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Journey with Bill & Mary Ann on the Amsterdam's 2016 Grand World Voyage - 114 days +

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Bill & Mary Ann,

My husband and I are looking forward to going along with you on another world cruise. We know how much time it takes to write daily reports and post them. Thank you for all your work. We really appreciate having you share your world cruises with us!

Bon Voyage!

B. J. and Henry

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This cruise is on our bucket list for 2018. I will enjoy reading your commentary to get us ready for our adventure.

 

Mary Lou

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We will follow your experience as we plan for a big celebration onboard in 2018..

 

if our poor petro dollar rebounds in Canada.

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Bill and Mary Ann,

 

Thanks for the encouragement to keep the Antarctica trip! I am hoping for some of those smooth waters.

 

@3500 cruise days, you say? That is pretty amazing and is like spending nearly 10 years on the water!! You must REALLY love cruising.

Edited by three4rd

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Bon Voyage. Looking forward to your travels around the world. Hoping to meet you on this years Tales of the South Pacific.

 

Cheers, Denise

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We just missed you last September we were getting off in Seattle you were getting on for the South Pacific trip. I have followed your adventures for years, our aunt and uncle live in Alamo. Thanks for your posting

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We're ready for your reports!

 

Your leaving from SFO early Sat.?

Safe travels..you'll be glad to get to

warmer weather..I bet..it's been so cold.

 

Happy New Year..Enjoy your 2016 World Cruise.

Know you will. Say hello to everyone for us..

we feel we know them. lol

 

Hope if Jeff is going he gives his reports and

beautiful pictures.

 

One time your daughter posted pictures for you, will she this time?

Know it's a lot of trouble.

 

Bon Voyage! Thanks again for posting so us at home can

enjoy/see/hear about the cruise even thro we're not on the ship..

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I cannot wait for your trip to begin - the world cruise is a dream of mine. I will be following you around the world

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It is almost time for me to virtually join you on another WC! Can't wait to see where you take me.

 

Happy New Year!

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I cannot wait for your trip to begin - the world cruise is a dream of mine. I will be following you around the world

 

Me too, I love reading all the blogs each year... Maybe when I retire (too far away in the distance :() I'll be someone doing a blog!

 

Thanks for taking the time Bill and Mary Ann

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Safe travels, looking forward to your reports. We thank you for letting us travel along with you. We so appreciate the time and effort it takes to post.

Again thanks.

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Report # 2 Getting Close Now December 31, 2015 Thursday Very cold, in the 40’s

 

Well, we weren’t going to write quite so soon, but after waiting daily for our very first President’s Club Holiday gift, we had to report about it. Do you remember the saying, “A watched pot never boils”? That is how we felt every day this month, expecting this holiday remembrance from HAL. It couldn’t be designated a Christmas present, because not everyone celebrates that famous holiday. New Year’s Day seemed appropriate, but getting it that late, would mean some folks might not be home to receive it, in particular, those who may be joining the Grand World Voyages out of Florida. So today, being New Year’s Eve, turned out to be the day.

 

A large box was left on our doorstep around noontime. There were two nicely wrapped boxes inside. Much to our surprise, we found two beautiful Waterford crystal-cut vases. Embossed on them was the HAL logo ships and dated for 2015. Enclosed was a personalized holiday card signed by the new President of HAL and the Mariner Society Director. Yes, we are impressed, and it was worth the wait.

 

Wrapping up the final details is always stressful, as we don’t want to forget anything. We have learned to keep a detailed list of the last things to do before leaving, marking them off as we go. Since we have recently replaced many of the major items that break in a home, we think all will be fine while we are gone. Nothing worse than a broken water line, or a failed freezer, both of which has happened in the past. Now we understand why so many people choose to down-size, and move to a condo in order to travel often. Much less to worry about. One day, we may do the same thing, but not just yet. We would miss the gardening and the birds, fun hobbies for both of us.

 

We are very fortunate that our weather has been OK for flying. No floods, winds, or fog to report in the recent news in this area. Hope it holds good through Saturday.

 

All that is left to do, is keep our 2 pieces of luggage under 50 pounds (not easy), but who wants to pay over-weight charges? Not us.

 

Will write from Ft. Lauderdale after Saturday. Can almost feel the warm, humid breezes from there already……………..

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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I just wanted to let you guys know that I have been following you for years silently and am so glad that you have been writing these blogs all these years! You do a super job and it is truly the highlight of my year to have coffee and read your blog in the mornings for 4 months. On a few of the years you have left on my birthday, and to that end I look upon reading this blog as my favorite birthday present!

 

We are currently planning for retirement and as it gets nearer and nearer I am getting so excited as a World Cruise on the Amsterdam is on the top of the list. I hope that we are able to meet you that year, and I hope that HAL recognizes how much you and Bill have done to encourage all of us out here to book with them!

 

I read all of the blogs that I can find, but yours is truly my favorite.

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Almost missed the start of your WC. I have been following for the past few years and can't wait to enjoy your posts again. I will be most interested in your posts from the South Pacific as I am going there in April.

 

Have a safe and happy voyage. :)

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Looking forward to reading your blog of your travels. We have just recently retired and plan to work up to doing a cruise such as this. Safe travels.

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Thank you for taking us along on your journey again this year. I love reading your daily posts of your adventures.

Terri

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As an old favorite of mine would have said "and away we go!" Thanks for taking me along once again.

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I wouldn't miss one of your blogs, so I'm subscribed to this thread.

I love reading your reports, You write so well. Thank you for taking the time -- and money -- to share with all of us.

