To Europe and Beyond 2018 – Reflections on the Home Stretch to Europe

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Wrapping up Koningsdam transatlantic crossing.

These, the ninth and tenth days of our 14-night Holland America transatlantic crossing aboard Koningsdam, felt like crunch time.  Every transatlantic crossing starts out with a reality that for the next six days or more, there’s nowhere else to go, no ports to explore.  Then suddenly, having filled otherwise blank days with more onboard activities than you can remember, it’s nearly over.

Once you reach the continent, the running begins.  Alarm clocks buzz to make sure there’s time for breakfast before rushing off the ship to a tour-bound motor coach.  Leisure mornings spent blissfully gazing out an endless sea are over.

The excitement of reaching Europe is palpable.  Passengers seemed to reach a crescendo of excitement as the eight days at sea drew to a close.  Late night performances at B.B. King’s Blues that were once sparsely populated were suddenly packed until closing.  Even the formerly empty casino suddenly was alive and taking “donations”.

Most important…the six-hour eastbound transatlantic time change was complete.  Our 23-hour days were over.  Bodies adjusted to a lost hour of sleep nearly every day of the crossing.

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For me, these last two days and nights of the crossing were a time to treasure.  I’m no stranger to crossing the Atlantic by ship.  Every time it nears the end, I stop and reflect at what we’ve accomplished.  Distance traveled in comfort and convenience.  Time to be grateful for another successful, safe and introspective time spent at sea.

By now, I had attended every cooking demonstration in Koningsdam’s America’s Test Kitchen and gathered up each recipe card to bring home.  With my dining package, I’d eaten at four of the five restaurants (I was saving Sel de Mer for last).  B.B. King’s Blues was no stranger to me. But now I was at the 10:30pm show instead of the 7:30pm performance.  The sing-a-long always-packed Piano Bar had become my late-night standing room only hang-out.  I never did jump into the aft or mid-ship swimming pool nor visit the spa.

My checklist of Koningsdam transatlantic crossing onboard to-dos was dwindling down to the last few items.

As the sun set on our last night out in the ocean, I tried to imagine how sailors of old must have felt on their return to the Old World.  Navigating by stars, hoping to safely return home, would have been a million times more heartfelt and humbling than our tech-driven navigation, swimming pools and cornucopia of food choices.

Nevertheless, this transatlantic enthusiast was silently grateful for our uneventful crossing.  Tomorrow would be the end of an adventure at sea and the beginning of another, longer adventure comprised of hotels, trains and river ships.  Taxis and Ubers.  Until it was time for another transatlantic crossing back to my Old World.

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