Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

WCB

Circumnavigate The Globe in 123 days with Bill & Mary Ann - 2011 World Cruise

Recommended Posts

Bill and Maryann

Have so enjoyed your previous world cruises, very much looking forward to this one. Can't thank you enough for sharing this wonderful experience.

Bon Voyage

Irene

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bon Voyage! I'll be one of your avid readers.....albeit green with envy.

David

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bon Voyage....what a wonderful way to get through the grey cold days of winter!! Thank you for taking us along.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Report # 3 January 4, 2011 Tuesday The Party

 

We spent most of the afternoon waiting for the complimentary shuttle provided by our travel agency to take us to the Pompano Plaza, a 15 minute ride from the Westin. Here we shopped at Publix, the local supermarket, and quickly loaded up with room snacks, things we cannot purchase on the ship. Most of our fellow passengers were doing the same thing.

 

The cocktail reception began for both the Amsterdam and Prinsendam people at 6pm sharp. Actually, many were already there, the same ones that attend the ship's parties early while on the trip. The top dogs from our travel agency were in attendance, greeting us warmly like family. An estimated guess at this party was around 330 guests, the largest ever. We had name tags with our ship's name on them to distinguish us from each other. However, after a few drinks, most of us could not read them anyway! No, it's not the booze, it was the fine print!!

 

Dinner followed immediately after the 45 minute reception, and was held in the Florida Ballroom. Assigned to table 2, we were seated with the vice president of our travel agency and several other familiar guests we have met on previous cruises. We all shared cruise stories as we dined on a spinach salad with rolls, poached chicken breasts, and veggies. The dessert had to be the best, and we were glad to have saved a bit of space for it. Of course, it was a slice of creamy mocha cheesecake with a raspberry coulis on the side.

 

After the short but sweet speeches given by the president, the Mariner Club rep, and our coodinator, the dinner ended by 8:30pm. Before we exited, we did have a short talk with the Mariner Club fellow concerning the tier level of the Mariner Society program. He agreed that there is a huge gap from 200 days sailed to the Presidnt's Club at 1400 days sailed. Therefore, they are definitely working on a 5 star Mariner level. It should be announced soon, he hoped. As to what the perks would entail, he did not reveal it. So we shall wait and see what develops. Hopefully, it will happen while we are on this cruise.

 

Tomorrow will be busy. We are scheduled to be taken to the Amsterdam at 11am. We are looking forward to this special sailaway, since the two ships will be leaving together.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So excited to be going along with you on another world cruise...! Thanks for sharing your vacations....I enjoy reading your reports/journals, you've inspired me to make a World Cruise a priority when I finally can retire! Hope to see you in some of Jeff's photos!

 

Have a wonderful & safe journey!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

always enjoy your review--for anyone interested there is a kind person wring on the Crystal Cruise board regarding his world cruise

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know where I've been, but I missed the beginning of this thread. I'm just so glad to be able to tag along with your wonderful journey once more. I'm looking forward to all of your new adventures. Bon Voyage!

 

Smooth Sailing! :):)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have a super cruise. Now I can follow both you and Jeff Farschmann on tghe same cruise. Happy sailing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Report # 4 January 5, 2011 Wednesday The Marathon Day

 

Yep, today was going to be a long day, probably the most stressful of the trip. No matter how easy the itinerary appears, so many minute details will eventually clog our brains by day's end.

 

After a rather nice and relaxing evening in our comfortable room, we were ready for a hearty breakfast. Yesterday, we had scoped out a people-friendly restaurant that was only a 10 minute stroll from the Westin. To confirm our suspicions, friend Martha recommended it to us the day before. She was right, as always. A good breakfast of omeletes, toast, and copious cups of coffee would keep us going most of the day. We watched familiar couple after couple arrive right on our heels as we finished. Smart news travels fast.

 

Our pickup time for the transfer to the Amsterdam was 11am. It was arranged according to the alphabet, which of course, A and B were first. Combined were the Prinsendam and Amsterdam passengers for the short ride to the pier. Lucky it was such a brief ride, because we were all jammed in the seats with our many handcarrys and local purchases. Glad we did not have to buy wine as many people had done.

