This was my first cruise with Holland America and in to the Caribbean. We were three females, my friend and my sister who is an experienced Holland America Mariner and came along to assist us and have third occupant discounted holiday.
My sister ensured we were there at the Spa for the Free Spa Treatment Draw which you must attend to win. We unfortunately were not the lucky winners but got a good deal on the Greenhouse Spa Thermal Suite and Hydro Pool which we used often and my friend and I took a consultation with Dimitri Didaskalou the Acupuncturist, she took one treatment and I took a course of four over the voyage. We were too late to sign up to the Yoga, Pilates, Spin and any other classes but my sister and I did attend the free Morning Stretch and Abs/Body Conditionaing classes from 7am each morning in the Spa Gym every morning and enjoyed those very much. We also attended Tai Chi twice a day with Alison the Lifestylist, and her Chi Gong self massage and other classes taking away a lot of self help techniques for future use.
After the morning classes we would meet up with my friend and go to breakfast in the Lido Restaurant where the selection of foods on offer was amazing and the service was above and beyond expectations, especially on the first two days when for health reasons mariners are served from the Buffet just in case of cross infection. We lunched in the Lido also and the choice was just as vast and service great. You could eat within the restaurant or on deck either side, we mainly ate within the restaurant.
In the evenings we had an open dining plan at the Vista Restaurant and found this to be good idea as we met and dined with various people, gathering interesting information about our fellow mariners and their views of the cruise and life in general. We dined with a lovely couple and their daughter from Canada several times and an author once but everyone seemed to enjoy the experience.We never made it to the late night snack in the Lido Restaurant as generally after our evening meal we'd play Canasta or Rummikub in rooms just off the Library where we met Liz the Librarian and collected our daily quizzes and puzzles. We also bought an occasional speciality coffee from the library and I wish I'd bought the Crewe Entertainment DVD there also.
Often we finished eating when the last show in the Theatre had already started but looked in and enjoyed most especially the one with the tribute Supreme's singers. My friend also loves classical music so we made sure we were on time for David Schofield and my sister made sure we saw the Crewe Show which was wonderful.
I had ordered the DVD's of the Voyage and the Destinations and went to the Photo Gallery where they were to be collected at the end of the cruise, to ask if there was a Crewe Show DVD I could buy (before I'd noticed it at the Cafe)and they informed me that the Crewe Shows would be on the DVD's I'd pre ordered but unfortunately they were not.
The destinations of St Maarten, St Lucia, Barbados, Martinique, Dominica, St Thomas and Half Moon Cay were very enjoyable too but you should know that I found these days actually intruded on my enjoyment of life on the Noordam.
We went shopping on St Maarten and visited a lovely little Rum Bar where we sampled a selection of the local rum's and my friend bought one which was collected upon returning to the ship and returned to her on the last day of the cruise. As well as shopping in St Lucia we went for a paddle in the Caribbean Sea. In Barbados we took a lovely taxi tour of Bridgetown and it's surrounding area with Carson's Taxi Service (http://iriebarbadostours.com) we saw Rihanna's old home, one of the wooden shacks that stand on stones so they can be moved if necessary as the owners do not own the land they are on. We saw the Cricket Ground and Carson and I discussed this and my visits to Lords, the Oval and other cricket grounds. We also saw some very expensive houses with lovely gardens, some new council housing which the renters will own in 20-25 years of paying rent and some lovely beaches.
We visited Martinique on a Sunday but I found that the local Tourist Guides were very organised, we were directed to a taxi rank from where we were taken into town and told we'd be picked up in the same area. There was a Guide on the corner who informed us about some local dance exhibition taking place a few streets away, we made our way there passing many more Guides en route. The Dancing and Singing were lovely and I recorded much of it on my camcorder to enjoy again later, On the way back to the taxi we found open shops and passed a lovely church with it's doors open and the lovely hymn singing and music was enchanting to hear in the streets. We walked towards the sea and found a lovely market just across the road from where we'd been dropped in the taxi. When we left the market there was a taxi and driver waiting but I informed them we were just going into one more shop which I pointed out and he waited for us to finish our shopping before taking us back to the ship.
At Dominica we had an organised Dolphin and Whale excursion in a small boat, the rain was pouring down and we were pleased to see that the boat had a covered deck. The Dolphins were amazing, one actually jumped up and spun like at the Dolphin shows and I actually caught this on camera. The only disappointment was that the Sperm Whales were not available, possibly delayed in their pilgrimage to spawn by the recent storm. There was a lovely warehouse of market stalls to shop in when we returned to dock, and just to make the day perfect it had stoped raining soon after our sightseeing tour began.At St Thomas my friend stayed in the dock area where there were many shops and Lizards to photograph while my sister and I took a local tour of the island with many interesting stops ending up in the local town for shopping. We didn't need to stop in the town as we'd managed to get all our shopping on the tour which was very interesting and I;ll never forget the Donkey with it's hat and glasses to photograph for a price as usual. I only wanted to video it but ended up having to stand with it to get video'd and the tour driver had to negotiate my video of the Donkey. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me as everyone else was waiting to continue the tour.
Finally we arrived a Half Moon Cay which should perhaps have been renamed Quarter Moon as much of the beach had been wash away by the storm. We did Tai Chi on the beach but it was on a hilly bit as the flat bits were gone or occupied by loungers. We took a Clam Shell which came with two loungers so we ordered a mat which by the time my sister and I collected proved unnecessary as my friend had managed to get a third lounger inside the Clam Shell shade. We used the mat when we went in to swim as my sister is not a confident swimmer. It was lovely to swim in the Caribbean Sea.
The Cruise Holiday was wonderful and over all too soon as we docked at Fort Lauderdale and made our way to start our 18.5 hour journey home from Fort Lauderdale Airport to Aberdeen in Scotland via Newark and Frankfurt. If there was anything I'd change it is that I would have flown to Miami direct from Glasgow instead of the roundabout rout I chose.