This is a review of the Collectors' Voyage HAL Nieuw Amsterdam Jan. 2-16, 2011
This was a cruise to the Eastern & Western Caribbean
Decks 11; Guest Elevators 14; Public Rooms 24; Guests 2104; Crew 800; Gross Tonnage 86,000;
Length 936'; Width 105.8'; Draft 26' Built 2008; Bow Thrust 3 units, 3400 bhp;
Props Azipods; Engines 6 diesel; Max Speed 23.9 knots;
We had a 1'+ snowstorm on Sun. 12/26 - Mon. 12/27 and although it was not much for Boston, apparently the Southern states got more than they're used to. So my flight on 12/30 from Boston - Raleigh - Ft Lauderdale was cancelled. It was replaced with a direct flight on 12/31. I called Holiday Inn and they reluctantly (although it was good for me) cancelled my 12/30 reservation leaving me with 12/31 & 1/1. After a 1 hr wait to get to Jet Blue check-in (there was a rather long line due to the snow storm and airline cancellations) plus a 1 hr flight delay, flight #435 finally took off and we arrived in FLL about 1:45pm.
How I Came About To Take This Cruise:
On an HAL cruise to the Caribbean in Nov 2009, I purchased a future cruise & asked the consultant when was the less expensive time to cruise; he replied right after the holidays. When I booked this cruise with the rep at HAL, she was surprised how inexpensive this b2b was. I booked an Oceanview because I was travelling alone and really did not need much space. I chose an Oceanview over an Inside because I wanted a window. I have had a balcony in the past but really did not use it. This was the first time I was on the Main Deck, so low in the ship; great for foul weather but the Caribbean in January?
Making Plane & Hotel Reservations: Usually I make these about 6 months in advance. My round trip from Boston to FLL was via Jet Blue. In FLL I usually stay at the Holiday Inn Convention Center on 1500 SE Causeway because of its location near the cruise port and malls. After the cruise I usually stay at the Ramada Inn on SR84 Marina Mile Blvd because of the pickup/delivery to/from the cruise port and airport. Trouble with the Ramada is there are no malls nearby; it is nice, though for just 1 night.
I got the impression that the Nieuw Amsterdam had not yet been discovered as it was not crowded (even though this cruise was sold out, so I was told).
Elevators: Floor mats are changed every day to remind you of the day of the week. I overheard one person say "I'm not that drunk". The center elevators have windows to view the sea.
Laundry: There are no laundry facilities but you can wash in your room & dry in the shower/tub area.
Food & Sanitation: Instead of delaying boarding or boarding but have passengers go to the Lido, HAL seems to have gotten around this. You are boarded but for the first few days, at least on the Nieuw Amsterdam, the wait staff serves drinks & one is forbidden to handle the food in the Lido Dining Room. A few days into the cruise it was announced at the evening's performance in Showtime that passengers would be allowed to serve themselves. This occurred on both legs of the cruise.
Embarkation: I thought this went rather smoothly, was in my cabin unpacking in less than 1 hour (I packed light this time).There really was not a line at all outside. Inside there was but it kept moving. Probably the best time to check in is 4pm when they are about to have the muster drill. The reason I delayed my embarkation until noon was that 3 previous cruises resulted in delays due to a virus; in all 3 cruises the delay was due to the crew was cleaning the ships.
Stateroom: Cabin 1128 was located on the Port side all the way aft; the engine noise, if there was any, did not bother me. My cabin attendants were Ida Alit & Susi Pantayo (both males). Bathrobes were provided but I asked Alit about slippers. He told me they are reserved for elite cruisers but his manager was kind enough to provide some to me. Alit told me he is expecting a child in Feb and he will be at sea then. Your cabin key is inserted to a device that operates the cabin electricity; when removed the electricity is off. Several times I looked for my cabin key forgetting it was in this device; it takes some getting used to. The advantage of a cabin in the aft (over the engine) is exercise; you certainly get enough. I thought that having a cabin to the aft part of ship on the Main Deck would be a disadvantage but such was not the case. Although the ship was new there were a few things wrong with the cabin; the bedroom mirror was broken & off its hinge; the lever at the top of the door was not connected. During my 2 wk stay, however, the door was fixed (much to my surprise). For wk 1 I got an HAL tote bag; for wk 2, a Mariner Society tote bag. The only bad thing that happened with the cabin, the bathroom floor drain backed up but this was due to 50-60 knot winds at night from the starboard side of the ship; and I was on the port side.
