January 06, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 1

The suitcases are packed, and the alarm is set for 6:00 AM. Adrienne and Steve are planning to arrive at 7:00 for our drive to Port Everglades. It is the coldest day we have had in central Florida since last winter, probably about 50.

Luggage goes in the car, and we head south. One stop for gas, and another for breakfast/lunch. We arrive at the port around noon. I have made arrangements for Adrienne and Steve to visit the ship. While I go through the usual security and check-in procedure, they are directed to the crews entrance. "Sorry, your not on the list". Again being prepared with copies of the visitor request and the approval email, they are soon given visitors badges in exchange for their passports, and allowed to board. They meet me on the ship at the passenger gangway as I board.

The rooms are ready, I drop off my carry-on stuff and we are off to explore the ship.

The Amsterdam is the smallest ship I have been on in 25 years. Very elegant by the standards of most ships being built today, and being small she is very easy to get around with the exception that the galley blocks passage from bow to aft on deck four. A common design in ships this age.

The public spaces are very plentiful, and despite the fact that the majority of passengers are on the ship, she seems empty. What a contrast to the mega-ships that carry 4, 5 or 6,000 passengers. I check out the seating in all the public spaces, again most are comfortable.

After checking out the entire ship, we stop on the Lido deck

where there is the "Welcome Party for members of The Mariners Society", HAL's loyalty group. It quickly becomes apparent that many of the passengers have been here before. The crew and staff greet many of the passengers by name.

The Champagne flows freely, and we soon question whether an elderly lady at the next table is going to complete the cruise. I think I overheard that she has been on the ship for 45 days already and is booked for the next 115. Her relatives seek a wheelchair as a combination of frailty, many glasses of champagne and a near choking episode prevent her from standing. Her family seems to take it all in stride, refusing help from the staff. I haven't seen her since she entered the elevator.

Adrienne had hoped to meet some of the passengers that I know, but this just wasn't in the cards. She and Steve leave the ship for the drive home, and I take some medications to the medical facility for secure storage. It is there that I run into Gloria and Milton from Cocoa Beach. Sorry Adrienne, you left 10 minutes too early.

The Muster drill takes a little longer than on most ships. After everyone gathers, they read off each name one by one to verify attendance. Though time consuming, this is much better than what I have seen on some ships where they have no idea whether a passenger was in attendance or not.

I have changed my dining from fixed seating to open seating, an option that wasn't available when I booked. This will have me dining with a number of different passengers over the next four months instead of being seated with the same people night after night. There are numerous menu selections that appeal to me. I order a perfectly prepared and delicious peppercorn crusted steak.

After dinner there was an informal gathering of all the solo passengers. About one hundred of us attend, again champagne was served compliments of Holland America. By far the largest number of solo passengers I have ever encountered on any ship.

Later in the evening there is the usual "Sail Away Party". Champagne, beer, soft drinks and selected mixed drinks are available. Of course food is available if you wish. Oysters on the half shell, shrimp, a wide selection of dessert items, fruit and nuts, about 10 different cheese choices, various vegetables, etc. I confine myself to a few macadamia nuts.

We leave promptly at 11 PM. Once we exit the channel and turn south the ship begins to list and roll quite a bit due to the strong easterly winds. The water in the pool begins to slosh from side to side, and within 10 minutes the band becomes soaked from the waist down as walls of water from the pool run across the deck. It was most comical to watch them try and stop the water with a few pool towels. After 20 minutes enough water had sloshed out of the pool, that the roll of the ship was no longer an issue.

The ship continues to roll throughout the night as we head south.