DH and I chose this cruise because we love the four ports it visited and we like HAL and the Ryndam is the perfect size ship for us.
Check in was a bit slow, possibly because it was day light saving time. We arrived just after 11 a.m. Our luggage was taken and we stood in line outside the port building. Nothing happened until noon. Then the line moved quickly and we were happily on board and in our room in 30 minutes. We decided to go to the Mariner's lunch served in the Main Dining Room; it was quiet and had a nice variety of dishes to choose from. By the time we finished our bags were in our room. We unpacked and went to the safety drill.
The sail out of Tampa is always enjoyable. We wanted to get a good view of the ships ahead of us and both sides of the bay so we went to deck 11 forward (in front of the gym). During dinner we had a table for two near the stern windows and watched as we passed under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge at dusk.
Key West is fun. All we wanted was Kermit's chocolate covered key line pie. It is about 8 blocks from the dock and well worth the visit. This time we got a photo of me with Kermit just outside his store!
Mahogany Bay is a great beach with a pleasant "kite ride" over to the beach. However, it was a rainy day so we did some shopping at the wonderful shops near the dock. We always like the native craft section to the left as you walk up the hill. This time we bought a couple masks made in northwest Honduras.
Santo Thomas, Guatemala is our favorite spot. Each time we visit a different Mayan ruin and are always impressed with the warmth of the people. This time there was a new building near the dock which housed tourist information, a lively band, and beyond that an amazing array of colorful souvenirs. Of course, DH and I bought a couple shawls, belts, and placemats and napkin sets.
Costa Maya is the last port on this cruise. We have been to Chocabean Mayan ruins twice so this time we decided to visit the Jade Museum and just look around the port. The Jade Museum is just outside the port entrance and appears to be relatively new. However it has some amazing jade masks; it also has jade jewelry for sale. As we walked back to the ship, we discovered the dolphin training pools next to the beach/restaurants. We seated ourselves in a couple front-row beach loungers and watched as 3 or 4 dolphins and their trainers entertained us.
Now, I should give some information about the Ryndam. Our veranda cabin was on the 9th floor, starboard, mid-ship. I suggest starboard side on this cruise only because of the Santo Thomas port. As the ship prepares to leave, there will be singing and dancing for at least 30 minutes. As the ship departs, buses, taxis, and vans pull up with lights on. Workers from the nearby shipping port come over. Everyone waves! It is something we have never seen at other ports and well worth watching. Of course we wave vigorously back to them!
The service on the Ryndam was excellent and the food was very good. We were please to get a table for two for dinner in the main dinning room around 6:30 (just after pub trivia). We also enjoyed dinner in the Pinnacle two evenings. Both DH and I thought the Pinnacle was the best ever......but crab cakes and steaks are always good at every Pinnacle restaurant!
When we returned to room from Mahogany Bay, we noticed the carpet was soaked. It seems that a water line broke in the room next to us drenching about half of our rooms. Staff quickly brought in loud fans and dehumidifiers. They worked until around 9 when we asked to have them removed so we could sleep. Amazingly, the carpet was just about dry. Those things happen and we were pleased that it was quickly corrected. For the inconvenience, HAL gave us some wonderful cookbooks. If we were flying, we probably wouldn't have been able to keep them. But since we drove to Tampa, we were able to take them home with us. No, I have not been making any fabulous meals. However, they look nice on the shelf :-)
We saw the singers and dancers do 3 shows - they were all very different. We missed the comedian who was reportedly excellent. The magician did not hold our interest. Adagio group was just a duo, but they were very good. There was also a guitarist (just ok IMO) and a pianist who we didn't hear but heard he was very good.
We felt the CD (Eric) was ho-hum, but we liked the Captain Rowden (may not have that spelled right). The dining room managers and hotel staff were especially helpful.
We asked for late departure so we could savor every possible moment of our 8 day vacation. Sadly, we were among the last to get off around 8:30. DH and I can't wait to do this itinerary again next year!