Passengers: There were people from Canada, Europe and Australia to name a few. Many children were on board also. On this cruise there were about 400 children on the 1st leg & about 50 on the 2nd leg.
Complaints: I've heard people complain about the ship, that it is new & supposed to be the best or that it is not as good as other lines with bigger ships. They also complain about the food not being as good as other HAL ships. The NA is new and not all the bugs are worked out. Other complaints were that you are not getting this or that. Bottom line is that the cruise lines have cut back & we as cruisers have to watch our spending more.
Tipping: HAL deducts $11 per day for hotel service charge; when I asked what the $11 was for, the reply was tipping. The cruise lines do not tell you that this charge is optional; buyer be aware.
Specialty Restaurants: I am not a connoisseur of food, do not enjoy waiting at a fancy restaurant, can't tell the difference between good food versus better food, & am not willing to pay the difference in price so did not try the pricy restaurants just because the food is supposed to be better. I ate at the restaurants that were free; besides the food is about the same anyway.
Food: I mentioned above the delay in boarding the ship because of past experience. HAL is still having trouble and beverages in the Lido Restaurant were served by HAL personnel for the 1st few days. Several days into the cruise this was cancelled & passengers were allowed to serve themselves. On NCL Norwegian Sun Jan 2010, the food did not agree with me & I asked my brother it had the same effect on him; he replied in the affirmative.
Restaurants Hours (approximately)
Manhattan Dining Rm: Bkfst 8-9:30; Lunch 12:30-1.30 (deck 3); Dinner Fixed 5:45-8pm,
Manhattan Dining Rm: ----------------------------------------------Dinner Open 5:15 - 9pm
Pinnacle Grill - reservations: Bkfst closed; Lunch 12n-1:30; Dinner 5:30-9:30pm
Tamarind - reservations: Bkfst closed; Lunch 11:30am-1pm; Dinner 5:30-9:30pm
Canaletto - gratis but reservations req: Bkfst closed; Lunch closed; Dinner 5:30-9:30pm
Terrace Grill: Bkfst closed; Lunch 11:30am-5pm; Dinner 5-6pm
Slice: Bkfst closed; Lunch 11:30am-5pm; Dinner 5pm-12:30am
Lido: Bkfst continental 6:30-10:30am; Lunch Full Buffet 11:30am-2pm; Dinner Casual 5:30-8:30pm
Lido: Bkfst Full Buffet 7-11am; Lunch Afternoon snack 2-5pm; Late Snack 11pm-12mn
High Tea - 3pm - Manhattan Dining Rm 3 (varied)
Pinnacle Grill: I talked with several people who were quite satisfied with the food (especially the seafood). One party said they had steak and were dissatisfied.
Manhattan Dining Room: I had supper here, early seating 5:45pm, at a table for 6 people. The 1st week our table of 6 people, were 2 nuns, Donald & Phyllis from Amsterdam, NY (married 62 yrs), their son Steve, & me. The 2nd week we had Harold & Bev Landsman from MN, Inger & Charlie Sexton, their daughter Annette, & me. The meal started at 5:45pm and before we knew it, it was 7:30pm; no one at the table complained on both legs of the cruise. I also had breakfast here. The main reason I chose the Manhattan for lunch was that you are paying to be waited on so why go to the Lido; besides one is supposed to be on vacation.
Slice: This is the pizza cafe located on the Lido Deck - deck 9. Just as the name implies, it serves slices of pizza.
