We’ve set sail!…Fabulous first day!…

*Based on a poor WiFi signal while out to sea, we can’t download any photos today.  Please check back tomorrow.
Cruise check-in can be a nightmare, taking hours to walk aboard the ship finally. But, yesterday’s check-in at the Port of Amsterdam was almost as quick as it could have been.
The only time-consuming process was checking in our bags since Tom had to fill in the information on the paper luggage tags. Moments later, our bags were whisked away, leaving us carrying only the laptop backpack and the small blue cloth shopping bag in which I had the camera and a few other items.
From there, getting “sea passes” and completing the check-in process, we were on the ship in no time at all. We had sailed on this same ship, Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas, in 2014 from Harwich, England, to Boston, Massachusetts. 
We stayed in Boston for a few nights to see my cousin Phyllis and our since-passed-away Uncle Bernie and visit my father’s gravesite. See here for the link from that day. 
We’re so glad we had a chance to see Uncle Bernie one last time before he passed at 98 years of age. He was my father’s brother, and we’d stayed in touch over the years.
Once we boarded the ship at 12:30 pm, and since the cabins weren’t available for a few hours, nor would our luggage be delivered to our cabin until several hours later, we decided to have lunch since we hadn’t had breakfast in the flurry of activity.
We sat with a lovely couple from Australia, Vickie, and Pino having a great talk while we all ate our lunch. The table sharing and subsequent endless chatter had begun, one of our big motivators in enjoying cruises as much as we do.
Of course, we love the lazy life aboard a ship and the opportunity to visit more and more countries on our journey. This cruise will result in us visiting six countries we’ve never visited in the past. Few cruise itineraries provide us with such an opportunity.
That is undoubtedly a major benefit of cruising. Although we don’t get the full flavor of the country in one or two-day stops, we’re often able to see some of the highlights and decide if we’d like to return for a more extended stay in the future.
A few hours later, when the announcement was made that our cabins were ready, we said goodbye to the lovely couple, hoping to see them again, which on this somewhat smaller ship carrying 2501 passengers, small compared to some of the jumbo cruise ships offered today such as Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas with a capacity of 5518 passengers and over a 1000 crew members.
Those big ships are not for us. The sheer size creates long queues and waiting times for boarding, leaving the ship for ports of call, availability of dining times, and maneuvering about the ship.  
We’re not interested in water parks and high adventure activities, common selling points of the massive ships.  Also, we prefer a more intimate, primarily adult environment, quieter and more relaxing while still allowing us to interact with many passengers and make new friends.
When we think of all the people we’ve met on cruises, with whom we’re still in touch, we don’t regret a moment of the effort we’d consciously made to meet new people at every mealtime and in each lounge area.
It’s not surprising that most “cruisers” are frequent travelers to many parts of the world, inciting fantastic conversations among all of us. After chatting with Vickie and Pino, we unpacked a little since our bags had arrived and got ready for the evening’s activities.
Our next stop was to the Diamond Lounge for happy hour, where once again, we shared a comfy table with JoAnn and Fran from Pennsylvania and stayed until happy hour ended, engaged in lively conversation.
I’d promised myself I’d only have two small glasses of dry red wine a night.  As an enthusiast of red wine, I knew I had to limit myself due to my health situation, which I’ve managed since my first glass of wine, three months after the surgery.
Since I made that commitment to myself, I’ve learned to sip as slowly as possible while also drinking a big glass of sparkling water on the side.  This works for me and worked well last night, our first night in the Diamond Lounge, where drinks are complimentary for Diamond Club members, such as us.
At dinner, we were seated at a table for 10 with all the chairs occupied. What a great time we had. I sat next to a lovely couple, Vera and Michael, and couldn’t have enjoyed their companionship more. Tom, based on the seating arrangement, had a better chance to chat with the others.
We didn’t get up from the dinner table until 2200 hours, 10:00 pm, and headed out to a seating area overlooking the Centrum area while a decent band played “oldies.” We didn’t get to our cabin until almost midnight, exhausted from a memorable day.
Now, at almost noon, we’re seated in the cafe close to an electric outlet to plug in my laptop. My battery only holds a charge for one hour. We’ll be buying new laptops when we arrive in the US in less than three months.
With little sleep last night, soon we’ll head to the cabin for a short nap and then make our way to the movie theatre to watch “Captain Marvel.” We aren’t necessarily comic book character fans, but we’ll give it a try.
We’ll be back tomorrow with more, including an update on how the walking is going so far.
Carpe diem!
Photo from one year ago today, August 12, 2018:
Once again, we spotted ostriches on Vostruis Road (volstruis means ostrich in Afrikaans) next to this exact vehicle where we’d seen them almost five years ago. Click this link here to see the post from December 7, 2013. Funny, eh? For more photos, please click here.

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