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Just got back from the 10/22 Oosterdam. We have cruised other lines but this was our first HAL cruise. My hubby (Willie) and I were celebrating our 20 year wedding anniversary and were traveling with my BIL (Tony) and SIL (Patty). Heres my review on this cruise. Saturday 10/22 We flew down to San Diego from Portland, OR. We arrived to find sunny San Diego overcast, drizzly, and cool. It is a very short cab ride from the airport to the terminal. We waited in line about 20 minutes, got our picture taken and boarded the ship at 12:15. We went up to the Lido Buffet and got a bite to eat. We were very impressed with the variety and freshness of all the food. Before we boarded the ship, we were given a paper explaining the new Leisure Dining. It said if we had any questions that a table would be set up outside the Vista Dining Room from 1- 4 pm. Needless to say, I was the first one in line as the paper was written very poorly and was confusing. I explained that I still wanted my same table, with the same people I booked with, with the same server every night, and at the time that I had booked, which was 8:30. He put all of this into his computer and said that it would be taken care of. Our cabin was ready at 1:10 and we went to see our home for the next 7 days. We had booked a SS (6072) and were very surprised how big it was. The bathroom was wonderful, with its 2 sinks and jacuzzi tub. We always had inside or outside cabins in the past so the balcony was spectacular. We met our room steward Djoko. He was like a stealth bomber. We hardly ever saw him but our room was always well taken care of. We asked him to unlock the partition between our room and Tony and Pattys. If we asked for anything, he would always arrive with a smile. We had ordered 2 bottles of Skyy vodka from Ship Services to be waiting for us in our room but they werent there. We called and asked that they be delivered to our room. They said they would send them right up. And so began the great bottle fiasco. LOL After 45 minutes and still nothing, we called again and they said it was on its way. We went out to look around the ship. I met Rita (Renorita) and we went up to the bow to wave to the port web cam. Lisa (LaffNVegas) was nice enough to capture and post the pictures of us waving like two crazy women. Willie and Tony were having beers by the Lido pool and started talking to a guy at the next table. Turns out it was Phil who is married to Jackie (Hairbender), who was on our roll call. I thought I heard the song Its A Small World when he told me about it. Phil and Jackie would end up becoming one of our crazy group. When we came back to the room, there still werent any bottles. By this time I was starting to wonder if we had made a mistake by booking HAL. I found a card on the bed saying that they didnt have Skyy on the ship and they would credit my account. I had just passed a bar and had seen that familiar blue bottle sitting there. I called them up and informed them that they must have made a mistake because I just saw it. They said they would check into it and get back to me. After 30 minutes and no call, I called back again. She said that the bottle I saw was the only one on the ship and since it was already opened, they couldnt give it to me. I asked her what other kind of vodka they had and she named off 4 kinds. I asked her the prices of them and &&.. you guessed it; she said she would have to call me back with that information. By this time it was ready for the Muster Drill, so we grabbed our life jackets and off we went. The Drill lasted about 15 minutes. We headed back to our room looking forward to having a drink on our balcony during sailaway. We walked in and saw NO BOTTLES!! My sweet hubby, who by this time had lost some of his sweetness, went over to the phone and called again. She told him the prices and he said send Absolut instead and have it here in 5 minutes. She said she would. We waited 15 and still nothing so we decided to go up to the Sailaway party. Just as we walked in, my hubby spotted Angie the Asst. Beverage Manager and told her of our problem. She said she would take care of it immediately. Sailaway was dampened somewhat by the weather but we were so excited to begin our cruise, that we just ignored the weather and celebrated the fact that we were off. When we arrived back in our room the bottles were there. Angie called later to check and make sure that they had arrived. Not only is she beautiful but very efficient too. Also, we had chocolate covered strawberries delivered the next day from Vangie and Sandra (the telephone concierges) with a nice note apologizing for the inconvenience we had experienced. By this time I needed a drink. LOL As we started to get ready for dinner, my hubby said, I think we have a problem. I thought what the heck is it now. He said, I dont have any pants. I looked at him and said, Are you kidding me? He said, Im not kidding. All my pants are back home hanging in the closet. I started to laugh until I had tears running down my face. The only pants he had were the jogging pants he had on and the pants to his suit!! We went downstairs to the shops as we figured that they must have some type of mens wear. Wrong!!! If you need a dress, shoes, jewelry, purses, shorts, t-shirts or sweatshirts, then you can shop till you drop. Poor hubby would just have to get by with his suit pants until we could buy something in Cabo on Monday. We called room service and had shrimp cocktails, cheese, and smoked salmon delivered to our room. Tony and Patty came over and joined us. We then headed up to the Vista Dining Room to see how this new dining thing would work. We were shown to our table (243), which was a table for 10. Rita and her DH Dru were there and also Rob (Lopaka007) and his DW Marty. We had crossed referenced our booking numbers to make sure we would all be together. The other 2 mystery people never showed up that night but thats another story. Our server was Charlie and he was wonderful. Always smiling, very nice, and always willing to get us whatever we asked for. Charlie was really put to the test all week long by Tony, who always ordered like he was eating for 2. It became quite the joke as the week went on. Our wine steward was name Willy, which made for some laughs as my DH is Willie. I really wish I had written down what we ate each night as it was always fabulous. After dinner, we all went to the disco and did some dancing. The music was good and fit the age of the crowd. The DJ was Melis and she is an Asst. Cruise Director. What an asset she is to HAL. She is personable and very nice. She would take requests too. Our server in the disco was Arin. He was always smiling and checking up on us. We had the same booth every night. I had a friend from this board (Copper) suggest I order a Wang-Wang to drink. It was a good suggestion and it became my drink of choice for the cruise. As we left the disco to head off to bed, Willie and I took a stroll around the promenade. This became a nightly ritual. It was a nice time to talk about the days events and what we had planned for the next day. It was a good first day! Sunday 10/23~Sea Day We slept in until 9:30 because those HAL mattresses are so darn comfortable. We showered, dressed and went up to the Crows Nest for some Team Trivia at 10:30. This was perfect, as I had planned a CC get together for our Roll Call from 11 to 12 there. I had made the arrangements with HAL a month before. Our trivia team didnt win but we had a lot of fun. A little before 11, I saw them setting up the coffee, tea, and cookies that HAL provided for us at no charge. Shirley (Wandering Winos) had made invitations that I had the front desk deliver the night before. Attached to the invitation was a list of the names and room numbers of all those on our roll call, which I had put together. This came in handy during the week. Shirley also made door signs for Rita and I too. She is very creative. It was a great turn out. Almost everyone who had been posting on the roll call for the last 10 months showed up. It was wonderful to be able to put a face to the name. We talked like we had been friends for years. It was a great group of people and it was nice to see a familiar face to say Hi to as you walked the ship in the days to come. Id love to mention each one by name but the list is long (46 people). For those of you that were there, please know that I have fond memories of that party. We left the party a little after 12 and went to the disco, as there was a line dancing class with DJ Melis at 12:15. She taught us 3 dances and made it look so easy. But when we tried it, we didnt look quite as smooth as her. LOL But we did get a little better as the class went on. We had a lot of fun and laughs too. We had missed breakfast and were hungry, so up to the Lido we went. I had a huge salad with all sorts of goodies on it. Their salad bar is quite good as is their ice tea also. Willie had a panini, which became his lunch choice everyday. By then it was Name That TV Tune at 2:15 in the Disco, so we went back to spend some time with DJ Melis. We got 14 out of 20, which gave us second place. The first place team got 18 correct. Darn them, I really wanted that key chain. At 3:15, it was up to the Vista Dining Room for Royal Dutch Tea. There was a wonderful array of pastries and chocolate covered fruit. The tea was good but not very hot. It is a nice tradition and one not to be missed. We had been on the go since we had gotten up so went back to the room for a little rest and relaxation. Love that mattress!! It was our first formal night. We had cocktails in the room while dressing and then met everyone in the Crows Nest for pre-dinner dancing. The group Tonis Boys was playing and they are quite good. We decided to skip the Captains Champagne Reception, as the line was soooo long to get in. We stopped and had formal pictures taken before going in to dinner. It was so nice to see everyone dressed in their finest. I didnt see one person who wasnt dressed up. But the most eye-catching outfit was a guy who had an all red suit, with a red shirt and red tie. This outfit was topped off by matching gloves, shoes, and a hat. All I can say is you had to see it, to believe it. It was another fabulous dinner. Jackie and Phil joined us as Rita and Dru had gone to the Pinnacle for dinner. The 2 mystery people didnt show up again tonight. Since this was the second night they hadnt shown up, we had Jackie and Phil moved to our table permanently. After dinner, it was off to the Disco for some Karaoke. It was the auditions for the Oosterdam Superstar. Some of them were painful to listen to and some were great. Patty, Dru, and Jackie all sang beautifully and made the cut. We stayed around for some dancing afterwards. Then it was time for our Promenade stroll before calling it a night. We filled out our room service breakfast order and hung it on the door before retiring. Another wonderful day!! Monday 10/24~Cabo We awoke to a beautiful view. Lucky us, we had a room on the port side and we were anchored facing El Arco (the arch). There were already many boats out by it and a graceful clipper ship was just passing by. The weather at 8 am was already warm. We had breakfast delivered to our balcony at 9 am. We did this for the entire cruise. It was the perfect way to start the day. This must be a little taste of how the rich live. LOL It was delivered on time and it was hot, not warm. That really surprised us, as it hasnt been the case on other lines we have sailed with. Thumbs up for HAL! I am starting to understand how the HAL fans feel about this line. We enjoyed the ham and cheese omelets, english muffins, fresh fruit, and juice. The little jar of red raspberry preserves was outstanding. It was almost as good as mine. We hadnt planned on getting off the ship in Cabo as we have been there so many times. But since my husband only had 1 pair of long pants for the trip, we had to. I went down to the Queens lounge to pick up our tender numbers. We were given # 38 and they were only on # 21. I went back to the room to put on sunscreen, as it was suppose to get into the low 90s that day. Grabbed a hat and my sunglasses, and we were off to the Queens lounge to wait for our number to be called. They were only on # 28 when we got back. A few minutes after we sat down, a lady came up to us and asked if we would like to switch numbers with her. Her friend wasnt feeling well and had gone back up to the room for a bit. Her number was 31 and was just being called, so we said yes and thanked her. In all our previous cruises we had never tendered, so it was somewhat exciting to see how this would work. The water was pretty calm so we didnt have the problem of getting on, as Ive read so much about. The only thing I dont like about them is there isnt any open windows and it was really hot in there. We arrived at the dock and so began the quest for a pair of long pants. I thought we would find them fast and be back on the ship for an afternoon by the pool. How wrong I was about that. LOL The front desk had suggested that we go to Puerto Paraiso Mall, which is about a 10 minute walk from the dock. They said that they would have the most selection. It is a beautiful mall and the air conditioning was a welcome relief from the heat. We stopped in the first shop that had mens wear and asked if they had long pants. By the look on the womans face, you would have thought we were martians asking to be taken to her leader. LOL We finally got out of her that they didnt carry any and we left. This mall is a womans dream. At least 75 percent of the shops are womens clothes!! The other 24 percent are assorted shops of household goods, pharmacies, and souvenir shops. The other 1 percent is mens wear. We finally found the other mens store and they had a pair of pants that were OK but nothing special. But since this was all we could find, we thought we might as well get them. We asked the price and I nearly fell over when she told us $210 U.S.!!! I laughed and looked at my hubby and said, Your suit pants will work fine for another day. He agreed, as he would never spend that much on a pair of pants either. We left the mall