Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Amazon & Carnival Explorer Cruise - Day 37: Cruising the Amazon

Tuesday, March 12

Val was up early this morning to get our first look at the Amazon and the shoreline.  I soon followed and we spent most of the morning on our balcony watching our journey up the river.

The area of our cruise up the amazon is circled in red.  We would end up almost 2/3 of the way across Brazil when we reached our final port of Manaus.

We knew the Amazon was a large river, but now that we are actually sailing up it, its size boggles the mind.  The Amazon is second only to the Nile is length, but has the largest volume of any river in the world.  Its 4,000 mile length is the equivalent of the distance between New York and Rome.  It starts only 100 miles from the Pacific Ocean, high in the Andes of Peru, making its way to the Atlantic Ocean through Peru and Brazil.  The Amazon Basin covers 2.7 million square miles.  The amount of water it discharges is ten times that of the Mississippi and its fresh water dilutes the ocean 100 miles out to sea.  There is an extensive lowland area bordering the Amazon that floods every year, with the river rising from 30 to 40 feet during the rainy season.  We couldn't tell when we entered the Amazon yesterday afternoon, because the width of the mouth of the river is 37 miles wide and you couldn't see either side.

This was only our first day on the river, but we were already in awe.  The river seems to be several channels with large and small islands dividing them.  We traveled relatively close to the shoreline at times so we got a good view. The jungle comes right down to the water and forms a wall so you can’t see any further than the shoreline.  There were occasional dwellings, but mostly it was nothing but jungle.  We did see a few small boats and at one point, a boat went by pulling a barge, but otherwise it seemed we had the river to ourselves.  I did go up on deck to get a better view of both side of the river and found that it varied from quite wide to surprisingly narrow (probably because we were passing through a channel between islands).  As the day wore on we seemed to be very close to shore in some places, but it probably wasn’t as close as it looked.

The Amazon was very wide, but we passed through many narrow channels between the numerous islands.
The Amazon carries tremendous amounts of silt so the water is mostly brown.

We spent most of the day on our balcony enjoying our first day on the Amazon.
There are very few roads along the Amazon so most travel is done in small boats.

We spotted quite a few isolated homes along the river.  You can see the residents in the water and the window watching our ship go by.

Although almost all commerce takes place by boat, this was one of the few barges we saw today.

The temperature out on our balcony wasn’t too bad, but we could feel the ever present humidity.  When I went up on the deck and the sun was shining it felt very hot, but today was mostly cloudy and it looks like we might be heading into rain.  What a surprise, rain in the jungle on the Amazon.

We were getting hungry so we left our vantage point on our balcony and headed up to the Lido for lunch.  Today is the final round of the slot tournament and after lunch we headed down to the casino to try one more time to qualify for the finals.  As expected, Val had been bumped from the leaderboard so she and I both tried again, but fell woefully short.

After failing to qualify for the slot tournament finals, we stayed in the casino for a little while and then headed back to our room.  We spent some more time out on the balcony watching the jungle slide past us, but soon the humidity got to us and we went back inside to enjoy the cool of the air conditioning.  There was a lecture this afternoon that we wanted to attend, but as it got near time to get ready for dinner, we realized we had completely forgotten about it.  It didn’t really matter as we had an enjoyable afternoon on our balcony.

The sun sets on our first day on the Amazon as we make our way west.
Roy was back at trivia tonight, but said Garbriella had been quarantined to her room.  She had a fever and respiratory infection so they didn’t want her out and about on the ship.  Roy said her fever was gone and she hoped to be released from quarantine tomorrow.  After dinner, it was back to the casino where Val continued her winning ways and me, my losing ways.  We got bad news earlier in the evening from the captain who said he had erred in setting the clocks back last night and so we had to give it back tonight which means an hour less sleep.  The captain giveth and the captain taketh away.

When we returned to our room after the casino we went right to bed as we have a tour tomorrow and have to be off the ship by 8:30.  Since we will lose an hours sleep tonight, we thought it wise to get to be early.  Tomorrow we will be in Santarem, the first of six straight port days on the Amazon.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Amazon & Carnival Explorer Cruise - Day 35 and 36: At Sea

Sunday, March 10
Day 35

Today is a very welcome sea day for me as I woke up this morning feeling worse than yesterday.  Except for a visit to the Neptune Lounge while our room was being cleaned, we spent the morning in our room.  I tried to nap and Val read until it was time for lunch.