Ice Cream Station: This is on the Lido Deck 9 on both port & starboard sides. I can't tell you the quality of the ice cream.
Tamarind Restaurant: I did not eat here but a couple at our table the 2nd week said they did not care for it.
Canaletto: This Italian Restaurant is free but reservations are required; it is on the Lido
Deck 9.The food is fine & well worth several visits but be forwarned, make your reservations early in the cruise as the restaurant fills up. Also you might want to opt for 5:30pm dining as that is less crowded. They may also be open for lunch but I did not see that in my notes nor the HAL Explorer (daily newspaper).
Internet Cafe (Explorations Cafe) Rates are 250 minutes for $100 or $.40/min; 100 minutes for $55 or $.55/min; pay as you go $.75/min; there is an activation fee of $3.95; printing an individual page is $.25/page. I took my laptop thus no need, on my part, for this service. Besides I use my laptop for text only (Microsoft Word).
Casino: I really do not gamble but found $.01, $.02, $.25 slot machines; gambling to me is entertainment & I bet $10 which will last me several nights. The main thing about gambling on ships is the smoking. I walked away at the end of the cruise with $3.15!
Club Hal: I did not have any experience with this but heard from other people that did. They said their children or grandchildren were having so much & could not wait for the next day. I expected a show of some sort featuring Club Hal in the Queen's Lounge (like a previous cruise) and was disappointed there was none as the children put on a very entertaining show.
Digital Workshop: This is perhaps the best deal on HAL; all classes are free. Chris Jackson, who is the Techspert, and I met during a cruise to the Caribbean in Nov. 2009. To me the Digital Workshop is worth the cost of the trip.
Cabanas: These were available on the Lido Deck for $399 or on the Observation Deck for $499; the difference being that the Observation gives you more privacy but it does not come with use of a pool, Jacuzzi or location near the food area like the Lido; the Observation Cabanas are more remote, scenery better. I reserved one on the Lido deck back in Boston and it was worth it. The ones on the Lido came with a rather large futon, two chairs, table, fruit, bathrobe, free water, and 2 bottles of champagne.
Spa (Hydro Pool & Thermal Suite); The Thermal Suite is a heated bed that is very relaxing; the Hydro Pool is a 3.5' deep pool. I got a deal (so they told me) of $200 for my 2 wk btb.
Entertainment: The 1st wk the entertainment was so-so in the beginning but fabulous the last 2 days. The 2nd week the entertainment was much improved.
Showroom At Sea: This is where evening shows are held & other events such as bingo.
Silk Den: This is a bar, located amidships with a good view.
Gym: I did not use this but heard from others that it is up to date with all the necessary equipment. I person said that he was there every morning at 6am.
Adults Only Area; Over Crow's Nest & Exploration' Cafe: Supposedly this is on the Observation Deck on Deck 11 but in reality it is located on Deck 12 & accessible from the Observation Deck but you have to walk up a flight of stairs.
Stairs: I have trouble climbing down stairs, what I like about the Nieuw Amsterdam is that you are able to hold both railings climbing & descending stairs.
Stewards: I feel that this should be put separately as I found the Filipino & Indonesian stewards very helpful. Some people feel that this is their job; well that is true. But to me most of them go above and beyond the "call of duty". One goes on a cruise ship for a vacation; the stewards assisted me with that vacation & made it more enjoyable. To this I thank Holland America & the stewards.
Fri 12/31/11: As stated above I finally made it to FLL. I checked in the hotel & immediately took a nap until 6pm where upon I walked to Outback Steak House for an $18 meal that was not worth it. On the other hand I had not eaten all day except for Jet Blue potato chips and some candy at the hotel. Then to Walgreen's for some supplies that I did not want to pack in Boston & found out later that were not needed for the cruise. When the van from the hotel picked me up at the airport, there was a couple I became quite friendly with. They are taking the Zuiderdam to the Panama Canal. As I have taken the trip, I filled them in with the details. That trip was one of my favorites.
