Wanderung 28

A Warm Winter Break

December 2013 - January 2014


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Sunday December 29, 2013: Boarding the Ryndam and leaving Tampa

I felt surprisingly tired, possibly due to staying up late fooling around on PriusChat on the Internet, but since we had decided to leave the car in the parking lot of the Quality Inn where we were staying, I didn't have to drive to the port. Instead, I put my newfound Prius knowledge to the test and did, in fact, manage to turn off the keyless entry system on our Prius by the most odd and arcane series of door openings, closings, and key button pushes that I have ever encountered. I truly felt like I was doing Voodoo to the Prius God, but in the end I found out that if I did it all fast enough (5 second limit on some steps!), it really worked, somewhat to my surprise. I engaged in this rigamarole in the hope that turning off the key sensor plus disconnecting the Scan Gauge on the dashboard would together minimize the drain on our car's 12-volt battery and decrease the likelihood of a dead battery when we returned after our cruise.

The shuttle to the cruise ship port, where we found the Ryndam, was along side streets that I would not have found by myself, I'm sure, which is one of the advantages of being driving by local folks. We arrived before noon to sign on board and although the porters were surly and reluctant to take our luggage, in the end they did and we entered the terminal for the embarkation procedure. In contrast to the porters, the personnel at the check-in desk were quite pleasant and we began to relax.

Once on the ship we stopped off at our stateroom, number 574 on Deck 5 or the main deck, before hustling up to the Lido deck buffet for lunch. The Ryndam was built in Genoa, Italy, in 1994, and our cabin showed that age as it boasted a full tub as well as a shower in the bathroom, together with a chair, sleep sofa, table and desk in addition to the queen-sized bed. It also had a large window rather than a porthole, but not a balcony. We had been offered but had declined the optional upgrade to a balcony for $700 more as we figured we would be out and about most of the days of the cruise (only 2 "At Sea" days).

From fooling around in the pool at The Sanctuary with our new snorkeling equipment, we had found it to be very efficient for swimming (good fins) and very comfortable (the masks had front and side windows and didn't leak!). Thinking that snorkeling on a coral reef would be fun, just before the lifeboat drill at 3 p.m. we signed up for two "sail and snorkel" shore excursions, one at Roatan, Honduras, and one at Costa del Maya, Mexico.

By then our luggage had arrived at our stateroom and we unpacked before walking aft at 5 p.m. to the Rotterdam Dining Room to have dinner at the "open seating" session. We requested a table for two and were seated at a cozy little table right at the stern window of dining room, which gave us a magnificent view. We watched the sun set in the West as our ship wended its way along a surprisingly lengthy (10-15 miles?) and narrow channel down Tampa Bay. I enjoyed a wonderfully spiced rainbow trout and the setting sun turned the calm waters of Tampa Bay into molten gold as the Ryndam wended its way carefully through the channel. It was a simply magical way to begin our 44th anniversary cruise.

Right after dinner, the Captain announced that we were exiting Tampa Bay out through the Sunshine Bridge, across which we had driven twice the previous day. But seeing the graceful suspension bridge illuminated at night by colorful lights was very pretty. That evening we eschewed the usual Welcome Aboard program as it was a potpourri of miscellaneous bits and pieces, and instead retired to bed to read a Nora Roberts book we had found in the library, "Whisky Beach", which turned out to be quite gripping from the get-go.

Copyright 2014 by R. W. Holt and E. M. Holt


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Map of Homosassa, Florida Map of Western Caribbean Cruise Map of Panama Canal Cruise

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January 2014
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