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John and Diane's Latest Adventures - 2020


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Friday, January 3, 2020 

Zero minus 1 day

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida


“It’s just like a family reunion,” we heard from the couple at the next table in the bar.  And they were right.  There’s nothing like arriving in Ft. Lauderdale and meeting with “old” cruise friends we haven’t seen since last May.  On our first world cruise, in 2008, we sat there and watched all those people hugging and chatting and talking about their lives between cruises and feeling quite left out.    By our second, in 2010, we were hugging and chatting with the best of them.  


After an extremely smooth 5-1/2 hour flight from San Francisco, we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at about 5:00 and headed to the Renaissance Ft. Lauderdale Cruise Port Hotel (isn’t that a mouthful?), kindly provided by our cruise agency, Cruise and Travel Experts.  After stowing our bags in the room, we headed down for a bite to eat, only to find out that the restaurant was closed but the bar, with the full restaurant menu, was open.  After our wine had been delivered and our dinner orders put in (fish tacos for John and hummus with pita bread for me), in walked Tom and Deann Baumann, the owners of our cruise agency, who asked us to join them.  


That was our first “run-in”, but they just continued.  Our friend Martha (who’s on for the whole 128 days) and her husband Bob (who will board in Capetown and stay on until Florida) stopped by and we hugged and chatted for awhile.  Then in came our personal cruise agent, Shannon, and we reminded her that we owed her a glass of wine, but she had to put her things away and get ready to go out to dinner with all the agency folks.  


Rick and Nancy from South Carolina came in with Aldonna, and we got to chit-chat about what we’d all been doing.  Leslie and Handler, our Texan dinner tablemates last cruise and this one, arrived and we heard all about their Christmas without a tree while they had their dinner.  The evening just sped by, and by 8:30 it felt as though we’d been up for days, so we excused ourselves to find our bed, forgetting that we were now three hours ahead, so it was really only 5:30, and then 6:00 when I finally turned out my light.  

I do hate jet lag.  I slept like a rock from 9:00 until 10:30, when my eyes just flew open and I spent three hours trying to get back to sleep.  Oh well, the ship is sailing tomorrow, so I’ll be able to rest well.


Tonight is our cruise agent’s celebratory dinner and then tomorrow is “all aboard.”  I’ll try to keep you informed and entertained as much as possible.  We’re really, really looking forward to world cruise #8, all the time realizing how fortunate we are and how grateful we continue to be. 

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So happy you are posting another journal of your World Cruise adventures! They are always such fun to read---you know how to have a good time. 
Enjoy your cruise, so we can enjoy reading all about it. 

Are you taking a break during the cruise this year? I'm always amazed how you fly home for the birthday, then return to the cruise. 

Bon Voyage! 

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Oh thank goodness you have posted!  At the end of the 2019 WC I thought you had mentioned that you would be on the 2020 WC but I had not seen anything.  Your posts are always a treat to read and I look forward to "our" adventure.  This itinerary is fabulous.  Thank you for taking us along,  Cherie

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Sunday, January 5, 2020

At Sea en route to Dominica


Boy, yesterday was an incredibly full day - for passengers, officers, and especially for crew.  We began by having our bags ready for pickup (inside the room) by 7:30.  Then at 8:00 we had to go down to the “ballroom” to identify said bags so they could be loaded on trucks and transported to the ship to join the 15,000 or so other pieces of luggage that had to put in large cages, onloaded to the ship, picked up by stewards and delivered to the hallways outside the owners‘ rooms.  That makes me tired just reading it.  For the most part the operation goes smoothly, although bags arrive at different times.  For some, however, there are glitches.  Our friends Rich and Ginni were missing one bag which turned up in the wrong stateroom.  Will and Nancy’s last piece of luggage was found by Will (at 3:00 in the morning) next to the front desk in a roped-off “corral” area with luggage whose tags had torn off.  We were lucky; ours had all arrived by about 6:30 and by dinner at 8:00, everything was unpacked and put away - not as easy as it sounds.  Our one mystery:  what happened to my flip-flops?  I had zipped them into the compartment outside one of my large bags but they are currently MIA.  Who knows?  Maybe they’ll show up or maybe I’ll buy a new pair in Dominica.


The afternoon felt like more “family reunion.”  In mid-afternoon there were Champagne and Mimosas available on the midships Lido deck around the pool.  Beginning at about 4:30, the sailaway party began there, with an open bar (boy, does that attract the masses), appetizers, and a band.  That went on for quite a while, well past the planned 5:00 departure time.  Because there were still cages and cages of luggage on the dock, I think we actually sailed at about 6:30.  


After hours of greetings and finding every last place in our cabin to store the contents of our luggage, it was finally time for dinner.  Table 309 had eight diners who were about to fall asleep in their soup, but we held on until dessert was over just before 10:00.  Since it was sailing night, there was no show, but I think it would have been pretty empty anyway.  Needless to say, I slept like a rock!


