I haven’t written in a few days. After 115 days, the World Cruise ended in Ft. Lauderdale May 1st and quite honestly, I’ve been a little depressed. Not so much because the circumnavigation was completed, but because the bulk of our extended family disembarked and went home – all but 30 of us. The Captain’s gone along with many of his top staff – the Cruise Director is new – and most of the daily programs we participated in have either been discontinued or scaled back considerably. Primarily…it’s the people we miss. Our Christmas card list grew considerably after the World Cruise in 2012 – this year is no different – we’ve been very fortunate to make many new, lasting friendships, and several of them will be joining us again when we sail in 2015.
Haven’t I mentioned it yet? We’re skipping the voyage in 2014 because our middle son (Brendon) is getting married next March – absolutely can’t miss that! Come 2015, we’ve booked our 3rd circumnavigation, leaving again in January 2015, taking us to several destinations we’ve been to and like, but moreover, introducing us to 29 NEW ports. The main attraction for us is being reunited with so many wonderful folks from 2012 & 2013 – much to look forward to, but for now, temporarily depressed. In hindsight, we probably should’ve disembarked in Lauderdale with everyone else – the elements & considerations that attracted us to sailing on to San Diego were seeing my dear sister at the pier, and the short flight home to Phoenix.
We were once again blessed with wonderful tablemates throughout the World Cruise – Gary & Joyce from Portland, Oregon, and Jim & Ginny Plummer from Ft. Myers, Florida. We had personality chemistry at our table that was unmatched – everyone had a great time – we celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, and even shared a toast for no other reason than we could. Fantastic people. Before dinner each evening, we went to Happy Hour in the Ocean’s Bar & sat with our dear friends, Bill & Mary from Crystal River, Florida. Same table each evening, same time. Such an extraordinary couple – we affectionately refer to them as Ma & Pa, and they refer to us as “the kids.” They are both in their 80’s, good health, and we’ve known them since last year. Bill’s a retired physician and his wife, Mary, a retired surgical nurse. They will be back in 2015 as well. There were many days when Cheryl and I returned late from shore excursions and missed Happy Hour – Ma & Pa would put out an APB…”has anyone seen the kids?” “Where are those damn kids!”
Our card partners were many but our regulars Herb & Jane, call Sacramento, California their home. Great folks – Herb flew home from Cape Town several weeks back with some health issues best addressed by his family doctor. We’ve since learned all is well. We continued to play cards with his lovely wife Jane after he left us. Ed & Louise, from Ft. Myers, Florida, taught us a new game called Hand & Foot. We enjoyed many hours of fun & sarcasm with them – extraordinary people we plan to stay in touch with, and who will hopefully return in 2015.
You can’t spend several months on a small ship without bonding in some way with almost every person – it’s like living in a very small community where everyone knows your business and gossips about it continuously, as amusement. It’s also like being in high school, but without adult supervision. At times, it’s also about sitting around and listening to the older folks grouse about how things were better when they were younger. Namibia, for example: “When I was younger, the desert was drier – Yeah, and it was sandier, too.” or “Well, when I was young, the snakes were faster and more deadly – the birds flew higher and faster, the sea was warmer, and the sun was brighter.” But it’s OK – we’ll probably be saying the same things twenty years from now. In some cases, it was nothing more than a friendly hello in the hallway. While ashore, it was very easy to spot passengers from the ship as most all of us carried purple backpacks given to us by Holland America at the onset of the voyage. We helped each other cross busy streets, gave shopping advice, & pointed out places of interest. Whether old or young, whether American or not, we were there for each other and believe me, there were many times in strange, somewhat menacing cities where we needed the strength of each other. We were, and are, a family.
There are 30 of us who have stayed on beyond the World Voyage, primarily folks like us who call the west coast home. They too will be getting off in San Diego. The Captain threw a special party for our small group last night up in the Crow’s Nest. We had a wonderful time, and stayed up well past our normal bedtime. Much of the talk centered around the GI illness currently circulating around the ship – Cheryl and I have been fortunate thus far. The ship is in what they call, Code Red. We contacted the disease when new passengers boarded in Ft. Lauderdale six days ago. The pools and hot tubs have been drained, and self-service has been discontinued in all restaurants – even something as simple as salt & pepper must be requested and then applied to your food by a waiter with gloves on. Apparently, there are over 50 passengers quarantined – isolated in their cabins. It’s a serious situation, but we just roll with it and continue washing our hands & sanitizing. Meanwhile, the crew has been working around the clock disinfecting every square inch on the ship. Code Red will continue until all symptoms are gone from every passenger for 48 hours. Better safe than sorry – not a problem for us.
Since leaving Ft. Lauderdale last Wednesday, we spent a day in Aruba & also passed through the Panama Canal again – we’re now back in the Pacific Ocean this morning. This was our first visit to Aruba, and while the island is very nice with its beautiful beaches & pretty water, you don’t have to leave America to find paradise. Destin, Florida is just as nice (if not better) than Aruba. Cheryl and I were on our own – it was a very warm day and we walked the beach at least 5 miles. We stopped at a nice resort, had a couple cold beers under an umbrella, and then called a taxi for the trip back to the ship.
Looking forward to Nicaragua – we have a trip planned to visit an orphanage there. I’m currently on a mission to gather as much candy & other goodies from around the ship to give to the children.