A whole lot of Bermuda.

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Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
I was easily up in time for a sunrise that was noticeable but not very spectacular. In the Studio Lounge there was an announcement from Tiara that showers were expected and the Horseshoe Bay Beach visit was cancelled.

My morning was spent in Hamilton. The cruise terminal in Hamilton has pretty good wifi and I started my morning there, then went for a walk through Victoria and Queen Elizabeth Park. A shower interrupted my walk about 11 and I took refuge in the National Library. There is free wifi there but I haven’t found it very reliable. A second walk after the drizzle stopped took me past Victoria Park to the Catholic Cathedral.


I took the 1PM ferry back to the Dockyards with the Veendam following behind us and passing our ship about the time I got on board. After lunch there was time to visit the National Museum, the former defense headquarters.

At the entrance there is a parade ground with a statue of King Neptune.



The centerpiece is the Commissioners House, a stately mansion at one of the highest points. All 3 floors of the mansion are devoted to exhibits with one of the most lovely being the Commissioners Room used as a Ward Room when the fort was active. A porch on the upper floor has commanding views of the area.


A rampart walk leads to the Casemate, a one time naval barrack abandoned in 1951 when the base closed and used as a prison 1961-94. Abandoned since then, volunteers are working to restore it but I couldn’t see progress since my last visit in 2012. It’s still a nice walk.

My final stop at the National Museum was at Dolphin Quest where handlers were feeding dolphins. I returned to the Breakaway about 5.


There didn’t seem to be a lot of organized activity in the Studio Lounge but Andrew, Carolyn, Debbie, and I went out to the Taste restaurant for dinner. The entrees were pretty standard but Debbie had a very interesting Berry Mint Tiramisu, and I enjoyed the Bananas Foster.



I returned to my room for a while and was not part of the group but many of us went to the Atrium Bar at 9 and cheered Tiara on in the Celebrity Dance Off. Tiara and her partner put on a great showing and were finalists but someone else was declared the winner.


Today’s parting shot comes from my cabin. Some things work in a Studio Cabin and others not so well. Most if not all nights my steward has left a lovely towel animal on my bed. I was following a blog from the Holland America World Cruise where someone in a suite saved all hundred towel animals and had them on display. In the Studio, once I get in bed there’s really no place for the animal. Oh well.


11,000+ Club
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Joined Oct 2001
We appreciate your daily reports, especially because we always enjoy Bermuda. We booked a two hour sunset boat tour on our first night in the Dockyard on GR in June, thru the cruise line. Have you seen or heard of such an excursion on board either of your ships?
Thanks for staying in touch!
Rick and Deirdra
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Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
R&D, each evening the Breakaway was in Bermuda there were 3 evening tours, a Bermuda Triangle Evening Cruise, a Sunset Catamaran Swizzle Cruise and a Gosling’s Sunset Rum Cruise (Thursday) or Harbour Nights Festival & Swizzle Cruise (Wednesday). There will be no such cruises on the Anthem since it’s a 1-day stop (8-4) and I did not really look at HAL shore excursions since we were right in the middle of things in Hamilton.

Up at 5:30 and on deck at 6:15, there was only the slightest sliver of the rising sun showing through the clouds. I was unsuccessful at hooking to Bermuda wifi in from the deck 8 waterfront but found a picnic table outside Bermuda Outfitters near the visitor center with a good signal and enough shade to see my laptop screen.

I had originally booked a Segway tour of the Dockyards for the last day here on the Breakaway, but it was cancelled for lack of interest. I was able to book that tour for the day the Anthem OTS is in Bermuda and instead booked a Glass Bottom Boat tour for today. That tour was not until early afternoon so I had the morning free.

I decided to have a quick look at the nearby village of Somerset, about 3 miles from the Dockyards. I had heard the advent of large ships was putting a strain on the bus system and saw evidence of it. My bus was standing room only from the time it left the dockyards, and there was a lot of pitching and lurching as we made our way down the road. We seemed to have passed up several people waiting for the bus as we were quite full. I really found little of interest in Somerset, and the ride back was much calmer. After the trip out I was concerned that the buses coming back might be full, but for my 11AM return we had fewer total people on the bus than were standing on the way out. I was rather relieved to be back at the dockyards in plenty of time.

My 1 ½ hour boat trip left at 1PM. We boarded the “Looking Glass” and sailed inside the sound formed by the islands, then passed under a bridge at Somerset to our viewing area. We went down to the lower level around 1:30 and first viewed the coral reefs. The crew explained that Bermuda’s coral is less colorful than in other areas because it is quite far north and the water gets too cold in the winter to support some of the more tropical forms of coral. Coral is a cross somewhere between a plant and an animal and has properties of both. The coral here gets special protection and is relatively healthy.

After viewing the coral for a while we moved on to the shipwreck of the HMS Vixen. The Vixen burned and was scuttled in the harbor about 1894, and is largely covered with coral, and I found it hard to make out any part of the ship with certainty. What was readily apparent was the ship’s bow which stuck about 8 feet above the water. We came back to the upper deck about 2 and sailed back along the outer shore of Bermuda, rounding the dockyard and pulling up to the pier exactly our all aboard time of 2:30.


