I am a fan of red eyes to get to cruises. Here's why. I get a lower price. I live Seattle and if I fly in a day earlier I deal with jet lag and can't sleep the night before the cruise anyway and theres the hotel cost, and meals and unpacking for the one night and repacking and..so...yeah red eyes work for me. I know the risk involved in missing your ship flying in that close to sailing time and your flying late night flights that could be delayed or canceled but I'm an old curmudgeon and like to think of myself as a risk taker so..where was I oh yes...I arrived 20 minutes early in Tampa after flying out llpm the night before and connecting in D.C. .for the flight to TPA.. I actually got some sleep on the airplane(s) after devouring a sleep inducing banana and didn't feel particularly tired...probably the pre cruise adrenaline rush and or the banana. Took a cab to the cruise terminal for 25 bucks. Did I mention I'm traveling solo. The cab driver didn't talk during the 20 minute ride. Fine with me. I didn't talk either. Other than negotiating a price or something like that is it necessary to talk to a cab driver and he to you.. I mean other than say than the quizmaster on Cash Cab and his passengers? In a way this was kind of a sentimental journey for me because I sailed out of Tampa on my very first cruise aboard the Regent Rainbow 18 years earlier before the cruise terminals were built. I met some folks later on the Ryndam who had also sailed the that salty old girl of the sea the Regent Rainbow.
EMBARKATION: Well done. Very smooth processing. Kind people behind the counter. A comfortable waiting area. Half an hour wait...I had boarding group number 4 blue card clutched in my hand...then it was up the gangplank and welcome aboard the Ryndam. The Lido wasn't crowded and I had a nice lunch and just hung out by the pool with my bag visiting with some folks and before I knew it the announcement came over the PA that the cabins were ready.
CABIN: What a pleasant surprise...of all things....an upgrade from an inside to an outside almost as far forward on the A deck as you can get portside. A spacious cabin with sofa and chair and a roomy bathroom with a tub. I know i'm gonna like this cruise.
SPECIAL STUFF ABOUT THIS CRUISE: I mean aside from the given that is the superb service of the Indionesian/Philipine staff the things that were the most memorable about the cruise were:
PORTS O' CALL: I'd been to Key West before but I missed the Harry Truman Little White House. A thouroghly enjoyable well presented tour. And then there's only one Key West and I enjoyed strolling down the streets hitting all the touristy stuff and the t-shirt places and all in this place that has a personality all its own.
Peurto Cortes, Honduras: An off the beaten path port with not a great deal of tourist curb appeal at first sight with plain old container ships cranes and the like. It is the largest central American port with lots of bananas shipping out. I took the Rainforest Nature Hike to a waterfall. Alexander the guide was great and the guy knows a lot about birds so he pointed out several kinds of birds and plants and it was just 45minutes getting to the hike which I liked a lot. After the hike we drove over to an Aftrican American folk dance. Later that afternoon I watched in fascination for over an hour the unloading of what appeared to be a combination passenger ferry and vehicle ferry with 3 or 4 trucks aboard laden with containers. The several story tall crane skillfully unoaded the containers from the trucks. This ferry had a front ramp that was loaded bow first by just pulling up to the dock. At first it looked to me an impossible task to get the ramp to fit just above the dock and it was at an angle (high tide of course) where the trucks would have to go up a very steep ramp and then break an axle with a few feet drop onto the dock. But the skipper and dock workers worked it out with timbers to fill in the gap and got the ship unloaded.
Santo Thomas, Guatemala: Went to a very nice beach resort ..free beers and tiny umbrella drinks..nice beach with no wave action to speak of but still nice. Read a book and kicked back. I have to say the most memorable event connected with this port was a bird that became my walking companion on the Ryndam's promenade deck for almost an hour ...a good 3 miles of walking the deck before arriving at Santo Thomas that morning. . Flew ahead of me and waited for me to catch up with him and then flew ahead etc. A great experience.
Costa Maya was the most glamorous (next to Key West) port of call of the cruise. The town fathers did a nice job of constructing a village a quarter mile walk from the ship with shops, restuarants etc..
THE CRUISE IN GENERAL: The usual great HAL food and service. Long time since I;d been on smaller ship but the Ryndam did not dissapoint. A wonderful library ...checked out 3 books got in some serious reading time. Ate all my meals in the Lido....couldn't get early dining. Met some fine folks..toasted the sunsets in the Crows Nest and in all had a very nice time. The Ryndam is a lovely lad with fine lounges, entertainment, cleanliness and the usual HAL distinctives that made for an enjoyable sailing.