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Enjoy the "Treasures of the World" with Bill & Mary Ann on the 2014 World Cruise

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The excitement at your hotel must be incredible. I feel sorry for the hotel guests who will not be boarding the Amsterdam tomorrow and embarking on this incredible adventure. I know I am jealous sitting here and can only imagine being so close. Once again I look forward to coming along on your adventure. It is a great itinerary and I can't wait to see where you find a good pizza. Bon voyage, Cherie

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Sounds like you are off to a good start, have a great cruise, looking forward to your reports, also where are your pictures posted?

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Bill and Mary Ann,

Sending you best wishes for a wonderful cruise.

Thanks for taking us with you on your journey.

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Report # 6 Shopping Day & Party Time January 3, 2014 Friday

 

Our morning started off with a hearty breakfast in the Bin 595 restaurant in the hotel. Since it was Friday, it was much busier than the last two days. They offer a buffet breakfast for around $17. a person, and it appeared they had many takers today.

 

We did some emailing, then went outside to take a short walk. What a surprise when we walked out the lobby doors to the 60 degree weather with a strong, cool breeze. Now 60 degrees is comfortable in the San Francisco Bay Area this time of year, but certainly not in southern Florida. Obviously, the storm that has descended upon the northeastern part of the US, has dropped the temperatures down this way. That's another story with delayed and cancelled flights caused by the inclement weather. Many people, including our head host, Tom, have been held up in New York and surrounding states. Sure hope they make it in time for the party this evening. Or for that matter, make it on time to the ship. In hindsite, we are SO glad that we left on January 1st, leaving ourselves a lot of wiggle room if things went wrong.

 

Every year, our travel agency kindly supplies a bus, or in this case, a trolley, to take those who wish to a grocery store, a pharmacy, and a shopping mall of some kind in Ft. Lauderdale. This trolley service began at 1pm, and we were among the first of the customers. The last pickup time was 3:30pm, so we would have to move quickly to accomplish anything.

 

The first stop was at the Broward Mall, about a 15 minute ride from the hotel. There are four major clothing stores that anchor the indoor mall, which is filled with all the usual smaller shops and eateries. We expected something much older, but were pleasantly surprised when we arrived there. Even though we not specifically clothes shopping, we did run into a few basic bargains we could not pass on. Where we live, you can never own enough tank tops or swimsuits.

 

The trolley driver was right on time to pick us up, just as he had promised. Then we were off to the grocery/pharmacy stop a few blocks away. Again, we picked up some more suntan lotion, pretzels, chips, and drinks. The healthy purchase was a bag of limes for our room beverages. Can never get enough vitamin C.

 

Waiting outside the grocery store was downright chilly in the wind. So we turned the corner, and actually got a bit of a suntan while waiting for the trolley. This time he was running late, and the other guests were getting worried. One lady came over to us and asked if we knew where he was. She was worried about getting stranded. We could have walked back actually, although packing the food would have slowed one of us down. It was then that the trolley rounded the corner and we were all happy campers as we rode the 10 minutes back to the hotel.

 

Even though we did not feel like doing anything else, we knew we had to have our bags packed and ready to be picked up at 8:30am tomorrow morning. So we re-arranged everything, stashed all the goodies, and left room for our dress clothes for after the party tonight. We relaxed by watching a movie, even though it sure would have been nice to spend some time at the pool. Not today....it was simply too cold.

 

Six fifteen came around quickly, and we were on our way to the Cornerstone Foyer for a reception with our group of hosts, some agents, and over 100 fellow guests. We found friends Margaret and Keith, as well as our new tablemates, Marianne and Bill, who were recommended to us by former tablemates Carol and Van. We love their names, since they will be easy to remember. Yeah, the spellling is different, but our names are the same. We could tell within 5 minutes that we will all get along just fine. The cocktail party lasted about 45 minutes, which flew by as we greeted old friends from past cruises. It really is nice to realize how many nice folks we have met in the 10 years we have been with this agency.

 

Dinner began sharply at 7pm in the adjoining Cornerstone Ballroom. Deep in conversation, our group was among the last to enter the room. So we headed for a table with enough chairs for at least four of us. By chance, we happened to pick seats next to Gerald, HAL's Mariner head honcho, and a friend of ours. We have had the pleasure of sharing his table for many parties over the years, so we added tonight's evening to the list. The new vice president of our travel agency was also at the table, so the conversation was very informative and entertaining. Wendy and Steve, our hosts on our last Hawaii/Tahiti cruise were also sitting there. They will be hosting the Prinsendam's South America/Antarctica Cruise and the Grand Mediterranean. Lucky ducks.

