Around the World in 128 Days

Day -7, Grand World Voyage 2020

Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, Dallas

“Welcome home.”

In just seven days, I expect to see that greeting on Holland America’s MS Amsterdam as I board for my longest cruise to date – the 128-day 2020 Grand World Cruise. The ship should feel like home after I sailed on her for almost three months during 2017 and again in 2018.

I already know at least 30 people from previous cruises who will be on this cruise. It’s my first world voyage, and I don’t have words for the excitement and anticipation I feel.

2020 World Voyage Map

My sister Elaine and I will board the Amsterdam on Jan. 4, 2020, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We will sail south through the Caribbean and follow the eastern coast of South America to Antarctica. After four days near the bottom of the world, we’ll head north again, this time along the long coast of Chile before sailing west toward the South Pacific and Australia. Turning north again, we will briefly leave the Southern Hemisphere at Singapore.

From there, we’ll continue our westward journey, skirting the Indian subcontinent and then visiting remote islands in the Indian Ocean. After finally arriving in east Africa, we’ll sail south once again to circle the Cape of Good Hope and sail back up the western coast of Africa. With our last major change in course we’ll break free and cross the Atlantic Ocean, returning to the Caribbean and finally Fort Lauderdale on May 12.

2020 Africa

All in all, we will circle the globe mainly in the Southern Hemisphere, visiting six continents (all but Europe) and 50 ports in more than 30 countries. We’ll spend 71 days at sea. Feb. 27 will be a lost day as we cross the International Date Line and skip it. But we’ll get those 24 hours back one at a time, slowly adding an extra hour every few days.

It’s been two months since I wrote about leaving my tiny apartment in Chicago to return to Texas. For much of that time I have been busy preparing for this epic journey. I’ve seen every doctor I know. A shopping bug bit me as I contemplated the 17 gala nights of the trip, so I have some festive dresses to pack.

I filed for an income tax extension and am still trying to figure out how Texas will allow me to vote in the Super Tuesday primary from a ship. The biggest complication may be signing up for Medicare and the correct supplemental programs while at sea, as I lose my current insurance before I return.

You may have noticed a mention of my sister Elaine. When I signed up more than a year ago for this voyage, I invited both of my sisters to join me on a segment of two or three weeks if they wanted to take vacation and fly to meet the ship. Elaine said what the heck, I’ll go on the whole trip! So she’s either taking a sabbatical from her cybersecurity contracting work or starting her first retirement. She’ll figure it out. And I’m adjusting to the reality of losing half my stateroom storage space but gaining a sister for the journey.

2020 Packing List

I’ll write more about the details of planning and what I’ve packed (two of the most common topics of my blogs). I’m looking forward to sharing the trip, through words as well as my sketches and watercolors. If you haven’t yet subscribed to the blog, enter your email in the appropriate place on the home page and be the first to get each post.