welsh on the waves.
Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
This was to be our first ever cruise, would it be our last? We arrived at port having spent a night at Marriott Hollywood beach hotel which was loveley.Our first sight of the Noordam can only be described as magnificent,the boarding procedure went smoothly and all passengers were instucted to make their way to the lido deck where lunch was being served.This was the one and only moment that our hearts sank,we were faced with what can only be described as chaotic food frenzy!There was no seating available to allow us to enjoy our lunch,after three circuits of the restaurant we gave up and made our way outside where we managed to find the bar and a couple of free barstools.Its amazing what a difference an hour makes-a couple of drinks later the madness had disappeared and we were able to get a snack.The ships PA announced that all cabins were ready and so we went with anticipation for our first view of our room. We were in an inside cabin on deck six which was more than adequate for our More
needs,the bed was very comfortable the bathroom was of a good size and enough storage space for clothes etc. The noordam is an elegant ship with lots of antiques and valuable articles dotted all over the various decks.There are a number of bars to choose from all have a different atmosphere,our favourite was The Crows nest (Raul and Reggie are the best barmen on board). There are three restaurants on board, The Lido which is the everyday informal place to eat,The Vista restaurant which is where most people eat in the evening and finaly The Pinacle which is the small select restaurant where diners pay a $20 fee for the priviledge of eating.The food throughout the whole cruise was exceptional as was the service we received.From our experience it would be advisable to loose a few pounds before sailing as its unbelievable how quickly the weight goes on!There are two pools on board and also a spa,none of which we had time to use.There are a couple of shops on board which were a little disappointing in their content although the jewelry shop had excellent choice and were very competative with their prices,they would also have daily promotions which were worth a look.
There was entertainment every night although passengers that had sailed with other companies were not complimentary of the standard provided. We only saw a comedian on one night who was very good and we also watched the Las Vegas review night which was just OK. There was also a cinema,card room and reading room to chill out in. Overall our experience of our HAL cruise was brilliant,we would not hesitate to go back again, its an experience for all ages although i would say that the majority of people on board were 50+ (we are 46 and 52).It is a company you sail with if you appreciate good food,quality surroundings and exceptional service. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
We chose to go off the beaten track and away from the tourists,we arranged a small limited photographic trip with Ronnie Carrington a well known Bajan photographer.He would take us up through the centre of the island to visit an area known as Scotland because of its obvious terrain and to photograph the traditional "chattel house".On to Barclays Park which has an impressive beach and then onto the wonderfully beautiful north east area of Bathsheba(i was last here in 1981 on a hockey tour,nothing had changed)we had a very refreshing rum punch stop at one of the local bars.This was a loveley way to spend four relaxing hours.Back in the port at Bridgetown ther are plenty of shops with nice gifts,if you are looking for a good rum then this is the best in the caribbean called Mount Gay.
A wonderfully quaint place,very un-comercial with a little craft market a couple of shops and a few bars.It boasts on of the best places to hike but unfortunately we had left our hikers back home so we elected to do the Layou gorge river tubing which was great fun.Gigantic inner tubes at the ready,we donned our hard hats and off we went,bobbing along calmly to begin with and then progresively meeting more and more boulders and river drops,safety is of paramount to the guides and they are at hand if anyone gets into difficulty (we were in a group of about 15 people,ages varied between 16-65).At the end there was the usual rum punch refreshment befor returning back to Roseau.Anyone looking to buy beautiful hand made leather handbags, look no further, there is a shop on the pier front which also sells cigars and wines.
We did the ultimate island tour which meant we were out for about seven hours.We wanted to see as much as we could of St Lucia.It is a wonderfully green lush island hence the daily rainfall for short periods.Wonderful scenery,visiting the second highest light house in the world.Balenbouche Estate was blissfuly peaceful and the house maintained by its current owner was priviledge to visit.Lunch was provided by the staff at Morne Coubaril which is a working sugar plantation where we were shown around and educated to its workings.Onto the "drive in" volcano and its sulphur springs before reaching the highlight which was our first view of The Pitons which were breathtaking.Soufriere is the final destination-a little fishing town-where the Noordam has lowered her tenders out at sea to pick us up and return us to the ship.A great experience.
We did the "two flags tour" which introduced us to the french side and dutch side of the island.We spent a little time in Marigot(the french capital)which has a craft market and a fort which you can climb up to.Philipsburg(the dutch capital)is a lot busier and more to offer in the line of shopping and amenaties.The beach here is absolutely glorious and we spent a while here in a local bar just watching the world go by whilst being entertained by the local singer who could give Bob Marley a run for his money! Those of you who dont want to do a trip but just want to sunbathe can walk to the beach from the ship easily in 15mins.There are plenty of sunbeds and the bars and restaurants are just at the back of the beach.
Credit cards at the ready,this is a shoppers paradise!ichallenge anyone to visit this island without buying gold,diamonds/gems or a watch.This island is very different from all the other islands as it is obviously much more commercial and is aimed at the holiday maker.We spent a little time sitting and watching the world go by but we did a half day trip which took us on a scenic drive to Magens bay beach which is rated in the top ten of the worlds best beaches,so naturally we took a swim.We boarded our brightly coloured bus which then took us to Bluebeards castle which is aplace that you can learn about the pirates of the caribbean-one of which (Capt. Bartholomew Roberts.)is a descedent of my husband!The site houses a hotel/restaurant,beautiful gardens,colonial house,rum factory,amber jeweler and shop.Well worth a visit.