 

The menu included a long cucumber slice surrounding a tiny green salad, a warm sourdough roll, and our choice of white or red wine. We barely finished the last little green leaf of lettuce, when the plates were pulled and a hot tomato bisque soup was in its place. Delicious. The entree was a chicken breast, covered with spicy stewed tomatoes on a bed of saffron rice. To add color, crisp green beans filled the rest of the plate. We must have been really hungry, because we ate every morsel. Guess we skipped lunch again today, but that was a good thing.

 

The party ended at 8:40pm, and we were back to the room by 9pm. Perfect. We need to turn in early, because tomorrow will be a marathon day......not always a favorite day of ours. It can be a very long one with the transfer to the ship, which may or may not be ready for us to board. Just about everyone gets priority boarding according to their Mariner status, so it really is not a perk on a Grand Voyage. We can hope for the best, and maybe all will go smoothly. We'll let you know..........

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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I'm looking forward to reading your blog this year. Why we chose this winter to stay home (with the record cold and so much snow) is beyond me, but we so enjoyed our world cruises in 2012 and 2013 that it will be very nice to follow what's happening through your blog.

 

Have a wonderful cruise, and say hello to my favorite ship!

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We are excited that the big day is here again. We are ready to travel the world with you again. Thank you for taking the time to post your travels.

Thanks again.

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We are excited that the big day is here again. We are ready to travel the world with you again. Thank you for taking the time to post your travels.

Thanks again.

 

We would like to echo the comment above and look very much forward to travelling with you on your great reading postings. Thank you so very much.

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Hi,

My cousin and her friend are on this cruise and I will follow your excellent telling of the tale to its conclusion back in Fl. Bon voyage!

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Hi Bill and Mary Ann...we met you on the Statendam for the Hawaii/Polynesia Cruise this past Sept-Nov. We were the ones in charge of the cruise critic meet and greets....I will be a dedicated follower of your WC. We have thought about the WC but decided on the 42 day Maasdam Atlantic Adventurer...so we will be intentive to catch all the hints we can from you all. Thanks for posting....

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This is real neat, we get to read your posts on another of your World Cruises. Totally enjoy your writing, thanks. Can only dream while I watch the Amsterdam on the Ft. Lauderdale web cam, lite up in the darkness.

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I am glad the day to depart is upon you. We will see you on the Panama Canal portion of your journey on Amsterdam.

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Watched your sail-away; you slipped away quietly into the night!

 

Smooth Sailing! :) :) :)

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We watched your sail away as you slipped away. However, many of us want to know the story behind the two passengers that barely made the ship! Bon Voyage!!

 

Karen

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Thanks for your update.

 

We too were watching as the Amsterdam sailed from Fort Lauderdale.

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I have been following both your blogs and keiths on Crystal, for the last few years and I appreciate your openness on the cost --which intrigued me-

I am also considering a world cruise-

Is there the usual formal wear nights on the world cruise--that would be a negative if it was--

I look forward to read you blogs again

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Bon Voyage Bill and Mary Ann I will be following you closely as we have reluctantly had to give away thoughts of a world cruise for a few years.

 

However as you love animals I would recommend a tour in Mauritious which we took last year. You walk for about an hour with two 'wild' lions and then stroke and tickle full grown cheetahs.

 

I organised this for a group of 12 but you can get the company to organise it for you with obviously others for that time I used Heather at mauritiusattractions@gmail.com She was most helpful and efficient.

 

The day was marvellous - it is set in Casela Bird Park and you can spend time looking at the birds after the walk and they photo and video your walk and stroke time and the DVD was only $25 per person

 

An unforgettable day for all of us:D:D

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I have been following both your blogs and keiths on Crystal, for the last few years and I appreciate your openness on the cost --which intrigued me-

I am also considering a world cruise-

Is there the usual formal wear nights on the world cruise--that would be a negative if it was--

I look forward to read you blogs again

 

I am booked on one segment each of HAL's and Crystal's World Cruises (connecting in Cape Town). Cunard, Crystal, and HAL all have significant numbers of formal nights. Cunard is really the most formal, with 34 formal nights listed out of roughly 110 on Queen Elizabeth. All Cunard nights, though, are as dressy as what would pass as formal on Crystal or HAL. At least for men, the remaining 75 or so nights are "Informal", requiring a jacket with tie optional.

