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Stow Away with Bill & Mary Ann for 181 days on Amsterdam's So. Pacific & 2020 WC

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Once again, thank you for taking the time to share your wonderful cruise.  Wishing you a safe trip home, very Merry Christmas and a safe, healthy and happy New Year.!

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Report #54    San Diego, California   Homeward Bound   December 18, 2019   Wednesday   Partly cloudy & 62 degrees      Part #1 Of 1     11  Pictures

 

An appropriate title for today’s report is going to be DOD, or Day of Delays.  As many of you know by now, we are able to debark the ship at any time we wish.  That is, of course, after the US Customs and Border officials completed their job of clearing the guests that were from foreign countries, intransit  guests, and the crew members.  Since so many passengers were from Canada that were on this sailing, that group was large enough to have 17 numbers assigned to them.  And as always, there were at least 6 guests who failed to show up for this mandatory face-to-face inspection.  So instead of beginning the debarkation process at 8:30am, it was delayed until 9am.  Those who were expedited, first in line, were not allowed to leave as expected, and believe us, the tempers began to flare. 

 

We were up very early and ready to get breakfast in the dining room at 6:30am.  The waiters were ready, but the cooks were called to the inspection, so we had to wait quite a while before our meal arrived.  At least our flight was short and after 1pm, so we were in no particular hurry.  But the more we thought about it, we knew it would be wiser to get ourselves to the airport in case something changed with the flight.

 

So off we went, down to deck two, and squeezed in with the rest of the guests who thought they were going somewhere.  That was about the time, the missing people were summoned.  You know, that’s when you see some folks who lose it with anger issues.  Especially when the elevator doors opened and there was no place to go.   Deck two and much of the stairwell was jammed.  The poor people trying to get back to their rooms were more than upset, but at least the crowd let them through as they had no luggage with them.

 

So it was around 9:30am or so, when they let us go, which looking back was not all that late.  That is one good reason not to book flights in the morning if you can avoid it.  No guarantee you will make it to the airport early enough.  Now the good news, was that the San Diego airport is only 3 miles away, and there are always plenty of taxis and vans to get you there.   We had no problem getting a driver to take us to the airport within minutes. 

 

Thinking we had plenty of time to make our flight which was scheduled to leave around 1:15pm, we soon discovered that the flight was grounded, and we had to switch to another flight.  The agent muttered something about poor weather in San Francisco.  But now, we were on a plane that was leaving within 20 minutes.  Good thing we had TSA pre-approved, and that line was moving quickly for a change.

 

What we did not know at the time, was that this flight was also delayed.  We found this out when we got to gate 43.  They also muttered something about weather conditions, and now the plane would depart at 12:15pm.  Still not bad, although we did begin to get concerned that this could go on all day.  That did happen to us once in India, where our flight out of New Delhi was delayed for over 8 hours.  Boy, was that a long day.

 

OK, so we boarded the plane finally, only to get settled in our seats, then get asked to debark.  Oh come on……We did think it was strange that this plane was only half filled, giving us the impression that perhaps they were combining flights to have a full plane.  Who really knows?   The end result was that back in the terminal, we discovered we would be leaving at 1:45pm.  This better be the final answer, we thought. 

 

And it was, and guess what?  The plane was almost completely filled.  The good thing was that it was a short flight and smooth as glass.  We ended up coming into SFO by 3:30pm to a very wet tarmac from recent rains.  But now we had to contact our driver, who had followed what he thought was our progress on a different flight.  Long story short, we do not own a cell phone, and once we got to the terminal in San Diego, there were no courtesy phones. And going online at the airport did not give us access to emailing. We only hoped our driver had a way to track our change of planes.

 

Nope, he did not, so once we landed, we called and he said our flight was due in at 5:15pm.  Only it was the wrong flight.  He had sent his driver elsewhere for our original time at 3pm, but at least there was a ride coming by 5:15pm.  Thank goodness, there are still courtesy phones in SFO.  So we passed the time with goodies from Starbucks, and writing this report.

 

So the saga continued from the time our driver came around 5:30pm.  We were very happy to see him, as he had been here much earlier according to our original flight plans, but had to leave.  Anyway, we loaded into his SUV and were off to stop and go commute traffic, as was expected.  Making matters worse was the wet weather, and the excess holiday travelers.  Our driver said the rush to get to holiday destinations began in earnest today, naturally. 

