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Travel The World with Bill & Mary Ann HAL's Grand World Voyage 2007

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Thanks for taking all of us along with you - looking forward to your reports. You'll love "Broooooooooce" Allen Scudder - he's a great CD; we've sailed with him twice and enjoyed him tremendously.

 

Smooth Sailing! :) :) :)

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I can already tell you will send great posts when you can. Color me envious, especially the Taj Mahal excursion. I hope you are able to see it at different times of day; the different light is supposed to be magical. I am not envious of TWENTY-TWO formal nights. Yikes. Thank you for the vicarious thrills to come:D

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Bill and MaryAnn... Have a wonderful cruise! We'll be looking for your posts! I hope your cabin has hot water and cool air this time around:D

 

Say Hi to Fekko. I believe he is retiring after this cruise. Wish we were with you guys!

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Again, thank you all for the wonderful send-off!

 

Jerry, sounds like you are doing OK! We were looking forward to your posts from the Prinsendam while on this trip. Looks like we will have to wait until next year. Hope you are feeling better very soon. Say hi to Wilda for us.

 

We had a great flight from SF to Miami, and we had the biggest "limo" we have ever seen. More about that later.

 

Tonight is our bon voyage party with our large group, who we have run into already this morning.

 

Report two will follow soon,

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Looking forward to all your posts. Have fun at the specialist party tonight. Looking forward to meeting you when the two specialist groups get together in Dubrovnik. Judy

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Greetings Bill and Mary Ann from South Georgia. I am excited about reading your post during your Grand Voyage. Have Fun!!!

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Looking forward to reading about all your adventures! But c'mon, where will you put all those bags, not to mention all the clothes inside? That'll be your first adventure.

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Actually, we are traveling a bit light, since we have seen as many as 22 pieces of luggage for one lady who stayed in an outside cabin!!

 

It will be a feat storing the contents, but not all of our bags are huge. Will let you all know how it goes after we board the ship this afternoon.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Thank you for allowing us to share your voyage. I'm taking careful notes, as we are considering an 2008 or 2009 World Cruise. All of us here are so excited for you. Bon Voyage.

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Actually, we are traveling a bit light, since we have seen as many as 22 pieces of luggage for one lady who stayed in an outside cabin!!

 

It will be a feat storing the contents, but not all of our bags are huge. Will let you all know how it goes after we board the ship this afternoon.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

I think the record from the 2005 cruise was the couple that came onboard with 34 pieces of luggage and left with 38. We found that the secret to storing the luggage was to nest pieces inside of other pieces whenever possible, make sure everything is still tagged and then slip the room steward a nice tip and ask him to make them disappear. We never saw them again until they magically appeared in our cabin two nights before the end of the cruise.

 

Have a great cruise!

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We're booked on the 2008 RTW cruise and would like to each take a steamer trunk instead of huge numbers of suitcases. I just checked with HAL and was told that ALL luggage containers must be stored in the stateroom for the duration of the voyage. Grumpy1, your experience seems to contradict that.

I think I'll check with our cruise specialists in Seattle and see what they have to say. Can anyone give us any advice?

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If they had to store all the luggage in the stateroom then the people with 34 pieces would be having alot of fun. Even on 7 day cruises we have had luggage stored elsewhere. One solution comes from a good friend who is in the travel industry. He had a client who took a suite on a world cruise and an inside cabin for her clothes. How humiliating to be seen in the same outfit twice on a 108 day cruise. --- Actually its 23 degrees outside and I wish I were on the Amsterdam right now.

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WCB - thank-you very much for sharing your trip with us!

 

less than a half-hour now until their sailaway. i can imagine the excitement.

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Saturday January 13 , 2007

 

Well, we're off to any early start this morning. Our eldest son, Bill, arrived at 6:30 to whisk us off to the airport for an 11:50 flight to Miami. Our only concern today was the temperature of 27 degrees. We are not used to this, so all week we have been insulating all the exposed water lines and valves. Hopefully, all goes well. If not, our place will look like the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone Park!

