Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going. –Paul Theroux.
If that’s the case everyone on the MS Amsterdam’s 2020 world cruise is a confirmed traveler. The first half of the cruise went pretty much as planned. When we left Sitka on January 1st none of us had heard about the Corona Virus. The virus wasn’t identified as a new bug until several days after Amsterdam sailed on January 4. During the first month it was something that was happening somewhere else. It didn’t affect our trip until February 1 when we learned that our call at Palmer Station, Antarctica, where scientists were supposed to come onboard to lecture on their projects was canceled because they did not want to expose the small station with limited medical resources to a potential viral threat.
Our awareness of the virus was sharpened on February 5 by virus outbreak and quarantine of the Diamond Princess in Japan. The virus was still far away but people on the ship started a betting pool on what day the captain would announce that we would skip Singapore.
By the time we left the coast of South America February 11 it was the elephant in the room, the often thought about but not much talked about concern of the ship. By Tahiti on February 22 the ship was taking extra precautions to protect us including medical screening people who came on board as lecturers or entertainers. On February 28 we had a near miss in Tonga. Three cruise ships before us were turned away but we were allowed after a parliamentary debate and the ship’s assurances that HAL had taken extra precautions. During our Tonga sail out the Captain told us that the itinerary would be altered canceling Southeast Asian and other ports adding ports in Sri Lanka, the Seychelles and India. Someone won the Singapore pool.
Sydney was our midway stop. 64 days down, 64 (we thought) to go. Sydney seemed normal when we were there. people went about their business, beaches, restaurants and shops were crowded. However, there were news reports about fist fights breaking out in stores over toilet paper.
But while we were in Sydney another cruise ship, the Ruby Princess discharged passengers who had the corona virus
After Sydney things started unraveling. Ports were canceled, ports were added, dates were changed and big asterisks “subject to change” were stuck on all the remaining ports. But the next two ports, Townsville and Cairns went off as planned. On March 14 (March 13 in headquarters) our cruise was canceled. We learned about it, not from anyone on the ship, but by reading it on the news on line. After that — chaos, would we call at Darwin, Broome, Exmoor or Geraldton? (no). Would we be allowed to leave the ship in Fremantle? It was a close thing but yes.
Those last 10 days the end we didn’t know where we were going. You can read the story in the blog posts below. When did I first take note of the virus in the blog? What were people saying about it and when? How did it affect life on the ship? What happened during that chaotic final week? How did we get home? And finally, why did Holland America choose a lecturer on Chaos Theory to join us in Auckland? Read on.
January 4, 2020, Too Excited to Sleep.
January 5, 2020. Which Amsterdam?
January 5, 2020, The Shadows are Wrong
January 8, 2020 Riding out the Storm (Dominica)
January 9, 2020 Diamonds International. It must be the Caribbean (St Lucia)
January 10, 2020, Sunsets, Sea Days and iPhones.
January 11, 2020, Hotel in Hell, Devil’s Island
January 13, 2020, Delta Town, Belem, Brazil
January 13, 2020, Life on the Amazon.
January 16, 2020 Amsterdam in Brazil, Canals and Tolerance.
January 19, 2020, Premier League Samba, Rio
January 19, 2020, Planned Graffiti, Rio
January 20, 2020, Intermission, Rio
January 21, 2020, A Conga Line, Iguassu Falls, Brazil
January 21, 2020, Is that a Serbian Flag?, Iguassu Falls, Argentina
January 22, 2020, All Sensed Engaged, Iguassu Falls, Argentina
January 23, 2020, Black and Blue Tango, Iguassu Falls and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
January 24, 2020, My Second Favorite Bookstore in the World, Buenos Aires, Argentina
January 25, 2020, Future Imperfect, Montevideo, Uruguay
January 24, 2020, Graveyard of Ships, Montevideo, Uruguay
January 28, 2020, Searching for the Vicar of Bray, Off the Falkland Islands.
January 30, 2020, Antarctica’s Urban Core, King George Island, Antarctica.
