This was a 14 day back to back Eastern/Western cruise.We are a retired couple in our mid 60’s and this is our 6th cruise. We have sailed with Holland America and Celebrity. This was a 14 day Eastern and Western Caribbean cruise and we loved it.
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale a day early and stayed at the Roadway Inn and Suites Airport. It was clean, quiet and there was a restaurant (pretty good) on site. We were going to check out early in order to get a shuttle to the cruise port and we got lucky. As we were finalizing our checkout, the manager asked if anyone wanted to go to the cruise port as he had an early van ready to leave then. We hopped aboard and arrived at the cruise port about 15 min. prior to the doors opening. Upon entering the terminal we waited approx. 45 minutes until priority boarding commenced. About 30 min. later we were allowed to board the Nieuw Amsterdam. We were on board by 11:00 am and proceeded to the MDR to have lunch and by 1:00 pm we were in our stateroom. We had all of our luggage within a couple of hours.
Our room, #1006, was clean when we arrived and we never had a problem with it the entire cruise. Our room stewards, Imbuh and Tora were first rate and always met and exceeded our every need and request. These gentlemen were very courteous and pleasant and we enjoyed interacting with them during our cruise.
The food in the MDR and the Lido was great. On Holland America, the food in both the MDR and the Lido is basically the same, so the only thing you miss in the Lido is table service. We ate in the MDR on ten nights and in the Lido on the four formal nights.
Overall the entertainment was not a high point for me. There were two exceptions. The first was the singing group “CATARE” which were outstanding. They could sing anything and sing it well. We happened to share an elevator with them a couple of times during the cruise and found them to be very personable and pleasant to talk to. The second was comedian Julie Barr. She was hilarious on both nights she performed. She was as good as any comedian I have heard.
Two items I would like to comment on are Unlimited Laundry and Luggage Direct. The unlimited laundry was $49 per week per cabin and allowed us to bring and check one less suitcase for our cruise and flight. We used it every other day and loved it. Turnaround was approx. 24 hours. Luggage direct was $19.95 per person and it worked great. You put your luggage outside your cabin like always and the next time you handle them is at your home airport upon arrival. No hunting for or dragging your luggage at the cruise terminal, thru customs, to the taxi and to airport check in. We also got a free shuttle bus to the airport. You are still required to pay the airline baggage fees.
Cozumel, Mexico—I researched online for a suitable beach club to spend a day at. There are many to choose from and we opted for Nachi Cocom. Just walk across the street from the cruise terminal and catch a cab. Nachi Cocom is approx. 16 km from the terminal which cost us $17. If you want a lively beach with lot of things to do, go somewhere else, this beach is for relaxing. They allow 100 people a day, so reservations in advance might be a good idea. The cost is $55 per person which includes a beach lounge under a palupa, unlimited drinks and a three coarse meal. You can stay on the beach and waiters will come to you and take your order for food and drinks. Nice beach, pool and hot tub. We had a very relaxing day there and would go again.
Georgetown, Cayman Islands—At this port we just got off the ship and walked around town for a few hours. Very safe and right at the cruise terminal. If you wanted to go to a beach with chairs, umbrellas etc. you can search on Google for hotels, that for a fee, will allow you admission to their property and facilities.
Grand Turk—We went to the cruise center beach which is adjacent to the pier. The beach is nice with plenty of lounge chairs and shade. There is not a fee to use the loungers or the pool (beautiful). There are also plenty of retail stores and the largest Margaretville in the Caribbean here.
Half Moon Cay—We did a back to back cruise of seven days each and this port was the first and the last port of call. This is one of the best beaches that I have ever seen. The sand is like powder and the water is clear. There are lots of chairs that are free and some trees for shade. They have cabanas for rent, both one and two story. They are fully stocked with food and beverages. There are numerous activies that can be had for a fee. We rented a one story cabana on our first visit and while it was a little pricey, it was a nice place to get cooled off and get out of the sun for a while. It’s bad to start ones cruise sunburned. One caveat is on our first visit we were the only ship in town, but, on our second visit, we had the Eurodam with us and this made for a crowed beach. If you want a good spot hit the beach before 10:00 am and you will have good choices.
Key West, Florida—We rode the City View Trolley to get to various destinations and to get an overview of the city. All of our driver/guides were very knowledgeable about the city and able to communicate to us in an interesting manner. We got off the trolley at three places. The first was Hemingway house. . I did not realize that Hemingway led such an interesting and varied life. He was surely a giant personality. The second stop was to get a bit of Key Lime pie from Kermit’s. Easily the best key lime pie I have eaten. We had several items shipped home. Our third stop was to visit the USCGC Ingham, which I understand is the most decorated Coast Guard ship. It was humbling to go back in time to see the conditions that these men served under. All in all a day well spent in a quirky and interesting city.
San Juan, Puerto Rico—We booked a tour thru the cruise ship. It was a city tour and a trip to El Yunque Rain Forest. Our guide was very informative and engaging and the tour was a pleasure and a learning experience. By the way it poured rain in the rain forest.
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands—We have been here before, so this time we walked around town, ending up in the jewelry area of town, which was a costly stop.