and started back toward the ship. As we walked through the town, we looked for something that might resemble a pair of slacks or Dockers. Everywhere you look, you see men in long pants. Im not sure where they buy these at because we couldnt find any. Maybe we will have better luck in Mazatlan tomorrow. This quest for the pants had been going on for over 3 hours. It was really hot by then. All I wanted to do was get back on the ship and take a nice swim in the pool, while drinking something strong that would come with a paper umbrella. I loved the fact that as you get back to where the tenders are waiting, HAL has cold water and lemonade waiting for you. Just another one of the little touches that is slowly making me become a HAL fan. When we got back to the ship, I wasnt feeling really well. I thought it was hunger so off to the Lido we went. Had a few bites of a salad and the feeling got worse. I went back to the room to lie down for a while. I think the heat had gotten to me. After an hour, I was feeling better and went down to the aft pool. As I walked out and all I saw was&..Big, Burly, Bears everywhere!! Now before you think that HAL has added a zoo to the ship, let me explain. These bears were Chumleys Bears, which is a gay mens group of large men. There had to be close to 150 of them. They seemed to take over the entire aft pool. At first look, they were a little intimidating as there was so many of them. But myself, being the shy wallflower that I am, I just walked right over and plopped myself down in a lounge chair. After reading these boards, I had decided that no group was going to keep me out of anything. These guys were a lot of fun. My only complaint was that a few of them seemed to feel the need to shove their lifestyle in everyones face. I dont want to see gay or straight people grabbing each other or playing tonsil hockey. JMHO Spent a little time getting some sun and hanging out in the pool when it became too hot. Funny story that happened by the pool that day: One of the Bears chair back had broke and one of his friends was trying to fix it for him. He kept on trying and couldnt get it fixed and was starting to get frustrated. He finally said in a really loud voice, Where the heck are the lesbians when you need them? A couple of women sitting off to the side raised their hands and said Were over here, what do you need? Everyone by the pool started howling with laughter. Went back to the room later and took a nap. That hot Mexican sun can really zap you. We went to dinner about 8:00. We had asked Charlie the night before if we could come sooner than 8:30 that night. Our 3 Superstars had to be in the Queens Lounge by 9:15 and we didnt want them to be late. Charlie was fantastic!! He flew us through dinner and we were able to get there on time. We even got front row seats to root our 3 favorites on. The missing tablemates still havent shown up. The competition had 18 people in it. The cruise director Jimmy played the Simon part, the female lead singer from the shows played Paula, and the guy who handles all the stage shows was Randy. Forgive me as Ive forgotten their names. It was a whole lot of fun to watch. The comments and critiques made by the judges were funny. Just as the previous night, some were great and some were not. After all had sung, the judges had to pick the top 5 to move on to the next round. We were really hoping that Patty, Dru, and Jackie would all make it. After a few minutes, they announced the top 5. PATTY MADE IT!! We were sad that all 3 hadnt made it but at least we had 1 to root for during the next round. Afterwards we went to the disco as it was all requests night. Had a great time dancing, then spent a little time in the casino. I lost at slots and Willie won at craps, so it all worked out evenly. We called it an early evening as we had to get up for our shore excursion at 7:00 the next morning. Took our nightly stroll on the promenade and went back to our room. Hung our breakfast order on door and were soon asleep on that fabulous HAL mattress. Looking forward to what tomorrow will bring!! Tuesday 10/25~Mazatlan Up at 7:00 and had breakfast delivered at 7:30. It was delicious and hot as usual. No tendering today so getting off the ship went very fast. The weather was a warm 88 degrees. We had booked Randis Happy Horses a few months before. I had found this excursion on the CC board and it was a really good choice. Dru, Rita, Patty, Willie, and myself would be riding and Tony would go and wait for us at Victors. Shirley (Wandering Winos) would be riding with her group too. Randi was waiting for us at 8:30 and took us to the boats, which would take us to Stone Island. It is a place that takes you back in time. Not the hustle and bustle of the big city but life in a much simpler time. We arrived at Stone Island and a tractor pulling an open seating area, took us through the town and up to where we would be getting on our horses. Randi is a wonderful and interesting woman with a great sense of humor. She told us the history of Stone Island and the people who lived there. We finally arrived where the horses are. They asked you if you were an experienced rider or not and they gave you the right horse for you ability. The horses are beautiful and very well taken care of. I was given a horse called Pelican. He is also known by his nickname Snacker, which became very apparent as the ride went on. We started out and rode through beautiful plantations and ended up on the beach. This is not a nose-to-tail type of ride. The only thing that Randi asks is that you keep the group in site. My horse was slow and was always in the very back of the group on the first half of the ride. But that didnt bother me as I was enjoying the scenery. You ride down the beach on the waters edge. Some of the group were very good riders and were galloping down the beach. Others were just walking along slowly. Willie looked like a professional gaucho on his horse. And Patty rode like she had been doing this all her life. Note to potential women riders: Wear a good supportive or sports bra. You will definitely need it!! LOL When you get to a certain spot on the beach, you stop and hand your camera to one of the guides. They take your picture with the water as the background. It is a wonderful memento of a great ride. But for me the fun part of the ride was just beginning. My slow, pokey horse must have decided that he had had enough of this heat and wanted to get back to the cool of the shade trees. A couple of horses took off galloping and you would have thought that someone put a firecracker in my horses behind. We were off like a bolt of lighting!! I was hanging on for dear life and bouncing up and down on that darn horse. I finally was able to stop him. He kept on trying to run again but I had had enough of that for the day. One of the other woman riders caught up to me and said what a wonderful rider I was to be able to gallop like that. Little did she know!!! LOL We got back to where we would leave the horses and it was a little difficult to get down from that horse. Thank goodness for the guides that help you down. It felt like I was walking like I had been riding for days. We walked slowly over to Victors restaurant, which is right on the beach. What a great place this is! Randi shows you which 2 tables she has reserved for you. There are vendors all around and Randi will tell you which ones she can vouch for. If any of them start to bother you, Randi takes care of them. I bought a beautiful pair of turquoise earrings for $16. Tony and Patty both got Henna tattoos, which last about 2 weeks. The guy who applied them did a wonderful job. Patty also picked up a few necklaces for her daughter. Rita and Dru bought the cutest little bear carved out of Ironwood for the person who was taking care of their dog back home. If you are ever there, order the garlic shrimp. They are to die for!! If you part of a large group, order the platter. It has garlic and fried shrimp, BBQ ribs, and a whole grilled fish, which I think was Dorado (mahi). The food was great and the beers are cold. You stay at Victors for about and hour and a half. You can swim in the ocean, take a walk along the beach, or take a nap in one of the hammocks. All too soon it was time to leave. Another tractor ride and then on to the little boats to go back to the terminal. If you are ever in Mazatlan, treat yourself to a day with Randis Happy Horses. It is terrific and you wont be disappointed. By the terminal, there are all sorts of shops. We continued the quest for the long pants. Not a pair to be found anywhere. What do quys wear with all those shirts that the vendors were selling? We could have gone into town and looked some more but we were tired. Got back on the ship and went out to the aft pool for a while and then back to the room for nap. Im really starting to like this afternoon nap thing. We had everyone over to our room for cocktails and hors doeuvres at 7:00. We ordered cheese and smoked salmon from room service. It was the perfect couple of items to tide you over until dinner. Phil, Jackie, Rob, and Marty all went to Senor Frogs that day and we loved hearing about their adventure. Charlie had told us last night that we could come at 8:00 for dinner instead of 8:30 for the rest of the cruise. It made it nicer not to have to rush through dinner to get to a show. It was another wonderful meal with great service by Charlie. And the missing tablemates still havent shown up. Cant figure this one out yet. We went to the 10:30 show of Whyte. This is a musical tribute to the Beatles. It is performed by two brothers, Alan and Harry White, ages 20 and 21. They were quite good. They dressed in outfits like the early Beatles and played guitars from the 1960s to make a wonderful visual effect. With the age group of the audience, it was one big sing along. Afterward we stopped in the disco to get our daily dose of DJ Melis. It was Night Fever night and they played hits from the 70 and 80s. We all danced a lot that night, which was amazing after the horseback riding that day. LOL We ended the night with our usual Promenade stroll and went back to our room. Sitting on our bed was a towel elephant. He was really cute and we put him up on a shelf for the rest of the cruise. I had called that afternoon and asked if I could get Eggs Benedict through room service as it is not on the menu. They told me to just write it in. So I filled out our breakfast order and hung it on the door. After the days activities, that HAL mattress felt even better than is usually did. What a memorable day in Mazatlan!! Wednesday 10/26~Puerto Vallarta Today was our 20th wedding anniversary. We awoke to room service knocking on the door at 10:00. We had overslept and Im going to blame it on that fabulous HAL mattress. We had a romantic breakfast on the balcony. My Eggs Benedict were delicious. Starting out the day like this is something I recommend to everyone. It is so much nicer than heading up to the Lido or dining room. The food always arrived hot and on time. I had made reservations at 1:30 for 2 couples massages at the Krystal Resort a few months ahead of time. I had found out about this place on CC also. PV time is one hour LATER than the ships time. They ask you to keep your watch on ships time. We went down to the tenders and got right on as there wasnt any line. The temperature today was 92. Rob came with us as he and Tony were planning on going parasailing before the massages. Rob had already been to the Krystal before and knew the short cut. We walked and it took us about 5-7 minutes. It is an older resort that was probably very high-end about 10 years ago. It is well taken care of and the pools are beautiful. There is a main one with a bar and loud music. Over by the spa there is another one, which is much quieter. Tony and Rob went down to the beach to find the guy who Rob had heard about. He was in front of the hotel next door. The two of them tried to talk Willie, Patty, and myself into doing it also but that was a big fat chance. We watched them from the safety of our lounge chairs. LOL They said it was fantastic and very peaceful and quiet up there. It looked like fun but its not something I would ever do. If Im going to be up in the air, I want to be in a plane. The two of them loved it and would do it again. The cost was $40 each. We checked in with the spa and they made us wait a few minutes, as our rooms werent ready yet. We had booked 2 rooms so all four of us could get our massages at the same time. The rooms are very clean and there is soft, soothing music playing. There is a beautiful stained glass window that lets in just enough light. I had requested that women do the massages. They were very professional and had magical hands. We all agreed that it was one of the best massages we had ever received. It lasted 75 minutes and cost only $30. We tipped our girls $10 each and they were worth every penny of it. If my husband could have, he would have taken his masseuse, whos name was Perla, home with him. LOL Afterwards we spent some time by the pool. Make sure to bring your own towel, as they dont supply them. We still were on the long pants quest for Willie and today would be the day we would find them. Where the tenders leave you off, there is a Wal-Mart right across the street!! We walked over from the Krystal but I would take a cab if I had to do it again. My legs felt like rubber and I was so relaxed after the massage that it seemed like a really long walk. The air conditioning was a welcome relief as we walked through the doors to Wal-Mart. It was great to look at all the different items they have in theirs. It was funny to see the prices in pesos, which made everything look like it cost hundreds of dollars. But we were on a mission so off to the mens department we went. Their selection was decent and we found a pair of pants that were perfect. YIPPEE!!! The quest was over and we could go back to the ship. Once on board, we stopped at the Lido for a quick bite and then back to the room for a little siesta. My husband is starting to wonder if I have a thing going with that HAL mattress. LOL We had 8:00 dinner reservations for four at the Pinnacle that night. But since