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Seek Timeless Treasures with Bill & Mary Ann - 2019 World Cruise -131 days

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Report # 111   Day at Sea   May 9, 2019   Thursday   Partly sunny & 51 degrees

 

The time has come when most passengers are seriously beginning to pack. Even though we will not be doing this chore for a few weeks, we still paid Sarah, the luggage shipment expert, a visit to arrange for two extra pieces of luggage along with the four we shipped back in December.  That way, we can go to the airport with just carry-ons.  Within a few hours, our package with the labels and ties had been delivered to our room. Excellent job.

 

For the second time this cruise, Captain Jonathon gave a “live” virtual tour of the ship’s bridge and engine room tour in the Mainstage at 10am.  Back in 2009, while on the Rotterdam, we did a real tour to the engine room.  We found another world down there, and it was hot-hot-hot.  We had a new found respect for the fellows that work down here.  At that time, a small group of us was on this tour, but one of the elderly ladies fainted, and had to be hauled back up many flights of narrow steep stairs.  That was the end of those tours.  Anyway, the Captain invited questions regarding the inner workings, and he kept the answers up until 11:30am.

 

Our job today was to retrieve our passports in the Explorers Lounge for the upcoming clearance procedures in Ft. Lauderdale.  It will be a zero clearance day, where everyone on the ship will need to be cleared before anyone is allowed back on the ship. 

 

The test kitchen is still operating with chef Elyse Clark.  And a  other guest speaker, George Stosur, gave a lecture on Howard Hughes and the CIA.

 

And this might be a joke, but it was printed as well as announced that the missing tender tickets need to be returned to Guest Services today.  Guess some crafty folks think these might be of some use on a future cruise.  However, it is our experience that numbers and colors are mixed up every time they are handed out.  Believe us, they are wise to every trick these days.

 

Today’s theme is Fabulous Vegas, or what happens on the Amsterdam, stays on the Amsterdam.  To follow in that theme, there was a Vegas matinee featuring the Runaround Kids, the fellows that were on stage last night.  So at 3pm, they entertained people with their 60’s and 70’s tunes.  Nice to see some changes like this sometimes. 

 

About the only thing “Vegas” at dinnertime in the dining room, were the waiters, who were dressed in neat vests.  And there were black and red hearts hanging from the ceiling with green lights on the columns.  The menu was difficult to figure out with many names of food that none of us recognized.  Even our experience waiter did not know what some of the descriptions meant.  The best treat are the plates of vanilla and chocolate biscotti cookies that our waiters sneak from the bakery.  And thanks to Marco, we all have some ginger, since the yum-yum girl is gone from the entrance by 9:30pm.  We tend to forget that this lower dining room is really open seating.

 

The show this evening was a young lady from Canada, by the name of Karen Grainger.  She was billed as a singer impressionist.  The guys will be attending, and we will gladly get their opinion tomorrow.

 

At 6pm this evening, we had 3020 nautical miles to go to reach Florida by May 16th.  Good to learn that the Captain reassured everyone that this ship is capable of sailing much further than that with more than ample fuel to cross the Atlantic.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Busy sea day -- glad that there are still many activities to keep people busy besides packing.

 

Even on shorter cruises we are amazed at how people keep their tender tickets.

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Report #112   Day at Sea   May 10, 2019   Friday   Partly sunny & 64 degrees   Part #1 Of 1   12  Pictures

 

We thought today started out rather good weather-wise, because there was some sun shining early on.  The temperatures have remained chilly as have the winds, but it turned out to be just wishful thinking. 

 

Breakfast was kept light, as we had been invited to the Grand Mariner Society lunch in the dining room at 11am.  We had noticed that during our usual morning walk outside that the seas were turning rough, and the ship was sailing sideways.  On the port side, we were getting the heavy spray from the waves, and decided to walk only on the starboard side.  A few other brave folks followed our lead.  Then it was time to get ready for the lunch.

 

Previously, we had received a note with a table assignment of # 306, the largest table for up to 12 guests in the lower dining room.  This section of the dining room had every table reserved for the guests with the highest number of days.  Ours was filled with President’s Club friends Silvia, Joe, Sue A, Barb, Don, and Hazel with Phillip S, the head of culinary operations as our distinguished host.  If it was not for the printed name tags at each place setting, these seats would have been taken, despite the larger sign that said RESERVED in the center of the table.  Yes, we have seen this happen while on other ships, and more than once.  Today, these tables were well-guarded by staff members.

 

Serving this section were our favorite waiters Gan and Feri, who know our every whim and likes.  They even took the trouble to have ice tea with lemon at our place settings.  The menu was nice with starters of a seafood appetizer, or a cold apple and pear gazpacho soup.  The smoked halibut on the seafood dish was the best, and the cold soup was seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Excellent and refreshing.

 

The mains were a choice of filet mignon with shrimp, or haddock filet, or butternut and mushroom plate of raviolis.  One of us had the steak, while the other the vegetarian choice of raviolis.  Both very tasty.  The meal was served with white and red wine, which was used for the toast by the Captain and Henk,  both of whom only stayed long enough to wish us all well and bon appetite. 

 

We had a great table as we all knew each other.  Before we knew it, dessert was served which happened to be a small forest berry tart.  Coffee or tea was served, and by 12:30pm, the dinner bell was rung, and everyone was invited to leave.  They had another round of lunch guests arriving by 1pm, which took care of feeding the entire passenger count for this cruise.  Each of us had an HAL tile to add to the growing collection at home. 

 

At his daily PM update, Captain Mercer mentioned that we will be in for a wild ride, since he predicted the waves would increase to up to 20 feet later tonight, and we should make sure to be careful moving around the ship.  In addition, we should put any breakables down on the floor in our staterooms.  It was already apparent by the time lunch was being served, that the seas were getting angry. 

 

Back at our room, we had a nice surprise with the final gifts of the cruise placed on the bed.  They were two Royal Goedewaagen GWV plates with the 2019 itinerary printed with the world map.  The only one that did not occur was the island of Moorea, due to unfavorable sea conditions.  It had been way too rough to tender anyone ashore that day, stranding some passengers that had spent the night there.  Now we will be able to pack up the most fragile of our gifts to be shipped home, for us in a couple more weeks. 

