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

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Not just hotels & airlines ... ships as well! Some people don't have a clue ... "it's one of the big ones" "it's got a blue logo" "it's Royal something, I think" "my husband made the arrangements, I just follow him" .. we've heard all of those!

 

That's true :D.

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Thank you so much for putting all the effort into sending info about your voyage around the world, hope the internet is somewhat ok. Some day I hope to do this cruise too. Anyway, all your writing is eally appreciated, by many more than me, and especially from us in the north.

 

My little, very nice cruises have been from FLL. so, will feel some of your excitement at sailing. Anyway, anxiously awaiting your quest for pizza and wonderful adventures around the world:).

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Report # 5 Day Three in Ft. Lauderdale January 4, 2016 Monday Sunny, but cool for Florida

 

Listening to the news at 7am this morning, we learned that today would be the coolest day in this part of the woods since last March. What happened? We must have brought the cold weather from California with us. Well not quite as cold as 28 degrees, but a comfortable 60 degrees with a breeze. That’s unheard of in southern Florida, where it is usually always humid and sticky. We just know that if we had forgotten our swimwear to use at the hotel’s pool, it would have been sunny and hot. Not as bad as in January of 2010, when we came to Florida early to spend a couple of days on the beach at a nice hotel. When we walked out of the hotel, we found the temperature to be under 32 degrees. Holy cow! That’s freezing…..literally. No swimming or sunning for us on that trip. In fact, there was not one soul at the pool or on the long stretch of white sandy beach. So we’re still happy with today’s forecast. Great for walking.

 

And that’s what we did, a walk back to the café up the road a piece. Much less crowded this morning, our orders were delivered hot and quick. We still had plenty of time to explore the connecting mall, which had many more restaurants. No lack of sports bars here too.

 

Burlington’s was located near the café, so we waited until they opened. Not that we needed anything, but simply looking always seems to yield something to help store things in our room on the ship. So we ended up getting two metal hanging over-the-door bars with several hooks. We plan to try hanging these on the existing hooks on the side walls near our bed. We will have 10 hooks instead of two. Hope they fit.

 

Walking back to the hotel, we detoured by using the canal trail instead of following the major street with 6 lanes of traffic. Should have done this before, because we took note of the signage that warned of alligators and poisonous snakes on the trail. OMG, that would send us scurrying up those palms trees just like the iguana did yesterday! What a sight that would be……

 

Our travel agency gals and fellows had their desk set up in the lobby. They were handing out the new 2016 Grand World Voyage handbags, that included a really nice navy blue jacket made of a sweatshirt type fleece. Not a nylon jacket like we thought it would be. They also have lots of zippered pockets, which we like. We spotted people already wearing them, since it was so cool outside today.

 

The first shuttle to the Broward Mall was leaving at 1pm. Expecting the trolley bus, we found they were using a nice medium-sized shuttle bus this time. That’s when we ran into good friends, Bill and Leta, who were also heading out to the mall. They had gotten into the hotel late last night, and were raring to go today. Like us, they like to walk. Between the bus ride (15 minutes) and chatting at the mall, we must have spent an hour talking. Last time we met was when we were all in Honolulu last October. They were on a month holiday there, and we had stopped there while on the Amsterdam. Meeting up for dinner onshore, we visited until we closed the restaurant down. So it will be really nice to be sailing together again on a long voyage.

 

While at the mall, we made a stop at one of the major department stores to search for denim shorts. One of us has had no luck finding denim shorts this entire last year. Not even online from outdoor wear catalogues. Perhaps every other color, but no denim. For us, they are like a uniform, worn most of the year at home, and on cruises in warm weather. Today was a lucky day for one of us, because we found that the store had gotten in their summer clothes. And to make the deal sweeter, it was buy one, get one ½ off. OK that works.

 

Lunch was next on the list, and that would be at Red Robin’s. It is a favorite place for us at home, so we just needed to find it. Last year, we never found it, because you needed to go outside the mall to access the front door. Guess that way, they can stay open long after the mall closes for the evening.

