I am terrible with goodbyes. Actually I tend to avoid them. I dislike the idea that I probably will not see someone again, especially if I have particularly enjoyed their company. It's quite ironic because the more I like someone, the more likely I am to duck out on a goodbye. I mention this because I was called on it recently. We sent a note to Peter, the Executive Chef on the Amsterdam to let him & everyone else know how much we enjoyed getting to know them and appreciated their help. He replied that they were happy to hear from us because they had been disappointed that we did not make the rounds to say goodbye before leaving the ship. I could make all sorts of justifications for why that happened but the truth is simple, I hate saying goodbye because it makes me feel sad. But I'm realizing that my evasive tactics are probably not a positive thing for anyone involved so I'll do my best to learn from this and make my farewells in the future. People deserve to know that they are sincerely appreciated, no matter how brief the relationship may have been.
In the meantime, it's been a week and I've had some time to absorb my experiences on the cruise. I can honestly say that I think the people we worked with on the Amsterdam were some of the nicest people I've ever met. It takes a certain kind of personality to work on a cruise ship. Obviously you need to like the ocean but more than that, you need to like working with people. Imagine months at sea with very little time off where you are surrounded by people who need something all of the time. The faces may change every week or two but the responsibilities do not. We arrived on the ship during a difficult period, code red is a LOT of extra work for the staff, and everyone was incredibly gracious under the pressure. The team on the Amsterdam were a cheerful group and there was much singing and laughter to be heard whether the passengers were present or not. The second maitre'd Roderick stands out in my mind, not because we knew him very well, but because he was always smiling. Every time we saw him on the floor during the first week someone was telling him off for something he probably had no control over (he was in charge of the seating for the main dining room), but even when we met him behind the scenes he was genial and warm.
Peter, Renee (our liaison & Chef of the Pinnacle Grill) and all of the cooks we encountered were unfailingly helpful and informative. They were able to source difficult ingredients before we arrived and made us feel truly welcome in their kitchens. Renee and Alex are the about the same age and it was great fun to learn about ship life from his point of view. Our dining steward Muhaiman, affectionately known as Mr. Haimie was amazing. He and Alex had the same sense of humor and after the first couple of nights we settled into a comfortable routine of pointed repartee and the resulting giggles. We had the late seating so he would let us know what looked the best each evening before we ordered and he made sure there were always mashed potatoes on hand to get my husband through the meal. Roberto and Darwin took great care of the beverage service and help us find the hidden gems on the wine list. The Ocean Bar was our favorite place for cocktails with live music and very personable bar staff who knew to keep Alex well supplied with hors d'oeuvres before dinner. The Strings that played after dinner were our favorite musicians although we enjoyed all of the performers throughout the trip. Jenn helped us with all of the demonstrations, Linda and Victoria got us settled in the beginning, Mikey the cruise director made sure we made it onto the daily schedule, the tech guy at the Wang Theater filmed the demos and burned copies for us, Tony our ever smiling cabin steward kept our room in order, the front desk staff helped us with keys and accounting and whatever else we could think of, the list of people goes on and on and I'm sure I won't remember everyone as I sit here typing in the middle of the night. We just wanted to say thank you to everyone for a memorable and successful trip across the ocean.
Last but not least I wanted to mention our other daily companions, the passengers. We were lucky to meet some wonderful people on the cruise. I got plenty of tips on how to keep my husband in line from women with decades of experience. People were commenting on the fact that there was an unusually high percentage of older people on this trip. Apparently the longer cruises attract more retirees because they have the time and there were a fair number of canes and wheelchairs in the hallways. I kind of enjoyed it. These people were there for the experience. They may not have wanted to hike up to the volcanoes or surf at Waikiki but they were there to have a good time. I loved watching the couples dancing at the Ocean Bar before dinner. They were of all ages and skill levels and they were having such a good time together. That was the best thing I took away from the cruise, a reminder to savor each experience. Definitely enjoy every moment as much as you can because who knows what tomorrow will bring.