 

By 1pm, the Amsterdam was 2545 nautical miles from Ft. Lauderdale, and the ship was maintaining a speed of 17.5 knots.  The Captain had to slow down from over 20 knots, due to the 40 knot apparent winds, clocking in at 7 on the Beaufort scale.  With occasional driving rain, and temps in the low 50’s outside, it was a perfect time for an afternoon movie, King Arthur and the Legend of the Sword.

 

Ian, our port guide, has kept up with morning talks….today’s was about world trivia…been there, seen it, and now prove it.  Will have to watch this later just to find out where he was going with this theme.  Another morning guest, Tim Runyan, lectured on exploring our underwater world, while ocean earthquakes and tsunamis was the subject of speaker George Stosur.  Come to think of it, during our lunch, it almost felt like an earthquake the way the table shook a few times.

 

Around 4pm, Captain Mercer came on the PA system and said we were currently traveling in the eye of the storm.  And although the winds and waves had calmed somewhat, it may not last.  He warned that sometime during the late evening and early morning, we will be hitting the highest swells with winds to match.  Predicting the worst to be between 6 and 9am, he once again cautioned everyone to be careful, as the swells will continue until the late evening.  Not exactly the way we all were expecting the final cocktail reception and last gala evening to be.  Transatlantic crossings can be unpredictable for sure. 

 

Shortly after his talk, we felt the need for some fresh air, and found our way outside on the lower promenade deck for a stroll.  All of the chair pads had been lifted and stored in the bow section, while every teak lounge was folding and laying on the decking.  The deck crew had been busy since we walked earlier in the day.  There is no doubt in our minds that every lounge chair will be tied to the railings before tonight is over.

 

The Station Band in the Crow’s Nest had their “day off” as each band does once a week.  They take turns. Barb prefers this band so much better than the other venues, so when their day off comes, she is always early at the dinner table.  There were just the three of us, because the guys went to the Pinnacle Grill tonight.  All of us ordered the buffalo chicken wings, which had to be the smallest wings we have ever had.  Our guess was that they used the wing tips of Cornish game hens.  Barb really thought they were pigeon wings.  Even our waiters were not sure.  We learned at lunchtime that on this final stretch at sea, the store rooms and freezers have to be emptied in order to get new supplies in Ft. Lauderdale.  And that is part of the reason the dining room lunch and dinner menus have not been posted until later in the day.  And we also think some of the appetizers and entrees have been very creative, and not always in the most positive way.  Thank goodness for the alternate menu, as we always seem to make it work.

 

Not sure if the show went on tonight, as the singers and dancers were set to perform That’s Life, with songs and dances from the 50’s and 60’s.  Singing only will work, but the dancing?  Well that’s another thing.

 

Battening down the hatches, we prepared for the rough ride tonight.  Actually, truth be known, Barb loves the motion of the sea, as does one of us.  The other one….not so much.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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We gave up attending the Mariner's lunch a long time ago.  We got tired of the free for all as people rushed into the dining room to grab their favorite tables ignoring any name tags on the tables.

 

The Atlantic can be bad.

 

There have been times when he shows were cancelled because of rough seas.

 

Hope your weather settles down soon.

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Report # 113   Day at Sea   May 11, 2019   Saturday   Partly sunny & 63 degrees

 

Instead of improving, it seemed that the sea conditions got increasingly worse.  By this morning, we were really rocking and rolling.  And it was only 6am, or was it?  Turning on the navigation channel on the TV, we learned that it was 5am, because the clocks went back last night, and no one told us.  If it was in the Captain’s PM talk, we must have missed it.  And our new room steward had not left the reminder card on our bed last night.  Lesson learned.  All we had to do was check today’s When  & Where to find the time change listed right below the sunrise/sunset section.  The only good thing was not having to get up yet.

 

There were far fewer regulars in the dining room for breakfast.  Understandable, since it was hard even walking here.  No kidding, the seas were choppy with waves as high as 20 feet.  At one point during the day, we checked the navigational channel once again to find that we were experiencing a force 9 on the Beaufort scale.  Speaking of that scale, the Beaufort is a numbering system for wind velocity.  Devised in 1805 by Sir Francis Beaufort, a hydrographer in Britain’s Royal Navy, the 12 velocities became known as the “force” on the Beaufort scale.  In 1874, it was accepted internationally as the official means of recording wind velocity.  So when we saw a force 11 appear, we knew that was 64-73 mph winds – a violent storm, extremely high waves, froth and foam, and poor visibility.  Hope to never see a force  with 73 plus winds, with hurricanes, huge waves, thundering white spray, and visibility nil.

 

This was the first day we did not attempt a walk outside, mostly due to the spray coming off of the waves and landing on the promenade deck windows.  After getting some emails done, it was time for lunch with Barb.  We all felt bad for the waiters, who were having a hard time keeping the glasses and plate ware from falling off their station counters.  Serving people was also a challenge, but the fellows all did well.  We stayed long enough to hear the Captain report that theses swells would continue until midnight, making tonight’s festivities a bit more challenging.

 

There was a Mariner Society cocktail reception this evening, with the first one at 4:15pm in the Mainstage.  Ours was at 6:30pm, where we were invited along with our fellow President’s Club members to enter the lounge, stage left.  Going through the receiving line with the Captain, Hamish, Christel and Henk, we were seated in the center section of the lounge.  So much better than where we were situated last year in the corner section. Each of us had a tower of special appetizers, and a flute of pink champagne.  It could have been called Tattinger’s.  A bartender offered us drinks, which have always been  delivered.  However, tonight, one of us could not get the name brand scotch always given without question.  The waiter (unknown to us) had not talked to the beverage managers, but once we had a conversation with the beverage manager, the cocktail arrived within seconds.  Other than that, this awards show was handled way better than in the past.  It has been stream-lined to make things fit into the time slot of one hour.  Every awardee received their new medal ahead of time in their room, then during the ceremony, they had their names called one after the other.  They lined up for photos with the Captain and hotel director.  It went much quicker and smoother.

