Why This Cruise?
The principal appeal of this cruise was the itinerary. Except for Cabo San Lucas, we had never visited any of the ports of call offered. We had sailed on Veendam, Zaandam and Eurodam among our 32 prior cruises, and thought that Holland America provided a decent, if not exciting, on board experience. The previously unknown ports were Huatulco and Puerto Chiapas, Mexico; Fuerto Amador, Panama; Salaverry/Trujillo, Peru and Lima, Peru. So we boarded at San Diego on March 16, and were on our way.
This was a very bad start. As we told HAL in our survey response, the embarkation was the worst we had ever experienced. Part of this was undoubtedly due to the poor facilities provided by the Port of San Diego, and the difficulty of its location; but a good deal was attributable to the lack of planning and disregard of the passengers’ legitimate needs and expectations by Holland America. We were forced to stand in a line which took well over an hour, without seats, and for part of the time without shade. HAL used only half of the ticket counter stations available. They easily could have rented chairs and a tent to provide seating and shade, in addition to halving the time simply by using all the available stations to check people in. Many of us were, as would be expected, in the “senior citizen” class, and standing for a lengthy period was tiring and stressful.
On Board_- Our Accommodations
Once checked in we proceeded to our stateroom. It was on Verandah Stateroom Number 174 on Deck 9. The accommodations on all HAL ships are reasonably spacious, and Statendam is no exception. The closets were noticeably larger than on many ships. The couch was full sized and comfortable. There was one side chair which fit under the desk and a coffee table, which apparently has a height adjustment we were never tempted to use. The walls were a light cream color with light brown wood trim, matching the drawers; which were more than adequate for our needs. The bathroom was a little small, but had a tub/shower. The towel racks were minimal, but adequate, and while there was limited shelving for toiletries, a shelf below the sink enabled us to stow everything we needed for regular use. The verandah had teak decking, two wicker arm chairs and a small table.
The thermostat may or may not have been connected, and the room was fairly cool, perhaps as an acknowledgement of the southern climes we were to visit. The light switch arrangement, which switch operated which lights, was weird, illogical, and required constant manipulation. The portable hair dryer provided plugged in beneath the desk! The TV setup was only fair. The screen was small, fixed for location, and the programs rather limited. There was a lighted, magnifying cosmetic/shaving mirror which swung out from the wall over the desk, and enabled me to shave sitting down. Cool.
HAL’s corridors are decorated with an extensive array of photographs of old ships, passengers, crews etc. There is plenty of public space, and most of it is fairly accessible. The general layout of Statendam is somewhat different from most ships this size. The gross displacement is 55,800 tons, making it slightly smaller than Oceania’s Marina and Riviera. The lower three decks, 4,5 and 6 are largely cabin decks; Decks 7 and 8 contain much of the activities, Deck 9 is almost all verandah staterooms, Deck 10 is mostly devoted to larger suites, but also contains the bridge and an aft outside pool area with deck chairs. Deck 11 is the typical Lido Deck with the buffet aft, the main pool amidships and the spa and gym forward. Deck 12 has the Crow’s Nest, the forward looking lounge, and Hal’s Club for children aft. There is a small “Oasis” aft on 13 with a hot tub, which we never visited.
Since our stateroom, No. 174, was on Deck 9, we could reach the Lido deck by walking up only two flights, and most of the activities by walking one or two flights down. This was a very convenient arrangement. The only slight annoyance involved the main dining room. It is a two story affair, located on Decks 7 and 8 aft. The upper level was reserved for the fixed seating dinners, with meals at 5:45 and 8:00. The lower level was for open seating. However, one cannot walk to or from the dining room on Deck 7 because the kitchen facilities block the way. One has to go up to 8 or down to 6 to get through. Not a big deal if you remember it.
