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Navigate the World with Bill & Mary Ann on the Zuiderdam's 128 Day 2023 Grand World Voyage


WCB
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Report # 2   Saturday   December 31, 2022   The adventure begins from Clayton to Ft. Lauderdale     Tons of rain and 58 degrees    Part #1 Of 1........7 Pictures

 

Well, our adventure really began last night since neither of us slept well.  No sense because we had to get up around 2am anyway.   It would be nice to be able to turn your thoughts off, but you cannot help but go into overtime hoping nothing was missed.  So far, we think we have covered all of the details.

 

It rained all night, and as reported, it got heavier as the day progressed.  Our driver felt it wise to get out of town before we experienced mud and rock slides on the main road towards town.  One good thing about rain is that there was no fog.  That could have grounded the planes easily. 

 

Traffic was really light at 3:30am especially on a Saturday.  We made great time getting to SFO at 4:45am.  There were two slow downs on the downtown freeway with tow trucks already taking the crashed cars away.  Bet this continues all day because many folks do not drive safely in this kind of weather.

 

Check-in was easy without a lot of people there.  We were so glad we were not flying Southwest, although they were claiming it was back to business as usual.  A restaurant we like to go to in the terminal was opened by 6am, and we enjoyed sharing a hearty breakfast with lots of hot coffee.  Our boarding time was close to 8am, but that did not happen as planned.  There was a physically-challenged fellow in a permanent wheelchair that needed special assistance.  Traveling with family members, the group was there at the terminal about as long as we were.  But the staff waited until the last minute to discover his wheelchair did not fit down the aisle of the aircraft.  No one could board until he was transferred to an airport chair, which took almost an hour.  The United team kept saying the delay was due to cleaning, but we knew that wasn’t the case. 

 

The good news was that once we were allowed to board, the pilot was able to make up some of that lost time.  Except for a few patches of turbulence, the flight went well.  We had more fun trying to figure out how to work the TV screen and watch a movie.  They had dozens of choices, mostly old ones, but a few we had not seen.  Of course if there was a screen that malfunctions, one of us would get that one.  Asking a crew member, they reset the TV and it finally worked.  We both watched Cold Mountain and enjoyed it enough it made the time fly.  Many good actors in that movie, although it was sad, it reflected the times of the Civil War.

 

Another good feature of watching movies is that if you turn up the volume, you cannot hear the little kids crying here there and everywhere.  Perhaps because it is New Year’s Eve, there were many young families traveling today…mostly with little ones.

 

We landed in Miami around 5:30pm EST.  It was warm and partly cloudy, although by the time we got our one piece of checked luggage, it was beginning to get dark outside.  Normally, we like to fly directly to Ft. Lauderdale, but there were no straight through flights today.  So we joined the line for a taxi, and we were on our way to the Renaissance Marina Hotel within an hour.  We assumed that our driver would know the hotel we were staying at by just telling him where it was.  Yes, he did know the location, but wanted the exact address.  Of course, we had it, but it was buried somewhere in one of the hand carrys.  Finally finding it, it was too dark to read it and the driver did not turn on the inside light.  I did have a tiny flashlite in my purse, but do you think it could be found?  Oh well, something to remember next time.  Print the address with dark ink and big letters.  The driver put the address into his phone and got exact directions. 

 

There was no activity in the lobby and check-in was swift.  Good thing because by now we were getting tired and hungry.  We stashed our stuff, and headed to Duffy’s for dinner.  It’s lively sports bar within close walking distance, so with all of the assorted games happening, it was loud, but good.  A chicken salad and a plate of chicken tenders was just right.

 

Back at the hotel, we will enjoy New Year’s Eve activities on the TV.  It was heck of a long day. Bet we sleep really good tonight.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Happy New Year!

 

Glad you are safe and sound in FLL and got out of Dodge when you did!!!!

 

We can’t believe the taxi driver made you hunt for the hotel address when he had the ability to find it quickly. Unreal!

