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  1. Background: Nearly 30 years cruising. Diamond on Royal Caribbean, variety of other colors and jewelry across NCL, Carnival, MSC. Couple near 40, son will be a bit under age 5 at proposed time of sailing. Feel service is declining on Royal Caribbean. Don't care for some of the rowdiness have found lately on NCL and Carnival. Looking for decent kids club and activities; nightly entertainment until 10-11pm is plenty for us really. Good included in fare food; whether this be lido, pool deck, or MDR we expect good quality. Want to try a somewhat quieter and less crowded ship than the mega ships we have been going on. Like the Key West/San Juan/Grand Turk itinerary which can do on either ship it looks like. Which ship would you recommend, and why, for a young active family but not looking for a sports bar party like Carnival or NCL. Expecting something distinctly cut above Royal Caribbean, not necessarily fancy. Does NA have a full walking track around ship? That is something to consider for us also.
  2. Koningsdam will be the only cruise ship in Port Everglades so there should be some good views to be had. The King will be at pier 26 and is scheduled to sail at 5:00 PM for two different itineraries: An 11 night Southern Caribbean Wayfarer: Fort Lauderdale, Florida (23 Jan d1700); Philipsburg, St. Maarten (26 Jan 0800-1600); Castries, St Lucia (27 Jan 0800-1600); Bridgetown, Barbados (28 Jan 0800-1700); Fort de France, Martinique (29 Jan 0800-1700); St Johns, Antigua (30 Jan 0800-1700); St Thomas, US Virgin Islands (31 Jan 0800-1700); Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (02 Feb 0800-1500); Fort Lauderdale, Florida (03 Feb a0700) and a 21 night Southern Caribbean Wayfarer/Seafarer: Fort Lauderdale, Florida (23 Jan d1700); Philipsburg, St. Maarten (26 Jan 0800-1600); Castries, St Lucia (27 Jan 0800-1600); Bridgetown, Barbados (28 Jan 0800-1700); Fort de France, Martinique (29 Jan 0800-1700); St Johns, Antigua (30 Jan 0800-1700); St Thomas, US Virgin Islands (31 Jan 0800-1700); Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (02 Feb 0800-1500); Fort Lauderdale, Florida (03 Feb 0700-1700); Falmouth, Jamaica (05 Feb 1100-1800); Willemstad, Curacao (07 Feb 0800-2300); Oranjestad, Aruba (08 Feb 0800-2300); Amber Cove, Dominican Republic (10 Feb 0800-1800); Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos (11 Feb 0700-1400); Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (12 Feb 0800-1600); Fort Lauderdale, Florida (13 Feb a0700) The webcams are located at https://www.portevergladeswebcam.com and https://www.ftlauderdalewebcam.com For the Sail a Way Addicts, the Rotterdam is scheduled to be in Aruba. You can view her at https://www.portarubawebcam.com Next up is the Veendam on January 25th.
