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Posts posted by Charlene1985

  1. Today was Amber Cove, the stop I was looking forward to the least.  But we had a fantastic day.  MDR breakfast started too late so we grabbed a bite to eat in the Lido.  Now I don’t mean anything bad by this, but I am not a buffet person.  Never have been, probably never will be.  I don’t like chasing after my food and by the time you collect everything you may want, it’s cold.   So I had some smoked salmon on bread and fresh fruit.  The cottage cheese was warm so I only had the one bite.  Coffee was good but not hot.  That will be the one and only time I eat there if it can be helped.  


    We chose the Damajagua Waterfalls excursion. It was a 30 minute ride from the cruise port.  I wore my bathing suit and a swim cover up.  Athletic wear would have been a more appropriate choice so I could have left my shorts on. Anyway, we rented these ridiculous looking rubber water shoes (required) unless you have your own.  And helmets and life jackets were also required.  All items were locked up in lockers, including sunglasses and phones.  The tour description said cameras were not allowed so I left my underwater camera on the ship.  Come to find out, they are allowed.  We walked uphill/hiked about 45 minutes which included 2 short rest breaks.  Then we started the fun part.  We climbed down a steep ladder-like stair case and took our first plunge into the cold mountain falls.  Made our way down via 4-5 slides and some walking.  If you have balance issues, this is not the tour for you.  The guides were great and I regress to being a 9 year old when in water so I became extremely jealous of them jumping off the platforms that we were not allowed to use.  Returned to the changing area.  If those shoes don’t give me athlete’s foot, I’d be shocked.  Bring your own if you own them and plan on doing this excursion.  The guides took photos and you could buy the USB drive with the photos and videos for $55 that included everyone’s photos.  We declined.  I don’t need to sort thru 1000 photos of strangers to look at myself wearing ugly shoes. We returned to the bus and 30 minutes later we were back in the port.  We didn’t know this, but Amber Cove has a secure pool area for cruise ship passengers.  We were the only ship in port and we lounged by the pool for an hour or so.  It was quite relaxing though I can’t imagine it would be if we shared the port with a mega ship. Zip lining and some boat rentals were available as well.  


    Returned to the ship around 2:30 and since breakfast was small, we decided to try the Dive In burger place.  Now I am not a burger person. I’ll have one on 4th of July and I’ll go all out at McDonald’s once a year.  So the burger was just OK.  Maybe Shake Shake quality according to my husband.  Fries were good for fries but again, not my area of expertise.  It only took about 10 minutes for our order.  They gave us the buzzy thing so we grabbed a soda at the bar while we waited. 


    Spent the next few hours figuring out our crossword puzzles from the previous few days. We have a suite on the starboard side so we had a nice view of leaving port.  The channel for Amber Cove is quite narrow and there is a rock ledge about 100 feet outside the channel markers.  The channel markers were about 100ft from the ship.  It was impressive to see us maneuver away from the pier.  I would have enjoyed seeing us arrive at the pier but I was still asleep for that.  We have a boat and I thoroughly enjoy watching the skills of the harbor pilot and the ship’s officers.  All in all, a beautiful day in port and a stop I would do again in a heartbeat.  


    Dinner was good, and I enjoyed our table at the rail overlooking the lower level.  I enjoy observing and our servers were much more efficient in this section compared to our previous section.  I had the salmon and rice (the dish always available) and it was the best main course yet.  The pomegranate and pumpkin salad was the best app I have had yet.  I was impressed- I asked for salmon without capers, and it was honored.  I don’t understand how something so small can be so disgusting.  The maitre D on this ship is amazing.  He came over to check on us a few times.  We are two stars and haven’t complained about anything so I am impressed with his attentiveness to us being basically no one special nor are we squeaky wheels. 


    After dinner, we went out on the Promenade deck for our after dinner stroll.  We were cruising at 19 knots so it was nice to see and hear the water. I even got misted a few times.  We had an after dinner drink in the lounge area of Ocean Bar. We returned to our rooms since the band at Rolling Stones had the night off. There was a comedian at the World Stage but we were tired and we were in our room by 10. 


    We are in San Juan today because of an itinerary change.  Bonaire was canceled.  I will make today’s update later. 


    Thank you for the suggestions about asking to have the temp lowered in the fitness center.  Saturdays are my rest days so I’ll see what my Sunday run brings.

