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-   -   Rotterdam 11 days in the Med trip review w/photos (http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1938485)

Lisah101 November 3rd, 2013 11:32 AM

Rotterdam 11 days in the Med trip review w/photos
 
This is my first trip review and I apologize now for any ramblings, omissions or misplaced priorities.

My DH (age 66) and I (age 48) took our first cruise on HAL through the Med on the Rotterdam.

Wel left home at 3:30 in the morning for the hour long drive to the airport to catch a 6:15 am flight to Dallas.
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Ater a 4 hour layover at Dallas, we boarded Lufthansa for the flight to Frankfurt.
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A 5 hour layover in Frankfurt was very long, but that is what you get when you use frequent flier miles for business class - not many good options.

The last flight was from frankfurt to Barcelona where we caught a taxi to our hotel, Hilton (not the one near the beach), but again, it was using hilton points for a free stay.

I loved the area this hotel was located in Barcelona!

View from hotel window:
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We took a short nap and just spent the first day walking around the area. We had a great dinner at La Bella Donna our first night in Spain!

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The next day we went to see Sagrada Famila
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Then walked waaaay off the beaten path to get away from the tourist stuff. We found a small place to grab a drink and a snack. I have no idea what we ate but it was good!
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Lisah101 November 3rd, 2013 11:40 AM

After a rest at the hotel, we managed the subway system to ride to Las Ramblas and spent the rest of the day exploring that, and the gothic quarter.

Of course, my first priority was La Boqueria! (sp?)

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and then the Gothic Quarter:
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and another "snack" with a glass of sangria
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Lisah101 November 3rd, 2013 11:46 AM

Then..... more walking of course!

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with a stop at Cafe L'Opera for churros and chocolate. This was something i wanted to do last trip, but never had a chance.

Thick chocolate
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We took the subway back to the hotel and rested before dinner which of course was Tapas and then our last walk through Barcelona.
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We had to repack that night in preparation for embarkation in the morning.

kazu November 3rd, 2013 11:51 AM

great pics - thanks for bringing back great memories of Barcelona - can't wait to go back:D

looking forward to the rest of your review:)

Lisah101 November 3rd, 2013 11:52 AM

My first HAL cruise!
 
we took a taxi to the port and unfortunately I did not get any pictures of embarkation because there were no lines, no wait and we immediately walked on the ship and Lido was open for lunch. Not crowded and lots of seating available. There was no self service due to embarkation (48 hours), but it was still very exciting and everything was very good!

For some reason the day of the week rugs just really tickled me... I love these!
http://i1054.photobucket.com/albums/...y/IMG_0821.jpg

Our cabin was already available so we dropped off our hand luggage first. We were very nervous about the cabin because we had a last minute upgrade from a Lanai to and aft balcony for only $49 per person, BUT...... it was a handicap room.

THe cabin was amazing, no worries!

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Lisah101 November 3rd, 2013 11:58 AM

Lunch on Lido for Embarkation Day
 
OK....camera firmly in hand, I took advantage of the situation and took photos of Lido before I even sat down for lunch.

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canadianbear November 3rd, 2013 12:01 PM

Thanks for taking the time to share your experience-waiting patiently for more!

Love the days of the week in the elevators too-unfortunately on our last cruise they were not there. Not sure if cut backs on certain ships, or if they are going to remove them all:(.

Your cabin looks great-love the aft cabins! Hopefully you loved it too.:)

Lisah101 November 3rd, 2013 12:09 PM

I finally sat down to seat some chicken satay with jasmine rice and it was very good!
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After lunch, we continued to explore the ship
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The menu from the grill. I never did get a chance to try anything there, wondering what the last 2 options are?
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Mtn2Sea November 3rd, 2013 01:26 PM

Loving your review and photos!

Lisah101 November 3rd, 2013 01:31 PM

More exploring the ship....

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The specialty coffee menu
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The dinner menu was posted
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That night we dressed for dinner - it wasn't formal night, but I had a dress for each dinner and YES... I had just the one 29 inch sampsonite suitcase!
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Lisah101 November 3rd, 2013 01:49 PM

Our First Dinner!
 
We had late dining and a table for six. The first night only one other couple were there. Rae and Nancy boarded in Rotterdam I think and were staying on until Athens. THey were long established HAL cruisers and were a great asset helping us learn the little things about HAL.

The first night my husband was adamant I not take my DSLR to the dining room so I was stuck with just IPhone photos.

I had the coconut scallops, the pear cucumber and melon gazpacho (no photo) and eggplant cannelloni while DH had the Prime Rib of course!

http://i1054.photobucket.com/albums/...erry/photo.jpg

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There was no sail away because we were overnighting in Barcelona. The next day..

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We wandered around a bit, but really just relaxed after the long trip over, the whirlwind tour of Barcelona, we needed a relaxing day as this 11 day cruise only had one sea day and that was toward the end of the trip.

The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp played in the Wajang theater at 1pm so we enjoyed popcorn and a movie.

Sail away was beautiful with music at the pool and great scenery.

