Oh, The Places My Luggage Will Go!

Day 125, Staying at Home

Saturday, July 25, 2020; Santa Fe, New Mexico

Shanghai! South Africa! Hong Kong! Jakarta! South Korea! Vietnam! Manila!

Even if I can’t have travel adventures during this pandemic, at least my luggage has gotten out and about. I must say I am a bit jealous.

Who would have guessed that today my suitcase would be in Busan, South Korea?

Next stop: Houston! So close to my Dallas home, but alas, my suitcase will sail on to New Orleans, Mobile and finally Miami in late August. From there, it and the hundreds — if not thousands — of other bags we left on the MS Amsterdam in March will go through customs. Then FedEx finally will deliver them home. I’m expecting mine to arrive in mid September.

When I last left you on the saga of our abruptly ended World Cruise, we had to quickly disembark in Perth, Australia, and fly home mere days before the pandemic shut down international flights. Many of us had more than the allowed two checked suitcases. Remember, we had packed for a 128-day cruise through climates ranging from Antarctica to Indonesia and Africa. Upon our planned mid-May return to Fort Lauderdale, many Florida residents would take their excess baggage home by car. FedEx would deliver to the rest of us.

Now Plan B was to leave our extra bags on board so they would return to Florida with the passenger-less ship in May. But things didn’t go that way. Holland America kept the Amsterdam in Asia, slowly repatriating crewmembers over a few months to their home countries of Indonesia and the Philippines. On to Plan C. The cruise line searched for a country that would – in the midst of a pandemic – allow it to offload our luggage into shipping containers. Rather than return to the states, the Amsterdam would wait out the “cruise pause” in Malaysia.

We followed this search for a friendly port thanks to some of my fellow world cruisers, who stayed in touch with officers and crew on the ship. And out of the blue, in early July the Amsterdam headed for Singapore. Crewmembers shared photographs of a barge tied to the Amsterdam with what looked like cages of luggage being offloaded into shipping containers. And then a tug towed the barge away.

Captain Mercer, our world cruise captain who disembarked in Manila as his contract ended, confirmed unofficially that our luggage was on the Gulf Bridge.

After making an arc north along the Pacific Rim, it will head for the states. I call it the slow boat from China.

A few days later, Holland America confirmed that our bags are on their way home. I’m following the ship on my Marine Traffic phone app.

I’m sure I will be surprised by what’s in the bag. Shoot, I can’t even remember what the bag itself looked like, as I bought it just before the trip. Fortunately, my cats Cooper and Callie posed on it as I packed last December.

So this is what that traveling suitcase looks like!

This time I packed it hurriedly as we rushed to get home before international flights from Australia ceased. I kept swapping heavier things out of my checked bags and into the left-behind suitcase. I think it eventually weighed nearly 80 pounds.

Things I haven’t missed so far: Our gala gowns and dresses, my cold-weather clothes and most of the souvenirs and gifts I bought. I have missed my watercolor paints and papers, much of which I’ve had to replace at no small expense.  

I know – in this crazy world of Covid-19, the fate of my suitcase is a minor inconvenience. But I have been jealous as it visits some of my favorite ports (Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore) as well as countries such as the Philippines and South Korea that still are on my bucket list. Heck, it will even transit the Panama Canal before I will.

And what of the Amsterdam, after unloading our luggage in Singapore? I’ll write about its future next, but will just note that this morning it and its sister ship the Rotterdam exited the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea.

The Rotterdam leads the Amsterdam (both blue icons) out of the Suez Canal.