 

For my 18 day segment on Crystal's WC, there are 4 Black Tie Optional and 3 Elegant Casual nights. Elegant Casual standards are similar to Cunard's "informal", while Black Tie Optional recommends a business suit/tux but requires a minimum of Elegant Casual.

 

While I am on only 1 segment of the HAL cruise, a member of my roll call posted a list of "events" for the cruise. It shows a total of 18 formal nights.

 

I believe Oceania and maybe 1 or 2 other cruise lines may have World Cruises with no formal nights.

 

Roy

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Bill & Mary Ann,

Bon Voyage on your WC. I hope some day to be able to do at least one WC or at least a part of one. Meanwhile I will dream as you describe your cruise. Thanks for taking us along.

:)

Traveling Dot

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Report # 7 Embarkation Day January 4, 2014 Saturday

 

Well today turned out to be a marathon day, but in a positive way. Exhausting, but successful. Or, at least it will be when we finally leave the port in Ft. Lauderdale. As we write this at 10:50pm, we still have not left the pier. This is the very first world cruise we have done where we did not leave around 6 or 7pm. Sure miss that traditional sailaway, although there is a party happening in the Lido pool area until 11:30pm. That is, if you can stay up that late on this marathon embarkation day.

 

The day began with us getting up early, and rolling the three suitcases by the door for pickup at 8:30am. We headed for breakfast in the restaurant, and enjoyed the all American entree of bacon, ham, and eggs with toast. Our ride to the pier was scheduled for 11 am, so we had plenty of time to eat, then take advantage of the last of the free internet.

 

The luggage was still in the room until 10am, but was picked up well before we had to leave. It is always nice to see it go, because some friends of ours have had their bags accidently left behind on past cruises. Yes, they did get mailed to the next port, but that usually isn't for a couple of days.

 

It sure turned out to be a dreary, rainy day. Not heavy rain, but occassional showers. Guess we will not be spending any time on the back deck today. The ride was quick, since we were only about 20 minutes away from Port Everglades. There was a problem, however, because there were at least seven ships loading today. And some of those were massive. Like the Oasis of the Seas, two other RCI vessels, a couple of massive Princess ships, and at least two HAL ships. Between crew and passengers, you are looking at thousands of folks boarding around the same time. You can imagine the line of cars, taxis, limos, and buses lined up to get into the port area. So it took another 1/2 hour to arrive to the Amsterdam.

 

Anticipating a backup for the check-in process, we were pleasantly surprised to find a short line with many agents to move the folks swiftly. We were instantly greeted by our hosts, Gerald, the HAL Mariner manager, Henk M the hotel manager, and a new cruise director for us, Steve Young. Looks like this is a great start so far.

 

Check-in was so fast, that we barely had handed over our passports and boarding passes, and the required credit card, of course, and we were on our way. Being that we are 5 star martiners, we were given a priority card so we could wait upstairs instead of downstairs. Seems that there was a holdup with the disembarking folks, and we had to wait to board the ship. Something to do with the crew clearing customs and immigrations, we heard later. Anyway, we did not have a long wait, as some of our buddies had. We think it was somewhere around 1pm by the time we boarded the ship, and we could have made it to the Mariners Lunch in the La Fontaine Dining Room, but with such a substantial breakfast, we passed on lunch once again.

 

The good thing was that our room was ready for us, and we could stash our hand carry items away before any luggage arrived. We had another nice surprise waiting for us in the room....................gifts. We had three bottles of champagne (two on ice), two champagne flutes, and a bottle of white wine. Wow. We had put in a request that if we were gifted a bottle of champagne (usually given by our travel agency), we would love it on ice, so we could enjoy it while unpacking. This is the very first time our request was granted. Takes some of the pain from tackling that chore.

