HAL guest Sharon Wilhelm recently embarked on Amsterdam’s 75-day Grand Asia & Australia Voyage departing from Seattle. While on board the ship she will chronicle her cruising experience for us on the blog. Enjoy the first entry!
Several days prior to the day of departure our packed luggage was picked up by Federal Express and stored until departure date. We had 13 pieces. This service was a blessing as there was no way except for a trailer to get this many items to the ship on our own. We were driven to Pier 91 in Seattle by Tracie accompanied by Lola who also wanted to say “goodbye” to Nona and Papa in person. Tracie and Lola held an impromptu Bon Voyage party for us prior to leaving our house. To add additional drama to our luggage situation, we loaded six more carry-on’s and a computer bag for the drive to the pier.
After having incredible weather in Seattle daily since August 1, it was strange to have clouds and light showers on departure day. This in no way reduced our excitement as we saw the magnificent Amsterdam docked at the pier as we unloaded our additional baggage from the car at about 12:45.
Without question this was the most seamless, efficient and quickest embarkation we have ever experienced. We arrived in our stateroom at 13:05 and that included a stop for the embarkation photo. Shortly thereafter our baggage began to arrive. The Deluxe Veranda Suites on the Amsterdam are very spacious and even given this amount of space we could barely navigate around the 19 pieces containing our ‘provisions’ for 75 Days. It was imperative to immediately begin to ‘unload’ … which we did. Thankfully, the suite has a fantastic arrangement of drawers, cubby holes and shelves to store all of our ‘provisions’ – now remembering where all items were placed is another matter. We are confident that at some point during this cruise, we will rediscover all items that were quickly unpacked.
At 15:45 all passengers were required to participate in the drill at their respective muster stations. The crew at the muster stations and Captain Eversen from the Bridge conducted a thorough, focused and serious review of the safety measures / procedures that apply to cruises on HAL. It was reassuring to observe that passenger safety is a major priority as well as for everyone else on board. On previous cruises on HAL, safety has always been a priority and the events of 2012 have only accentuated the importance of passenger knowledge of safety procedures.
Departure and Bon Voyage Sail Away:
Even after planning this “once in a lifetime” 2012 Grand Voyage Asia & Australia cruise for more than a year, it was surreal to observe the Amsterdam’s rope ties being disconnected from the pier. This departure was for real! The beverage staff was at the aft Lido pool area to pass out snacks as well as to serve sail away beverages – this made for a not a well attended but very appreciated way to leave our Des Moines home and to be a part of our new home away from home.
La Fontaine Dining Room:
We were given a wonderful table in a great window location on the upper dining level (#22). Given the passion of HAL’s Master Chef Chef Rudi and restaurant management, it is no surprise that the La Fontaine Dining Room staff will take personal pride in making one’s dining experiences very special e.g. giving each lady a rose upon leaving the dining room at the conclusion of tonight’s dinner was a welcomed gesture. We look forward to experiencing each of the upcoming dining experiences.