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GoHoward

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About GoHoward

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Washington, DC
  • Interests
    Travel, photography, gourmet cooking and cuisine
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America Line
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Northern Europe

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  1. Found a post-Revolution ship walkthrough video which appears to be from a travel agents' tour of the Millennium in Japan (or Korea?). Most areas of the ship are covered.
  2. And two things I forgot - the Silk Den bar is a quiet, elegant space to enjoy a drink before a meal at the Tamarind - both are in the same, secluded space on the ship. And the side dishes at Tamarind were delicious as well - we loved the sake braised wild mushrooms.
  3. We found that Tamarind not only served the best foot, but also had the best ambiance of any HAL culinary experience at sea. The restaurant is in its own area of the ship with floor to ceiling windows. After you are seated, jasmine tea is poured and hot towels are presented. And then the food - a delicious variety of Thai / Japanese / Asian fusion dishes, beautifully prepared. We ordered the Laksa soup (good), trail of spices Satay sampler (excellent), specialty Tamarind Nigiri salmon sushi (excellent), wasabi and soy crusted tenderloin (amazing - the standout dish of the evening), vegetable mussaman curry (excellent - my wife asked for the recipe), and mango cloud souffle desert (very good). My wife doesn't like hot spicy food, but loved the tenderloin - the wasabi wasn't hot, but provided a deep flavor to offset the salty sweet soy glaze -- and she loved the mussaman curry. Photos of both mains below. Don't miss a dinner or two at the Tamarind!
  4. My wife is an experienced rider, and the horse back riding is definitely geared for novices - no trotting, cantering, or galloping allowed - but you do get to ride through the water. The riding starts with a trail ride on land, beach, and around the island, which lasts for about 30 minutes -- my wife said it was a gentle walk, and was hot when there wasn't a breeze off the water. The horses then return to the stables and they take the saddles off and replace them with a waterproof blanket. You then ride through the ocean for about 10 minutes, more or less bareback and with a flotation device for safety. In the end my wife enjoyed it, but more for being around the horses than the riding itself. She hadn't been riding through water, and enjoyed that part of the experience. The promotional photos are not misleading, though - you will get some spectacular shots! Below are photos I took of my wife's ride; HAL had a photographer from the ship onsite as well.
  5. And the world class musicians of Lincoln Center Stage...
  6. The Nieuw Amsterdam in Puerto Rico at night...
  7. Here are some photos of our stateroom...
  8. Just off the Nieuw Amsterdam yesterday, a one week Eastern Caribbean itinerary as an anniversary getaway with my DW. Below is the review that I just posted, and happy to answer any questions. In short, we had a wonderful time - highlights were the onboard service, high tea, and Lincoln Center Stage. Lowlights were the embarkation process in Port Everglades, and service at Half Moon Cay. Begin review: The Nieuw Amsterdam to the Eastern Caribbean was an excellent choice for an anniversary getaway - we enjoyed exceptional service, good to very good food, a quiet stateroom with a spacious balcony, and extended time in the four ports of call. My wife an I are in our mid 40s, and found that we were definitely younger than the average age, there was a wide range of passengers from young to old on our mid-november sailing. Embarkation: from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale was organized, but slower than previous HAL cruises. We arrived at the port at 10:30, were fully checked in by 11, boarding began at 11:30, and we were finally onboard by 12:15. On previous cruises we were onboard by 11:30. Our cabin was ready when we boarded, however, and disembarkation was quick and efficient. The Ship: we have sailed on Holland America's R-class vessels previously; this was our first cruise on a larger Signature class ship. While we enjoyed the additional dining and entertainment options, and found the Nieuw Amsterdam to be very well maintained, the larger size and passenger numbers were noticeable at times. My wife and I prefer traditional, uncrowded ships -- and while we greatly enjoyed our cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam, we concluded the smaller ships are more to our liking. Cabin: We had a forward VE class balcony stateroom, 7013. The room was just right for two passengers, well appointed, very quiet, and with a wonderful balcony. We