Cruise Specialists hosts Steve and Wendy Bodenheimer are continuing to share their journey with us from aboard the 2016 Holland World Cruise. Previously they shared the experience of navigating the Panama Canal, sailing the Pacific in to French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong,Vietnam,Thailand,Dubai, Jordan, Israel, Italy, Greece, Spain and now closing out the trip cruising back across the Atlantic.
Our 7 days crossing the Atlantic Ocean were filled with activities and a healthy dose of nostalgia and sadness as we realized that our Voyage was coming to an end. There were all kinds of farewell dinners, last minute “let’s use up our champagne” parties, thank you lunches, swapping of email addresses and phone numbers, and the dreaded task of packing.
Some of our Guests had incredible amounts of luggage. We heard numbers like 11 trunks plus two suitcases, 13 suitcases, 18 suitcases.
Fortunately for these guests, they get free luggage shipping as part of their cruise. One of our favorite ladies told us she had never worn the same thing twice in 115 days and had shopped in almost every port for new stuff! We had only 4 suitcases that were at our weight limit of 50 pounds each.
Of course, one of the complicating factors are the gifts we get as part of a Grand Voyage – you have to get them home. The general consensus was that they were not very grand. We used to get one at every Gala night, which would have been 15 – this time it was about half of that.
We did each get a rolling duffel bag that could be used to transport the other items, but if you already have carry-on luggage, they would just be excess, so we gave ours away to our cabin stewards. Other gifts included:
- Orrefors crystal votive holders
- Tiffany designed covered china dishes
- commemorative plates with the itinerary of the Voyage
- leather-looking document holders (our dining room stewards loved them)
- some assorted canvas bags, card holders, journals, and books.
This is really a hard group to get gifts for – they have everything and so many have done multiple Grand Voyages that there isn’t much new that would impress them.Our crossing also gave us time to reflect on the Voyage itself. We know we are incredibly fortunate to have such an opportunity to go completely around the globe – about 33,000 miles. As we’ve said before, we don’t love every place we visited, but we love having been there.
So what did we love? In no particular order:
- Petra and Wadi Rum in Jordan – two amazing places in the desert, spectacular by any standards.
- Katakalon, Greece – a small town with everything we love – great food, small unspoiled roads, a quiet beach, and lovely people.
- White water rafting in Costa Rica.
- Moorea in French Polynesia, still relatively unspoiled and beautiful.
- Waitangi in the Bay of Islands, northern New Zealand and Picton, southern New Zealand. Great wines, great beauty, wonderful places to just walk about.
- Sydney, Australia – gorgeous city and our friend Lesley lives there!
- Hoi An, Vietnam – a uniquely preserved small city – great food and perfect for strolling and shopping.
- Singapore – a surprisingly beautiful, clean, and safe city. Remarkable architecture.
- Elephants in Thailand – gentle creatures who are well cared for here. Riding them is an experience not to be missed.
- The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
- Cinque Terre – the five villages that cling to the cliffside in the western Riviera of Italy.
- Barcelona, Spain – as big cities go, this one is our favorite.
- Funchal, Portugal for the spectacular mountains and countryside that surround it.To have seen all these places in one Voyage is remarkable all by itself.
No ship is perfect and the Amsterdam is no exception. It had its share of plumbing and other technical problems – it is 16 years old! But overall, we think it was well run and the staff tried very hard to provide an excellent experience for every Guest.
And then there are the people we’ve met or reconnected with. We think most of our almost 200 Cruise Specialists Guests had a good time and enjoyed being part of our Cruise Specialists family.
It has been terrific spending time with our co-host Tom – a veteran of 36 World Voyages and countless other shorter cruises. He’s an amazing resource for us and our Guests and an all around nice guy. You can imagine the stories he has collected over the years!