 

The ride to SFO was a breeze, being that this was the weekend.After saying our good-byes, we lugged our few bags inside. Check-in was quick, with no lines, and the security check was easy. Usually, we get pulled to the side to inspect our handcarrys. In the past, we have been known to carry over 100 rolls of 35 mm film, and the agents want to look at each one. Thank goodness, we finally switched to digital.

 

We were early, so decided to have breakfast. It was actually good, being that these restaurants have such limited space in which to work. Then it was time to board. First class was called, and away we went. By the way, this is the ONLY way to fly. The seats were wide and reclining. You can't even reach the magazine pouch in the seat in front of you, because there is so much leg room. Gotta love it!

 

Between the excellent meal service, the flowing bubbly, the movie, The Devil Wore Prada (very funny), and the series of sitcoms, the plane ride went by in no time. Actual flight time was 5 hours, straight through to Miami.

 

We arrived at 8pm EST, were met by a Holland rep at the baggage pickup, then rolled our stuff outside to wait for our limo ride. This is where things got interesting. One minute before our transportation arrived, the rep stated that there had been an error in our ride order. As we spoke, up comes the biggest, longest stretch limo we have ever seen. And it even had a picture of a dog on the side. Hey, wait a minute, it's a greyhound, and yep, it was a bus! A whole bus just for the two of us. Ha-ha! Disappointed, but tired, we climbed on board and decided to sort this out tomorrow.

 

We had a smooth 40 minute ride to Ft. Lauderdale, checked in, and were off to our room. By then it was 10pm, and time to call it a day.

 

Until tomorrow,

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

Sunday

 

Reluctantly, we got up early, which is not easy with the three hour time change. But with such a busy day ahead, we had no choice.

 

We had a hearty breakfast in the hotel, and ran into many familiar people immediately. Perry and Jordan from the Maasdam trip last year were the first. Then Millie Sanders from the 2005 world cruise. So nice to see her again. The specialists from Seattle had their table up, so we stopped and saw our favorite people, namely Grace, our super agent, and our hosts, Tom and Ellen. This will be a fun trip!

 

Our travel group offered a shuttle ride to a new shopping center north of the hotel, so we jumped on and went for a walk. There were a few items that we needed, so this worked out well. So far, our group, which numbers around 300, seem to be the friendliest yet. This is nice. Perhaps we may not have spoken to many of these people the last trip, but we all seemed to remember each other. After a few stops, we headed back to the Marriot, unloaded our purchases, and walked 10 minutes to a closeby mall. We had lunch in a place called Champps Americana (yes, 2 p's). It was a huge sports bar and grill, packed with people watching the Chicago-Seattle football game. Great food.

 

Back at the hotel, we procured our transfer tickets, and had our passports checked out, specifically for the Indian visa. No visa? No trip!

We discussed the mix-up with the limo, and got nowhere with the HAL gal.. She blamed our agency, so who knows? Will sort this out onboard this ship with the guest relations person.

 

It was time to get ready for the cocktail party. We were supposed to meet the Cruise Critic group at 5:30, but were late due to check-in with HAL. We did find them however, and got "stickered" with our blue whales. Short explanation. One member of our group, called Blue Whale online, organized our meeting times here and onboard the ship. In order to recognize each other, we had to wear the whale sign. This became very funny when everyone wanted to know what this secret society was..! We had much fun with this during dinner.

 

Three hundred of us lined up in 3 separate places for drinks. Bar number one had no Jack Daniels, but we later found bar # two did. That's where you could find us until 6:45, when it was time for dinner. There were 40 round tables for eight, and we filled the room. We joined Greg Nacco, from the specialists out of Novato California, and three other jovial couples, which added to the great evening.

 

Dinner consisted of an assorted fruit salad, red or white wine, green salad with balsamic dressing, creamy spinach filled chicken breast with roasted potatoes, broccoli, and baby carrots. the dessert was a chocolate cup filled with creamy lemon cream topped with coconut flakes. Strangely, no coffee or tea was served. We were lucky to have enough forks and knives, leading us to think that this size of a dinner was a stretch for the hotel staff.