 

Enjoy the day,

Denise and Howie, too

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Looking forward to your reports. My brother will be sailing with you. He is staying for a few days at The Breakers before embarkation.  A pre World Cruise Tradition.  Have a happy new year and an enjoyable vacation. 

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Looking forward to your posts. Appreciate how you number your posts as this makes it easy to find my place after a few days of not reading CC.  Great idea! Thanks for sharing your insights and adventures once again. Bon Voyage and have a healthy and happy 2023.

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Report #3    Sunday January 1, 2023    Day #2 In Fort Lauderdale, Florida Pre 2023 World Cruise    Hot & Humid And Sunny  83 Degrees  Part #1 Of 2......60 Pictures

 

It was a hot and humid day, or at least it felt like that to us after coming from temps in the high 20’s to low 50’s at home.  It takes time to adjust.  According to what our parents used to tell us, the cold weather thickens the blood while hot weather thins it out.  Wonder if there is any sense to this theory?  Must be what their parents told them. 

 

It was a perfect day for a lot of walking…mostly to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  We headed out early around 8am to a small diner up the road apiece.  It really reminds us of Country Waffles since they only serve breakfast and lunch, then close at 3pm.   Maybe because it was a holiday, it was crowded.  Also, their food is very good and the coffee hot.  It used to be that the prices in Florida were a bit more affordable, but time has caught up with that, and it is comparable.

 

We needed a few things at Publix, and easily found it all, plus more.  Then we strolled through TJ Maxx mostly to get back in the air conditioning.  Ace Hardware was our next stop, but it was closed for New Year’s.  So we will come back tomorrow, time permitting.

 

Back at the hotel, the lobby was becoming busy with people leaving and others coming in.  So far, we have not recognized anyone.  The majority of folks we know live on the East Coast, so they tend to come the day before the cruise.  Of course, if the weather changes, some come earlier to avoid delays and cancellations.  Other longtime cruisers choose to rent a vehicle and drive with all of their luggage.

 

We did want to take a hike up the bridge to get some photos of the Intercoastal Waterway.  Once you summit the center of the highway, there are benches up there where you can catch a wonderful  breeze.  By the time we got close to that spot, the bells went off, and it was announced that the bridge was going up shortly.  We like to watch this event, although the vehicles that get held up are probably cursing.  Once the four lane highway lifts, the boats can navigate under it, especially the ones with the massive masts.  Due to the holiday, there were hundreds of boats and yachts out and about today.  

 

Since we were this far, we decided to continue towards the Ft. Lauderdale Beach, where we could check out the activities on the sandy beaches and also at the restaurants.  It was crowded with families BBQing, swimming, playing volleyball, and relaxing under umbrellas.  The parking lot was full, but that did not stop the flow of vehicles trying to get a lucky spot.  All of the lifeguard stands were manned and there was a helicopter scanning the waters of the surf.  Wonder if they ever spot sharks in this area?

 

Like we said, it was hot, and the thought of enjoying a couple of ice cold beers sounded irresistible.   Bubba Gump’s filled that bill, as well as a shared appetizer platter of chicken tenders, followed by a slice of Key Lime pie.  This place has the best pie ever.  Relaxing for an hour was even better.

 

The walk back seemed to take less time….doesn’t it always?  We saw few birds, but did spot a squirrel and a few iguanas.  Once again, we stopped at the top of the bridge, and a repeat performance of the lifting and lowering happened again.  By the way, there were no cruise ships in Port Everglades today.  Only one ferry.  And it is worth mentioning that the convention center is still undergoing renovations.  It looks to be a massive project.  So does the renewal of the old iconic Pier 66 Hotel.  It looks like the tower will be incorporated with buildings all around it.  A sign stated it would re-open in 2024. 

 

Back at the hotel, we kicked back for a few hours, watching football, then headed out for salads at Duffy’s once again.  The sun was setting by 6pm, and it was still light when we headed to the sports bar.  It was really jumping with customers with all of the games today.  We caught the end of the 49er’s and Raider’s game, not knowing by the time we left if the tied score changed and someone won in overtime.  Good news was that SF scored, and they won the game. 