Deck 8 has the Pinnacle Grill, a number of drinking and casual music venues, and the Explorer’s Lounge where the classical “Adagio” duo played nightly. It also has the Explorer’s Café which, in addition to a small coffee bar, holds the fairly extensive library with very comfortable seating and the computer/internet center. The upper level of the Showroom at Sea is forward.
Deck 7 has the Wajang Theatre and Culinary Arts center, featuring movies and cooking demonstrations. It also has the Hudson and Half Moon rooms for meetings, card playing and religious services. The main and shore excursion desks as well as the art and photo galleries are on this deck, as is the main entrance to the showroom.
Access to the gangway and tender service is on Deck 3.
The space ratio on Statendam is 44.3, which makes it among the better ships at sea for this measure of passenger comfort and service.
On a scale of 1 – 100; where Crystal scores 98 and Oceania’s Marina 96; Statendam would come in at 84. The main Rotterdam Dining room is not bad for dinner, with a fairly decent selection, and with some lapses, mostly well prepared. They did a superior job with a duck dish, always a bit tricky, but the leg of lamb was tough. Edith was pleased with most of her vegetarian selections, but a couple of them were failures, over salted and not good generally.
The Pinnacle grill, which we visited twice, [but did not have to pay for] was excellent, both with respect to the food and the service. We enjoyed our conversation with the maître d’, and the fact that he told us we could leave to make a show and come back for dessert.
The Lido breakfast menu was somewhat limited, and uninspiring. Edith missed the miso soup which she had enjoyed on prior HAL cruises, and there were was only a very standard fruit selection. I missed the authentic Vermont maple syrup provided by Oceania and Crystal for the pancakes and French toast. The coffee was not bad for shipboard.
Lunch at the Lido occasionally had some interesting items. I enjoyed the sushi, which was always available. Edith was usually able to put together a satisfactory salad. We both enjoyed the pastry selection which was quite good and imaginative. The “Mexican” lunch offered on the pool deck one day was not really Mexican, but a weak California imitation. But then, since we are from Arizona, we have high standards for this particular brand of ethnic food.
We had been told originally that only fixed seating was available, and our TA had put us down for early seating. We then found out about the dining room division into fixed seating in the upper level on Deck 8. When we showed up at the maître d’s station on Deck 8 the first night and asked to change, he said he would try later. However, when we were led to our fixed seating assignment, the able was already full. We were then seated with one other person, and the maître d’ came over and placed an “open” tag on our room card so we could use open seating thereafter. We never had to wait very long for seating, and always enjoyed the varied company (mostly new, always enjoyable) each night.
After the first few nights, we arranged our seating to conform to the showroom times. HAL decided to offer three shorter shows (35 minutes) each night rather than two longer ones. The show times were 6:30, 8:00 and 10:00. This meant that we could attend the 6:30 show and then proceed to dinner shortly after 7:00. Since we finished dinner at about 9:15 under this arrangement, we could then go to the Explorer Lounge and enjoy the Adagio duo until about 9:45 and then retire for the night.
As noted above, Hal went to a three show per night format; although one entertainer I spoke to was not thrilled with this plan. The shows ran 35 minutes instead of the normal 45-50 minutes. I think this worked out better for the passengers, giving us more flexibility in planning our evenings. And, to be frank, a shorter show was just fine. The Showroom at Sea is not a great venue. The “orchestra” floor has four levels, with two rows of seating at each level. The seating is either on couches or chairs, with tables for drinks. The rear portion of the lower level has scattered seats and couches with tables also. Visibility is limited to some extent, but our principal problems were the cold temperature and the over amplification. This latter was particularly evident with one solo male singer who had an operatic voice, and did not need amplification at all, but none the less was amplified until it hurt ones ears. The actual offerings were the usual mixture of fair to middling talent. The “production” group was an different mixture, four male singers, two female singers and two female dancers. There was a lady pianist who we had seen on another cruise, and who was continuing to beat her instrument into submission, a ventriloquist, a comedian we did not see and a female harpist, playing an electric amplified small harp, who sounded best when playing solo and not competing with the dance band back up. The “Johnny Cash” guitar act was amusing and fun.