 

After we ate, new bags were handed out to each of us. It had the logo for the 2007 world cruise, as well as a reversible vest, and a name tag on a neck lanyard. Many thanks were given by the new head of the travel agency. All in all, we thought it was a lovely evening and a wonderful start for the world cruise.

 

Until later,

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Love the Greyhound story. This is the juice that makes the world go round.

 

Bon Voyage.

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Thank you Bill and Mary Ann in anticipation for the posting you will be doing on your world cruise. My dh and myself would love to do one but the grandchildren are still young and we don't want to leave them for that long (30 days is our limit for now). We can't wait to read all you adventures on your trip. Hope you have great weather and calm seas!

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Report # 3 1-15-07 Monday Embarkation Day

 

Today is going to be a monumental one, we know. So we are headed off for an early breakfast. The weekday menu was much better priced than the weekend. Maybe that is why it tasted even better!

 

We were scheduled to have our limo transfer at 11 am. The hotel's lobby was crowded with anxious passengers by then, including us. The limos turned out to be what they called a "limo/bus", and were only used for BB veranda suites and up. Other than fewer and wider seats, it was the same as the greyhound bus. Apparently, our group was too large for Holland to transport us in regular limos. In 2005, we had limo rides for one or two couples with no problems. Oh well, things change, we suppose.

 

Arrival to the pier took about 30 minutes. The skies were heavy with rain clouds, and we could see that it had rained throughout the night. Hope it stays OK for the sailaway. Anyway, the bus driver warned us to have our passports ready for inspection, since most vehicles were being checked. However, we got lucky, and they waved us by.

 

The pier building in Ft. Lauderdale was huge. There were other ships here, such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Silverseas. Busy port. We were guided into a "Disneyland"-like snaking line, and waited and waited to be checked in. Several colorfully costumed waiters carried trays full of canapies and cookies to give us energy for the wait. Too bad our hands were full of bags and purses to eat anything. But maybe, that was a good thing. Have to watch those sneaky calories from here on out! and we did have a nice surprise- we spotted Gloria and Ken, our fun tablemates from 2005. Great to see them again.

 

So with the proper documents and express online registration forms, our check-in was swift. The passports were collected, our pictures taken for security, and our almighty credit card was recorded. We were set now with our room key cards, all we will need for shipboard purchases for the next 105 days. Hmmm, this could be dangerous!!

 

The photographer was ready to take our first lovely photo, usually not our best at this point of time. Then we were greeted by Captain Edward G van Zaane as we walked onboard the Amsterdam. We have heard he is a fun captain. That is a good thing. A line of room stewards awaited to take our bags and lead us to our room. He opend the door,and guess what, our 13 bags were already there inside. Now the headache starts. Where do we put it all?? There were several drawers, but limited closet space for hanging clothes. We had ordered a portable clothes rack, but since there is no good place to put it, that will have to go. Some people have their couches taken out, but this couch is a beautiful leather one, so we don't want to do that.

 

The luggage actually weathered the cross-country truck ride rather well, the the exception of wood splinters in one new garment bag. Odd? We got half way into the stashing job, when we opted to stop and grab lunch before the lido service ended. This task of unpacking is a true test of husband-wife compatability! With the veranda door open, we could not help but hear many squabbles coming from adjacent rooms. Very funny!

 

The lido restaurant was very well laid out, with separate stations for salads, sandwiches, main courses, and desserts. It seemed to flow smoothly with little or no lines anywhere. Food was excellent. After lunch, we were walking back to our deck, and we ran into Hank, another 2005 former tablemate. That made our day!! Nice to see him too. It's like old home week!

 

By 4:15, we had muster drill, where we donned the lovely orange lifevests, walk down to deck three (promenade), and lined up under our assigned lifeboat. Our names were called and we were checked off for attendance. We could tell that these passengers have done this more than once or twice. We were supposed to leave at 5 pm, but this did not happen. It was near 6 pm, before the ship pulled away from the pier. Apparently, some passengers were delayed, due to bad flying weather we guessed. Airhorns and trumpets blew from highrise condos, and people cheered from the dockside as the ship left in the dark. It sounded like New Year's Eve all over again.

