Well, we are on our way! We woke to sunshine and had a quiet morning. Packed our cases, had breakfast - the hotel was very busy and we had to wait for a table - then read and enjoyed the sunshine. We joined the many in the lobby waiting for shuttles to the cruiseport. We had elected to be among the last to leave - a good choice as it turned out. We had a comfortable ride to the cruiseport and exercising the privileges of our cabin got right to the check-in and were told we would be on board as soon as they started. This surprised us, as on previous cruises people were on board from shortly after 11:00am and it was now after 1:30pm. The Ft Lauderdale port facility does not compare favourably with Vancouver and Venice which we have used previously. It was cramped, only 3 check in clerks/booths. We had stopped to drop other passengers at another ship and they were lining up outside in the sunshine, a fate we were glad we did not have to share.
We only had a short wait and we were on board. We stowed our hand luggage and went over to the Neptune Lounge to have a sandwich. There we learned the bad news. The reason for our delay was the ship was being disinfected for norovirus encountered on the last cruise. Not the best news to receive on our first day! When we returned to our cabin two of our cases had arrived and the third came while we were unpacking the first two. We got settled in and watched the activity in the channel while we waited for the inevitable lifeboat drill.
It was interesting and somewhat perturbing to see a young couple pulled over by the coast guard, whose boat, small as it was, was replete with machine gun mounted on the prow, and have their boat searched. They drifted too far away to see the result of the search, but the boats appeared to part company with the same crews as they met, so if an infraction had occurred, it must have been minor.
When it was announced that the drill had been postponed we went fro a tour of the outside decks. It was very nice to wander in the sunshine with a pleasant breeze to cool things down. The Volendam is similar to the Zaandam on which we went to Alaska is 2004.
We returned to our cabin for lifejackets and proceeded to the lifeboat station, The drill was soon over and we returned and watched the ship leave. Now we are headed south in the Atlantic and will enter the Caribbean sometime tonight.
Dinner will be next on the agenda and we always wonder what our table companions will be like. We will soon know. We have always been fortunate on previous cruises and look forward to this aspect of the adventure.
We discovered we were a table of six Canadians. A couple from Halifax, two ladies, who may be mother and daughter, from Victoria and ourselves. We had an excellent meal and lively conversation before taking a stroll round parts of the ship which we had not explored earlier, then listened to the string trio for a while before returning to our cabin, Christine to wash and Iain to get you up to date - I think I have the better part of the bargain, but I am more trusting of the laundry facilities and will send my dirty laundry out, Christine is more conservative and wishes to do her own, so far as possible.
The next two days are at sea as we negotiate Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica on our way to Cartagena, Colombia. News and photos may be sparse till we make landfall in South America, our first, if fleeting, visit to that continent.