80 Days is Not Enough

Day 80, Grand Asia 2017

Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 – At Sea

I might pay a lot of money to have someone deal with the end-of-cruise hassle – the packing, waiting for your number to be called for leaving the ship, finding your luggage on shore, going through customs, getting to the airport and flying home. I’ve always thought there should be a more civilized way to end a wonderful holiday.

The one surprise today is that I did not get the usual trip evaluation. I’ve always before taken the time to fill out the form. I do have some comments, and I will write a letter to the company’s Seattle headquarters after I get home – both to praise some aspects and people and to make suggestions.

With no watercolor class, I stopped in for cruise director Hamish’s coffee chat, this morning with event manager Mark Beasley. He oversees people like Jack (watercolor instructor) as well leaders of tai chi, arts and crafts, bridge and other activities. He also coordinates the special speakers and guest entertainers, who are chosen by the staff at headquarters, and all the other details of the activities aboard.

I learned a few things I would have liked to know earlier. I should have taken the time to fill out the comment card in my room more often. Mark and his team read them and respond, and send weekly feedback to headquarters. For example, he has received comments from people who have gone on repeat grand cruises saying that some guest entertainers don’t ever change their shows, so repeat cruisers get tired of them. That’s probably particularly true of the comedians and the magicians. He also said he deliberately schedules some popular activities at the same time to keep them a reasonable size.

By noon I had packed the two smaller suitcases I am shipping home and put them out in the hallway. The crew had moved them down to a holding area within an hour. I’ll next see them at home in a week or so. I have two more bags that I will check on the airplane, and by dinner they were packed and in the hall. I will collect them in the terminal on shore tomorrow. Interestingly, our disembarkation papers say a U.S. Customs declaration form is not required. We cleared immigration in Honolulu, so I have my fingers crossed that departure will be quick.

A couple of weeks ago I filled out the required form telling the staff that I will take a taxi to the airport (very close to the terminal) and that my flight is scheduled for just after noon. So I received luggage tags with a Purple 3. My scheduled departure is at 9:10 a.m.

The Lido opens for breakfast at 6 a.m. and the dining room at 6:30 a.m. I can wait in any public area or in my stateroom until they call my group. From experience I know that the cabin stewards will be busy getting the cabin ready for the next guests, who will arrive as early as 11:30 a.m.

img_2532Of course I went to happy hour in the Crow’s Nest at 4 p.m. and enjoyed seeing several of my new friends for a goodbye drink or two. The clouds of the last few days had lifted and the sunset was spectacular.

Before the cruise I placed a small order for business cards printed with my name, address, phone, email and blog URL. Several other passengers did the same, making it easier to exchange contact information.

This will be the last blog post from this cruise. I never set out with a personal commitment to write one every day, but it just seemed to happen. I will post another few blogs in the coming days to wrap things up. Let me know if there are any questions or topics you would like me to address. I’ll have much more time to reply when I’m not being stingy with Internet minutes.

In summary, it’s a great cruise. I’ve loved just about every minute. I’m glad I could share some of it with you.