 

Once at the pier, we qued up outside the terminal building, where we were handed tags, according to our Mariner status or Penthouse and Veranda guests. If you were a four star Mariner, like us, you would have a special line to check in. That is naturally, after we went through the security checkpoint. It was similar to the airport procedure.

 

Since we had already filled out the required health questionnaire at the hotel, there was much less backup in the terminal. We had a very short wait to check in, surrender our passports, and receive our room keys. There seemed to be several passengers hovering around someone by the escalator. As we passed by on our way upstairs, we noticed that it was HAL's CEO Stein Kruse and his wife, if memory serves right. They must have been greeting the newly embarked world cruise passengers. Been there, done that....it is far more important to us to find our room and unload our heavy bags. Shortly after we entered our room, one duffel bag was delivered. That was a good sign, since one always worries when and if the luggage will appear. And because the Prinsendam was leaving at the same time, there was always the fear that our bags would go to the wrong ship!

 

Once upstairs, we lined up for a ship's photo, then "walked the plank" to the ship's entrance. Flashing our cards to the security fellow gave us access to the ship. We will be doing this hundreds of times from here on out. Iced glasses of champagne were awaiting us as we entered the vessel, but we would have to grow a third arm in order to drink it! No, the best plan was to rid ourselves of the luggage, and seek out the bubbly elsewhere on the ship.

 

So we found our room, and ran up to the Lido deck, where the champagne was being handed out to all the anxious drinkers. Boy, did they taste good, just what we needed to unwind a bit. In no time, we were running into many friends and also meeting new people, who were sailing on their first world cruise. Most are really hungry for any info you can give them regarding what shiplife is like on a grand cruise. We're always happy to help them out, giving us an excuse to meet nice people.

 

The sailaway party was set to begin at 4:30pm, although, it would turn out that our actual sailaway would be delayed until 6pm. The party was held in the Lido pool area, which was brightly decorated with colorful flags. Side bars were set up, holding trays of rum punch glasses, all complimentary. Bowls of quiche, cheese poppers, and bitterballen (a Dutch treat) were served to all. Meeting up with friends, they directed us to our bartenders who we have known from past cruises. They took good care of us, immediately ordering our favorite cocktails. These guys are good. Truthfully, HAL handpicks the best staff for this voyage, since we have run into so many repeat waiters and room stewards and basic staff.

 

The sun was just dipping below the horizon just as the last of the provisions and luggage were finally loaded. The Prinsendam had already left with a conservative toot from her horn, compliments of Captain Halle, and we followed 15 minutes later. It was time to go below, and see what we could unpack from our one bag. We calculated that with the clothes in one duffel, we could survive the cruise with almost enough to wear, just in case the rest got lost!

 

By 7pm, we were off to the Crow's Nest to meet friends Leslie and Handler. We knew that we would have to establish our seating arrangements at the bar early on, because there are a limited amount of stools. It worked and we all enjoyed catching up on news since our last trip we traveled together in 2009. My, how time flies! By 8pm, it was time for dinner.

 

We joined our table upstairs with our most favorite people, and two new lovely ladies. This is going to be a fun trip, especially when your tablemates "click". The food was excellent. And considering what a marathon day it had been for the staff, dinner went off well beyond our expectations. Our entrees of pepper-crusted filet steaks were fork-tender and delicious. Service was good and our head waiter and table waiters friendly and accommodating. Conversation was so lively, we did not leave the table until 10:30pm. Too late for the show, we took our usual walk on the promenade deck, and headed back to our room.

 

Surprise, surprise.......all of our bags were there, including one that belonged next door. You know what we did? Delivered the extra bag next door, stack ours out of the way, and crashed for the night. They can wait until tomorrow!

 

And so ends our first day on the Amsterdam!

 

Bill & Mary Ann

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Report # 2 Janaury 4, 2011 Tuesday Day two in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

 

The journey has begun! We left home promptly at 2:45am Monday morning, thanks to our taxi driver/son Ken taking us to the SFO airport. The best flight time for leaving SF to Florida is 6am, so that meant we had to check in by 4am. The plus side to this was that there was no wait at the check in desk, especially since we were flying first class ( first chance to use our AA frequent flyer miles).This time we checked 2 pieces of luggage, having had weighed it carefully before we left. It is always a concern that we will be overweight, and who wants to pay the overage? Not us. It turned out that one bag came in at 48 pounds, and the other at 50 pounds on the nose. Hey, we are getting pretty good at this! The agent commented that a few pounds over would have been OK with her. Of course, you cannot always depend on running into a nice agent like this lady.