  3. Just back from 11 Day Southern Wayfarer cruise. This was our 6th HAL cruise and 4 of those were on the Vista Class ships in the past few years. For those of you wondering about any differences experienced on Koningsdam from our previous HAL cruises, here are some things I noted. Some good, some bad IMHO. Happy Hour: Yes they have it at 4:00 every day but not in Crow's Nest or ocean bar. It is in Billboard Onboard and Rolling Stone Rock Room which are right across from each other. $2 second drink.. They don't serve individual appetizers, but rather have a walk up station with about a dozen items including olives, cheeses, bread sticks, delicious pastry straws, great nuts, chips, salsa, vegies and dips and probably more items that I have forgotten. Liked this. There is also a second Happy Hour in Crow's Nest at 10:00 but we did not attend that. Also Blend seemed to have an evening happy hour with 2nd glass wine free. Not sure if that was every day, but did see it at least a few days in When and Where. Ship: Yes it is bigger, and yes it seemed more crowded than our previous HAL cruises. Lido buffet and pool areas especially where this noted. But the outside seating is a huge improvement. Lots of comfy sofa and big padded chair seating in pool area and on deck above pool and even on Sun deck which also had glass partitions which blocked the wind and provided some more private little cove areas to lounge. But believe actual lounge chairs available were fewer. Especially noted this aft lido pool area which seemed smaller in area than on other ships. Pools more crowded than have experienced previously and several days shortage of pool towels noted. Outside table seating was good and way more comfy chairs there too. Movie every night on Lido but we didn't attend any. One thing I noted was you could actually understand the PA announcements and Captain Timmers spoke really good English. Usually can't hear or understand at least half of the announcements. First time had inside muster and though more comfortable setting just did not make me feel very safe. Just don't think it would work that well during true emergency. Ship definitely lacked the classic art and sculpture we have enjoyed so much on previous cruises. Artwork looked like they just got it from the Art Auction people on board. Not our taste I guess. Lido Buffet: totally staff serve here. Even juices in a.m. behind glass. Nice Hibachi station where you pick vegies and meat and sauce and they prepare for you. Also sushi, dumplings and several pre made items here. This was very popular. Italian station appeared the same but pizza now has it's separate venue on deck above Lido. That often very crowded with 45 minute wait one evening, but Pizza very good. Didn't seem to serve as much lamb as on previous cruises. It was served couple of times but prime rib, roast chicken, steak and roast pork seemed to be the standards here. Of course always a fish item also. The many stations on Lido were nice but it just seemed a lot more crowded with longer lines than have experienced before. All pre-made sandwiches with too much mayo or butter. No more taco station back by Dive In - missed that. Did note that Lido Buffet seemed to be open longer hours than on previous cruises with limited stations open until 4:00 in afternoon and dinner maybe until 8:30. Specialty restaurants: We tried Tamarind the first evening and liked it Rather strange though that they were "out" of a couple of items on first day of cruise and first day of new menu. Pinnacle still offers lunch on sea days and we took advantage of that and loved it. Canaletto about the same. Enjoyed Grand Dutch Cafe free food items and thought that was very nice. No Culinary Arts Center and no cooking demos. Missed them. HAL Navigator: Used this every day and very convenient. Booked a dinner reservation and worked like a charm. Shops: All new and not impressed. Jewelry shops looked same to me but I have too much jewelry I never wear so didn't visit. Separate T shirt shop had 2 types of t-shirts basically. One with pocket and one without. Same logo on all that we saw. Just small HAL ship logo. That was it. Gift shop had usual liquor and tobacco but very few smaller gift type items. Nothing there of interest to us as have plenty of watches don't wear and plenty of dressy clutches don't use. Room: Yes the toilet seat is somewhat annoying but really no big deal. Nice night light across from foot of bed that lights automatically at night from movement. Glass shower doors - Yay. Storage about the same. Small round table (Veranda cabin) not suitable for in room dining so used desk. MDR: Only visited during muster. Too many stories of 30 minute waits for water glass fill, 2 1/2 hour dining times, long open seating waits, etc. My impression was that decor appeared very minimalistic. Room service: Ordered both gala nights from MDR menu as usual for us. Hope they continue this option but worried they may discontinue in future as a cost cutting measure. These are most of the differences I noted from previous HAL cruises. I am sure I missed some though. Service was good and generally on par with HAL standards. We did enjoy the additional dining venues on this ship and the new BB King Blues club was really nice and band was great. As I stated in other posts, did not enjoy the Rolling Stone Rock band but seemed busy every night so obviously others did. Just didn't think the band and especially singers were very good. New World Stage looked really nice but we did not attend any shows there. Hope this helps anyone considering a Koningsdam cruise. Any questions will be glad to give my two cents. Jane
  4. We did our first cruise on Prinsendam last summer,and loved HAL so much we are going again in March.Does Koningsdam have laundromat facilities also? Also any tips would be appreciated!
