After a year and a half of waiting, today we finally boarded the ship and began our 49 day cruise to the Mediterranean and back. Our ship is the Holland American Veendam and we sailed away at 4:00 PM today.
We were up by 8:00 AM as we wanted to have time to eat breakfast before we left for Port Everglades where we would embark on our cruise. We actually had plenty of time as the earliest we could start boarding was 11:00, so after breakfast we did some final packing and then read and watched TV for a while until it was time to leave.
Finally, at 10:30 we gathered our luggage and went downstairs to catch the hotel shuttle to the nearby Port Everglades. There were many of our fellow cruisers waiting to depart, but the hotel had several shuttles running and we were quickly on our way to the port. Security and check-in went quickly without problems, but they weren’t quite ready to board yet so we waited a bit until they finally let us get on the ship.
We once again opted for a Neptune Suite, which is a large room with a very large balcony. It is a bit of an extravagance, but we have been spoiled over the years and hate to give it up. Our luggage hadn’t been delivered yet so after putting away the things in our carry-ons, we decided to take a tour of the ship.
The Veendam is one of the smaller Holland America ships and holds only 1,251 passengers. The layout was familiar to us as it was the same class of ship as the Ryndam, which we took our first cruise on to The Sea of Cortez and the Statendam, which we took on our Alaskan and South American Cruises. Both of those ships have been sold by Holland America so there is only one more ship of this size besides the Veendam in the Holland America fleet.
After our ship exploration the first of our luggage was delivered so we were able to start settling in. This luggage is what we carried with us and checked on the plane. The luggage we had shipped last week still hadn’t arrived and I was getting a little worried, but Val said to just be patient and it will arrive.
As sail-away time drew nearer, we had to attend a mandatory muster drill where everyone had to go to their lifeboat station and receive instructions on what we should do if there was a real emergency. These drills are tedious and a bit of a pain, but very important and we would certainly want to be prepared if something really were to happen. This muster drill took a very short time as our ID cards were scanned as we arrived instead of the roll-call that we had always had in the past.
Soon after the muster drill it was time to depart and Val and I watched as we sailed away from Fort Lauderdale and out into the Atlantic from our balcony. It wasn’t long after that, that the last of our luggage arrived; Val was of course right again – nothing to worry about.
Sailing away from Fort Lauderdale
After getting unpacked and relaxing for a while, it was time to get ready for dinner. As is our habit now, we had chosen a late seating at 8:00. Val wanted to once again participate in the Pub Trivia in the Mix Lounge before dinner so we headed down to the Upper Promenade Deck for that. I really didn’t feel like joining in so I spent the time in the library area reading until it was time for dinner.
Our first dinner of the cruise was an excellent one; we both had prime rib and it was very, very good. After dinner we continued our routine of going to the casino and gambling a bit. As usual, we lost our meager daily gambling allotment in a hurry and were back in our room by 10:00. We were both very tired and went straight to bed. We attempted to read for a while, but couldn’t keep our eyes open and we were both quickly asleep. Tomorrow is the first of six sea days before we arrive at our first port in the Azores.