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

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Report # 138   Our trek home…..  March 24, 2020   Tuesday   inside airport temperature, whatever that is

 

It’s hard to remember when the day ended, and the next one began.  With putting the watches ahead three hours after leaving Perth, and the flight times, it is confusing.  Now it was time to go from the domestic terminal in Sydney to the international terminal, which was done by a bus transfer.  Once in the spacious terminal, we noticed how empty it was.  Like a ghost town, which was more than eerie.  We already had our tickets, so all we needed to do was locate a kiosk to do the customs check.  Although we had filled out the US Customs form on the previous flight, we did not need it. All we each needed to do was scan our passports, then answer the same questions that were on the form.  A photo was taken (the worst we have ever seen), and a stamp was put in the back of the passport.  Then we proceeded through the customs agent, and were free to go, bad photo and all.

 

Finally at the gate, we were able to plug in the computer with the use of the adapter.  It was a good way to spend the wait time by writing the blog, as things were happening so fast, it was getting hard to keep it all straight.  While doing this, Bill went to exchange the last of the Aussie money we had left at a money exchange.  The rate had changed quite a bit with the recent drop of the values, and the USD was not worth quite as much as when we bought it.  Since the future trips we intend to do will not include Australia, it was senseless to keep any currency.

 

Well back to the flight.  Boarding for the giant Qantas airplane (789) was supposed to be 9:35am, but there was a delay, due to the fact that the plane was delayed from LAX.  The 10:10am flight start was out the window, and would be further delayed due to the super-cleaning that was being done once it landed.  We would guess that it was two hours later, that the flight crew arrived.  And there were a lot of them for this size plane. 

 

The waiting area was filled with what seemed like hundreds of passengers, and the wheel-chair bound folks were already lining up in the front, as they are allowed to be.  Don’t take this wrong, but a few of these people did not belong in wheelchairs.  We recognized some of them from the Amsterdam.  While waiting at both the Perth and Sydney airports, we noticed some of these folks were running at the last minute to buy food and beverages for their flights.  Yes, running…..it was a miracle.  Usually, when one of us with the leg brace stands near the front of the line, we are included in the first group boarding, along with the parents with children under five years old.  Today, we did not insist on being part of that group, since many of them needed it more.

 

But out of the blue, one of the escorts with a brand new type of transport wheelchair, insisted I ride with her, as she was able to ride by standing on the back of the vehicle.  Made her happy that I reluctantly agreed.  As it turned out, it was a long walk this time to the plane, and the ride was appreciated.  We were on the upper level of business class , and the seats we had were the same “cave” beds as the previous flight.  At least we knew how to use the controls for everything.  We made ourselves comfortable, then listened to the announcement that the entire toilet system was not working.  You have got to be kidding?  We did not mind a further delay, but were concerned we would have to de-plane.  A good sign came when the stewardess offered us a beverage, one of which was a really nice champagne.  We both had two flutes, and now, we decided we were not moving anywhere.  Finally, after waiting three hours for this flight to leave, the plane taxied down the runway by 1pm.  No doubt about it, we would be late in arriving to LAX, but no sense worrying…..it was what it was, and arriving to the USA would be wonderful for us, even if we missed our last flight by a few hours.  

 

We did keep ourselves entertained with the TV and napping a bit between meals and movies.  Perhaps we should have been trying to sleep, but this was normally our daytime, and we were wide awake.  The flight was 13 hours and 50 minutes, maybe less, and it was also dark outside all of the way.  These seats had several settings, which also included a gentle back massage feature, which we keep running most of the time.  By the way, the meals, snacks, and beverages were very good and the service was more than excellent.  The stewards and stewardesses checked on us constantly when we were awake, offering to do anything to keep us comfortable.  Actually, the flight was smooth as silk, which was lucky.

 

By the time we were approaching the coast of California, the sun was coming up.  Initially, we were to land by 6am, but it was already close to 8am, and the next flight for us to San Francisco was scheduled to leave at 8:15am.  No way we would make that.  As it turned out, we found out that our flight as well as two earlier ones, had all been cancelled anyway.  We were now going on an American Air Eagle flight home, and the agent kindly re-booked us on a 3pm airplane.  So we faced an almost 8 hour layover, which we did not like, but we were so close  to home, a few more hours would not kill us.

 

But first, we had to go through the final TSA security check, which we had done on the two previous flights with no problems. The Australian TSA checks do not require us to take off our shoes.  But here in Los Angeles, we had to take them off, since we did not earn the pre-check TSA stamps on our tickets. Then, one of our bags was pulled aside for further checking.  Why, we still do not know, unless it was busy work for the agent.  He proceeded to take each item out, insisting on swabbing some powder products, which passed through previous checks.  At least, he did put everything back and was able to pull the zipper closed.  Good thing we still had ample time before our flight left.  A passenger standing behind me, was going through the same check with his stuff, but he was late for a flight.  Jumping up and down did not make the agent move any faster, and probably was not a wise thing to do.

