The Start of a New Adventure at Sea

“Welcome Home”

I’ve written twice before about this banner that greeted us to the ms Amsterdam on two Grand Asia voyages. I did not see it on the ms Zuiderdam when we boarded earlier today. But even though the ship’s size, layout and décor are different, coming aboard still feels like coming home.

The day started early in Boston, where my sisters Eloise and Elaine had joined me for an overnight hotel stay. Eloise and I feasted last night on a lobster bake and seafood grill, with plenty left over for Elaine’s dinner after her later arrival.

The Boston waterfront proved to be a good place for me to break in my trip sketchbook, although I will need to finish the sketches and add watercolor later – probably on a sea day.

None of us had seen much of Boston, but we hadn’t planned appropriately to be city tourists. Our hotel was near the airport but not tourist sites or mass transit stations. We “ubered” into the city center Monday night for dinner, but this morning we just had a lazy breakfast at the hotel and relaxed. As my friends Daisy and Susan said once while we were waiting to board the Windstar in Funchal, Madeira, “we are practicing doing nothing so we will be better at it when we are on the ship.”

Our boarding process was smooth, but with the expected wait to board the ship after a quick check-in. When they called the four-star cruisers (200+ days) to board around noon, a huge crowd surged forward. A few impatient cruisers thought they could wave their four-star boarding card and move to the front of the crowd, not realizing their privileges were no greater than the rest of us.

We quickly found our cabin on Deck 1. I’ll write more about it in a few days. Then we were off to the main dining room for lunch (with a couple also from the Dallas/Fort Worth area and a man from near Fort Lauderdale who had risen very early to fly up). We explored the ship and settled into the Crow’s Nest to toast our vacation. Unfortunately, happy hour drink specials don’t start until tomorrow. By 4 p.m. our bags were in our stateroom.

Traveling with sisters can be easy and hard. We know each other’s preferences and peculiarities. We also know each other’s hot buttons, and the three of us are pretty good at avoiding them. In fact, we get along remarkably well. I would say that unpacking tested us a bit, but we survived.

I knew that one benefit of my previous Grand Voyages on Holland America was a bigger budget for food than on “non-grand” cruises, so I wondered how our meals would compare. If last night’s dinner was an example, there’s no need to worry. I had a great tuna entrée, cooked rare just as I like. Our waiters Ali and Alit were superb.

We capped off the night with a short stroll along the promenade, still blocked on one side for the gangway. The ship was scheduled to leave at some point after the 9:30 p.m. all aboard. We caught the last few songs of the piano duo in the Billboard lounge (we’ll be back). I admit I took advantage of cell phone service to indulge my political obsession and watch part of the Democratic debate.

As I fall asleep, I do feel like I am back home aboard a Holland America ship. We arrive in Bar Harbor, Maine, tomorrow at 10 a.m.