The other entertainers around the ship were a piano bar lady pianist/singer who was pretty good, and a nice sounding guitarist. Unfortunately, the timing of their sessions did not work out too well for us. The group we saw most was the Adagio Duo, two young Hungarian men playing piano and violin. Their shows ran from 7:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. in the Explorer’s Lounge, which seats about 60 people on comfortable chairs and couches, with bar service at a table in the rear. The music ran from classical, most of the light variety, to show tunes and some pop songs, with a little jazz thrown in. We were there most nights for about an hour, and while there was some repetition of the numbers, it was always a very pleasant and relaxing time; and well attended.
The Crow’s Nest on Deck 12 also had a disc jockey at night, and we had fun attending one session devoted to ABBA music.
As with all HAL ships, a substantial number of the crew, especially the cabin servers and wait staff, were Indonesian. Because Indonesians are Muslim and technically forbidden to use liquor, the bar crews and other alcohol servers were mostly Filipino. This caused some language problems, but, as other HAL travelers have noted, the staff is uniformly smiling and friendly. The Captain was normally seen having lunch in the Lido buffet, often joined by the young Staff Captain, and other officers. The cruise Director joined the ship after it was about six days under way. We were told that HAL had held an in-service meeting for all its cruise directors in Seattle, the site of their home office. His place was taken by Jeremy, who was described as the Entertainment Director. Apparently this is a new position on HAL ships, and I have read, some other cruise lines, who want to take some of the administrative pressure off the Cruise Director so that this individual can have more interaction with the passengers.
At 4:00 A.M. on our fourth night out we were awakened by noise in the hall, and saw water running under our cabin door. We hastened to remove our luggage from under the bed to the balcony. We went outside and saw crew members attempting to deal with water running down the hallway walls and out of the overhead lights sockets. After a few minutes the water stopped, but our carpet was soaked. Fortunately the water did not rise high enough to enter either the bathroom or the closets and drawers. But the floor resembled a wet sponge. We were also fortunate in that we had enough shoes with rubber or otherwise waterproof soles to get around. It took three days with a fan placed on the floor of our cabin to dry it out, and we could not use the cabin for much with the fan on because of the noise. We had to call each night to have someone remove the fan so we could lock the door. About seven other cabins were affected, and it seemed that at least two of them required the fans for a much longer period.
HAL at first sent us a bottle of (cheap) wine and a dinner invitation to the Pinnacle Grill.
(Our first meal there had been courtesy of our Travel Agent as a birthday present to Edith). Later we received a $150.00 shipboard credit. This was fairly decent, but could have been more without breaking the HAL bank! In any event, we survived with only some minor inconvenience and annoyance; and a story to tell to gain our fellow passengers’ sympathies.
Ports of Call
Cabo San Lucas. This was a stop from noon to 11:00 P.M. I had contacted a local company which had afternoon snorkeling. The cost was very reasonable, but it was a short excursion. They sent a satellite photo of their location in the large “Mercado” located at the tender pier, but it took a considerable effort to find it, not helped by the many people who cheerfully offered advice and directions which turned out to be wrong. We had been worried about the time since the tenders were an hour late getting started in the harbor which had three other cruise ships anchored; but everything worked out. My companions were a family of three from Missouri staying at a local hotel. The 13 year old son was a PADI certified scuba diver, while his parents snorkeled with me. We were transported to a beach and dropped off while the boat took the son to deeper waters, all near the Arch and swimming beaches. The water was cool, and the fishes somewhat limited in variety, but it is always good to get in the water. Edith simply went back to the ship. The area around the pier is basically a tourist trap with overpriced restaurants, the views enhanced primarily by young ladies on spring break wearing minimalist bikinis.
Huatulco. This area has been developed by the Mexican government since the 1980s as a tourist destination. Its major attraction seems to be a string of 7 bays off the ocean.
