Monday, December 10, 2012

December Holiday - Stopover Day 2: Singapore

We slept in! And after re-packing the suitcases, we headed of into the town for something to eat. Luckily, after a short walk, we found a local eatery and settled down for a coffee (Singapore style -with condensed milk), and the most heavily buttered ‘toast sandwich’ this side of the equator. Then, with our arteries suitably hardened, we spent an hour or so continuing our exploration of the town - including Fort Canning and then the National Museum of Singapore, where the major benefit was the air-conditioning!
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Leaving Singapore behind, we picked up a cab and headed for the Cruise Terminal. Unfortunately, we didn’t know there was more than one - and the cruise paperwork wasn’t specific enough. The cab driver took a guess (hurrah!)... and was wrong (boo!) And so it was another fifteen minutes of s, before we got to the correct location.

Excellent service awaited us! No sooner had the taxi reversed into the drop-off space, there was a man waiting to grab our cases (In Kettering that’s called a thief!). A few minutes later we were welcomed to the Holland and America line where our passports were initially checked (for the first check of what felt like thousands before we finally got on-board). Next step was to queue to register -always the least enjoyable part of the whole experience! Ironically, the ship was to sail late because some passengers hadn’t surrendered their passports!

Finally, (finally), we were duly processed and headed for the ship and our state-room - 3383 - our new home until the 20th.

After the swift delivery of our cases, we made light work of the unpacking - luckily, there was plenty of space for everything (even our ‘everything’) and we soon banished the empty cases to their new home of under the bed. Next job was to set up all the gizmos and gadgets. It’s always a challenge on a cruise ship because of the general lack of sockets - and space - and the MS Volendam was no exception. This time round however, I’d learned from experience and brought an extension lead. With Ann’s Kindle, my smartphone, my Kindle, a spare battery for Ann’s camera and a spare for mine, the family of iPODs, and finally my NetBook, everything was now all hooked up and charging - and so far no sign of any smoke! :)

Wahyu, our steward (our new and essential best friend!) introduced himself to us, and immediately won his first gold star by getting us some more ice for our already chilling bottle of White Zinfandel - and if that wasn’t enough decadence, there was always our pre-ordered chocolate covered strawberries to get through the torture of waiting for the restaurants to open!

It’s our first experience of Holland and America as a Cruise Line, and like all the others, the first activity was the obligatory lifeboat drill. I think we must have experienced dozens in our life, but nothing was to prepare us for the thoroughness and level of detail for this one! We were all assembled into regimented lines and then our names were called out one-by-one. The tannoy regularly reminded us that we shouldn’t eat, drink, carry electronic equipment nor talk during the process. It was an efficient process, but we did feel sorry for the ship’s crew who had to get their tongues round some very interesting names! Having heard the roll-call, it was clear that on this Cruise, the Brits were in the minority.

Fifteen minutes later, it was all over, and we headed back to our state-room for a short rest. before sampling the delights of the main restaurant. It wasn’t bad, but being British, we do expect tea to be served in a pot, not as cup of hot water and a tea-bag!

An early night as we set sail tonight. No internet connection for a few days now. :(