Home is Where Your Friends Are

Day 1, Grand World Voyage 2020

Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020; Fort Lauderdale

One of my favorite things about going home is seeing old friends. Today felt like that as we boarded the Amsterdam. Under the “Welcome Home” banner I ran into many of the people I know on this cruise from previous sailings.

The reunion actually started yesterday at the hotel where my travel agency hosted a cocktail party and dinner for its clients. Our dinner companions included Nancy and Aileen, another set of sisters cruising together. I met them on the 2018 Grand Asia cruise. This morning I joined fellow early riser Ralph for breakfast. We first met on the 2017 Grand Asia when we shared a breakfast table in the Lido. Some people I recognized immediately while others looked familiar but I had forgotten their names. That was okay; they had forgotten mine, too.

Our home for 128 days

We waited all afternoon for our suitcases, thinking we could get a jump on unpacking, but they didn’t arrive until just before dinner. That probably was a good thing. Instead of unpacking early we spent the afternoon exploring the ship. Our sail-away celebration would be poolside amidships on the Lido Deck, where the crew was hanging festive flag banners and setting out tables of wine, champagne and cocktail glasses.

When the sail-away party started after the passenger emergency drill, we weren’t sailing anywhere. Forklift operators continued to load bins of luggage and crates of food and other supplies on the ship. That didn’t stop the festivities. The Station Band entertained and before you knew it a conga line was weaving around the deck. Wine, champagne and cocktails flowed as everyone took advantage of the open bar.

By the time we returned to our stateroom to prepare for dinner our suitcases had arrived so we started unpacking, but it was a task that would take much longer than we had.

Some of the ships in Fort Lauderdale today

The Amsterdam was the last of seven cruise ships to depart Fort Lauderdale today. We were eating dinner with Barbara and Richard, whom I met on the 2018 Grand Asia. They have been on the Amsterdam since fall, sailing through the South Pacific and then the Panama Canal over the holidays. I follow their blog (DownTheRabbitHole53) and was eager to hear the stories behind their postings.

The rest of the unpacking will wait for tomorrow. We obviously brought way too much. One of my empty suitcases may have to sit out at the foot of my bed for the next 127 days. There’s no more room under the bed. Still packed away are my cold weather clothes (for Antarctica in a few weeks), snorkel and mask (for the South Pacific) and safari clothes (April in Africa).

We’ll do without anything we forgot or purchase it along the way. Our real challenge may be finding all the things we did bring after we fill every nook and cranny of the cabin. But I’ll worry about that another day.