    • Like 4
  2. 43 minutes ago, iflyrc5 said:

    Charlene1985 - thanks for all the reporting.  We are boarding on Jan 14.  I am interested in the times of the evening shows on the World stage.  Take care of the ship for us😁


    Just now, Charlene1985 said:

    I have not paid attention to that.  But for tomorrow, there is a movie playing at 8pm.  I think there was a comedian at 10pm.  

    Sorry.  I messed up the quoting. 

  3. Sorry I didn’t post last night.  I’ll post about just yesterday and create a new post later this evening for today’s review. 

    Port was Grand Turk.  Breakfast in MDR was a bit more efficient than the first day.  We were in along with Carnival Imagination.  There are way too many people on that ship.  Husband and I have been to PLS but not Grand Turk so we signed up for a sights, flavor, and beach tour.  We stopped at a restaurant for rice, beans, conch fritters, and chicken.  We literally had breakfast an hour prior so husband and I shared a plate to try.  Not bad but cooked in more oil than I probably eat in a decade.  We drove around and saw the sights: town, churches, lighthouse.  Saw donkeys and chickens. No flamingoes.  We were dropped off at Govenor’s Beach and we spent about two hours there. Chairs and umbrellas were provided.  You could choose to return to the ship at anytime.  It was a 5 minute drive or a 20 minute walk.  We bring snorkel gear with us and there were some sergeant majors, blue tangs, and a fish I didn’t recognize.  The beach was relaxing. 

    We made it back about 3pm and I went to the fitness center to run my normal 6 miles.  At mile 4.5 I gave up because of the insane temperature in the gym and finished on the jogging track during sailaway which was quite enjoyable except for dodging the people standing in the middle of the red running lane.  They leave the doors to the fitness center open to the lido pool area so I don’t think the AC can keep up with it.  I don’t know why it’s done but it had to be over 85 in there.  

    Showered, relaxed a bit, then had dinner at The Pinnacle Grill as part of our HIA.  He had the rib eye and I had scallops.  My crab crakes were probably the worst crab cakes I have ever eaten.  But the scallops were good.  The mashed potatoes were excellent.  He had baked Alaska and I had about 1/8 of the soufflé.  Very good but very rich.  All in all, the food was decent.  If I didn’t have it included in HIA, I don’t think I would spend the money for it.  I didn’t find the food or service to be much better than MDR.  App, main, dessert took 2 hours with most tables empty.  The decor is beautiful- probably the nicest space on the ship.  

    Speaking of decor, I love all the flowers, especially the Birds of Paradise.  Though I feel as though they are mocking me because I haven’t been able to get mine to flower in 4 years. 

    Listened to the the piano players on board for a bit.  Enjoyed a few laps around the Promenade deck listening to the waves.  Very relaxing and a good way to help dinner digest.   It’s a beautiful space that retains the nautical aspect of sailing that I can only imagine would be lost on these floating Las Vegas mega ships. 

    Have to add that despite the gym being 1000 degrees, the AC in the public areas is quite good, and our stateroom which is set on the coldest setting works extremely well.  

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  4. Day 2 complete.  Started with breakfast in the MDR.  Service was slow, but best omelet I have ever eaten.  Cottage cheese and fruit were terrific though the tablespoon of cottage cheese wasn’t nearly enough.  The coffee was very good.  But I hate Starbucks if that gives you perspective on my tastes. 

    Husband got a massage which he said was great despite the upsell spiel he had to listen to.  She said he had wrinkles.  He said “I’m 51.  I’m supposed to have wrinkles.”  I used the fitness center.  If they lowered the temperature by 30 degrees it still would have been too hot.  But good training for summertime, right? 


    Spent the afternoon at Sea View pool.  Was pleased to find lounge chairs on the port side and didn’t smell cigarette smoke.   Grabbed the crossword puzzle from Guest Services, filled in five clues before giving up, and showered for the Captain’s toast at 7pm.  

    Arrived at dinner and was pleasantly surprised to find ourselves being seated at the table I requested when booking.  Dinner was very good tonight and took about 1:30.  I splurged for real dessert and the strawberries romanoff was fantastic.  Tonight was our first gala/formal/dressy night.  He wore a suit and tie, I wore a long formal dress (we love dressing up) and we were definitely in the minority.  But we did see some tuxes and a few ladies in full length dresses. 

