Magic Moments on the Zaandam

Special, calm, peaceful, magic moments.  That’s why I cruise again and again.  It doesn’t matter where the ship is going, I’m just happy to be on it.

With a relaxing cruise ahead of me, I’m looking forward to sharing one magic moment a day.  The simple pleasures on the ms Zaandam that will become sweet memories all too soon.

Day 1 – Always a hectic day.  Rude alarm clock in the pre-dawn hours, two flights to catch, luggage to check with hopes of retrieving later, long lines, taxis, shuttles.  Finally to the ship, finally some French onion soup… but still… so exhausted.  And then the moment literally came wafting over me.  My bags  were unpacked, the plump pillows awaited me, and the sharp citrus scent of that Elemis soap in the hot shower let me know I was back in my home away from home.  I love that shower gel.  Thank you, Holland America, for never changing this shampoo and soap.  Truly… it’s what made my day!

Day 2 – We’re crossing the Pacific on our way to Hawaii, so plenty of slow, relaxing sea days.  Tonight was our first formal night, and much could be said about the lovely clothing and the ever-so-tender filet mignon… but my magic moment for the day was dressing for dinner.  Actually, watching G in front of the mirror putting on his cuff links and button covers.  I love that we have these ships where our hurried lives take a break, and we waltz into a world of tuxedos and velvet.

Day 3 – Who can resist a 75% off deck sale?  That would be me, along with the darling crowd I love to call “my peeps”.  It’s no secret that the average age sailing with Holland America is a few years beyond my own.  So there we were, rifling through the pretty little Alaskan sweatshirts, then draping our finds over our arms, waiting in line while Hawaiian luau music played softly over the speakers.  Today’s magic moment had me grinning at the thought of having a matching sweatshirt with a group of great-grandmothers from Vancouver!

Day 4 – Live entertainment after dinner is always a highlight of our cruising day.  Tonight’s  performance was truly grand.  After a delicious dinner with the events coordinator – a young man we met a few years ago and always love crossing paths with on cruises – the three of us attended “Classique”.  The show was even more special and fascinating because of all the behind the scenes things we had learned over dinner conversation.  For some of the young singers and dancers, this was their first performance ever on a ship.  And they gave us a dazzling evening.  Those costumes and that finale of Bohemian Rhapsody… a magic moment indeed!

Day 5 – The day was perfect, the evening was perfect.  I kept wondering how I would select one special moment.  On this formal evening we chose to eat in the Pinnacle for “An Evening at Le Cirque”.  I had anticipated that butternut squash soup, and thought my first taste might be THE magic.  And oh, it was grand.  The night was perfect… the meal, the entertainment, the dancing, the stroll on the Promenade… but the shining moment came when least expected.  Waiting on our bed, beside the sweet towel swan, was a little gold silk crate with two miniature drawers behind a tiny door, each one holding a white chocolate truffle.  There was a note from the restaurant wishing us the perfect ending to our evening.  Thank you for spoiling us!

Day 6 – On this final sea day before reaching Hawaii, I attended an afternoon concert by Henry Kaleialoha.  There was none of the polish and pizzazz of the marvelous evening entertainment.  This was a gentle performance by an aging musician who has been a star in the world of Hawaiian music.  He was in the orchestra of “Blue Hawaii”, and was the linguistic coach for Elvis in that movie.  Today he needed help onto the stage, and into his seat, but he never missed a note with the music.  As he played the ukulele for an audience mostly from his generation, I was quite overcome with bittersweet emotions.  I felt so privileged to be part of the crowd.  Another special moment for my collection.

Day 7 – The day began with a magical scene.   I was awake in dark, sure it was morning, waiting for my alarm to go off and prove me right.  I was eager for today to arrive… not because we would finally be reaching land, but because we would be touring Pearl Harbor for the first time.  I knew this would be an emotionally charged day.  The view from my balcony as our ship approached Oahu was breathtaking.  Dark mountains against a dark sky, outlined by the twinkling lights of the waking island.  The mood and beauty of my day – captured perfectly before the sun came up.  Today was a day of tears as we toured World War II Memorials, but also a day of amazing moments.  Our small group had signed on for a day of touring not only Pearl Harbor, but other military bases on the island.  After lunch at Schofield Army Barracks, to everyone’s surprise – and totally by chance – we were greeted at Fort Shaftner by Four Star General Vincent Brooks.  Photos and handshakes all around as he thanked the veterans in our party.  A great day from beginning to end.

