Day 72-73 - At Sea
|Wednesday, December 20, 2023: After a breakfast of muesli and congee, we went to the Neptune Lounge for a meeting with Chantal, the future cruise consultant. We booked a Canada Maritimes Cruise for 2025, and asked her about changing our World Cruise booking, also scheduled for 2025. We also asked her to pose with yesterday's LEGO display, which showed LEGO Debbie and Tom looking through brochures and trying to plan their next trip. How appropriate!
|At 10:00 AM, we were at the World Stage to see cruise director Ian present Holland America Line's 150 year celebration, which was riveting.
|At 11:00 AM, it was time for the second question and answer session with the captain, ...
|... where Debbie asked if they had any onboard drills to deal with a zombie apocalypse. This was really a way to get the captain to say "zombies," which he did, multiple times, in his reply. Now we just had to meet up with Theresa and Christopher and collect our winnings from the bet we'd made during our first mixology class where we'd bet that we could get the captain to say "zombies."
|The specialty food in the Lido Market today was "a Taste of the Mediterranean," which included baklava. Yummy!
|We saw another cruise ship, the Enchanted Princess, headed in the opposite direction. It was strange, after 70 days of not seeing another cruise ship, to suddenly be back among them.
|While we were looking at the Enchanted Princess, we noticed that it was raining outside. We watched the raindrops sparkle in the sun for a few minutes, ...
|... and then realized that we could see the rocky coastline of the Dominican Republic in the distance behind us.
|We didn't want to do it, but it was time. We'd turned our cabin into a small Bundlings Utoptia, and it was sad to start packing away all of the little things that had made our cabin so homelike.
|However, we wanted to take advantage of the fact that Luggage Forward, Holland America's luggage shipping company, would collect our bags anytime today or tomorrow and we wouldn't have to take them ashore ourselves. We packed up two suitcases and our two new Holland America Grand Africa duffelbags and set them outside our door. See you in a couple of weeks!
|First round of packing complete, it was time for cocktails. We mixed the mango and guava cans that we'd bought in Puerto Rico yesterdaywith as much of our Malibu that we could tolerate. Our original plan was to drink heavily today and tomorrow and use up our open vodka and Malibu, but it was a struggle to drink this one cocktail. We just aren't heavy drinkers. Instead, Debbie messaged one of the couples that we'd met on the cruise, Tina and Rick, who were staying aboard for both the holiday cruise and the 2024 World Cruise and offered our leftover alcohol to them. They happily accepted, and took not only our open bottles, but our unopened liter bottle of Absolut Citron and a bottle of champagne that we'd gotten for the initial sailout from Fort Lauderdale back in October and had never gotten around to drinking.
|LEGO Debbie and Tom were enjoying the waters of the Atlantic Ocean on their second-to-last day at sea.
|At dinner time, we went to the Pinnacle Grill for the final time. We had booked at table earlier in the day and were thrilled to get a table. The hostess had warned us that the restaurant was busy since all of the 5-star Mariners were finally booking their one free specialty dinner.
|She seated us at a table by the window which was really nice. For starters, Debbie had the house specialty clothesline bacon again, and Tom had the forest mushroom soup.
|For mains, we both had the filet mignon, served with bérnaise sauce for Debbie, and green peppercorn for Tom.
|We also got the Beecher's lobster mac again, and split the lobster tail between us.
|All of the food was delicious, but the reason we were here was for the baked Alaska. Tom vowed to learn how to make this at home, so we aren't desperate to have it on our next cruise.
|When we got back to our cabin, we had presents waiting for us. We squealed in delight when we read the card saying that we had achieved 4-star Mariner status. The other gifts were our medallions for having sailed for 100 Days on Holland America Line, and commemorative tiles celebrating Holland America's 150 years of sailing.
|Thursday, December 21, 2023: Welcome to the last day of the cruise. There was a cruise ship behind us crossing our wake. You can't see it very well in this photo, so let's zoom in.
|It was the Virgin Voyages Valiant Lady, which we'd seen at our stop in San Juan. We went back and ate our last hot breakfast from the Lido Market: pancakes and French toast.
