April 9, 2023 – Sunday – boarding the Nieuw Amsterdam in Port Everglades and our departure
2023 Panama Canal Cruise
I have a wonderful sleep, waking up just before 9am to a cloudy but warm day outside. I have lots of time before I need to leave the hotel to board the ship at Noon, so go downstairs for breakfast. Bistro 17 is open but they are offering a full breakfast which I’m not wanting, especially since they only have regular brewed coffee. I’m happy with a cappuccino and a muffin in the R Lounge before going back to my room to pack and get ready.
I planned to ask the valet to call me a taxi, but I meet an English couple riding the elevator down to the lobby with Nieuw Amsterdam tags on their bags, and find out they have a transfer booked for about the same time I need to leave for the cruise terminal. They are happy to share, and as it turns out, there are several people in a shuttle all boarding ships, so we each pay US$8 plus a $2 tip for the short ride over to the cruise terminal. That was easy, and cheap!
I decide to roll my big bag onboard with me, so don’t drop it with the valets at the entrance to the cruise terminal. It only takes about 15 minutes to clear security, check-in using facial recognition, and walk up the gangway making the boarding process so simple and low stress! It paid off for me to upload my ID photo ahead of time using Holland America’s Navigator app, and my COVID-19 vaccination certificate using the VeriFLY app. As on previous HAL cruises, my room keycard is tucked into the mailbox outside my stateroom. My stateroom is easy to find, since I was on this same ship last year on my Alaska cruise.
I order an Impossible Gainer burger with fries at the Dive In burger bar, and have an IPA beer while sitting beside the Lido pool. It’s so nice to have warm, shirt sleeve weather already! Returning to my stateroom, I unpack my big bag and get cleaned up before exploring the ship while the rest of the passengers board. I check into my muster station and watch the safety video in my stateroom, which every passenger must do before the ship leaves port. There is lots of activity to watch shoreside, as the last of the supplies are loaded onto the ship.
The Celebrity Reflection is docked beside us and Holland America’s Eurodam is also docked nearby. We leave port about a half hour late due to weather and “other factors” according to the captain. I’m always amazed at how these big cruise ships maneuver through the narrow navigation passage out into the open Atlantic Ocean at Port Everglades. There is a tropical downpour as we push away from the dock and head out into open ocean.
Having learned on past sailings that the Main Dining Room is a bit of a zoo on departure day evening, I go to the Canaletto Italian premium restaurant for dinner, since it is mostly empty. I have Beef carpaccio for a starter, Chicken parmigiano as a main course, and finish off with an Afogato for desert. An older couple from California is seated at the table next to mine. They are obviously both quite drunk, as they argue about complete nonsense throughout their meal, peppering the server with questions that make little sense. Ultimately, they leave to find their stateroom…I’m sure the staff are glad they are gone.
After settling into my stateroom for awhile after dinner, I go up to the Crow’s Nest Lounge to have my first Martini nightcap just before they close. The room doesn’t close, but the Explorations bar and coffee staff are off duty at 10PM once they clean up. I’m in a good mood as I head back to my stateroom to go to bed.