  5. Background: This was a Girls cruise with my twin sister. We are 46 and have been lucky to travel on several cruise lines, just the two of us, and with our respective families. We’ve cruised several times each on Carnival, Royal Caribbean (Suite and non-Suite), Norwegian (Haven and non-Haven), Princess and Celebrity. My sister has also cruised on Disney and I have cruised on MSC (Yacht Club – love it!). This was our first experience on Holland America and our decision to try HAL was based on 1)price, 2)cruise duration of 9 nights as opposed to the normal 7 we cruise), 3)itinerary (fabulous) and 4)curiosity about the HAL experience. Hotel Pre-Embarkation: We both live outside of Philadelphia so we flew American Airlines from Philly to Fort Lauderdale and spent a night at the Four Points by Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Airport/Cruise Port. It was a good choice for us. They offer a free shuttle to/from the airport, but the shuttle was taking a little too long so we took a cab to the hotel. The shuttle run includes guests that were staying at a nearby Holiday Inn, too. Check-in and the room were great, but having a restaurant and bar at the hotel was fantastic. No need to venture out for dinner after a day of traveling and we had a full (not continental) breakfast the next morning. There is also a CVS right around the corner within walking distance that was convenient. At check-in we signed up for a shuttle bus ride to the Port. $8/each. I believe the departures were in 30 minute increments and our time was 11:15 AM. More to come shortly.
  6. My husband doesn’t do well maneuvering amongst loads of people. He can walk, but he often uses a Travelscoot or I push him in a transfer chair. Which ship do you feel is better suited to less crowding and tight spaces? Thank you
  7. its been a while since I have attended the Mariner Luncheon, I am hoping to on our upcoming Koningsdam cruise. Just curious, anyone know when the luncheon is held on the Koningsdam? I have a few new HAL cruisers with us, would they be able to join me at the luncheon or not? thanks,
  8. My wife and I are about to take our 15th cruise this week, but it will be our first on Holland America, the MS Koningsdam. We only booked this cruise earlier this month, but considering it was going to be a New Year's cruise (often the most expensive of the year!), we liked the price, really liked the fact that it was Friday to Friday (so that we'd still have the weekend after getting home), and loved the itinerary (we are "beach" people and love to snorkel). We are booked in a VB stateroom on Beethoven deck on the port side near the aft--the larger balcony looked enticing, and we're just one floor above the Promenade deck and MDR. Since Holland America is new to us and we've had very little time to plan, we'd love to hear your suggestions. What are the things not to be missed: whether it's a specific meal in the MDR, a particular drink in a particular bar or lounge, a specific venue, a quiet place to relax outside--whatever you think. I figured since it was the day after Christmas and most cruise addicts have nothing to do today but dream about their next cruise, this would be the perfect time to hit up all the experienced HA cruisers for tips and suggestions. So, if you were leaving on Koningsdam this Friday, what would you definitely want to eat, drink, see, experience, etc. again once you were back onboard? Ready, set, go!
  9. We are looking at a spring cruise on Koningsdam and prefer a cabin with the bed away from the entry door and adjacent to the balcony. Does the Koningsdam have veranda cabins like this and if so, which ones? Thanks
  10. On one of our HAL cruises the veranda was so small that the front legs of the chair I sat on were in the gutter. Which category verandah cabin should we avoid. On our last cruise in November the Future cruise consultant kept saying the cabins are so small. We have been in Lanai cabins which are small. So I think 'small' on Koningsdam would be ok. Just want a decent size verandah. Any recommendation and also any cabins to avoid?
  11. Hello, I am interested in feedback on Koningsdam thermal suite. What is recent price for 10 day cruise? If you have used the thermal suite, do you feel it is worth the money? Would you purchase again? Thank you for your opinions!
  12. Hi HAL Fans! As the Koningsdam heads into her first dry dock (Dec 02-09, 2018; Freeport, Bahamas) there's been various chit-chats about the confirmed, probable, wishful, unlikely &/or unwanted changes forthcoming: add Rolling Stone Rock Room venue revise Music Walk arrangement implement "Social/Surf/Premium" Internet packages convert casino to smoke-free etc. A number of us CC's will be aboard the Koningsdam's first sailing post-dry dock (11-day Southern Caribbean; Dec 10-21, 2018) with the obligatory Meet & Greet, Live From's & Trip Reports planned. In anticipation of the ship's update what would you like to know changed &/or stayed the same? Begin list now ... Cheers. Dogstar.