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Sitting on the balcony as Barcelona drifted out of site.
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Lisah101 November 3rd, 2013 02:00 PM

Thursday night dinner we met our other table mates who had been very tired the night before and rested instead of coming to the MDR. I didn't get any photos Thursday night, not sure why... it's kinda hazy after happy hour!

Friday....

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Our first port was Marseille. Since we had an all day tour planned tomorrow, today we wanted to just wander on our own, although I really wanted to see Aix en Provence again. We were going to share a cab with another couple, but they backed out just beforehand so we sucked it up and just paid for it all ourselves. Aix was amazing and well worth the trip again!

Cours Mirabeau
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Bought some great pastries here:
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Then wandered waaaay off the tourist path as we like to do. Got lost, had to use the dataplan on my cell phone so GPS could work and eventually we found directions but no until after we stumbled onto some kind of protest going on. THere were police EVERYWHERE and I did not take one photo as I didn't want to be mistaken for an activist. So we just went the other way and wandered some more.

We had a coffee (for me) and a hot chocolate for my non coffee drinking DH. Then found a great little plaza with a market. I just love european markets and the fresh food, the atmosphere and the people. 2 years ago I was at the market in Aix and bought a nice olive wood cutting board. Well, we found the same woman I bought from 2 years ago and bought a lot more this time!

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We meet two sisters from San Francisco who had rented a place there for a few weeks. After they left, we met 2 younger woman who were looking for their mothers (the San Francisco ladies). Apparently the moms had ditched the daughters and took off on their own.

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we stopped at a restaurant for lunch and ordered DH's favorite food - pizza!

Then we watched the waiter run next door the pizza place and bring it back to our table!

Restaurant:
http://i1054.photobucket.com/albums/...y/IMG_0882.jpg

Lisah101 November 3rd, 2013 02:08 PM

We left Aix and headed back to the ship

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Sailawy included wine and cheese on deck with music and a great time

we took a quick nap and dressed for dinner before going to the Mix bar for cocktails.

About 45 minutes before dinner, the bartender offered us appetizers (not on the dinner menu). They were very good!

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Since this was our third dinner on board, I was getting more brave about bringing my DSLR to meals so some of the photos are better quality.

For dinner, I tired the duck liver pate but didn't really like it

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Then the berry soup which was really good!
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I didn't get a picture of the dinner menu, but I did get better about that as the cruise progressed.

I had gnocchi for dinner which I always love.

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DH had the NY Strip on the everyday menu (note the knife in hand waiting for me to take the photo first!)

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pschweig November 3rd, 2013 02:13 PM

We will be on the Rotterdam on Sunday. What are your impressions of the ship and crew? Thanks for your review!

Lisah101 November 3rd, 2013 02:13 PM

Our table mates were getting into the photo thing and started offering "do you want to take a picture of mine?" So I did...

Nancy had Cornish Game Hen I think it was

http://i1054.photobucket.com/albums/...IMG_0769-1.jpg

Chocolate Souffle for desert. I really wish I had a photo of the menu to help me remember!

http://i1054.photobucket.com/albums/...IMG_0772-1.jpg

I do remember the Tirimasu (sp?) and it was good!

http://i1054.photobucket.com/albums/...IMG_0773-1.jpg

Lisah101 November 3rd, 2013 02:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pschweig (Post 40541922)
We will be on the Rotterdam on Sunday. What are your impressions of the ship and crew? Thanks for your review!

I personally loved the mid size ship vs the mega ships. There were a few things that hit me wrong such as lido deck beverages. You often had to wait for coffee machine, the ice tea ran out, the ice ran out on one side, those were really annoying. The smaller ship was much easier to get around and the public spaces were very well laid out. There was always a quiet spot or a social place if you wanted to sit and meet new people. The dining room was a little slow, but then I think that is just cruising now. If you want more, you have to pay higher cruise fares such as on other lines I think HAL is a nice middle ground for price and service.

We constantly saw the officers around the ship and they were very personable. They went out of their way to engage you, several remembered our names and stopped to chat anytime they saw us. The food was good and a few items were exceptional. There were a couple of misses, but then again, nothing was a show stopper for me.

Orlando, the mix bartender was one of the most service oriented people we met. He worked very hard, but managed to make it all look effortless. We went out of our way to give him an extra tip at the end of the cruise.

The last day of the cruise I took extensive photos of the lido breakfast. I've never been a Lido fan, but HAL has changed that!

pearliemae November 3rd, 2013 02:23 PM

Great Blog,
 
Thanks very much for this great blog, pictures are super!
Thanks for taking the time to do this, love it!!!

Lisah101 November 3rd, 2013 02:30 PM

Monte Carlo!
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This was the port DH wanted to see most. He is a HUGE car guy and often gets up in the middle of the night to watch Formula One races. I booked the ship's excursion for this day that included Nice, Eze, lunch and Monte Carlo.

Our first stop was Nice and another market so I was happy! I had done Nice and Eze before with my mom and most of the first part of the day was the same, but that was OK with me because I really love this area.

Nice Market
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Walking through Nice
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Love the beach November 3rd, 2013 02:31 PM

Thanks for doing this and your photos are awesome!

Lisah101 November 3rd, 2013 02:37 PM

More of the Nice market - I can't help myself

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and a confectioner's shop I saw on the way back to the bus
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