GOODBYE MATZALAN HELLO MANZANILLO
Our 7 day Oosterdam cruise started off on a very easy note. We drove from the Palm Springs area & arrived at the Aladdin parking lot at 10:30 am. We were ready to go to the port right away, but they told us that the port wouldn't let them drop us off until 11am. Once another couple showed up 5 minutes later, they decided to take us (I guess 3 people on the bus weren't enough!)
At the port, a porter with a wheelchair whisked us from the sidewalk to the port, an another took us to the check-in to the ship. We received an invitation to the Mariners' luncheon in the Vista Dining room. The service was slow, but the food was great, and it was relaxing to sit down instead of fighting through lines on the Lido Deck. By 11:30, an announcement came over the speakers that our cabins were ready, and we could hear a cheer from all over the ship!
Our cabin was a Veranda suite near the aft elevators, and it was nice to have the fresh air. We had 2 twins & a pull out sofa for me to sleep on. When pulled out, it was hard to open the cooler, but it was great to have a place to keep milk & cookies for the evening. Love the bathtub!
We received our Captain's Brunch invitation in the basket outside the door, and planned on a light breakfast with cabin service. Then came the announcement. Due to the violence in MATZALAN, our 2 sea days before PV were changed to one sea day, then stops in Cabo, PV, and then a new port, MANZANILLO! The brunch was moved to Thursday, the same day as our second Formal night. The clocks moved ahead twice during the cruise. As we arrived in Cabo, a pod of Dolphins & school of Whales were there to great us.
I took off to find the Banner Wave, exploring the small casino, lounges, and theater along the way. I was very pleased to find plenty of quiet places to sit & read around the ship, but disappointed to find that the entertainment in those lounges was limited to after 5pm (many other cruises, it was scattered through the ships starting in mid-afternoon). The Neptunes were a great easy listening trio, with a variety of modern songs. In the Piano Bar, we played Name that Tune with Jim, who had a great personality. The Adagio Strings in the Explorers Bar were very soft & melodic.
Most of the ship was comfortable, but the Main Deck, and lower level of the theater were Very chilly. The first night, people around me were wondering why they didn't bring a blanket. If you went even a few rows back, it warmed up considerably. The stage had elevators to raise & lower sections of the stage to different levels.
FOOD: Great, but I was disappointed in the variety of cold soups available. I was pleased to discover that chocolate croissants were available daily on the Lido deck, and not just in the MDR. Rack of Lamb, Lobster, and lasagna were great, and fruit was plentiful. Royal Dutch High Tea was offered buffet style with lemon & strawberry tarts, chocolate dipped strawberries, fruit tarts, Eclairs, and other sweets. A selection of teas was offered at the tables. The rest of the week, a sit-down tea was served, with tea & sweets brought to the tables. On Friday, mini-cupcakes were substituted for the sweets. On Thursday, a desert buffet with ice sculptures, fruit kabobs with white or milk chocolate fountains, & various cakes & tarts from the teas were offered. The chefs were presented in a parade.
The chefs dinner was presented Friday night in the MDR & reservations were requested. A ballet presented by the wait-staff was offered with a presentation of napkins & a mousse on bread, then a Swing dance was offered with the Salad. The Duck l'Orange was delicious, and you had your choice of a semi-baked Alaska (meringue over ice-cream with a bit of cake) or other deserts (I had the flourless cake with raspberry sauce -it was very similar to the chocolate melting cake on Carnival). There was also a rib barbecue on the Lido deck, which I did not participate in (that was the only night crème Brule was served in the MDR, and I didn't want to miss it!). As a disabled person, I was disappointed in the seating we were given in the MDR, being forced to the back of the room, when there were empty tables up front. They then took my walker away, & I had to search to find it.
We chose Own Time Dining, but if you don't make a reservation, they will make one for you- we were given a very unacceptable 7pm time one night, which we cancelled & used the Lido deck instead.
The Captain's brunch was elegant with a very limited menu and a very talkative Captain, who had a great personality and a fun sense of humor.
ENTERTAINMENT: The daily activities were very limited- one Trivia contest a day, except on the day we our schedule was changed & they announced a morning Trivia before we got to a mid-day Cabo arrival). There were 2 day-time Name that Tune (70's - not Disco, and Broadway), with am evening Name that Tune in the Piano Bar, which was fun. Cruise Director TJ Watters handled the games with grace, humor & style, & showed many other talents throughout the cruise. DJ Matt handled Bingo & daytime Name that Tune, as well as a poorly attended Karaoke, but I couldn't really get a handle on his personality. The Karaoke selection book was on a hard to operate computer system, and you cannot bring your own discs.
There was a great selection of movies on DVD for rent, but no descriptions of the movies. Films in the Screening room ranged from the Oscar nominated Inception to the Spy- movie send-up Night & Day. These movies were also shown on TV (very limited cable station entertainment- TCM, Cartoon, TNT, Fox & CNN News & 2 Sports channels).
Evening shows featured a very talented cast of singers & dancers in three production shows (backed by the HALCATS) , Magician Johnny Tran, and Joel Mason, in a tribute to Elton John and lots of comedy dialogue between. The Finale on Fri night brought back all the performers in a great jam session, where everyone displayed other talents.
All in All, it was a very smooth crossing, no accidents, & a new port added spice to the usual MR cruise..
[url]http://s809.photobucket.com/albums/zz18/ccruisequeen717/HAL%20DAILY%20EXPLORERS%20JAN%2011/[/url] Scans of Daily Explorer