On January 5th, the first day our world adventure began, day 115 seemed light years away. And even now, it’s hard to believe that this is our last day at sea.
In the Daily Explorer, the paper we receive every day that lists the day’s events and important information for that day, there was a column that Bruce had written titled “Around the World in 115 Days!” Here are the first two sentences he wrote that pretty much sums it all up: On January 5, excited guests and dedicated crew embarked on a journey that some can only dream about – to sail around the world! Your memories of this voyage may be as different as the extraordinary places we visited, but we share one thing in common – we did it together, as the ms Amsterdam Grand World Voyage family.”
Having spent four months on this ship with many of the same guests and all the same crew, it really did feel like a big family. For example, we spent four months having almost every dinner with Barb and Charlie – – we haven’t spent that much time with our own families or friends from home. We became close with many of the staff and crew whom we saw daily and learned about their lives outside the ship. And there were all the new friendships we made and renewal of old that we had met in 2010. There were some we liked more than others – but isn’t that like a big extended family. There is always that uncle . . . !
So, today we bid farewell to our Amsterdam “family” – both with a tear and the joy that we had gotten to spend this much time together. And always the hugs!
It began with the champagne disembarkation talk and crew farewell. This is another tradition on this voyage. Many of the crew lined the entrance ways as we came into the Queens Lounge to give us a final greeting. Drinks were then passed around (yes, it was only 10 a.m.!) and then Bruce made a toast and explained how the disembarkation process will work tomorrow. Then the farewell began with a slideshow of all the different departments of the ship and waves from the crew working there – some we had never met/seen, like the engine room and laundry.
The finale began with some of the crew and staff bringing in the flags that represented all of us on the ship from all the different nations. Bruce described it as a mini United Nations. This was followed by hundreds of crew and staff members coming on the stage singing and waving as Bruce announced who they were. Our Benny (table steward in blue) and Nugy (cabin steward in the middle above the bald head) were both there along with all the others. There were so many people on that stage! It’s a wonder it didn’t collapse! The Captain made his farewell remarks with the reminder that he had told us 115 days ago that we were embarking on an epic journey . . and indeed we had. And then Bruce bid his farewell with many thanks to everyone . . and there were many tears flowing by now. He ended it with the statement he made every night at show time . . . “Have a great night tonight and an even better day tomorrow.” And as everyone left the stage, the wonderfully talented Amsterdam band played its final note as well.
Everyone was given their evaluation survey to complete after that – with #9 being the highest mark (since no one is perfect . . as explained by Bruce!) And for the most part, it was a #9 voyage.
Doug and I took Irene and Leslie (from Shore Excursions) to lunch in the Pinnacle as another “good-bye.” Leslie was our ship’s escort when we went to Kruger on our Over lander trip. We so much enjoyed him and appreciated how well he took care of all of us. He is married to Irene (the head of Shore Excursions) who was always so sweet and helpful. It was a very pleasant time together – we will miss them as well.
At 4 p.m. I went to the culinary center to say good-bye to Chef Kevin (who always had the greatest smile) and to pick up any recipes we had missed or wanted – and of course, with champagne! He just kept bringing out more boxes of recipes from previous cruises – and I just kept collecting them! When I got back to the room, here is what I had after just today! I somehow managed to find another 4 inches of room to pack them! And then I looked around our room and realized we weren’t quite all done! Arghhhh! Will this part ever end?!?!?!
We still had a great dinner to look forward to. We decided at the last minute to see if Bill and Lucille would like to join us for a final farewell dinner. [Barb and Charlie were dining with Elaine and LaVar.] So, we met them in the Pinnacle . . and like every other time we’ve been together, we talked and laughed and laughed some more. We are glad they also live in FL – in the Boca Raton area. We all agreed we’d get together back in FL – so we really didn’t have to say “farewell” for ever. It was a great last dinner on the Amsterdam and a great way to end our last night.
Before heading back to the cabin, we did take a last stroll on the deck and checked out the stars, moon, etc. We will miss the slight rock and roll we experienced on the ship at times. We always liked it.
After we put the last suitcase outside our door and finally turned off the light, we said our good-bye to our last night in cabin #2643.