Some things in life are like French fries – you can’t have just one. My husband Humberto and I have found this to be the case with World Cruises. In 2012, we embarked on our first one, thinking it would be a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Now, this January, we just embarked on our sixth World Cruise, a 128-day circumnavigation from Fort Lauderdale aboard Holland America Line’s MS Amsterdam – we are convinced these voyages are addictive.
There is nothing like the rush of doing a circle around the globe, visiting scores of exotic places and experiencing a variety of cultures, in just one voyage – it makes me feel like anything – and everything – is possible.
One of my favorite things just happened: the incredible feeling you get on the first day of a World Cruise – after being pampered, entertained, and well fed, when you realize that there are still 100-plus more days like this one ahead to enjoy. I can’t wipe the smile off my face.
From the moment you check in, it is obvious this is different. At the terminal it is noticeable that the guests already know one another well: lots of passengers are hugging and greeting others by name as if this were a family reunion – and the terminal is festively decorated with balloons, flags, globes and posters of marquee locations around the world. What a special feeling – like you are joining a club whose members have explored, and are about to explore, the world again.
Other aspects I love include overnights and extended stays in ports for more exploration, and events like the wacky, pirate-themed Crossing of the Equator Ceremony during which crew members who have never crossed that fabled line are brought in as “prisoners” to await judgment of ship’s officers and King Neptune himself. Also, there’s the camaraderie that develops being on board a ship with others for four months and the feeling that “we are all in the same boat” and have respect for each other even if there any perceived eccentricities (like people always sitting in the same seats in the show lounge). But we know we are all achieving something big together: circumnavigating the planet.
I also appreciate how the ship brings the history, culture and flavors of a destination onboard ahead of, and during, the visit. On past voyages, for example, a Polynesian team was put on a week ahead of our arrival in Tahiti and they provided ukulele-playing, crafts and lessons, and performances; and ahead of Australia we have had teams who taught us about aboriginal crafts and the didgeridoo, and we had a special dinner on deck with Aussie dishes, including, alas, kangaroo. Now we have a Brazilian “ambassador” who has already started teaching us Portuguese ahead of our arrival in Brazil.
Our 2020 World Cruise has a tantalizing itinerary, beginning with calls in the Caribbean and South America including an overnight in Rio de Janeiro and calls in other cities like Buenos Aires, an Antarctica experience, scenic cruising in the Chilean Fjords, stops in Easter Island and Tahiti, several calls in New Zealand and Australia, scenic cruising in the Great Barrier Reef, visits to exotic Bali and other ports in Indonesia, 10 stops in Africa and after an Atlantic crossing, a trio of ports in the Caribbean. I know the itinerary is not set in stone as sea conditions, political unrest and other factors can cause changes. I am fine with that, believing as John Steinbeck put it that, “We don’t take a trip. A trip takes us.”
After checking in we headed for our cabin #1856, an Oceanview midships with a picture window on Dolphin Deck, the lowest passenger deck which we find very stable. We dropped off our carry-ons and headed for lunch at the Lido with its abundant choices including a custom sandwich station. The rest of the afternoon we went to look around the ship, sign up for some shore excursions, and then dine at the Restaurant.
As soon as we get settled – some unpacking to do for a journey of this magnitude —I will be posting about our new home at sea and the start of our journey around the world beginning with stops in the Caribbean, and I will be chronicling our visits to marquee ports along the way.
Some quick embarkation superlatives:
- Most exciting moment: hearing the ship’s whistle bidding goodbye to Fort Lauderdale—we will not see the city again for 128 days.
- Most delicious: the Jamaican Jerk Chicken with bean rice in the Welcome Aboard Dinner.
- Most heartwarming: seeing so many of our friends and favorite staff members like Philip, Asep, Toni and Josephine in the Restaurant.