Unfortunately the walk to the cruise terminal was some 15 minutes in the heat (and with our luggage), but we made it. The check-in was pretty smooth and a nice cool-down. After a 30-minutes wait, our group was called, and soon we passed customs and security and boarded Nieuw Amsterdam.
The return to a HAL ship felt like coming home. We had lunch in the main dining room. We had a prawn cocktail, a delicious mushroom soup and chicken and burgers as an entree. After lunch our suitcases were already in our room so we could start unpacking. Of course we wanted to get acquainted with the ship. Last year we sailed on HAL’s Noordam. Nieuw Amsterdam is only slightly larger, actually, slightly higher — one extra deck housing some staterooms, Tamarind Restaurant and the Silk Den Pub. Everything was very familiar. We really felt right at home.
In the afternoon we got off the ship and headed to a neighborhood in Venice we had yet to see — the Venetian Ghetto. In the middle ages this was a private Jewish neighborhood where strict regulations and discriminatory laws were enforced. They were allowed to leave the neighborhood only during the daytime; the gates closed in the evening. Because it is a small neighborhood, the houses here are sometimes five or six stories high. In Campo del Ghetto Vecchio we saw the synagogues.
After our visit to the Ghetto we went back to our own new neighborhood — Nieuw Amsterdam. Our daughters, Kim and Rhodé, went to Club HAL to meet other kids and make friends. Jolanda and myself went up to the Crow’s Nest for drinks and conversation with fellow guests. In the Queens Lounge we listened to Shanty and the HAL Cats. Great music and a great opportunity to dance the jive. Later that evening we checked out the show “Listen to the Music” where we got a sneak preview of all the shows that they would perform. Looks very promising!