Noordam, Holland American – 11 day Southern Caribbean – 2/17-2/28/2014
An easy 2 hour drive south from our RV park in Fort Pierce via the Florida Turnpike brought us to Park N Go – our usual cruise parking lot. We arrived about 11am. The van was waiting. They loaded our luggage from our car into the van and the next time we saw it – it was in our room at 2pm. ïŠ We boarded quickly and were welcomed by steel-drum Caribbean music and free cocktails in the lounge. We had a nice lunch in the Lido, but missed the Mariner “Welcome Back” lunch in the Dining Room because we didn’t know about it.
Our Balcony room was wonderful! Spacious enough with a small couch, a small club chair and a stool for the dressing table/desk. The bathtub/shower was excellent with plenty of hot water and a great shower head. The balcony had rattan chairs with cushions, a large footstool and a small table. Perfect! We had our beds separated into comfortable twins and the double sided, flowered bed throw was perfect for a nap or an extra cover at night. Our thermostat worked perfectly. There was plenty of closet space and hangers. The suitcases fit under the bed.
Some of our Favorite Things:
1. Happy Hour has the second drink for only $1.00 and includes picture worthy/ wonderfully tasty appetizers! For instance: pot stickers, shrimp, phyllo surprises, tiny meatballs, etc. along with a beaker of nuts. Very classy!
2. Trivia – with Cruise Director Mario – in the Crow’s Nest. What fun!!
3. Windows 8 - (photos, etc. applies to Windows 7,.too) education seminar – excellent!
4. Fresh squeezed orange juice @ no charge! (take note Royal Caribbean)
5. Roni – who, with his big smile (and remembered everyone’s name!) gave out the after dinner mints and candied ginger.
6. The NY Times mini newspaper available every day to keep us up on the news.
7. The Explorer – it suggests for each Island: things to see; where to eat; books to read; music to listen to and a bit of the history. I wish I had this in advance, but better late than never – a gem!!! And a keeper!
Dining: we had 5:45pm set time and were very pleased with our table, our waiters and our wine steward, Jay. The food was very good, with the prime rib and lobster tail being outstanding. We enjoyed lunch and breakfast in the Lido on “port” days. The outside Lido Bistro has an amazing variety of burgers including lamb burgers! There’s also a good Mexican selection including an excellent tamale. On Sea Days we went to the less crowded Vista Restaurant. We didn’t do any “specialty” dining.
Tours: We took the St. Lucia tour in a small air-conditioned bus that held 40 people. Our guide and driver were excellent. The first stop was a historic house overlooking the harbor. DH tripped on the steps and I was holding his arm. He wasn’t hurt, but I tore my hamstring muscle. Oh, the pain! I finally got back onto the bus. An accident report was made out by the tour company. I was met with a wheelchair back at the dock. I saw the nurse and then the ship’s doctor. All was covered because the tour was through the cruise line. A good lesson. Book a tour through the ship! (Kudos to our cabin #5144 steward Willi, who fixed ice bags and towels for my leg each day – I’m so grateful.) Our other tours were cancelled with no problem. In fact, Customer Relations sent me Chocolate Covered Strawberries with a get-well note! Now that’s class. (PS that’s why when I got eaten up with bed bugs on Princess and they wouldn’t acknowledge it – I will NEVER sail with them again.)
Entertainment: We enjoyed comedian Jim McDonald, violinist Analisa Ching, Matilta with excellent ventriloquist Patrick Murray and the Pilipino Crew Show. We did not enjoy the show Heat. Movies: watching a movie in the Queens Lounge is only ok if you sit in the front row. Otherwise, you have heads blocking your view. Not a good movie venue. They need a real theater.
The Greenhouse Spa: we both had a one-time treatment here. I enjoyed my “scalp and shoulder” message with oil. DH had a message and reflexology foot treatment.
On a personal note: if you are experiencing swollen feet and ankles – especially on a cruise – do NOT drink the ships desalinated water! It is loaded with salt. It doesn’t bother most people and tastes good. But for a few of us, it’s “balloon time”. Make sure your drink is not out of “tap” at the bar. Insist on a “can” –it makes a huge difference. Also the “fresh squeezed” orange juice is ok, as is the tomato juice. Maybe we can band together and be as effective as the “gluten free” folks and get bottled water for free!!
In summary, it was the nicest cruise we’ve ever been on. We were entirely satisfied.