spent every evening and many hours of the day on the balcony, enjoying sound of the sea and the view of the water and stars. There were two reclinable chairs, separate footrests / ottomans, and a small table on the balcony. As there are staterooms above and below deck 7, we never heard noise from other areas of the ship. The interactive TV has 150+ movies on demand, the daily menus, five live TV channels (all news), and information about weather, ship position, and ports of call. The bathroom features a single sink, tub/shower combination, and Elemis toiletries. Service: Outstanding, as always for HAL. We were greeted by name by our cabin attendants, and everyone on the ship looked for opportunities to attend to and anticipate our needs. The one exception was staff onshore at HAL's private island, Half Moon Cay. Some of the Half Moon Cay staff were helpful, but several were brusque or rude when we asked questions or requested directions to places on the island. When a horseback riding shore excursion on Half Moon Cay ran long, we were dropped off at the island BBQ at 12:50, ahead of their 1 PM closing. Staff were already taking down the buffet, and refused to serve us lunch. As a result, we had to head back to the ship early for lunch rather than enjoying Half Moon Cay's beach. Dining: Food ranged from good to very good. As a foodie, none of the dishes were outstanding, but none of them were poor either. Dinner in the Tamarind restaurant was the best meal and dinner service we have experienced on a Holland America ship. Room service was efficient and complimentary - we enjoyed two dinners in our cabin, and had coffee and tea delivered to the room every morning. We also loved the high tea, served in the main dining room on fine china at 3 PM each afternoon. Entertainment: We loved Lincoln Center Stage - world class, classical chamber music performed in a dedicated concert venue - and attended their performances almost every night. BBC Earth, highlights from the series set to a live performance of the score, was wonderful. We also attended two enjoyable, if simple, America's Test Kitchen cooking demonstrations. HAL does not have the showy, nonstop entertainment offered by some other lines, and young children would find entertainment outside of the kids club to be limited to swimming in the pool, but we loved the more sophisticated approach to entertainment.
  9. Welcome ashore! My DW and I are sailing to the Eastern Caribbean next Sunday and can't wait! Two questions - would you happen to have any menus to share, and how was the entertainment? We are hoping BBC Earth Live is offered, and looking forward to the Lincoln Center Stage concerts.
  10. Thanks everyone - this is really helpful advice. My TA confirmation (on agency letterhead, not from HAL) shows the OBC and hotel service charges covered, so I'll print it out to bring along. Miss G - where can I find the booking confirmation that you shared screenshots from above? As mentioned I received a TA confirmation, and I can access my cruise through the HAL website, but I can't find a booking confirmation within the HAL portal.
  11. Hi all - My DW and I are departing on an Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam in two short weeks - we can't wait! We booked with an online TA that offered a package that included $200 OBC and prepaid gratuities. In checking on my account on the HAL website, I see a notation that $50 OBC has been credited to our stateroom for the first day of the itinerary. Should I be concerned that the full $200 isn't showing up, or is it normal for OBC provided by travel agencies to not appear prior to boarding? Thanks in advance for your help!
  12. Now that's interesting...just checking the price on a Nieuw Amsterdam sailing that we have already booked. HAL website lists the restricted fare as higher than the flexible / regular fare...and it is the higher restricted fare that shows up in the "Verandah from..." rate in the upper right hand corner.
  13. HAL marks up wine selections at about 3x to 4x retail price. The "Cellar No 1" package features wines that sell for $8 to $10 a bottle - price for that package is $119 for four bottles, plus 15% gratuity. The markup increases with each tier - one can find numerous "Cellar No 3" selections for $15 or so per bottle - that package goes for $189 for four bottles plus gratuity. In short, for what you are paying, yes, the packages feature "cheap wine!"
  14. Thanks - our captain has kindly offered to arrange a taxi, and to get us back to port by 3 PM ahead of a 5 PM sailaway. We feel comfortable with that arrangement and margin for unexpected developments. In your sailing / boat trips out of Red Hook, were you able to make it back to the ship comfortably? We're looking forward to a day of sailing the islands and beaches around St John!
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