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Sunday April 22, 2018: Departure
We had worked like dogs most of the day Saturday to get all our plants and seedlings outside. I had planned to do that earlier, but since the temps were below freezing on Thursday night and near freezing on Friday night, we decided to wait to Saturday to put all the plants and the newly-sprouted flower seedlings outdoors. Since we had scheduled all that work for Saturday, we shifted the packing of our suitcases back to Friday, which was just as well because we spent the whole bloody day Saturday pushing around the pots of plants and digging up the places both in the front Arbor and back garden to plant all the flower seedlings. We hope to come home to a glorious walkway lined with blooming flowerpots, hanging flowerpots from the trees and front arbor, and a burst of zinnias, sunflowers, and dwarf marigolds out in back. Time will tell.
Saturday evening we did a bit more packing to try to make sure that we didn't leave anything important, but really that is a crap shoot and you just hope you don't leave anything important. And now as I type this, I realize I left my suit jacket hanging safely in the closet at home! Darn! So I'm not sure whether I will be able to eat in the dining room on the formal nights on the Zuiderdam. On Princess ships they usually let me slide by on formal nights with a nice sweater, collared shirt, and tie, but Holland America Line ships are more strict, so sometimes it's no go. But to quote Groucho Marx, "I've been thrown out of much better joints than this!" Hope we have everything else that's important! (It turned out that I had also forgotten to take my orthotic insert cushions for my shoes, which made long walks more of a problem, but otherwise nothing important.)
So far, however, our departure this morning has been "smooth sailing". Edgar, our favorite limousine driver, was as usual 15 minutes early, so he picked us up at 7:45 and dropped us off at National Airport less than half an hour later. The Jet Blue folks at the terminal helped us figure out the machines that are now used to print out your luggage tags, and then we checked in through security and relaxed until our flight left. We are flying an Embraer 190, a medium-small Brazilian-built aircraft, but surprisingly I have more legroom than on many of the larger aircraft we have flown, an extra 2-3 inches between my kneecaps and the seat in front.
I'm in the window seat and I was extremely lucky to get some very nice shots not only of airplanes on the runway at National Airport, but also of the Washington Monument, Congress, and the National Mall area as we flew northwest up the Potomac River. Our route curled West over to Dulles Airport where we turned to head South to Florida, so I was also able to get some nice shots of that airport from above. Fun! I really hope the picture of the the Mall with the Washington Monument at one end and Congress at the other end comes out, because that might look nice on our dining room wall.
At the Zuiderdam:
Upon arrival at Ft Lauderdale airport, our flight had to wait on the taxiway for almost an hour do to overcrowding of planes at the gates, but we still had plenty of time to retrieve our luggage, hop in a cab, and get to the ship by about 2:30. The advantage of arriving so late was that there were absolutely no lines for the security screening or for processing on board. The disadvantage was that we missed the Captain's welcome-aboard party. Our room steward opened the partition on the balcony between our cabin and Linda and Jerry's cabin next door, so now we can easily contact each other without having to go into the hallway and knock on the door.
We were well within time for the 4 o'clock lifeboat drill, but curiously that was oddly disorganized compared to most cruise ships. We were told NOT to bring the life preservers, which surprised me, and never got a chance to actually try our life preservers on, which I thought was unwise if we ever had to really use them. I was reminded of the recent Southwest airline flight that had an engine failure and rapid depressurization, where most passengers were incorrectly donning their oxygen masks just over their mouth instead of over both their nose and mouth, which could have resulted in hypoxia if the Captain had not descended so rapidly.
We had our first meal aboard ship in the mid-afternoon at the Marketplace, which is the Zuiderdam's buffet restaurant on the Lido deck, and then unpacked our bags. That evening we talked to the Maitre D to get us all assigned to the same dining table, which turned out to be number 63, a table for 6 with Bob and Janet from California together with the 4 of us. We chatted with them over dinner, and then walked around the ship a bit before coming back to our cabin right around sunset, which we could barely see through the rather heavy overcast. To relax, we worked on a NY Times Sunday crossword a bit before turning in for the night.
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