I organized our Roll Call which became a fantastic group of 68 cruisers. Nine of us got together at the Rustic Inn Crabhouse for a fun time the night before our cruise which allowed us to get to know each other even better than posting on the Roll Call.
The two of us stayed at the Spring Hill Suites(Marriott) in Dania Beach as we did last year and we love the hotel, staff, and the nice, free full breakfast. We also are provided with free transportation from the airport and to the cruiseport via Tony's Transportation. Excellent service in all respects. Our senior rate was $84.15 for a room that normally would go for $149! Another benefit is BJ's Wholesale is walking distance from the hotel where I always purchase my wine for the cruise. Tony picked me up to bring the wine back to the hotel which is another nice service.
Now for the cruise details. We arrived at the port about 11:45 and were on the ship no later than 12:15. This year tables were sparse in the Lido so we chose to go to the Lido Pool Grill and have our favorite cheeseburger and fries-yummy.
We took the Spa Tour after our lunch and after that our cabin was ready. The SY cabins are really very nice and spacious with a very nice verandah to boot. We always choose to be in the same cabin by booking 12 months in advance so we are midship. There is more closet space and drawers that the two of us ever could need even if on a 21 day cruise. We always have the cabin steward empty the frig so we can make room for bottles of water and of course the most important thing, the wine.
HMC was our first stop and beautiful as ever with perfect weather. We always opt for a Clamshell and have no need for a Cabana even though they must be nice if you plan to spend more time in them than in the water. The BBQ is plentiful and tasty and the service from the crew is always top notch. We shared the island with the Noordam but since we went over on the first tender, we had no problem getting our favorite spot on the beach.
Next stop was Grand Turk where we had a Day Pass with our sister friends that own the Grand Turk Inn. This Inn has a lot of interesting history and the Australian sisters are so friendly and accommodating. They provide you with beach mats, snorkel gear, floats and a to-die-for homemade lunch spread with desert(key lime pie for us-our favorite). We had a nice reunion since we were with them last year, but we were concerned about their safety after Hurricane Ike. Lots of damage but they have positive attitudes.
Next was a sea day and our Meet and Greet which was a large turnout of 50+ people. What a wonderful group that was lively and instant friendships were established. We were so lucky to have an executive that markets John Kelley gourmet chocolates in our group. Wes was so generous in providing everyone's favorite flavor of chocolates along with Weibel champagne to pair with the chocolates. This made for a very special occasion and Peter Dillon(Beverage Manager) said he really liked our group and could see all the fun that all were having. Peter arranged for us to have the whole portside of the Crow's Nest which was fitting for such an elegant setting with champagne flowing with gourmet chocolates-life doesn't get any better than this!
Thursday was our scheduled stop at Grand Cayman which was aborted due to rough seas. We certainly made the best of it by a whole day at the Spa. We each had the first two massage treatments with Joy(fantastic) followed by the Thermal Suite. Wow, were we in cruise heaven with heated ceramic loungers and the hydrotherapy pool for as long as we wanted to stay or leave and come back for more. Also, we got the last two passes since many flocked to the Spa after the Captain announced we would not try to make it to the pier. RCI and Carnival were there earlier so they were able to dock-who knows, maybe they're still there.
Friday was our day at Costa Maya and the Westerdam was the first ship to make this port after the devastation of Hurricane Dean. The village is gradually getting back on its feet with rebuilding. I was familiar with El Faro before the hurricane so we stopped there for snacks, a diet coke for my wife and three XX's for me. We also struck up a conversation with a nice British couple who also were enjoying the Westerdam and the first time for them with Holland. We oriented them to Cruise Critic and they were definitely going to get online and check things out for future cruising.
Saturday was another sea day and a relaxing one. It was nice to have a whole sea day before having to leave the ship. We felt the food was even better than last year's cruise and we are always entertained by Andreas, Executive Chef, who has a great personality and sense of humor.
I would be remiss if I didn't recognize the following who provided very professional and caring service in all respects:
Agus-Cabin Steward Reza-Dining Room Steward Ngurah-Asst. Dining Room Steward Michael-Wine Steward
As much as it is always sad to leave the ship, disembarkation was as smooth as silk. I can't believe it could possibly go better with any other cruiseline.
If you want to have lots of relaxation and elegant service, sail on the Westerdam.