January 31, 2020, Niemeyer Channel, Antarctica
February 1, 2020, Driving Through Slush, Blocked by Ice, Antarctica
February 2, 2020, A Wonderful Deception, Antarctica
February 4, 2020, You Can’t Let Mother Nature Run Wild (Walter J. Hickel) Antarctica
February 4, 2020 Antarctica on the Grayscale, Antarctica.
February 5, 2020, ’round the Horn, Cape Horn, Chile
February 5, 2020, Juneau on Steroids, Ushuaia, Argentina
February 5, 2020, Glacier Alley, Beagle Channel Chile
February 6, 2020, Sunset, Sunrise, Abandon Ship. Straits of Magellan, Chile
February 6, 2020, Southern Sunsets, Straits of Magellan, Chile
February 6, 2020, The Joy of the Moment, Punta Arenas, Chile
February 9, 2020 From Innocence to Conception, Chilean Fjords
February 9, 2020 With Salmon we are Fed Up, Chilean Fjords
February 10, 2020, Muerto Montt, Puerto Montt, Chile
February 10, 2020, Parque Nacional Vincente Perez , Chile
February 12, 2020, Too Many Pisco Sours, Santiago, Chile
February 13, 2020, That BIG Elephant Over There* At Sea
February 19, 2020, Rapa Nui, Easter Island, Chile
February 22, 2020, A Boatload of Christians, Pitcairn Island
February 25, 2020, Heaven or Hell, Papeete, Tahiti
February 26. 2020, What, No Lent, At Se
February 26, That’s Rarotonga, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
February 28, 2020, Velvet Waves on Ash Thursday, At Sea
February 29, 2020, The Friendly Islands, Tonga
March 1, 2020, We Hear from the Elephant, At Sea
March 3 2020, Stylin’ in New Zealand, Waiheke Island, New Zealand
March 4, 2020, Wine Island, Waiheke Island, New Zealand
March 5, 2020, Where in the World are Suzi and Rich, Auckland, New Zealand
March 5, 2020, A-Maze in Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
March 6, 2020, A Town Character, Waitangi and Paihia, New Zealand
March 6, 2020, A Cultural Misunderstanding, Bay of Islands, New Zealand
March 9, 2020, Waterlight (Songlines) Sydney, Australia
March 9, 2020, A Wilderness Amusement Park, Blue Mountains, Australia
March 10, 2020, Halfway Home, Who Knows? Sydney, Australia
March 10, 2020, Sunday on the Ferry, Sydney, Australia
March 10, 2020, The Australian Trash Bin Bird and other Delights, Sydney, Australia.
March 13, 2020, Things Here Can Kill You, Townsville, Australia
March 13, 2020, Ersatz Reef, Cairns, Australia
March 14, 2020, The Ides of March Come Early, Coral Sea off Australia
March 16, 2020, Chaos Theory, Indian Ocean off Western Australia
March 18, 2020, Practicing Gratitude, Indian Ocean off Western Australia
March 2i, 2020, Waiting, Fremantle, Western Australia
March 22, 2020, A Chaotic Ending, Fremantle, Western Australia.
March 22, 2020, A Final Port Call, Perth, Western Australia
March 22, 2020, In Defense of the Ausies, Perth, Western Australia
March 26, 2020, Take Off Your Mask for the Border Guard, Sitka, Alaska
March 28, 2020, Penultimate Thoughts, Sitka, Alaska
March 31, 2020, Around the World in 89 Days. A Coda, Sitka, Alaska
And while this final post is not part of the cruise it is part of the process, so I add it after the coda, very unorthodox, but this whole cruise was unorthodox.
April 4, 2020, The Quarantine Post, Sitka, Alaska
And one more, reflections a year later after our baggage made an incredible journey, the ship was sold and we held a reunion on Zoom.
2 thoughts on “2020 MS Amsterdam Grand World Voyage.”
Very much enjoying your blog. We were on the 2018 World Cruise also. I do remember how it felt like we were the outsiders being first time world cruisers.