 

We put on a lot of miles today, so sleeping should be great.  Tomorrow we need to be up early to go for that Covid test.  Once that is done and we test negative, we will be relieved.  Will let you know tomorrow how this turned out.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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1 hour ago, WCB said:

Wonder if they ever spot sharks in this area?

There are sharks in this area but most of the sightings are later in the year when the water is warmer. Late May and June there are usually shots from the news helicopters of sharks migrating just offshore. its very rare for any shark/human interaction in this area, most "bites" occur further north. 

 

This time of year its not unusual to see manatees swimming to in the ocean around the warm water areas of FPL power stations.

 

Enjoy your time here. looking forward to your adventure starting.

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Aloha. We are pretty careful as to Sharks in Hawaii but the box jellyfish is the problem. They appear a few days after a full moon and fortunately the government publishes a calendar so we can be more attention but the tourists generally either pay no mind or do not know. Their sting is painful and the aftermath not so pleasant. Even a mai tai won’t help !

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Spoke  with my brother and is looking forward to the voyage.  He was surprised before he left home to receive a package containing a thank you and a watch from HAL commemorating his being a President member and he said one of if not the highest level member.  He has been sailing with HAL since the 1970s and I guess enough world cruises to add up.  I had a lot of rime with Crystal but I don’t think that counts anymore but I do hope they restart since they were bought by A & K. 

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Hi Bill & Mary Ann -  I came across your world cruise blog a few years ago and I have followed your adventures ever since.  The longest cruise I have been on was two weeks but I know I would love a world cruise.  I sincerely hope I can make that happen before I get too old and decrepit.

 

I will be following along - have a fabulous trip.

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Report # 4   Monday   January 3, 2023     Day #3 In Fort Lauderdale, Florida  Pre 2023 World Cruise   Sunny & Warm 80 Degrees    Part #1 Of 1.........62 Pictures

 

Our third day in Ft. Lauderdale was sure a busy one.  The first thing on the agenda was getting ourselves to the clinic where we could get the Covid antigen tests.  Expecting a line right after 8am, we were pleasantly surprised to see only a handful of folks there, five of them who we know well.  A  nurse came outside the door, took names, then escorted us inside one or two at a time.  The actual testing was quick, then we paid the fee, and waited outside for 15 minutes for the results.  The best news of the day was we were both NEGATIVE!  We were handed printed copies of the tests, which we can show upon embarkation.  You have no idea how many sleepless nights were spent worrying if this was going to work.  Thanks to our travel agency, they located this clinic where we could walk to from the hotel.  There was another option, but it involved using a mobile device, and we do not own one.  Even those that had cell phones, did not trust the process and chose to pay the money for a hard copy of the monitored test.  Job done.

 

From there, we went to breakfast at the same café as yesterday.  It was even more crowded, and we figured there were probably cruise ships in port today.  Later on, we discovered there were four of them.   We needed a few items at the supermarket, then made a stop at Ace Hardware.  Last night, our little alarm clock decided to go haywire, so we located a replacement along with a thermometer for our room. 

 

Back to the hotel, we began seeing more and more people we recognized, as well as the staff that had arrived from our travel agency.   It has been three years since we have seen them, and there were numerous handshakes and bear hugs.  It was feeling more and more like a homecoming.  We were gifted with tote bags and really nice sweatshirts, similar to what we got in 2020.  They also gave us a cruise diary with all of the ports included in it along with a letter of instructions for tomorrow.

 

Having scattered the contents of our one piece of luggage, we took the time to repack the bag, filling it to the brim.  No need to worry about the weight now as it will go directly to the ship tomorrow morning to be scanned before delivered to our room.  Many other guests in our group had brought most all of their luggage with them, and were able to store it in an empty hall at the hotel under lock and key.  For a change, we traveled as light as we could, having shipped the bulk of the luggage back on December 14th.