    After dinner, we listened to the band playing at Rolling Stones Rock room.  Came back to find a towel animal and chocolate on our bed.  Happy to have a pet doggie for the rest of our voyage.  

    These aren’t complaints that would keep me from sailing HAL but just things I observed:

    1) the bottom of the shower grout lines are already black with mold.  My cleaning lady doesn’t get the corners of my shower well enough either and I get down on hands and knees to scrub it off so I know it’s a lot of work and time consuming.  I’m sure the staffing model doesn’t provide for that type of cleaning. But the ship is 14 months old.  It’ll be absolutely gross in no time. 
    2) Dirty glasses and towels everywhere.  I always return my dirty glass to the bar or a waiter and put my towel in the bin.  So I blame lazy people.  But I was shocked at the mess just the same.  The amount of napkins that blew off the back of the ship into the water was awful.  I hate people who litter, intentionally or by carelessness. 

    For the ladies:  if you have thick hair or long hair, bring your own hair dryer.  I have a European model so I brought that after seeing a picture of the one they provide onboard.   I’m glad I did as the provided one isn’t that great.  

    Tomorrow is Grand Turk. 

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  5. I work for an airline so I know first hand how much things can go awry and how much they did these past few weeks.  But when I’m forced to give up a vacation day (or volunteer to) during weather events, other people make their journeys.  This time it worked out for me as well despite having zero control over the situation.  

    Lucky for me I have access to crew duty times, aircraft planning, and the ability to fly on the extra jumpseats so I knew in my case, there was a good chance this flight was going to operate with minimal delay. 

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  6. I wanted to start this last night but sleep called and I answered. 

    Because of a reversed vacation day approval at work, I was forced to fly into FLL the morning of embarkation.  Yes, I know it’s a bad idea, and luckily despite the storms in the southeast, I made it, along with my checked luggage, and was upgraded to 1st class.  We arrived around 8:15. 

    We had two hours to kill, so we gathered our luggage and Ubered to Lester’s Diner.  Great food, plenty of other travelers with suitcases, and made me feel like I was back in NY at a typical diner with a novel-length menu.  

    We arrived at Port Everglades at 10:45 for 11:00 check in.  Breezed thru quickly and boarded around 11:20. We carried on all our luggage and we were unpacked by 12:30.  We booked a Vista Suite primarily to earn the extra 10 cruise credits and declined the upsells for Signature and Neptune Suites.  We also declined Club Orange. 

    The room is beautiful with modest decor, a decent sized balcony, and tons of storage space.  We had ample space to unpack all our clothes (10 dresses, 12 pairs of shoes for me) and 8 shirts and slacks and 2 suits for him.  Plus daytime attire, running attire, and toiletries.  I brought my own shampoo and conditioner- I color my hair and prefer my own. 

    After unpacking, we went up on deck 10 for sail away.  Deck 9 was too smoky while still at port.  Sail away was great and the toot fest with Eurodam, who departed shortly after we did was phenomenal, and much appreciated. 

    After sail away, we explored the ship a bit and checked out what was available in the fitness center.  We have 8pm seating and since I pulled a work all-nighter the night of the 3rd, by 5pm, I had been awake for 36 hours straight.  The cappuccino from the Crow’s Nest was perfect and we watched the sunset.  Showered and proceeded to dinner.  

    We were seated at a 2 person table though we did not get a table along the railing as I requested when we booked in September.  But a beautiful table just the same. Our food was good, not great, but I’m not one to complain about much.  I asked for fruit for dessert and that was honored.  Dinner was finished at 9:30.  We were in bed by 9:45.  Slept great and didn’t hear a peep until my alarm at 8:00. 

    So far, I am impressed with Rotterdam.  She’s a beautiful ship.  We are pleased with our decision.   The WiFi has worked fine on my iPhone and is strong enough that I can talk to my cat and see the video on my cat camera set up at home.  Email and iMessage works fine, and I have messaged photos to my Mom without much issue.  

    Now a relaxing sea day.  I’ll update later tonight or tomorrow. 


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  7. 40 minutes ago, Crew News said:

    Sort alike a cobbler with cornstarch thickened fruit (changes every day) with a butter crumb topping according to my HAL recipe collection.  Simple, tasty, and easy for the kitchen to make.  The recipe calls for a touch of brandy.