I was on board at 2:37 with a few people still walking up the pier about 2:45, but the lines were pulled in precisely at 3PM and we started our journey back to New York. There is pretty much one way into and out of Bermuda, following a twisting path which goes off shore and then approaches very close to St. George on the East end of the island before heading out to sea. Our last real look at Bermuda was Ft. St. Catherine about 4PM.

It sounded like the solos were pretty much doing their own thing tonight; in any case I had reservations for Burn the Floor at 7PM and headed down to the Taste dining room as soon as it opened. The steak frites and cherries jubilee were excellent and service was quick, about a 45 minute meal. I was also treated to a lovely table by the window.



Burn the Floor is pretty much a pure dance show and very high energy. As today’s parting shot, for those in North America this marks the start of Memorial Day weekend. Remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for out freedom and by all means observe the holiday safely.

Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Most of Saturday morning was spent on the Behind the Scenes tour. We met at the Shore Excursion Desk at 9:30 but had some stragglers and didn’t get away until 9:45. As we arrived we were given a sheet with technical data on the ship. Our first stop was the Spiegel Tent where we started with a half hour slide show on the history of NCL. The room was set up for Wine Lovers the Musical and the array of glasses on the tables was spectacular. The stage manager then took us back to the dressing rooms for both the Spiegel Tent and the Breakaway Theater and explained how things work in the production shows and we saw the array of costumes ready for upcoming shows. Something I haven’t seen on other ships was that corridors around the stages were marked off limits to all but entertainers during the show times. A remark was made that at those times people can tell the Captain to get our of their space.




Our next stop was the main galley at the aft of deck 6. This is connected directly to the Taste and Savor restaurants and by escalator to the Manhattan Dining Room. Other restaurants have small galleys but most of the food throughout the ship is prepared there. The first thing we saw on entering was a poster displaying the standard plating setups for all the dishes served there with the idea of uniformity throughout the fleet. A photo was taken in the galley of each participant with a chef’s hat and large spatula of the type used to extract pizzas from an oven.



Our next stop was on deck 4 in the stores area. We got a chance to step into the below zero meat locker and to see the butchers in action. The manager explained that the ship always keeps a 2-day supply of produce and 7-day supply of meat in case of emergencies, and those stores are the first used on the next cruise.



We headed down I95 (the central crew corridor running the length of the ship) and peeked into the crew mess. Some crew get privileges to dine in guest areas (at their own expense in the specialty restaurants) but most will dine in a large dining room on deck 4. Crew cabins are scattered throughout the ship.


We stopped at the environmental area where an officer explained how all the waste is treated. He said they were painting and we did not step into any of those areas.

Our final stop was the laundry on decks 2 and 3 where we saw huge and very efficient machines for handling vast volumes of laundry with automated pressing and folding and huge washing machines.




The tour ended about 12:30 with presentation of the photos taken in the dining room. I have done a number of behind the scenes tours and this was probably the least satisfying. The reason given for not visiting the Bridge or Engine Control Rooms was the attacks in Paris and Brussels; that’s unfortunate as I have visited those areas on other ships as recently as January. I think it was also the most restrictive with regard to photography with cameras prohibited back stage and along all of I95.

Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
I was out of bed at 5 and on deck about 5:20, just a few minutes past sunrise but still with a lovely display on the horizon. I walked 4 laps around deck 8. It’s a reasonably long lap but I didn’t find it a particularly good place to walk with a need to push a button and wait for doors to open on both sides of the ship at the front. Other issues were the need to go around several baffles in the walk and a pretty heavily used smoking area at the front starboard.


I had a little morning free time and popped into the library to pick up the daily suduku. It’s a mid range library, much better than I’ve seen on RCI or Celebrity ships but nowhere near as good as HAL, Crystal, or Cunard.


My Behind the Scenes tour is described in a separate post and ran about 9:30 to 12:30.

I am not a very efficient packer and spent most of the afternoon packing. The final Solos get-together in the Studio Lounge was quite well attended and Tiara ran 2 trivia quizzes. There were 12 at out final dinner together at 7:30 in Taste restaurant. Like most dinners with large parties this ran quite long; I broke away for final packing (cameras, dental stuff, etc) about 9:50. Tiara had gifts for everyone, t-shirts, keychain lights and pens, and a round of sad goodbyes.

My big bag (47 pounds) went out about 10:45 and I called it a night soon afterwards.

Today’s parting shot is a comment from Tiara at dinner. “Never burn bridges! You will be working with the same people again and again” Despite a huge ocean it really is a small world and positive relationships are a must.

Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
At 5AM the Verrazano Narrows Bridge was on our forward horizon with the Celebrity Summit a couple miles behind us. There was a haze on the horizon but a big pink sun was shining through the haze.


We passed by the Statue of Liberty about 6 and made our way up the Hudson pulling in between the USS Bataan (visiting for New York’s Fleet Week) and the Gem a little before 7.


We were allowed to select our own luggage tags with a corresponding estimate departure time. I had selected light blue, the first general color, expected to be called about 9:15. We were expected to be out of our cabins by 8:30, and I was hoping to find a comfortable place to relax free from crowds until the time to leave the ship came. I left my cell about 8:20 and as I walked down the hallway realized I had the perfect place, the Studio Lounge. It was quiet and never more than 3 people there. My departure was called quite early, 8:40 instead of 9:15. Lines moved slowly leaving the ship, from my location near the bow the line snaked back to the casino.
As I reached the end of the line a crew member said go to the aft line, it’s shorter. It turned out to be just as long and took several minutes to even start moving. Once off the ship the wisdom of the crew members words became apparent, I would have been off the ship faster leaving from the bow, but the entry to the terminal was by the aft entrance, and the line from the bow continued all the way outside the terminal to the aft entrance.