Sat 1/1/11: This morning I had the free hotel breakfast (which is not free because you are paying for it along the line someplace) then went to use their computers. The lady I met from yesterday saw me and asked if I would like to accompany them on an airboat ride to the Florida Everglades. I said yes, paid my deposit of $20 cash to the receptionist (which probably goes to the hotel) and charged the rest. The van picked us up at 10am and took us to the Sawgrass Airboat Tours. Then we rode an airboat thru the Florida Everglades after inserting earplugs which did little good as far as noise was concerned. We saw about 3 alligators, many different kinds of birds, a turtle. Then the driver stopped the boat and gave a short lecture about the Everglades. Later, back on land, the driver gave a white egret several live fishes. Then we visited the zoo and saw snakes, alligators (I held one) and saw a lecture on alligators. I left because one day the man is going to go too far and lose a limb; I do not want to be around when this happens. During the ride back to the hotel, I told the couple about supper tonight at Outback and said they could come if they wanted to. Back at the hotel I went to my room then went to the nearby mall & picked up some deodorant at Publix markets & had lunch at Joe's, a rather nice small restaurant that seems to cater to locals. Next back to the hotel & was preparing for supper when the couple I met called; we walked to Outback and had one of the best meals I have ever had; it was cheaper than the $18 I paid last night. The other people that were supposed to be at the M&G did not appear; I made a mistake someplace.
Sun 1/2/11:Wind SE 9 knots; PC;pressure 1022hPA;temp 75F I had breakfast with the couple and we said our goodbyes; I know they will have a great time thru the Panama Canal and in some way I wish I was with them. After going back to my room, packing & getting ready for the day I took the 12pm bus to the cruise port for $8. I managed to take both bags with me to cabin 1128. After unpacking I went to the Lido deck for a chicken salad sandwich with potato salad. I queried the manager of the Internet Cafe if I could print a page from my flash drive, he said yes. Then I attended the all important muster drill where you are told more or less nothing but is mandatory because of US regulations. After that I went to supper which for me was early supper at 5:45pm. The other 5 at the table were 2 nuns, a couple named Donald & Phyllis from Amsterdam, NY (married 62 yrs), and their 49yo son Steve. After dinner we attended the musical at 9:30 in the Showroom at Sea on Deck 1. The Cruise Director informed about the entertainment & ships activities. Next we went to Slice on the Lido Deck for pizza with iced tea.
Mon 1/3/11 Half Moon Cay 8am-4pm:Wind NE 9 knots;PC; pressure 1019hPA; 75F Today our port was Half Moon Cay, the private island of HAL. Most passengers went ashore but I stayed behind used my cabana, did crossword puzzles then went to the hot tub. I went to the Observation Deck for the informal M&G but no one showed up. We will see what happens on Wednesday for the M&G. At supper tonight, the elderly couple said they have cruised many times with HAL & their cabin is an ocean view that is obstructed; he is going to talk to his travel agent about this. I chose a strawberry desert for it was advertised as having a lot of strawberries; it came with 3! The evening's performance of "Garage Band" was not bad but it did not warrant a 2nd viewing. Besides, I had wash to do.
Tue 1/4/11 Grand Turk 12n-6pm:Wind NE 12 knots; PC; pressure 1017hPA; 77F I asked for wire hangers for my wet laundry; the steward said they do not have them & to use the wooden ones. Similar to yesterday I had breakfast in the Manhattan Dining Room & sat with a couple from England & a solo traveler from NJ. One subject we talked about was the expense of traveling solo; they mentioned NCL Epic where rooms are available for singles. Then I headed to Deck 2 to the Digital Workshop for 2 classes from 9:30 to 11:30. There is another one on Windows 7 that I will take when the time is convenient. I had lunch in the Manhattan alone; then went to the Cabana but could not keep my eyes so I slept on the futon. My cabana steward was Jayson who treated me very well & daily supplied me with drinks & various fruits. I had supper with the usual group and saw the evening performance "Billy Prudhomme - comedy & juggling". The trouble with washing your own clothes is that you have to start about 9pm. The trouble with a cabin in the rear of the ship is walking from aft to stern. The Filipino Crew Show was at 11:15pm but it conflicted with the Lido late night snack.
