Polynesia and Hawaii. 30 days of Warm Vibes.: Rotterdam Cruise Review by LocoLoco1

Rotterdam 4
Member Since 2003
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Polynesia and Hawaii. 30 days of Warm Vibes.

Sail Date: March 2011
Destination: South Pacific
Embarkation: San Diego
This was a very good cruise for us, I'll rate it a 4.5 out of 5.0, as I intend to be 'Fair&Balanced', but Hey!! we had a Tsunami and a helicopter medical evacuation as extra entertainment..so maybe a 4.75 would be more appropriate. It would probably take a Seabourn or Oceania to rate a 5+ by me, so consider my critique with that in mind. Some people grumble..we don't. We are 'active'. We hiked, snorkeled, and rented 4WD Land-rovers,Jeeps etc. I say that right off because we did NOT go on 'organized' HAL tours; as we were NOT in need of mobility aides etc. However...we seemed to bump into fellow cruisers in all sorts of places!! So, fear not, we saw most of what everyone else saw..and perhaps more than most. Also, age-wise we're on the 'younger' end of the passenger list intentionally so, as we enjoy the company of experienced cruisers; we just walk a lot faster and maybe sleep less.

My REVIEW will be chronological later, I will add those details later in the ports-of-call More section. Embarkation at SanDiego went very smooth; especially so because we stay the night prior at the HolidayInn across the St. from the pier. I highly recommend doing similar for anyone worried about Air connections etc. Door-to-Stateroom Luggage Service was too $expensive$ for us ($975 bucks) but it's the way to go methinks if one is a bit 'gimped up' or money isn't a concern.

The ROTTERDAM seemed to be ship-shape. It's not new. We like that. It's classy..not glitzy. Just the right size vessel for us means less than 2000 pax and more than 500. Is it comparable to OCEANIA's newest Uber-classe cruiser? Probably not...but it was a good $$value$$ for the fare spent.

Clientele/Fellow Passengers: We didn't meet anyone who had NOT cruised before. We are entering our early retirement years and we were nearly the youngest except for 2 honeymooners. No teens at all. Most passengers have their money working for them by now; not the other way around. Did anyone grumble? Yep. No different than any other cruise. The same people I avoid back home I avoid on a cruise. Generally a sedate, yet interesting mix of people aboard from US, Canada, Germany, UK, Sweden, OZ and Japan. Few from elsewhere.

Stateroom: We were on Deck #3 near the front, with large window looking onto the teak Promenade, our favorite area. Our Neighbors had a 'Lanai' Rm. which allows for walking directly onto the deck. A decided advantage if handicapped. PLUS, Lanai's get their own deck lounger-chairs!! A source of irritation to certain passengers who felt slighted. Hmmm. (Deck #9 Skydeck loungers were usually nearly empty all day). You make the call on THAT one..I'm too diplomatic.

Public Rooms: Very good. Clean, clean, clean. Any lapses noted by others as regards upkeep or tidiness was unfounded in our experience; and trust me, we CARE about such stuff. Housekeeping? Excellent. The ambiance of the foyer, library, etc was sedate, and appointed in quite good taste, with a nod to wonderful Oriental antiquities in display cases and a superb array of Nautical framed pictures and plaques etc all thru the ship. Nice. Again, classy..not glitzy...yet not dowdy by any means. Library and Internet Cafe were BUSY!!

Casino: Busy with the regulars. A solid crowd for the popular Poker Table most all the time. A smoker's hangout. We don't do casinos.

Pools and Lounging Areas: It was Hot and Sunny nearly every day, lounge chairs were at a premium poolside around the main pool (which has a retractable roof). The Rear/Aft splash pool was where the cigarette smokers hung out. Way up top Deck #9 was wide open for Sun-worshippers...no Pool. Deck #3Promenade was nearly filled with readers and nappers every day. Lots of book readers on this cruise. Few swimmers. Non-swimming pool-side chair-hogs? Yep, like always.

Dining: We went with OPEN-SEATING on Level 4...with a twist. We clicked with some great fellow cruisers. So how did we do it? We all asked to be seated together at the same time and same table each night. Presto!! Instant fun table every night. We 'thanked' the Dining Rm. Steward beforehand. The food was great. We took Lunch at the Lido every day, and accepted a gracious invitation to join another couple one evening at the Pinnacle Grille on one occasion. Wow!! Nuff said.

Bars and Drinking: The Ocean Bar served up nice cocktails before Din-din and adjoined the dance floor; with the Neptunes trio providing Smooth Jazz music. The MIX Lounge had PianoMan and a 'NameThatTune' ambiance. The Crow's Nest DJ (the loneliest man on the ship)...Located Wa-aay up top, was sparsely (none)attended due to the demographics of the clientele EXCEPT on one of the last nites...The Black&White Ball!!! When certain of the crew got to 'let their hair down' a bit til the wee hours. It was a light drinking crowd overall. No bubbas jumping in the Pools. No CountryWestern, no Heavy Metal...and surprisingly, no Lawrence Welk.

Floor Shows/Entertainment: Good. Great musicians, I 'got' the risque jokes of the comedians, and the singers were all A-OK. My wife loved every minute of every show. And as a neat surprise, the smooth Soul sounds ala Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke were performed by my fave, Jackie Wilson's son.

