This morning we packed our bags for the last time for two weeks because this afternoon we will be moving into a cabins aboard the m.s. Zaandam. Thierry was on hand again this morning to help us with our transfer to the port at Valparaiso. We dropped Gina at the airport on our way out of Santiago. Gina has another tour group in Buenos Aries and then rejoins us there when we disembark. When we arrived in Valparaiso we went for a short drive along the seafront with Thierry pointing out buildings of note.
The coach dropped us at the cruise ship check-in building and Thierry arranged for porters to help us with our luggage. Although I’m not entirely sure if they helped because they were pretty rough with our bags!? Once we were in the building we had to fill in questionnaires about our state of health. Basically confirming that we didn’t have any vomiting or diarrhoea. We filled in our questionnaires quickly and moved into the check-in queue. A couple of the others were scammed (?) by Thierry asking if one of them had an envelope with his tip in it because Gina had not given him his tip. We’ll definitely have to check that out with Gina when we see her again in Buenos Aries because we found it pretty difficult to believe that Gina would have ‘forgotten’ his tip??
We reached the head of the queue and completed our check-in and handed over our passports to the shipboard administrators who will take care of them for the next two weeks. There was a free wine tasting in the check-in hall so we all tasted Chilean wines and then bought a bottle to take on board. You can only take one bottle on board and it must be consumed in your cabin. We also stocked up on six big bottles of water at $US2.00 each as it is likely to cost more than that on board.
Then we proceeded to the shuttle bus to be driven through the port area to the m.s. Zaandam. Almost as soon as we were on board we tried to hunt down a late lunch. The restaurant had finished its lunchtime service, but the more informal buffet restaurant on the Lido deck was still serving food. We had a late lunch of noodles before heading down to our cabin to unpack.
At 5.00pm it was time to participate in the mandatory passenger safety emergency drill which was a bit of a shambles. I have great sympathy for the crew members who must find trying organise the predominantly old people as frustrating as herding cats!! The demographic on the boat is seriously OLD. I would guess that more than 50% of the passengers are over 60. I have seen a handful of young families who account for the very small number of passengers between nought and 30. Then there are a few in their 40s and 50s. The biggest problem I had with the safety drill was the two German men standing behind me who spoke loudly throughout the drill making it very difficult to hear the instructions. At least we heard our names called and got ourselves ticked off.
After a fairly overcast day the sun managed to break through the clouds just in time for us to set sail for Puerto Montt. Most of our group went up to the Seaview Poolside Bar for the Bon Voyage Party where we enjoyed finger food and the cocktail of the day as we left our berth.
We all met at 7.00pm in the Rotterdam Dining Room which is very conveniently located just one flight of stairs up from our room. Even without a booking the restaurant staff were very helpful managing to find two adjacent tables for our group of 14 to sit at.
When we arrived back in our cabin there was water on the floor of the bathroom. It looked like it had clumps of algae in it so we think it just sort of burbled up out of the floor drain. It could have been much worse, we could have returned to our room to find the floor swimming with raw sewerage. We put in a call to housekeeping who arrived very quickly to tidy up our floor. Hopefully it won’t be a recurrent problem.
Steps 7,446 (5.49km)