 

There are a few ways to get to the Bay Bridge, and at any given time, it can be a gamble as to the right one to choose.  Today’s choice of leaving the freeway was not the best one, since traffic came to a halt using the side streets downtown.  Then, when we finally got to the bridge onramp, a motor home stalled, blocking the way.  Geeze Louise……what’s next?  The CHP showed up and maybe ½ hour later, they moved the motor home.  From there on, the traffic flowed, getting us to our door shortly after 8pm.  What a sweet surprise we had, when we spotted several candy cane street decorations in front of our house.  A kind neighbor had put them there. If our flight back and the drive went OK, we should have been home by 5pm.   Last word of advice?  Always expect the unexpected, and be prepared to go with the flow.  And would we ever plan a trip so close to the holidays again?  Probably would think twice about it.

 

As we usually do, we shall follow up with one wrap up report, then resume the travels on January 1st.  In the meantime, happy holidays to everyone and a most wonderful New Year too.  We will be back, so stayed tuned…….

 

Bill & Mary Ann   

 

https://cruisingwithbillandmaryann.blogspot.com/

 

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Thank you for taking me along for the ride. Can't wait for the next adventure in January.

 

DW and I will be on the Koningsdam in January soaking up some Caribbean sun.

 

John P and Lady Jen

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Report #55    Florida bound......   December 31, 2019   Tuesday   Mostly cloudy & 60 degrees    Part #1 Of 1

 

Well here we are, 12 days after leaving the Amsterdam in San Diego.  The ship sailed through the Panama Canal, and is now on her way to Ft. Lauderdale, just like us.  To say it has been a whirlwind stay at home is an understatement.   We managed to squeeze in so many things we had to do, it seems as if we have been here for a month or more.  Connecting with our awesome family and friends has been wonderful, and wrapping up necessary loose ends made this a good move.

 

If you have followed this blog from the beginning, you might remember we had a 48 hour power outage shortly after we left home in October.  The freezer in the garage survived the “quarter test”, but the kitchen refrigerator freezer did not.  So the old saying “if in doubt, throw it out” was our best bet.  Luckily, there was not a lot of frozen food in there except several ziplocks full of hand-pitted cherries in a sugar syrup.  Took hours to clean them this past summer, and they should have been canned.  Lesson learned.  One good thing is that the refrigerator is sparkling clean now.

 

And perhaps you may remember our little deer that had used our place as her “playpen” since she was born in August.  She never did figure out how to jump the fence, so there she was, looking at us decked out in her winter coat of fur.  The following day, while tending our birds, her mom and aunt appeared, jumping the fence to feed the baby.  No wonder she survived, because there was nothing to eat on our place now that the acorns are gone.  This time, she found the gate opened for her, and went out to unite with the two does.  We have not seen her since, and hope they moved up where the feed is good.  Perhaps one day, she will come back.

 

Our ride will arrive at 5:30am tomorrow, and we will have only one piece of luggage and hand carry ons for the flight to Ft. Lauderdale.  Hopefully the traffic will be light, and the fog will stay away at least for the morning.  We will be staying three days at the hotel, then board the ship on Saturday, January 4th.  Look for the reports to resume soon…. In the meantime, HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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Sorry to hear that you lost the summer cherries in the death of the freezer.

But glad that your young deer is reunited with her family.  They will return.  :)  

Happy New Year to you and Bon Voyage.

Barbara

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Thank you for the update and safe journey to Ft Lauderdale.  Looking forward to your cruise updates!

Happy New Year and Bon Voyage!!!

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Looking forward to reading your upcoming adventures.  Safe travels!

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So happy to hear that the young dear survived while you were gone and her mama and aunt came to feed her.

 

Sorry about the cherries.

 

Looking forward to your reports.

 

Have a safe flight to Florida.

 

Happy New Year.

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Safe travels and bon voyage for a great world cruise.

 

FYI, I just learned that pianist Naki Attaman will be on board Feb. 11-22.  You will have a another chance to enjoy his shows.

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Happy New Year!!!

 

What usually happens when we get ready to go on such a long trip, we barely slept last night.  No matter how thorough we think we are, there is always doubt that we forgot something.  However, since we just did this same procedure two months ago, it seemed to be easier this time. 

