Day 79, March 25:
Here’s a riddle: what is the most intelligent animal? Why, the crab, of course, because it carries its home with it wherever it goes! There is no place like home – particularly when you travel for nearly four months around the world as we are doing on our Grand Voyage. On holiday, you want to feel at home – with all the comforts you cherish about you. We have found on the Amsterdam multiple details that make us feel as if our stateroom – equipped with the comforts of home like a bathtub, flat-screen television, DVD player, plush robes, fine shampoo, conditioner, lotion and soaps, and more – is merely a room in a floating palace that is itself equipped with more than the comforts of home.
After all, Humberto, Duffy (our bear that went around the world) and I don’t have a movie theater, a spa with thermal suite, pools and hot tubs, a gym, a variety of restaurants and more right in our own house, but we do onboard. It’s all about details, details. Some that have made us feel right at home begin with a large banner boldly reading “Welcome Home” on the side of the ship by the gangway so we see it every time we board after exploring ashore.
And we certainly feel at home, not just us but fellow passengers as well. For example, a stateroom near ours displays a “Home Sweet Home’’ sign on the door.
“I went on a world cruise on another line and you could not get a hot breakfast in the cabin; here you can,” one of our fellow passengers said. “It’s a consideration!” On the Amsterdam, if you go to the casual Lido Restaurant and the menu does not call for say, blueberry pancakes (my favorites!) you can ask the attendant for them, and presto, you have them on your plate fresh from the griddle. Those who prefer cereal for breakfast find 12 different kinds of cold cereal plus hot oatmeal and cream of wheat. To me, comfort – the comfort of home – is having choices. At the La Fontaine formal dining room, I have asked for and received succulent papaya slides and mango slices, though they may not be on the menu. I have also “mixed and matched” on some dishes I have ordered, getting sides that were listed for other entrees but not with mine. And there is 24-hour room service, of course.
Other welcome details we have experienced include stewards bringing glasses of ice water in the Queen’s Lounge (the show lounge) so nobody goes thirsty during the performance, and stewards bearing all manner of comforts in other parts of the ship such as cups of split-pea soup and hot chocolate in cold climates, and ice-cold lemonade in warm waters. When we arrive at a scenic port in the early morning, stewards serve us juice, coffee and themed rolls (Opera rolls at Sydney, for example). Mid-day in Antarctica, they served us warm and delicious vegetable rolls in a puff pastry.
Umbrellas are at the ready by the gangway for us to borrow free of charge on days whenever there is the possibility of rain in the forecast. Our steward, Sam, brought us each a comfy warm blanket that we can use in cold weather, and he takes our shoes for complimentary shines – in addition to keeping our stateroom spotless, re-stocking our fruit basket with our preferences, and delivering our laundry. We don’t need this at this time, but we notice that stewards help the physically challenged everywhere on board, particularly at the Lido buffet restaurant, bringing their plates to their tables. Which I am sure makes them feel at home, just like we do!
Freelance travel writer Georgina Cruz and her husband Humberto are currently sailing on Amsterdam’s 112-day Grand World Voyage and will be sending in cruise diaries throughout their time on board. She has logged 174 voyages to all seven continents and visited more than 100 countries.