Our stop was for two days. The first day we took a bay cruise on which I had hoped to snorkel. Unfortunately the night before I had scraped my arm badly and did not want to take a chance in the water. The boat, which I had arranged for in advance, was quite large and our fellow passengers, about 80 or so, were, with the exception of four Americans from a local hotel, all Mexican, and mostly family groups complete with grandparents and children. They were cheerful companions, but the music on board was very loud. The bays were attractive, and it was cool and pleasant. We stopped at one so people could both snorkel and swim off the beach. We stayed on board and chatted with the fellow I would call the ‘Cruise Director” since he seemed to be in charge of everything except sailing the boat. He had spent time in Atlanta, and spoke fairly good English. On the way back the boat stopped in another bay where there was a large restaurant, since it was now about 2:00 P.M. This proposed stop did not appeal to us, but our cruise director led us up a hill where we caught a short taxi ride back to the pier for $7.00. This was an interesting if not exciting day, and quite inexpensive.
The next day we took a ship’s cruise to what was described as a “Tropical Flowers and Fruit Extravaganza”. This most interesting trip involved a comfortable, air-conditioned 8 passenger van trip about 50 miles into the hills. There we entered the “Hagia Sophia” project, a development founded with the idea of providing local farmers with better, environmentally friendly crops to reduce their reliance on corn. The entrance had some ramadas, and one was laid out with a delicious selection of fresh fruits grown on the site. We then went on an extended, but mostly shady walk through botanical gardens as well as fruit growing areas. The selection and variety was delightful, and our guides quite knowledgeable, with pretty decent English. On the way out we met the owner of this wonderful place. He is Middle Eastern in origin (hence the “Hagia Sophia” –Sacred Wisdom - name); although he actually moved to Mexico from Italy. The farm has been legally conveyed to his children, and he explained his goals to us. This was an inspiring and delightful excursion.
Puerto Chiapas. This is the southernmost port city on the Mexican Pacific cost, just a few miles from the Guatemala border. The port is not much. But there was a shuttle to Tapachula, about 18 miles away. There is not much in Tapachula either, although we could get a partially cloud shrouded view of the Tacana volcano about 25 miles beyond Tapachula. However, we had contacted a fellow passenger, Tom, who had been here a year prior, and he said he was taking a taxi from Tapachula to a small town called Santo Domingo about 25 miles north. We decided to join Tom and his wife Peggy, and our shuttle driver located a taxi for us, although not the same one he had used the year before. None the less we made our way through the country side and small towns, stopping briefly at some ruins, where a ship’s tour had conveyed others from on board, to our destination. Tom had been told that German settlers had gone to our destination area and built houses in European style. Our goal was a hotel which purportedly had been started by the Braun family, of Eva Braun notoriety. In any event, we found it and it was delightful, with gabled roofs, a small museum, and a covered porch outside where we had a small post-breakfast snack and enjoyed the view, the cool breeze, and the thoroughly relaxed atmosphere. It was about 1600 feet in altitude. We really hated to leave, it was so pleasant and contrasted most favorably to tourist sites. After the drive back to the ship we shopped at a pier side bazaar and bought some coffee from a German lady who ran a coffee plantation with her German husband. Her teen-aged daughter, who could have walked in from the streets of Heidelberg, handled the cash. This is considered a good coffee growing area and a very expensive ship’s tour took people to a large combination resort hotel and coffee farm. All in all it was a good, and inexpensive day and we greatly enjoyed our private tour and “Alpine” stop.
Fuerte Amador. This is the Pacific Ocean gateway to the Panama Canal. It once consisted of a small group of islands occupied by military forts. It is now a long causeway and pier, (although we were required to tender ashore). To the left (actually northwest), is the Bridge of the Americas, which is part of the Pan American Highway, and the first major bridge over the canal. To the right, northeast, is Panama City, a very modern city with at least 100 high rise buildings, many of over 40 stories.
