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About cookingmom

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    New Jersey
  • Interests
    Camping, baking
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    New England

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  1. We took that cruise last March and loved it. After considerable research, we chose to remain on the ship Going thru the Canal for several reasons. Neither DH or I do well in the extreme heat and humidity. We were concerned about the long, and perhaps uncomfortable, bus/train rides Involved in the excursions. DH is an insulin dependent diabetic and I feared that the unstructured meals could be an issue especially if the return to the ship was delayed (in reading, I learned that ship traffic can sometimes extend the length of the excursion, causing a late return to the ship.) We got up early and joined the crowd on the open bow. Interesting but tiring. What we really loved was going to the dining room for breakfast and sitting in the back along the windows and watching the ship rise and fall along the lock walls. Fascinating! Later that afternoon, we enjoyed spending time up in the Crows Nest watching our progress as well as the mega ships in the nearby “New” canal. Yes, we were glad we stayed on the ship.
  2. I’m really curious about the NA’s repairs. Does anyone have any new information?
  3. So envious that you are touring with Federico! He is an exceptional person- knowledgeable, interesting, professional, and caring. Enjoy!
  4. Our dear friends have been cruising with Celebrity and tempting us to give it a try. We’ve been hesitant to take the plunge, fairly sure that HAL is the right fit for us. I would like to share their recent experience while on a holiday cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette. Having a wonderful cruise, it was their last port of call. They were anticipating 3 glorious sea days and a festive NYE celebration that evening, when their lives were changed forever. This happy, multigenerational group of 8 were leaving a beach on St Kitts via a taxi van. On their way back to the ship, the taxi van was hit by a taxi cab that hydroplaned into them. All are alive, thanks to a guardrail and God. Three of the eight had serious injuries, requiring evacuation via air ambulance to HSS in NYC. I would like to share a few lessons I’ve learned after speaking with my bruised, battered and traumatized friends. Firstly, don’t get into a vehicle that has been converted from standard seating to makeshift benches. In the event of a crash, there will be absolutely no protection from the forces of the impact. Naturally, only travel in vehicles with working seatbelts. The only seatbelts on this van were for the driver and the passenger sitting in the jump seat in the front. Without them, they would have been ejected through the shattered windshield. Really investigate the terms of your travel protection policies. You could find out the hard way that you really aren’t fully covered in the case of true need. The medical care available on St Kitts was beyond meager and utterly deplorable. Thankfully, they all survived. The ship was notified of the accident and when the victim with the least serious injuries arrived back at the dock to collect their belongings, she was met at the gangplank with their nine filled suitcases and the contents of the safes from the 3 rooms. At no time while the family was struggling to make arrangements for temporary hotel lodging, rebooking flights, and trying to arrange for the evacuation of those seriously injured, were they contacted by Celebrity and offered assistance. BTW, there were 2 children in this family group. It is now five days since the accident, two passengers remain in the hospital following extensive orthopedic surgery, the other six are convalescing at home, and Celebrity Cruises has yet to contact them. Get well wishes might be in order. I hope that HAL would have handled things a bit differently.
  5. I have been following the NA's troubles closely since we are booked on her March 14-21 cruise. Honestly, if there were any good alternatives, I would "jump ship" and transfer my booking. I have serious concerns about possible shortened port times, skipped ports, and excessive vibration. Not to mention being stranded be a failure of the overworked azipod! Naturally, things can happen during a cruise ( i.e. Weather, medical emergencies, etc) necessitating adjustments, but to run this ship in its present condition, is as unwise as driving a car without a spare tire! And some are praising HAL for their new found transparency regarding this issue. Count me out of that group!
  6. We rented a car, drove to the Everglades, and took a very touristy airboat tour. It was so-so but we have now crossed it off the bucket list. We then had a quick lunch and our group of 5 headed to Flamingo Gardens. This place was really lovely and our eclectic bunch gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up! From there, we headed to FLL and turned in our rental car.