When I disembarked the Veendam in Boston a week earlier, I met with Customs and Immigration immediately after entering the terminal, by the time I picked up my luggage I was free to leave. In New York it’s still the old style procedure, lining up (5-10) minutes with all our luggage to meet passport control and customs, much more a hassle than in Boston.

I was out of the terminal about 9:20 and walked south 8 blocks to the crosstown 42 bus, then 4 long blocks to 8th avenue and another 8 (short) block walk to Penn Station. I dropped my bags at Club Acela about 10:15 and walked another 18 blocks south to the Church of the Villages on 13th Street. I walked into the 10:30 service about 10:45 but was able to experience most of it.


When the service ended I walked west to the Hudson, along the river front to Chelsea Piers, and then along the High Line park to the end, including a new section that goes North to 34th street. After a quick lunch I returned to Club Acela to wait for my 3PM train. The run to Baltimore Washington Airport rail station was about 2 ½ hours with dinner served just south of Philadelphia. It was just starting to drizzle as I disembarked the train at 5:30 and boarded the Airport Shuttle. The slight drizzle had become a shower when I walked in my door at 6 and became a downpour by 6:30 It appears to be the remnants of the storm that has hammered Charleston. Today’s parting shot is a wish for a quick recovery for Charleston for what appear to be pretty significant flooding.

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Future cruises:

11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
11,000+ Club
11,277 Posts
Joined Oct 2001
Enjoying your posts. Welcome home!
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Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Thanks. I'm hoping it will get dry enough to cut the grass before I leave for the Anthem, but am not very optimistic.

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Future cruises:

11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
In a big departure from norm for me, I decided the best way to get to Bayonne was to drive. I packed up my truck and left Columbia about 10.


Soon before my current string of cruises began, the Carnival Pride had an accident and crashed into the boarding ramp in Baltimore. I hadn’t heard progress reports while at sea, but as I passed the Port of Baltimore the ramp appeared to have been either repaired or replaced. I had one other order of business. My first choice in cruises, Crystal has taken out an option to buy the SS United States, and I wanted to go by it’s berth in Philadelphia and have a look at it. I found the traffic in Philadelphia awful with very poorly timed lights, and had hoped to find a place to stop for a photograph of the ship but was unsuccessful. I did pass close by it, and it looks awfully worn.

I 95 through Philadelphia was one of the roughest and worst stretches of interstate highway I’ve seen, When I reached New Jersey, the best way to my hotel seemed to be along US1 but it was a very busy and rather slow highway. I reached the Comfort Inn Edison about 2:30 and had a couple hours to relax.


Going out to dinner turned out to be frustrating. I had trouble finding the restaurant, but even worse, when I started back to the hotel my GPS stopped responding to commands and I was quickly quite lost. I must have driven about half an hour before finding a place to ask directions and had a very difficult time returning to the hotel. I have double checked google maps for my trip to the port tomorrow but am still a bit apprehensive about the trip.

Today’s parting shot is two-fold. When I was working I would sometimes fly to a cruise the same day of departure. I shudder at that now and do not travel the day of embarkation except when boarding in the Port of Baltimore. The second part is the importance of a good map. I have maps of Maryland and Pennsylvania in my truck but not of New Jersey. A mistake I hope never to make again.

Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
When I woke at 5:50 the Anthem was just passing under the Verizzano Bridge. I considered a walk but the area around the hotel was incompatible with pedestrian activity. I did some computer work, got breakfast, and did a careful reshuffling of my stuff to have just a small 16-pound carryon while the other 2 bags, 65 and 18 pounds could be left with the porters.

I left the hotel about 9, stopping at the NJ Turnpike service area and buying a NJ map. I found the directional signs to the port very clear and had no problems with traffic or navigation, although the road into the port could use a resurfacing. With bags dropped off at the porters I was parked in the garage a little after 10.

My checkin “appointment” was almost an hour away but I was happy to have some time to kill. First came a walk around Bayonne’s 9-11 memorial. The primary feature is a big teardrop tower donated by Russia. Also on the site were a piece of steel from the WTC, and a set of 13 pillars representing the 9-11 victims from Bayonne (2 from UA93 and 11 from the WTC). I then walked past the cruise terminal and by the old cruise terminal. What an improvement the new terminal must be!



I returned to my truck at 11 and picked up my carryon bag. Checkin was a mixed bag. The lines were short but not particularly well organized. Despite checking in on line, I was directed to a line for people who had not done so. With just one other party ahead of me, it was still a 5-minute wait until we were called. I usually cruise with a passport card. I have a book, but like to take it out only when I really need it. On both the Veendam and Breakaway I was required to sign a waiver that I could not fly home. That was not required on the Anthem. When I checked in on line, I had to upload a security photo. I tried it with a scan of my passport photo. The system accepted it but it was not accepted at checkin and a new photo was taken. Despite the checkin being a bit disorganized it went quickly and I was on board before 11:30.