Lectures/Education: I took in Frank's Microsoft/Computer classes. Very good fella and I learned a LOT!! We didn't do Cooking or Health things. Dunno.

Cruise Director and Officers: STEVE the Cruise Director was more than up to the task; and LISA the Shore Guide/Guru was just peachie-keen and knowledgable about everything. The Officers handled EVERYTHING in such a professional way. Hospitable and just fine in all ways.

Tendering and 'Days at Sea': Because this cruise involved a LOT of sea days AND many tenderings to small islands I must say WE had no problems whatsoever. Some pax got a little 'stir-crazy' and some were barely physically able to manage getting in and out of the Lifeboat Tenders very well. My advice? Call it a Life when such things get to be too much. When one's cruising days are over...they're over. My day will come as well. Nuff said.

Now, on to the Islands. Less

Published 04/08/11

Cabin review: EE3320 Large Ocean-View Stateroom

Our Cabin was just fine. Very quiet.Far enough forward to avoid engine noise. New bed and bathroom a big plus. Odd closet doors and reading light. Good access to #3Promenade Deck.

Read All Large Ocean-View Stateroom (EE) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

BORA-BORA, TAHITI, AND MO'OREA and RANGIROA I am putting these together because this is where we snorkeled and spent all our time in or on the water. Which is the way it should be done if one is physically able. HERE'S THE DEAL: If you get off the boat..we found you're going to find Somebody, Somehow, that will take you out to the shallow reefs to snorkel or SCUBA. No reservations, no $money$ up-front, no BS. Period. That's why we don't do HAL tours. It's all the locals have to do!! Wonderful snorkeling in gin-clear water with little fish, mantarays (and black-tip sharks if you are so inclined). To be honest... much of the live coral of years ago is now in tough shape in all of Polynesia. Global warming? Virus?? I dunno. But, nonetheless, my wife says these days of swimming and snorkeling were the highlight of the cruise. Try to hook up with a small out-rigger boat, motorized. Also, get hooked up at the pier somewhere with a snorkel adventure that includes a beach-side BBQ lunch and beer. Everyone who did it LOVED it. I couldn't argue. We brought our own Snorkel gear and Tough beach SHOES. You'll be sorry if you don't bring the shoes...Coral cuts hurt. Again, this is why most people came on this cruise. Jump in the water...no experience needed. Good times.

FANNING ISLAND. To many, this tiny little atoll was their cruise high-light. A destitute cluster of isolated people were making the best of it somehow. Kids everywhere!! No electricity, very little agriculture, and a maximum of 5' feet elevation above sea level makes one wonder what the future will bring for this remote speck in the ocean. Drop-dead blue water, pigs tied to palm trees and thatched huts on stilts....and did I mention?...LOTS of little kids!!

HILO. Very nice, green jungle coastline and a good road. (Incidentally,I am going to rate ALL ports a 4 or 5 because we find good stuff WHERE-EVER we go). We rented a JEEP 4WD and went North, so we stop WHEN we want and WHERE we want. About $150 bucks for the day. Took a peek at Akaka Waterfalls...where the HAL tour bus was. Snooped around a abandoned Sugar Cane Plantation plus found a delightful little beach with crashing surf and funky volcanic cliffs. Also, wound thru Hamakua botanic garden road/trail that some HAL van tours went to. We did NOT do the Volcano area to the South of Hilo. We spent $180 bucks total.
Read 445 Hilo Reviews

HONOLULU. We were fortunate to be picked up at the Pier by friends who live near Honolulu..so we got the Royal tour to the South 'round Diamond Head, then delightful time spent yakking and lounging and going out for Chinese. How fun. Honolulu is a BIG city with Freeways and Hi-rises.
Read 506 Honolulu Reviews

NAWILIWLI, KAUAI. Rented a JEEP 4WD and went to Waimea Canyon. A semi-arid spectacular red-cliff canyon similar to Copper Canyon in Northern Mexico. Talked to wild-pig hunters along the way. Then took in a Coffee Plantation w/ gift shop, snooped around an abandoned Sugar Plantation and then bought t-shirts. Great day!!
Read 410 Kauai Reviews

LAHAINA,Maui. Tsunami-time for us. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Again, we rented a JEEP 4WD and headed for the most remote, twisty, turny roads we could find. Fantastic Photo ops North, and white-knuckle trails made this special. Then the TSUNAMI from Japan headed for Hawaii...just prior to the ROTTERDAM leaving port. The Captain hoisted anchor as the Tsunami sirens sounded onshore and the locals red tail-lights could be seem going UP !! The Tsunami and the ROTTERDAM met at approx. 0310/am with the ship pointed directly at the wave. My wife slept right thru it. It was about 3' feet high. Some damage reported at certain areas all 'round Hawaii.
Read 480 Maui Reviews

RAROTONGA & RAIATEA. Again, rented JEEP 4WD and headed for the volcanic Jungle interior on both islands. Spent time deep in the jungle and also at pre-historic Polynesian 'Marae' stone religious grounds. Beautiful,gorgeous scenery, followed by much anticipated Cold beer. Lots of stunning pics. Wife liked the little village 'shops'.

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