 

We were all present for the final gala dinner, and also has a host, Timothy, the officer of food and beverage safety.  Although he happened to be our very first host on this cruise back in January, we learned much more about the job he does on the ship.  A newly-created position, Tim has come from Carnival Cruise Lines to HAL to keep every department on their toes in regards to safety with food, etc.  During the course of the evening, we all gave him plenty of hints about what we all have witnessed with violations of food and health safety on this ship.  Since it is his job to keep everyone healthy, he welcomed all the scenarios we presented to him. 

 

The show tonight featured a sassy humorist pianist by the name of Judy Carmichael.  A familiar face, we have seen her on other world cruises in the  recent past.  She is most talented, drawing a big crowd.

 

And for the final time this cruise, we put the clocks back one more hour.  Now we are on Eastern time, the same as Florida.  And the seas remained rough even at 11 pm this evening. 

 

Bill & Mary Ann     

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Had really hoped to have heard that the seas had calmed down by now.

 

We hit rough seas one cruise that were so bad everyone was ordered back to their cabins by 8:30 PM -- late dinner was cancelled -- elevators were lowered to the lowest level and tied off -- pools were emptied.  Our waiter broke 2 fingers and his assistant burned his hand trying to serve coffee.

 

 

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Report # 114   Day at Sea   May 12, 2019   Sunday   Partly cloudy & 64 degrees

 

First things first….Happy Mother’s Day!!!  One thing for sure, although it was promised we would see today as “another world” compared to yesterday, it was better, but not 100% yet.  That is, as far as the rough seas were concerned.  Stilling rocking and rolling, at least the sun was beginning to peek out of the clouds.  However, to brighten up the day, there was one single long-stemmed pale pink rose left on the pillow this morning after our room clean-up.  Nice touch for Mom’s Day.

 

There were a few big events on the ship today, beginning with the Mother’s Day Brunch Sampler, the Sunday-at-sea special brunch with a 3 course set menu, sampler style (little bits of food in shot glasses), and sparkling wine specials.  We did notice some champagne choices in front of the entrance kiosk on deck four. 

 

As we do not attend this brunch (too many seafood items for the one of us that is allergic), we went to the regular breakfast at 8am.  What a nice surprise to find our buddy, Barb, waiting for us.  It takes heaven and earth to have Barb get up this early in the day, except she had an appointment for a haircut, and needed to be up anyway.  These words would never come out of our mouths in front of her, but the days are running out quickly before the cruise ends in Florida.  So we enjoyed the time together as always.  We have the best waiters for breakfast and lunch….Gan and Feri.  So far, they have saved the best and biggest of the fresh berries for our yogurt.  Pretty much a miracle as we sail towards Florida now.  And our coffee cups are never empty, as they keep the coffee as hot as they can.  We will miss these guys.  Barb will also be going to the brunch, in hopes there might be some more caviar.  Last evening’s cocktail party with the better servings of caviar is probably as good as it gets.  We made sure Barb had several servings of the super salty treat.

 

Our most important job of the day was to collect the refundable port taxes from this entire cruise at the front desk.  It had been posted to everyone’s accounts two days ago, so we followed up with cashing it out before they changed their minds.  It is our experience that people are not always told that this refund can be payable in cash.  More than likely, the majority of folks have run up a sizable bill on this long cruise, so the refund of about $339. per person would help keep the bill down somewhat.  We always like to know exactly what has to be spent onboard, and what we can get in cash, as most times it is “use it, or lose it” credit. 

 

Today was also a good time to collect our thoughts and give credit where credit was due.  And that was by writing our comments in the “Share Your Thoughts” cards.  So for those members of the staff and crew that took such good care of us, we extended our sincere thanks, knowing that the written message reaches them personally. 

 

Another milestone was the performance of the passengers in the Guest Talent Show this afternoon at 2pm.  We’re looking forward to seeing Harvey and Barbara’s secret skit with their buddies.  They have been practicing for weeks now, and they promise a fun time.  Also, many people we know will be singing with HAL Chorale.  They will be the frosting on the cake with the final performance of the talent show.  As it turned out, only Harvey was in a funny skit with several  of the dance hosts as they did a Full Monty act….very amusing in their bathrobes.  Songs were sung, jokes were told, and it was all in good fun.

 

A special Mother’s Day Cabaret was held in the afternoon featuring one of the singers/dancers of the Amsterdam….Clare Ivory.  According to Greg and Heo, she tops the charts in the talent department…..better than most of the professionals.

 

With four time changes in four days, we noticed a need to kick back before dinner time.   Normally we would have gone to the Ocean Bar to listen to the band, but they were off today.  Watching channel 34 in our room was good for passing the time with MacGyver and NCIS. 

 

Time for dinner, we joined our group for sweet and sour shrimp and shrimp salad entrees, one of the specials for Mom’s Day. Entirely too beat for the late show of comedy of Dick Hardwick, we turned in around 10:30pm.  But first we wanted to do some internet searching for the change of docks in Ft. Lauderdale.  Seems that instead of Pier 26, we will be docking at Pier 21.  The odd thing is that Captain Mercer said that we will be the only ship in port that day.

 

We also had an unusual message from the front office concerning the outside decks.  It seems that because of the strong gales during this crossing, some of the smoke stack insulation came lose, and is flapping uncontrollably now.  Exercising an abundance of caution, the aft deck of eight (Seaview Pool) and the aft portion of deck nine are off limits.  Ever since the weather turned cool, we have not been back to the pool deck anyway. 

 

Tomorrow will have even more special events.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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I like how they plan a lot of activities for the passengers when there are so many sea days in a row.

 

Hopefully they can fix the smoke stack insulation when the ship gets back in Ft Lauderdale.

 

Nice touch with the Pink Rose.

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Report # 115   Day at Sea   May 13, 2019   Monday   Partly cloudy & 64 degrees

 

Another day and sea, and another day of events.  Never a dull moment, the staff and crew are determined to keep everyone entertained and amused as this cruise winds down.