I believe one of Royal’s weaknesses is what happens on boarding. On the Veendam before noon my stateroom was ready and after dropping off my carryon I went to the MDR for a civilized lunch. On the Breakaway at noon I was able to drop my carryon in my room (but not yet occupy) and the Garden Café was the place for lunch with ample seating. On the Anthem there was NO access to my room until 1 and despite urging of the staff the WJ was jammed with people occupying tables with their gear until the rooms were ready. When I went in there was a long line of people waiting for clearance for a table. The staff did not want to let me in but when I said I planned to get food and take it elsewhere they allowed me access. I got my plate and walked forward to the Solarium, where the seating was uncrowded but the food choice was much more limited.

I had purchased an internet package before leaving home. While waiting on the pool deck I tried the wifi. I could apparently buy a package but could not access the one I had already bought. I went down to the help desk on 4 and was told there would be a letter in my room with an access code which would get me online (but of course not till 1:00). The pre-cruise price was very nice but it would have been nice to have immediate access.

When 1:00 came I was very pleased with the room. It seems narrow, but I think that’s an impression given because the room is quite deep; I think it’s pretty much standard width. Storage is generous with 2 large dressers and 7 ample drawers. Power is also good with 1 euro outlet, 2 US outlets and 2 USB outlets at the desk and another US outlet by the bed. The obstructed balcony is quite nice, almost triangular with standard width aft and extending about 10 feet out forward. It looks straight out on a lifeboat attachment with just a minor view of the top of the lifeboat behind the structure.


While the stateroom itself was nice, the letter inside was not. I had been cleared for early Dynamic Classic dining and was expecting a letter giving me the dining rotation of my restaurants. Per the letter “Thank you for choosing the Classic 5:30PM Dining Option....Your restaurant reservations, dining time and table number are listed below” Then NOTHING!


I took the letter down to the dining room. “You were denied for Dynamic Classic”. You have no reservations but I’ll make a reservation for the first 4 nights.” No apology and not a very helpful letter. Also not a very good start to a cruise.

The muster drill was at 3:30. My station was the Music Hall. Life jackets are demonstrated but kept at the muster areas and not used. Our seapass cards were scanned as we entered the area. After the drill I went up to deck 15 for sailaway. The lines came in at 4:15 and I stayed on deck as we passed Staten Island and passed under the Verizzano Bridge (about 4:45).


When I returned to my room my big bag was outside the door. I pack mostly with packing cubes and quickly put all the cubes in drawers, and headed down to the American Icon restaurant at 5:30. Dining as a solo service was pretty quick and I was in the theater for the welcome aboard show about 6:45. The show was introductory samples of DSB, a Journey tribute band and comedienne Jessica Kirson, with introductory remarks by Cruise Director Dru Pavlov.


I pretty much crashed after the show and did not get to writing until later Saturday morning. As a parting shot I was distressed to hear about continuing floods in Texas. May the rains stop soon.

Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
A cabin crawl was held after the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle. Several people had volunteered to display their cabins and we worked our way up from deck 6 to deck 12.

My cabin 6162 was first, an obstructed balcony. It is long and narrow. I'll start with views looking from the door and from the window.



There are 2 nice cabinets:



There is ample power at the desk with 2 US, 1 Euro, and 2 USB outlets.


The toilet is standard.


The balcony is a large near triangle with a big obstruction but room to see around it.


Down the hall we visited 6182, similar to mine but a narrower balcony with just the bottom of the view obstructed by the lifeboat roof.


We went up to deck 7 and saw a Spa Junior Suite. Very nice and also with a very nice balcony.



Continuing to deck 8 we looked at a Virtual Balcony, an interior cabin with a large video screen showing what is happening outside the ship. The screen even has a little emblem of a railing.



On deck 10 we saw a couple of additional balcony cabins with unobstructed views. The wall between cabins has a little bit of an offset in the wall where one cabin is a bit wider(with the bed) at the outside while the next one has the wider section and bed at the door end. I had both types on the Allure and found that there if the bed was toward the door there was very little clearance between the bed and the closet. The design works a lot better on the Anthem with it's 2 smaller closets.


It wasn't an official part of the tour but the neighbors of the last cabin we saw on deck 10 showed us their loft suite. What can I say?



The crawl ended at an Owners Suite on Deck 12. Another awesome room with a view directly forward from the balcony.


The crawl was fun. It could have been a bit better organized, but hey, it was my first try at it.

Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
I was up at 5 but worked in my room until about 6 when I went up to deck 14 for the sunrise. It was not much but did show through a couple of cracks in the clouds. I walked one lap on the jogging track but then got caught in rain (or perhaps spray from crew washing something) and walked for a while on the ships inside corridors. I was also a bit surprised to learn there is no coffee on deck 14 until 7AM, for that I must go down to deck 4.


The Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle was held at 9:30 in the Music Hall. Activities Manager Chris Hopkins hosted it initially, later joined by Cruise Director Dru Pavlov. There were probably 70 people present, apparently a relatively small group for the Anthem. I won a bottle of Champagne in the raffle.


After the Meet and Mingle about 20 of us spent the next hour in a Cabin Crawl (see separate post)

I am not really a fan of the long musical productions but that seems to be the trend on mega ships. One way the Anthem has stood out over the Breakaway has been in the accessibility of the shows. On the Breakaway once on board I really only had one opportunity to see a show, I’ve already had better luck on the Anthem. Today’s show was “We Will Rock You”. I hadn’t made any advance reservations but saw today’s schedule and thought the matinee would fit me better than a late evening show. I made my decision about 11:30 and had no trouble booking the 2:30 show. I had a choice of several time slots on several days. I may or may not see any more shows on the Anthem but the choice I had exceeds anything available on the Breakaway.

