Two weeks ago, I was thinking how odd it was for everyone’s bags to be out in the hallway awaiting pickup while we were still settled into our stateroom. Sunday night was our turn to put out our bags. Each person fills out a form with their flight time and the bag tags are color coded. Those with earliest flights are unloaded first and those passengers disembark first at around 7 AM. Since we are flying out a day later, we asked for the latest off boat time, 9:30 AM. But since we are also ‘four star’ mariners, according to Holland America (A round South America and a round the world will do that) we were given color code ‘lime green’ meaning our bags are among the first offloaded but we can get off at any time we wish.
Those with the earliest off load times may have been in trouble because the cruise did not end as expected. The day before the Captain said we would pick up a pilot and go into the locks on the North Sea Canal that connects Amsterdam with the world at about 3:00 AM and would be tied up at 6:30. It didn’t work that way. We woke up at about 4:30 and the ship was not moving. We should have been through the locks and moving along the canal. Suzi wondered if we were in Amsterdam early. But looking out we were still at the locks. We tried to go back to sleep but weren’t that successful. At about 5 AM we started moving again and from our room watched Holland go by.
At 7 AM the captain came on and apologized for the fact that we were still sailing up the IJ and were not in Amsterdam. We got to the locks as planned at 3 but the lockkeeper couldn’t open the lock door, so Prinsendam sat for two hours while they tried to fix the doors. We got through the locks just after 5 AM. So instead of arriving at 6:30 we finally docked a little after 8 AM, and that after the Captain decided not to turn the ship to dock port to the pier, which is the usual protocol, but to save 15 maneuvering time we docked starboard to the pier. This means he has to do the maneuver outbound. At about 8:15 the first lot of passengers were called; their luggage had cleared and they were free to leave the ship. Some of them had 10 AM flights back to the States, given rush hour traffic even those with 11 AM flights had reason for concern.
I had decided that we didn’t want to hassle with a tight turnaround so we booked a night in an Amsterdam hotel, so we did not have to worry. We got off at 9:30, almost the last ones, and had no problem finding our bags. They were almost the only ones sitting in the lime green, or any section. In fact, I got to my bag at the same time as the dock security person who was checking on unclaimed bags. I turned around and said goodbye to Prinsendam. We got a cab, who seemed disappointed that he didn’t have a fare to the airport, got to the hotel, had a coffee and took a nap.
In the evening, after an early supper, we took an open boat canal ride. It was a beautiful, warm but not hot, Amsterdam evening. The boat driver was a good story teller, and not exactly (or at all) politically correct. He explained this by saying he was Norwegian and not Dutch. These pictures are from that ride and our walk to and from the boat landing.
Today we are reshuffling stuff to get through security for our very long flight home. We did go to Nieuwe Kirk (an old church on Dam Square that is not a Museum) to see the World Press Photo Exhibition, the best news photos of 2018. They also had a retrospective of the number one photos since 1955. So many are icons, the monk setting himself on fire in Saigon and several other photos from that era and the lone man standing in front of the tanks on Trenaman Square. We were both surprised that there were no photos from the Berlin Wall fall in the retrospective.
We’re flying Emirates from Amsterdam to Dubai (6 hours) three hours in Dubai, Dubai to Seattle (a little more than 14 hours), two and half hours in Seattle and then about 4 hours home via Ketchikan. It should be just under 36 hours portal to portal. That’s what happens when you get mileage tickets. But we are in business class so it could be nice, in an exhausting way. Now one final challenge. Ramadan ends tonight and the hotel is working to find us a cab to the airport. Apparently, many of Amsterdam’s cabbies are observant Muslims. Well. there’s always the train.