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February 12th 2017
Published: September 6th 2017
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Geo: 26.1228, -80.1505

It seems like a short night's sleep. The alarm wakes us at 7am but our bodies tell us it's 4am. We didn't unpack much so getting out of here won't be a problem. Mom makes coffee in the room and gets ready while I unplug battery chargers and watch the news. We were told to see the lady at the desk around 9am to arrange for our shuttle to the port. It's 8:30 when we head down for our free breakfast. With only a few small candy bars holding me over since last night, I can't afford to miss my free breakfast. That's right. I said free!

We check out the people all hanging out around the pool as we make our way to the dining area. I've never seen so many old guys in aloha shirts at one time. The tiki bar is closed now but the entire hotel is full of cruise passengers waiting for the chance to board their ships and most are sitting out by the pool. Breakfast is fine. Cereal, juice, scrambled eggs and a do-it-yourself waffle for me. Karen has the same. Our shuttle time is 10am so we return to our room, put the ship ID labels on our checked bags for the porters and bring everything down to the lobby. Within a few minutes, we're called to our mini-bus while our luggage is stowed in a trailer towed behind the bus and off we go.

Here's where things start to slow down. First, a train crossing with a long train moving back and forth, then to a Princess Cruise ship to drop off some passengers and finally the Koningsdam.  Fortunately, we hadn't planned on leaving the hotel until around 11am so we have an early start and there's no rush.  Maneuvering through obstacles and traffic within the port is a skill that can only be attained through experience and our driver did well. The port is busy today. From our little bus we see a lot of cruise ships: Allure of the Seas, Rotterdam, Koningsdam, Regal Princess, Carnival Conquest & Celebrity Silhouette

Dropping our pre-tagged luggage we entered the check in area, turning in our paperwork, getting our picture taken and then sitting with hundreds of others, all waiting to board. It's, early, just 11am, and the ship isn't ready to accept new passengers quite yet. We're in group 5 so we must wait longer. Had we had our 4 star status, we could bypass most others just like "Big Shots". Oh well, our next cruise with HAL will offer that benefit. It's 12:30 when we get cleared by the captain to board and we head straight to our stateroom, 8141. It's very nice, with a balcony. The Koningsdam is only about two years old so everything is fresh and different.

We haven't much time before our reception. An invitation in our room provides us access to the Crow's Nest on deck 12, a lounge affording 180 degree views while providing free drinks and snacks with elaborate names. We visit with other guests of our fine caliber, reminiscing of past cruises. "Yes, we've been on a hundred or so cruises, darling", says the old lady sitting across from us to which I reply, "Looks like you've done one per year." No, I didn't say that. We can't compete with these people and, besides, we're only 3 stars, remember?

Now we need to attend the life boat drill, an exercise that's routine on all cruise ships. On this ship we don't assemble at the actual lifeboats but in the theater.  This kills another hour or more. Dismissing all these old timers to return to their rooms upstairs from one location with only two of four elevators operating creates a traffic jam of wheelchairs, scooters and walkers that would rival the Bay Bridge morning commute. The stairs provide me access to deck 8 in minutes with no traffic at all while Karen lags, finally squeezing into a car about a half hour later, just in time to get ready for dinner as our ship is now underway.

It's smart casual night so we dress accordingly and get to the dining room by 6pm. We sit at an oblong table for ten. The people to my right are from Florida who went on a similar South Pacific cruise a year after we did and they are old bikers. That made for conversation and Karen never misses an opportunity to throw out the fact that she rides a Boss Hoss motorcycle, failing to reveal that she she no longer rides but leaving her listeners in awe. The couple next to Karen was a nurse and doctor from St. Louis. They spoke of hurricanes, health and airplane nightmares. For dinner, Karen had loin strip steak, farmers salad and ice cream. I had the "jerk" chicken breast with rice, scallops and creme brûlée. Next was the comedy show in the world theater featuring Jim Colliton. He was pretty good but not the best ever.

We are both struggling to stay awake. No, not because we're old. I think the traveling is finally catching up. Without lingering about the ship, we return directly to our stateroom and drop. We must set our clocks ahead tonight one hour which isn't helping. Tomorrow is a sea day and a welcome day it is.

Good Night....

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16th February 2017

Hello friends!! You sure know how to enjoy life, so happy for you both.....Hank&Carmen:)

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