 

Now that we have sailed south and were about 285 miles west of Bermuda, the temperatures has improved quite a bit.  Now there is some humidity in the air, and not just occasional rain showers, but tropical humidity.  Despite the winds logging in at a force 4 on the Beaufort, we have had pleasant conditions, which should continue through tomorrow, according to the Captain. 

 

During our several walks outside today, we have begun seeing more flying fish, something we have not seen for some time now.  In fact, we can say that we have seen the least amount of sea life of all of the cruises we have done over the years.  We know the dolphins, porpoises, and big game fish are there, we just have not had the luck to spot them this time. 

 

While the sun was mostly out this afternoon, we went up to deck nine to see what the problem was with the stacks.  A portion of the lining of the port side smoke stack was compromised, but we failed to see anything.  The decks on eight and nine aft were still roped off, so we assume it was still too dangerous to attempt a repair. 

 

After watching a movie, Skyscraper, we went to lunch in the Lido.  Trying to keep it light is difficult since our sandwich expert, Doreen, always builds a hearty sandwich.  Knowing that we share it, she adds plenty of meat and cheese to keep us happy. 

 

At 3pm, there was the Indonesian Crew Show, a favorite performance of the passengers and crew alike.  By the time we arrived, we could not even get near the back counter of deck five.  Our best bet was to watch it on TV at 4pm, where it would be shown for the rest of the day we assume.  Many of the crew members that are “off duty” attend this show, but only at the very back.  It was a fun show with many of the waiters, room stewards, and Pinnacle Grill staff that we know well. 

 

Finally, at 7pm, we were invited to a combined cocktail party with the deck seven folks and our fellow President’s Club members.  We had another opportunity to have our photo taken with the Captain and Henk, so we did.  Perhaps this one will come out better than the last one.

 

Only half of the Explorer’s lounge was full, because we suspect the majority of the guests attended the earlier version at 4:30pm.  And we also suspect that the guests were really busy today packing to go home.  Many people were pulling suitcases down to deck three outside of Shiv’s office, so they can weigh them on the scale.  We always bring our hand-held scale, which has worked well, as long as the ship is not rocking and rolling too much.

 

We had a chance to visit with Ian, our new port lecturer at the party.  We all thanked him for his port talks and all of the updated information we asked about.  Even though we are certain he has heard this comment from many others, we asked him why the port maps were not updated.  He did say that Seattle is the source, and they have been made aware of errors and outdated info.  Ian added that many of the newer HAL ships have a much better source of info on the ports.  However, for a grand world cruise, we should have some say as to the accuracy of the info.  He heartily agreed.  And we all agreed that we hope he will be back on the 2020 cruise.  His hopes are positive.

 

Henk M also stopped by, and we asked him about the back deck closure.  He assured us that by tomorrow, the problem will be fixed, and they will be back to normal.  All good news. 

 

Dinner for us was in the Pinnacle Grill, our final evening there for this cruise.  We ordered our usual favorites, including the new bacon on a clothesline.  We get a kick just seeing how it is presented, hanging from hooks on a wire.  And so tasty.  We finished the meal with Key lime pie and one serving of the cheesecake lollipops, also a fun dessert.

 

Bet there are more events to happen tomorrow.  We now have 1133 nautical miles to reach Ft. Lauderdale as of noon today. 

 

One thing we did not expect, was a touching note from the family member of the lady lost overboard.  It was heart-breaking to read her apology for the upheaval and disruption it had caused.  We never heard one negative comment about turning around from anyone we know, nor would any of us expect anything less with the rescue attempt. We only wished there had been a better outcome.   Furthermore, the sister expressed her sincere thanks for the support and kindness shown to her, even from strangers.  She signed her letter - The other sister”.  

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Glad the weather is better and they hope to get the smoke stack fixed before you get back to Ft Lauderdale.

 

How thoughtful of "the other sister" to write a note to everyone thanking them for their kindness, etc.

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Report # 116   Day at Sea   May 14, 2019   Tuesday   Partly sunny & 63 degrees

 

Well, partly sunny was partly right if you count the early morning hours we did see blue skies and sun.  But by the time we went to the dining room for breakfast, it had turned totally cloudy, and actually dark.  So much for planning on a day outside in the fresh air and sun. 

 

Walking outside we found it to be extremely windy and damp.  It wasn’t long before we were going through showers, making the decks slippery.  We did see a few more flying fish and clumps of algae, which has been floating by the ship for several days now.  On the leeward side of the promenade deck, the folks with lanai rooms could use their lounges.  But on the windward side….forget it.  Everything was soaked.

 

There was a notice in today’s When & Where concerning mobility assistance service in Ft. Lauderdale.  The word was out that unless you used such assistance during the Grand World Voyage, then you could not request it.  Yes, we have seen this happen more than once for some anxious guests to debark ahead of everyone else.  And HAL is wise to the practice.

 

Sales in the shops continued, as well as lectures, and games.  For those who had earned a lot of DAM Dimes, today was the final chance to redeem them for Amazon gift cards.  And we suspect the liquor store will be busy today for the folks that like to buy duty free bottles to take home.  They advertised up to 20% off of premium brands too.

 

We met Barb for lunch, and although she has been experiencing a hoarse voice, she felt much better today.  Hopefully, the room service chicken noodle soup will help.  The center section of the lower dining room was full of singles and solos, the farewell lunch for that group.  It has happened many times when singles have kept in touch, and actually became couples later.  One thing they all have in common is their love of traveling…..it’s a good start.

 

By now, the rain was coming down in buckets, and when we went back outside, there was thunder and lightning.  It lasted for quite a while.

 

The special event this afternoon was the Filipino Crew Show at 3pm in the Mainstage.  A smaller group than the Indonesian crew, the participants came from guest services, the beverage department, the food servers and prep workers, the Greenhouse Spa, and the Station Band.  They had nine acts, which were similar to ones they have done in the past.  This time the invitation card had explanations and origins of each act, which was more informative.  The audience was huge once again.