 

The last shuttle left the mall at 3:30pm, but since we needed to burn off a few French fries, we walked back. It was so pleasant outside, the walk seemed to go by super-fast. While on the main road, we came across a big sunning iguana, who decided we were a threat, and did a swan dive in the nearby pond. He surprised us by diving deep and never coming up, at least where we could see him.

 

Back at the hotel, we began to run into many people we knew….some guests and some hosts we sailed with back in 2001 on Seabourn and other trips after that. They now host for our travel agency, but seldom, if at all, host HAL cruises. So it was nice to see them and catch up on news. By the time we got back to the room, we had one hour to get ready for the cocktail party at 6:15pm prompt.

 

Just about the entire group was present at the gathering by 6:20pm, as we had to squeeze our way to the bar. We spotted at least a dozen repeat guests that we know mostly by sight, but not their names. There were about 200 folks here today, counting the staff and some visitors. Gerald, the Mariner Society President, greeted us and informed us that we were sitting at his table. In fact there were nine of us at his table, all President Club members. We asked Gerald how many members there were in total, and he said 62. Not all are active, but seven more will be inducted on the Grand Voyages this year.

 

Dinner was good and served as soon as we sat down. We did notice that wine was not offered, and there were no wine glasses at each place setting. Those who came to the table with their wine from the party, had their glasses filled, thanks to Gerald. We don’t drink it, so it didn’t matter to us. Usually there would be both white and red bottles on the tables, so we guess this was a cutback. The key lime pie made up for it , however.

 

The senior vice-president, Annie, delivered a short and sweet talk, then Gerald followed her with another short and sweet welcome. We got instructions about tomorrow’s transfer process to the pier……luggage ready at the door of our rooms by 8:30am, and times for the bus transfer. Gerald informed us that we would be getting a 10am private transfer to the ship, reserved only for our small PC group. That’s nice of them to provide this. The evening ended by 8:30pm, where we all decided not to wait for the coffee, and go get our things packed for tomorrow. Hate to wait for the last minute to do this job. We had accumulated a few extra things and needed to make sure it would all fit in the suitcases. It was a tight squeeze, but we had to remind ourselves that usually we bring three bags, and not two. Good thing we don’t have to weigh them this time.

 

The plan is to get to sleep early, and make it to our favorite café tomorrow for breakfast. Won’t be hard, because these beds are really comfortable. Tomorrow night, we can look forward to being rocked to sleep with the motion of the ship. Love it.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Thanks for the further info on the HAL greeting and baggage handling at the airport. Hard to believe that it has been that many years since red jackets/vests have been worn by the reps.

 

This subject was well-discussed at our dinner last night by everyone. Gerald, The Mariner Society President, admitted that the job had been out-sourced, but he was not happy to hear about everyone's negative experiences. Some folks had a much worse time than we did.

 

Unfortunately, in our humble opinion, the transfer was not worth the frustration. Next time, we will consider taking a taxi. Many other guests agreed with us.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Well I hope you enjoyed your first night onboard and now you are settled in to enjoy your voyage! Thanks for your reports.

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Well I hope you enjoyed your first night onboard and now you are settled in to enjoy your voyage! Thanks for your reports.

 

Oh dear - I got ahead of myself! I knew I was experiencing increased dizziness but I didn't think it would be noticed by others. :o oh well, my sentiments remain intact for another 24 hours!

 

Enjoy!

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Its great to be reading about another of your world cruises. I'm a little late to the party since I was on the Prinsendam holiday cruise and left Fort Lauderdale on Monday. For the next sixty some days you will provide my cruise fix. After that I'll be on the Grand Med.

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Where are all the Amsterdam cruisers?? Can't find Bill & Mary Ann, Pete and Judy, Jeff, no one to report on sail away, is the computer down or what?? Missing the reports.