 

And we had worried about the new security check that has been hyped by the news media. We did nothing differently and neither did they. Shoes and jackets off, computer out of the case, small liquids in baggie and walk through the usual xray door. That was it.

 

We had just enough time to relax with coffee and toast, then boarded the plane at 5:30am. First class is nice.......first on, first off, and plenty of seat and leg room. And food on top of that, although it wasn't the best we have eaten, it was sufficient.

 

The weather cooperated with us today. Our biggest concern is always the chance of January ground fog, which can delay flights. No, it was partly cloudy after a day of rain. It's always a treat to see the sparkling lights of the expanse of city below us as we flew out of SFO. The pilot circled, then headed east into the rising sun. As we neared the valley, you could see nothing but a layer of storm clouds beneath us, resembling a huge fluffy down quilt. It remained that way until we were well out of California.

 

The movie, You Again, began as the stewards were serving our third breakfast of the day. However, we had to read lips, because they had failed to pass out the earbuds. It really did not matter, since the movie was a bit silly anyway. Plugging in later was not much better, since the sound was interrupted by the plane's engines. Oh well, nothing is perfect.

 

The flight of about 5 hours was basically uneventful, which was great. We landed around 2:15pm, eastern time, met with the HAL rep at baggage claim, loaded our bags onto the handtruck, and boarded a bus just for the two of us, the greyhound limo, for the 45 minute ride to Ft. Lauderdale.

 

It was nice to check into the Westin Hotel, where we have stayed at on past world cruises. Not as opulent as other hotels, the Westin is comfortable with plush beds and good amenities. We ran into many friends within minutes of arriving. Many of us have traveled a day earlier in order to acclimate sooner to the time change. Did we mention that two HAL ships will be leaving on their Grand Voyages on Wednesday? The Amsterdam, doing the world cruise, and the Prinsendam, doing the South America/Antarctica cruise, will leave Wednesday from the pier at the same time. This does not happen often, so there should be some fanfare during our sailaway. And the complimentary cocktail party and dinner, hosted by our travel agency this evening will include Prinsendam cruisers that have booked with our travel agency. Since we know many of them, it should be a fun evening.

 

Today, we plan to take the shuttle provided by our TA to the Pompano Plaza, a 15 minute ride from the hotel. That will give us a chance to pick up some supplies, and perhaps eat lunch out somewhere. It would have been nice to relax by the pool, but the skies are heavily cloudy, and it would not be worth the risk of sunburn. As long as it doesn't rain, we will be happy campers. Warm and slightly humid....we can handle!

 

More to follow.........

 

Bill & Mary Ann

Hi Bill & Mary Ann, Can't wait to read your blog and enjoy your cruise through your eyes. I also read Jeff's and Kween Karen's too.

 

Have a great cruise. Carol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And we're off! The second-best way to take a World Cruise has begun. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi Bill & Mary Ann, Can't wait to read your blog and enjoy your cruise through your eyes. I also read Jeff's and Kween Karen's too.

 

Have a great cruise. Carol

 

Can someone point me towards "Jeff's blog"?

 

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Report # 5 January 7, 2011 Friday Georgetown, Grand Cayman

 

The Amsterdam almost did not make it to our first port of call this morning. It was announced by Captain Olaf last night that due to strong wave action, we may have to cancel our visit. Since there are no docking facilities for cruise ships there, it is always necessary to tender ashore. When it is too rough to do that safely, ships are turned away. Luckily for all of us, Captain Olaf had a trick up his sleeve, with the possibility of tendering from another area of the island, Spots Bay to be exact.. And that is just what we did, with the help of the larger local tender boats. The crew did not have to drop our boats at all, so that sped the process up a notch.