After lunch, the second round of the slot tournament was being held so we did go down for that.  Val did very well and moved into second place.  I did get on the leader board, but it is pretty unlikely I’ll stay there as my point total was not very high.  After that Val was off to trivia and I went back to the room.

My cold has made me tired and feeling rundown, but I decided I needed to do something so I spent some time updating the blog and continued to sort through our recent pictures.  After going to trivia, Val went to a port talk on our first to ports on the Amazon.  I am feeling worse and decided not to go, but to spend the rest of the afternoon resting.

As the afternoon progressed, I felt worse and worse and decided not to go to trivia, dinner or the casino tonight.  We grabbed some snacks in the Neptune Lounge and then Val was off to the evening trivia and I went to be very early.  Hopefully this is the worst of it and I’ll start feeling better tomorrow.  We still have two days before our next port so I’m hoping to be ready to go by that time.

Monday, March 11
Day 36

Today is another sea day or rather sea and river day as we’ll be entering the Amazon this afternoon.  I woke up feeling a bit better, but still not great.  I spent the morning resting while Val caught up on her e-mail.  At noon, we went to lunch in the Lido and then Val was off to trivia.  I rested for a while then decided to do the blog for the day.  I also finished sorting through all the pictures we have taken and eliminated a lot of them and then backed everything up.

I felt better in the afternoon and think the worst of my cold is over, but we did spend the rest of the afternoon resting and reading.  In the late afternoon, we reached the mouth of the Amazon and made a turn to the left to head up the river.  The captain said there was a sandbar at the mouth of the river and we had to time our entry with the tides and current to make sure we didn’t run aground.  He also said that in the morning we would have to anchor briefly while two river pilots were brought aboard who will be with us while we are on the river.

We kept checking outside to see if we could see anything, but the mouth of the Amazon is very wide and we couldn’t see anything on either side or in front of us.  I’m not sure how they determine when you are in the Amazon or still in the Atlantic.

We got back into our usual dinner routine tonight, but we still weren’t at full strength at trivia as Gabriella now has the cold.  I finished the night with another forgettable night in the casino, but Val kept up her winning ways.  When we returned to the room we were happy to see a notice that the ship's clocks will be moved back one hour tonight meaning an extra hours sleep tonight; hooray.  Tomorrow will be a day of cruising the Amazon before we reach our first port on Wednesday.

Amazon & Carnival Explorer Cruise - Day 34: Fortaleza, Brazil

Saturday, March 9

Today we are in Fortaleza which is our last Brazilian coastal city before we start up the Amazon.  Fortaleza is another large city with a population of nearly three million.  Like most of the East Coast Brazilian cities we have visited, Fortaleza is known for its beautiful beaches.

The port where we are docked is in the upper right corner of the map, you can see two breakwaters and we were right near the upper one. 
I wanted to get up earlier today and woke up at at 8:00, but decided to sleep a little longer and the next thing I knew, it was almost 10:00.  I got up feeling no better or worse than yesterday so we decided to get ready and head into the city.  We are docked quite a ways from the city center so the ship was providing shuttles.  When we got up it was raining, but it seemed to be letting up.

Once we were ready, we got off the ship and caught the shuttle and took the 30 minute ride into the city.  We were dropped off at a tourist information center, which was more like a market as there were numerous stalls with people selling their wares.  We spent some time wandering through the shops, but curtailed our plans to walk to some of the nearby spots as they appeared to be much further away than indicated on the map we had gotten on the ship.  Although, a lot of people were walking, the area did look a little sketchy and Fortaleza doesn’t have the best reputation for safety.

We walked around the immediate area for a bit, but I was fading and we decided to catch the shuttle and head back to the ship.

On the bus ride back, Val talked to someone who’s friend had his cell phone stolen while walking around so maybe we were wise to not chance it.  We were back on board a little before 2:00 and headed straight to lunch.

Before getting back on the ship, I took some pictures around the terminal area.

After lunch, Val was off to trivia and after resting for a while, I caught up with the blog.  After that, I laid down again and tried to take a nap, but that didn’t work so I just read.  We spent most of the afternoon doing not very much as I didn’t have much energy.  I did go up on deck to take some pictures for our sail away, but that was about all I did.

We did do our usual evening routine, but Roy was still missing from trivia so he must be pretty sick.  After dinner, it was off to the casino and I did terrible, but didn’t care as all I wanted to do was get back to the room and sleep.  Val on the other hand, had another good night and stayed a lot longer than I did.