Patty had made it to the semi-finals of Superstar, we had called earlier to have it changed to 6:45. I had requested a window table and Michael the Maitre d showed us to our table. It was perfect as you could see the lights from PV and also the lights from another ship in port. From everything I had read on the boards, I was expecting to be wowed. I have to say that I wasnt that impressed with the service or the food. Both my husband and myself have been in the restaurant business for over 25 years so I feel we do have some knowledge in this area. As for the service, he didnt take the womens order first. This is just common etiquette. Also, not once did any of the food we ordered, get delivered to the person who had ordered it. We were constantly switching plates. The food was OK but nothing special. I think they should call the crab cakes nuggets instead as they are so small. The filet wasnt that great either. It had a mushy feel and taste to it. We had a couple of different desserts. I had the crème brulee, which was so-so. Willie had the volcano cake and thought it was good. But Tony ordered what we all felt was the winner of the night. He ordered the Near Baked Alaska, which is made with Cherry Garcia ice cream, covered in meringue, and smothered in flambEd bing cherries. This dinner was a gift from our TA. If we had paid for it, I would have been truly disappointed. We all felt the food in the dining room was just as good or better. And the service we got from Charlie was far superior to what we received in the Pinnacle. I know that everyone seems to love this place but it is something that we probably would not do again. JMHO We left and went to the Queens Lounge for Superstar. We arrived early to make sure we could get a good seat. We met the rest of our group there and asked if the missing tablemates had shown up that night. They hadnt. We were starting to wonder if the word had gotten around the ship about our group. LOL The show was a lot of fun. Patty looked fabulous and sang For Once In My Life beautifully. The other 4 were Julius, David, Melissa, and Vicki. Julius was a crack up. Not that good of a singer, more of a screamer. David had a beautiful voice and did a great job singing Spanish Eyes. Melissa sang I Will Survive and knocked it out of the ballpark. Vicki sang some country song, which was funny as Jimmy had already made the comment the night before that he didnt like country music. The wait for the decision was nerve racking. They finally announced the winner and Patty didnt make it. The 3 finalists would be David, Melissa, and Vicki. Oh well, as Patty said It would just free up our next two sea days. LOL Afterwards we went to the 10:30 late night comedy show in the Vista Lounge starring Mike Robinson. He was a ventriloquist and was pretty funny. The Filipino crew show was right after that. We didnt stay for all of it. What we saw of it, it was very good and the crew is quite talented. Our Martini Bar bartender, Bong, was the MC of the show. Remember that name, as there are more adventures with him to come. We had wanted to check out the Piano Bar since we boarded the ship. Last year when we had sailed on RCIs Explorer of the Seas, we had gone to the Schooner Bar, which is their version of a piano bar. We really enjoyed it and spent most of our nights there, as the disco was overrun with spring break kids. Kory Simon is the man who tickles the ivories nightly in the Piano Bar on the Oosterdam. He is quite talented and is very funny too. A couple of our roll call people were there and we had a lot of fun singing along. All too soon it was time to leave and we took our nightly Promenade Stroll. I highly recommend this romantic idea for anyone sailing as a couple. We would walk hand-in-hand singing our favorite songs. Im sure who was ever watching the security cameras had a good laugh every night watching us. Back at the room, we were surprised with a towel dog on our bed. He was so cute and we placed him on the couch for the rest of the cruise. Filled in our breakfast order, hung it on the door and we were soon sound asleep on that cloud-like HAL mattress. It was a wonderful 20th Anniversary!! Thursday 10/27~Sea Day I love sea days!! For us, the ship is always the destination and the places it goes is just an added bonus. We slept in and breakfast was delivered at 9:30. It still amazes me how they could cook it, get it up to my room, and it would still be hot. It was a beautiful morning and we loved watching the ocean. At 11:15 we went to the Crows Nest for some Team Trivia. We came in second again. Looks like we are going to have to buy that HAL coffee mug ourselves. LOL Tony entered the Blackjack tournament, which had qualifying rounds from 11:30 to 2:30. He was in the top three for quite a while. But by the end, other players passed him and he ended up in 10th place. They only took the top 7. I went out to the pool with Patty about 12:15 and we met Jackie and Phil. The weather was perfect, not too hot. We grabbed a lounge chair and settled in for a couple of hours in the sun. At 1:15, they had 2 guys do ice carvings by the pool. It is totally amazing what they can make out of a big chunk of ice. They just kept chiseling away and before long you could see the finished product. One of them made an Indian Chief with a full headdress and the other was a beautiful sailfish. What an incredible talent! At 1:30, it was Wet and Wacky pool games. I had just gotten my lunch from the Lido and brought it out to enjoy while watching the fun and games. Well, they needed 2 more women for one of the teams and Patty said Come on, lets do it. It sounded like silly fun and so up our hands went and we were in. My lunch would have to wait. LOL They had 2 teams of 6, 3 men and 3 women on each one. We named our team Wang Wang after my favorite drink and the other team was called Rehab which was self-explanatory. Obviously, two totally different types of players. LOL The first game was the famous passing the orange under the chin. You had to line up boy/girl and pass it all the way down the team line and back again. Now we have all played this game at some time in our lives. But playing it in a bathing suit brings it to a whole different level. If your orange slips, it can have all kinds of hilarious results. Ill let you imagination run wild with this one. Our team came in second but we had the crowd roaring with laughter. The second game was passing the hula hoop while holding hands. We lined up holding hands. You had to get it over your head, step through it, and get it to the next person without letting go of each others hands. We did this one very well and came in first. It was all tied up at one a piece!! The third game was synchronized swimming. They gave us one minute to come up with a routine. Team Rehab went first and their entry into the water was very good. Their routine was OK but nothing outstanding. Our turn was next and our entry wasnt as good as theirs. But our routine was very good. Even the guys looked very graceful. We came in second, which I think was because of our entry. The score was now 2 to 1, in favor of team rehab. The last one was swimming with a ship between your legs. They had a blow-up ship that was about 16 inches long. You had to put this between your thighs, dive into the water, swim the pool back and forth, and then pass it off to the next player. Sounds so much easier than it is! I was the second one in line for our team. The hand off was smooth and I put it between my thighs and dove it. As soon as I hit the water, the ship shot out into the air like a rocket! After getting it back in position, I was laughing so hard that it was hard to keep swimming. Our team came in second and we lost to Team Rehab. But we did win a key chain and they gave us a yummy rum punch drink. It was a lot of fun and we made the DVD that you can buy at the end of the cruise. Im not sure if that is a good thing though. LOL At 3:30, it was off to Martini class with Bong and our entire group went. Bong is wonderful and makes this class a lot of fun. Or maybe it was just the martinis that made it seem that way. LOL They charge $20 to take this class but it was worth it in drinks and entertainment. This was the second of 3 classes. Some of our group made the first one but I didnt. After this class, I wish I had. The three we tasted were a Green Apple, a Blue Glacier Drop, and a Chocolate martini. They all were great and you get a full martini glass of each! Bong mentioned that his last class had shown up wearing their bathrobes to the graduation class. He said it was funny and something he would remember. I guess he forgot which group he was talking to as that was like the gauntlet being thrown in front of us. LOL Our minds started racing and we came up with a better idea. But youll have to wait until tomorrows installment to see what that was. After the class, I stopped by the front desk to buy my cruise lottery tickets. It is $10 for one or $20 for 3 chances. If you win, it is a free Caribbean cruise for two!!! Not a bad pay off if you win, which I didnt. But the dream kept me going until they announced the winner at 10 pm on Friday night. We went back to our room to get ready for the last formal night. It was early but I wanted to see the show Escape at 6:30 in the Vista Lounge before dinner. Willie stayed in the room and finished the book he was reading. What a fabulous show!! Lots of music from the 70s and 80s. The two lead singers were very good but just didnt have the romantic chemistry between them that they were trying to portray. But the singing and dancing was entertaining. I would see it again if I had the chance. I went back to the room afterwards to get Willie and we went down to have formal pictures taken. They turned out really well and we ended up buying one on Friday. We always buy one of the formal night ones for a special souvenir. Just before Willie and I showed up at the dinner table, guess who finally showed up? The famous missing tablemates!! Phil said they just sort of stood by the table and stared. After the 2nd night they hadnt shown up, we had moved Jackie and Phil to our table permanently. They just kept staring so Phil got up and talked with them. He explained to them that since they hadnt shown up, we figured they had made other arrangements and had moved another couple to our table. Charlie then came over and showed them to another table. And I missed the whole darn thing!! All I know about them was that is was two women. I still cant believe that they would show up after not being there for 6 nights. They hadnt even come in once to say hello or say that they would be eating somewhere else on any given night. By their manners, I would say we didnt miss much with these two. It was steak & lobster night in the dining room. All of us had been looking forward to this all week long. We had warned Charlie the night before that we would be partaking of more than just one lobster each. He didnt fail us!! I had 3 and they were very good, not over done or mushy. But Tony was the winner that night with 10 lobsters, 3 escargots, soup, salad, and his usual 3 desserts. But it was also Baked Alaska night and he had some of that too. LOL The steak was about the size of a hockey puck and tasted like one too. It was a disappointment not to have the Baked Alaska parade through the dining room. I know some people dislike it but for me its a tradition that is part of the cruise. They had it for the 5:30 seating but for the leisure seating, it was just brought to the table by your waiter. We left the dining room and went to the Queens Lounge for the Newlywed, Not So Newlywed Game at 9:45. The place was packed to the rafters! Im not why they didnt hold this in the Vista Lounge as it could hold more people. The second showing of Escape had gotten over around 9:30 and it would have been open. We only stayed for a few minutes. It was standing room only and it was just too crowded and hot in there. But heres a funny story about one of the couples on stage. It was the oldest couple and they had been married for over 60 years. The question they asked the woman was What is his favorite kind of condiment? She answered Ketchup. They then brought the man out and asked him the same question. His answer was&&&. TROJANS!!!! He obviously hadnt heard the question correctly and thought they had said condoms. The whole place erupted in laughter and the cruise director Jimmy was speechless. The look on the wifes face was priceless!! We left and went to the Piano Bar but it was packed, so it was off to the Disco to see DJ Melis. That night was called Dance Through The Decades and it was music that started in the 50s and went through the 80s. We grabbed our usual booth and had a great time that night. The Dessert Extravaganza was that night from 10:15 until 11:30. We were all so full from dinner that only Patty went and brought back some goodies for us. The chocolate covered strawberries were very good. They tasted like they had just been picked that morning. Willie and I went over again to try and see Kory in the Piano Bar at 11:30 but the place was still packed. He is so much fun that people go there and just stay for the evening. We went back to the disco and stayed until the wee hours of the morning. When we left, we went on a secret mission around the ship to get things for our surprise for Bong and the martini class tomorrow. We had a lot of fun and laughs doing this. Holding our treasures in our hands, we made our nightly stroll around the Promenade. It was a little windy and cool that night. We saw 2 other people that night, which was a first. Maybe they were security keeping an eye on us. LOL Back at the room, we had a towel monkey hanging from one of the pictures. We had seen Rita and Drus days before. Their room steward whos name was DaDing, kept adding new items to it every time he was in their room. Rita and Dru added items to it too. It was the cutest thing by the time the cruise ended. We filled out our breakfast order, hung it on the door, and headed off to dream land on our dream mattress. Looking forward to our last sea day tomorrow!! Friday 10/28~Sea Day I cant believe that this cruise is almost over. We had our breakfast delivered