2018 HAL World Cruise
Tuesday, April 3 to Thursday, April 5, 2018
This is not our first visit to the African continent. We have visited Morocco many times; seen Tunisia and Egypt; but we have never ventured beyond the Mediterranean facing countries. Until now!
We began our African adventures in Maputo, Mozambique but very quickly traveled to the border and crossed into South Africa. After several magical days on Safari, we wound up in Cape Town for 3 days of sensory satisfaction! Cape Town is a beautiful, sophisticated city. The MS Amsterdam sailed into Duncan Dock Berth D. From the aft deck, we had a stunning view of Table Mountain along with Signal Hill, Lion’s Head, and Devils Peak. The cruise line provided a shuttle from the dock to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. This is a huge shopping and entertainment area next to the harbor. There are lots of shops and restaurants; the Cape Wheel; the Marine Museum; the Aquarium; and the Water Shed where artisans and craftspeople produce and sell their creations. From here, ferries go to Robben Island where political prisoners like Nelson Mandela were once incarcerated. Nobel Square is located here and the statues of South Africa’s 4 Nobel Peace Prize recipients are on display. As a matter of fact, on our last day, Desmond Tutu and his wife came aboard for a ceremony honoring him with Holland America Line’s First Shared Humanity Award 2018.
Table Mountain is an interesting visit. The cable car floor rotates 360 degrees as it swiftly makes its way to the top. Obviously, the views are breathtaking! Once atop the mountain, you can see the Cape of Good Hope, Robben Island, the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean all in one long visual swoop! There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs at Table Mountain: periodically, the clouds will drop down and appear to be a tablecloth draped over a table. If you happen to be on the mountain when this happens, you MUST stop moving; sit down; and wait for it to lift!!!!
On our last day in Cape Town, we toured the Stellenbosch wine region and visited some wineries to partake of their tastings! The Amsterdam had already introduced us to several wonderful South African wines. The cruise line had bought $27,000.00 worth of wines for us to sample! There were numerous on-board tastings and several sommelier dinners. I came to love Ernie Els, Big Easy Chenin Blanc! We both loved Doolhof Dark Lady of the Labyrinth Pinotage from Wellington, South Africa!
But most interesting was our visit to the de Waal Winery. That is where we learned about Pinotage. In 1925, Prof. Abraham Perold, viticulturist at the University of Stellenbosch, created a variety of grape he called Pinotage by crossing Pinot Noir with Hermitage. Sixteen years later there were enough vines to produce grapes for an experimental barrel of Pinotage wine. C.T. de Wall, a winemaker and wine taster of note at the Stellenbosch University, was Perold’s choice to create that barrel. Today, the de Waal Winery is home to the oldest Pinotage vineyard in the world. Decanter Magazine has rated de Wall’s “Top-of-the-Hill Pinotage” as one of the Top 10 South African wines! We sampled this wine. It is smooth with a medium body. It has plum and prune flavors with hints of dark chocolate and a touch of spice. A very elegant wine.
Next, we will visit Walvis Bay, Namibia. The African adventure continues.