ocean up to my knees. I'm glad I stayed on the horse and it's reassuring to know that if I did fall off and hurt myself, or anyone in my family was injured in some way...we were covered by Access America. Just saying, I did feel a peace of mind, especially when my son was on that horse that we would be taken care of in the event of some unforeseen accident or injury. There were several families with kids and all the kids had a great time, so I would recommend this excursion for families with kids.
It was a very special day in Grand Turk and there were many dignitaries there, but I didn’t find out about these festivities until later in the day. In the sea, not far from Grand Turk Island is where John Glenn the astronaut splashed down in his capsule in 1962. Carnival Corporation hired Mr Art Perper, with Perper Design to create an exhibit honoring the 1962 splash-down of the space capsule. I saw the replica of the capsule and the signage and thought it was well done, and then I just happened to be in the right place at the right time because along with the dignitaries milling around was Winston Scott, an actual astronaut from the shuttle missions. Winston was there to commemorate the launch of this new exhibit. It was an honor to meet him and ask him a few questions.
After a very nice day in Grand Turk, the ship departed around 5:30pm. I also had the privilege to interview Catherine Quinn who was a passenger as a little girl aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam from 1938. What nostalgic opportunity to meet this woman and hear her stories from when she crossed the Atlantic in 1938 aboard the second Nieuw Amsterdam. This evening my wife and I ate in the Canaletto restaurant to enjoy some Italian cuisine. Before our dessert came out they brought us a plate of pink fluffy cotton candy. My wife and I had a relaxing walk around the ship. I did take some photos and video, but we finally went our stateroom and turned in for the rest of the evening. Jacob finally met us in the stateroom after Club Hal finished their activities. We were all in bed by about 11:00pm.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
My favorite days during a cruise is when we are at sea, and today, our last day aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam, we have been at sea all day. Perfect weather and perfect temperatures have blessed us today during our last day of the cruise. Today we had a Q & A with the Captain and some senior staff onboard, and then we enjoyed a very privileged visit to the Bridge. Throughout this entire cruise I have tried to capture the audio of the ship’s whistle but was unable to be in the right place when the whistle was blown. While I was on the bridge I mentioned to the Captain my predicament and he ordered the Quarter Master to schedule a blast of the whistle precisely at 5:30pm. I waited on the highest deck forward just below the giant whistle, with my recorder in-hand, and sure enough, right at 5:30pm the whistle was blown and I captured the sound!
This evening we ate in the Manhattan Dinning Room as a family. I do have a couple observations about this dinning room. Both Terri and I agreed that it was very loud in the dinning room especially when it is full to capacity. I could hardly hear my wife speak across from me. We also feel that the service-level in the Manhattan Dinning Room was good but somewhat robotic and impersonal. We ate in the Manhattan Dinning Room twice and both times we had the same experience. Perhaps it was because we were registered for As You Wish Dinning and therefore didn’t have the same waiter consistently each evening. I think our level of service would have been different had we been in this dinning room each evening.
I’m not looking forward to getting off the ship tomorrow morning, because I feel like this trip was a lot of work and less play and relaxation. I have to apologize to my wife and thank her at the same time for truly being there for me when I needed her to help me with my video shoots. This week went by way too fast. Don’t get me wrong, although it was a lot of work and very busy, I was in my element and enjoyed every minute...I just wish I would have been able to set aside an entire day to do nothing. I am just so determined to produce quality video and content that I pushed myself throughout the entire cruise a little too hard. I do get a huge-level of satisfaction out of the final product when all the video is edited and the photos are posted and I can begin to pull together the multi-media package I have promised my sponsors and Holland America Line. Mission accomplished! My family had a nice time and some great experiences that will resonate in our memory for many years, and that is what counts the most to me.