 

We watched another movie, The Mule, with Clint Eastwood….another fairly new flick.  It was pretty appropriate to this crowd of guests age-wise.  After that, we went to the Ocean Bar to find a newly-boarded solo pianist had taken the place of the Ocean Quartet.  His name is Pavel, and we recognized him from previous trips. We bet he will be on for the Panama cruise and beyond.  His music tends to be more on the jazz side, and not for dancing.

 

At 6pm, there was an early show of the Runaround Kids, UK’s group of kids singing tunes from the 50’s and 60’s.  Right up our alley.  They repeated it at 8pm, because at 9:30pm, there was a Top of the World Party, which we heard was the Ocean Quartet doing something special.

 

We had dinner plans with friends Bill & Leta, and joined them for the last time this cruise.  All of us have so much fun visiting, we barely remember eating dinner.  One thing that was unusual was seeing filet mignon on the alternate menu selection.  The theme of the meal tonight was Chef’s Grand Farewell Dinner, which really means……cleaning out the pantry.  All of the wait staff wore aprons and chef hats. 

 

The best news of the day had to be our friends, who won the $1810 final snowball jackpot bingo (Rosie and Randy…you may know them!)  Talk about excited, what a way to end a cruise!!

 

One more full day at sea, and we will be in Ft.Lauderdale.  Some are happy, but most are sad.

 

Bill & Mary Ann  

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I thought for certain that you were going to have good weather the last couple of days back to Ft Lauderdale.  But it sounds like you got hit by the Nor'Easter that went up the east coast of the states.

 

It is hard to believe that this year's World Cruise is coming to an end.

 

That is a nice jacket to win at the end of a cruise.

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Report # 117   Day at Sea   May 15, 2019   Wednesday   Partly sunny & 64 degrees

 

Good grief…..can this be the last full day of the cruise already???  That’s what we had been hearing all day long from so many people.  The common thread of thought is the older we get, the faster the time goes.  But as we all know, all good things must come to an end…..including this Grand Voyage. 

 

Our day began with finding the gift of another 8 X 10 photo in our mail slot, taken with the Captain and hotel manager, Henk, at the last combined cocktail party two nights ago.  We are glad we took them up on the generous offer to have this photo, since we did not have one this whole cruise with the two top officers.  Then we were off to breakfast in the dining room to see our two fun waiters.  We will miss their excellent service, over-the-top humor, and their very, very hot coffee.  Gan will be flying home tomorrow, and although Feri will stay, he may be reassigned to a different area in the dining room or Lido.  They made a great team, and we hope to see both of them back next year.

 

Once again , the weather looked promising very early, but soon deteriorated during breakfast.  It became darker, almost like nightfall, and we saw lightning, followed by loud thunder.  Then the rain came down like cats and dogs.  This occurred off and on all morning, until eventually, the rain ceased and it remained cloudy.  One good thing was that the winds had died down, and the seas were fairly smooth.  No sun, but at least no one was getting seasick.

 

There were some enticing sales going on in the shops, so we checked it out.  While we were looking at the HAL t-shirt sale, buy 4 and get 1 free, we ran into Kween Karen.  She had some good news that some of the world cruise logo clothing that had been sold at full price had also gone on sale.  This usually does not happen on the world voyage, but afterwards, on the re-positioning cruise.  Clever girl, she said all we needed to do was bring our receipts to the shop rep, and they would apply the difference back to our shipboard account.  So we did, and it worked.  We had not bought a lot of things, but we did get a small refund without question.  Good to know for future cruises.  While there, we also research their best watches, just in case we will have more credit to use on the following cruise.  Thanks to the gratuities being covered on the Panama Canal cruise, that will be more shipboard money to spend.

 

We weren’t sure Barb would show up for a dining room lunch (our last one together), but she did.  It was a lot more exciting than we expected, because shortly after the Captain’s PM talk, the ship suddenly hit a storm with 80 knot winds.  It caused the ship to list severely, without straightening up as it normally does.  Without warning, the waiters went running to their serving stations, because plates, trays, glasses and leftover food went flying on the floor.  The drawers opened as well as the cabinets, making quite a mess.  Little by little, the ship leveled out.  It was then that the Captain came on the speakers and explained that everything was OK, and it was just a fluke that we hit that sudden wind.  He cautioned everyone to take care moving around the ship, as these things could occur at any time.

 

(A note to Lisa:  we relayed your message to Barb about her homecoming tomorrow.  She sends her thanks.)

 

With all of the rain showers, something began leaking in the Lido, we heard.  And with the listing, a lot more damage happened on deck eight.  Like we said, this cruise has had a lot of “firsts”.  We hoped tipping over like the Poseinden Adventure was not one of them. 

 

By 3pm, everyone that could fit into the Mainstage for the Grand Farewell Finale was treated to a presentation hosted by Hamish.  Captain Mercer gave a special address, and said something we have read recently on one of our good night cards…..Travel makes one modest.  You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.  – Gustauve Flaubert -  Well said.  Then Ian gave a rundown of the entire itinerary of the voyage, aided by slides of each port we visited.  Finally, a video was made from each department with the crew and staff saying goodbye to everyone.  Complimentary drinks of champagne, wine, or juice or soda was included.  That always brings them in.

 

Luggage was being put outside the staterooms all day long.  Instead of waiting until this evening, this would give the fellows more time to do this massive job.  Many passengers were still hauling luggage, one at a time, to deck three to weigh them on Shiv’s scale.  We thought it would be a great idea to have these scales on each passenger deck, making it much easier to weigh them for air travel.  The problem today, was trying to get an elevator.  In the front section, we only had three working, while in the aft section, only one was working.  And every time that one opened, it was already full of people. Needless to say, it was going to be one long day and evening, especially for the crew.  Secretly, we are so glad we do not have to pack yet.  It should be a lot easier to debark in Seattle, as there will not be this enormous amount of luggage involved for the guests.

