ms Amsterdam

But definitely last

| At sea, off the California Central Coast. Three of the usual suspects, Bob, Réal, and I are aboard the MS Amsterdam en route from San Diego to Vancouver, via Victoria.

The instructions we were given about embarkation were that boarding could begin at 1pm and that we had to be on board by 4pm. We drove from Palm Springs and arrived in San Diego about 2:45pm, where we made several circuits around the block trying to figure out (1) how to get next to the pier so I could drop Bob, Réal and the luggage off and, failing that, (2) how to get to the parking I had reserved at the Holiday Inn "right across the street from the cruise ship pier." As it happened, the hotel is literally right across the street from where the Amsterdam was docked, but separated from it by a multi-lane street packed with cars and road construction! And the entrance was on a totally different street from the entrance to the hotel. All that notwithstanding, the parking lot attendant did recognize the reservation and pointed us to where to park.

"How to get across the street?" (There was no crosswalk.) Answer: "Very carefully!" When we finally figured out how to get into the cruise ship pier, we had to show our boarding passes and passports to the guard at the gate. "They're waiting for you — you're the last ones!" And it was true: there was a skeleton crew of just a few people waiting for the last three passengers to check in! One of them even addressed Bob by name, because they still had his picture from the last cruise we did. Cue the Twilight Zone theme.

We checked in, had our pictures taken, and were pointed to the gangway while the staff began packing up. At the entrance to the ship they had to scan our newly-minted cards several times until the bits and bytes made it from the pier to the ship's system. Whew!

We had missed the welcome aboard cocktail hour and by now had just a few minutes to find our stateroom and report to lifeboat station #2 for the required safety lecture. After sitting, freezing, at station #2 for quite some time, a steward pointed out that we were at liferaft station #2, not lifeboat station #2. It was no warmer at life boat station #2.

Having completed the lifeboat drill — which involved neither life boats, life rafts, nor life preservers &emdash;the captain blew his whistle long and loud, and the Coast Guard and Harbor Police escorted us out to sea. While we enjoyed margaritas on the Lido Deck bar.

Dinner was delicious, then we were entertained in the theatre by two comic jugglers who threw machetes at each other, at one point past a terrified couple from the audience who were made to stand between them, and at another point while one of them was riding a unicycle (on a moving ship!).

Let's just say that the demographic of the passenger complement on this cruise is quite different from the previous two cruises we took. These people just don't know how to party! Maybe they're tired, since it seems that about 2/3 of them have been on the ship for 20 days already, having departed Ft Lauderdale and gone through the Panema Canal.

The hightlight of today's breakfast was the group of whales that entertained us by leaping out of the water and blowing out their airholes. They were enormous creatures and it was truly wonderful to see them.

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018

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