Updated: Nov 22, 2019
Greetings from Paracas!
We are nearing day 40 of our contract on Holland America’s cruise ship, the Ms. Zaandam and we seem to have landed on Mars. It is our day off this week and we’re currently sipping coffee in the small, desert beach town of Paracas. The last couple weeks have been quite interesting having stopped at the island of Aruba, passed through the Panama Canal, docked in Panama City; Manta, Ecuador; Trujillo, Lima, and now Paracas, Peru. The beaches of Aruba were absolutely breathtaking, we could see little schools of fish swimming around us and we helped save a pelican caught in a fisherman’s hooks! Of course the Panama Canal was definitely a crazy experience having grown up learning about the canal in history classes — to actually be going through the different series of lochs was truly amazing.
Since the Zaandam ship is repositioning to its South American route, these stops are not on the usual itinerary and it has been eye-opening to see some of these ports and cities that lack the infrastructure we’re used to and take for granted back home in the states. In the towns in Ecuador and Peru, it’s rare to find areas that have buildings that aren’t crumbling or are unfinished, there are many strays roaming the streets and there is always a taxi driver trying to convince you that you shouldn’t be walking.
After Manta, we crossed the Equator! If you’ve been on a ship crossing the Equator before, you may be familiar with the King Neptune Ceremony — we were not . . . but Craig was somehow able to escape being recruited (thankfully because now we have pictures!). Apparently this has been a long-standing tradition and the “Polliwogs,” a.k.a crew who had never crossed the Equator, were to kneel before King Neptune and the Mermaid Queen before having to kiss a giant (real) fish after which they were promptly covered in multi-colored meringue and tossed into the ocean (the swimming pool). It was quite the spectacle!
Ship life is going well, we’ve been learning some new pieces by Vaughan Williams and Frank Bridge that we’re really enjoying along with our occasional matinee sets where we’ll play fun themes from movies or pieces by The Piano Guys. The current passengers have either been on since Fort Lauderdale or even Montreal and most of them are staying on until Rio de Janeiro which is still about 20 days away — so we’ve really gotten to know a lot of them. We have the regulars attending each of our concerts and we can almost always expect them to being sitting in the same seat at the same time every night which has been really wonderful. We’re really starting to get into a groove now and have taken a few videos that we’ll start sharing and of course hope to post more in the future. Brandin has taken this 17-day cruise as an opportunity to perform all 6 of the Bach Cello Suites on Viola and the audience has loved them, making sure not to miss the next one — he has one more suite to go!
Two days ago we had to say goodbye to the Mainstage Cast that was on board when we started our contract (they provide entertainment in the theatre featuring the singers and dancers in different themed shows). They had been on board since April and they were actually supposed to stay on until we reached Santiago, Chile, but because of the current social/political climate there they had to disembark early in Lima. We definitely miss them but also look forward to meeting the the new cast that will be with us until our contract ends January 9th.
After Santiago (though we are a little unsure if we will actually stop there), we will start the itinerary that we will be repeating until our contract ends; going back and forth between Santiago, Chile and Sao Paolo, Brazil. We’re super excited for the ports to come!
Next stop: Serena, Chile
Craig & Brandin
PS - The WiFi is currently no strong enough to upload photos or videos, but I will come back and add them hopefully at our next port!