It was still dark outside when we woke up. But we could see the lights of Ft. Lauderdale and we were docked by 6 a.m. – back where we started four months ago. And as we did every morning, we turned on the Channel on the TV that told us the time, date, temperature, and showed us where in the world we were. Today we also saw the total distance we had travelled on the voyage – 33,808 nautical miles. It’s only about 25,000 miles around the Equator. However, we zigzagged above and below the Equator to go to different ports, so we went many more miles than just straight around the world.
On our way to breakfast in the Lido, we went out on Deck 3 to check out the dock, etc. We weren’t the only ship that had arrived. And the day was starting off cloudy. The trucks were already on the dock getting ready to start renewing the ship’s supplies for its continued cruise, as well as take off over 10,000 pieces of luggage. It was a very big and busy day for the ship and continuing crew and a big travel day for those disembarking.
We were one of the early ones to disembark (they started at 7:30 a.m.) So, after breakfast, we took our carry on luggage to one of the lounges to wait for our color and number to be called. On the way, we saw Barb and Charlie and bid them a safe journey home and a fond farewell. Around 9 a.m. we disembarked the ship and made our way to the luggage area to collect our “stuff.” We found a great porter with a large luggage rack, and after it was all loaded we went through customs. We were over our limit, but remembered the last time they didn’t count “art” as part of what you’re allowed. We were hoping it would be the same this year. Doug had all his documentation, receipts, etc. in hand. The agent only asked a couple of questions and then told him to have a safe trip home . . !! We were surprised and delighted.
And off we went to get our rental car to drive back home. As we were packing our luggage and boxes on the ship, Doug realized that the full car he had reserved would not be large enough, so he changed our car for a 12 passenger mini van. It really didn’t take all that long to get to the rental agency and then back to the ship terminal to pick me up (I waited with the luggage while Doug took the shuttle bus – much easier than trying to load everything twice!) Here is what I was in charge of while Doug went to get the car! And I’m happy to report that it all fit!
A funny thing happened as we were leaving the terminal. We had pulled over in this parking lot to try to pull up the GPS on our phones. It took us a while since we had not used this feature in many months. While we were fumbling around with our phones, an “official security lady” pulled up and told us we couldn’t park there. We explained what we were trying to do and asked if she could give us some directions. When she took a look at all our “stuff,” she asked if we had just gotten off that ship that had gone around the world. When we told her yes, she was amazed and asked all about it. And then, not only did she verbally give us directions, she said to follow her and she’d take us to the highway. So, we did – with her lights flashing and all – we had our own private escort! We could hardly believe it.
It was hard to believe we were back on solid ground and back in the USA. When we stopped for a Subway sandwich for lunch, we also knew we’d have to get used to buying our meals again . . not just show up in the dining room or Lido at meal time.
While we had the most wonderful four months at sea and saw so many new places in the world and experienced new cultures, ideas and people – we realized we were also glad to be back home. Even on the trip, whenever we went to a new part of the world, when we returned to the ship at the end of the day, we knew even more keenly how fortunate we were to have been born in the USA. It was just our good luck – nothing that we had done to deserve it. We were just very fortunate people. And it goes without saying that we were very fortunate to have been able to spend 115 days sailing around the world. We will be forever grateful for that opportunity. And for the rest of our lives, we will treasure the memories of this trip – the places we saw and the people we met.