  7. Hopefully changes have been made to the Retreat on the Zuiderdam. Last March, not only were they in terrible disrepair, but the staff, while pleasant, were not trained to provide the high level of service (and amenities) that we enjoyed on the Eurodam the year before. It was a huge disappointment to us.
  8. After a stellar experience with our Retreat Cabana on the Eurodam, we had high expectations for our cruise on the Zuiderdam last March. Sadly, it was a bust! Not only were the Cabanas in disrepair (we were tormented by incessant flapping and clanging of the ripped and broken awnings) but the amenities were a mere fraction of what they should have been. We made our displeasure known so hopefully, you will enjoy significant improvements!
  9. We took the exact same cruise last year and I honestly don't recall noticing any children.
  10. On our last cruise in March, when we boarded in Fl Lauderdale, HAL employees were not yet at their table set up to collect the corkage fees. We were instructed to just proceed to check in (along with our 6 bottles!). We did opt to bring 2 bottles to the MDR so we were charged accordingly for them there.
  11. We used Uber for the very first time last month FLL to 17th Street hotel and then from hotel to the cruise terminal the next morning. Great experiences and bargain prices. However, when exiting the cruise terminal I was unable to get a signal/connection (Verizon) and we took a cab back to FLL. The cab was waiting and by the meter the fare was about $15. It was a step down from the Uber rides since the driver was gruff and the vehicle was stinky!
  12. We rented a car from Advance Car Rentals (Celestino) and drove there easily using the simple GPS supplied in the car. It was our first stop of the day an amazing! The car rental was a great bargain at $75 all inclusive.
  13. We just returned from our Panama Canal cruise. Of all our port experiences (Aruba, Curaçao, Cartagena, Panama), Puerto Limon was the most spectacular and that was attributable to our tour with Relax Day Tours and Federico. He met us at the port and we were delighted to discover that we were the only ones on this tour! We started out with a quick tour of the city (comfortable air conditioned van) and Federico's knowledge and insight into the country was valuable. From there we headed to the Tortuguero Canal and between Federico and Juan our boat captain, we saw sloths, monkeys, iguanas, lizards, birds, etc. We were blessed with beautiful weather so the breezes of the early morning made for a really pleasant experience. From there we went to a fruit stand and Federico educated us on the various fruit crops (especially pineapples and bananas). We developed a new appreciation for the fruit we enjoy here at home in the States! He then brought us to a banana plantation were we saw the growing plants. Our next stop was the Cahuita National Park. There we took a delightful walk on a shaded trail that was right next to the beach. It was a nature lovers paradise! We saw large river turtles, sloths, white faced monkeys, iguanas, lizards, leaf cutting ants, raccoons- I felt like I was in a National Geographic movie! We also took a delightful refreshing swim at the beach. I can't say enough about this day and this wonderful man! He was so knowledgeable and accommodating and made our experience magical.
  14. Celestino from Advance Car Rental will renew your faith in people! He is such a wonderful, honest man who delivers a great product. We recently returned after our adventure in Curaçao. Our brand new Jeep was excellent for our party of 4 adults (and beach gear.) We loved the ease of the GPS and utilized it to head out immediately to Playa Granda. Our snorkeling experience was unbelievable. We swam with at least 6 large sea turtles- close to the shore in about 5 feet of water. Lots of fish too. We didn't bring our fins along and having just water shoes was perfect. From there, we headed back to a few other beaches, enjoying lunch at one. We did try to see the flamingos but none were visible. It was a wonderful way to explore the Island and a real bargain at $75.
  15. We just returned from our Trikes Aruba adventure. They are a legitimate company and a good choice if you want to see the island. Be advised that driving the trike isn't so easy! As the "backseat driver", I felt uncomfortable with the high speeds and busy roads while my husband enjoyed the thrill. Returning you to the port on time is a priority for them too!
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