Wed 1/5/11 Sea Day: Wind E 13 knots; PC; pressure 1016hPA; 82.5F Breakfast again in Manhattan with a couple of lawyers from FLA. She prosecutes for the state of FL; he defends, has his own practice. If they have the same case she gives it to another lawyer. I had lox, English muffins, hollandaise sauce, poached eggs; it was very good. Next I went to the digital workshop from 9:30 - 12:30, had no time for lunch so went to the Observation Deck where about 20 people showed up for the cc meet & greet out of about 70; I still call it a success. We held it at 1pm as HAL was using the Observation Deck in the am. I should have scheduled it for 10am at a different site, but when notifying HAL I did not know. For supper 3 at our table asked the steward last night if we could have escargot tonight. So tonight we had escargot as an appetizer. The nuns were invited to a mariner's lunch; the other couple & I are mariner's & we did not receive an invitation. The show tonight was "Andy James" - magician & comedian. He was very good. After that I went to the casino, put in $10, played a $.01 slot machine, cashed out at $12.40; last of the big spenders!
Thu 1/6/11 Georgetown Cayman Islands 7am-4pm:Wind NW 7 knots; PC; pressure 1012hPA; 81F Four ships are in port today; the NA, Crystal Serenity, HAL Eurodam, RCI Navigator of the Seas so I stayed on board. At breakfast this morning it was said that the Crystal Serenity is more expensive & includes alcoholic beverages. That is one ship I will not go on for I do not drink & will not pay for other peoples booze. At 9:30 I went to the digital workshop again, it was the same class as I took yesterday but he talks fast and covered one item that he did not cover before. I had lunch in the Lido Dining Room & worked on the cc review in the cabana. Took a look at my acct; $11 per day tip. I was going to leave an additional tip but guess I won't. Before supper I stopped in to see Techspert Chris Jackson about a problem I was having with Windows Live Photo Gallery. After supper the entertainment tonight was The Marriage Game; this is always fun no matter which ship it is on; after that Up Close with Magician Andy James - average tonight; and after that Late Night Comedy with Jeff Capri. The comedians on this cruise had to be careful with their acts because of the children on board. Back in the cabin there were chocolate mints along with a reminder that the clocks will be set back.
Fri 1/7/11 Costa Maya Mexico 10am-6pm: Wind breeze 6 kts; PC; pressure 1010hPA; 77F; I ate in the Manhattan again; sat with a couple of snow birds, ½ a year in Chicago, the other half in Florida. He is retired, worked as a real estate appraiser. Today I went to Maya Chan with Beth Needleman & her friend. I had made reservations back in Boston & prepaid the $49; it's a place to relax and chill out. There is use of free internet (when available); included are snorkeling, kayaking etc. as well as lunch and drinks plus round trip transportation to/from the ship. Before we knew it, it was time to go back to the ship. The area of Costa Maya was hit with a hurricane which closed the place for over a year. We were in port with the Ryandam, Nieuw Amsterdam, MSC Poesnia. Tonight was surf & turf; I had 3 lobster tails; told them to forget the filet mignon that came with the lobster. Tonight's show featured Cantare, a group of 4 male singers whom the audience loved; I took them with a grain of salt. Tonight Cruise Director Dan Bernbach reminded us to turn our clocks ahead 1 hour.