The entrances to the canal are always busy, but since we had made the transit in 2002, we did not have much interest in seeing canal operations. So we opted for the “Monkey Watch and Nature Canal Cruise” provided by HAL. This was a good choice. We travelled by a small air conditioned bus, seeing some of the construction of the new enlarged canal locks on the way. They have been delayed but should open next year. We arrived at our “debarkation pier” immediately after crossing the Chagres River which flows west and slightly south from the hills to the east. The bridge is at the junction of the river and the beginning of Gatun Lake after it leaves the channel called the Culebra Cut. We boarded a small boat, (actually two boats for our tour) seating people four wide, with a shade roof overhead. We went out under the bridge we had just crossed and were in Gatun Lake, which at that point runs due east and west, with the Pacific to the south and the Caribbean to the north. After some chugging along, we were able to turn into some bay like portions of the lake, pretty far away from the main transit route, and pull up to the shore. We saw howler monkeys, who stayed in the trees, and white faced capuchin monkeys who climbed on board for their expected mid-day snack. We also had a pretty good view of a river crocodile, and some bird and turtle sightings. On the way back we were passed by several large freight vessels and had a head-on view of a Princess cruise ship making the transit. On the way back to the ship we were advised that we were passing the prison where the former dictator, Manuel Noriega, has been imprisoned since being returned from a French jail in 2011. This was a pleasant and worthwhile day.
Salaverry. This is the port for the metropolitan area of Trujillo, which has close to a million population in its extended area. The main reasons to go here are that two ancient ruins are found; the Temples (Huacas) of the Sun and the Moon of the Moche culture which flourished from about 1 A.D. to 800 A.D, and the Palace of Chan Chan of the Chimu culture, which succeeded the Moche culture and lasted until the Incas took over in about 1450 A.D. We wanted to do a small group tour, and located a provider through the recommendations of a guide book. This firm was found at www.xanga.com, and the e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Michael White is an English accountant,, but we never found out his actual role. In any event, they offer a wide range of services and vehicles at $60.00 per person for a small group and $100.00 for one person. We had worked out arrangements for one other couple on the Cruise Critic roll call, but they cancelled their cruise due to illness a few days prior to sail date. We were approached by another couple at the Meet and Greet, and the four of us joined together. We met Clara, our guide at the pier, and drove off in a small, newer van. Clara had been studying and visiting these two archeological sites since their early discovery days in the 1970s, and was immensely well informed. The Palaces of the Sun and the Moon were indeed amazing with regard to the preservation of their tile murals and rooms. The architecture was incredible for people working basically with small hand tools, without iron or steel. Our companions faded out after a while, but Edith and I managed to see and go just about everywhere. We then visited the Chan Chan ruins, which were very extensive, although not as dramatic. We also went into Trujillo proper and visited the main square, which has been described, I am sure with accuracy, as one of the cleanest and most attractive central squares in Latin America. We also visited a small and attractive museum there. On the way back the husband who was with us pulled a muscle in his leg, and could not walk. Fortunately the dock supervisors allowed our van driver to drive directly up to the gangway, where he was put in a ship’s wheel chair and pushed back on board. Except for this problem, we thought that the tour was an extremely good value; and we highly recommend it.
Lima. This was our final port, although it was only the halfway point for most of our fellow cruisers, who were returning to San Diego after several different port stops on the way back. And some were squeezing in a trip to Machu Picchu in the three days Statendam would be in port in Callao. We thought the round trip to be too long, and did not feel up to Machu Picchu. Our return to Phoenix would be after two days here, and we had the consideration of filling in the final day where our flight did not leave until 11:55 P.M.
The first day we decided to join a group put together on Cruise Critic, since the number would be limited to eight. This was with a firm called Peru Inca Wonders; found at www.peruincawonders.com. The tour was to begin at 10:00 A.M. and return at 4:00.