  13. For our first sail-away of 2019 we have three HAL ships to watch. Let’s hope CC doesn’t have problems like our last 2018 sail-away! Prinsendam will be at Pier 26 (port to) from 0500 to 1600. She is headed out on her last Grand South America and Antarctica Grand Voyage as a HAL ship. We were told that sail-away would be at 1800 but she is still on the schedule for 1600. HAL ships with long itineraries traditionally sail later but we will see. I will let you know where we will be standing for sail-away after dinner tonight (17 of us from the roll call are going to dinner at The Boatyard). Fort Lauderdale, Florida (04 Jan d1800); Santa Marta, Colombia (07 Jan 0800-1700); San Blas Islands, Panama (08 Jan 1200-1800); Panama Canal (Cruising Canal) (09 Jan 0500-0500); Panama City, Panama (09 Jan a2000); Manta, Ecuador (12 Jan 0500-2000); Salaverry (Trujillo), Peru (14 Jan 0600-1800); Callao (Lima), Peru (15 Jan a1100); Matarani, Peru (18 Jan 0800-1700); Iquique, Chile (19 Jan 0800-1700); Antofagasta, Chile (20 Jan 0800-1700); San Antonio, Chile (22 Jan 0800-1700); Isla Robinson Crusoe, Chile (24 Jan 0800-1700); Castro, Chiloe Island (26 Jan 0800-1700); Puerto Chacabuco, Chile (27 Jan 0800-1700); Punta Arenas, Chile (30 Jan 0700-2000); Cape Horn, Chile (31 Jan); Ushuaia, Argentina (01 Feb 0600-2000); Grytviken, South Georgia (09 Feb 0800-1800); Port Stanley, Falkland Islands (12 Feb 0700-1700); Puerto Madryn, Argentina (14 Feb 0800-1700); Punta Del Este, Uruguay (16 Feb 0800-1500); Montevideo, Uruguay (17 Feb 0800-1800); Buenos Aires, Argentina (18 Feb a0800); Santos (Sao Paulo), Brazil (22 Feb 0800-2300); Ilhabela, Brazil (23 Feb 0800-1700); Rio De Janeiro, Brazil (24 Feb a0800); Ilheus, Brazil (27 Feb 0800-1700); Recife, Brazil (01 Mar 0800-1700); Fortaleza, Brazil (03 Mar 0800-1400); Belem, Brazil (05 Mar 0800-1800); Santarem, Brazil (08 Mar 0800-1800); Boca da Valeria, Brazil (09 Mar 0800-1400); Manaus, Brazil (10 Mar a1100); Parintins, Brazil (12 Mar 0800-1400); Santarem, Brazil (13 Mar 0800-1400); Iles Du Salut, French Guiana (16 Mar 0800-1700); Bridgetown, Barbados (18 Mar 0800-1800); Bequia, Grenadines (19 Mar 0800-1700); Willemstad, Curacao (21 Mar 0800-2359); Oranjestad, Aruba (22 Mar 0800-1700); Fort Lauderdale, Florida (25 Mar a0700) Veendam will be at Pier 19 (starboard to) from 0615 to 1700 . She will be doing a 10-day “Authentic Cuba” cruise. Fort Lauderdale, Florida (04 Jan d1700); Cozumel, Mexico (06 Jan 0800-1700); Belize City, Belize (07 Jan 0800-1700); Cienfuegos, Cuba (09 Jan 0900-1700); George Town, Grand Cayman (10 Jan 0800-1700); Havana, Cuba (12 Jan a0700); Fort Lauderdale, Florida (14 Jan a0700) Koningsdam will be at Pier 21 (starboard to) from 0545 to 1700. She is embarking on a 9-day Southern Caribbean Seafarer cruise. Fort Lauderdale, Florida (04 Jan d1700); Tortola, British Virgin Islands (07 Jan 0800-1800); Philipsburg, St. Maarten (08 Jan 0800-2300); St Johns, Antigua (09 Jan 0800-1700); St Thomas, US Virgin Islands (10 Jan 0800-1700); Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (12 Jan 0800-1500); Fort Lauderdale, Florida (13 Jan a0700) Other ships in port are Celebrity Reflection at pier 25 from 0530 to 1600, and Silver Spirit at pier 4 from 0630 to 1900. The PTZtv webcams can be found at https://www.portevergladeswebcam.com/ and https://www.ftlauderdalewebcam.com/ . Next up: Oosterdam on Saturday, 5 January. Thanks again to Jacqui for starting the sail-away threads while I am cruising.