It is the closest I'll ever come to doing a world cruise. Thank you for taking us with you. :)

Edited by NMLady

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Thanks for the info on the Christmas Gift. We left Denver before NY hope our daughter in law got the gift for us. Have a safe trip see you in HK happy New Year

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Look forward to traveling along with you as I have for the past several years (from my armchair). Smooth sailing and may you enjoy every minute.

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Report # 3 The Journey Begins……….January 2, 2016 Saturday Still cold in the high 20’s

 

Ready or not, here we go! The day began early, with a 6:30 am pick-up with a local shuttle company from our home to the San Francisco Airport. Since our flight with Jet Blue was around 10:30am, we did not have to leave in the wee hours of the morning. Usually, the flights leave around 8am, so that means hardly sleeping at all the night before in order to be picked up at 5am.

 

The good news was that it was a non-commute day, and the traffic was very light. Our biggest concern this time of year is fog, which can delay flights. Today there was none. The skies were cloudy, presenting us with a beautiful orange sunrise. It was obvious that rain would be on the way, probably by tomorrow. Great……….we need it, lots of it.

 

This was our first experience flying with Jet Blue, and we were impressed. There was no line at the desk, and within 10 minutes we had checked in and offloaded the luggage. Because we booked this flight back when each of us got one bag free, there was no charge. That would be the last time, because they charge now like all the other airlines. One of our bags was a tad over the 50# limit, but the nice agent let it slide. Unlike the last time we flew from San Diego, and had to remove socks and underwear to lighten the bags a few ounces.

 

Now the good news was that we both got the pre TSA check, where we did not have to remove shoes or small liquids from our carry-ons. However, one of us has to wear a back brace, so that merited a double check on the side. In hindsight, it could have been removed and put through the xray machine. It all checked out OK, but while I was detained, the agent thought it was a good time to do a swab test for chemicals or whatever. Came up negative, of course. Always a new experience when you least expect it.

 

We had enough time to grab a bite for breakfast. You would probably never guess what we had? A margherita pizza! The terminal had a place called Firewood, and they had a real honest-to-goodness wood-fired oven. Couldn’t resist it, since they offered it 24 hours. The Peet’s coffees sure tasted good too.

 

To satisfy the sweet tooth, we went across the terminal to Il Fornaio for a frosted cinnamon bun….equally as good. And just in case there was absolutely no food on the plane, we picked up a couple bags of cornnuts and chips. The flight time would be over 5 hours, getting us into Ft. Lauderdale at 6:45pm. Dinnertime for us.

 

The agents filled the plane from back to front, with the exceptions of babies and wheelchairs, and perhaps business class, which, truthfully, we did not see. It wasn’t a huge plane, maybe 150 passengers, but it was straight through, hard to find on the major carriers these days.

 

A nice thing was that we had unlimited sodas, waters, and a selection of small packages of snacks. Pretzels, chips, popcorn chips, and cookies were the choices. It was enough. And for the first time ever, there were no carts pushed by the attendants, blocking the aisles. They took your order, then walked back with it. More exercise for them, and much more convenient for the guests.

 

Just so we remember, there were small TV’s in the seat in front of us. Movies cost $5. each, but you could also access a large number of familiar stations. You would have to had to know that you needed earphones to hear it, however. They would supply them for $5. Do you know how many of those ear things we have at home from previous flights? A lot of good they do sitting in a drawer. They are small enough to leave in your purse, just in case. Of course, if you have that equipment with cell phones and the like, then maybe they work as well. Reading an old-fashioned book also works well to pass the time.

 

Except for a few bumps from some turbulence, the flight was uneventful. Great. The fun would start when we got off the plane and went to the baggage area. People were still getting their luggage from a previous flight, so we had to wait. Just as well, because there was no sign of the HAL reps anywhere to be seen. Eventually, our two pieces appeared, always good to see. No one likes to have to put in a search for missing bags, as we have done on some past trips.

 

So we waited, then began to worry that HAL forgot us. We were about ready to hail a taxi, when we thought to ask the airport people to page the reps. Lo and behold, two reps did show up, although they said they never heard the page. At this point, they were close to an hour late. Their excuse was that they were helping other people get their rides from earlier flights. Hmmmm, now their problem became ours. And we weren’t alone, since another couple from another flight ran into the same problem we did. They were not happy campers.

 

We remember the days when the HAL reps were waiting for you, with huge handcarts to take your luggage, then lead you to a waiting transport of some kind. Today, it was like the blind leading the blind. Two reps simply were not enough to handle four or more flights coming in around the same time. So we guess this is a sign of a cutback? Someone at the cruise lines needs to know that it adds stress where there should be none. We don’t mind waiting for the van or bus, but at least be there on time to greet us and give us directions. From what we could gather, this couple of employees had to take orders from someone else, before ordering our rides to the hotels. By now, our group had increased to about eight or ten people, all going different places.

 

Finally, a bus pulled up, and the driver agreed to take four of us, thinking we were all going to the same hotel. We were not. Once our luggage was stored, we all boarded the bus, only to find out the other couple had to get off and go on another bus. Boy, they sure were not happy about that. They just looked at us, sighed, and shrugged their shoulders, limping off the bus. We wished them luck. So off we went, just the two of us for a 20 minute ride up the freeway to the Renaissance Plantation Hotel.

 

It turned out to be a good time to check in…….there was no line, no crowd. Since we have stayed here before, we knew the lay of the land. Hungry by now, we dumped our stuff in the room, and headed off for a sports bar/restaurant, a short walk from the hotel. We ordered cheeseburgers and sodas, and were served rather quickly, considering it was after 9pm and the place was busy.

 

Anyway, we are here safely, and will look forward to a couple of days to kick back and get acclimated to the slightly muggy, warm weather. Heard on the news there may be showers. Of course, the umbrellas are in the shipped luggage, duh.

 

To be continued………….

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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