 

Taking our usual chairs across from the Ocean Bar at 5:30pm, we were able to say good bye to many fellow passengers that we probably will not see until next year.  Actually for those that are planning on going on next year’s world cruise, it will only be eight months from now.  We ended up staying until 7:30pm, since Barb joined us for a while.  She prefers the Station Band, but they were not supposed to be playing tonight.  As it turned out, they were, but she stayed for the Ocean Quartet.  We have enjoyed this group, especially their lead singer, Carrie.  She really has a remarkable voice.

 

Dinner was bitter-sweet, of course, since it was our final time for the five of us to be together.  This has been the most fun and easy table we have ever had, with some of the best friends ever.  Keeping it all in the family, so to speak.  We have had many guests, as well, and also had room for hosts on gala evenings.  Having the best waiters also added to our experience.  Never expecting to have Slam for the third year in a row was a plus.  And getting to know Marco (aka Suharto) was a treat.  Now we are owners of three drawings, portraits he made of us.  Signed and all.  He never failed escorting Barb out of the dining room when we were finally done.  Even if we were the last to leave the room.  Tomorrow night, we move upstairs to a table for two around the railing.  Sure will be different……..

 

Most all of us have seen the performance of the singers and dancers with 1000 Steps.  They are really a very talented group, and we hope they will return next year.

 

As we wrap this up at midnight, the temperature outside is 75 degrees, the stars are out, and we are doing 12 knots.  There are only about 60 nautical miles to go to reach Ft. Lauderdale, and the final tally of nautical miles for the world voyage was a bit under 34,000 or 39,100 statute miles.

 

Stay tuned, as we will continue with the next 18 days, as the Amsterdam sails towards Seattle.  Our goodnight card said:  I do believe it’s time for another adventure.  – Unknown -  How true it is.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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I have enjoying reading along for the world cruise and looking at your pictures.

 

You sure did have excitement with the ship listing -- lots of storms up and down the east coast.

 

Looking forward to following your adventure for the next 18 days.

 

I see that the ship is safely docked in Ft Lauderdale.

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Wonderful account of your cruise. Great Fun To Read. Thank you for sharing your adventure.

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Thank you for all of the time you have spent blogging during the World Cruise. For some of us, this is as close to doing a world cruise as we will ever get! Reading your blog helped me endure a long, cold winter here in Minnesota!

 

I was surprised to see you mention Kween Karen's name. Her blog was one of the first I ever followed. Do you know if she did any blogging from this cruise or any other recent ones? 

 

Looking forward to following as you continue on your journey...

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I've enjoyed each and every one of your posts, as usual.  If everything works out medically, I'll be on the 2020 Grand World.  You're daily posts came to life more than they every had before since I had the experience of the 2018 Grand World to help fill in faces to those you named, both passengers and crew.  Great job!!!

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It was wonderful as usual; great posts, pictures and all.  I'm sticking with you all the way home.  Thanks once again.

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Report #118   Ft. Lauderdale, Florida   May 16, 2019   Thursday   Scattered showers & 83 degrees   Part # 1 of  2     52 Pictures

 

Must be de-ja-vu, but it seems like we have been here in Ft. Lauderdale not so long ago.  And, of course, that would be correct, since we began our journey around the world from here 113 days ago.  The last day of a long voyage, and the first day of a back-to-back cruise has to be one of the most stressful for everyone involved.  Just the massive number of luggage and boxes that had to be taken off was daunting.  And that is one reason, we always chose to stay on for the re-positioning cruise back to the west coast.  We did not have to deal with the headache…..at least not for a few more weeks.

 

This morning, we got up early, and went to breakfast around 7am, and we did sit at our regular table.  As expected, we did have a new waiter, but also, Feri was back as assistant.  He may be re-assigned tomorrow, but we sure hope not.  Then eventually, Ian came on the PA and began announcing the debarking luggage tags by color and number.  This was followed by a request NOT to line up unless you had that color and number ONLY.  This message would be repeated over and over, because people usually do not listen.  The expected time for the zero clearance was supposed to be around 10am, but we are certain that did not happen as planned. 

 

To complicate matters, it began to rain heavily by 9am, and the luggage being removed from the ship had to be stopped.  It was the same for the growing piles of supplies that needed to be taken onboard.  We left the ship before 10am, with our passports in hand, our room key, and a transit card we had been given a few days ago.  Passing by the very long line of folks waiting for porters, we were led to a different line for in-transit guests, where the customs and immigrations officer scanned our passports, and that was that.  We were free to go.  No customs forms to fill out anymore for anyone.

 

Lucky for us, the worst of the storm had passed by, and even though the streets were wet, we were not.  Of course, we packed umbrellas, which one of us used briefly.  We did discover that Pier 21 was very close to Pier 26, our usual slip.  Along the roadside, we noticed a sign saying that the Carnival Magic was coming to Pier 26 soon.  And now we know why the Amsterdam had been switched to Pier 21.

 

Having walked to 17th Street from here before, we took our time and got there sometime around 11am.  There is a Walgreen’s on the corner, and the Renaissance Hotel across the highway.  Turning right, if you go across the bridge, the Pier 66 Hotel is located there.  This is where we stayed in January before the grand cruise.  It is closed for

1 ½ years for renovations, we heard.

 

Anyway, we headed up the boulevard to Duffy’s, a sports bar with good food.  We ordered 2 for 1 beers, a bacon cheeseburger, and a side salad.  Sharing a fried cheesecake for dessert with ice cream finished our meal on a sweet note.  Sure was nice relaxing for that hour, but we had some shopping to do, and since all onboard time was 3pm, we needed to move on.

 

A Publix was located in this shopping center, and we found everything we needed there.  Even something new we have not seen before…….dill pickle potato chips.  Bet they are good.  One stop at Walgreens and we were ready to go.

 

Hiking back, we had to stop at the Port Everglades checkpoint, and show our room keys and intransit cards to the officer there.  Security is very thorough here.

