Rotterdam Cruise Review by lone_stranger: HollandAmerica's Rotterdam now
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HollandAmerica's Rotterdam now
The cruise was great, but the food in the main dining room was very uneven. Some nights it was great and on other nights it didn't rise to the level of McDonalds. I don't know whether that was due to diversion of many crew members to cleaning and sterilization around the ship, but it seemed to affect the main dining room kitchen more than any other. The ports were very good.
I expected Ajaccio to be a small town that I could walk around easily and see all the sights. I didn't think that there was much to see in Ajaccio until I went into one of the town squares and got on the little train that runs around the area. That gave an excellent overview of what there was to see with a number of stops for photography. After that I went to the fine arts museum which was also interesting. Had lunch and a glass of wine (vin de pays) at a little cafe and it was a wonderful day. Having some knowledge of French helps, even my stumbling French.
Toured the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona More (5 miles of walking) with the iPod and learned a lot of Barcelona history and saw some really interesting places. I had lunch at a Tapas bar (La Taverna del Bisbe). Great food and good sangria. Took a cab to Segrada Familia and it is a fantastic place - not to be missed. The last time I was there the interior was still under construction, but now you can see the beauty of the interior.
Did a private tour of the Roman ruins and some tapas bars in Cartagena set up by some of the folks on CC. Loads of fun. One tapas place was built right over some Roman ruins next to the Roman theater that was excavated. The owner of the tapas bar put in glass floors so you could see the ruins beneath you. Not a good place for a skirt or a dress. Great Sangria. After the sangria you would stop worrying about your skirt. The owner took us on a tour of the place and told us some of the history of it.
On another private tour set up by folks we met on CC, we went by bus up to Granada from Malaga so we could see the Alhambra. Fascinating! The guide on the bus who describes the history of the region and points out the areas of interest turned us over to guides that only work at the Alhambra. Use the toilet facilities before the Alhambra tour starts. The tour takes about one and one-half to two hours, covers about 3-4 miles and goes uphill and down. It covers the gardens and the buildings, most of which were damaged or destroyed by Napolean. If you need to use the rest room at the end of the Alhambra tour, men note that there is only one men's rest room at the end of the tour. After the Alhambra, our guide took us on a walking tour of some of the back streets of Granada so we could get photos of the Alhambra from a different perspective. We had a great seafood paella and sangria to die for.
Our tour of Tangier and the surrounding area was set up by another couple we met on CC. Tangier was a study in contrasts. The outskirts of the city is made up of mansion after mansion of Arabian sheiks and princes. Beautiful white mansions, expensive cars, full time guards and they only live there The city center, the medina, is abject poverty. I never said no to so many vendors in my life. Had a very nice meal there at a place the guide recommended. No alcohol, Moslem country, but their mint tea is great.
Madeira was beautiful. We took the tour that took us around to the opposite side of the island and stopped at every point of interest along the way. Very few vendors relatively speaking. The meal was delicious, but the wine wasn't madeira. LOL
The long sea voyage didn't seem so long. Between the people at the dinner table, the people we met on tour and the folks who arranged some of the tours, it was a whirlwind of eating, drinking and parties. A couple of fellows we met on our tour in Cartagena had the penthouse suite and we had a couple of parties at their place with great wine and food. We became friends with one couple who had set up the Cartagena and Malaga tours and had a few lunches in the Pinnacle Grill with them and with the penthouse boys. Then we also did the special "An Evening at Le Cirque" dinner and the Cellar Master dinner in the Pinnacle Grill, both of which were fun. The food was every bit as good as what I had eaten at Le Cirque. The wine pairings at the Cellar Master's dinner were excellent.
Then we got home and the GI infection that had been going around on the ship hit both my friend and I just minutes apart. Someone aboard didn't report their illness because they didn't want to be quarantined in their cabin. So we had to pay the price for their self-indulgence.
That concludes more than you ever wanted to know about my cruise. Less
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Cabin review: 2647
Category DA (Oceanview) Cabin 2647 - We purchased unlimited laundry upon boarding because we didn't want to pack two weeks worth of clothes. As a result, the closet space was more than adequate (she had three closets, I had two). The room itself was spacious as ship cabins go. It was set up as one queen size bed, two night stands, a dresser, a couch and a cocktail table. The "minibar" consisted of a half dozen cans of soda and two large bottles of water, no refrigerator. There was an ice bucket that was filled as often as you wished. We had it filled twice a day: morning and evening. The bathroom facilities were quite good as there was a bathtub and shower as well as a sink, commode and storage area for a reasonable number of toiletries (mine and hers). The location was very good because it was quiet and even when we hit rough seas it was like being rocked in a cradle. The location, midway between the aft stairway/elevators and the midships stairway/elevator was helpful in getting around the ship. We had the laundry done every other day and it always came back perfect the next day. The room stewards kept the place neat and clean at all times.
Port and Shore Excursions
The last time I was in Barcelona, I toured the Gaudi sites: Parc Guell, Casa Mila and Segrada Familia. Parc Guell is an interesting place, if you have a guide with you to point out the interesting areas and the history of the place. The mosaics which are everywhere are interesting in the color combinations used. Casa Mila also known as La Pedrara (sp?) is an interesting building in both the forms of the balconies and the lack of corners. Segrada Familia was under construction as it has been for about 100 years or so, so we couldn't see much inside. The exterior looked somewhat like a child's sand castle except for the statuary on the facade. It is uniquely Spanish and quite striking. The tour ended at the foot of Las Ramblas and we walked up the street. There were a variety of different mimes there, some stationary, some moving. We stopped in a tapas place called Egypte. It was very good.
This time I toured the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona (5 miles of walking) with the iPod and learned a lot of Barcelona history and saw some really interesting places. Lunch at a Tapas bar. Great. Took a cab to Segrada Familia and it is a fantastic place - not to be missed. The last time I was there the interior was still under construction, but now you can see the beauty of the interior. It will truly take its place as one of the world's great cathedrals when it is finished in about 2050.
Next time I want to see La Boqueria and some of the other parts of Barcelona.
Madeira was beautiful. We took the tour that took us around to the opposite side of the island and stopped at every point of interest along the way. Very few involved vendors. The meal was delicious, but the wine wasn't madeira. LOL It is a veritable Paradise with green terraced hillsides, tall mountains, the second highest cliff in the world and friendly people. Our guide, it was a ship's tour, pointed out all of the points of interest and spoke of the historical importance of each. She spoke English very well and was easily understood. We were able to explore on our own in several towns and experienced a great feeling of peace and contentment. The fact that it was Sunday may have contributed to that. All I can say is if you have never been there make sure it is on your bucket list.