Reflecting on the Crew We Left Behind

Day 48, Grand World Voyage

Monday, Feb. 20, 2023; At Sea, Great Australian Bight.

Leaving the ms Amsterdam suddenly almost three years ago was traumatic for the 1,000-plus passengers. We knew little about this mysterious virus coming from Asia. No one on our ship was sick, but reports from a few other cruise ships were not good. So just as travel was about to shut down, we left the ship in Fremantle, Australia, and began the long journey home.

I wrote about those last days on the ship, as well as my return home and even the final return seven months later of the suitcase I had left aboard:

And Just Like That, Our Cruise is Ending, March 14, 2020

We Face Reality, and We Are Sad, March 17, 2020

Getting Us All Home is a Challenge, March 21, 2020

Going Home, One Step at a Time, March 22, 2020

There’s No Place Like Home, March 25, 2020

Oh, The Places My Luggage Will Go! July 25, 2020

Suddenly Saying Goodbye to the Amsterdam, July 26, 2020

If This Suitcase Could Talk …, October 30, 2020

Today, crew members from that last voyage shared their pandemic stories in a special Amsterdam 2020 Grand World Voyage Reflection Get-Together.

The 483 passengers from that cruise who currently are on the 2023 Grand World Voyage were invited to join together in the World Stage are we approach our return to Fremantle tomorrow.

The event started with a slide show highlighting the Amsterdam’s last days with Holland America, as the left-behind luggage was finally off the ship.

After brief remarks by Captain Friso Kramer gezegd Freher, our current Cruise and Travel Director Ian Page interviewed Hotel General Manager Henk Mensink about his last few days on the Amsterdam, his experience at home during the pandemic shutdown of cruising and his return to the sea.

Once the company announced this cruise would be on the Zuiderdam, Henk requested to be assigned here, as he knew based on his 19 world cruises that another ship would need some time to be ready for our 128-day world voyage, and he would need time to get the special crew into place.

The most touching part of the ceremony was the video-taped interviews of the 20 team members on board now who also were on the Amsterdam. Many of them, such as Josephine (dining room hostess), Tina (Pinnacle Grill manager), Twinkle (assistant beverage manager), and Spencer (sports director) are familiar to all of us. Others, who work in the laundry, housekeeping and below decks, we didn’t know as well. But they are all part of the Amsterdam family, and they all shared their thoughts of leaving the ship amid uncertainty, their experiences supporting their families during the shutdown and their return to Holland America’s ships.

Tomorrow we will dock in Fremantle at the very pier where we left almost three years ago. On Thursday, after we have left Australia for the eight-day crossing of the Indian Ocean, a group of us will hold a passenger-organized reunion party.

We had our long vacation interrupted, but it was good today to be reminded that almost 1,000 crew members lost – at least for a while — their livelihoods and the family of their fellow team members.