 

Feeling the need to take a walk, we left the hotel and had a huge surprise when we ran right into Captain Mercer on his way into the lobby.  His wife Karen had already entered, but we knew she would be nearby.  After chatting for a few minutes and sharing memories of our last painful goodbyes in 2020, they said our travel group had invited them to join us all for dinner tonight and they gladly accepted.  Retirement has agreed with both of them, and Jonathon admitted that his stress level had gone down dramatically after leaving the company.  Isn’t that true for all of us?   We looked forward to visiting with them later on.  Boy, did our travel agent keep that secret successfully or what?

 

So we wanted to see if there were any cruise ships in Port Everglades, and once we summited the bridge, we counted four of them.  Easy to remember, the names all began with an “E”.  There was the Emerald Princess, Celebrity’s Edge and Equinox.  The fourth vessel was an older and smaller Royal Caribbean ship, with the name hidden from our view.  Sure is nice to see the industry coming back despite the pandemic.

 

Against better judgement, we continued to hike towards the beach then realized we had missed lunch.  We did make an attempt to get seats at Bubba Gump’s, but it was way too crowded and the wait would have been too long.  So we turned around and made our way back to the bridge just in time to see the bars drop, and the bridge go up.  It was near 4pm, and we had to be ready to meet with the group for a ride to a restaurant right after 5pm.  Turned out that three of the four ships began leaving, exiting the path we always take out of the port area.  Of course, we had to get photos of them as the captains began blowing the horns.  Our turn will come tomorrow.

 

Our room was being serviced, so we had to wait outside of it for a few minutes.  That’s about all the time we had left before leaving again.  Expecting to see our buddy Barb, she was nowhere in sight as we began boarding the two buses.  We had not run into Susie and Woody yet, but we were told they had arrived to the hotel in the afternoon, but were too tired to attend the dinner.  It is also possible that boarding the bus may have been challenging for Woody as well.  It turned out that Barb was still on her way, and her plane had not landed yet.  Thanks to our leader, he arranged for a taxi to bring her to the restaurant minutes after she arrived.  He even saved her a seat at the table with Captain Jonathon and Karen, who she knows well.  We both greeted her with hugs, then promised to visit later.

 

The ride to Hugh’s Culinary Restaurant took about ½ hour.  Literally, it was in the middle of nowhere, but was known to Deann, our leader’s wife, who had gone there with her golfing group.  It was a really nice setting with a full bar, a table of appetizers, and many banquet tables set in the center of the room.  Ordering two cocktails, we found seats at our leader’s table with some folks we had recognized from previous grand cruises.  Tasty appetizers were passed around the tables by waiters.  These were being cooked right in the back of the room, and arrived hot.  Crabcakes, bacon-wrapped chicken, and a type of pizza bread sure tasted good since we had missed lunch. 

 

Tom delivered a short and sweet welcome, then dinner was served, beginning with salads and rolls.  Those that wanted wine went directly to the bar, and ordered it.  Over a month ago, we had pre-ordered out entrees.  So our name tags had a colored dot indicating either beef, chicken, or pasta.  They all sounded good, so we had ordered one beef and one chicken.  Both were delicious with the best smashed potatoes ever.  Dessert of Key lime pie followed finishing the meal nicely.  Coffee was set up at a separate table, where the folks helped themselves.

 

Tom, our leader, gave his final talk, describing the process for tomorrow’s transfer to the pier.  If all goes according to plan, we should all be at the terminal by 11am give or take a few minutes.  Then he surprised us all when he announced to be careful leaving the restaurant because it had rained.  Never saw that coming, but it is common in Florida we understand.  It had come over leaving some deep puddles, but had stopped by 9pm.

 

Sitting directly across from the Captain and Karen on the coach, we had a nice visit with them on the ride back.  Sure was interesting hearing about their 2 month adventure while being stuck on the Amsterdam before leaving in Manila for their final trip home.  What a way for Jonathon to retire….never saw that situation coming.  They will be staying a few days before heading back home.

 

Tomorrow will be another marathon day, so we called it a night.  The adventure continues……

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Thanks for all of the nice comments!  The photos will be coming shortly....stay tuned.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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