 

Now the good news, was that we were able to use the American Admiral’s Lounge, which surprisingly had not been closed yet due to this virus.  The one in Sydney was closed right before we had arrived there, which was understandable.  Normally, we have short flights straight through, with no layovers.  So having the use of this lounge with the amenities of all types of food and beverages, was a plus.  Even better, there was room at the counter where we could plug in the computer and do some emailing.  We helped ourselves to some breakfast snacks and coffee.  Then later, we had an early lunch of a chicken quesadilla and one turkey club sandwich.  They even had chips and salsa, as well as some desserts. We both had a large glass of draft beer as well, calming the nerves.  We could have easily relaxed in their comfy chairs, but we feared falling asleep and missing the flight.  So within an hour prior to departure, we had to leave the lounge.

 

This terminal required a ride in a shuttle to a different terminal for commuter flights.  We had a short wait, then boarded the small plane on the tarmac with about 18 other people.  This has to be the first time that both of us slept before the flight took off, and woke up when we got there barely an hour after we left.  Since we had no luggage to claim, we exited out the doors at the SFO airport, and were met with the best thing we had seen all day.  It was a very large sign with our names printed on it with 12 inch high letters, held by our driver.  Brought a smile instantly from both of us, as perhaps the driver was expecting very elderly folks.  We’re not quite there yet…………

 

Again, we have to add that this airport was so empty it was surreal.  Many of the workers wore masks and gloves, and kept their distance.  This will be something we might see when we get home too.  The driver got us up to speed with what has been happening in this area.  All types of closures, job losses, and fear of the virus was the same here as we heard worldwide.  Much more of a revelation now that we are off of the cocoon of the ship, and back into reality.  And the traffic going home would have been bumper-to-bumper during this commute time, taking up to three hours to get home.  However today, the traffic was light, and the ride was little over an hour….a record speed.

 

Arrived home after 6pm, and were never so happy to be here.  We shall do some follow-up reports when we conquer the jetlag.  May take a few days, but we will continue the saga with details of the insurance we need to deal with now.  Not exactly the way we had wished to end a trip, but we are grateful to be home.

 

Thanks to everyone with your emails which kept us in high spirits as we experienced this fateful trip.  It meant a lot getting your thoughtful responses.

 

Bill & Mary Ann  

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Welcome home!  Thank you for your blog which I look forward to reading every year.  Stay well!

Edited by Outlander Fan

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Hi Bill and Mary Ann

So glad you got home safely. Thank you once again for taking us with you on your ‘half world’  cruise. Your reporting has been factual, measured and balanced, without any of the dramatic approach of some other blogs. I look forward to reading your follow on posts when you get your feet back on the ground.

Has this experience put you off world cruising?
Stay safe and well

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Glad you guys got home even with all the delays!  Thankfully we made it too.....it's Saturday now and we are still dealing with jetlag but are sleeping through the nite at least!  I made it thru the flights with the help of some Valium the Medical Center gave me and business/first class all the way back.  Coach would have been a nightmare for me.  We miss "Ganville" in the morning and as you describe it, the "cocoon" of the ship.  I'm friends on Facebook with a few of the crew and when I mentioned that I was missing my Indonesian birthday song, my waiter, Ali, posted a bunch of them singing it!  How nice of them and it made me cry.  Happy and sad at the same time.  I don't know if you are on Facebook but there is a page for the 2020 World Cruise on there that we are all still yakking with each other on.  Give me a holler if you want more info:  t1berius.......at.......hotmail......com

 

Linda

PS, the picture is only a screenshot, you can't play the video but you can see Ali (left), Josephine (I think) and Miko there.  How sweet of them!

Screen Shot 2020-03-28 at 11.29.02 AM.png

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Welcome Home. Many. many thanks for taking us on this journey. Glad you are safe and I look forward to your next adventure!

Rest and be kind to yourself!

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Surprised you don’t have global entry, it automatically gives you TSA precheck.  Our customs in DFW took about five minutes.

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Posted (edited)

Congratulations...a masterpiece travelogue.  I feel as though I made the entire voyage with you!  Truly an opus magnum cruise review.  Thank you so much Bill and Mary Ann for taking the time and making the effort. 


Many of us are worried if HAL will be able to weather this storm.  After reading this extended travelogue I am certain that HAL will survive because of the close knit dedicated HAL repeat cruisers who form a unique club of world travelers who are welded into the very fabric of HAL.

 

 

Edited by CGTNORMANDIE

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Welcome home, Bill and Mary Ann.  Sorry this year’s adventure ended in this unexpected way, but thank you for ‘taking us along on the journey’ with you.  I always appreciate reading cruise blogs, including yours for the past several years.  This one was one for the record-books for sure!

 

i have a question about former table mates of yours....  One of the blogs I stumbled upon and enjoyed was from the 2010 cruise on ms Prinsendam....it was by Paul and Maria who joined the grand South America and Antarctica portions and sat with your table.  They seem like such a nice couple, their blog was fun to read and they looked to be planning to blog another grand journey In Asia for 2013 on ms Rotterdam.  It looks like they stopped traveling — or perhaps just stopped blogging.  Do you still see or travel with them?  I don’t know them, but feel like I do and hope they are well!  🙂

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Thanks for your kind thoughts in welcoming us home.

 

We heard that Paul passed away several years ago, and we never did see Maria again.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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