Mexico, 14 days and no flights. This sounds like a great cruise. It will be our second time on Holland America. So after the initial shock of it not being Celebrity I had to stop with the expectations and from there things felt better.
Embarkation: we got there early and once they opened the ship were quickly on board and exploring.
Main Dining Room: they messed up our dinner reservations, again. Despite the confirmation for dinner time and linking reservations we were seated late and not with our travel companions. However Iggy was awesome and by the third night we had a table at 5:45 every night for 11. The food was usually good with a varied selection. They brought the menu the night before for one in our party who has food issues and after a bit of a hiccup things went well for her. The cafe was okay, I liked the fresh sandwiches and appreciated the daily salad and fruit.
Lido dining: I think if I had one complaint it would be that food was often not hot...I liked the build your own sandwich, the sushi and the Indonesian day.
Activities: The population on this ship is elderly and the activities reflect this. Generally they are quieter and off to bed early. Just don't be in a rush as the walkers and wheelchairs, and canes are plentiful. They pack the early shows and the ship becomes very quiet by mid evening.
There has been only a few line dancing classes and we would have appreciated some ballroom. There is a couple of trivia every day with the name that tune during our dinner every night.
We have enjoyed the digital treasure hunt that has lasted the whole cruise. We have gone for creativity in staging our photos and had a ball setting the 'scenes' up. The shuffle board deck needs refinishing, it was impossible to use it. Our guys like karaoke and they all sang and three of them made the cut for the superstar performance.
Entertainment: we have made the piano bar our last stop every night and have enjoyed the sing a longs, requests, dances and chat with Piano Man Lee and the others that hung out here. Lee has a wide range of material although he does admit Broadway is his weak link.
The shows have been great. Production numbers. This is a new team and their inexperience shows. They attack the numbers with enthusiasm and energy, what most of them are lacking at this point is a connection to what they are doing. One male dancer in particular was awesome and we learned this is his sixth contract so he is comfortable with his material. I am sure the others will begin to relax and enjoy themselves.
Tony Pace, a Las Vegas headliner is talented and knows how to work a crowd, even an elderly sun baked crowd. His blend of song, impersonation, and comedy made for a show you wouldn't want to miss.
Ronn Lucas, The ventriloquist again had such charm and talent we were tired from laughing by the end. I volunteered my husband to be a dummy and he added to the humour.
Alfreda Gerald did a tribute to the Divas. Her vocal skills and personality were a huge hit and we were honoured to chat with her the next night before she headed home. Rose Ranger played guitar and sang in the piano bar. She has a nice voice and so was easy listening before supper. Adagio Strings also gave another easy listening venue.
The Neptunes, a trio were cool and played the Ocean bar where the ballroom dancing took place.
Hal cats were great!
I did not see the Stander Dance Duo perform in the theatre, but heard negative comments about their performance. I will say when I saw them dance in the piano bar they were relaxed and did great especially the woman.
Activity staff lead entertainment such as Call my Bluff, Majority Rules, the Marriage game were entertaining and fun.
Jeff Peterson was next up as a magician who is funny. He bills himself as 'Comedy Magic'. He was good, but the audience was pretty slow. We tried to get them worked up, but they were a hard sell.
Dale Gonyea was up next with piano and comedy with photos. He had lots of funny stuff to say pertaining to this cruise such as the fact the walking deck was always blocked off in one way or another, about the carpeting and the missed port. He had an interesting voice and had us all laughing. This particular night I could not keep my eyes open so missed bits and pieces of his performance.
DJ Steve was awesome, he kept music levels balanced and at a volume you could hear the music and still chat with friends.
The ship: Okay...we got a letter saying "We would like to advise you that during our stay in Puerto Vallarta, we will be enhancing the atrium and stair towers by adding brand new carpeting. We expect the work to proceed quickly and anticipate that any inconvenience to our guests will be minimal. Nonetheless, as a gesture of goodwill, we want to offer each of you a complimentary excursion on that day, October 16, 2012, to help you enjoy your time ashore in Puerto Vallarta." They were however carpeting during the whole cruise making it challenging to navigate the ship safely. The fumes at times were trying as well, both the new glue and the heat they were using to get up the old stuff.
The ship does need some work, but in general is okay. Well maybe I should add that we had a hydrolic problem that kept us late in Cabo San Lucas that caused us to miss our excursion in Puerto Vallarta and then more problems there which had us in Puerto Vallarta for an extra 10 hours. Then the stop again in Cabo to get the tender and then late to San Diego. We cleared customs late in the evening and went on shore to connect with friends. We were able to get together with one of our friends but missed the other. Our visit to Alcatraz in San Fran is off since we will not stop at that port. We did get our money back from The Alcatraz booking company. To make up a bit for all the issues the ship offered free drinks for two and a half hours.
Room: Our room 1820 was quiet and we were very happy with our room steward Denen. Even the traffic to the medical center was not really an issue. Lots of wonderful towel creations and anything we needed.
Seattle: dropped from the itinerary very early in the booking process.
San Pedro was our first port and it was a testing ground for our group. Our group was too big to go together. I enjoy the people I was with, but with limited time we could have done more in small groups. As it was we wandered up the coast line reading the descriptions for the sites that I had downloaded. We did a little geocaching too.
Puerto Vallarta. I can't comment on the one we missed, but the Pirate Ship Ahoy was a blast. Of course it was packed because it was one of the free ones offered. A number of people Who went this one were not really fit enough especially since the waves were big due to a storm on the Pacific. They were lifting people in and out of the tenders who were... well... anyone who was slow or limited mobility because the waves were crashing. It was very hot and very humid, but we loved it.
Cabo San Lucas. We booked our own Kayak trip in Cabo. We were picked up by Cabo Outfitters and we were the only ones on the trip. We had an awesome time in the building waves kayaking and snorkeling. Kasey and his wife were excellent. We did have concerns about getting off the ship in time since there were delays, but we went down early to wait and got on the first tender.
San Diego: We wandered around Balboa Park. Just wish we had had more time there!
San Fransisco: Cancelled.