 

One of those jobs we had to do was to apply for Sri Lankan visa, as this is one the ship is unable to do for us.  Thanks to the detailed instructions from a fellow guest on Cruise Critic, also on this cruise, we were able to successfully get the e-visas online.   And better yet, there was no charge for the transit visa.  How about that?  Since we are not arriving to that port until March 30th, we had to wait to apply 90 days prior to that.  The surprise was that it only took a few minutes for the applications to be approved, which we also printed out to be shown on the ship.  The other option was to do nothing, and stay on the ship that day.  Many of our friends do just that by choice.

 

So the alarm went off at 4am, even too early for our rooster to be crowing.  Our driver arrived shortly after 5am, and we were off for a quick ride to the San Francisco airport. We made it in a little over an hour, with little traffic.  This has to be the best day to fly, since most folks spent the night celebrating the new year.  This time we flew with Jet Blue, a straight-through flight, leaving at 9:30am.  There was no line at the counter, and we spent perhaps 10 minutes getting one bag checked and receiving the boarding passes.  Once again, we lucked out and got TSA pre-check. 

 

This was our first time leaving from Terminal One, which has recently been remodeled.  Very modern and spacious, we went through security, where everyone working there was in a good mood.  Must be starting the new year on a positive note.  Again, with no lines at all, we breezed through the security check, then searched for someplace to get breakfast.  At this point, the terminals have mostly to-go food.  Only one place was full service, but it did not open until later.  We ended up at an Illy to-go venue, and shared croissants and a bacon and egg sandwich.  With one raisin swirl roll and two coffees, we were happy campers. 

 

And thankfully, the flight was on time, leaving the tarmac close to 10am.  No rain or fog today. Going over Arizona and Texas, we hit some pretty bumpy weather, causing a lot of vibration.  It disappeared when we climbed well over 36,000 feet.  The flight went fast, although the TV screens were touchy while we were watching movies.  Just our luck to get seats with the bad connections.  The movie would stall, but come back and continue with some repeating.   By the time we watched two flicks, we were landing round 5:30pm Florida time.  We had fun with the many snacks they offer.  And they are available to help yourself, which everyone did.

 

The Ft. Lauderdale airport was crazy busy with traveling people.  It took a while for the luggage to come out, but we had no trouble getting a taxi.  It was a short ride to the Renaissance Hotel by the cruise port area. This was the new venue chosen by our travel agency, and located in a great location.  Having stayed at nearby Pier 66 last January, we were very familiar with the local stores and restaurants….all within walking distance.

 

Checking in was easy, then we walked to a nearby restaurant, the Boatyard.  It had become dark, and one of us was chicken to walk the main street in the evening.  The Boatyard was much more of a fish restaurant, but we both ordered the chicken entrée, which was very good and ample.  A couple of draft beers, and one shared Keylime baked Alaska finished the meal.  Expensive, but a treat for the New Year.

 

It had been a busy day, even though we did lose 3 hours on the clock in the long run.  Something tells us, we will have no problems sleeping tonight.  At least we have three days and nights here to acclimate ourselves to the welcomed warm weather. 

 

To be continued…….

 

Bill & Mary Ann        

 

https://cruisingwithbillandmaryann.blogspot.com/

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Glad you have safely arrived in Ft Lauderdale.

 

We have eaten many times at the Boatyard.  When we first started to go there it was under different management and was called the Bimini Boatyard.  They have really good food there.

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Glad to hear you are in FLL!  We are coming to pick you up in a couple days!  We need to get all the residents in "Ganville" back together again at breakfast, lol!  We've missed you two.

 

Linda

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Looking forward to following your latest adventure. Thanks for taking us all along!

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Report #57   Ft. Lauderdale,  Florida   January 2, 2020   Thursday      Part #1 Of 2     53  Pictures

 

Today was one for E and BW……translated:  eating and boat watching.  And what a beautiful day it was.  The sun was shining with some passing clouds, and it was warm with a breeze.  No showers.  What more can you ask for?   

 

Well, sleeping in a little later would have been nice, but once that first glimpse of daylight sifted through the lacy drapes, one of us was up…bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.  For some folks, it is much easier to deal with the time change, which is good.