Through no fault of the tour company, things got off to a delayed and aggravating start. The Port of Callao is very large and quite busy. Even though our pier location was as close to the exit as it could have been, private tours were not allowed past the exit, so a shuttle was necessary. While large buses for the ships tours could pick up their passengers, shuttles to the gate were limited to two or three small vans. Some of those passengers catching these vans were carrying luggage because they were doing Machu Picchu on their own, rather than paying the very high price charged by HAL for its Machu Picchu trip. In addition, there were a large number of people like us, doing private tours. And, to add to the problem, the ship was late getting port clearance. The result was mass confusion where the shuttles were being filled, and even further delay. It was almost noon before we got to the gate and found our tour. We believe HAL could have done a much better job in both providing shuttle service, and organizing the boarding process.
Our tour actually had a small bus which was only partly filed with the eight of us, the tour guide, the owner/operator’s sister and the driver. Our first stop was the Pachacama Ruins, a series of structures and a major pyramid constructed by the Huari people between 800 and 1200 A.D. Eventually, they were conquered by the Incas. We climbed a sloping road up a few hundred feet to a vantage point where we could see the Pacific Ocean to the West. The ruins are about 20-30 miles south of Lima proper. We were not allowed inside these ruins, and I am not sure what rooms there really are. The size is impressive, but lacking the marvelous tile mosaics of the Moche ruins in Trujillo. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of these ruins is that they have withstood all the earthquakes common to this area, and they are of adobe brick construction.
We then drove down the oceanside near the Municipality of Miraflores, one of several cities that really are part of Lima. There are several public beaches here. Above the beaches there is a city park, running almost a mile, with trees, statuary and benches. This is a first class area, and contains many handsome high rise apartments and condos with balconies providing ocean views. Since this was a Sunday, the beaches were busy with a number of surfers. We then went back into Lima proper, past areas which were truly slums to the center of town. The Lima metropolitan area has about 10,000,000 – yes that’s ten million – people. In the center of town we visited one of many old churches, the St. Francis Monastery, which still is active and is the residence for some Franciscan monks. Beneath the church we visited the catacombs, whose construction began in 1540. There are at the bones of at least 25,000 people here. Our guide explained that within the catacombs are several circular “wells”, although dry, which held bones. It is thought that the circular nature of these wells allowed the catacombs to absorb the many earthquakes which have struck Peru and this area. Our guide told us, as we looked up at the low ceilings and rough walls that “we were in the safest place in Lima.” Afterwards we walked around the main square, and then went to a restaurant because one of our number was very hungry. Most of us did not eat, but merely had good coffee. I took a bite of one dish a baked mixture of beans and rice, and it was quite good, although our friend who ordered it, and who was from Santa Cruz County in southern Arizona, agreed with me that it needed some good Mexican hot sauce. We then returned to the ship, arriving at 6:00 due to the delay in starting. This was a pretty good tour for $115.00 per person. We had been asked, prior to sailing, to pay with “new” $100.00 bills.
As noted, we were scheduled to fly out of Lima at 11:55 P.M. on our second day in port. This meant that we would be disembarked, with the luggage, from the ship sometime prior to noon so that our cabin could be prepared for a new arrival sailing to San Diego. We were concerned about how we could deal with our luggage for that extended period of time, especially if we wanted to see more of Lima.