  14. Please could anyone let me know Kyle’s e mail address. We were meant to meet with him on last night of cruise last weekend, but couldn’t find him in order to leave our contact details regarding a purchase. Just wondered if anyone could help. If anyone has Hannah’s, that would be ok too as she would be able to put us in touch with Kyle. Thanks in advance. 🤞
  15. About to join Koningsdam and would like to know what sort of shows could we expect in main theatre area and what time do they start. Many thanks and Happy New Year. 😎🎉
  16. Wondering who will be the captain of the Koningsdam for our March 6th cruise??
  17. I've seen little written about this. Any experiences? Is it worth it?
  18. Koningsdam will be at Pier 26 (port to) from 0500-1600. She is going on a 7-day Tropical Caribbean Holiday cruise. Friday, December 28 Fort Lauderdale, FL Saturday, December 29 Half Moon Cay, Bahamas Sunday, December 30 At Sea Monday, December 31 Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands Tuesday, January 1 Amber Cove, Dominican Republic Wednesday, January 2 At Sea Thursday, January 3 Nassau, Bahamas Friday, January 4 Fort Lauderdale, FL Veendam is doing a 7-day Eastern Caribbean Holiday cruise. She will be at Pier 21 (starboard to). Friday, December 28 Fort Lauderdale, FL Saturday, December 29 At Sea Sunday, December 30 Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands Monday, December 31 San Juan, Puerto Rico Tuesday, January 1 St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands Wednesday, January 2 At Sea Thursday, January 3 Half Moon Cay, Bahamas Friday, January 4 Fort Lauderdale, FL Also in port is Celebrity Reflection at pier 25 from 0530-1600. The PTZtv webcams can be found at https://www.portevergladeswebcam.com/ and https://www.ftlauderdalewebcam.com/. Next up: Oosterdam on Saturday 29 December.
  19. Fresh back from drydock, Koningsdam will be at Pier 26 (port to) from 0500-1600. She is headed out on an 11-day Southern Caribbean Seafarer cruise. December 10 Fort Lauderdale, FL December 11 At Sea December 12 At Sea December 13 St. Maarten December 14 Fort-de-France, Martinique December 15 St. Lucia December 16 Barbados December 17 Roseau, Dominica December 18 St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands December 19 At Sea December 20 Half Moon Cay, Bahamas December 21 Fort Lauderdale, FL Veendam will be at Pier 21 (starboard to) from 0600-1600. She is doing an 11-day Cuban Explorer cruise. Monday, December 10 Fort Lauderdale, FL Tuesday, December 11 Nassau, Bahamas Wednesday, December 12 Half Moon Cay, Bahamas Thursday, December 13 At Sea Friday, December 14 Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands Saturday, December 15 Cienfuegos, Cuba Sunday, December 16 At Sea Monday, December 17 Roatan, Honduras Tuesday, December 18 Belize City, Belize Wednesday, December 19 Cozumel, Mexico Thursday, December 20 At Sea Friday, December 21 Fort Lauderdale, FL Other ships in port are Serenade OTS at pier 29 (0430-1600) and Independence OTS at pier 18 (0530-1630). The PTZtv webcams can be found at https://www.ftlauderdalewebcam.com/ and https://www.portevergladeswebcam.com/ . For the addicts: Veendam will be in Nassau from 0800-1800 on 11 December (https://www.portnassauwebcam.com/) Rotterdam will be in Aruba from 0700-1600 on 12 December (https://www.portarubawebcam.com/) Koningsdam will be in St. Maarten from 0800-1600 on 13 December (https://www.portstmaartenwebcam.com/). Next up: Oosterdam and Prinsendam on Saturday, 15 December.