Sat 1/8/11 Sea Day: Wind breeze 6 kts; PC; pressure 1012 hPA; 73F I had breakfast in Manhattan with 1 couple from Vancouver (John & Marianne), & 1 person from DC & FL, then exchanged the medium T shirt purchased from the Signature Shop last night for a Large. Next the 9:30 digital workshop class; after that I purchased a future cruise on HAL for $100 (good for 4 years) & took the 11:30 digital workshop on turning photos & videos into a slide show using Windows Live Movie Maker. At lunch I sat with 1 couple from Vancouver (the same couple I met at breakfast), & 1 couple from Ottawa. One person at the dinner table said he has never seen so many children aboard a HAL ship. Entertainment tonight was "The Avalon" starring the four singers from Cantare plus 2 female singers & 3 dancers from HAL.
Sun 1/9/11 Ft Lauderdale 5:30am-5pm: Wind 7kts; PC; pressure 1016hPa; 80.6F Breakfast in the Mahattan as breakfast was being served from 6:30-8am due to the debarkation. I sat with a couple from VA & FLA; he is a retired government worker & I gathered she was retired from the government although she did not go into detail & I did not pry. Lunch in the Lido & although it was ala carte, you were not allowed to touch the food. After lunch I used the cabana to go over notes on the computer. I saw a few quite a few people using their cell phones who might be surprised for although you are in Florida, you are using the ships antenna and technically "cellular at sea". The weather in FLL warm in the sun; cool in the East Coast; I'll worry about that next week, maybe. Dinner tonight at table 57 which was adjacent to a window overlooking the aft part of the ship with Beverly & Harold from southern MN; he is a retired engineer. At the 9:30pm show I noticed some new musicians. Later in talking with the cruise director he said that there was a large turnover of musicians & that the shows on this 2nd leg will not be in the same order as the ones on the 1st leg. Regarding entertainment - already there seems to be a change for the better. I went to the casino tonight & tried to use the $15 that was left on my card; to make a long story short an attendant gave me $15 as my card was not valid for this cruise; I failed to cash out on the 1st leg. He put the $15 on my card for this cruise. I ended up putting an additional $10 on the card & cashed out when the balance was $3.40.
Mon 1/10/11 Sea Day: Wind 25kts; OC; pressure 1018hPa;75F About 2am this morning I looked out my cabin window & saw another cruise ship going in the same direction we were but at a faster speed. At breakfast in the Manhattan Dining Rm, I sat with 2 couples, 1 from NJ, and 1 from NY. At the M&G today @ 1pm there were 20 people; still it was successful. Present from the NA were the Cruise Director Dan Bernbach & Travel Guide Ian. This took up the greater part of the afternoon. At dinner we were joined by 3 others, Inger & Charlie Sexton from PA & their daughter Annette. They went to the Pinnacle Grill last night & gave it thumbs up. For entertainment there was Cantare; it was a wonderful performance; like last week 4 male vocalists. A late night snack in the Lido did not happen as most of the foods were spicy; the menu was American South.
Tue 1/11/11 Grand Turk 7am-3pm: Wind 16kts; OC; pressure 1018hPa; 77F I had breakfast with Murray from Kingston, Ontario, Canada & Jean & Ray from Ontario, Canada. Next I stopped in the digital workshop to ask Chris a question. I got off the ship & roamed around the Port & Margaritaviile then back on the ship; I had been here before & not much has changed besides it was noon & being on the ship was cooler. We had lunch in the Manhattan Dining Room with a person from Louisville & a couple from MN. After that I went to the Cabana with my laptop to work on the pictures I had taken. The Captain came gave his daily announcement & added that clocks will be turned ahead 1hr. Jason came over said "we were worried about you, did not see you yesterday; he has the cabana next to mine. I went over & chatted with him & his wife. He is a CPA, has his own firm, & has 12 people working for him; he is on vacation for this week only. Dinner tonight with just Beverly & Harold Landsman as Inger, Annette & Charlie went to the Italian Restaurant. I asked Bev and Harold if they would like to try the no charge Canaletto; answer was in the affirmative. The show tonight was the "Garage Band" another spectacular. I called reservations & the only opening was 5:30pm Saturday.