Day 8 – The most beautiful island views for me have always been those with water in the foreground.  So my favorite moment of the day came as the sun was setting behind the massive Mauna Kea on Hilo, while I watched it from my dining seat at a wall of solid glass.  The bright strip of hot sunshine reflecting on the blue water gave way to a shimmering sea of silver and the sky turned a soft turquoise with rose highlights.  The top of the mountain eventually became a black silhouette with the peak soaring high above a layer of clouds as our ship slowly pulled out of the bay into the dark night.

Day 9 – I love long cruises and I love small ships.  This one holds 1400 guests… small by many standards, but quite large to me.  Getting into a routine, learning the names of several in the crew, I always feel at home.  This morning as I approached the breakfast counter the chef grinned at me and said, “Three eggs over medium?”  What fun to have a personal chef!  Another delicious start to a beautiful day.  Speaking of delicious, my favorite thing about Maui today was my raspberry shave ice!

Day 10 – Our first time to Kauai.  What a beautiful island. And what a marvelous treat to watch the approach into Nawiliwili Harbor this morning from the front of the ship, then to stand on the back deck as we left this evening.  That was my magic moment… slowly slipping back out into the open waters of the Pacific under the heavy clouds of sunset.  Our four days in the Hawaiian islands have been perfect.  But how I love the sea days!  So this evening we had a lovely farewell combined with the joy of knowing the cruise is far from over.

Day 11 – After your first cruise with Holland America you become a “mariner”.  As the beautiful cruising days go by, you’re rewarded with sweet little perks… champagne with the captain and the all important laundry discount.  The mariners’ brunch is always a special time for me because I can’t wait to see the new Delftware coaster given as a gift on every cruise.  My collection is growing, and I keep dreaming of the project I’ll put together someday.  A table, or perhaps a kitchen backsplash.  Not sure yet.  In the meantime, I’ll keep working on that collection.

Day 12 – There was nothing to do today.  Nothing.  I sat on a reclining deck chair and looked at the Pacific Ocean… and looked at the Pacific Ocean… and looked at the Pacific Ocean.  It was pure bliss.

Day 13 – Just before our afternoon classical violin and piano concert, we had an appointment with a photographer to look at the photos from our shoot a couple of nights ago.  They’re all in black and white, quite romantic… and to play upon our emotions, this lovely young woman from Hungary had soft music playing as she began the slide show.  The magic moment of the day arrived right on cue.  Gary and I both loved the photos, and for the very same reason.  And this was the explanation for my tears to the sweet photographer…  One day you wake up and realize you’re middle aged.  So… there we were… all dressed up… as much in love as we’ve ever been… with wrinkles around our eyes… smiling at each other in the string of photographs.  We bought a few.  They captured the mood of this cruise for us.  It’s been a strenuous year, and these two weeks on the Zaandam are washing our cares away.

Day 14 – After dinner dancing to “The Neptunes”… it’s always a favorite time on every Holland America cruise.  This band has been exceptional.  The piano player/singer reminds me of Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole at the same time.  The knee surgery this year has put a damper on my dear dancing partner’s fox trot, but he still twirls me on the wooden floor every night.  Our touching moment tonight came while we danced to “Sentimental Reasons”.  One couple entered the dance floor ever so slowly… as the man could only take the tiniest of steps.  There they swayed back and forth in the same spot to the beautiful music.  I hope we’ll still be dancing even when we can barely walk!

Day 15 – Last day at sea.  More beautiful music, more delicious food, sun and shadows playing on the ocean under moody skies.  One final night to dress to the nines.  But this is what I choose for the best moment of the day… knowing that it was also one final afternoon to completely relax… and choosing to take just one more nap.  Ahhhh… I am well rested.  How grateful I am for that.

Day 16 – Today we toured Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia  The most enchanting gardens I’ve ever seen… with a wonderful story of how they came to be.  If this cruise must come to a close, then this was a lovely ending.

Day 17 – There are no magic moments on disembarkation day.  But arriving home to our purring Peloton after a very long day of traveling is always special.  Now it’s time to start dreaming of the next voyage!


2 Responses to “Magic Moments on the Zaandam”

  1. Kim says:

    Sounds magical !!!

  2. Robin Green says:

    Reading about your magic moments makes it seem like we’re floating on the Pacific with you.

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