  20. For the first time this season we have three HAL ships in port. Koningsdam will be at Pier 26 (port to) from 0515-1700. She will be heading out on a 7-day Eastern Caribbean Holiday cruise. Friday, December 21 Fort Lauderdale, FL Saturday, December 22 At Sea Sunday, December 23 Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands Monday, December 24 San Juan, Puerto Rico Tuesday, December 25 St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands Wednesday, December 26 At Sea Thursday, December 27 Half Moon Cay, Bahamas Friday, December 28 Fort Lauderdale, FL Veendam will be at Pier 21 (starboard to) from 0100-1700. She is taking a 7-day Authentic Cuba Holiday cruise. Friday, December 21 Fort Lauderdale, FL Saturday, December 22 Half Moon Cay, Bahamas Sunday, December 23 At Sea Monday, December 24 Ocho Rios, Jamaica Tuesday, December 25 Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands Wednesday, December 26 Cienfuegos, Cuba Thursday, December 27 At Sea Friday, December 28 Fort Lauderdale, FL And finally, Prinsendam will be at Pier 19 (starboard to) from 0500-1600. She will be leaving (taking Carole with her) on a 14 -day Caribbean Holiday cruise. Friday, December 21 Fort Lauderdale, FL Saturday, December 22 At Sea Sunday, December 23 Amber Cove, Dominican Republic Monday, December 24 Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Tuesday, December 25 At Sea Wednesday, December 26 Barbados Thursday, December 27 Tobago Friday, December 28 St. Vincent Saturday, December 29 Fort-de-France, Martinique Sunday, December 30 Guadeloupe Monday, December 31 Tortola, British Virgin Islands Tuesday, January 1 At Sea Wednesday, January 2 At Sea Thursday, January 3 Half Moon Cay, Bahamas Friday, January 4 Fort Lauderdale, FL Also in port are Celebrity Reflection at pier 25 from 0545-1600, Celebrity Silhouette at pier 29 from 0330-1600, Serenade OTS at pier 18 from 0600-1600, and Silver Spirit at pier 4 from 0415-1800. The PTZtv webcams can be found at https://www.portevergladeswebcam.com/ and https://www.ftlauderdalewebcam.com/ . Next up: Oosterdam on Saturday, 22 December.
  21. The Koningsdam LIVE thread has officially begun so that can only mean one thing. I AM ON VACATION!!! Today was my last day at work and I am doing my best to shed workaday concerns and flip the switch to holiday mode. This report is brought to you by the sisters’ Annual Christmas Kickoff; also known as ACK. Miss J, my sister, rests in peaceful slumber at her airport hotel in preparation for an early morning flight to North America where we will begin our journey. If Miss J chimes in with anything other than a Pirate Report you are not to believe her. (I think you know what I’m talking about.) And now it is time for the Pledge of Allegiance. Please raise your right hand and repeat after me: I, *say your name* Promise not to believe Anything Miss G’s sister says. Arr! Okay, I think I’ve got all my bases covered. Let’s get started.