at 9:30. It was almost bittersweet eating it. I am really going to miss this morning ritual when I get home. We had planned on going to the disembarkation talk in the Vista Lounge at 10:30 but decided to skip it. We knew that they would be showing it on TV later that day and we could watch it then. We had some time to kill so we started packing. Its hard to believe that this cruise is almost over. We had a bunch of poker players in our group so we decided to have a Texas Hold Em game in our room at noon. Tony went down to the casino and got rolls of quarters for each of us. It was a $10 buy in. We had a lot of fun. Most of the group were very good players but Im not. I had to use a cheat sheet so I would know what hand would beat another. LOL But when the game was over, I came out $1 ahead so I guess I didnt do so badly. At 1:15, it was time to get ready for our 2:00 martini class and our surprise for Bong. We had decided to come to the class dressed in TOGAS!! Im not sure which one of us came up with this idea. Each of us had gotten king size sheets from our room stewards. It was really funny trying to explain to Djoko what I needed these for. I dont think he understood the toga thing but he got them for us anyway. Rob and Marty decided not to join us for this adventure. Willie and I had borrowed some fern fronds from some flower arrangements the night before. Jackie and Phil had gotten some too on their secret mission. Jackie made Phil a glorious crown with them. She made a beautiful crown for herself out of some paper streamers that had been hanging in the disco. She also made earrings and a necklace out of the little chocolates they leave on your bed. Phil also scored on some plastic grapes from a display somewhere. The two of them looked spectacular!! The boys got dressed in our room and the girls went to Tony and Pattys room to get dressed. Im not sure what went on in their room but we had a lot of laughs in ours. None of us had ever been to a toga party before and trying to get those things on was hilarious. Patty decided that she wanted her toga to be a little different so she used the cloth shower curtain as hers. After lots of wrapping, tying, and safety pinning, we went over to the boys room. They looked fabulous!! Tony had made himself a medallion necklace out of one of my chocolates. I had brought double-sided poster tape with me to hang some door decorations. This came in quite handy to attach the ferns to Willie, Tony, and Drus head. LOL We were all ready so off to the class we went. What a sight the 8 of us were!! We heard people say, I didnt read about a toga party in the bulletin. Others asked us where the party was being held. But the best one was the 2 sweet little old ladies who asked us, Which one of you got married? It was all we could do not to totally crack up. I had nametags left over from the CC get together. We all made up names and put them on. Heres a small sample of some of the names: Trojan Troy, Caesar Salad, Goddess of Mammories, and Philicious. For those of you who havent been on this ship, the Martini Bar is right across from the front desk. The looks on the girls faces as we passed by was priceless! We came up to the bar and sat down on our stools. I thought Bong was going to fall on the floor laughing!! He looked at us and said, You win!! I have to admit that those outfits beat anything Ive ever seen. Willie had arranged with the ships photographer to be at the Martini Bar to take pictures at 1:45. He showed up right on time. He took pictures of each couple and a group one on the staircase. The group one turned out really good and I bought it for my cruise scrapbook. By this time, we were starting to draw a crowd. Word must have gotten out about the crazy people at the Martini Bar. Even the cruise director Jimmy stopped by. Quite a few people stopped to take pictures. The 3 martini drinks Bong taught us were a Candy Apple Cosmopolitan, a Kiwi Drop, and an Espresso Martini. All 3 were very tasty. Our buddy Bong was nice enough to make sure he refilled our glasses with the extra ones he had made. After the class we all went up to the Lido and got some goodies to bring back to our room. We had paninis, sub sandwiches, pizza, cookies, and veges with some dip. We hadnt eaten any lunch and we were all were starving, which is very hard to do on a cruise. To see all these people wearing togas and carrying trays of food through the ship had be to quite funny. The reason we had everyone back to our room was Willie was going to hook up our digital camera through the TV and show the pictures we had taken of everyone during the cruise. Rob and Marty joined us there. We had a great time!! We all came up with funny comments about each of the pictures. Some of the pictures were quite funny. Nothing better than taking someones picture when they are least expecting it. LOL After everyone left, Willie and I finished our packing. I think I hate doing that more than leaving the ship. I can never fit all that stuff back in the same suitcases. Afterwards we went down to the shops. I bought myself a DAM SHIPS t-shirt. I like to plan ahead and Ill need that for our group cruise next October. We also bought some booze to take home as the prices were just to good to pass up. We then went over to the photo gallery. I have a system about pictures. During the week, I find ours and put them all together in the same spot. Then, on the last night we sit down and go over all of them and decide which ones we want. I find that we get a better price with the package deals than if we buy them one at a time. Purchases in hand, we went back to the room to get ready for our last dinner together with our wonderful group. Oh, I forgot something!! At 4:00 was the finals for the Oosterdam Superstar. We didnt go as we were having the party in our room at that time. But the one we had been hoping would win did. It was David!! His voice was very good, smooth, and velvety. We were very happy that the judges recognized that and picked him. Before dinner, I took the time and filled out our comment card. I made sure that I let them know that I didnt care for this test run of Leisure Dining. I had made sure it didnt affect our table but I dont want them to change from the traditional dining. It was the reason we chose HAL over all the other choices out there. I know a lot of you reading this review feel the same way as I do about it. At 8:00, we arrived in the dining room. It was a great dinner and Charlie gave us his usual superior service. We tipped him extra for being so good all week. Between the wine packages and TA wine gifts that needed to be finished, we had a very good time. LOL Everyone exchanged addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses. We each said a little something about what this cruise and our new friends meant to us. Rita, Dru, Willie, and I are already booked for the CC group cruise in Oct.06. Our goal is to get the rest of the group to book it also. After dinner we all went to see DJ Melis one last time in the disco. Tonights theme was rock it till we dock it. From 10:30 to 11:30, it was Karaoke so we tried the Piano Bar. The place was packed again so we went to the casino for one last shot at lady luck. Lady luck shot us down!! The slot machines were like a vacuumed cleaner; sucked it all up and nothing came back out. LOL We went back to the disco for a couple of dances. I also wanted to find our cocktail server Arin and give him a little something extra. He had taken really good care of our group. One more dance and then we left. So much for rock till we dock! LOL With tonight being our last night on the ship, we strolled twice around the Promenade. It was a very cool and windy night and the sea was quite choppy. I noticed when we went down for dinner that there were little holders hanging by the elevators filled with empty barf bags. This was the first time Id ever seen that and we have sailed during a hurricane once. It must be just another wonderful HAL touch. All too soon it was time to go back to the room. I was hoping to get one last towel animal but no luck. The funny thing about that was I had looked in the stool under the vanity earlier in the week. There were 4 towel animals stored in there. Im not sure why Djoko decided to only give us three. But he had been wonderful all week long so we have no complaints. We tipped him extra also. No breakfast form to fill out as we all had decided to meet for breakfast in the dining room at 7:30. Stood out on the balcony for a few minutes not wanting to let the night end. Tomorrow and reality would come soon enough. Finally, I could hear that fabulous HAL mattress calling my name and I came back inside. Next: Breakfast, disembarkation, and final thoughts Saturday 10/29 Since we had to be up so early, we had asked for a wake-up call to our room. When that phone rang, reality started to set in. Our cruise would be ending in just a few hours. It was at that time that I wished it had been a 10 day cruise or that we had booked a back-to-back. It had all seemed to fly by so fast. It was sunny and warm in San Diego that morning. All I could think about was how lucky the people who would be getting on the ship were. The sailaway party is much more fun when the weather is nice. Took a quick shower and packed up the last of our carryons. We met the rest of the group in front of the Vista Dining room. The Maitre d asked how many of us there were and we said 10. By the look on his face, I knew there would be a problem. He said that we would have to be sat at two different tables. I explained that we all wanted to sit at the same table and he said that would be impossible. We were shown to 2 tables, which happened to right next to the table we had eaten dinner at for the entire cruise. It was EMPTY!! I asked why we couldnt sit at that one and the guy said that it wasnt available. I said it looked like it was. He said that it wasnt set for breakfast. I said that it looked like it was set with all the same stuff as the one they wanted to seat us at. By this time Phil was starting to get mad at the absurdity of all this and said he would be right back. Im not sure what he said to the Maitre d' but when he came back, we were sat at the table for 10. Way to go Phil!! It was wonderful to be able to sit all together at our table for one last time. Service was good although it wasnt our Charlie. He must have had the morning off or was working somewhere else on the ship. The food was good but I was disappointed not to see Eggs Benedict on the menu. I had really wanted to have one last order before I left the ship. When we were done with breakfast, we stopped outside the Vista Lounge and took a couple of group pictures. We all hugged and said our good-byes. Willie and I went back to our room to wait. I love this about HAL!! They let you wait in your room until your number is called. Every other cruise line we have sailed with makes you go to a lounge or somewhere to wait. Just one more little touch that has made me a true HAL fan now!! All too soon our number was called and it was time to disembark. It went very smooth and fast. The only thing that was weird was when we went through immigration, they never looked at our passports!! They just took our form and sent us on our way. If this is how they handle security in our ports, I think they better step up their game a lot. It was a short cab ride back to the airport. Jackie and Phil were flying out also, so we sat and talked while we waited for our flights. The flight home was smooth and we soon arrived in rainy Oregon. What a change from what we had just experienced the last 7 days!! But we do have another cruise to look forward to. We left the ship on 10/29 and in one year, on the same date, we will be getting on the Westerdam for our group cruise. Final Thoughts: This was our first HAL cruise. I had researched HAL quite a bit before we booked. I had heard all the things about this being an old persons cruise line. Nothing could be farther from the truth!! It was a nice mix of ages, with a lot of baby boomers on it. We saw very few kids and the couple we did see, were very well behaved. The pictures in the brochure or online dont do this ship justice. I had thought by the pictures that the color scheme was a little loud and obnoxious. But seeing them in person, they are really quite beautiful. The artwork around the ship is gorgeous. So many beautiful statues and I loved the benches with the pads on them. And the paintings are breathtaking and very well done. It adds so much more to the cruise to be surrounded by these things. I loved the elevators that are on the outside at midship. It was always fun to see outside instead of looking at the doors. LOL The teak lounge chairs on the promenade are a great place to watch the ocean go by. Those reclining chairs in the Crows Nest are to die for. What a wonderful place to relax, read, or take a nap. The service we encountered for the most part was very good. Everyone was friendly, personable, and always smiling. They all seemed to like their jobs. Being in the restaurant business, I know how demanding some guests can be. At all times was the staff professional, even when they werent treated with the respect that they deserved. After reading the boards for almost a year, I had my doubts that HAL could really be as good as everyone had said. I was wrong and I am now a HAL fan!! What really made this cruise special were the new friends we made. It would have been a good cruise but meeting them made it outstanding. We had so much fun, laughs, and good times with our crazy group. I have wonderful memories of all of them and I hope that we will all sail together again someday. Big hugs to each and every one of you!!

Oosterdam - Mexican Riviera

Oosterdam Cruise Review by stanford's girl

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: October 2005
  • Destination: Mexican Riviera
  • Cabin Type: Signature Superior Verandah Suite
Just got back from the 10/22 Oosterdam. We have cruised other lines but this was our first HAL cruise. My hubby (Willie) and I were celebrating our 20 year wedding anniversary and were traveling with my BIL (Tony) and SIL (Patty). Heres my review on this cruise.