Wed 1/12/11 San Juan 1-8pm: Wind 25kts; PC; 1014hPa; 80.6F I had breakfast with a couple from ME; he is a truck driver; I told him about my friend Dave; Next I went to the Digital Workshop "Ask the Tech" to ask a few questions; Then I went to the all important buffet for Collectors Voyage People. But in going to that I missed Travel Guide Ian's talk about Puerto Rico as we entered that port (the best views were from the port side of the ship). I went to the adult's area on Deck 12 (accessable from the Observation Deck by climbing stairs) & was amazed at the space. It is like the Observation Deck only no ceiling & minus the bar & facilities. There are cabins but they do not have verandah's, so I am told. We were entering San Juan; people were making calls from the ship (again using the ships antenna?). The entertainment tonight with comedy magician "Andy James"; we saw him last week; the show was not bad but I would like to know the secret. Before the show I gave the man sitting next to me my card who said "Hello Brother"; we talked about masonry; he is a past master. I said that you give up a year of your life; he mentioned "more than a year". Next I went to the Indonesian Crew Show at 11:15pm. Great talent & a lot of laughs; at the end I was picked to shake 1 of the wooden instruments; my # was 2 so whenever the conductor pointed at 2 on the music sheet I would shake the instrument; really difficult?
Thu 1/13/11 St Maartin 7am-3pm: Wind 25kts; PC; pressure 1016hPa; 86F I arranged a tour with Bernard Tours back home but the ship arrived & left at awkward times so after giving it much thought (well not that much) I decided to stay on board the ship. I had breakfast with Del & Judy from the Midwest. Next I dropped in to the Digital Workshop to ask Chris a question. Then I got off the ship & walked around the port before realizing it was too hot & windy (the ships created a wind tunnel), so I returned to the ship & had lunch in the Lido as the Manhattan was closed. Then to the Silk Den which is a bar on the Observation Deck amidships, looked at the menu at the Tamarind Restaurant & was not impressed, observed Club Hal also on the Observation Deck next to the Tamarind. At dinner tonight with Bev & Harold; Inger, Annette & Charlie went to the Pinnacle for Le Cirque (I later learned they had been to the Pinnacle 3 times). After that I went to the Explorations Cafe & the Internet Manager to get some pages printed; a thank you note for their help with the M&G which he gave me gratis instead of charging the $.25 / page. My writing is terrible; I sent thank you notes all the officers I sent invitations to even though some of them did not show up. Then to the Signature shop to exchange the T shirt I purchased (which had an imperfection). I went to the Photo Gallery to purchase a DVD for both legs of the trip.
Fri 1/14/11 Sea Day: Wind 35kts; PC; pressure 1017hPa; 79F I got up at 5:10am & 7:30am but decided to sleep until 10; when that time came around I changed the wake-up call to 10:45 & even then I was still tired. At the Mariner's Lunch I sat with Bob & Kathy from NJ. He works for Soverign Bank; although based in Boston, the bank is Spanish owned. Bob & Kathy like to do cruise tours; say you see more that way. She is a registered nurse and works with the elderly; shows her photos to them. At the front desk I was told that I have a total of 69 points including this cruise; also a deluxe verandah counts as 2 cruises (I have an oceanview). But then I run into this problem; why pay for a verandah when an oceanview will suffice & the difference can be spent for tours? I organized my picture on Windows Live Photo Gallery as Chris from the Digital Workshop taught in one of his classes; am up to date now. Supper tonight with the Sexton's & Landsman's; the daughter Annette said the Tararind is ok but she would not go back. Tonight was lobster night I had escargot & 4 lobster tails. Charlie Sexton owns a security business & from the sound of it is quite successful; he has been all over the globe. The entertainment tonight was "Live at the Avalon" & the audience gave it a standing ovation. It was not a smooth ride late this afternoon & most of the night, a few people got seasick; winds from starboard around 50 kts. Because of this (I had a port side cabin on the Main Deck) the drain in my bathroom backed up, nothing serious; maintenance cleaned it up.