 

Our first tour of the trip was a transfer to 7 Mile Beach for the morning. It would take 20 minutes instead of 10 minutes, so we got to see the other side of the small narrow stretch of island known as Grand Cayman. That included the local airport, hardware stores, and Hurley supermarkets, etc.

 

It was much cooler than we expected, because the clouds had begun to cover the skies, threatening rain. Maybe that was a good thing, because fresh out of northern California, we had lost our summer tans and would surely burn to a crisp in a matter of minutes. The little cafe/beach facility, Calico Jacks, was a good place to stop. The cafe was virtually empty, since we were there pretty early in the day. Many beach chairs and umbrellas were set up for our exclusive use. Do you know how nice it was to sink our feet into that fine, white sand? Now the water was another story.....it was a bit chillier than we expected. Walking the surf was just fine with us, as we collected some interesting sea treasures along the way (shells, etc.). It did rain a bit, but you know what? It felt really good.

 

We had a pleasant three hour stay there, then had the option of being dropped off in Georgetown or be taken back to the tender pickup. Most of us went to town, because we were promised a complimentary shuttle back to the Amsterdam. That was really nice, because taxi unions can often block the free shuttles. Not today, though. They are much smarter here, because cruise ships equal $$$ for the locals. Big $$$!!

 

This was our fourth stop at Grand Cayman, but it has been a long time since our last visit. We just could not remember anything familiar in Georgetown....too many new high ends shops and jewelry stores. Recalling their famous rum poundcake, we went in search of the Tortuga Rumcake Factory and could not find that. So the best option was to have lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, buy one of their famous t-shirts, and make our way back to the ship by 3pm.

 

The plan worked well. The tenderboat landing facitily even had a tourist info booth as well as nicely maintained restrooms. Shortly after we had arrived, the massive Liberty of the Seas had parked next to us in the bay. Wow, she holds 4500 passengers! And they were a tad bit younger than our crowd.....oh really, they were a whole lot younger than us with a lot of little kids tagging along. We do have a few children on this cruise, but there are only about 10 of them we would guess.

 

Sailaway was around 5pm with a nice party on the back pool deck once again. Gosh, we really missed that last year while traveling on the Prinsendam around South America. Since the aft pool was being remodeled, it was a long time before it was set up for a proper sailaway. Visiting with longtime friends while listening to the band music was great while watching the sun slowly fade away on the horizon. It was time for cocktails and dinner once again.

 

And what a dinner we had........22 oz. t-bone steaks, cooked to perfection of course. They were Pinnacle Grill quality and quantity! Needless to say, we tried our best to clean our plates, but it was impossible. We will have to pace ourselves in order to continue to fit into our clothes for the next 120 days!!

 

Until tomorrow, good night.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Drooling over your 123 day voyage. I too will be following your posts and dreaming of the day my DH and I can spend that many days away from home. Have fun and Happy Sailing...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We look forward to following your adventure. Wish that we were joining you on this trip of a lifetime. I am still working in pictures from our Hawaii/French Polynesia trip on the Rotterdam last fall. Fair weather and safe sailing....Marcie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We've found Grand Cayman to be a bit iffy this time of year due to fronts that sweep down across the Great Plains and on across the Gulf and into the northern Caribbean. If it isn't canceled then the snorkeling tours usually are due to rough seas. We've also tendered from Spots Bay to save the port call. Great reading your reports again and I look forward to many more!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Report # 6 January 9, 2011 Saturday Day at Sea

 

Another welcomed day at sea, would turn out to be a busy one. Most of the ship's planned activities were in full swing today, like tai chi, manned by Robert and Bronwyn, watercolors, arts and crafts, dance lessons, and so on and so forth.

 

Our job of establishing our routine began today as well. Walking the promenade deck took care of a few of the extra calories from last night's cuisine, but soon replaced with a great leisurely breakfast in the dining room. Did we mention that there is a newly printed menu for breakfast? Many new entrees have appeared, one of which includes English bacon, much to our delight. The freshly-squeezed orange juice is good as ever, and much appreciated this morning, because the temperature climbed at least 30 degrees higher from yesterday. And the humidity has arrived too. Will take a while to acclimate ourselves to this change.

