Good Things Must End – Including Cruises

Day 82, Grand Asia 2018

Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, At Sea:

(Posted late – the ship cut off our Internet packages too soon!)

Day 82. The Final Full Day. Our stop on Day 7 (OCT. 6) in Dutch Harbor seems a lifetime away, but otherwise this cruise has passed quickly.

I lingered over breakfast, gathering contact information for many of my new friends and putting off the last challenge of packing. Before I go to bed tonight I’ll put my luggage in the hallway, where it will be whisked away, not to be seen again until I’m on land in the terminal. I’ll keep out a carry-on bag for toiletries and my nightgown. I hope I won’t repeat the mistake a cruise partner did once when he inadvertently packed all his shoes. He had to leave the ship in his stocking feet.

I’m taking home lots of memories – my completed sketchbook, about 4,000 photos (I did a poor job of deleting duplicates and bad shots along the way), a few souvenirs. I’ve been to some wonderful countries and beautiful places. I’ve had adventures (many of the eating kind).

The best things I’ll take away are new friendships. Some will fade away as we all return to our everyday lives. Others will continue if we work at keeping in touch. I wish I had taken more group photos with friends during the cruise. I posted a few along the way. I’ll end with a few – Aimie who made my lattes every morning, Barbara and Austin from our watercolor class, and Angel, Richard, Ivan and the rest of the crew in the Crow’s Nest.

Pram and Saeff worked tirelessly to keep my cabin clean, supply me with fresh towels and wash the salt spray off my balcony. They gave us wonderful Indonesian tote bags printed with the names of all the passengers along our corridor.

When I board the MS Zuiderdam in July for the 35-day Voyage of the Vikings, I will know some passengers from this cruise and last year’s Grand Asia. My friend Beth, who frequently comments on this blog, and her husband will be two.

And it’s only a bit more than a year until the 2020 Holland America World Voyage on the Amsterdam. A number of passengers on this trip plan to make that one.

At lunch on the first day of this cruise, I ran into at least a dozen people I already knew. I think that is the popularity of these long cruises. You build a community of friends and are likely to see some them again. And yet, even today I saw passengers I don’t think I have seen before.

At the end of my first cruise blog (a 30-day Galveston to Dubai cruise), I compiled a list of 30 things I never did. It was a large Royal Caribbean ship, so the list was easy – I never climbed the rock wall, skated on the ice rink or played miniature golf, for example. Even though the Amsterdam is much smaller, I think I could list 82 things I haven’t done during this cruise – everything from playing bingo and taking tai chi classes to learning to play bridge and ballroom dancing. I also never made it ashore in Vietnam or Samoa. But there is so much more that I did do.

Holland America doesn’t have another Grand Asia on the schedule at the moment. Next fall the Amsterdam will sail to the South Pacific for 51 days. It’s not uncommon for cruises to disappear from the schedule for a couple of years, only to return later. Seven years ago my mother and I sailed on the Atlantic Adventure, a 45-day cruise from Florida to Rome and back, stopping in the Caribbean, Morocco, Spain, Italy and Portugal. It was my first introduction to cruises of more than two weeks. That’s where I met my friend Joyce who talked me into taking this trip again this fall.

The friendships do endure, and that’s the best part about long cruises.