Monday, July 18, 2011


Returning to the Nieuw Amsterdam in Tunis

In Barcelona, Doc & I joined up with the RSVP cruise on a Holland America Cruise ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam on July 9th. This one-week cruise of the Western Mediterranean was our primary reason for the month in Europe.

The beauty of a cruise is that you check into the “hotel” and take the hotel with you to all these marvelous places. We unpack our bags in the stateroom and then visited four countries on two continents over 7 days! And what a week it’s been! We left Barcelona, traveled to Tunis in Northern Africa, then on to Sicily then Rome then Florence & Pisa & Lucca with a last stop in Marseille, France before returning to Barcelona.

The ship is over 11 stories tall with a passenger capacity of 2,500 and a crew of over 900. That’s a lot of people in one space! Before our fist excursion, I was dreading the dis-embarkation process with so may people on board. Holland America has it figured out. We met at the designated meeting site and within 10 minutes 400 passengers were on busses and we were on our way. Easy.

The only day we skipped the excursions was the day we docked in Rome. Doc & I spent a week in Rome some years ago and decided it wasn’t worth the 3 hours ride into Rome on a bus in 100+ heat. Besides, we’d been up until well after 1 AM and that 7 AM departure for Rome was just too early. Our day aboard ship sitting around the pool, sipping Bloody Mary’s and/or G&T’s was far more relaxing.

Everyone who has taken a cruise on one of the large cruise ships goes on & on about the food aboard ship. And with good reason: it is amazing. There is food available somewhere aboard ship at any hour of the day. Breakfast is from 5AM until noon. Lunch is from noon until 5PM and dinner begins at 5PM and goes on until 10 or 11PM. Then there are deserts from 10PM until 1AM with the midnight breakfasts available from midnight until 5AM. If you go hungry, it’s your own damned fault.

I vowed to gain not one ounce while on vacation. I don’t think I did on the cruise; however, I’m not weighing myself until I get home. Often during breakfast, would have a bowl of cottage cheese and a cup or two of tea. “That’s all you’re eating?!?!” Doc would ask. “Yeah. I’m full,” I’d reply. Doc would scowl. Just because it’s “free”, you don’t have to eat everything! And, to be honest, we did pay for all that food if you look at the cost of the cruise. I still don’t have to eat it all. I was content with my portion. I did not go hungry.

I did have my moments. There was sushi at lunchtime and there was tomato, cucumber & shrimp salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. Lethal. I went back for seconds on both and then thirds. I admit to an urge to waddle. One dinner, I selected two starters and seconds on the gazpacho. I skipped desert to compensate. The food is good on the Holland America Line. Yes.

The entertainment was just as good as the food. We were entertained by Chita Rivera, Bruce Valanche, Rosemary Ashe, Amy & Freddy, and the amazing Holland America ensemble. We enjoyed Amy & Freddy, enough to go to all three of their shows. Doc & I saw Chita Rivera in a one woman show about 20 years ago. She is 76 yrs old today and her voice is still wonderful although she’s slowing down and no longer does those amazing kicks. Still, she is graceful and spry. I wish I could move as gracefully. Pilates can’t do everything…..

The week went incredibly fast. We had seven incredible days on the water with great weather and no rain. We met wonderful people and had a good time. I will admit to being glad to leave the ship just to catch up on my sleep!

We docked 24 hours ago. I still feel the rocking of the ship.

Thank you for listening,

Jerry L. Hanson

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