Good Friends Make the Best Port Calls

  • Day 18, Voyage of the Vikings 2019
  • Friday, Aug. 16, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Today we had the treat of spending our time ashore with good family friends who live about an hour or so out of Rotterdam.

About the time I went to college, our mother learned quilling, a craft that involves rolling narrow strips of paper into intricate designs. Soon she was designing kits and then writing instruction books. By the time she and our father sold their company, it was perhaps the largest manufacturer of quilling paper, supplies, tools and books in the world. A big fish in a small pond, you might say.

Along the way she collaborated on a quilling book with a Dutch company, and that is when Mom and Trees met and wrote their first book together. They became fast friends, visiting back and forth with their husbands and children, and now we all are good friends.

So today Trees and Ton met us in Rotterdam for some sightseeing and lunch. We met at the Euromast, an observation tower just across the New Meuse (Nieuwe Maas) River from our pier. We hopped on a water taxi for the short ride there.

The crow’s nest deck is 315 feet high, perfect for viewing the beautiful park below. English signage identified the surrounding landmarks.

Next we walked to Delfshaven, an historic neighborhood from which the Pilgrims left in 1620 for the new world (after moving to the Netherlands to escape the English state church). The canals, church and buildings are well preserved, and the weather was just about perfect for outdoor dining and sketching.

We sat along a canal lined with boats and spent the rest of our time catching up on family news and sharing photographs.

Later my sisters and I wandered leisurely back to the water taxi dock only to discover we needed to call for a reservation to return to the cruise terminal dock, and that would take too long for our 4 p.m. all aboard. So we took a car taxi, which gave us a different view of the city and a chance to cross “The Swan,” or the distinctive Erasmus Bridge, back to the ship.

A mandatory drill conflicted with my usual 4 p.m. happy hour in the Crow’s Nest. Rotterdam marks the beginning of the second segment for this cruise. Perhaps 200 passengers left this morning and a similar number boarded this afternoon. It also is a popular port for crew and entertainer turnover.

So my happy hour started closer to 5 p.m., and I stayed in the Crow’s Nest to watch our departure through the New Meuse River to the North Sea. It is an interesting combination of commercial shipping enterprises and residential architecture. For miles we saw swans swimming along the banks.

Just as we neared the river’s mouth, we passed the Maeslant Barrier (Maeslantkering), a storm surge barrier controlled by supercomputers when floods threaten Rotterdam. I didn’t appreciate the scale until I saw a man passing by on a bicycle.

Tonight we get back the first of those hours of sleep we lost while traveling east.