March 31 – April 1, 2020 – Sailing from the Panama Canal to Fort Lauderdale
I make no journal entries and take no photographs for the two days it takes to sail from the Panama Canal to Fort Lauderdale, since by that time I am pretty well shut down mentally. I concentrate on surviving the ordeal of being confined to our cabin for nine days, so I am able to ultimately return home to Canada. As can be seen by the ship’s route map, both ships proceed at full speed on a northerly course across the Caribbean Sea, rounding Cuba to the west by Havana.
April 2, 2020 – arriving in Fort Lauderdale
9:15am – We are 22 miles offshore from Fort Lauderdale, and still awaiting permission to land, so we can start the pre-clearance process today. We put our main checked bags out this morning, which are taken to a holding area on board the ship, ultimately to be transferred ashore for us.
1:50pm – Both Zaandam and Rotterdam are approved to come alongside and dock at the cruise port terminal within the next hour. We sail up the shipping channel to the cruise terminal, with lots of friendly waves coming from people on shore, however under the watchful eye of the US Coast Guard (see banner image above). We are designated to disembark the ship tomorrow morning – the first wave of Canadians leaving the ship to return to Canada!
Once docked, the pre-clearance process aboard the ship involves yet another health questionnaire and submitting to a health screening. We are then given the treasured “Approved to Disembark” card, walk off the ship into the terminal where we are waved through by US Immigration and Customs officers. We then walk back on board the ship, where we will stay overnight until tomorrow’s actual disembarkation. What a strange procedure!