Some patterns repeat themselves. On the Breakaway I had Pizza on boarding day and said I wouldn’t repeat the next day but changed my mind when I saw Hawaiian Pizza the first sea day. Exactly the same scenario here.

We Will Rock You is not exactly my cup of tea but was better than I expected. There were quite a few empty seats. I had come pretty much prepared for a deafening sound track but the volume was just a bit on the high side of reasonable. The performance was about an hour and 50 minutes with no intermission, letting out about 4:20.

Dinner tonight was 5:30 in the Chic restaurant. I enjoyed the Fruit Medley, Chicken Parmigiana, and Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Service was very quick and I was able to visit the Schooner Par for a little bit of Sasha at the Piano before his session ended at 6:30.



I think I am finally about caught up on my writing. As a parting shot, I’ve had a couple of requests for a comparison of my ships. I think I’ll hold off on that until at least later in the cruise, but both the Breakaway and Anthem have some good points and some things I don’t really like. I need a bit of time for reflection on 2 quite different experiences.

Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
When I went down for coffee a little after 5 we were approaching Bermuda. I went up to the jogging track about 6 for a walk and sunrise but found it completely cloudy and too windy for pleasant walking after 2 laps. We pulled into Heritage Wharf about 7:30 and were cleared to leave the ship at 8:10.

When in Bermuda on the Breakaway a week ago I had booked a Segway tour of the dockyards but it was cancelled for lack of participation. I don’t think the tour was listed on Royal’s website when I first looked at their tours but it was after my Breakaway cancellation so I booked it. I would have preferred an afternoon tour to be busy until the end but not miss the ship, but my tour was for 9AM.

After donning helmets and some instruction about a dozen of us were off around 9:15. We started with the buildings in the immediate dockyards area, mostly originally machine shops and warehouses when built. A few are currently abandoned but many are now shops and restaurants. As we left the dockyards we stopped and our guide briefed us on the Casemate, used as a military barracks and as a prison but abandoned since 1994 We continued towards Somerset and Hamilton for about 1 ½ miles. Much of our travel was on the main road which was a bit scary but we had one guide leading and another following along and monitoring traffic.

Once we came to a fork in the road we moved to a side street and then followed a section of the old rail trail, stopping at a pretty overlook where the guides took pictures of us. On the way back we stopped at “Glass beach”, a beach near a former glass factory. When the factory closed, the glass was thrown into the ocean and much of it has broken up, been worn down smooth, and returned to the beach. In a form of apparently sanctioned graffiti, an area of large stones has been decorated with messages. We returned pretty much directly from there, just stopping a couple of times to let traffic pass.



I believe as built the Segways have a top speed of about 20mph; ours seem to have been governed for about 5mph.

When the tour ended about 11 I took the bus into Hamilton. The buses are a very integral part of the island’s local transportation system, and although we left the dockyards with only about 5 people, by the time we reached the midpoint of the route the bus was full. We passed a few stops by as there was no room for additional passengers. The trip to Hamilton is about an hour.

I had a little shopping to do and got some lunch; then waited for the 1PM ferry, walked around the dockyards a bit more, and was back on the ship about 2.

When All Aboard came at 3:30 I headed to the upper decks. There were still a few people running towards the ship at 3:40 as our first lines were hauled in. At 3:50 Captain Erik announced all were on board and we were ready to leave, and we started moving almost immediately. We will be sailing pretty close to top speed to be in St. Maarten on time. I spent some time on my balcony as we sailed out and was impressed with how close the channel was to some pretty nasty reefs.


My dinner tonight was in the Grande. The Anthem does not have formal nights but the Grande is the dressier restaurant. Jackets are “required” although many gentlemen were not wearing them. Things there are up a notch from the other restaurants, even with fancier cutlery and the waiters in nice jackets. I went for the carrot salad and Classic chicken breast, followed by an interesting and tasty Apple tarte tatin., and then stopped by the diamond lounge for a diet coke.


Soon after I returned to my room a letter arrived with instructions for tomorrow’s All Access Tour. Otherwise I pretty much chilled in the evening, but happy to be moving the clocks back tonight.

As a parting shot I note with sadness the imminent passing of another Vision Class ship. While I have never sailed the Legend of the Seas, she will be missed and I fear it brings closer the departure of the Grandeur.

Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Much of Sunday morning was taken up by the All Access tour. About a dozen of us met in the Silk dining room at 9:15 and Richard processed our paper work and we headed back to the galley for the start of our tour. Wonderful smells came our way in the bakery and pastry sections, and the chef explained the inventory control system with a display of current orders so the proper amount of food can be prepared and served fresh. As we left the galley we were treated to drinks and chocolates.


The galleys are on decks 3 and 4 (as well as at all the restaurants), and we headed down to deck 2 where we visited the coolers and freezers. We were told we carry a 30% surplus of food and fuel, sufficient for 2-3 days at sea.


We headed down I95 (the crew corridor on deck 2 that runs the length of the ship) and took a look at the recycling area where anything that can be recycled is separated and packaged for offloading. The proceeds of recycling efforts support crew activities.

