At Sea Off Chile’s North Coast

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Again at dinner last night, rumors flew about Holland America’s Prinsendam which hit some big waves in its trip around the horn. Depending on who is talking, the waves were from 30 to 60 feet high; ship was slightly damaged or badly damaged; some passengers were injured and sent home; all passengers were sent home. Alan Wilson, who is one of the foremost dispensers of cruise information, emailed the VP of communications at Holland America to get the facts. She refused to respond. Apparently there was some TV news about the incident and but, of course, no one here saw it. I do know that Celebrity’s Mercury got some rope wrapped around her propeller and had to reenter the Los Angeles channel, dock, and send divers down. They left late enough so the Cabo San Lucas stop was skipped. They still will stop at Hualtaco where the Regal Princess scraped the channel bottom a few days ago. Regal canceled everything, and may, or may not, be ready to sail on their March 1 cruise. The point to all this is Celebrity and Princess have PR people who on top of everything, Holland America hides. Meanwhile here on Regent Seven Seas Mariner, we just sail along.

I sunned on by the pool this morning. Not three minutes after I sat down, I was asked if I’d like something to drink. This ship has the best deck service I’ve experienced.

Today there was a big buffet on deck called Fruschoppen or German brunch. The centerpiece of the brunch was a whole roasted pig, head and all. Just behind the chefs, was another pig sitting in the sun and waiting to be gobbled up. As many of you know, I am not a red meat eater. I know, I know, pork is more of a white meat, but if I ever do eat it, I’d rather not be confronted by the immediate source, but people loved it.

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A germ, now called “the thing”, has attracted the attention of a lot of passengers, and the hand sanitizers are being used, not by everyone, but by a lot more than before. Sorry to say, there was not a sanitizer in sight. “I’ll take this roll, oh, that’s too firm; I’ll take this one….” Not good health practice.

We have about 530 passengers aboard. Even so, there are some people that I see frequently. The first night on board I had dinner with a man who, besides being a physician of some fame, was a former jazz pianist. Since at one time I was a drummer, we promised to meet again to chat about “the days”. As much as I’ve looked, I haven’t come across him.

We are moving along the northern portion of Chile which is dominated by the Atacama Desert. This is the driest desert in the world. There are actually places here where no rain has ever been recorded. If life were fair, Portland would lend them a few drops. In one place, outside the town of Copiapo, millions of seeds wait for a drop of water. If and when it does rain, a huge spread of desert is almost over night blanketed by a thick growth of blossoms. When word gets out that it has rained in this area, people come from both near and far for perhaps a once in a lifetime happening. Too bad we can’t visit the desert. I know I’d be tempted to empty a bottle of water and stand back.

Tomorrow, I’ll get my photos in order, and Saturday I’m going to take a boat tour in Pisco, Peru. Next day is Lima where I’ll get a hotel room because my plane does not leave until 1:25 the next morning. Then home. It is time.

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