  22. Cruising on the Koningsdam was a treat. We had a verandah stateroom, so I don't know if this is true for all staterooms, but we were very pleased with the larger shower AND its glass door. No more plastic curtain hugging your legs!! The rainshower head was a welcomed plus, too. Our room had excellent black out curtains, and I wish all cruise lines would follow HAL's lead in providing a paper recycle bin for myriad notices every room receives and, likely, immediately tosses. Embarkation and debarkation went smoothly. If you elect to walk off with your luggage and are in a hurry, don't wait in your stateroom. Wait in the Lincoln Center. When we left our room when we were called at 7:30, the line was already very long. On the positive side, it moved quickly. We used Lyft to return to the FLL airport. ENTERTAINMENT: We have been on over 20 cruises, and this ship's entertainment was the best we have ever experienced. Normally, we are ho-hum about any singer/dancer show, but these were absolutely not-to-be-missed. I believe the shows we saw will no longer be performed after Koningsdam returns from drydock next week, but I am confident equally impressive shows will be performed. It is clear more money is being spent on quality productions. The dancers were especially impressive. We usually went to the shows early for a good seat, especially if only two were offered (sometimes there were 3), since the theater is small. The theater-in-the-round experience is wonderful, and there aren't many bad seats. Be aware the bottom rows are not graduated. HAL partners with BBC, so don't miss anything having to do with Planet Earth. The BB King All-Stars is another not-to-be-missed opportunity. We occasionally had to go early just to get a seat; they have 3 sets an evening. If you want to hear great music (not just jazz), dance, and/or just enjoy watching others dance, this is your venue. The BB King musicians are simply excellent as are the classical quartet members performing in the Lincoln Center. The more contemporary solo pianist stuck over by the Culinary Arts Center is also very good but, sadly, doesn't get the visibility of the other venues. DINING: We were not impressed with Any Time Dining. The first night of our 10-night cruise was a disaster with long wait times to be seated and to be served. We tried making reservations a few other nights but were told we could only do so for 5:45 and 8:15. Had we wanted those times, we would have chosen Set Dining! Even when we did secure a reservation, service was slow. But more germaine is the menus were uninspiring, quite a departure from our normal HAL experience. Thus, our group of four frequently had dinner in the Lido, which serves almost everything on the main dining menu anyway, or at the NY Deli. We did not eat at any restaurant which charges extra, but I was tempted by the $15 Culinary Arts offering of small and large plates. The menu looked delicious. Quite impressive - and FREE - are the NY Deli and Dive-In. You will not believe how amazing the Dive-In's fries are!! Wow. The menu is a far cry from the normal burgers, limp veggie burger, hot dogs, and perhaps a grilled chicken breast on other cruise lines. Hamburgers are dressed up with Gouda cheese or thick bacon, the portabella mushroom topped with guacomole is fantastic, and the grilled chicken also comes topped with guacamole. Yes, wait times could be long, but the buzzer system works well. It's easy to go into the Lido for a salad and drink and still feel/hear the buzzer. The same good buzzer range works for the NY Deli, also a very popular venue (be prepared for 20-minute waits)...once people find out about it! It's a floor above, overlooking the pool, and was almost deserted in the mornings, making a quiet breakfast spot with food from the Lido. The made-to-order pizza is very good, and quite nice toppings are offered. Others in our party raved about the pastrami and Reuben sandwiches. After 8pm, grab a chocolate pretzel! Salads are available, and one does not have to wait for those. In the afternoon and early evening, Mediterranean tapas are available where the dueling pianos perform. They are quite delicious and make a great appetizer plate with friends and wine on your balcony :-). One complaint is that the coffee bar (Explorations Cafe) is stuck up front on the 12th floor in the Crow's Nest. It used to be part of HAL’s famously-wonderful libraries. If you’re expecting a library on this ship, you’ll be disappointed; it is little more than a corner. And if you want a brewed coffee or latte at 6am, forget it; you will have to wait until 8am, which is so late for a coffee bar. I'd like to see the coffee bar situated more centrally, open earlier, and please offer a coffee card to encourage more use (and offer a little savings). These seem to be hugely popular on other ships; Princess comes particularly to mind. The food at the Explorations Cafe is good and complimentary whether you buy a coffee or not. The same is true at the Dutch cafe. If they offer lattes before 8, it's not well-advertised, but this cafe is much more centrally located. I enjoyed the split pea soup and the tiny Dutch pancakes. Most of their food is also complimentary. Service, however, is slow; while the showcase has food, items are not