We ducked into the aft stair landing where security ran a metal scan and then went back to the engine control room. A 2nd Engineer showed us photos of the stabilizers, azipods, and thrusters and explained the various video monitors around the room. He explained we are testing a technology where air bubbles are released beneath the ship to reduce drag.


We dropped pretty much to the bottom of the ship, deck 00, to visit the laundry. In addition to the very large washing machines and dryers there was a “compartment” washer which is divided into 9 compartments with the laundry going through the compartments in sequence. Each compartment’s cycle is about 2 ½ minutes which means the machine can process a LOT of laundry in an hour. We also saw some fancy pressing machines including one in the shape of a mannequin for shirts that will press a shirt in very short order. Up on deck 1 we saw an automated linen folder which will press, fold, and sort sheets in very short order. I saw a similar machine on the Breakaway.


Back on deck 2 we passed through the crew dining room as well as the coffee shop and internet café. Most crew share a room, either 10 feet square or smaller with bunk beds while there are some crew singles somewhat smaller than my studio on the Breakaway (the bed folds into the wall). An activity board had a run down of the week’s special activities for the crew.


Our next stop was back stage in the theater but first we had to pass through the Crown and Anchor party (which I missed). The back stage area is crammed with sets, leaving little room for cast costume changes.


Our final stop was the bridge. A second officer explained how things worked. At the port bridge wing we saw all the features of the wing consoles (a smaller version of the center console but with all the same features), and the view through the glass floor down to the dock as well as the view along the side of the ship. Directly behind the bridge was a 3-room emergency control center with 2 rooms crammed with monitors for all the areas of the ship and a large table with detailed diagrams of each deck in the center room. The tour ended at noon and Captain Erik was in the other room preparing his noon update. The emergency control center has a solid door which can be closed at night to prevent light pollution on the bridge.




This is about my 9th back of the house on 4 cruise lines and was one of the better ones. The best 2 were probably the Radiance and Queen Elizabeth, while the least of them was the Breakaway. There is some justice though, the Breakaway was $89 while the Anthem was $150.

Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
I was up on deck 15 about 5:30 and walked 2 miles on the jogging track. As I rounded the bow on the first lap the sun appeared almost directly to our port. The wind in my face walking forward was strong but not quite strong enough to seriously hinder my walking.


I added one piece of equipment to my “office”. It’s much heavier than my scanner and I don’t usually carry it but I have a portable printer. I brought it this time because I was driving to the pier and thought I might need to reprint the list of cabins for the cabin crawl. Sunday was the last of my dining reservations. We are supposed to be able to make reservations on the IQ terminals around the ship, but when I went there it said I had no reservations and when I attempted to make them was told “You are scheduled to dine at .... as part of your rotation. Please view your (empty) calendar to see where you will be dining.” I thought that catch-22 called for escalation of the situation and wrote a letter to the Hotel Manager. I had completed the letter but not yet printed it when the day’s activities were ready to start.


The Sunday observance was a Joel Steen video screened in the Music Hall. When it ended it was time to start my All Access tour (separate post).

The tour ended at noon and I got out the printer and printed my letter and headed down to guest relations. I got the impression their training is to handle everything themselves and not bother the senior staff. The lady made several calls before finding someone who would “help” her final verdict was that I had 3 more days reservations in the same order as in my first 4 days.

After lunch I looked at my schedule and it still had no reservations beyond Sunday. I went down to the reception at the dining room and the receptionist confirmed no further reservations but I was able to make them for the rest of the cruise and was even able to alter the order a little bit. I still have random wait staff each night and must wait in line to be assigned a table, but it’s at least better than what I have. I was also successful in making a reservation for “The Gift”

After all this I did a little more exploring (finding the library and the Italian restaurant on the boat deck), and worked on my pictures from the All Access Tour. With the outlet beside the bed I can just about work my laptop from my balcony. I may try to find a short extension cord at St. Maarten or San Juan and make working out there a little easier.

Dinner tonight was the last of the restaurants on the Classic rotation, Silk. I had the Chicken Noodle soup and the Duck. I believe for the next few days the restaurants will have a change in menu.


When I was back stage on the All Access tour the sets from “We Will Rock You” had been put away. There will be a day or 2 of headline entertainers. Tonight’s was singer Tony Tillman. I thought he was pretty good but not as great as he sees to think he is.


I’ll take my parting shot from the Joel Osteen video. He told a story (parable?) of an old man who was virtually deaf. An operation became available that restored his hearing. When he went back to the doctor for his checkup a month later he was asked how his family reacted to his new hearing. “Oh, I haven’t told them about it. I’ve been listening and have already changed my will 3 times.” Be careful what you say, you never know who might overhear.

Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
In the early morning there was a nice sunrise but the winds were roughly 40kt. I had planned on walking in town rather than on the ship, and that turned out to be fortunate.


We were at sea all morning and I’m having trouble figuring out where the morning went. I did do some walking on the ship as I passed the studio rooms several times hoping to find an open door as the stewards were making the rooms up. It did finally happen, and the room looked pretty roomy. I also spent some time working on my report as treasurer of my local fire department and after about 11 was watching our sail into St. Maarten.