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Report # 6 Embarkation Day January 5, 2016 Tuesday Overcast, rainy, and windy 30 Pictures

 

Knowing that today would turn out to be a marathon one, we began the morning with a good breakfast, but not where we had planned. Wouldn’t you know it, rain greeted us when we went to leave the hotel to walk to the café. A light rain, but when you don’t have umbrellas, we would have gotten soaked.

 

So we went back into the hotel’s restaurant, Bin 595, and were seated at a table for two. Thank goodness, most of the guests were not up yet. The service was swift and the food was great. Lots of coffee too.

 

By the time we got back to the room, our two pieces of luggage had been picked up. We would not see these until later in the day in our cabin on the ship.

 

Our private limo bus was on time at 10am. There were only 16 of us riding to the pier early, so there was plenty of room. The ride took about ½ hour, and lucky for us, there was little traffic. Our destination was Pier 26. From that area, we could only see one other ship docked nearby, a Silverseas vessel.

 

Since the official check-in time was more like 1pm, there were few passengers at the terminal. It was a breeze getting into the terminal building, going through the xray check, then filling out the health forms stating that we were not ill. Also, we had to let them know if we had recently traveled in ebola areas. Answering NO to all of the questions got us a pass to the embarkation desk.

 

They had it split between President Club members, suites, veranda rooms, and five star and down Mariner members. At this point, there were no lines anywhere. Gerald was waiting for our bus, so he took care of each and every one of us. Everything was ready within minutes, and after the credit card was registered, we were free to board.

 

Henk M, the Hotel Director, met us, and led us to the elevator to the second level. There we met up with more PC friends, where we waited to have our photos taken with Captain Mercer, Henk Mensink, Gerald, and Gene Young, the Cruise Director.

 

Better yet, our room keys worked upon entering the ship. Last time, our photos were switched, and we had to go to the front desk to have new pictures taken. Actually, it happened again, but the HAL rep took new photos at her desk, and fixed them before we embarked.

 

A couple of weeks before this trip, we had been given a room assignment on the lower promenade deck. We really don’t like that location, so we recently upgraded back to our old room, which was still available. So we expected to see the huge flower arrangement, champagne, a fruit plate, and our bottles of alcohol. Only a bottle of Knob Creek was there, and the Molton Brown amenities from Housekeeping. Nothing else. Not even a daily newsletter.

 

We met our room steward, who happened to be the same fellow we had on the Tales of the South Pacific, Denny. His assistant, Prio, is new to us. We did not want to bother him with the missing items, since they have enough to do on boarding day. We really thought it would all show up later in the day.

 

Since no luggage had arrived, we went off to have lunch in the Lido. There was no Mariner lunch in the dining room……not even a regular lunch, as it was closed. But the sandwich maker was there in the Lido with a full array of sandwich makings. Hurray. He will probably see a lot of us on this cruise, because he did a good job.

 

We got a table in the Lido pool area, and were soon joined by good buddies, Barbie, Bill, Leta, Ellen and Aart, who surprised us by coming back onboard for a visit. They had been on the holiday cruise, which ended today. We will see them in Singapore, when they join the ship for the rest of the cruise back to Ft. Lauderdale.

 

From 1:30 to 3pm, the waiters served wine and champagne. Manny, our favorite bar waiter, kept our glasses full the entire time. At this rate, we might end up spending the late afternoon napping, something we never do. Except that there would be no room, due to luggage delivery…….all of it.

 

But first, we had to attend the muster drill at 4:15pm. Even though we will not be leaving the port until 11pm, they get the drill over earlier, well before sunset. Even though it looked and felt like rain was coming, it never did. The wind was blowing at 33 knots however. And cool. This is the first time in a long time, that we did not bake in the sun for the mandatory drill.

 

Well, this would be a good time to start the dreaded unpacking. At least the two suitcases from the hotel. It took six weeks to gather and bag all of the stuff, so to finish this task in one afternoon was impossible. It did appear that the wire coat hangers we bought with the 12 hooks will work on the existing wall hooks.

