Serendipity Brings a New Friend as New Adventure Begins

Day 1, 2023 Grand South America and Artarctica

Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., USA

There are many wonderful people in the world, and I enjoyed a pleasurable couple of hours with one this morning. She started out as a stranger, but we quickly became friends.

Jean discovered this blog through a friend about a year ago and shares with me a love of sailing and cruising. Earlier last week she invited me to be her guest for lunch during our Fort Lauderdale turnover day between cruises. That was a first for me, but one can never have too many friends. We settled on mid-morning for a late breakfast, as I had to get off the ship at 9:30 so it could go to zero count (some customs requirement) before we start the Grand South America/Antarctica voyage.

We could have spent the entire day chatting about our similar backgrounds and interests, if only I didn’t need to get back on board to relocate to a new stateroom. We did make time to browse the giant Dollar Tree to see if there were any last-minute items I needed.

In all of our visiting, we totally forgot to take a photo of the two of us.

Back on the ship, I discovered my bags and hanging clothes were already in my new cabin. It will be home for the next 73 days, so I wanted to get settled. This cabin is a Vista Suite, a category that I believe is only on the smaller R-class Holland America ships. It is similar to the verandah I had on the world cruise, but slightly longer and with significantly more drawers for storage and a full-length sofa.

There are so many drawers that I was tempted to use Post-It notes to remind me what I put where. However, hanging space isn’t as generous, with one of the closet bars going front to back instead of side to side. Impossible to use in my opinion. Oh well, as I don’t have to share, it will be fine.

I was glad to discover magnetic walls (something the Zuiderdam didn’t have in my staterooms), so I’ve put up the new South America map I bought for this trip. I’ll use magnetic tacks to track our progress once we have passed through the Panama Canal.

Earlier this summer in Akureyri, Iceland, I bought a foldable cardboard globe to use as an alternative, and this cabin is big enough to use both. Instead of map pins, I’m using removeable sticky dots – blue for my previous East Coast Voyage and red for this cruise.

I’m already noticing a few changes as we transition from a regular 13-day cruise to a grand voyage. For one thing, I’ve seen several friends I’ve sailed with before. Also, there is a celebratory atmosphere as we know we have a long trip ahead.

There was no line for dinner seating, and I ate with two nice couples, one of whom also were on the world cruise earlier this year, but we hadn’t met then. We had special menus featuring Port to Table specialties tied to the region. It will be interesting to see if that continues.

I skipped the Origin Story in the showroom, which gives a nice history of Holland America. But once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it.

Back in the room, I had a nice brochure outlining the evening activities for the next two weeks. It also contains bios for the guest lecturers and instructors, including a watercolor professional. I’m looking forward to her class tomorrow morning.