Thursday, May 30, 2019 – Night Before Trip

So the time is almost here. This adventure started back in February 2018 when I attended a presentation by the Holland America (HAL) Future Cruise Consultant during our Hawaii cruise. He showed several itineraries, but I really sat up and took notice when he presented the one going around Scotland and Ireland on the Prinsendam for 14 days in June of 2019. Most of those northern Europe itineraries focus on Norway, Iceland, etc and only hit a couple of Scotland/Ireland ports but this one was strictly Scotland/Ireland.

Chuck has always talked about going to Scotland and Ireland as a bucket-list item, and I had been studying land-based tours for a while to see what we could do. Now, here was a cruise that hits a number of ports and would be offered in the year he turned 60. And, it was on the Prinsendam. The Prinsendam is HAL’s smallest and oldest ship with only 800 passenger capacity. Every time we were on a HAL cruise and talked to someone who had cruised HAL multiple times said “oh, you haven’t cruised on the Prinsendam? Oh, you must. It is a unique experience.” Alrighty then. Two birds with one stone – great itinerary and unique ship.

I made an appointment with the Consultant and placed a deposit on the trip. I was also happy that they were offering a deal on airline flights booked through HAL as I knew the flights to Europe were going to be expensive.

Chuck was excited about the itinerary until he found out the price. Then, not so much. But I was stubborn and wouldn’t cancel the booking. He loves cruising, he has always wanted to go to Scotland/Ireland, and he’s turning 60. We’re going. {Stomps Foot}.

Then, few weeks later, another hiccup. Found out through the website Cruise Critic that HAL had sold the Prinsendam to a German cruise company and people who had booked 2019 cruises were getting cancellation or re-booking notices. Well, just my luck. Kept waiting for my notice but didn’t get one.

I called our HAL travel agent and she told me that all cruises after July 1, 2019 were being rebooked on different ships or cancelled but since our cruise was in June, we were good to go. AND, the price had dropped, HAL was offering a free drink package, a free steakhouse dinner, and the flight price reduction. We re-booked with the new lower price and perks. Yay! Chuck is now happy with the cruise.

Now the serious port planning has started. This cruise is a very port-intensive one and all new to us. In 14 days, we will only have 3 sea days for relaxing. In addition, there will be no aimlessly wandering around the port, relaxing at a beach, or staying on the ship if we feel like it which is what we do on our Caribbean cruises. Nope. There are places to go and pictures to take so port-planning is essential.

Over several months, between the HAL excursion website, Cruise Critic, and TripAdvisor, I have been able to make plans for each port and Amsterdam (pre- and post-cruise). I have high hopes that each one will be a memorable experience. Fingers crossed.

In addition to booking tours over this past year, the flight was booked, Amsterdam hotel booked, transportation booked, Euros and Pounds obtained, etc., etc. So many details. I have a vacation spreadsheet. Doesn’t everyone?

Packing has been an ordeal. I don’t know what is wrong with us. I don’t care how many YouTube videos I watch about packing efficiently, unless we are going to the Caribbean, we end up with 1 checked bag each, 1 carry-on each, and 1 personal back-pack each. We look like we are going to stay for a month and not 2 weeks. To make matters even more embarrassing, we will be able to get free laundry on the ship so we told ourselves we are just packing “for a week.” Sad.

The weather for this trip is predicted to be a lot like what we experienced in Alaska in June 2017 – 60’s to 80’s with a chance of rain each day.  Our pictures from Alaska had us in our rain jackets most every day (just in case). I hope we have better luck this trip.

So here we are – 16 months later. I always get nervous the night before we leave on a trip and don’t sleep that well. But, I have been having the same nervous feelings all this week. I guess because this trip is the biggest one we have ever taken and this week has dragged on. I know I will relax once I am on the plane (though a 10 hour flight will be no picnic in the park). I just have to get through the Atlanta traffic on a Friday and airport security for an international flight without losing my mind.

Until then, I have to stop thinking about things I might need to take with me and checking the weight of my suitcase. Wish me luck.

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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