 

We did get some emailing done, but had trouble logging off. That made us a bit late for the first Cruise Critic meeting, which had been moved last minute to the Crows Nest from the Explorers Lounge. It seems that the emerald presentation by the onboard jewelers took priority over our group.

 

So, shortly after 11am, we joined the rather large CC group (almost 100), already deep in conversations and enjoying the coffee, juice, and pastries provided by the bar staff. Our leader, Susan, gave us pre-printed name tags, then proceeded to introduce herself and her husband. She welcomed Henk Mensink, the hotel manager, and Bruce Scudder, the cruise director, to our meeting, and invited them to say a few words. They are a great team, these two popular guys. We all laughed as they skipped over to the microphone, arm-in-arm, in a race to be the first to speak. They each gave us a heart-felt welcome and informed us that they read all the Cruise Critic sites, and hoped we would all be good bloggers. Since there was such a big group of us, there was no time for us to introduce ourselves. Susan ended the meeting, then left us on our own to chat amongst ourselves.

 

We finally had a chance to relax by the aft pool by 1pm. A nice breeze was blowing over the deck, keeping sunbathing comfortable. The old teak decking has been replaced with a look-alike deck. It appears to have the seams, but it is one piece, so there should be no leaking or lifting planks anymore. Another plus were the presence of an ice tea and water station, and two speakers with pleasant music playing for us. We would guess that perhaps HAL has listened to our comments we give at the end of each cruise. Yes, they are small things, but they do add up for a much nicer cruise experience.

 

This evening was the first formal night.......the welcome onboard cocktail reception and the elegant dinner that follows. Having done this a few or more times, we opted to enter the Oueens Lounge on the port side, bypassing the Captain and his welcomers. Best to leave that to the first time world cruisers, making it quicker for all of us to fill the lounge.

 

There are two special seats we head for on this lower level of the showlounge. Sitting against the wall where the waiters and bartenders enter the room, guarantees that we will get the best service. And it does help that we know Willie and Raymond, the bar managers well. They take care of us every trip. Assorted trays of special hors d'oeuvres were consumed rapidly as passengers enjoyed their wine, champagne, or drinks of choice. The dance hosts kept the single ladies happy as they spun them around the dancefloor, our Barbie among them.

 

Captain Olaf gave a short and sweet speech, then introduced his officers and staff. Before we knew it, the time had come to exit the room, and let in the first dinner seaters in for the show this evening. The much anticipated star, Mitzi Gaynor, was the headliner to start off this voyage. Our turn would come at 10pm.

 

We had a nice surprise....Henk Mensink joined our table tonight. It is not unusual for the larger tables to have an officer join the group on formal evenings. We got lucky, and got the best! We first met Henk in 2008, and have enjoyed his company ever since. It is seldom that you run across such a nice and easy-going fellow, considering the seriousness of his job. As hotel manager, he has quite a responsibility keeping this ship running in style for over 100 days. He had succeeded in the past and no doubt will exceed our expectations on this cruise.

 

Dinner was excellent, with the usual formal choices of caviar, fois gras, and escagots. Entrees included lobster tails, steaks, and osso bucco, which we ordered. It was cooked perfectly. Our dinner was paced just right in order for us to exit right before showtime at 10pm. For a change, we decided to attend, since shows are not always our favorite thing to do. We were not disappointed. Miss Gaynor still has the razzle-dazzle she is famous for, and did a fine job entertaining us for over an hour. She still has the dancing legs, and the singing voice, and a wicked sense of humor to go along with her advancing age, which we guesstimated to be around 78. Clips of her former appearances on old shows, such as Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson, and Jack Benny, kept us glued to the screens while she changed costumes. Most of her songs she sang came from famous movies like South Pacific. And for a change, we stayed for the whole thing.

 

Well, so much for today. Tomorrow, we will be in Costa Rica, and since we have an all day tour, it was off to bed for us.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm really enjoying living vicariously through your blog. Thank you for taking the time to write.

 

For anyone else who is interested, Wikipedia reports that Mitzi Gaynor was born on September 4, 1931. That makes her an amazing 79 going on 80!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • SAIL-AWAY GIVEAWAY - Enter for a chance to win a $3,000 Norwegian Cruise Line Gift Card
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...