Harmonic Homecoming: A Lost-and-Found Luggage Story

Musician Jeff Taylor

Almost every frequent traveler has a story about lost luggage. Not all of them have happy endings, though. Although new technology has streamlined the baggage-handling process—today’s airlines are 70 percent less likely to lose bags than they were 10 years ago—occasional hiccups still do occur. Fun fact: For every 1,000 passengers, fewer than six report mishandled luggage.

At Inspiration Cruises & Tours, we’ve walked passengers through those rare occasions of misplaced bags, but few stories compare to the one from Nashville musician Jeff Taylor, a lost luggage story two-and-a-half years in the making!

Jeff Taylor is a veteran Nashville session player known for his skills on the piano, accordion, mandolin, penny whistle and numerous other instruments. He has played alongside Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Buddy Greene and many other artists and Inspiration clients. In 2014, Taylor was scheduled to join Inspiration as a guest musician on a Norwegian Fjords cruise. But upon departing for Rotterdam, he encountered a flight delay. This pushed the entire itinerary behind and resulted in a missed flight across the Atlantic. Thankfully, he and Inspiration managed to find another flight that would get Taylor to the ship on time.

Although Taylor arrived in Rotterdam and boarded the ship, one of his suitcases had not been so fortunate.

“It had all my clothes for the week,” he says. The lost bag also had a Collings mandolin, a highly acclaimed, custom-built instrument Taylor played for nearly a decade. Additionally, it contained three handmade penny whistles, including one made by a legendary maker in New York City. “He’s quite old and has a very long waiting list,” says the musician.

Taylor’s returned mandolin from Holland America

Taylor boarded the ship and began the cruise without his instruments, but all was not lost. In his carry-on, Taylor had brought his accordion and one penny whistle. He performed on those and the ship’s piano. Unfortunately, the lost bag never arrived. Taylor returned to Nashville without it.

Over the next six months, he worked with Inspiration to file reimbursement paperwork for the airlines and cruise ship. He received financial compensation for his lost items and was even able to order a new Collings mandolin.

In November of 2016, more than two years after the cruise, Taylor received an email from someone named Herman. Unfamiliar with the sender, he was about to delete the email when he noticed Herman’s title: Head of Housekeeping on Holland America’s ms Rotterdam. That was the ship Taylor had sailed on two years earlier in Norway.

“Herman said they were wondering why I was ‘storing my bag on their ship for so long,’” Taylor laughingly recalls. Taylor replied back immediately, suspecting he’d located his lost bag even if his valuable instruments were long gone. Herman promised to send the luggage to Taylor next time his ship made port in America.

“A few days before Christmas, a van came up my driveway and delivered a tired-looking, old gray piece of luggage,” says Taylor.

Surprisingly, it contained everything in perfect condition: the mandolin, penny whistles and clothing. How many ports and nautical miles did those instruments sail aboard the ms Rotterdam? Although we will never know, Taylor remains thankful that his items were returned after so much time and grateful to the incredible Holland America staff who kept them safe. We’re grateful too. The obvious care and first-class service shown by our travel partners at Holland America Line is precisely why we sail with them so often.

Our passengers always return from our group cruises with incredible memories to share, but most of them take place over a week. Although Jeff Taylor’s experience took more than two years to see its joy-filled conclusion, it’s a lost-and-found story we’ll never forget.

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