We woke up both excited and a little sad. Excited because today was the day we would finally be setting off on our cruise; 25 days crossing the South Pacific, San Diego California to Sydney Australia, aboard Holland America’s luxury cruise ship the ms Zaandam. With roughly 1600 passengers, (majority of which were considerably older than us), and 600 crew members, we would be setting off on the next leg of our trip another step closer to exploring and setting up home in New Zealand. San Diego, however, had been a blast and both of us were a little sad to be leaving with so much we would have still liked to have done. After a final brunch at Current Restaurant we headed off for a wonder down to the Pier to purchase postcards from a little gift shop there. We weren’t expecting to see our ship until later in the day, and so, were pleasantly surprised when we saw it already waiting for us patient to begin its journey.
It wasn’t long after boarding I began to feel a little uneasy with the swaying. I made it through unpacking (something both Martin and I were actually excited to do), enjoyed a glass of champagne courtesy of a bon voyage package a wonderful friend of mind had surprised us with, said goodby to San Diego from our room’s verandah, and enjoyed our first of many meals in the Rotterdam Restaurant. The rest of the night and the entirety of the next day I was ill, ill, ill. I have since learnt that this pirate-wannabe has to religiously pop a cherry-flavoured seasickness pill every morning to survive. Martin, however, is a natural!
It was easy to fill our days at sea. Once or twice a day I took a Tai-Chi class on the Seaview deck. Poolside in the open sea air, moving with the waves while I tried to master the much-more-complicated-than-it-first-looks moves was amazing, refreshing, and incredibly relaxing. I was finally finding my zen. Martin at this time was generally working out at the gym or attending one of the free stretching or abs classes. We were told the first day we boarded that stats show many people put on between 1-2 lbs a day when on a cruise. We remained skeptical until a week later when we noticed our clothes fitting much tighter than before.
There was so much to do on board. Martin filled much of his time taking Bridge classes, (then letting off steam as to the absurdity of the game to me afterwards), entering Texas Hold-em Tournaments, sunbathing and reading on the Observation deck or our verandah, trying our the different restaurants and cafe’s. I took advantage of attending lectures by guest speakers on Explorers of the Pacific, Geology and Volcanoes of Hawaii, Birds, Fish, and Animals of Hawaii, 20th century Pacific Events, Hawaii and WWII. Relaxing and reading poolside on the Lido deck while listening to a live band, or reclining at night on the beach chair on our verandah – nothing could be more wonderful.
We would often get breakfast delivered to our room and join together at night for dinner in the Rotterdam Dining Room. This was the only restaurant the really served Gluten-Free meals and proved to be a little bit of a nuisance in that I had to order my meals a day in advance. Remembering to do so was not always my strong point. Occasionally we’d order in room dining and watch a movie from the ships collection. We did attend one formal night where we had to dress up for dinner; not something that particularly thrilled either of us. But for this occasion we did it and even allowed the on board photographers to photograph us. Possibly, I’ll purchase a couple of on board photo’s before we disembark. Meals, at least, were a great time to get to know some of our fellow passengers. With the exception of a few the majority of them had many years and much more cruise experience on us. But we were able to pick up some cruising tips and hear fascinating stories on others trips and experiences. The do-as-you-please ambience of cruising was definitely something we could get use to, and the four days at sea passed in no time at all.