In addition to warm rays of the sun, sparkling blue coastal waters and the typical snowbird excitement that is often found in Florida amidst winter, there was a notable increase in the level of enthusiasm in Fort Lauderdale the first week of January 2023. That’s because on January 3rd, the Holland America Line Zuiderdam embarked on its maiden Grand World Voyage, about to carry eager travelers on a 128-day adventure around the world. This week’s event was extra special because it was Holland America Line’s first full World Cruise since 2020. People are ready to see the world again! A large contingent of Cruise Specialists clients were among the travelers who came from all over North America, plus Australia and The Netherlands, to take part in this global adventure.
Cruise Specialists holds the distinction of hosting World Cruises on Holland America Line for more than 30 years. As part of it, we provide a seamless experience from the time our clients arrive in Fort Lauderdale to when they board the ship. (Not to mention answering lots of questions on a wide range of topics before, during and after the reservation is made!) On board, our friendly and experienced Voyage Hosts nurture an immediate sense of camaraderie among our guests and pay special attention to them throughout each circumnavigation around the globe.
Here is a look at how we greeted and assisted our guests before they boarded their home-away-from-home for the four-month voyage.
Bon Voyage Event
The Renaissance Ft. Lauderdale-Plantation Hotel has served as a lovely venue for our Cruise Specialists Bon Voyage festivities for many years. On January 2, we set up our welcome desk in the newly remodeled hotel lobby, previewed the hotel layout and greeted our guests who had already arrived. The handshakes and hugs were underway!
Our team on site was led by Cruise Specialists Vice President Teresa Tennant and our Voyage and Event Planner, Kassie Walker. They were supported by some of our top World Cruise Consultants: Bridgett Quinn Webber, Gayle Takashima, Gillian Clark and Teresa Skeim, plus Cruise Specialists Senior Vice President Annie Scrivanich.
Additionally, five of our Voyage Hosts were ready and waiting to greet guests: our World Cruise hosts Tom Mullen, Alex Tokar and Kirsten Ulmer, along with Steve and Wendy Bodenheimer — who are hosting the Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage that departed the same day as the World Cruise.
Greeting Our Guests
Clients arrived throughout the day, with most flying into Fort Lauderdale and taking the complimentary Cruise Specialists shuttle from the airport to the hotel.
We welcomed most guests curbside at the hotel and sorted their luggage to be stored or taken directly to the ship or to their hotel room. As we greeted our clients they received their Cruise Specialists logo items, hand-written bon voyage cards and additional details regarding their stay in Fort Lauderdale.
With Holland America Line’s health and safety measures in place for the World Cruise, Cruise Specialists assisted our guests at the hotel with required COVID tests (everyone tested negative) and we assisted with loading their results into the VeriFLY app, along with other steps to ensure a smooth boarding process. Cruise line and destination requirements for health and safety continue to evolve; we are here for our clients to help answer questions and they seemed to appreciate our in-person efforts!
The Bon Voyage Celebration
The early evening found people enjoying drinks, appetizers and dinner with our staff and hosts at our Bon Voyage event at the hotel. While we have many World Cruise clients who return year after year, we also are proud to welcome a large group of first-time World Cruisers each year, as well as solo travelers. This was the first of many times our clients will have the chance to interact with each other over the next several months, since our Voyage Hosts will also hold regular, informal chat times on board, along with festive receptions and other gatherings.
On sailing day, we transferred our clients via motorcoach to the pier and they arrived at the ship happy and relaxed. Behind the scenes, the luggage pull (transferring all luggage from the hotel to the ship) is always an enormous task but this valuable service is appreciated by our guests.
Our Excited World Cruise Clients
Whether returning World Cruisers or first-time adventurers on this global voyage, everyone seemed to grasp the historic significance of this bon voyage celebration. One of our clients sent an email from the ship after the cruise was underway, saying:
“Thank you, Cruise Specialists, for all your help and patience in making this amazing voyage a possibility for us. The cocktail party and dinner were delightful along with all other Cruise Specialists arrangements. You and your team are greatly appreciated, always!”
And another commented, “It was a seamless send-off! Thank you, Cruise Specialists!”
When we hear these grateful words and see the smiles of our clients, we are reassured of the influence we have as a travel agency in creating peace of mind for them. The best is yet to come!
See additional Cruise Specialists hosted voyages here: