B. J. and I along with our long-time dear friends and close neighbors on St. Simons Island, Cardy and Dottie Edmundson, were booked for an Eastern Caribbean Cruise aboard the awesome Holland America luxury liner Zaandam. We had spent a fun evening with the Edmundsons in Cocoa Florida, had a restful and refreshing night’s sleep, and we were ready to board the Zaandam where they had breakfast ready for us.
The MS Zaandam is a magnificent ship. Offering spacious public areas and plush accommodations, many staterooms have private verandahs. The musically themed MS Zaandam offers a unique shipboard atmosphere. Inspired by the world’s great music, artifacts and memorabilia from a variety of musical genres decorate the ship. You’ll find musical instruments such as Bill Clinton’s saxophone and signed guitars from Queen, Iggy Pop, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones used as art objects throughout the ship. At the heart of the MS Zaandam, is a soaring three-story atrium: a Baroque-style Dutch pipe organ, inspired by the traditional barrel organs still found on the streets of The Netherlands. You can enjoy an onboard IPod self-guided tour of the complete Zaandam art collection.
We made a quick visit to our staterooms to secure our luggage and see that things were in proper order and then we hurried along the corridors and up the elevator to the Lido Restaurant and breakfast. The tantalizing aroma from the freshly prepared food on the grand buffet overwhelmed us. We were famished and ready to pig out. Dottie was all smiles as we loaded our plates and selected a table beside a window with a good view. We wanted to be finished with breakfast in time to be topside in a good location to watch the Zaandam sail into the Atlantic on her way to the Caribbean.
Moving along the channel on our way to open ocean, we had a tremendous view of Cocoa Beach, the port, and other ships. On our left across the marsh was the John F. Kennedy Space Center where many a space craft had lifted off on its way into space. Soon we were at sea and on our way to the British Virgin Islands. Our first port of call would be British Tortola.
For our onshore excursion, B. J. and I and Cardy and Dottie had purchased the extensive land tour of Tortola, a shopping spree, and, of course, some local island cuisine.
The romantic British Virgin Islands, with their steady breezes and pristine anchorages, have long been a mariner’s mecca. To add to the romance and enchantment of the area, the islands were ideal for buccaneers who hid in secluded coves while fleeing enemy ships, and today they attract island-hopping yachtsmen from around the world. Large glistening charter fleets are snugly moored at marinas on the main islands of Tortola and Virgin Gorda. There are no high-rise hotels in this chain of 30-plus islands, just plenty of mountains, plush foliage, white beaches and blue bays dotted with sailboats.
Cardy and Dottie reclined with us for a while before heading for their stateroom. B. J. and I stayed up later lounging on the Promenade Deck under a cloudless, star-studded sky. Smooth sailing, gentle winds and easy listening music mesmerized us. In time, we groped our way sleepily along the deck to a door and then made our way to our room and sacked out.
During the early morning, while we were snoozing, the Zaandam cruised into the dreamy, picturesque harbor at Road Town, Tortola. When we went to breakfast, we saw, for the first time, the island of Tortola. The big Zaandam was moving slowly toward its berth so we could disembark for a fun time on this lovely island. But first we had to have breakfast.
Breakfast in the Lido Restaurant is an international experience. Food from around the world is prepared by a small army of chefs to the pleasure of the different nationalities that are on board. It is fundelicious.
Tortola is named for the turtle dove and is the largest island in the British Virgin Island chain. Tortola is acclaimed world-wide for its white sand beaches. People come from around the world to sprawl on the strand, bask in the sun and swim, snorkel and dive in the blue waters of the Caribbean.
We were on Tortola with Cardy and Dottie Edmundson and other folks from around the globe. We were having a fun time.