Today’s been an adventure of just getting things done.  We began in the gym, took quick showers and were actually five minutes early for 9:00 church, and then we headed up to the Crow’s Nest for a Cruise Critic Meet and Greet.  It was nice to see people we’d missed yesterday, but the noise of almost 200 people drowned out any announcements, so I just headed down to find out how to get on the blasted internet.  Fortunately only two visits to the front desk were all it took for me to understand the program, and I’m hoping that this post will be uploaded successfully.  Last year’s all-inclusive internet worked simply and efficiently, but when they changed companies over the summer, I think they chose the lowest bidder!  What took one brief entry last year takes about half a dozen different steps this year.  Oh well, we’ll get used to it!


Now I think we’re into a fairly regular routine.  I’m in the library writing while John and Rich are playing pickleball on Deck 9.  Dinner tonight should be a little livelier and the show will have the singers and dancers perform.  Life is good.  See you tomorrow. 

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37 minutes ago, tennisbeforewine said:

Sunday, January 5, 2020

At Sea en route to Dominica


  Last year’s all-inclusive internet worked simply and efficiently, but when they changed companies over the summer, I think they chose the lowest bidder!  What took one brief entry last year takes about half a dozen different steps this year.  Oh well, we’ll get used to it!



FYI... just got off the Amsterdam Dec 18 after back to backs 79 days.. Internet horrendous with the new system and setup.. if Internet Mgr Norman still onboard-- a waste of time..PLUS he runs to Henk and Henk backs him..although they are definitely WRONG... the people who signed up were NOT happy about the entire situation...  be careful-- the HAL Navigator App says you can signup for the entire Voyage--HOWEVER they changed the rules midway  and a Voyage became only 31 Days but still not changed in the Navigator app..  had to signup again at full price...  NOT NICE.. I let him know .. as well as Seattle--- who did nothing..  hope they corrected it.. maybe for this World Voyage   Good Luck


have a GREAT World Voyage.. 

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Monday, January 6, 2020

At Sea en route to Dominica


We seem to be settling into our regular routine, always a comfortable feeling.  Yesterday was the first of three sea days, a wonderful way to begin a long cruise.  For those passengers  who are unfamiliar with the ship and its “atmosphere,” it gives them a chance to get their “sea legs.”  For those of us who think we know every nook and cranny, it gives us a chance to further catch up with friends on board.  All in all, it’s a great schedule.


At 11:45 we put together our Trivia team, including our Aussie friends Greg and Heo as well as Nancy from Charleston and Ellen from Ohio.  The Ocean Bar was absolutely jammed and we found out that there had been some changes.  We no longer play for “Dam Dollars”;  it’s just for fun (which is disappointing for a couple of teams who have a reputation for “bending the rules”), and we can switch papers for correcting or just correct our own.  We had the usual changing a right answer for a wrong one and being absolutely sure of an answer that was absolutely wrong, but we had a good time and made a new friend in Ellen.


Dinner was much more restful last evening, and it gave us more of a chance to chat with our friends.  There are eight of us at the table, and since I’ll be mentioning them from time to time, I think it’s best to introduce everyone.  From last year’s table, we have our “besties” Rich and Ginni from Georgetown, Texas.  Rich is a retired Delta captain and Ginni was a Delta flight attendant and safety instructor.  Also from last year are our other “Travelin’ Texans,” Leslie and Handler.  They live about an hour from Rich and Ginni, and even though they’re good friends, they seldom see each other except on board ship.  Our “newbies,” but a couple we’ve been friends with for several years, are Will and Nancy from Michigan.  Nancy is a retired pharmacist and Will is a retired college architecture professor   We are an extremely congenial group and don’t believe in sitting in the same place every night or necessarily sitting next to one’s spouse.  It does make for interesting conversation.  


Our head waiter again is Indy, our favorite ever.  We’ve had him as our waiter now for three world cruises and can’t even imagine another.  Our assistant waiter, Sal, is new but he’s friendly, helpful, and willing - three attributes that will see him go far with HAL.


We have never had trouble getting to the 10:00 show, but this year the show is at 9:30, so we all skipped dessert to be there on time.  Our first show featured the Amsterdam Singers and Dancers, and since we got to know a few of them last year (they’re on for a two-year contract), and we’ve had them to our table for dinner, we wanted to see them perform.  I loved the show, as it featured songs from the past, including from ABBA and Elvis. What could be better?!


Tonight is our first formal night and, although it’s pretty early in the cruise, I think most people are looking forward to it.  We usually have an officer to host our table on formal nights, so the question is always “Who will it be?”  One shipboard friend (not at our table) always says, “I don’t care about having an officer; I just want the free wine.”  I like meeting new officers and finding out more about their field of expertise.  Occasionally, they even mention things that they probably shouldn’t!  Since they’re hosting the table, however, the wine IS a nice perk!


