Day 126, Staying at Home
Sunday, July 26, 2020; Santa Fe, New Mexico
When we abruptly left the ship last March, I don’t think any of us imagined that we would never again sail on Holland America’s MS Amsterdam.
Sure, it would be a while before we would cruise again, but I had about 350 days booked on the Amsterdam between this fall and May 2022. I thought it would be my primary home for the next couple of years. But like so much in this pandemic era, it wasn’t to be.
Our online group of world cruisers continued to follow the Amsterdam’s journey this summer, and we were mystified when, after in Singapore disembarking the luggage we left onboard, she headed for the Suez Canal. We thought the plan was to lay up with minimal crew in Malaysia until the “cruise pause” ended.
The first word that something much more significant was underfoot came early on July 15, when Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines announced it was buying two Holland America ships. The Norwegian-owned company didn’t name the ships, but the gross tonnage figures cited matched the Amsterdam and its sister the Rotterdam.
We couldn’t believe Holland America would sell these two storied ships, but a few hours later Holland America announced the sale of these and two others.
The news left me in shock. I felt that my home was being sold out from under me. I must say it was my lowest point in this pandemic. And it has taken a while to be able to write about it without sounding melancholic.
This morning the Amsterdam and Rotterdam arrived in Cypress to join the Maasdam and Veendam to await the handover to new owners.
My first cruise on the Amsterdam was 10 years ago. Our family of six (Mom, two sisters, two nephews and me) took a two-week Alaskan cruise on her, through the Inside Passage north of Vancouver and then across the Sea of Alaska to Homer, Kodiak and right into Anchorage.
My next Amsterdam voyage was my third “cruise of a lifetime.” (The first was a 45-day Mediterranean voyage on the MS Maasdam, another ship that is leaving the fleet, and the second was a 30-day Galveston-to-Dubai repositioning on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas.)
I’ll not forget the huge “Welcome Home” banner hanging on the Amsterdam when I boarded it in San Diego in 2017 for my first “grand” voyage, an 80-day circle of the Pacific Rim. With lots of sea days, the ship truly did come to feel like home.
I loved the 2017 Grand Asia so much that I repeated it in 2018. And then returned the first of this year for the Grand World Voyage. I decided that the Amsterdam would make a fine place to spend a good portion of each year. I booked one cruise leading into the next for several months in 2020, 2021 and even into 2022.
With the sale of the Amsterdam, my future cruises on it are cancelled. And just to cap off a lousy situation, my three 2021 back-to-back cruises on the Veendam through the Baltic and up to the polar ice cap are cancelled, as she also was sold.
I know I will cruise again, and enjoy whatever ship I’m on – be it a “dam” ship or one of another cruise line. It was just a year ago that my sisters and I boarded the Zuiderdam in Boston for the Voyage of the Vikings. Even though it was bigger and newer than the Amsterdam, it still felt familiar. Maybe in part because I sailed on it a few years ago.
The Zaandam will become the ship of choice for Holland America’s world cruises and other grand voyages, and it might even become my next home on the ocean. I’m sure I’ll see some familiar faces among the crew – after all, they are an essential part of making a ship feel like home.
But if there is one thing this pandemic has taught me, it’s not to plan too far ahead, but rather to be ready for some crazy twists and turns.
I’ll leave you with some of my favorite Amsterdam memories.