|LEGO Debbie was busy packing the suitcases that we were carrying off the ship, and LEGO Tom was checking our position for the last time.
|Catur and Sugeng posed with today's LEGO display. Catur admitted that he looked at the "days left" countdown every day. We went out onto the balcony while they cleaned the room, ...
|... and when they were done, they'd put the luggage mats on the bed. Oh, no. The trip really is ending.
|At 10:00 AM, we went to World Stage for the City on the Sea presentation. While we waited for it to start, we were treated to a preview of the trip DVD.
|The City on the Sea presentation is a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the ship.
|It started with delivery of a bottle of champagne, shown as it was carried from the lower crew-only decks until it reached the ice bucket on the stage.
|Captain Friso came on-stage to deliver a prepared speech thanking everyone for selecting Holland America, and ...
|... to introduce some of the officers and crew.
|We joined everyone in giving the crew a standing ovation. One of our fellow passengers, Glee, took this photo during the event. That's us in the bottom right.
|While everyone was leaving the theater, they showed outtakes, and one of the funniest was from this woman who needed to call her sister to learn how to say a specific phrase in her native language.
|We went through the Gallery Bar when we left the World Stage, ...
|... where we noticed these huge lightbulbs for the first time, ...
|... and these awesome lamps.
|Tom took minute to look at the ocean. While the ports on this trip have been fantastic, it will be the endless ocean that we will miss.
|We stopped by the Neptune Lounge on our way back to our cabin and had Alexa pose with the next day's LEGO display.
|We took one last photo of the food available in the Neptune Lounge, ...
|... none of which we ate. It was a much longer walk from our cabin to the Neptune Lounge than it was to the Lido Market.
|As we were leaving, we noticed that there was a scale set up for passengers to use to weigh their luggage. We saw another one near the midships elevator bank.
|For lunch, we went to the main dining room.
|Debbie had the chicken brochettes with tequila and lime, ...
|... and Tom had the Farmer's vegetable puree.
|For her main, Debbie had the French dip and French fries, ...
|... and Tom had the Asian-style burger with coleslaw and fries.
|Dessert was bread pudding, ...
|... and a strawberry sundae.
|We tried to enjoy every minute of our last day on the ocean.
|Here's the last LEGO display of the trip. LEGO Debbie and Tom were exhausted after thoroughly enjoying the last 74 days in the world's best cabin.
|We met with Chantal from Future Cruises one last time to book, well, some future cruises. After that, we went down to the main dining room, entering through Club Orange one final time. We thanked the Club Orange Host, Russ, for his fantastic service, and he showed us to our table one last time.
|For the farewell dinner, Debbie started with a seafood springroll, ...
|... and Tom had the mushroom soup.
|Debbie had the Club Orange special lemon shrimp fettucini for her entree, ...
|... and Tom had the spicy ramen noodles.
|We were just thinking about leaving after dinner, when the maitre d' asked for everyone's attention and introduced some of the chefs, cooks, and servers that had been responsible for our meals for the last 73 days. They paraded around both floors of the dining room while everyone clapped and cheered. We left after the parade, ...
|... and got ice cream from the Lido for our dessert. Mint chocolate chip. Yum!
|We took a last look at the wake before the sun set and noticed another cruise ship following along behind us. It appeared to be another Holland America ship by its colors, so it was possibly the Niew Amsterdam, or maybe the Rotterdam.
|At 8:30 PM, we went to the Crow's Nest to meet up with Theresa and Christopher, our mixology buddies, and Theresa's roommate Vanessa. We spent almost two hours with them, laughing and chatting and having a great time. Hopefully our paths will cross again someday.
|As we walked back to our cabin, the hallway was lined with luggage. We were surprised at how many people still have their luggage taken off for them, rather than using the self-assist option and carrying your luggage off yourself. On one hand, you don't have to manage your own luggage, but on the other hand, you have to wait until they call your group and then you have to locate your luggage in the arrival hall. We'd rather do self-assist and leave when we wanted.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy