I took this cruise because i wanted to spend time seeing barcelona and what better way to return than a cruise on a nice ship. 4 full and 1/2 days in barcelona which is one of the great cites of the world. I stayed on las ramblas. must have walked 15-20 miles through every neighborhood, with some use of the ho-ho bus when I was worn out.
By monday, the date of departure, i was ready to get on the ship, my home away from home, and a balcony room which was a treat for me, as I usually book inside since only in the room to sleep and shower. embarkation was a breeze and did it feel good to open the door to the cabin, drop off my carry on, and go up to the Lido for the buffet. The buffet was very good. A number of times it was not self serve because a considerable number of people got sick on the cruise and they had to keep that under control and i appreciated their efforts.
There is a much older crowd on this ship because who has the time to take 15 days off from work just to spend most of the time at sea. Transatlantic is an R and R cruise. At times it seemed like a convalescent home, but i hope when I am at that stage I can spend my time on a cruise like they did.
I said it before for the alaska cruise tour and I will say it again...Holland Amercia takes good care of you. The service in all aspects was excellent, tho at times the service in the main dining room was a bit slow, but friendly and helpful nonetheless. this may be due to the my time dining, which for the staff has to deal with the unpredictable in terms of how many they have to serve and when.
The food was good-not as good as the alaska cruise on the Zuiderdam. The buffet was acceptable and i loved the salad bar for lunch, complimented with a modest helping of one of the main courses.There was a lot of variet to pick from. The pinnacle grill and the tamarind were terrific. A prime cut of filet mignon at the pinnacle tremendous as were the appetizers. The Tamarind was something special. After one night there i went there two more times. The service at both restaurants was way over the top attentive and friendly, and pampering.
The entertainment was ok, not great but ok. when I want the best entertainment on a cruise I go on Royal Carib which pours a lot of money into acts. Mel the stand up comedian like Henny Yungman was droll but very , very funny. The piano player at the piano bar had a great voice, a great repetoire, was a ton of fun and everyone loved him. lots of sing alongs. karaoke was fun, especially when you got to sing with the band as back up as I did. The 4 male singers in the cast, did an act, "cantare", which was excellent. The dancers work so hard and it was much appreciated. This is a transatlantic cruise, a filler in which the cruise line must reposition a ship, so I did not expect the greatest entertainment, and the prices for the cruise reflected that..but it was good enough to keep me entertained. They had one really hokie act which was a juggler/ comedian---i am glad I didnt go because people said it was corny--they wouldnt even consider a juggler-comedian in the borsht belt, if the borsht belt were still around.
There were a number of enrichment classes on the cruise, cooking, cameras , computers, dancing lessons , lectures and they were always full when i went past them. There are plenty of things to keep people occupied, or one can just relax in one of the pool decks, the deck above that, or the walk around promenade deck and read a book.
The casino staff was friendly and fun to be around. texas holdem tournaments were fun and very sociable.
everywhere there was live music most times there were a lot of people dancing.
I met some nice people the first night at dinner in the main DR and we became friendly--they were a lot of fun...Reba and Ron from Houston and Ruth and Gray from colorado with another home in texas..we became friends and here is a shout out to them if they are looking. On the second to last night Andrea and Peter from Adelaide Australia sat at our table...tons of fun, as they prepared to explore america by car from ft lauderdale to gettsyburg, fly to La, drive to Vegas, and then back and 20 hr flight to australia..Andrea writes a blog which is a travelogue for her friends back home which is hugely witty and funny. gary is a cigar smoker as am i so we spent a lot of time schmoozing on the lido deck and some in the casino.
The covered pool is a wonderful place b/c it allows you to use the pool and hot tuns rain or shine. I was going to buy the hydropool deal but they wanted $200 for the cruise, so i thought I would settle for the hot tubs. Glad i did. they eventually had a special for $99, one hour massage and facial and 1 hr in the hydro pool, which of course i had to spring for.
The first stop was cadiz...which is a gateway to Seville. read enough on cruise crtic that i knew i didnt need an excursion and could walk off the ship and around the city of Cadiz. very old , interesting buildings with narrow streets and a main square/market, with flea markets outside..that has GREAT PRICES ON leather stuff.
Lisbon was a bit of a letdown after Barcelona, can't compare IMO, plus the Ho-Ho bus excursion was not good at all, so got off and walked about 4 miles down to the main square at the water and then a LONG way to the ship. Getting closer to the ship with my tongue hanging out like a st bernard, I ran into Ron and reba from Houston walking toward me.. I felt like Lawrence of Arabia coming out of the desert to Acaba , and was never so happy to see two people in my life---civilization!! People from home! i wasnt doomed to walk the coastline of Lisbon for the rest of my life.
The next port was the Island of Madeira about 600 miles, more or less, west from the horn of Africa and famous for their wine. It belongs Portugal. Winston Churchill would go to paint after the war. A beautiful, volcanic, mountanous, verdant island, with enormous cliffs. It is spectacular. i did the 8 hour bus tour around and through every nook and cranny of the island, often peering down 3ooo feet from the bus down the cliffs to villages way below. we stopped in quaint villages and also stopped for a very nice lunch. If you like unique scenery, Madeira is for you.
The 7 sea days. That is a lot of sea days. but filled them up, somehow. worked at my writing on the pool deck in the am after breakfast , with a clear head and able to gaze out at the sea from time to time. then lunch..then miscellaneous activities until the Texas holdem poker tournaments..the days went by.
a very good cruise with excellent service, and never having to lift a finger.
My thanks to Holland America