 

By the time we got back to the ship around 2:30pm, the sun was beginning to peek out, and it was actually warm, but humid.  Never would have believed the day would improve so much.  We had noticed that there were a dozen semis waiting alongside Pier 26, and assumed these were deliveries for the Carnival Magic.  Asking a porter, he said all of the trucks were for the Amsterdam.  Wow, these deliveries had been going on since early this morning, so we can assume the world cruise folks wiped out most everything onboard during the eight day Atlantic crossing.  He added that with so much to load, which included luggage of the new passengers, we would not be leaving at 4pm as planned.

 

When we arrived to our room, we had a bunch of gifts.  There was a bottle of champagne, Nicolas Feuilatte, and it was on ice….compliments of Orlando Ashford.  Two rectangular plates of fruit and chocolate candies were sitting on our coffee table, as well as an addition round plate of the same chocolates from the new hotel director, Norbert.  A few years back, Norbert had taken over for Henk M, and treated us just fine.  In fact, he hosted a special dinner in the Pinnacle Grill for the remaining President’s Club members that had sailed onward like us.  It was every bit as good as the King’s Room dinner with Seattle’s top group.  We also had a complimentary dinner at the Pinnacle Grill for being Collectors’ Voyage Guests.  And in order to fill out the online survey, we were given two voucher codes to use for 30 minutes of internet.

 

Our travel agency sent us a complimentary Canaletto dinner for two, and also gifted us with two $25 beverage cards.  When it rains, it pours. 

 

By the way, the Captain on the Amsterdam now is Fred Eversen, and the Cruise Director is Bruce Allen Scudder, a name most familiar to us, since he was our CD for the majority of our word cruises over the years.  Other than Norbert, the Hotel Director, we do not have the list of the staff, since it is never listed on this cruise.  Maybe we need to check on the HAL Navigator on our computer.

 

The most important activity of the day happened at 3:15pm with the mandatory muster drill.  All of us that have done this drill numerous times, know you still have to listen.  One lady, who had been on the world cruise too, spent most of the drill talking about being on the world cruise.  We had to chuckle when a young officer came by, and told her to pay attention and stop talking.  Even the lady (a stranger) next to her told her the same thing, but not in a nice way.   At least this will be our last drill on this journey to Seattle.

 

As expected, the sailaway was delayed until 5pm, but in actuality, it happened at 5:35pm.   The Seaview Pool deck was loaded with happy new guests, who were indulging in the cocktail of the day…something green-tinted in a tall plastic glass.  This had to be the most attended sailaway we have seen so far.  Of course, many more young people have boarded, and the Caribbean-style music helped the mood immensely.  Sailing past the tall apartment buildings at the exit, the horn went off from one of the condos.  Never fails to happen no matter what time we sail through.

 

Polishing off the entire bottle of champagne, we worked on photos until dinnertime.  This would have been the night to skip dinner, but we did want to see who our waiters would be.  It had been a long day with at least 8 or 9 miles of walking, but we were pleasantly surprised to find our favorite waiters, Slam and Marco, assigned to our section. Slam has a lot of seniority, so we think it was his idea, and it was OK’d.  Also, one of our nicest head waiters was back… Pandi.  He has been on other ships for three years now, and we welcomed him home to the Amsterdam.  Another nice fellow.

 

But the best was yet to come with friends Ellen and Aart boarding today.  We have not seen them for almost two years (due to illness), so being able to reconnect for 18 days will be wonderful.  They sit two tables away from us on the railing, and looked so happy to be here.  Also best friends of Barb’s, they were disappointed not to have seen her today, but with them arriving, while Barb, Greg, and Heo were leaving for the airport, it just was not feasible.  The good news is that Ellen and Aart are planning on coming next year’s world cruise, and all of us will be together with plenty of time to visit.

 

The dinner menu was stream-lined with fewer choices, but more familiar ones.  Slam and Marco continued to spoil us with our crudité plate, and chocolate biscotti cookies for an extra dessert.   Almost the entire fixed seating at 8pm in the upper dining room was full.  That’s pretty good on the first night, when most folks are plain exhausted after a long travel day.  Not this group, as the lounges, casino, and shops were full of people dancing, gambling, and shopping.  There was no live show in the Mainstage, but they did show a big screen movie, Aquaman, at 8pm only. 

 

After dinner, we checked the shops to see if the 2019 GWV logo clothing was on sale. But we found that ALL of it was gone…only the regular undated items were on the shelves.  In addition, there was no buy one, get one for $2 drink special in any lounge today.  Perhaps it will return tomorrow. 

 

We now have two days at sea, and hope for sunny skies and smooth seas.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Bill and Mary Ann

 

Thanks again for taking us along. Please say hello to Aart and Ellen for us. We had drinks with them this winter on the Zuiderdam with Jeff and Ian when it stopped in Curacao. Looking forward to seeing them again in the Crows Nest for the evening cocktail on next year's world cruise. Glad to hear Aart is feeling better and we look forward to seeing all of you next year.

 

Rich and Peg

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Loving your report.

 

At one time we used to have a card for Duffy's where after you spent so much money, you got a $10 certificate for the next time.  We got quite a few of them.  We have stayed many times both pre and post cruise at the Embassy Suites.  And shopped a lot at Publix in the Harbor Shops.

 

We have never experienced a Happy Hour on the first day of any cruise we have been on which includes repositioning cruises from Ft Lauderdale to Seattle or vice versa.

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Report # 119   Day at Sea   May 17, 2019   Friday   Partly cloudy & 67 degrees

 

Our first day at sea after leaving Ft. Lauderdale was probably appreciated by the hard-working crew more than the guests.  After having such a marathon day yesterday, this first day establishes a pattern for the guests that will continue through the next 17 days.  Take the dining room breakfast, for instance.  Between 8 and 9:30am, 260 passengers had been served.  Compared to the 120 regulars that sailed on the world cruise, this was most unexpected according to head waiter, Asep.  These numbers determine how the waiters are distributed.  This morning we noticed that there were no dedicated coffee servers like we had on the grand cruise.  In fact, we also took note that the pastry server was nowhere to be seen.  That is due to the fact that the tray of special pastries is no longer passed among the diners anymore.  They still have some pastries, but they are only served upon request.  For some time now, the tray of rolls and bread and butter have been eliminated from the dining room lunch.  Also, only served when requested. 