Sat 1/15/11 Half Moon Cay 8am-3pm: Wind 20kts; PC; pressure 1015hPa; 77F Breakfast with Allan & Pat from MI & FL and Bernadette from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. She is divorced, a retired accounting professor, and travels extensively. I had poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, english muffins, & lox & asked the steward for pickled herring. He came with kippered herring instead. Even though I did not feel like it I ordered the pickled herring. Well something did not agree with me. I ended back in the cabin packing, then taking snooze. I turned on TV & just caught "When Harry Met Sally" & the scene where she fakes an organism in a restaurant; it's funny no matter how many times I see it. The steward finally came so I got my laptop & headed for the cabana. According the initial itinerary we were to leave Half Moon Cay at 4pm but left at 3pm instead. The captain announced that we had 50 knot winds last night & the ship was listing to port but no damage was done to the superstructure. We are scheduled to be in Ft Lauderdale at 6am tomorrow. I'm scheduled to leave the ship at 9:30am as I am staying at the Ramada Inn in FLL. Dinner tonight with Bev & Harold Landsman in Canaletto; they have eaten here before on another dam ship. The food was wonderful & even better considering it was free. Entertainment tonight at 8pm was Steel Pan Jam; a variety of classical & pop played on the steel drums. At 10:15pm was comedian Brian Bradley & the Comedy Magician of Andy James. I went to the Casino & cashed out at $3.15 next went to the Photo Gallery & got my 3 disc's; back to my cabin to work on packing which will be finished tomorrow.
Sun 1/16/11 Ft Lauderdale 6am: Wind 8 kts; pressure 1016hPa; humidity 44%; 77F; PC I had breakfast with Bob & Dottie from FL (they spend 2 months in MA visiting their children) and Bernadette (I met her yesterday); this is her last week, she is staying tonight at the Hilton. Bernadette & I are both leaving about 10pm as we are staying overnight in Ft Lauderdale. I went back to my cabin & finished packing & left about 10am. As I went through customs, the officer said it is best to be the first off the ship or the last. Upon calling Ramada, the clerk told me I would be picked up by KPC Tours; there were 9 people, 5 went to the airport. I got to Ramada about 11am, checked in but my room would not be available until 3pm. So I had a philadelphia steak sandwich, french fries, & pickle & took advantage of their WI-FI. At the Jet Blue website I printed my boarding pass which showed the flight as being on time.
Mon 1/17/11 Ft Lauderdale to Raleigh to Boston: I had the free breakfast this morning & met Michael Rath who is a Crop Claims Supervisor & is taking the Maasdam, which is a smaller ship, to the smaller islands in the Caribbean.
Mon 1-3-11 Half Moon Cay 8am-4pm: I stayed on the ship
Tue 1-4-11 Grand Turk 12n-6pm: I stayed on the ship
Thu 1-6-11 Georgetown, Cayman 7am-4pm: Four ships are in port today; the NA, Crystal Serenity, HAL Eurodam, RCI Navigator of the Seas so I stayed on board.
Fri 1-7-11 Costa Maya, Mexico 10am-6pm: I got off the ship & went with a group to Maya Chan, a beach resort, although hurricane Bob paid a visit here in 1923 & shut down this port for over a year. Maya Chan (an all inclusive) is relaxing, nice, quiet, a place to chill out (include web address).
Tue 1-11-11 Grand Turk 7am-3pm: I went ashore for 1 hr, just walking the port area, getting some exercise, getting a sun tan;took my shirt off & realized it was too hot & it might be more reasonable inside the ship.
Wed 1-12-11 San Juan 1pm-8pm: I stayed on the ship. In port with Carnival Liberty & Celebrity Century.
Thu 1-13-11 St Maartin 7am-3pm: In port with RCI Allure Of The Sea's, Celebrity Solstice, P&O Azure, Aida Luna (a German line). I visited the port area for a short time
Sat 1-15-11 Half Moon Cay 8am-4pm: Stayed on the ship, enjoyed my cabana Read Less