December 18, 2011 - Boarded the M/S Ryndam: Holland America cruise to Mexico, Belize & Honduras.
Woke up at the "Bay View Resort", somewhere in Tampa. It has neither a bay nor a view and is certainly no resort! Spotted this egret on our doorstep. Slightly cold breezy day in Tampa. Bought some travel toothpaste at the Publix & headed off to the Tampa Airport, to return our rental car at noon. We then took a taxi to our cruise ship M/S Ryndam at Tampa port, Terminal 6.
A very large contingent of excited cruise goers. Mostly retired senior couples, but lots of young kids too. Long immigration lines at the port. We filled out some forms saying we had no GI disorders. Turns out that in the previous trip, half a dozen passengers got very sick due to GI infection. So nobody could board the ship this time until they thoroughly fumigated the ship. Of course, none of this information was disclosed to us! Instead, all the passengers were discreetly routed onto several tour buses which took us back to, guess where, Tampa airport!
We were of course quite amused to be back in Tampa airport twice in a day, this time with several hundred cruise ship passengers who, like us, had no idea what they were doing at the airport instead of on the ship. Everybody asked everybody else and gradually we learnt the Ryndam had a major GI infection case on the previous trip with several sick passengers, hence nobody could board it this time until it was disinfected. So we joshed around on the fourth floor of the Marriott at Tampa Airport. It was very, very hot and there was no place to sit for the hundreds of angry passengers, who were getting more pissed off by the minute. The cruise ship should have left Tampa at 4pm. Instead, here we were at the Airport!
Around 6pm, the cruise ship staff received word that Ryndam was now disinfected. So we were grouped into Tour buses again and driven back to the Ryndam. After the ordeal, we were too exhausted and hungry, so nobody complained. Our tired mugs were captured by the cruise photographers, then we boarded the Ryndam and set sail.
At 8pm, we showed up at the Rotterdam, a giant, posh dining room, on the 8th floor of the Ryndam, for our first and only "reserved seating" dinner. Very stuffy atmosphere, with extremely well dressed elegant couples in tuxedos and evening wear, served by equally formal waiters from a menu with hoity-toity french cuisine whose names we couldn't pronounce. Felt very out of place, in our tees and shorts. We were seated opposite a chatty ex-Navy great-grand-dad & his wife, who told us all about his triple bypass surgery, and V decided we couldn't take anymore of this chatter in this stuffy atmosphere. So we never went back to the Rotterdam again, despite having paid a princely sum for a full week's reserved seating! Instead, we joined the commoners every night for a free-for-all seating at the Lido, the 11th floor restaurant with down-to-earth items like simple salads & smoked snappers.
That night, we slept like a baby.