The adventure begins, but first a little background.
Anticipating a trip is almost as much fun as the actual trip itself. We booked this trip over a year ago when I finally had the time and money come together at the same time to plan this great adventure.
Before digging into the details of this Grand Voyage, let me share my background to give you some insight to my perspective.
I spent a career in the Navy, with over 2000 days at sea aboard aircraft carriers, so what better way to continue my love of the sea than by continuing cruising on the passenger lines. My wife and I are experienced travelers, 17 moves under our belt, a few years living in Japan, and we averaged a new mailing address every 3 years for almost 30 years.
The sea is special. The ever present horizon, fresh air, constant motion and the excitement of anticipation as each day brings the familiar along with the new. But what makes cruising special, whether in the Navy or on Holland America is the sense of community. Everyone is literally in the same boat – heading to the same places, sharing the same experiences. Cruising brings together 1000’s of people, passengers and crew, doing different tasks but joined by a common goal and expectation.
Back before cable and the internet gave 100’s of choices for entertainment at home, there were basically 3 channels and everyone shared the same experience. The last episode of MASH, Mary Tyler Moore, the whole country shared these events. Now everyone is forging their own path and we have lost some of our sense of community. Cruising brings some of that back. But I fear the new Mega Ships with Anytime This and Anytime That and “wear what you want where you want” are starting to turn cruising into just another all inclusive – a floating hotel.
A cruise experience is a shared experience. Everyone checks in the same day, goes to the same places, sees the same shows and eats the same food.
The Granddaddy of all cruise experiences is the Grand World Cruise and I will be honored to share my experiences with you here over the next 133 days. My wife retired as a professional photographer a few years back, but I put her back to work and asked her to provide me with “The Photo of the Day” to help add to the commentary here.
This blog will also have interactive maps that will allow you t0 track our progress. My twitter feed @theinsidecabin will allow me to post updates and probably answer any question you may have along the way. Of course, the ships internet may slow me down, but I will be posting daily – subject to connectivity.
How do you pack for 133 days? My wife is a master packer, so I leave that to her, but she is very meticulous and has everything planned to a “T”. She has been tracking our consumption of consumables for months – so we bring the right about of tooth paste and other items hard to replace at sea or in foreign ports. A Grand World Voyage is filled with Grand Activities – the Black and Silver Ball! Mardi Gras, Toga night and on and on. The entire list of activities is available here: Grand World Voyage Activity Planner . We plan to participate in them all, so this added to the number of suitcases as we brought outfits for each of these special nights.
We ended up sending 8 suitcases, 2 carry on rollers, a computer bag, a case of wine and 5 boxes of absolutely ESSENTIAL STUFF – that we CAN’T live without –check back at the end and I will report on how well we did. I am sure I will meet someone who will be walking on at the end with the “Do it Yourself” disembarkation with two roller bags and a large purse.
8PM sharp we lock the door to our Condo and start maneuvering our bags to the SUV we hired to transfer us to the airport. With all the bags loaded I check the passports once last time – and we head off toward the San Diego Airport. We live in Imperial Beach, about 16 miles from the airport so we arrive in about 25 minutes. Our bags come tumbling out to the curb and we are lucky to spot an available skycap who grabs a cart and takes our bag to the curbside check in counter. Having flown thousands and thousands of miles with Delta we have sufficient status to get us priority check in and we were lucky to get upgraded to first class. We are enrolled in Global Entry which gives us TSA precheck every time, highly recommended if you travel by air frequently and especially internationally.
Living on the west coast makes traveling to the east coast a choice between bad options – you either leave very early – or take the redeye. We hate getting up early – and since the red-eye was cheaper anyway – we chose to take the 10:15pm flight to ATL and then on to FLL – arriving early Monday morning with the ship leaving late Tuesday evening.
There was no line for TSA precheck and we breezed thru and headed up to the Delta SkyClub to wait until they starting boarding our flight in about 45 minutes. The Delta Skyclub has some wonderful soups – I love the Wicked Thai soup – almost makes me want to go to the Skyclubs just for the soup. There won’t be any meal service on the redeye so we filled up on some soup, chili and cookies. This was just the right amount of food and we headed off to the gate – but we had the friendly Delta agents take our first picture of this Grand Adventure!
Boarding is a breeze and we push back right on time and then we wait – and wait – caught in the red eye rush hour. San Diego’s airport is very close – right downtown, but with a single runway – there can be some waiting – but sill nothing like what you can experience at JFK or ATL when they are busy: “er —this is the Captain – we are now number 22 for takeoff.” We were only number 6 or so, but it seemed longer.
A smooth climb out and we settled in for our flight. A nice tailwind makes our flight time only 3 and ½ hours.
Time to sign off as this day comes to a close. More tomorrow.
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