I think this is my 4th visit to St. Maarten. I was here on the Crystal Symphony in 2002, the Celebrity Summit in 2012, and I think the Maasdam in 2014, so I am fairly familiar with the port. As I did the last time, I did not have any organized activities but walked into Philipsburg and walked around the town some. It’s kind of a quaint town with narrow streets with restricted traffic, a beach front, and lots of local stores as well as the standard Caribbean Port stores both at the port and in town.



The official temperature was 84F but it felt hotter than that to me. I stopped at McDonalds for a Diet Coke to cool off a bit, and also stopped at a hardware store for an extension cord. Town is roughly a mile walk from the ship with the half closest to the ship a narrow walkway along the busy main road. I was back on board about 3PM and soon up on the pool deck for ice cream.

Dinner tonight was at Chic with Lamb Shank as well as a nice cookie. The dining room was very quiet as I think many people were in town late; this is the only port where we stay docked into the dinner hour.



I sampled 2 forms of entertainment. There was a “Virtual Symphony” in Two70. It was nice but essentially a video of a concert. There was also a Name that Tune game in the Royal Theater with games at 8:30 and 10:30.


Today’s parting shot–a wish for safety for those in the path of Colin, and may it dissipate before reaching Maryland or New York.

Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
St. Maarten and San Juan are pretty close together and pretty far from Bermuda and Labadee which makes a bit of a strange port schedule, leaving San Juan just barely 24 hours after arriving in St. Maarten. The day was mostly cloudy with patches of both sunshine and rain and pretty hot and humid. Sunrise was a little before 6 and rose directly behind us, coming up through some clouds on the horizon. About 20 minutes after seeing the sun we were passing El Morro, at the entrance to the San Juan harbor with the sun pretty much above the fortress.


The only ship in port today we docked about 6:45. I was surprised that CPB did not require a full face to face immigration check. Apparently some foreign nationals had to meet with them in the Grande, and a few had to be paged individually. We were cleared to leave the ship about 7:30 and I went ashore somewhat after 8.

I think this is my 3rd visit to San Juan, embarking the Celebrity Summit here in 2012 and visiting on the Enchantment in 2011 and 2013. I did not book a tour but sort of did my own walking tour meandering through town (it’s a bit less straightforward than I remembered) to the El Morro fortress. Along the way I followed the wide Princesa Promenade and passed through the San Juan Gate. My timing worked out just right, I was the first customer when it opened at 9.



El Morrow stands over the entrance to San Juan harbor with sweeping views. A more recent addition is a light house which is still in use; a Coast Guard crew was there today updating it with a new LED light system. Below El Morrow stands a large cemetery.



After looking around El Morro a bit I walked along the back shore to the other major post, San Cristobal with commanding views of San Juan. I was on the upper level of San Cristobal when a light rain started and made my way gingerly down the steep ramps which were starting to get slippery. I browsed some stores in Old San Juan on the way back to the ship which may have been a mistake as I got caught in a rather hard rain. I returned to the ship about 11.

All aboard was at 12:30 and I went up to deck 14 above the bridge wing for spillway with San Cristobal standing out in front of us. We backed away from the pier about 1:10 and headed back out past El Morro. As we got to sea the rain started up again and I went inside for lunch.



There was a future cruise presentation at 2 and I found it a waste. All the lady talked about was the suites on Oasis and Quantum class ships. Not one word about itineraries and RCI’s other 6 classes of ships might as well not have existed. Later I did a test booking for a couple of January Caribbean cruise options and for me the cheapest Allure suite would be about double the price of the same itinerary on Crystal. No thanks.

Dinner tonight was in Silk. The hibachi steak was small but tender and the Peach Green Tea Cake interesting.


I followed up on 2 evening entertainment choices. Spectrum in Two70 left me a bit cold but the headliner in the Royal Theater was ventriloquist Ronn Lucas. I can’t specifically remember seeing him before but his use of a live volunteer dummy in his act was something I remember seeing before so I expect we have crossed paths before. He was very good.


As a parting shot, I have seen on Cruise Critic that my favorite RCI ship left Bermuda 2 hours early to avoid Tropical Storm Colin. Wishing those on the Grandeur an uneventful return to Charm City.

Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
I was down at Park Café early for coffee and up on the jogging track about 6, walking 5 laps (roughly 1.7 miles). This was probably about the day of latest sunrise since Bermuda and the westernmost point of the cruise. The sun came up behind us through clouds on the horizon about 6:30. When I finished my walk land was visible ahead of us.


This was my 4th visit to Labadee, after the Enchantment in 2011 and 2013 and the Grandeur in 2015. It was my first visit in June, and I much prefer it in January and March. I’m not really much of a beach person but that turned out not to be much of an issue today.

I have a class with the fire department soon after returning, and today became the day to handle the assigned reading. Adrenaline beach is at the far end of the resort and probably one of the less crowded ones. I arrived about 10 and started with a short dip in the ocean, then settled into a lounger to read, first covered by my beach towel and later taking refuge under some trees.


I finished my reading a little before noon and took a brief shower to get rid of excess salt and sand, and headed to lunch. There are 3 pavilions around the property, and the crew prepares and serves a barbecue lunch. I made a lunch out of some grilled chicken and corn, along with some pineapple and a cookie for later, and settled into a picnic table.