Fortunately we located a company on the net that promised high flexibility and coordination with our needs. This was “Monica Tours Peru”, and they are worthy of the highest praise. Their website is: www.monicatoursperu.com and e-mail is email@example.com . We found another couple who had the same flight as us, so we hooked up with Monica, who agreed to carry our bags and to drop us off at the airport. She met us at the port exit gate at 10:00 A.M. Since this was the second day in port, and all the tour buses had left much earlier, we had no trouble getting to the port gate, although the turnstiles made baggage handling a slight problem. Monica provided a nice van which easily held all our luggage, and we were on our way. There actually was another guide whose English was better than Monica’s, although she was with us, running things with a nice smile, the whole day. We made our tour choices from a “menu” provided to us on line before we arrived. This was a detailed, thorough and knowledgeable tour. We stopped again at the upper park in Miraflores for a better look at its features; we went to the beautiful Saint Dominic Priory, and the Aliagra Virreynal House in central Lima. Only part of this house is a museum, the rest of it is the home of the Aliaga family which has lived there since the founding of the city in 1535. Truly amazing! We had lunch at a local restaurant in Miraflores. Its other patrons seemed to be all young, nicely dressed office workers, and the feature was chicken roasted over an open spit. It was pretty good, and when I got my credit card bill it was only about $20.00 for both of us. We also spent time shopping in an Indian artifacts bazaar nearby, and Edith bought some stuff for her daughters for very little money. They accepted U.S. dollars, but did not want to take one of our $20.00 bills because it was slightly torn. We spent a good deal of time at the marvelous Larco Herrera Museum, which we had been told by the archeological enrichment speak on board was an absolute must when visiting Lima. How right she was! It has a wonderfully complete collection of pre-colonial artifacts going back 3000 years, including literally thousands of Moche pottery pieces, mostly dating from 800 to 1200 A.D., and in superb condition. The pictorial representations on the pottery is extremely sophisticated and still has pretty good coloration. The fabrics are very colorful, and while I loved our local Navajo weaving many of these Peruvian textiles are quite admirable. The museum also has an attractive garden and a very nice looking restaurant, but we could not stay for dinner We also visited several of Lima’s Plazas. Our tour cost was $110.00 per person, which for an almost nine hour excursion with delivery to the airport is most reasonable. We were required to pay separately for each museum, but Monica had sent us a price list by e-mail, so there were no surprises. Our trip to the airport, which is actually in Callao, took some time as it was during rush hour. All the local buses we saw were completely full, and the bus stops had long lines. We did not think that we wanted to live in Lima due its crowding, poor transportation and overall third world economy. Miraflores is an upper class area, but the city is still too big for us. Peruvians are uniformly friendly and prices seemed reasonable, and this is true of South America generally.
We arrived at the airport between 7:00 and 8:0 P.M., but took the time to rearrange our luggage and get a small bite to eat. Overall we were very grateful for Monica’s transportation of our luggage in the van all day and then to the airport. It gave us a full and very delightful second day in Lima.
Our companions on board were typical of a HAL ship; mostly American and largely senior. There were only a very few children along for this journey which lasted 31 days for about 80% of the passenger complement. As noted, some were using HAL to provide the Machu Picchu tour, some went on their own and planned to re-board, some opted to end their cruise in Lima as spend as much time as they wished exploring Machu Picchu. The HAL cost was $3000.00 per person, far more than one would pay using one’s own resources and the wide range of available tour companies; but those choosing HAL wanted (a) comfort and (b) security for the return to the ship.
PA announcements were fairly well limited. The internet charges were $60.00 for 115 minutes – fairly good. Daily news sheets were available in American, English, Canadian Australian German and Dutch editions, although only the American version was available in the Lido buffet. There was a lot of ship announcements and handouts about sanitation and health issues, but we never heard of anyone being sick, and none of the many people we talked to had either.
Despite what was reported on the Cruise Critic Roll Call that there would be 8 formal nights, we only had two on our half, and I can’t believe there were any more than that sailing home. At the most, 10% of the men were in tuxes. The interpretation of “smart casual” for dining on other nights was heavily oriented to “casual” with polo shirts and short sleeve shirts being very common. A little too “casual” and not “smart” enough I thought.
Despite some glitches, a poor embarkation, a flooded cabin, the shuttle foul-up in Callao, and some cuisine lapses; it was a cruise we greatly enjoyed, primarily for the places we visited and the people we travelled with. We often mused about whether or not we should have done the whole 31 days, but now, agree that it was too long. As I am typing this, Statendam is still en route from Puerto Vallarta to San Diego! Maybe next year we will fly to Lima and sail home.