1 Day Prior to Arrival - Ship (arrow) is 700 Miles East of Ft. Lauderdale
The adjacent photo (navagational station) was taken moments after our arrival in Ft. Lauderdale at 6am, April 28th. As the scroll at the bottom indicates, we sailed just over 37,000 miles in 112 days - an incredible journey! The following is a reproduction of a message printed in the ships daily newsletter, written by our Captain. Along with all passengers, we thoroughly enjoyed this gentlemen; always very personable & upbeat - very professional yet easy to talk with.
Seven Continents in 112 Days!
Only during the 20th century did the concept of the world as divided into 7 continents come to be accepted. Traveling to all 7 continents via the "seven seas" was a far-flung fantasy reserved for only the bravest of souls. Likewise, around-the-world travel as a leisure activity is only a relatively few decades old. On January 6, excited guests and dedicated crew members embarked on a journey that promised to do exactly that - sail the 7 seas to all 7 continents in 112 days. While your individual memories of this voyage may be as different as the places we visited, we all share one thing in common - we did it together, collectively, as the ms Amsterdam Grand World Voyage family. Our elegant home-away-from-home, ms Amsterdam, features gracious and attentive service everywhere, exquisite flowers, beautiful music, and sparkling entertainment. And the food! Thoughtfully designed menus featuring everything from exotic itinerary-themed delicacies to traditional, home-made meals, ensuring that every palate was satisfied. And the ports-of-call! We saw penguins, towering glaciers & iceburgs, whales, dolphins, koalas, kangaroos, komodo dragons, cobras, camels, elephants, great temples, buddahs, cathedrals, tombs and ancient ruins. We sailed blistering seas in the Pacific which were even a challenge for me! We saw the world! Every member of this hand-selected crew began each day with just one goal in mind - to make that day a special one for you. While travel such as this is always an extraordinary experience, we know beyond on a shadow of a doubt that what sets Holland America Grand World Voyage apart is you - our guests. Watching old friendships rekindled; and new ones being made. Seeing extended families re-united; lives enriched and intertwined. We feel so honored and grateful to be a part of that experience with you and for you. And when we are finally home to our families, long after our bags are unpacked, the photos and videos sorted; after the souvenirs and gifts have been delivered, one truly lasting memory will remain. YOU, our dear guests and cherished friends, will be the centerpiece of what made the 2012 Seven Continents Grand World Voyage special for us. On behalf of myself, Captain Johnathan Mercer, Hotel Manager Henk Mensink and the entire ship's compliment, thank you for a world full of indelible and meaningful memories. Our deepest hope is that we have returned the favor. Until we meet again!
Our Final Disembarkation Meeting on Friday April 27th
This was a very emotional gathering for everyone. Typically, disembarkation talks last approximately 30 minutes - this one went on for nearly 90! The champaign was flowing 30 minutes before the meeting began. There was maybe 10 minutes of formal instruction in terms of what to do once we reach Ft. Lauderdale, and the rest was a recap of the voyage, the many experiences shared by everyone, the good days, the challenging days, the friendships, the kind deeds, all of the embedded memories. The Captain gave a very moving speech (photo above), and when the Crusie Director attempted to close the meeting and in saying his final farewell, he choked-up in tears and THAT really brought the house down!! Quite honestly, there wasn't a dry-eye anywhere in the theater - it was awesome!
Our Typical Day...
My plan was to collect several photos on our last day reflecting our typical day at sea and while I got off to a good start Friday morning (4/27), I was too emotionally drained following the disembarkation meeting and wasn't able to gather all of the pictures as planned. However, I DO have some shots & commentary here you may be interested in.
Mornings in the Gym! (or not)
The ship has a beautiful exercise facility with every immaginable piece of equipment, and a beautiful view of the ship's bow & ocean in front. My intent was to frequent this facility each & every morning. I was there the first day long enough to introduce myself (& Cheryl) to the instructor - I told him (Brian) we'd be seeing him every morning, bright & early! Unfortunately, I never saw him again. No, he didn't get off the ship - I didn't get off my fanny!! My weight gain over 112 days was exactly 22.5 LBS - Cheryl's was a mere 3! Kudos to her!! After 2 weeks at sea, we started walking the deck each morning and after 3 days, I decided a soft cushy chair in the restaurant was more appealing than the fresh salt air. At home here, I eat a light, healthy breakfast, walk 2.5 miles with Cheryl, occassionally have lunch followed by dinner and NO dessert. On the ship, I typically consumed several fresh danish while updating this website early in the morning followed by breakfast with Cheryl. Breakfast was usually eggs benedict with hash browns & sausage - maybe another danish or two on the side! Cheryl only had cheese, and sometimes a fluffy breakfast roll to go with it - that's it. Such willpower! Of course by Noon I was hungry again and I would either have a made-to-order cheeseburger with fries or would go through the expansive buffet. Dinner was a 4-course event at 5:30 each evening and the menu was incredible - Holland America goes overboard on the World Cruise, and you may have as much of anything as you wish. Prior to the cruise, I pre-ordered a wine package, called the Navigator - it consisted of 57 bottles - Cheryl doesn't care for wine so I, compelled not to be wasteful, was obligated to drink them all...and did! Then of course, the chocolate buffet - 10pm - see pictures below - the hard work & effort put forth by the dessert chefs - wouldn't it be a shame to let all that go to waste??
A Casual Dinner in the Lido With Some New Friends
Cotton Candy The Amsterdam Way!
We Played "Hearts" Everyday With Louis & Irene!
Eddie - 19 Consecutive World Cruises!!
Made-To-Order Cheeseburgers - by Willy!
Our Adopted 4th Son - Christian - He Was So Good To Us!
We Played Wii Games Each Day (Sea Day) at 1pm - Crow's Nest
Now...about Wii. Cheryl was the undisputed champion - no matter which game the Activity Director would have scheduled, Cheryl typically beat all of us! We usually had anywhere from 15 - 20 particpiants each day, and the games would last about an hour. But please take notice of this participant, who was a pretty good representation of the passenger population...notice the CAIN on her left side?? Congratulations...go Cheryl!! In all seriousness - our competitors were very formidable, everyone had a great time, and all of them became & remain very good friends!
The Ocean's Bar - Happy Hour 4:30 - 5:30 - Our GREAT Bartenders!
Dinner at 5:30 - Always So Special
Main Entertainment Theater - Queen's Lounge
Church & Movie Theater
Favorite Place For Coffee - Exploration's Cafe!
...And The Library
Public Areas to Relax...
The Stairs Now Run Silent
...yes, the stairs now run silent, and it's such an adjustment. Not rocking to the motion of the ocean, not reaching for safety handrails at the turn of every corner. Cooking? Washing dishes?? Are you kidding!! We'll be back in 9 months - next year's World Cruise has been extended by 17 days so instead of 112, we'll be sailing for 129 days - same ship - same deck - same side - just a few staterooms forward - exploring many new places - revisiting some of our favorite cities - meeting new faces - most important, rekindling friendships of old! Amsterdam, we will miss you, but you won't be a stranger for long...