 

So with two pieces of luggage and one duffel bag unloaded, it was time for dinner. Yep, it was 8pm already. We have stuck with the fixed late dining seating, except not on deck five. Tom G, the Dining Room Manager, kindly let us keep our table for 10 (311) on deck four. So until we get to Sydney, where we begin to gather more friends, we are sharing the table with Barb, of course, and another couple from Texas, Bonnie and Paul. This is their first world cruise, although they have traveled on many cruises in the past on different lines. The conversation flowed as we all enjoyed our first tasty meal. It was strange to enter the room, and find that many folks were already eating, and almost done. It is the first time we have open-seating dining on a grand voyage, so it will be interesting to see how it works. Maybe it was due to people being wiped out after such a long day, but there were not many folks eating in the dining room tonight. This seemed to work well for us, as our waiters only had our table to attend. Service was excellent, and the food was hot. Our waiters by the way, are Wahyu and Randy. Our waiter from the Tales of the South Pacific, Lucky, was working nearby, so he came over to visit with us. It would have been nice to have gotten him, but it is a matter of luck, since they are moved around between cruises.

 

Before we realized it, 10pm had arrived, and so did bedtime. We would not stay up for the sail out of the harbor. Thought we better call the gals at the front desk to ask what happened to all of our welcome onboard package, including the daily newsletter. They were horrified to find out it was mostly missing in action. She promised that it would be delivered tomorrow, and profusely apologized. Someone else is probably enjoying our flowers and the bottle of scotch in our assigned cabin that we gave up on the lower promenade deck. Oh well, bet those things happen all of the time.

 

Once the ship left, we hit the winds that made the ship list on her side. Felt like we needed seatbelts in the bed, although it was not rough. Not expecting the greatest of weather for tomorrow. Doesn’t matter, since we will be room-bound, completing the unpacking job. Be glad when that is done………

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Looking forward to following your trip. A little sad we didn't return for another world cruise this year but we'll be there next year and have other trips planned in the meantime. Will travel along with you vicariously and will join you in late April for the trip to San Diego. Till then have a safe and pleasant trip.

 

Rich and Peg

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We are happy to know that you and our friends have made it onboard.

Thank you for sharing another world journey with us.

Enjoy each moment.

 

Barbara

 

P.S. Denny is a great Room Steward.

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It's too bad that Hal doesn't have the MDR open on embarkation. I hope that isn't a sign of how things are going to go. It really seems to mess things up when a person changes staterooms. Thx for the update.

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It's too bad that Hal doesn't have the MDR open on embarkation. I hope that isn't a sign of how things are going to go. It really seems to mess things up when a person changes staterooms. Thx for the update.

 

I agree with cruz chic! I thought that they were opening up MDR to everyone and not just for us Mariners. Now nothing! Hummmmm.....

So happy for you both on this magnificent WC! Ours is in 2017.

Hi Cruz Chic! Hope you had a wonderful New Years!

Hope you are doing well👍

Denise:)

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metal hanging over-the-door bars with several hooks. We plan to try hanging these on the existing hooks on the side walls near our bed. We will have 10 hooks instead of two.

 

Has any one tried this ??????

 

Is there a photo available of this hook system? Thanks!

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Report # 7 Sailing Towards Puerto Limon January 6, 2016 Wednesday Partly cloudy 15 Pictures

 

Upon trying to establish our internet connection this morning, we were unsuccessful in doing anything. The internet was obviously down. Rumor has it that the service has been the worst ever for the last two weeks . Perhaps they are “working” on it, as we are often told. That’s why our reports have been delayed, in case you all are wondering what happened to all of the contributors. We shall try again later.

 

After another great breakfast, we took our morning walk. Today’s weather was far from “partly cloudy”. It had been raining all morning from the looks of the decks. Doubt the sun will come out much today, which is just as well, because we would be room-bound for the afternoon anyway…….unpacking and stashing our stuff.

