When I booked this leg, I didn't realize that this was a special trip for Holland America's flagship M.S. Rotterdam. It was a one-time, commemorative anniversary trip, featuring a onboard news crew, a performance by the Dutch Frank Sinatra, and what looked like most of the city of Rotterdam turning out to wish us goede reis. There was an electric charge in the air when we left the dock.
One day out from the sole port of call, Southampton, we encountered a nice gail that registered 8 on the Beaufort scale. We changed course and beat it for the calmer coastal waters of Ireland. This was a cool, wet crossing compared to the Queen Mary 2 a month earlier; but still infinitely better than flying.