One more sea day tomorrow and then we begin our Caribbean ports.  We’re looking forward to Dominica and hoping for a good beach and a nice jerk-chicken lunch.  


P. S.  There is general unhappiness with the internet situation, including long lines at the front desk for one-on-one help as well as a "mob" of about 50-60 people in the library for an "inservice" on how to make it work.  I guess we'll get used to it, but it sure better last the whole cruise!

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Thanks so much for the reports.  It sounds like you are off to a good start.  If you encountered any issues during embarkation you didn't mention them and I always appreciate that as much as you have cruised with HAL you never feel entitled to better treatment than anyone else!!  Your positive approach to life on a WC shows in all of your posts. 


Your dinner group sounds like fun and there will be lively after dinner cork games.  


Will there be any new ports of call for you on this cruise?  And, any visits with past students?  Thanks again for taking us along with you,  Cherie

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1 hour ago, tennisbeforewine said:

Monday, January 6, 2020

At Sea en route to Dominica




P. S.  There is general unhappiness with the internet situation, including long lines at the front desk for one-on-one help as well as a "mob" of about 50-60 people in the library for an "inservice" on how to make it work.  I guess we'll get used to it, but it sure better last the whole cruise!

seems strange-- that sounds like there is no Internet Manager onboard anymore-- Norman was setup way in the back of the Library in a separate 'open office' all the way to the back right .. it was behind where the Librarian used to sit at their desk.. he was also setup at the beginning of each of our back to backs  at the Customer Service or Guest Relations desk outside to the left of the Front office...  hoping again it lasts the ENTIRE WHOLE Cruise-- but they won't tell you that like they did with all of us.. if they tell you or others they have no idea what it is about they are fibbing.. 'it ' hit the fan on our 79 day cruise..   there was a nice lady passenger who got on before us in Alaska and is staying on all the way thru your World Cruise.. she was on the complaint line in the back of the Library with Norman the Internet Mgr at the beginning of the South Pacific segment on our cruise.. she was NOT happy when she found out she had to pay in full all over again-- wish I could remember her name but I can't.. Good Luck again..

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Tuesday, January 7, 2020

At Sea to Dominica


We’ve now “survived” our first formal night with no scars except for a blister on my left foot from my spike evening heels.  I won’t be wearing those for awhile.  


After two hours of pickleball which turned into paddleball for John and Rich,, I met them  on Deck 8 aft to share a couple of draft beers.  At home, I’ve been complaining about the cold weather for some time, even though in Central California a cold day is in the 50’s, which definitely calls for red wine.  Now, however, it’s about 80 degrees with soft breezes and light humidity.  I do love it, and the beer was a perfect accompaniment.  


The first formal night is always preceded by a Captain’s cocktail party in the Queen’s Lounge (now The Mainstage), and boy, do people show up in droves.  The trays and trays of adult beverages might have been a bit of a draw, but most people do want to hear the captain’s welcome message and listen to him introduce his senior officers.  Captain Jonathan is an amazing man.  He manages to run the ship, charm people as he runs into them, has a wonderful sense of humor and even answers such questions as “Why are they out of my cereal?” with a straight face.  Last evening he introduced about twenty officers without using a single note, telling us their names, responsibilities, their training and at least one personal bit about them.  For example, I didn’t know that the Chief Engineer races motorcycles, but that was part of his introduction.  I think a good time was had by all.


Dinner was excellent, as usual.  However, there were no officers to be seen, which was explained by Philip, the dining room manager.  He told us that the officers were extremely busy this early in the cruise but that there would be several of them on the next formal night, a week from today.  It’s always fun to guess who will grace our table.


The evening show has always been at 8:00 and 10:00, and it’s been easy to get to the later one.  However, the time has now been changed to 9:30, and since formal night desserts are always good (last night my choice was a lovely vanilla souffle), we got to the show late and sat in the upstairs “getaway seats.”  The comedian/singer was really funny and very talented on that piano.  When I asked Bruce (who was our Cruise Director several years ago but is now the Production Manager) about the time change, he said that the attendance at both shows had increased by 40% across the fleet.  The advantage, of course, is that we get out at 10:15 instead of 10:45.  It all seems very complicated to me.  We found out that we can go to dinner at 7:45, however, so that will start this evening.  


Today is the last of our three sea days and everyone seems to have settled in nicely for this wonderful cruise.  We’re now down to 125 days, which seems like a very long time, but I’m sure, like most cruises, it will fly by.  


P. S.  We've finally figured out how to add photos on the new program.  Hope you enjoy them!  The photo of John was taken on our balcony just after sunset.  






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