 

Before we dove into the task, we attended the first meeting of the Cruise Critic group at 10:30am in the Crow’s Nest. A very nice, and extremely organized couple, put together this large group, and obviously spent a lot of time preparing for the long cruise. They had sent out proper invitations to some of the senior staff, but the only one to attend was Joanne, one of the Future Cruise Consultants. She gave a short talk, then everyone mingled for over an hour. We asked Pete what happened to the officers, and he said he had been informed that they were no longer allowed to attend these gatherings. This has to be a new policy, because at the first meeting on our previous cruise, all of the ship’s fellows were there. Will investigate this later. Anyway, the meeting was good, and we are sure those who were getting tours together did so discreetly. Oh yeah, they even handed out small bags of candy with a printed map of the 2016 itinerary. How nice was that?

 

The unpacking job was successful, and most of the fine details are finished. The two bars with hooks we bought worked perfectly, hung on the existing double wall hooks. This increased the hooks from 4 to 24. We added a 2 x 3 foot world map, that sticks to the wall, two calendars, and plenty of small plastic hooks, also stuck on the walls and inside some closets. Two hanging shoe bags hold costume jewelry, small toiletries, and various things like notecards, pens, glue, scotch tape, etc. It’s all where we can see it easily.

 

We added many wire hangers, which fit better in the closets. We figured about 4 dozen would be enough, but we were two dozen short. The wooden hangers are better used for storing the slacks, jackets, and heavy items. We just used fewer of them. We intend to collect a few of the laundry baskets to store some t-shirts, swimsuits, and pareos on the narrow top shelves of the closet. Easier to pull out the basket, then lose some of the items to the back of the high shelf.

 

One of the jobs included getting a start on planting the window garden. We had purchased some narcissus and lily bulbs and a few amarylas. We now have seven pots on the shelf. Tomorrow, we intend to plant some dwarf sunflower seeds. They did pretty well last year, and it is fun the watch the growth progress.

 

Taking a break for a Lido lunch at 2:30pm was a good idea. The crowd was gone, and there was no line at the sandwich bar. Some things were new in here, like the glassware. There were regular-sized glasses for water and iced tea, not the small juice glasses. And we had new linen napkins…..white with orange stripes. Very nice. Glasses were set at each seat, and it appeared that the drinks were served to the diners from new sturdy plastic pitchers with lids. That’s an improvement.

 

By now that sun had peeked out, but if we had gone out by the aft pool, our day would have been finished as far as getting anything more done. So we passed by the lovely desserts (very tempting), and made one stop to see Christel, the Guest Relations Manager. We had lots of catching up to do on cruise news. She is delightful, and if you have any problems, she is the lady to see. Actually, we did get the story about the disabled internet. Technicians are onboard repairing it….hopefully. And until they do, there are no newspapers available. This is not a great way to begin a Grand Voyage.

 

Dinnertime came quickly once again. Our new tablemates showed up again, so we guess they like us all. They are super friendly, but that’s probably part of being Texans. There were three good choices for entrees tonight, and we chose one of them….. the prime rib, and were not disappointed. Barb ordered a fresh veggie plate with ranch dressing for us to share. Good idea, because that way we leave the tasty bread alone. While we were eating, we noticed a group of folks had been seated across from us. It was then that Bill recognized two of them………Elliot Finkel and his dad, Fyvush. Elliot is an accomplished pianist, while his dad was a star on the TV series Picket Fences, among other things. We deducted that tomorrow evening will be the first “gala” night, and we bet the entertainer will be Elliot.

 

We had two surprises when we got back to our cabin. There were gifts left on the bed……two boat bags of swag, or a navy bag, computer-sized with a small pouch containing hand sanitizer, mints, bandaids, sun screen, lip balm, and insect repellant. All useful.

 

The second surprise was that the clocks went back one hour……..yeah we know, not really a gift, but well appreciated anyway.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Speaking of ship based internet... I occasionally listen to a podcast by Leo Laporte. He's been covering tech since the 80's.

 

Anyway he went on a RCI cruise over Christmas.

 

He raved about their VOOM internet service. Both speed and reliability.

 

So it appears at least one cruise line has if figured out.

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