sailing all the way home
Australia & New Zealand
This was a good way to get home and see some places I had never seen for less than a one way business airfare.
I enjoyed the many sea days but didn't find any ports I wanted to go back to.
Food and service was good, excellent most of the time. The chef, Jock, was great, and so patient.His cooking demos were a highlight.I also enjoyed meeting the onboard florist.Fascinating and so modest.
Some of the entertainment, [Xu Pingxin the dulcimer player,and Matilda and Patrick, the ventriloquist act,] was world class.We also had a good flautist, a violinist and a juggler who coped well with rough seas.
The comedians were forgettable and the Zaandam dancers reminded me of high school musicals.Oh dear.
I had a few problems with my cabin. It was a good size for a single but should have carried a 'beware of the noise' warning. I picked D6102 for the view and didn't realise that there would be a total lack of soundproofing from the theatre below.
handles solo cruisers well. I never booked for dinner in the Rotterdam, just turned up and was seated with various interesting fellow cruisers.I have to confess to a return visit to the Canaletto by myself so that I could eat all the candy floss they serve with coffee. Less
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Cabin review: DA6102 Large Ocean-View Stateroom
This cabin was a big mistake. I chose it for the view out the front of the ship, and I certainly got that. Unfortunately it was right above the Mondrian lounge so I got all the noise. I figured I could cope with 2 shows a night but I did not factor in all the rehearsals. It should be sold with a warning. Also had to fight for decent curtains. The cabin next door had the same problems and ended up with a blackout cloth arrangement that the steward put up [tied to the window]and took down. I also had to fight for a makeup mirror. I think they bought me one in Hilo.
The cabin layout is ideal for one person. It would be very tight for any more.
Port and Shore Excursions
Did the helicopter ride over the volcano. It was worth every cent I paid HAL and as we were unable to see any volcanic activity from the ocean that night [scenic cruising was let down by the weather] I'm so glad I did it. The waterfall component was diappointing, especially after Iguazu last year!
If you live in Australia, got to Surfers or Byron Bay.Don't bother coming all the way to Hawaii. I did a lot of shopping at the Ala Moana centre, having first being subjected to the Diver Dan jewellery ordeal. Had I realised I would have skipped the free shuttle and taken a taxi.
The next day I followed some fellow cruisers and got "The Bus". $2.50, no change, but air conditioned and very, very good. Some people were going all the way to the other side of the island using this bus network.
HAL needs to improve the port information available. I realise they have a vested interest in pushing their shore excursions. I asked the cruise guide for directions to Sees Candies and ended up at a mall way out on the green trolley line! Just as well I wanted to do the trolley ride out to Diamond Head via Waikiki or I would have been really cross when I found a Sees at Ala Moana.
There seemed to be a lack of local knowledge available.
This looked a pretty place but I made the mistake of doing the excursion to Waimea Canyon. Fantastic scenery once we got there, but it involved nearly 5 hours with a driver/guide who did not shut up for a minute and roared at some passengers who stood up to take a photo. I did get some little souvenirs at Mariko's, a half hour toilet stop. Very clean.
The highlight of this port, for me, was a manicure at a place with a wonderful view of the Zaandam at anchor. An onboard manicure was at least $45 ++ and I paid $15.I am really over the spa services on ships with their constant hints about tipping and buying products.
I browsed along the waterfront at the various buildings and churches and then got the Walmart shuttle from the pier. Half the ship seemed to be at Walmart, stocking up on sodas etc. or the necessities for the ship building competition.
Very basic tour conditions here! No aircon and very rough seating on the bus. Tour was a good oversight of the island, a pretty place. Our guide had a lovely voice, but I do not want to learn, or be force fed a Samoan song.I found the stop at the late governor's mansion bizarre.His widow came out to greet everyone and let the hordes rampage through her home. Very odd.