Saturday 10/22 We flew down to San Diego from Portland, OR. We arrived to find sunny San Diego overcast, drizzly, and cool. It is a very short cab ride from the airport to the terminal. We waited in line about 20 minutes, got our picture taken and boarded the ship at 12:15. We went up to the Lido Buffet and got a bite to eat. We were very impressed with the variety and freshness of all the food.
Before we boarded the ship, we were given a paper explaining the new Leisure Dining. It said if we had any questions that a table would be set up outside the Vista Dining Room from 1- 4 pm. Needless to say, I was the first one in line as the paper was written very poorly and was confusing. I explained that I still wanted my same table, with the same people I booked with, with the same server every night, and at the time that I had booked, which was 8:30. He put all of this into his computer and said that it would be taken care of.
Our cabin was ready at 1:10 and we went to see our home for the next 7 days. We had booked a SS (6072) and were very surprised how big it was. The bathroom was wonderful, with its 2 sinks and jacuzzi tub. We always had inside or outside cabins in the past so the balcony was spectacular. We met our room steward Djoko. He was like a stealth bomber. We hardly ever saw him but our room was always well taken care of. We asked him to unlock the partition between our room and Tony and Pattys. If we asked for anything, he would always arrive with a smile.
We had ordered 2 bottles of Skyy vodka from Ship Services to be waiting for us in our room but they werent there. We called and asked that they be delivered to our room. They said they would send them right up. And so began the great bottle fiasco. LOL After 45 minutes and still nothing, we called again and they said it was on its way.
We went out to look around the ship. I met Rita (Renorita) and we went up to the bow to wave to the port web cam. Lisa (LaffNVegas) was nice enough to capture and post the pictures of us waving like two crazy women. Willie and Tony were having beers by the Lido pool and started talking to a guy at the next table. Turns out it was Phil who is married to Jackie (Hairbender), who was on our roll call. I thought I heard the song Its A Small World when he told me about it. Phil and Jackie would end up becoming one of our crazy group.
When we came back to the room, there still werent any bottles. By this time I was starting to wonder if we had made a mistake by booking HAL. I found a card on the bed saying that they didnt have Skyy on the ship and they would credit my account. I had just passed a bar and had seen that familiar blue bottle sitting there. I called them up and informed them that they must have made a mistake because I just saw it. They said they would check into it and get back to me.
After 30 minutes and no call, I called back again. She said that the bottle I saw was the only one on the ship and since it was already opened, they couldnt give it to me. I asked her what other kind of vodka they had and she named off 4 kinds. I asked her the prices of them and &&.. you guessed it; she said she would have to call me back with that information.
By this time it was ready for the Muster Drill, so we grabbed our life jackets and off we went. The Drill lasted about 15 minutes. We headed back to our room looking forward to having a drink on our balcony during sailaway. We walked in and saw NO BOTTLES!! My sweet hubby, who by this time had lost some of his sweetness, went over to the phone and called again. She told him the prices and he said send Absolut instead and have it here in 5 minutes. She said she would. We waited 15 and still nothing so we decided to go up to the Sailaway party.
Just as we walked in, my hubby spotted Angie the Asst. Beverage Manager and told her of our problem. She said she would take care of it immediately. Sailaway was dampened somewhat by the weather but we were so excited to begin our cruise, that we just ignored the weather and celebrated the fact that we were off.
When we arrived back in our room the bottles were there. Angie called later to check and make sure that they had arrived. Not only is she beautiful but very efficient too. Also, we had chocolate covered strawberries delivered the next day from Vangie and Sandra (the telephone concierges) with a nice note apologizing for the inconvenience we had experienced.
By this time I needed a drink. LOL
As we started to get ready for dinner, my hubby said, I think we have a problem. I thought what the heck is it now. He said, I dont have any pants. I looked at him and said, Are you kidding me? He said, Im not kidding. All my pants are back home hanging in the closet. I started to laugh until I had tears running down my face. The only pants he had were the jogging pants he had on and the pants to his suit!!
We went downstairs to the shops as we figured that they must have some type of mens wear. Wrong!!! If you need a dress, shoes, jewelry, purses, shorts, t-shirts or sweatshirts, then you can shop till you drop. Poor hubby would just have to get by with his suit pants until we could buy something in Cabo on Monday.
We called room service and had shrimp cocktails, cheese, and smoked salmon delivered to our room. Tony and Patty came over and joined us. We then headed up to the Vista Dining Room to see how this new dining thing would work.
We were shown to our table (243), which was a table for 10. Rita and her DH Dru were there and also Rob (Lopaka007) and his DW Marty. We had crossed referenced our booking numbers to make sure we would all be together. The other 2 mystery people never showed up that night but thats another story.
Our server was Charlie and he was wonderful. Always smiling, very nice, and always willing to get us whatever we asked for. Charlie was really put to the test all week long by Tony, who always ordered like he was eating for 2. It became quite the joke as the week went on. Our wine steward was name Willy, which made for some laughs as my DH is Willie. I really wish I had written down what we ate each night as it was always fabulous.
After dinner, we all went to the disco and did some dancing. The music was good and fit the age of the crowd. The DJ was Melis and she is an Asst. Cruise Director. What an asset she is to HAL. She is personable and very nice. She would take requests too. Our server in the disco was Arin. He was always smiling and checking up on us. We had the same booth every night. I had a friend from this board (Copper) suggest I order a Wang-Wang to drink. It was a good suggestion and it became my drink of choice for the cruise.
As we left the disco to head off to bed, Willie and I took a stroll around the promenade. This became a nightly ritual. It was a nice time to talk about the days events and what we had planned for the next day.
It was a good first day!
Sunday 10/23~Sea Day
We slept in until 9:30 because those HAL mattresses are so darn comfortable. We showered, dressed and went up to the Crows Nest for some Team Trivia at 10:30. This was perfect, as I had planned a CC get together for our Roll Call from 11 to 12 there. I had made the arrangements with HAL a month before. Our trivia team didnt win but we had a lot of fun.
A little before 11, I saw them setting up the coffee, tea, and cookies that HAL provided for us at no charge. Shirley (Wandering Winos) had made invitations that I had the front desk deliver the night before. Attached to the invitation was a list of the names and room numbers of all those on our roll call, which I had put together. This came in handy during the week. Shirley also made door signs for Rita and I too. She is very creative.
It was a great turn out. Almost everyone who had been posting on the roll call for the last 10 months showed up. It was wonderful to be able to put a face to the name. We talked like we had been friends for years. It was a great group of people and it was nice to see a familiar face to say Hi to as you walked the ship in the days to come. Id love to mention each one by name but the list is long (46 people). For those of you that were there, please know that I have fond memories of that party.
We left the party a little after 12 and went to the disco, as there was a line dancing class with DJ Melis at 12:15. She taught us 3 dances and made it look so easy. But when we tried it, we didnt look quite as smooth as her. LOL But we did get a little better as the class went on. We had a lot of fun and laughs too.
We had missed breakfast and were hungry, so up to the Lido we went. I had a huge salad with all sorts of goodies on it. Their salad bar is quite good as is their ice tea also. Willie had a panini, which became his lunch choice everyday.
By then it was Name That TV Tune at 2:15 in the Disco, so we went back to spend some time with DJ Melis. We got 14 out of 20, which gave us second place. The first place team got 18 correct. Darn them, I really wanted that key chain.
At 3:15, it was up to the Vista Dining Room for Royal Dutch Tea. There was a wonderful array of pastries and chocolate covered fruit. The tea was good but not very hot. It is a nice tradition and one not to be missed.
We had been on the go since we had gotten up so went back to the room for a little rest and relaxation. Love that mattress!!
It was our first formal night. We had cocktails in the room while dressing and then met everyone in the Crows Nest for pre-dinner dancing. The group Tonis Boys was playing and they are quite good. We decided to skip the Captains Champagne Reception, as the line was soooo long to get in. We stopped and had formal pictures taken before going in to dinner.
It was so nice to see everyone dressed in their finest. I didnt see one person who wasnt dressed up. But the most eye-catching outfit was a guy who had an all red suit, with a red shirt and red tie. This outfit was topped off by matching gloves, shoes, and a hat. All I can say is you had to see it, to believe it.
It was another fabulous dinner. Jackie and Phil joined us as Rita and Dru had gone to the Pinnacle for dinner. The 2 mystery people didnt show up again tonight. Since this was the second night they hadnt shown up, we had Jackie and Phil moved to our table permanently.
After dinner, it was off to the Disco for some Karaoke. It was the auditions for the Oosterdam Superstar. Some of them were painful to listen to and some were great. Patty, Dru, and Jackie all sang beautifully and made the cut. We stayed around for some dancing afterwards. Then it was time for our Promenade stroll before calling it a night. We filled out our room service breakfast order and hung it on the door before retiring.
Another wonderful day!!
Monday 10/24~Cabo
We awoke to a beautiful view. Lucky us, we had a room on the port side and we were anchored facing El Arco (the arch). There were already many boats out by it and a graceful clipper ship was just passing by. The weather at 8 am was already warm.
We had breakfast delivered to our balcony at 9 am. We did this for the entire cruise. It was the perfect way to start the day. This must be a little taste of how the rich live. LOL It was delivered on time and it was hot, not warm. That really surprised us, as it hasnt been the case on other lines we have sailed with. Thumbs up for HAL! I am starting to understand how the HAL fans feel about this line.
We enjoyed the ham and cheese omelets, english muffins, fresh fruit, and juice. The little jar of red raspberry preserves was outstanding. It was almost as good as mine.
We hadnt planned on getting off the ship in Cabo as we have been there so many times. But since my husband only had 1 pair of long pants for the trip, we had to. I went down to the Queens lounge to pick up our tender numbers. We were given # 38 and they were only on # 21.
I went back to the room to put on sunscreen, as it was suppose to get into the low 90s that day. Grabbed a hat and my sunglasses, and we were off to the Queens lounge to wait for our number to be called.
They were only on # 28 when we got back. A few minutes after we sat down, a lady came up to us and asked if we would like to switch numbers with her. Her friend wasnt feeling well and had gone back up to the room for a bit. Her number was 31 and was just being called, so we said yes and thanked her.
In all our previous cruises we had never tendered, so it was somewhat exciting to see how this would work. The water was pretty calm so we didnt have the problem of getting on, as Ive read so much about. The only thing I dont like about them is there isnt any open windows and it was really hot in there.
We arrived at the dock and so began the quest for a pair of long pants. I thought we would find them fast and be back on the ship for an afternoon by the pool. How wrong I was about that. LOL
The front desk had suggested that we go to Puerto Paraiso Mall, which is about a 10 minute walk from the dock. They said that they would have the most selection. It is a beautiful mall and the air conditioning was a welcome relief from the heat.
We stopped in the first shop that had mens wear and asked if they had long pants. By the look on the womans face, you would have thought we were martians asking to be taken to her leader. LOL We finally got out of her that they didnt carry any and we left.
This mall is a womans dream. At least 75 percent of the shops are womens clothes!! The other 24 percent are assorted shops of household goods, pharmacies, and souvenir shops. The other 1 percent is mens wear.
We finally found the other mens store and they had a pair of pants that were OK but nothing special. But since this was all we could find, we thought we might as well get them. We asked the price and I nearly fell over when she told us $210 U.S.!!! I laughed and looked at my hubby and said, Your suit pants will work fine for another day. He agreed, as he would never spend that much on a pair of pants either.
