This was a cruise from Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale through the Panama Canal. The embarkation went very smoothly. I had to fly into Vancouver the day before and there was a shuttle back to the airport, which then took us to the port. It took very little time for embarkation, and I was directed every stage of the way. My room was ready as soon as I boarded the ship, which was very convenient. My cabin was on the 4th deck at the very front of the ship, and even though the Pacific Ocean was fairly choppy, I had no issues. I found the aft of the ship as choppy as I found the forward. I actually had a great view from my balcony while going through the Panama Canal. The cabin was kept spotless, the 2 cabin stewards were professional and friendly, knew I was traveling on my own and always had a pleasant conversation with me. It was important to me to feel "safe" as I was traveling solo, and I did feel very safe on this ship. The Lido dining area was actually my favorite because I was traveling on my own and could take my food to the aft pool area and have my dinner in the sunshine! I enjoyed the Pizza on the Lido deck and the serving staff on the Lido deck was professional and friendly. The quality of the food was very good, and I really liked the fact that it was not a buffet, but that there were servers who handled your plate and the food. There were tongs for items such as bread, buns. However I did not like to use them because I know there is a lack of handwashing by many people. My one complaint was that the purell stations were "voluntary" and most passengers would walk past them. So I would use a disposable napkin when I had to use the tongs. I did go to the main dining room for some of the dinners, but found that I was wasting time waiting for my food, while I could have been enjoying the sun and the pool. It is also very different traveling on one's own, then on other cruises where I have been with a family member and the dining experience is more comfortable, as I would have to introduce myself, etc., and make small talk with people who I would never see again. However, overall the food was good, the wait staff were very polite and they work hard. I like the music venues very much...enjoyed the BIllboard pianos, BB Kings, the Lincoln Stage, and attended a few shows, I do not gamble or play bingo, or use the spa services, so have no opinions on that. I also did not go to specialty restaurants. The guest services staff were very pleasant any time I had interactions with the. I did have room service on the mornings I did a tour, which was very convenient, and the food was hot and a good start for the day. We were unable to disembark due to weather or waves, and tours I had booked through the cruise line were reimbursed on my Navigator account within the day. Because I was solo, I booked the excursions through the cruise line, and was not disappointed. Don't forget, one does not have to buy anything at any one of the stores or markets that are included in the tour. I went to see the culture, the scenery, and get a taste of the life of other cultures. I did not buy any food on the tours because I had paid for my food on the cruise. I also took my water from the ship, so beyond a tip to the tour guide, if it was a good tour, my days were very economical. I felt safe having booked through the cruise line that I would get back to the ship. The only place I did not book a tour was Aruba, and went on a local bus, knowing I could get back to the ship on time, as the Island is very small and there seemed to be a lot of taxis about. The disembarkation could have been handled somewhat better, but the process was beyond the Holland America Line because it involved American Customs who only had 2 agents on for the international visitors, who made up the majority of the cruise line passengers. So that really slowed things down. But once the Americans made their way through, the customs opened all the lanes for everyone else.
The cabin was clean and kept spotless. It was at the very front of the ship, so had a great view. It was also very quiet even though directly above the main stage. I did not hear any noise from the stage. No complaints at all. The 4th front deck was not opened while going through the Panama canal and because of the way my balcony was designed I had the perfect view for going through the canal.
interesting, informative and tasty....
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