This was out tenth Holland America cruise and there were some issues that we never had in the past with HAL ships. In more or less chronological order:
- The boarding experience in Fort Lauderdale was terrible. Our previous nine cruises went much quicker. A serpentine line inside the building extended out the door and well beyond the end of the terminal building. This may have been due to staffing for a 1300 passenger S-Class or 2000 passenger Vista class ship. The Konigsdam's passenger complement is quite a bit higher.
- Muster drill lasted from 4:00 to beyond 5:30 which encroached on the first group's seating for dining at 5:15. We were seated in the Ocean Bar for the passenger portion of the drill. Our trainers were out in the hallway where most of us couldn't see the life vest demonstration.
This was our first Vista Suite. We normally book a Signature Suite on the mid-size ships and a category C outside cabin on the smaller ships. The Vista seemed quite a bit roomier than a Veranda or outside cabin.
The only issue that we had was the distance from the toilet to the glass on the shower stall. It was necessary to sit at about a 20 degree angle to the toilet to keep from smacking our knees on the glass. Another six inches between would have made a huge difference.
We had been to St. Maarten before and went on a circle the island tour then. This trip we opted to take the water taxi to the east end of Phillipsburg and did a little shopping.
One point of interest though is that the walk from the ship to the water taxi is quite long. Last time we were here with HAL we tendered in to a pier in the center of town which worked out much better.
We walked to the Cathedral Saint-Louis and the Pre-Columbian Museum. One thing to keep in mind is that the museum is operated by the government and only accepts Euros. Admission for seniors is just 2 Euros each. Unfortunately, we only had U.S. dollars. There is a currency exchange around the corner on Rue Ernest Deproge. The exchange fee greatly exceeded the cost of admission so we wound up missing out on the museum.
Reminder to self - Take along some Euros the next time.
It is quite a distance to downtown. Shuttle busses are available at the cruise port that drop you off in the taxi queue downtown. We hired a cab there for an excellent couple hour tour of the island's highlights.
In this port our ship docked quite some distance from the pier downtown. There was a flea market at our dock but not much else. We joined three other couples for a bus tour that lasted a couple hours. Based on the narrow roads and lack of contiguous sidewalks I wouldn't consider walking from the ship to the shops in town.
We didn't wander far from the ship while ashore here.