Tomorrow is the start of three sea / river days in a row until our first port on the Amazon River.  I’m hoping I can shake this cold during the sea days and feel good again for our ports.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Amazon & Carnival Explorer Cruise - Day 31, 32 and 33: At Sea

Wednesday, March 6 - Day 31

Today is the first of three straight sea days and actually six of the next seven days will be sea days including a couple of days sailing up the Amazon.  Val woke up feeling better this morning so maybe her cold will be short lived.  We slept late and spent the morning relaxing until it was time for lunch in the Lido.

After lunch, Val was feeling well enough to attend trivia so she was off to that.  They finally have some guest lecturers on board so this afternoon we wanted to go to the first one of those.  The lecture was followed by a port talk on our upcoming port which will be the last one before starting up the Amazon.

When Val left for trivia, I left for the showroom to save seats for the upcoming lectures.  These are very popular and unless you get there early, you end up getting very poor seats.  I went a half hour early and spent the time reading until Val showed up just before the talk began.  We thought we were going to hear a talk about the Amazon, but the title was a little misleading as it was actually a talk on a sea battle that took place off the coast of Brazil at the beginning of World War II.  It was interesting, but not really what we were expecting so we were a little disappointed.

After the first lecture, the port guide came on and gave her talk on our next port.  It is another large city with the focus being primarily the beaches.  As always, it was a good talk and now we know what to look for and do.  After the talk we walked back through our room and walked through the casino and of course had to stop.  We both played one slot machine and while I quickly lost my money, Val played for quite a while and ended up breaking even.

We returned to our room and Val rested while I updated the blog and caught up on my e-mail.  Val continued feeling better and decided she would return to our normal evening routine so when it was time, we were off to trivia, dinner and the casino.

We were back in our room by 10:00 and called it a night and even though Val is feeling much better, it is important for her to keep getting rest.  Tomorrow is the second of our three consecutive sea days.

Thursday, March 7
Day 32

We were up earlier this morning and Val continues to recover.  She still has a stuffy head and a runny nose, but she doesn’t feel nearly as sick.  We are waiting know to see if and when I catch it as that is usually the case we are on a cruise.  The morning was spent not doing very much; we spent a while in the Neptune Lounge while our room was being cleaned and then I updated the blog and Val read until it was time for lunch.

Right after lunch we headed off to the casino for the first round of the second slot tournament of the cruise.  We both did horribly and will have to try again to qualify in the second round.  After the slot tournament, Val was off to trivia and I returned to our room to start sorting through all the pictures we took at the Sambadrome.

After spending a short time working on our pictures, I left for the showroom for a lecture on the flora and fauna of the Amazon Basin.  This lecture is by the other guest lecturer who came on board in Rio.  Val joined me in the showroom for the lecture after she finished trivia.

After the lecture, we returned to our room and Val rested while I continued to work on our pictures until almost dinnertime.  Tonight is another formal night so it took us a bit longer to get ready, but we made it to trivia on time for the start of our evening routine.  We now have three of our team of six with a cold as Roy joins Val and Wally.  It doesn’t take long for colds to spread on a cruise ship.

After trivia it was dinner and the casino and then we called it a night.  Tomorrow is the last sea day before our next port.

Friday, March 8
Day 33

Today is our third and final sea day in a row before our next port tomorrow.  We slept in and I’m sad to say, my luck ran out; I woke up this morning with a sore throat so it looks like I have the cold now.  Val is feeling much better so at least one of us is healthy.  She had an amazingly short cold; I hope I'm as lucky.  The morning was spent resting and reading until it was time for lunch.

There was a Mega Trivia (whatever that is) today in the showroom so after lunch Val was off to that and I went back to our room to rest a while longer.  There was a lecture today on the agricultural development in the Amazon Basin so I went to join Val in the showroom after trivia was over.  After the lecture, we headed back to our room, but did make a brief stop in the casino.

Val read for a while and I continued to work on our pictures until it was time for dinner.  We did our usual routine of dinner, trivia and the casino, but tonight Roy didn’t show up for trivia so it looks like he succumbed to his cold.  I had a so-so night in the casino tonight, but Val hit a nice jackpot of almost $500 so she ended the night very happy.

I called it an early night as I wanted to get as much rest as I could to try and fight off this cold.  Tomorrow we will be in Fortaleza, Brazil.