 

Another nice surprise was finding our waiter, Slam, assigned to our section of the dining room for breakfast and lunch now.  He does have a new partner, but we also know him, but not as well as Marco.  There has been a change with the menu for breakfast, as a set Indian entrée has been added, as well as porridge, which was only served in the Lido.  We still had the small vase of fresh flowers, but that may change with just the little lamp as a centerpiece.

 

The weather began as very promising this morning with lots of sun and warm temps.  Even by Captain Eversen’s PM update, it was 81 degrees.  Great time for a walk, which was a flip-flop, turn around in the middle due to a closure on the promenade deck.  The deck crew have been doing some extra scrubbing in sections.  And the railings have been getting a fresh coat of varnish once again.  We did see a few boobys and flying fish, but only in small numbers.  As we head southwest, the Amsterdam sailed around the top of Cuba, then down the east side.  It seems that the seas are notoriously rough around these islands, and today was no exception.  By the late afternoon, the skies clouded up and the winds picked up significantly.  And it got cooler as well.  The ship had remained muggy and warm, like they are having issues with the air conditioning.  Certainly hope not, but it seems to be problematic when we are in warmer waters and high humidity.  We did hit rain later in the day.

 

The majority of today’s activities revolved around casino games, alcoholic beverage tastings, and shop sales, of course.  Ian, our EXC guide, continued his talk on the upcoming tours offered, and the guest speaker, Tim Runyan, lectured on the Panama Canal.  There is also a group of Mexican Ambassadors onboard, but with their dance workshop in the Crow’s Nest, we doubt we will ever see them.  Seems to us, these groups used to perform in the Lido Pool area, where many more people can enjoy the classes.

 

A good movie, Green Book, was shown in the Wajang Theater today.  Barb made us promise to see it, because she said it was one of the few flicks she really liked.  If it hits the TV tomorrow, we shall be sure not to miss it.  Last night, we watched a movie called The Ghost Story, which we are still trying to figure out today.  IOHO, it was really bizarre.

 

We had a list of things to follow up on at the front desk.  But first, we needed to confirm our requests for Pinnacle dinners for this cruise.  As we did not have a clue when the gala nights were, or the specialty dinners in the Pinnacle Grill, we had no idea which evenings had been reserved for us.  Tina, the manager, had gone home, and there was a new person taking over.  As it turned out, several of our dates had to be changed, since there will be two Sel de Mers, three gala nights, and one sommelier event. All we wanted was a regular dinner menu, table by the window at 8pm.  Going early in the cruise to arrange this, we did get exactly what we needed.

 

The rest of the questions got answered at the front desk…no problem.  Our new go-to person for the President’s Club members is Jay.  Speaking of the PC perks, we received our flower arrangement, and one $40 beverage card.  There should be one more delivery before this 18 day cruise ends in Seattle.

 

Knowing that the custom sandwich-maker would be gone from the Lido now, the better choice was going to the dining room for a light lunch.  Salad, soup, and an appetizer with one order of the most delicious beef rib plate was perfect.  Slam added a customized plate of fresh fruit for our dessert.  The melon and pineapple slices were better than any dessert on the menu.

 

It would have been nice to go to the Seaview pool, but at some point, we needed to begin packing a few of our six pieces of luggage to be shipped home.  There would be no need for the heavy sweatshirts and arctic jackets now, so these were stashed away.  Two duffels filled, and four more to go….we did good for today. 

 

Did we mention that there was no internet plan to cover the entire 18 day cruise?   The only prices we saw were single day packages for social $14.99, surf for $24.99, and premium for $29.99.  Now the positive side of this rests in the fact that few people would pay these daily fees until they needed them.  That leaves the speed for those of us that have existing plans from the world cruise very good.  So as long as we are not blocked by the stacks, the surf program we have should work just fine.

 

Forgot to mention something we saw while sitting at the Ocean Bar yesterday.  A guest had been called to the front office for two members of the security  team to open a piece of luggage in front of them.  Going through xray at boarding time, her bag had been flagged.  This happens sometimes, and also to us.  The culprit turned out to be a plug strip, which was confiscated to be handed back when the cruise is over.  We believe it has something to do with surge protectors.  The ship will lend a “legal” plug strip in its place.

 

The Captain had a 15 minute welcome toast in the Mainstage at 7:45pm.  Since many people were still at dinner somewhere, not all attended.  We figured by the time we got there, it would be over.  So we skipped it, leaving more space for those who may be sailing for the first time on HAL.

 

Tonight was the first gala evening, but not everyone got that message.  Don’t take us wrong, but the fellows dressed with a collared shirt and shorts with sandals does not come close to even casual.  Even some of the young ladies were wearing what looked like beachwear.  Most could have dined in the Lido, but yes, we did see some in the dining room.  These days, nothing can be said to these guests we understand.  Last year, we did notice that one of the head waiters asked two teenage boys to remove their backwards baseball caps in respect for their fellow diners.  They did just that without questioning it. 

 

The menu did not have Dover sole, lobster, escargots, caviar, or prime rib.  But they did have steak and grilled shrimp, rack of lamb, or stuffed pasta shells, which one of us ordered.  A Caesar salad topped with some of the grilled shrimp made a fine substitute for a main course.  Keeping it light, we shared a sliver of carrot cake, followed by a few chocolate biscotti cookies and tidbits of ginger.  The table of three ladies sitting next to us complimented the two of us for dressing for the occasion, as they did.  They really liked to see a fellow dressed in a tux we suppose.

 

The show this evening was another performance by the Runaround Kids, who obviously have stayed onboard after the world cruise ended. Wonder if they will stay on for the Alaska season?

 

Good news….the clocks went back one hour tonight.  The crew needs it more than the guests.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

PS  Not sure we have addressed this yet, but for those who are having trouble enlarging the photos, may not have the touch screen option on their computer.

 

 

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Bill & Mary Ann:  Thank you so much for making time to carry us all along on a GWV.  You have inspired me to give it a try, so I hope to see you in a little over six months on the 2020!

 

Lonny

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