A Wedding And Setting Sail In One Day - Let The Pampering Begin!

Fort Lauderdale Travel Blog

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This beautiful and delicious cake was made aboard the ms Westerdam for the pre-cruise wedding of my friends, Dave and Gayle, before the 24 February 2008 sailing.

View wedding photos and other photos from today.

A beautiful bride and a handsome groom - two sweet friends married aboard the ms Westerdam before we set sail. What a privilege it was to be present at Dave and Gayle's wedding! And what a delightful day this will be to set sail toward the southern Caribbean. With blue skies overhead for most of the daylight hours, the cold and gray of Chicago is merely a memory.

We awoke this morning shortly before seven so we’d have plenty of time to get ready and for breakfast before meeting the bridal party in the hotel lobby at ten. The breakfast buffet the Renaissance Fort Lauderdale Hotel offers is very well worth the price. I took advantage of the made-to-order omelet station and could not have been more pleased. It was just the right size, not too much, nor too little. We were also each given a complimentary fruit smoothie which was quite delicious.

After a short wait for the bride, Gayle, we took a limo taxi to Port Everglades where the ship’s wedding coordinator, Barbara, met us. Because of the wedding we were able to board the ship early at 10:30 before most of the other passengers. Inside the terminal we caught up with Kathy Troccoli and some of the JRI folks. It was so wonderful to see familiar faces!! What a blessing and privilege it is that God worked out the details that we could be here on this cruise.

After a very expedient express check-in thanks to completing the on-line forms several weeks before our departure date, we made our way aboard the ship as a group. We were told by the Holland America staff that our staterooms would not be ready until one. But as Barbara had informed us, most of our staterooms were ready in advance of our arrival on the ship.

Once onboard and having made a stop in our stateroom, we made a quick trip to the Lido Restaurant for what would be the start of a week of feeding and snacking. For the record, I'm still defining the subtle difference between these two nautical terms. I will post my findings when I achieve adequate results! :)

While there, Pam, Twinette and Lilly stopped by to say hello before heading for their lunch. It is so good to see familiar faces that I love. :)

A few minutes before 1PM we made our way to the Crow’s Nest where the wedding was held. Gayle was absolutely beautiful and Dave very handsome. They were just as you would expect a bride and groom to be. As you can see in the wedding pictures, nerves turn to joy as the ceremony moved forward.

The ceremony was short, but nonetheless very meaningful. Joyce read a beautiful passage called, “Hands of the Bride and the Groom.”  It is about how the hands you are holding are the hands that will see you through good times and bad and will love and comfort you.

This was followed by Ronye's reading of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. Love never fails..." (The Holy Bible, New International Version)

After the ceremony, we enjoyed a reception that included champagne (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and a very delicious cake made onboard in the ms Westerdam's kitchen. It was quite rich and sweet and moist. It was just the beginning of the wonderful delights our taste buds will enjoy this week!

Unbeknownst to us, the groom had made prior arrangements for KT to drop in on the reception for a song and prayer with the bride and groom. That was a really nice special touch as Kathy sang, "Happy Wedding Day" to the tune of "Happy Birthday" to the couple.

After the reception, we made our way back to our stateroom and found that our luggage had already been delivered. After unpacking (we like to do this as early as we can on departure day so we have the rest of the time to "play"), it was time to start rediscovering the ship! This is my second sailing on the ms Westerdam. Although much of the ship is still the same, the ship was in dry dock for a period of time for upgrades and renovations. The Internet café and coffee bar (Explorations Cafe) has been moved to the tenth floor area in The Crow’s Nest. Also, the shopping mall has been expanded and renovated for a less crowded and more enjoyable experience.

Once again it was time for a trip to the Lido Restaurant for lunch. Did I mention earlier that there is a difference between feeding and snacking? :)

Next was the lifeboat drill which was handled with expertise by the observant crew at our muster station. Instead of calling out each stateroom number, the drill captain and crew made note of those attending by the stateroom number printed on the lifejackets as we arrived. This greatly expedited the process of "roll call" since there were only a few staterooms he had not accounted for by the time we arrived at our station.

The sail-away party was held in the adult aft pool area and promised to be a lot of fun with music by Helen and the HALcats and the introduction of the cruise director and event staff. Unfortunately, the weather was not terribly cooperative on this day. Clouds gathered and a very cool-ish breeze settled over the ship as we got underway a few minutes early. I was surprised to be leaving port early, but I assume this was due to a record number of ships being docked at Port Everglades and a majority of them likely were due to set sail at approximately the same time.

After a few hors-duerves we made our way inside to catch up with Gail, Carol and Mike of JRI and to get settled in our seats for the first of many KT and Friends concerts. It was great to see the JRI folks again and to catch up a bit. Besides the tote bag, pen and schedule, they also had a water bottle for each of us to commemorate this being the 10th anniversary cruise for Kathy Troccoli. In addition, they had a little "surprise" in store for Kathy. Each time throughout the week when Kathy said, "tenth anniversary cruise" we were to blow on the noise makers JRI supplied for us. Hee! Hee! :)

The opening concert was, as expected, superb though we were saddened to learn that one of the artists, Sandi Patty, would be unable to join us until at least Wednesday, if at all. Kathy sang one of my absolute favorites of hers, "That's How Much I Love You" which for some reason always brings tears to my eyes. Randy Phillips and Dan Dean of Phillips, Craig and Dean added Anita Renfroe to their line-up in place of Shaw Craig who was scheduled for a delayed arrival. We were also treated to the music of Bruce Carroll and Selah. It promises to be a wonderful week of song, praise, and yes, laughs!

Once again this year we held the second seating aka "main seating" for dinner. Aboard the Westerdam, that meant 8:30 for assigned seating and 8 PM for open seating. There was a slight snafu with the seating arrangements between JRI and the dining room staff, but JRI worked quickly with them to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, that meant that catching up to have a good conversation with Pam, Twinette and Lilly would have to wait until another time. :(

The food was divine, of course, again. The clouds that rolled in late afternoon produced a storm but the only evidence of that in the dining room was the lightening we saw through the windows. Of course, part of this is because the Vista Dining Room is located just above the engines. Surprising though, the noise is more a dull moan and is not in any way distracting. In this instance, it probably overrode an thunder that accompanied the lightening.

Of course, the best part of the evening was having the chance to finally spend some quality time talking with friends!

After dinner, we strolled around the ship to check out the dance club Norther Lights, as well as the Piano Bar with Jimmy Maddox. It was nice to see more activity in both this sailing as opposed to last. Unfortunately, we missed the wonderful string quartet, Intermezzo tonight, but we'll make plans to hear them another night. If this is the same group from last year, they were quite exquisite.

Except where otherwise noted, copyright © 2008 by Beth J. Ruths.
All rights reserved.

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This beautiful and delicious cake …
This beautiful and delicious cake…