We left the mall and started back toward the ship. As we walked through the town, we looked for something that might resemble a pair of slacks or Dockers. Everywhere you look, you see men in long pants. Im not sure where they buy these at because we couldnt find any. Maybe we will have better luck in Mazatlan tomorrow.
This quest for the pants had been going on for over 3 hours. It was really hot by then. All I wanted to do was get back on the ship and take a nice swim in the pool, while drinking something strong that would come with a paper umbrella.
I loved the fact that as you get back to where the tenders are waiting, HAL has cold water and lemonade waiting for you. Just another one of the little touches that is slowly making me become a HAL fan.
When we got back to the ship, I wasnt feeling really well. I thought it was hunger so off to the Lido we went. Had a few bites of a salad and the feeling got worse. I went back to the room to lie down for a while. I think the heat had gotten to me. After an hour, I was feeling better and went down to the aft pool.
As I walked out and all I saw was&..Big, Burly, Bears everywhere!! Now before you think that HAL has added a zoo to the ship, let me explain. These bears were Chumleys Bears, which is a gay mens group of large men. There had to be close to 150 of them. They seemed to take over the entire aft pool. At first look, they were a little intimidating as there was so many of them.
But myself, being the shy wallflower that I am, I just walked right over and plopped myself down in a lounge chair. After reading these boards, I had decided that no group was going to keep me out of anything.
These guys were a lot of fun. My only complaint was that a few of them seemed to feel the need to shove their lifestyle in everyones face. I dont want to see gay or straight people grabbing each other or playing tonsil hockey. JMHO
Spent a little time getting some sun and hanging out in the pool when it became too hot.
Funny story that happened by the pool that day: One of the Bears chair back had broke and one of his friends was trying to fix it for him. He kept on trying and couldnt get it fixed and was starting to get frustrated. He finally said in a really loud voice, Where the heck are the lesbians when you need them? A couple of women sitting off to the side raised their hands and said Were over here, what do you need? Everyone by the pool started howling with laughter.
Went back to the room later and took a nap. That hot Mexican sun can really zap you.
We went to dinner about 8:00. We had asked Charlie the night before if we could come sooner than 8:30 that night. Our 3 Superstars had to be in the Queens Lounge by 9:15 and we didnt want them to be late.
Charlie was fantastic!! He flew us through dinner and we were able to get there on time. We even got front row seats to root our 3 favorites on. The missing tablemates still havent shown up.
The competition had 18 people in it. The cruise director Jimmy played the Simon part, the female lead singer from the shows played Paula, and the guy who handles all the stage shows was Randy. Forgive me as Ive forgotten their names.
It was a whole lot of fun to watch. The comments and critiques made by the judges were funny. Just as the previous night, some were great and some were not.
After all had sung, the judges had to pick the top 5 to move on to the next round. We were really hoping that Patty, Dru, and Jackie would all make it.
After a few minutes, they announced the top 5. PATTY MADE IT!! We were sad that all 3 hadnt made it but at least we had 1 to root for during the next round.
Afterwards we went to the disco as it was all requests night. Had a great time dancing, then spent a little time in the casino. I lost at slots and Willie won at craps, so it all worked out evenly.
We called it an early evening as we had to get up for our shore excursion at 7:00 the next morning. Took our nightly stroll on the promenade and went back to our room. Hung our breakfast order on door and were soon asleep on that fabulous HAL mattress.
Looking forward to what tomorrow will bring!!
Tuesday 10/25~Mazatlan
Up at 7:00 and had breakfast delivered at 7:30. It was delicious and hot as usual. No tendering today so getting off the ship went very fast. The weather was a warm 88 degrees.
We had booked Randis Happy Horses a few months before. I had found this excursion on the CC board and it was a really good choice. Dru, Rita, Patty, Willie, and myself would be riding and Tony would go and wait for us at Victors. Shirley (Wandering Winos) would be riding with her group too.
Randi was waiting for us at 8:30 and took us to the boats, which would take us to Stone Island. It is a place that takes you back in time. Not the hustle and bustle of the big city but life in a much simpler time.
We arrived at Stone Island and a tractor pulling an open seating area, took us through the town and up to where we would be getting on our horses.
Randi is a wonderful and interesting woman with a great sense of humor. She told us the history of Stone Island and the people who lived there.
We finally arrived where the horses are. They asked you if you were an experienced rider or not and they gave you the right horse for you ability. The horses are beautiful and very well taken care of.
I was given a horse called Pelican. He is also known by his nickname Snacker, which became very apparent as the ride went on.
We started out and rode through beautiful plantations and ended up on the beach. This is not a nose-to-tail type of ride. The only thing that Randi asks is that you keep the group in site. My horse was slow and was always in the very back of the group on the first half of the ride. But that didnt bother me as I was enjoying the scenery.
You ride down the beach on the waters edge. Some of the group were very good riders and were galloping down the beach. Others were just walking along slowly. Willie looked like a professional gaucho on his horse. And Patty rode like she had been doing this all her life.
Note to potential women riders: Wear a good supportive or sports bra. You will definitely need it!! LOL
When you get to a certain spot on the beach, you stop and hand your camera to one of the guides. They take your picture with the water as the background. It is a wonderful memento of a great ride. But for me the fun part of the ride was just beginning.
My slow, pokey horse must have decided that he had had enough of this heat and wanted to get back to the cool of the shade trees. A couple of horses took off galloping and you would have thought that someone put a firecracker in my horses behind. We were off like a bolt of lighting!! I was hanging on for dear life and bouncing up and down on that darn horse. I finally was able to stop him. He kept on trying to run again but I had had enough of that for the day.
One of the other woman riders caught up to me and said what a wonderful rider I was to be able to gallop like that. Little did she know!!! LOL
We got back to where we would leave the horses and it was a little difficult to get down from that horse. Thank goodness for the guides that help you down. It felt like I was walking like I had been riding for days. We walked slowly over to Victors restaurant, which is right on the beach.
What a great place this is! Randi shows you which 2 tables she has reserved for you. There are vendors all around and Randi will tell you which ones she can vouch for. If any of them start to bother you, Randi takes care of them.
I bought a beautiful pair of turquoise earrings for $16. Tony and Patty both got Henna tattoos, which last about 2 weeks. The guy who applied them did a wonderful job. Patty also picked up a few necklaces for her daughter. Rita and Dru bought the cutest little bear carved out of Ironwood for the person who was taking care of their dog back home.
If you are ever there, order the garlic shrimp. They are to die for!! If you part of a large group, order the platter. It has garlic and fried shrimp, BBQ ribs, and a whole grilled fish, which I think was Dorado (mahi). The food was great and the beers are cold.
You stay at Victors for about and hour and a half. You can swim in the ocean, take a walk along the beach, or take a nap in one of the hammocks.
All too soon it was time to leave. Another tractor ride and then on to the little boats to go back to the terminal.
If you are ever in Mazatlan, treat yourself to a day with Randis Happy Horses. It is terrific and you wont be disappointed.
By the terminal, there are all sorts of shops. We continued the quest for the long pants. Not a pair to be found anywhere. What do quys wear with all those shirts that the vendors were selling? We could have gone into town and looked some more but we were tired.
Got back on the ship and went out to the aft pool for a while and then back to the room for nap. Im really starting to like this afternoon nap thing.
We had everyone over to our room for cocktails and hors doeuvres at 7:00. We ordered cheese and smoked salmon from room service. It was the perfect couple of items to tide you over until dinner. Phil, Jackie, Rob, and Marty all went to Senor Frogs that day and we loved hearing about their adventure.
Charlie had told us last night that we could come at 8:00 for dinner instead of 8:30 for the rest of the cruise. It made it nicer not to have to rush through dinner to get to a show. It was another wonderful meal with great service by Charlie. And the missing tablemates still havent shown up. Cant figure this one out yet.
We went to the 10:30 show of Whyte. This is a musical tribute to the Beatles. It is performed by two brothers, Alan and Harry White, ages 20 and 21. They were quite good. They dressed in outfits like the early Beatles and played guitars from the 1960s to make a wonderful visual effect. With the age group of the audience, it was one big sing along.
Afterward we stopped in the disco to get our daily dose of DJ Melis. It was Night Fever night and they played hits from the 70 and 80s. We all danced a lot that night, which was amazing after the horseback riding that day. LOL
We ended the night with our usual Promenade stroll and went back to our room. Sitting on our bed was a towel elephant. He was really cute and we put him up on a shelf for the rest of the cruise.
I had called that afternoon and asked if I could get Eggs Benedict through room service as it is not on the menu. They told me to just write it in. So I filled out our breakfast order and hung it on the door. After the days activities, that HAL mattress felt even better than is usually did.
What a memorable day in Mazatlan!!
Wednesday 10/26~Puerto Vallarta
Today was our 20th wedding anniversary. We awoke to room service knocking on the door at 10:00. We had overslept and Im going to blame it on that fabulous HAL mattress. We had a romantic breakfast on the balcony. My Eggs Benedict were delicious. Starting out the day like this is something I recommend to everyone. It is so much nicer than heading up to the Lido or dining room. The food always arrived hot and on time.
I had made reservations at 1:30 for 2 couples massages at the Krystal Resort a few months ahead of time. I had found out about this place on CC also. PV time is one hour LATER than the ships time. They ask you to keep your watch on ships time. We went down to the tenders and got right on as there wasnt any line. The temperature today was 92.
Rob came with us as he and Tony were planning on going parasailing before the massages. Rob had already been to the Krystal before and knew the short cut. We walked and it took us about 5-7 minutes. It is an older resort that was probably very high-end about 10 years ago. It is well taken care of and the pools are beautiful. There is a main one with a bar and loud music. Over by the spa there is another one, which is much quieter.
Tony and Rob went down to the beach to find the guy who Rob had heard about. He was in front of the hotel next door. The two of them tried to talk Willie, Patty, and myself into doing it also but that was a big fat chance. We watched them from the safety of our lounge chairs. LOL
They said it was fantastic and very peaceful and quiet up there. It looked like fun but its not something I would ever do. If Im going to be up in the air, I want to be in a plane. The two of them loved it and would do it again. The cost was $40 each.
We checked in with the spa and they made us wait a few minutes, as our rooms werent ready yet. We had booked 2 rooms so all four of us could get our massages at the same time.
The rooms are very clean and there is soft, soothing music playing. There is a beautiful stained glass window that lets in just enough light. I had requested that women do the massages. They were very professional and had magical hands.
We all agreed that it was one of the best massages we had ever received. It lasted 75 minutes and cost only $30. We tipped our girls $10 each and they were worth every penny of it. If my husband could have, he would have taken his masseuse, whos name was Perla, home with him. LOL
Afterwards we spent some time by the pool. Make sure to bring your own towel, as they dont supply them.
We still were on the long pants quest for Willie and today would be the day we would find them. Where the tenders leave you off, there is a Wal-Mart right across the street!!
We walked over from the Krystal but I would take a cab if I had to do it again. My legs felt like rubber and I was so relaxed after the massage that it seemed like a really long walk.
The air conditioning was a welcome relief as we walked through the doors to Wal-Mart. It was great to look at all the different items they have in theirs. It was funny to see the prices in pesos, which made everything look like it cost hundreds of dollars.
But we were on a mission so off to the mens department we went. Their selection was decent and we found a pair of pants that were perfect. YIPPEE!!! The quest was over and we could go back to the ship.
Once on board, we stopped at the Lido for a quick bite and then back to the room for a little siesta. My husband is starting to wonder if I have a thing going with that HAL mattress. LOL
We had 8:00 dinner reservations for four at the Pinnacle that night. But since Patty had made it to the semi-finals of Superstar, we had called earlier to have it changed to 6:45.
I had requested a window table and Michael the Maitre d showed us to our table. It was perfect as you could see the lights from PV and also the lights from another ship in port.
From everything I had read on the boards, I was expecting to be wowed. I have to say that I wasnt that impressed with the service or the food. Both my husband and myself have been in the restaurant business for over 25 years so I feel we do have some knowledge in this area.
As for the service, he didnt take the womens order first. This is just common etiquette. Also, not once did any of the food we ordered, get delivered to the person who had ordered it. We were constantly switching plates.
The food was OK but nothing special. I think they should call the crab cakes nuggets instead as they are so small. The filet wasnt that great either. It had a mushy feel and taste to it.
We had a couple of different desserts. I had the crème brulee, which was so-so. Willie had the volcano cake and thought it was good. But Tony ordered what we all felt was the winner of the night. He ordered the Near Baked Alaska, which is made with Cherry Garcia ice cream, covered in meringue, and smothered in flambEd bing cherries.
This dinner was a gift from our TA. If we had paid for it, I would have been truly disappointed. We all felt the food in the dining room was just as good or better. And the service we got from Charlie was far superior to what we received in the Pinnacle. I know that everyone seems to love this place but it is something that we probably would not do again. JMHO
We left and went to the Queens Lounge for Superstar. We arrived early to make sure we could get a good seat. We met the rest of our group there and asked if the missing tablemates had shown up that night. They hadnt. We were starting to wonder if the word had gotten around the ship about our group. LOL
The show was a lot of fun. Patty looked fabulous and sang For Once In My Life beautifully. The other 4 were Julius, David, Melissa, and Vicki. Julius was a crack up. Not that good of a singer, more of a screamer. David had a beautiful voice and did a great job singing Spanish Eyes. Melissa sang I Will Survive and knocked it out of the ballpark. Vicki sang some country song, which was funny as Jimmy had already made the comment the night before that he didnt like country music.
The wait for the decision was nerve racking. They finally announced the winner and Patty didnt make it. The 3 finalists would be David, Melissa, and Vicki. Oh well, as Patty said It would just free up our next two sea days. LOL
Afterwards we went to the 10:30 late night comedy show in the Vista Lounge starring Mike Robinson. He was a ventriloquist and was pretty funny.
The Filipino crew show was right after that. We didnt stay for all of it. What we saw of it, it was very good and the crew is quite talented. Our Martini Bar bartender, Bong, was the MC of the show. Remember that name, as there are more adventures with him to come.
We had wanted to check out the Piano Bar since we boarded the ship. Last year when we had sailed on RCIs Explorer of the Seas, we had gone to the Schooner Bar, which is their version of a piano bar. We really enjoyed it and spent most of our nights there, as the disco was overrun with spring break kids.
Kory Simon is the man who tickles the ivories nightly in the Piano Bar on the Oosterdam. He is quite talented and is very funny too. A couple of our roll call people were there and we had a lot of fun singing along.
All too soon it was time to leave and we took our nightly Promenade Stroll. I highly recommend this romantic idea for anyone sailing as a couple. We would walk hand-in-hand singing our favorite songs. Im sure who was ever watching the security cameras had a good laugh every night watching us.
Back at the room, we were surprised with a towel dog on our bed. He was so cute and we placed him on the couch for the rest of the cruise. Filled in our breakfast order, hung it on the door and we were soon sound asleep on that cloud-like HAL mattress.
It was a wonderful 20th Anniversary!!
Thursday 10/27~Sea Day
I love sea days!! For us, the ship is always the destination and the places it goes is just an added bonus.
We slept in and breakfast was delivered at 9:30. It still amazes me how they could cook it, get it up to my room, and it would still be hot. It was a beautiful morning and we loved watching the ocean.
At 11:15 we went to the Crows Nest for some Team Trivia. We came in second again. Looks like we are going to have to buy that HAL coffee mug ourselves. LOL
Tony entered the Blackjack tournament, which had qualifying rounds from 11:30 to 2:30. He was in the top three for quite a while. But by the end, other players passed him and he ended up in 10th place. They only took the top 7.
I went out to the pool with Patty about 12:15 and we met Jackie and Phil. The weather was perfect, not too hot. We grabbed a lounge chair and settled in for a couple of hours in the sun.
At 1:15, they had 2 guys do ice carvings by the pool. It is totally amazing what they can make out of a big chunk of ice. They just kept chiseling away and before long you could see the finished product. One of them made an Indian Chief with a full headdress and the other was a beautiful sailfish. What an incredible talent!
At 1:30, it was Wet and Wacky pool games. I had just gotten my lunch from the Lido and brought it out to enjoy while watching the fun and games. Well, they needed 2 more women for one of the teams and Patty said Come on, lets do it. It sounded like silly fun and so up our hands went and we were in. My lunch would have to wait. LOL
They had 2 teams of 6, 3 men and 3 women on each one. We named our team Wang Wang after my favorite drink and the other team was called Rehab which was self-explanatory. Obviously, two totally different types of players. LOL
The first game was the famous passing the orange under the chin. You had to line up boy/girl and pass it all the way down the team line and back again. Now we have all played this game at some time in our lives. But playing it in a bathing suit brings it to a whole different level. If your orange slips, it can have all kinds of hilarious results. Ill let you imagination run wild with this one. Our team came in second but we had the crowd roaring with laughter.
The second game was passing the hula hoop while holding hands. We lined up holding hands. You had to get it over your head, step through it, and get it to the next person without letting go of each others hands. We did this one very well and came in first. It was all tied up at one a piece!!
The third game was synchronized swimming. They gave us one minute to come up with a routine. Team Rehab went first and their entry into the water was very good. Their routine was OK but nothing outstanding. Our turn was next and our entry wasnt as good as theirs. But our routine was very good. Even the guys looked very graceful. We came in second, which I think was because of our entry. The score was now 2 to 1, in favor of team rehab.
The last one was swimming with a ship between your legs. They had a blow-up ship that was about 16 inches long. You had to put this between your thighs, dive into the water, swim the pool back and forth, and then pass it off to the next player. Sounds so much easier than it is!
I was the second one in line for our team. The hand off was smooth and I put it between my thighs and dove it. As soon as I hit the water, the ship shot out into the air like a rocket! After getting it back in position, I was laughing so hard that it was hard to keep swimming.
Our team came in second and we lost to Team Rehab. But we did win a key chain and they gave us a yummy rum punch drink. It was a lot of fun and we made the DVD that you can buy at the end of the cruise. Im not sure if that is a good thing though. LOL
At 3:30, it was off to Martini class with Bong and our entire group went. Bong is wonderful and makes this class a lot of fun. Or maybe it was just the martinis that made it seem that way. LOL
They charge $20 to take this class but it was worth it in drinks and entertainment. This was the second of 3 classes. Some of our group made the first one but I didnt. After this class, I wish I had.
The three we tasted were a Green Apple, a Blue Glacier Drop, and a Chocolate martini. They all were great and you get a full martini glass of each!
Bong mentioned that his last class had shown up wearing their bathrobes to the graduation class. He said it was funny and something he would remember. I guess he forgot which group he was talking to as that was like the gauntlet being thrown in front of us. LOL Our minds started racing and we came up with a better idea. But youll have to wait until tomorrows installment to see what that was.
After the class, I stopped by the front desk to buy my cruise lottery tickets. It is $10 for one or $20 for 3 chances. If you win, it is a free Caribbean cruise for two!!! Not a bad pay off if you win, which I didnt. But the dream kept me going until they announced the winner at 10 pm on Friday night.
We went back to our room to get ready for the last formal night. It was early but I wanted to see the show Escape at 6:30 in the Vista Lounge before dinner. Willie stayed in the room and finished the book he was reading.
What a fabulous show!! Lots of music from the 70s and 80s. The two lead singers were very good but just didnt have the romantic chemistry between them that they were trying to portray. But the singing and dancing was entertaining. I would see it again if I had the chance.
I went back to the room afterwards to get Willie and we went down to have formal pictures taken. They turned out really well and we ended up buying one on Friday. We always buy one of the formal night ones for a special souvenir.
Just before Willie and I showed up at the dinner table, guess who finally showed up? The famous missing tablemates!! Phil said they just sort of stood by the table and stared. After the 2nd night they hadnt shown up, we had moved Jackie and Phil to our table permanently. They just kept staring so Phil got up and talked with them. He explained to them that since they hadnt shown up, we figured they had made other arrangements and had moved another couple to our table. Charlie then came over and showed them to another table. And I missed the whole darn thing!! All I know about them was that is was two women.
I still cant believe that they would show up after not being there for 6 nights. They hadnt even come in once to say hello or say that they would be eating somewhere else on any given night. By their manners, I would say we didnt miss much with these two.
It was steak & lobster night in the dining room. All of us had been looking forward to this all week long. We had warned Charlie the night before that we would be partaking of more than just one lobster each. He didnt fail us!! I had 3 and they were very good, not over done or mushy. But Tony was the winner that night with 10 lobsters, 3 escargots, soup, salad, and his usual 3 desserts. But it was also Baked Alaska night and he had some of that too. LOL The steak was about the size of a hockey puck and tasted like one too.
It was a disappointment not to have the Baked Alaska parade through the dining room. I know some people dislike it but for me its a tradition that is part of the cruise. They had it for the 5:30 seating but for the leisure seating, it was just brought to the table by your waiter.
We left the dining room and went to the Queens Lounge for the Newlywed, Not So Newlywed Game at 9:45. The place was packed to the rafters! Im not why they didnt hold this in the Vista Lounge as it could hold more people. The second showing of Escape had gotten over around 9:30 and it would have been open.
We only stayed for a few minutes. It was standing room only and it was just too crowded and hot in there. But heres a funny story about one of the couples on stage.
It was the oldest couple and they had been married for over 60 years. The question they asked the woman was What is his favorite kind of condiment? She answered Ketchup. They then brought the man out and asked him the same question. His answer was&&&. TROJANS!!!! He obviously hadnt heard the question correctly and thought they had said condoms. The whole place erupted in laughter and the cruise director Jimmy was speechless. The look on the wifes face was priceless!!
We left and went to the Piano Bar but it was packed, so it was off to the Disco to see DJ Melis. That night was called Dance Through The Decades and it was music that started in the 50s and went through the 80s. We grabbed our usual booth and had a great time that night.
The Dessert Extravaganza was that night from 10:15 until 11:30. We were all so full from dinner that only Patty went and brought back some goodies for us. The chocolate covered strawberries were very good. They tasted like they had just been picked that morning.
Willie and I went over again to try and see Kory in the Piano Bar at 11:30 but the place was still packed. He is so much fun that people go there and just stay for the evening.
We went back to the disco and stayed until the wee hours of the morning. When we left, we went on a secret mission around the ship to get things for our surprise for Bong and the martini class tomorrow. We had a lot of fun and laughs doing this.
Holding our treasures in our hands, we made our nightly stroll around the Promenade. It was a little windy and cool that night. We saw 2 other people that night, which was a first. Maybe they were security keeping an eye on us. LOL
Back at the room, we had a towel monkey hanging from one of the pictures. We had seen Rita and Drus days before. Their room steward whos name was DaDing, kept adding new items to it every time he was in their room. Rita and Dru added items to it too. It was the cutest thing by the time the cruise ended.
We filled out our breakfast order, hung it on the door, and headed off to dream land on our dream mattress.
Looking forward to our last sea day tomorrow!!
Friday 10/28~Sea Day
I cant believe that this cruise is almost over. We had our breakfast delivered at 9:30. It was almost bittersweet eating it. I am really going to miss this morning ritual when I get home.
We had planned on going to the disembarkation talk in the Vista Lounge at 10:30 but decided to skip it. We knew that they would be showing it on TV later that day and we could watch it then. We had some time to kill so we started packing. Its hard to believe that this cruise is almost over.
We had a bunch of poker players in our group so we decided to have a Texas Hold Em game in our room at noon. Tony went down to the casino and got rolls of quarters for each of us. It was a $10 buy in.
We had a lot of fun. Most of the group were very good players but Im not. I had to use a cheat sheet so I would know what hand would beat another. LOL But when the game was over, I came out $1 ahead so I guess I didnt do so badly.
At 1:15, it was time to get ready for our 2:00 martini class and our surprise for Bong. We had decided to come to the class dressed in TOGAS!! Im not sure which one of us came up with this idea. Each of us had gotten king size sheets from our room stewards. It was really funny trying to explain to Djoko what I needed these for. I dont think he understood the toga thing but he got them for us anyway. Rob and Marty decided not to join us for this adventure.
Willie and I had borrowed some fern fronds from some flower arrangements the night before. Jackie and Phil had gotten some too on their secret mission. Jackie made Phil a glorious crown with them. She made a beautiful crown for herself out of some paper streamers that had been hanging in the disco. She also made earrings and a necklace out of the little chocolates they leave on your bed. Phil also scored on some plastic grapes from a display somewhere. The two of them looked spectacular!!
The boys got dressed in our room and the girls went to Tony and Pattys room to get dressed. Im not sure what went on in their room but we had a lot of laughs in ours. None of us had ever been to a toga party before and trying to get those things on was hilarious. Patty decided that she wanted her toga to be a little different so she used the cloth shower curtain as hers. After lots of wrapping, tying, and safety pinning, we went over to the boys room.
They looked fabulous!! Tony had made himself a medallion necklace out of one of my chocolates. I had brought double-sided poster tape with me to hang some door decorations. This came in quite handy to attach the ferns to Willie, Tony, and Drus head. LOL We were all ready so off to the class we went.
What a sight the 8 of us were!! We heard people say, I didnt read about a toga party in the bulletin. Others asked us where the party was being held. But the best one was the 2 sweet little old ladies who asked us, Which one of you got married? It was all we could do not to totally crack up.
I had nametags left over from the CC get together. We all made up names and put them on. Heres a small sample of some of the names: Trojan Troy, Caesar Salad, Goddess of Mammories, and Philicious.
For those of you who havent been on this ship, the Martini Bar is right across from the front desk. The looks on the girls faces as we passed by was priceless! We came up to the bar and sat down on our stools. I thought Bong was going to fall on the floor laughing!! He looked at us and said, You win!! I have to admit that those outfits beat anything Ive ever seen.
Willie had arranged with the ships photographer to be at the Martini Bar to take pictures at 1:45. He showed up right on time. He took pictures of each couple and a group one on the staircase. The group one turned out really good and I bought it for my cruise scrapbook.
By this time, we were starting to draw a crowd. Word must have gotten out about the crazy people at the Martini Bar. Even the cruise director Jimmy stopped by. Quite a few people stopped to take pictures.
The 3 martini drinks Bong taught us were a Candy Apple Cosmopolitan, a Kiwi Drop, and an Espresso Martini. All 3 were very tasty. Our buddy Bong was nice enough to make sure he refilled our glasses with the extra ones he had made.
After the class we all went up to the Lido and got some goodies to bring back to our room. We had paninis, sub sandwiches, pizza, cookies, and veges with some dip. We hadnt eaten any lunch and we were all were starving, which is very hard to do on a cruise. To see all these people wearing togas and carrying trays of food through the ship had be to quite funny.
The reason we had everyone back to our room was Willie was going to hook up our digital camera through the TV and show the pictures we had taken of everyone during the cruise. Rob and Marty joined us there.
We had a great time!! We all came up with funny comments about each of the pictures. Some of the pictures were quite funny. Nothing better than taking someones picture when they are least expecting it. LOL
After everyone left, Willie and I finished our packing. I think I hate doing that more than leaving the ship. I can never fit all that stuff back in the same suitcases.
Afterwards we went down to the shops. I bought myself a DAM SHIPS t-shirt. I like to plan ahead and Ill need that for our group cruise next October. We also bought some booze to take home as the prices were just to good to pass up.
We then went over to the photo gallery. I have a system about pictures. During the week, I find ours and put them all together in the same spot. Then, on the last night we sit down and go over all of them and decide which ones we want. I find that we get a better price with the package deals than if we buy them one at a time.
Purchases in hand, we went back to the room to get ready for our last dinner together with our wonderful group.
Oh, I forgot something!! At 4:00 was the finals for the Oosterdam Superstar. We didnt go as we were having the party in our room at that time. But the one we had been hoping would win did. It was David!! His voice was very good, smooth, and velvety. We were very happy that the judges recognized that and picked him.
Before dinner, I took the time and filled out our comment card. I made sure that I let them know that I didnt care for this test run of Leisure Dining. I had made sure it didnt affect our table but I dont want them to change from the traditional dining. It was the reason we chose HAL over all the other choices out there. I know a lot of you reading this review feel the same way as I do about it.
At 8:00, we arrived in the dining room. It was a great dinner and Charlie gave us his usual superior service. We tipped him extra for being so good all week. Between the wine packages and TA wine gifts that needed to be finished, we had a very good time. LOL
Everyone exchanged addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses. We each said a little something about what this cruise and our new friends meant to us.
Rita, Dru, Willie, and I are already booked for the CC group cruise in Oct.06. Our goal is to get the rest of the group to book it also.
After dinner we all went to see DJ Melis one last time in the disco. Tonights theme was rock it till we dock it. From 10:30 to 11:30, it was Karaoke so we tried the Piano Bar. The place was packed again so we went to the casino for one last shot at lady luck. Lady luck shot us down!! The slot machines were like a vacuumed cleaner; sucked it all up and nothing came back out. LOL
We went back to the disco for a couple of dances. I also wanted to find our cocktail server Arin and give him a little something extra. He had taken really good care of our group. One more dance and then we left. So much for rock till we dock! LOL
With tonight being our last night on the ship, we strolled twice around the Promenade. It was a very cool and windy night and the sea was quite choppy. I noticed when we went down for dinner that there were little holders hanging by the elevators filled with empty barf bags. This was the first time Id ever seen that and we have sailed during a hurricane once. It must be just another wonderful HAL touch.
All too soon it was time to go back to the room. I was hoping to get one last towel animal but no luck. The funny thing about that was I had looked in the stool under the vanity earlier in the week. There were 4 towel animals stored in there. Im not sure why Djoko decided to only give us three. But he had been wonderful all week long so we have no complaints. We tipped him extra also.
No breakfast form to fill out as we all had decided to meet for breakfast in the dining room at 7:30. Stood out on the balcony for a few minutes not wanting to let the night end. Tomorrow and reality would come soon enough. Finally, I could hear that fabulous HAL mattress calling my name and I came back inside.
Next: Breakfast, disembarkation, and final thoughts
Saturday 10/29
Since we had to be up so early, we had asked for a wake-up call to our room. When that phone rang, reality started to set in. Our cruise would be ending in just a few hours.
It was at that time that I wished it had been a 10 day cruise or that we had booked a back-to-back. It had all seemed to fly by so fast.
It was sunny and warm in San Diego that morning. All I could think about was how lucky the people who would be getting on the ship were. The sailaway party is much more fun when the weather is nice.
Took a quick shower and packed up the last of our carryons.
We met the rest of the group in front of the Vista Dining room. The Maitre d asked how many of us there were and we said 10. By the look on his face, I knew there would be a problem. He said that we would have to be sat at two different tables. I explained that we all wanted to sit at the same table and he said that would be impossible.
We were shown to 2 tables, which happened to right next to the table we had eaten dinner at for the entire cruise. It was EMPTY!! I asked why we couldnt sit at that one and the guy said that it wasnt available. I said it looked like it was. He said that it wasnt set for breakfast. I said that it looked like it was set with all the same stuff as the one they wanted to seat us at.
By this time Phil was starting to get mad at the absurdity of all this and said he would be right back. Im not sure what he said to the Maitre d' but when he came back, we were sat at the table for 10. Way to go Phil!!
It was wonderful to be able to sit all together at our table for one last time. Service was good although it wasnt our Charlie. He must have had the morning off or was working somewhere else on the ship.
The food was good but I was disappointed not to see Eggs Benedict on the menu. I had really wanted to have one last order before I left the ship.
When we were done with breakfast, we stopped outside the Vista Lounge and took a couple of group pictures. We all hugged and said our good-byes.
Willie and I went back to our room to wait. I love this about HAL!! They let you wait in your room until your number is called. Every other cruise line we have sailed with makes you go to a lounge or somewhere to wait. Just one more little touch that has made me a true HAL fan now!!
All too soon our number was called and it was time to disembark. It went very smooth and fast. The only thing that was weird was when we went through immigration, they never looked at our passports!! They just took our form and sent us on our way. If this is how they handle security in our ports, I think they better step up their game a lot.
It was a short cab ride back to the airport. Jackie and Phil were flying out also, so we sat and talked while we waited for our flights.
The flight home was smooth and we soon arrived in rainy Oregon. What a change from what we had just experienced the last 7 days!!
But we do have another cruise to look forward to. We left the ship on 10/29 and in one year, on the same date, we will be getting on the Westerdam for our group cruise.
Final Thoughts:
This was our first HAL cruise. I had researched HAL quite a bit before we booked. I had heard all the things about this being an old persons cruise line. Nothing could be farther from the truth!!
It was a nice mix of ages, with a lot of baby boomers on it. We saw very few kids and the couple we did see, were very well behaved.
The pictures in the brochure or online dont do this ship justice. I had thought by the pictures that the color scheme was a little loud and obnoxious. But seeing them in person, they are really quite beautiful. The artwork around the ship is gorgeous. So many beautiful statues and I loved the benches with the pads on them. And the paintings are breathtaking and very well done. It adds so much more to the cruise to be surrounded by these things.
I loved the elevators that are on the outside at midship. It was always fun to see outside instead of looking at the doors. LOL
The teak lounge chairs on the promenade are a great place to watch the ocean go by.
Those reclining chairs in the Crows Nest are to die for. What a wonderful place to relax, read, or take a nap.
The service we encountered for the most part was very good. Everyone was friendly, personable, and always smiling. They all seemed to like their jobs.
Being in the restaurant business, I know how demanding some guests can be. At all times was the staff professional, even when they werent treated with the respect that they deserved.
After reading the boards for almost a year, I had my doubts that HAL could really be as good as everyone had said. I was wrong and I am now a HAL fan!!
What really made this cruise special were the new friends we made. It would have been a good cruise but meeting them made it outstanding. We had so much fun, laughs, and good times with our crazy group. I have wonderful memories of all of them and I hope that we will all sail together again someday. Big hugs to each and every one of you!!
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