One very valuable resource has been the Cruise Critic website that has forums for every cruise line, plus a number of general interest forums such as Ports of Call and Photography. They also have what is called a "roll call" forum for every cruise ship and each particular scheduled cruise. On the "roll call" people who are booked for the same cruise send posts and a few words about themselves so you get to know some of your fellow cruisers prior to getting on the ship. This was invaluable for us as several people volunteered to make arrangements for private tours at different ports, and all we had to do was join the group to go on that tour. Our roll call has over a hundred people which is quite large. Our roll call members have planned several gatherings throughout the trip. We will have a "sail away" party on the Lido deck when we are pulling away from the port in San Diego, and then a couple of "meet and greets" and a cocktail party later on during the cruise. Our thanks goes out to those who take the initiative and plan both the parties and the tours, they've certainly made it easy for us. We're looking forward to meeting everyone we've been talking to on the roll call forum for all these months.
This is only our third cruise so we are not experienced cruisers, and thirty days is by far the longest cruise we've been on. Many of the days are sea days, and on our previous cruises we have always enjoyed the sea days; reading, relaxing and participating in the various shipboard activities makes the time go by quickly. Holland America tends to attract an older crowd (60ish) which is fine for us, our heavy partying days are behind us and we now enjoy more quiet relaxing time together.
One thing we have done is treat ourselves to a deluxe suite, our first cruise was for our 25th wedding anniversary so we opted for the deluxe suite and as many have said, once you've tasted the "suite life" it's hard to go back.
The ship has wi-fi so I plan to update the blog as often as possible (I hope daily, but we'll see). The only problem may be that the internet connection is typically very slow so I may have to make my photos very low resolution or not include them at all. I hope that is not the case as Val and I are both bringing our cameras, plus we each have a waterproof camera to shoot with when we're snorkeling.
So I guess it's finally time to do the final packing and hit the road. Here is the the itinerary for our cruise.