 

Each day we are here, we have a plan to make the rounds to our favorite restaurants and stores.  The first thing to do was find that cute café we spotted last January, and go there for breakfast.  It is about a mile walk, and in the direction we needed to go.  Very near Publix supermarket is a place called Joe’s Café.  It is your typical mom and pop restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch only.  We have a chain out our way called Country Waffles, which serves the same type of home-cooked food.  Last year, this place was filled to the gills with customers, and we would have had to wait an hour for a table.  That is a good sign that the cuisine is good.  So this morning, we found there was plenty of tables, and we were seated immediately.  Just as we expected, the service and food were excellent. Great choice.  We will return there tomorrow.

 

Following that, we made a sweep through Publix, picking up a few necessary supplies for room snacks on the ship.  Once we leave the port here, we will not find these same dips and chips as well as a few blocks of cheese.  Back at the hotel, we were waiting for the elevator, when our friend Martha appeared.  She and husband Bob were having breakfast in the hotel, so after stashing our groceries, Bill went down to say hi, while I worked on a phone call to home.  We will have many days ahead on the ship to catch up on news.  And also tomorrow evening, when we all meet for a group dinner with our treasured agents and owners of the agency. 

 

After a short stay in our room, we headed towards the Gold Coast and the Las Olas area.  Heading across the bridge over the Intercoastal Waterway, we found there were four ships in Port Everglades.  They were the Carnival Sunrise, Independence of the Seas, Koningsdam, and Majesty of the Seas.  Three of them were gigantic, with the Majesty the smallest.  Just doing the math on the total of passengers coming and going in one day, we can see how Ft. Lauderdale thrives from this industry.  Tomorrow there will be four more ships, an the day we leave, there will be a total of seven.  Almost overwhelming.

 

As we were watching the boat activity, the bridge alarms went off, and the road barriers stopped all car and foot traffic.  On the hour and the half hour, this bridge raises to let the taller vessels pass through to the Atlantic Ocean.   Pretty neat process to watch.  And also a good excuse to make use of the benches up there while waiting.  This time, the road remained raised for 15 minutes, since there was a long line of sailboats, yachts, water taxis, paddleboat rides, and several sizes of fishing and pleasure craft.  Sure is a whole lot of money in these waterways.  Some of the yachts were pretty sleek, costing in the millions for sure.  

 

Time to move on, we made our way to the public beach along the AIA Highway.  There were many beach-goers today, but only on the sand, not in the water.  Slowing down while passing a few of the park and beach workers, we gathered that a shark was seen yesterday and possibly tagged.  A purple flag was flying with the yellow flag at each lifeguard station.  Reading their chart, the yellow flag was for caution with the riptide, while the purple cautioned about dangerous sealife.  Yep, sharks would fall into that category. 

 

About halfway down this strip, we stopped at Bubba Gump’s for lunch.  They were crowded with about a 15 minute wait.  It was worth it, since their burgers are excellent. And their chilled Caesar salad was fresh and crispy.  With a couple of drinks, we were relaxed and ready for the hike back.  But not before sharing a slice of Key lime pie, which happens to be made right here.  Needless to say, it was delicious.

 

On the way back, we stopped once again on the bridge, but this time we stayed for almost an hour.   The breeze up there was wonderful, but then we realized that some of the ships were ready to leave the port.   Starting with Carnival, followed by the two Royal Caribbean ships, they departed within ten minutes of each other.  We did not see the HAL ship leave.

 

Back at the hotel, we kept busy with photos, phone calls, and emailing until it was time to eat again.  So around 7pm, we hiked up the road to Duffy’s, a most fun sports bar and restaurant we discovered a few years ago.  Last January, our waiter talked us into signing up for the Duffy’s Club, which gives us special deals.  The only problem was that we do not have these out our way in California.  He insisted it did not matter, as long as we watched the offers, it might still give us something this year.  And it did.  We had $10 expiring at midnight today, and another $10 good to the end of the month.  Using both credits, our dinner cost half of what it would have.  Sort of makes up for the $100 dinner last night.

 

Getting back after 9pm, we heard our names being called from the hotel’s restaurant.  It was Leslie and Handler, enjoying their shared dessert.  So good to see them.  We figured we have known them since 2005, and have sailed with them on many world cruises since then.  Handler said, “What a life we all have”.  Could not agree more.

 

With all of the miles we walked today, sleep should come easily.  Tomorrow will be a busy day connecting with more friends.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

https://cruisingwithbillandmaryann.blogspot.com/

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Thanks for the update and so thankful for the local Publix. Even for those of us whom cruise for only 7 -14 days, its a must stop for last minute items for the cruise. 

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Wonderful report.

 

We also have Duffy's card and have gotten many $10 off many meals there.  Love their 2 for the price of 1 drinks.

 

The Harbor Shops are great for last minute items.  We even got Publix's card to get cheaper prices there.  For those who like to take wine onto the ships -- Total Wine is also located there.

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Report #58   Ft. Lauderdale, Florida   January 3, 2020   Friday   Mostly sunny and 80 degrees   Part # 1 of 1     60   Pictures

 

Well we have been blessed with another great day here in Ft. Lauderdale, with mostly sunny skies, temps in the low 80’s, and a strong breeze.  Perfect  walking weather.  Some dark clouds were passing over, so by tomorrow, we may have some showers.

 

On our way to breakfast this morning,  we ran into friends Rich and Peg, also frequent world cruisers.  Several years ago, they directed us to the best pizza places along the way, and we have crossed paths to those cafes many times.  It sure is fun running into people we know.  Like we said before, this is like “summer camp”.

 

Breakfast was perfect at Joe’s Café once again.  Today we did notice that coffee is free with every entrée.  A good deal.  We needed a few items we forgot yesterday at Publix, so we did that first.  On the way back to the hotel, we also stopped at the Dollar Store, where we found some funny birthday cards, four boxes of flower seeds to plant, and more odds and ends.  Hard to resist the $1 deal.  Jobs done, we headed back.

 

Taking the side door, we ran right into our travel agency group, where they already had their tables set up for our crowd.  Perfect timing, we were greeted by our super travel agent, the owner, and four more of the staff we already knew.  They gift every one of their clients with convenient handbags, neat sweatshirts, and a diary book for the cruise.  More clients were beginning to show up, so we took our purchases and gifts back to the room.

 

Around noontime, we knew the cleaning crew were outside and ready to come inside, so we left for a walk to the water.  This time we kept to the left sidewalk, which led to the Hilton Marina, right on the Intercoastal Waterway.  We have eaten lunch here before, but never noticed that the water taxi had a stop directly under the bridge.  Now we know how at access the several stops they make with picking up their brochure.  We had intended to go halfway back up the bridge to see the ships in port, but time was limited.  Today, the Caribbean Princess, Zuiderdam, and two Celebrity ships were in port.

 

Since dinner this evening would be earlier than we usually dine, we had to have a light lunch by 1pm.  That’s about how long it took to walk back up the street to Duffy’s once again.  Today we both ordered their Caesar salad with blackened chicken.  Again, it was delicious.  We shouldn’t have, but we also shared  a slice of Key lime pie.  Never know when we will see it again. 

 

Back at the hotel, we got our suitcase  re-packed, but noticed it was really stuffed full this time.  The extra little things we bought, along with the gifts we received probably added 20 pounds to it.  By 5:30pm, we met in the lobby, and loaded into vans for the short ride to dinner at the 15th Street Fisheries.  The  description of this venue was spelled out well by saying dining here was an unforgettable experience.  Located in historical Lauderdale Marina, the Fisheries had two levels of dining with the best views of the waterway.  They advertised feeding tarpon from the marina dock, but we only saw a pond full of huge koi carp instead.  And yes, the restaurant was selling fish pellets to feed the koi. 

 

Escorted to the upper floor, we were seated in a private room, and served a cocktail of our choice.  Luckily, our group stuck together, and secured a table that included two of our favorite agents.  To say we had a rip-roaring time has to be an understatement.  The food was a bit slow in arriving, but when it did, we enjoyed starters of coconut shrimp and crab cakes, as well as a choice of salads.  Mains were mahi-mahi, steak, or chicken.  The steaks were excellent served with asparagus and mashed potatoes.  A piece of Key lime pie finished the meal, making this a double pie day for us.  Wine was served as well as a few after dinner drinks if we wished.  By 9pm, we re-joined the ride back to the hotel, and hopefully will spend a good night of sleep.

 

Tomorrow will start early with the bags ready to be gathered from our rooms by 7:30am.  Guess we have to be up early….so it is time to say good night.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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Posted (edited)

Looking forward to following along.  We were on the 51 day cruise with you and disembarked on December 18.  What a wonderful cruise that was!    I have been corresponding with a dear friend that stayed on for the Panama Canal transit and let's just say that your fellow World Cruisers who are currently on board will have some "lively tales" for you.  BON VOYAGE!

Edited by FlorenceItaly

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