 

Now for the not-so-good thing. Do you ever do something without thinking it through, then wonder, "Why did I do that???" Well, here's the scoop. To lighten up my handbag, I took out some heavy items and put them in one of the suitcases that got shipped from the hotel. One of those items was a ziplock bag of small locks and keys for the locks. What I failed to remember was the keys were needed to unlock the Fed Ex-shipped duffels, three of which arrived first. Surely, those suitcases would be delivered shortly, right? No such luck.

 

Oh well, good time to take a break, and go exploring around the ship and search for familiar faces....crew and passengers. We ran into many folks, but one of the most important was the dining room manager, Tom G. Although we had spent days emailing him through the help of a good friend and hotel concierge manager on the Statendam, our table that we had settled on had been changed as of today. We are certain that we had originally asked for a tabletop change for 311 (from a seating for 12 to 10). And we are certain we had been told it was not possible. Hey, give us a drill, we will exchange the plywood quite easily. Long story short, that is exactly what was done for our group. We have a feeling that we had a little help from Gerald B. after a conversation we had with him last night at dinner. The dining room manager seemed to think he had come up with that idea, so we let him think he did. We got what we wanted, and will thank Gerald when we see him next time. See, there is some truth to the old saying it is "who" you know, not "what" you know.

 

At about 4:30pm, we were all summoned to the muster drill. If we chose not to attend, we could be escorted off of the ship.. Everyone was there, unless they had missed their flight and were not there yet. Two JLG's were in operation, going up and down with painters. They made so much noise beeping, we could hear absolutely nothing being said by the Captain. Oh well.

 

We did take some time to go outside to the aft deck to watch some of the other ships leave the port. The gigantic RCI vessel was like watching an island floating by. We doubt that they will have many ports in the Caribbean where they will be able to dock that behemouth. Since it was still raining somewhat, we headed back to our room to see if our other luggage had arrived. Right before dinnertime at 8pm, the three pieces of hotel luggage finally arrived. At least we could retrieve the keys for the duffel locks. The only problem was that one was missing. Wonder where it is?

 

Well, the mystery was over when our phone rang and the front office gal requested us to come and identify our bag with one of the security officers. They asked us if we had a fishing knife in the bag. Or something that resembled a weapon made of metal. Rooting through the bag, we came up with a small sack of travel tools, that we always take with us for emergency damages. We had to chuckle when the officer asked exactly what did we plan to do with the tools? Fix broken things, we said. Like the time the handle of our new suitcase was torn off of the side, and we had to find nuts and bolts to create a new handle. This has happened more than once to us.

So with the simple explanation, he said fine and our bag would be brought to our room. By the way, there had to be at least 100 pieces of luggage that had been singled out by the xray machine for inspection. The only other time this happened to us was when they thought we had a suspicious cylinder-like item full of metal objects. Guess what it was??? Our own ice bucket with costume jewelry inside of it. Some kind of bomb, huh? Oh well, they can never be careful enough, even if it causes embarrassment on both sides.

 

It was time for dinner, 8pm, and we were so zonked that we did not change our clothing, which was perfectly acceptable. The new smart casual night description specifically states that denim, in good taste, is permitted. That means jeans with no rips, holes, or tattered hems. Do they realize that those "distressed" jeans cost even more than new ones? Go figure.........

 

We gathered our new tablemates, who were being escorted to the old table. They had not been informed that we were gong to a new location. They seemed pleased with it once we explained how we fought for this spot with a smaller tabletop. The rest of our group arrived........Margaret and Keith, John and Diane, Barb, and of course, our namesakes, Bill & Marianne. We had a fine time from beginning to end. The food was very good and the service was even better.

 

There was a sailaway party in the Lido pool area from 9:30 to 11:30pm. We storlled through the area after dinner, but decided not to stay. As it was, we did not leave the port until well after 11:30pm. That was the time we quit typing and called it a day.

 

There was many things we will tell you about regarding the upgrades made to the ship while she was in drydock, but we'll save that for tomorrow.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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I wonder why the ship was scheduled to leave so late. Interesting about your luggage. Seems to me that posters in the past felt that the luggage wasn't xrayed. Thx for the update.

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A lot of us were watching the Amsterdam on CC last night on the web cam and I know everyone wonders what caused the final two passengers to be late? A lot of us are guessing the weather and flight delays?

 

Can't wait to hear about the upgrades/changes the Amsterdam had in dry-dock since we will be on her in June 2014.

Edited by RAJKR74

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