    Now i have to make one of these for myself!!

    That is 1000X better than the weird stuff on the menus.  And no one ever has carrot cake anymore.  I love carrot cake. 

  8. 3 hours ago, Crew News said:

    A good example is the availability of fruit crisps in the MDR.  If you ask, you can have them with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream to melt over the warm fruit.

    What are fruit crisps?  Like cobblers? Because the desserts I’ve seen on the menus haven’t been exciting.  

  9. We always opt for late seating, table for 2 and have always received our request.  I don’t mind a 1:30-2:00 dinner.  It’s a nice time to sit and relax and people watch.  

    I am a flight attendant and after making small talk with people while crossing the Atlantic Ocean 10 times per month, honestly, the last thing I want to do is talk with even more strangers during my meal.  Have a pre dinner cocktail and chatting for 30 minutes is definitely much more my preference.  

    I don’t mind grabbing a quick lunch at Lido, but I don’t want to eat in that type of setting.  It’s not enjoyable for me (much like a lot of new eateries that are opening in my area I call “half serve”- order at the counter and they bring it to you).  I’ll happily do that style dining for lunch, but I  enjoy the relaxation of sitting in a crowded room (especially one with a nice view if on the upper level) and watching the activity around me.  

    • Like 5
  10. 29 minutes ago, Crew News said:

    I have five future cruises booked so our paths may cross on one of them.  Make sure you ask lots of questions during your planning.

    This will probably be our only cruise for 2023.  We ski in February and spend our summers fixing stuff at our lake house…and sometimes enjoying our time there as well.  😂😂

    Hoping to do an Auckland—> Sydney cruise March 2024if our vacation schedule from work cooperates.  

  11. 14 hours ago, Crew News said:

    It is my plan to do a live thread for this cruise to receive and answer questions for those who will be boarding in the future.  Since this will be my first Rotterdam experience, I will take lots of ship photos, collect every menu/brochure possible, interview crew members, evaluate my excursions, and give my impressions as compared to other HAL ships.

    Which sailing are you on?

  12. 34 minutes ago, PACD_JG said:

    I booked a verandah on my first trip but they upgraded me to a vista suite.  My wife and I had HIA + crew appreciation.  My final onboard statement was $914.34 - $200 OBC (Alaska ain't cheap), and $238 of that was crew appreciation for my daughters who were in the same cabin.  My second cruise was in a vista suite and my wife and I had HIA + crew appreciation.  My final onboard statement was $430.51 - $400 OBC, and $238 of that was crew appreciation for my daughters who were in the same cabin.

    How many spending mariner points did you earn?

  13. 1 hour ago, crystalspin said:

    Thanks for your experience! I was going to ping you bc I thought I remembered you having recent info on this. 


    I am *counting* on 3x sailing days on upcoming B2B. Otherwise (OH NO) I'll have to find another cruise to make up the 12 or so points that we'll be short for 4*.

    I’m hoping for 3X as well too.  With only 5 weeks of vacation a year, we usually spend one week skiing, 2-3 weeks on projects around the house, and 1-2 weeks on a “normal” vacation.  So the points are slow to earn.  

    • Like 1
  14. 6 minutes ago, VMax1700 said:

    Our experience is that if we have HIA then we are credited for 1 day for each day of the cruise (for HIA).  Additional spending has no relevance as the maximum 'spending days' is reached with HIA. (You cannot have more 'spend' credits than 'Sailing Day' credits.

    12 day with HIA in a suite = 12 +12 +12 = 36 days credited.

    12 days in Verandah (non suite) and HIA purchased as an add on = 12 + 12 = 24 days.

    14 days in Verandah (non suite) with HIA included in cruise price = 14 + 14 = 28 days.


    Thanks.  Yes I’m aware you can’t earn more than the number of nights for the spending category.  Or else I’d do some retail therapy and become a 5 star real quick.  😂😂

  15. Thank you for your help.  I’m glad you earned the full 10 for the spending despite your actual onboard charges being much lower.   I guess the only thing I can hope for is that 2023 doesn’t change the rules at this point.  I literally just got off the phone with a rep from HAL and was told that they have never heard of suite or spending bonuses.  After being transferred to the Mariner Society department, I gave up after 40 minutes on hold.  

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