taken from there; you must wait for their kitchen to prepare it. ART: The art gallery is much smaller here, which we did not mind, and so far as I know, no art auctions were held, again not a loss as far as we are concerned. PORTS OF CALL: We enjoyed a lazy day on Half Moon Cay. Take insect repellent if you're prone to bites. Within half an hour, I had several, which swelled and itched for days. It was much too hot (Nov. 12) to rent a kayak or try to find the walking trail. Walking was tolerable if we did so along the shoreline, with feet in the water, and getting a sea breeze. Lounge chairs were fairly easy to find, even in the shade. Just be prepared to walk a distance, which gets you away from crowds anyway. The kids' water area is excellent. The buffet was delicious. While we've been on cruise line private islands that do have wifi, this one does not. GRAND TURK: Take that insect repellent here, too, and free wifi is available in the port shops, specifically around Froots. Our group of four rented a golf cart and saw a few sites before trying some snorkeling from the shore (on a previous trip, we had taken a snorkeling excursion, which I would highly recommend). Where we chose to go was extremely choppy, as the winds were high and rain had started, so we aborted those plans. AMBER COVE: If you want to do nothing more than swim and sun, the free resort-style pool and lazy river is wonderful. Chairs are free; other water sports come with a fee. We took a taxi from the terminal to Telerifico, for the cable car. Prices are posted, $30/1-5 people/one way, but some bartering comes into play with the man in charge. For $50 r/t, our driver waited for us and then drove us around Puerto Playa (the square, the fort, the beach). While we chose not to get out, he was willing to let us out to walk and/or shop. We gave him a tip. We're in our late 60s and while we are fit and agile, the waterfalls sounded too much on the wild side for us. We were very glad we went to the cable car; it's important to GO EARLY. Clouds come in, and then it will be almost pointless; you want to see the panoramic views. The cable car costs $10/pp, and while you can walk around at the top for free (you could easily spend an hour or more walking the trails through the botanical garden), you will likely be approached by a licensed guide to go up with you. I imagine you could barter, but his price of $15 was fine with us, and we were glad he came with us. He was very knowledgeable. BONAIRE: We rented two golf carts for our group of 4 and had such a good time! Where we rented sent YouTube videos, so I knew ahead of time about the south and north loops. We received excellent instruction, clear maps, and off we went. We snorkeled at a couple of places (1,000 Steps was great) and had lunch at Sorobon Beach & Wellness Club (a little pricey). After several hours seeing both routes, we cleaned up on the ship and then enjoyed the market in Wilhelmina Plaza. Check out the stall selling all manner of salts. It was still open at 4pm, and our ship left at 6pm. CURACAO: This was our favorite port stop. Willemstad is delightful (download an architectural walking tour; that was very enjoyable and informative; see the floating market), and snorkeling from the beach can be very good. We took a privately-booked small tour (but a rental car is easy to get as well, and you can see all these same places and stay as long/short as you wish) which stopped at Shete Boka (fantastic), Fisherman's Wharf (snorkel with turtles here), a stop to cliff dive (or watch others), Puerto Mari (very good snorkeling: washed out coral but abundant fish), and flamingos. Since our ship stayed until 11pm, we went out after dark to enjoy the colorful waterfront, lit-up bridge, and to wander the streets on both sides. ARUBA: Having taken an off-road 4x4 Jeep tour before (and been bone-jostled), we opted for a privately-booked small tour. For 4 hours, we saw some of that same rugged and gorgeous coastline and plenty else Aruba has to offer. Of course, if you want a white sand beach day, take the local bus to Palm Beach. If you have any questions, post them below, and I’ll answer. Or you can email me at djkiser at gmail dot com.
  23. Some questions for those on Koningsdam now- a few questions Is Pinnacle grille and MDR open for lunch on sea days only or every day? Current main show entertainment.. Is it changing on next cruise starting Dec 21 or remaining same? Who is the comedian and other headliners? Any big changes in beverage prices from last year? Any tips for us for our upcoming trip??
  24. I was wondering about a midship cabin on a lower deck... And now I am seeing that it looks like the one Gangway is right there, mid-ship, off the Atrium on Decks 1 and 2. Is that. true. that would be a traffic area on Port Days. I am also wondering about noise from B.B.Kings. (which is forward on Deck 2 on the N.S.) in cabins near the Atrium on Deck 1. Would the sound/beat travel that far? Can any of you offer any good info?
  25. In September HAL announced they are adding the Rock Room to the Koningsdam in December but the HAL website doesn't list it as a venue on that ship Only mentions it is on New Statendam Anyone know what's up with that??
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