 

Back to the room, we squirreled away most everything except a huge pile of shirts and blouses on the middle of the bed. The empty suitcases were piled on the balcony for now, and we could actually walk from one end of the room to the other! Best thing to do, is put the rest of the stuff on the couch and worry about it tomorrow, since it is almost cocktail time. With a quick change, we headed for the Crow's Nest on deck 9. It's a beautiful lounge with a round bar facing the bow of the ship. What a view! We ran into another young couple from 2005, Matt and Jane. Another nice surprise. Hot hors d'oeuvres and veggie plates were still being offered with our cocktails. We were happy to see this, since we have heard it has been stopped on some other ships. The friendly bartender poured good drinks and before we knew it, dinnertime had arrived.

 

Not wanting to be late, we left before 8 pm, and headed down to the lower dining room level. The two-tiered dining room was gorgeous, but because we left late, the first seating was not out on time. So we had to wait about 20 minutes for the doors to open. Most everyone was quite and patient, considering the stress of the day. We joined a table for ten right in the middle of the floor. We met a couple, Bob and Judy from Pleasant Hill, Shirley from New York or California (no not Shirley from last year, thank God), Woody and Susan from ?, Barbara from ?, and Greg from Australia. Will get the details tomorrow night. Dinner was very good, with excellent service. Many of the staff are hand-picked for this cruise, and it shows. There was an introduction show tonight, but we are really tired, so will have to catch it later.

 

Well, that's enough for one day, and bedtime is looking good for now!!

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Johnny B,

Yes,they kindly took all the luggage, except what we chose to keep for storage. For all we know, they may be thrown overboard, only kidding. Everyone lined the hallway with their extra bags. No problem.

 

The internet has been going up and down like an elevator all day.

We will post when we can, but it may be sporadic.

 

We will be entering the Panama Canal tomorrow morning.

 

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

 

 

 

Bill and Mary Ann

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It sounds like a great start to your cruise. I saw Prinsendam go through the canal last week on the webcams and really felt homesick. I'll watch you guys go through tomorrow.

 

I had to laugh about your Limo/Greyhound situation. We were fortunate enough to have the opposite experience several years ago. We flew into Seattle the day before our cruise out of Vancouver. Most people either flew in the day of the cruise or stayed at a hotel next to the airport if they came in early. We were the only ones staying downtown and were told that the bus would pick up the passengers at the airport and then pick us up at our hotel. We were picked up in a huge stretch Limo for the ride to the airport to join the others on the bus to Vancouver. Seems that the bus driver did not want to navigate downtown Seattle traffic to pick us up. So we got your Limo, you got our bus.... fair trade...

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Looking forward to reading about all your adventures! But c'mon, where will you put all those bags, not to mention all the clothes inside? That'll be your first adventure.

 

My first adventure would be finding something different to wear to 21 formal nights!!!:eek: (men have that part easy)

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Bill and Mary,

Thanks for the info about luggage being put away. Did you see any trunks in the hallway?

 

Your first day sounds pretty darn stressful. It's nice to know that our verandah suite investment gets us onto the ship a little faster.

 

Can't wait until January 4, 2008! We'll be reading your blog daily - got it bookmarked already!

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I saw your link.... and now I have to read your 2 year old, 76 pages of around the world fun, too. Where am I going to find time for that? One round the world blog is enough, isn't it? No?..... Why is cruising my drug of choice?

 

Thanks for sharing your wonderful journeys.

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I saw your link.... and now I have to read your 2 year old, 76 pages of around the world fun, too. Where am I going to find time for that? One round the world blog is enough, isn't it? No?..... Why is cruising my drug of choice?

 

Thanks for sharing your wonderful journeys.

Then I guess you don't want the link to Ides of March round the world blog from the 2006 world cruise or SusieSails partial blog from the same cruise....:D

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