After lunch I headed back in the direction of the ship making a brief stop at the lookout, a little spit of land extending out near the end of the dock. It was not a day for me to take very good care of my things, first dropping a shoe between my reading and the shower (it was about 10 feet from my reading spot), and then resting at the lookout and leaving without my beach towel (when I realized it was missing I turned around to get it and was met halfway by a helpful security guy)/


I was back on the ship about 1:30, happy to be out of the 90-degree heat and sun, but also a bit drowsy. All aboard was 3:30 and I went down to deck 5 by the forward stairs for sailaway. The gangway came in about 3:45 and we started to move about 3:55. We backed slowly until my position was about even with the end of the mooring catwalk, then started to move forward. Captain Erik indicated weather should be mostly good for our return with possible showers tomorrow afternoon. We need to sail pretty much full speed to be in Bayonne on time.

Dinner this evening was in the American Icon Grill. I enjoyed the rack of lamb and especially the cherries jubilee. Service was quite quick and I had an hour before I had to be at “The Gift”. Still a bit drowsy I nodded off, just waking up in time to get to the show at the last minute. I was still a bit drowsy during the show.



It cooled off pretty well after going to sea and it is pleasant finishing up this post in the veranda with just a little sliver of moon showing between the lifeboat mount and my balcony wall.

Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Now that these 3 cruises are nearly over I am ready for some comparisons. These are my opinions reflecting my biases. First of all, my general philosophy is “any room on the best ship I can afford” so my opinions will be far different from many others’ preferences. The Breakaway was my first modern cruise on NCL while I have recently attained Diamond on RCI and 4-star on HAL, not absolutely top rewards program levels but quite substantial. I started modern cruising with HAL mainly because of the Prinsendam and in general it’s one of my favorite cruise lines while I started with Royal mainly because it has the best itineraries out of Baltimore. I would probably not have tried NCL except for curiosity about the studio cabins. I do have definite preferences but do not consider myself a cheerleader for any cruise line except possibly Crystal. And I must admit, some of our preferences may not stand up to cold hard logic. I see it in others like a table mate on the Breakaway who said something like “I’m glad I tried Cunard once, but would not go back because of the dress code and the dinners are too long.” This was said with a straight face by a lady in a very nice evening gown near the end of a dinner that I excused myself from after about 2 hours and 20 minutes. I’m sure I have my own illogical biases but of course I don’t see them.

I’ll give that to HAL with one proviso. They seem to have a tendency to skimp on checkin personnel and I’ve seen long checkin lines. Not usually (and not in Boston for the Veendam) but probably about 25% of the time. On my Maasdam cruise I stood in line 55 minutes waiting for someone to take my ticket. The only staff presence in that time was the equivalent of Japanese subway “crammers” cajoling everybody to crowd together and keep the line from stretching down the stairs. As a 4-star mariner I now have priority embarkation and no longer need to experience that but I claim to follow a religious leader who said “As you’ve treated the least of my brethren you’ve treated me. Come on, HAL, you can do better.
Once actually on board HAL really shines. I boarded about the same time as the other 2 ships but went directly to my room, stowed my bags, and was soon in the dining room for a civilized lunch.

Checkin on the Breakaway started really early. The checkin line was short and I had completed the formalities by 10:30, but actual boarding didn’t begin until 11:30. The wait in the lounge was fairly comfortable; I was just glad I had my suduku book with me. After the suites boarding was in groups by order of arrival, I boarded a little before noon. Rooms were available to drop off bags at noon, but not ready for occupancy until later. Lunch was in the lido and not great but fairly civilized.

Checkin for the Anthem started later but was quick and I was on board soon after the formalities. Rooms, however are completely off limits until 1PM. Despite announcements for people in the WJ (lido) to leave, people were occupying tables with mounds of luggage waiting for 1PM. That’s fairly standard on RCI, but what was new was there were staff at the entrance to the WJ holding up long lines of people from going in until tables were vacated. I managed to get food only by promising to get it and take it elsewhere to eat, then putting my plate on my lap on a pool lounger. My verdict best Veendam, then Breakaway, and finally Anthem.

Central Maryland
19,442 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Dining is very subjective, both in cuisine and style. I do like fixed dining at a large table and the Veendam delivered what I like. On the Veendam I was at a table for 8 with 3 couples and one other solo and most were present the majority of the time. We developed a rapport with our waiter and had great dinners. Most of my breakfasts and lunches (as on all 3 ships) were in the lido with a good selection and I enjoyed eating either at tables by the pool or the aft deck.

I am not really a fan of Freestyle Dining. Even where I’ve had anytime dining I’ve usually been offered the choice of my own table or dining with others. That does not seem to be part of the NCL culture. I think that would be a real drag for me on most NCL ships, but being in a studio made a difference. Each evening there was a happy hour in the studio lounge, sometimes there was a full group dinner, and on occasion there wasn’t but a few people would get together and go somewhere. There are 3 complementary restaurants, all with the same menu, but one operates as a “supper” club and I found the shows distracting and they impeded conversation. I think over the week I dined 2 or 3 times on my own, once with a couple of others arranged at the last minute and 3 or 4 full group dinners. For the studio, I should probably rate the experience as different although equal to HAL; I just didn’t associate that as the typical NCL standard.

On the Grandeur of the Seas I had found the dining to be very nice, just a shade below what I experienced on the Veendam. I thought the idea of Dynamic Classic Dining was a good one so I was very disappointed in what was actually offered. As noted earlier in the blog I had a confirmation of early classic dining with an empty set of actual reservations. After chasing around embarkation day I got a 4 day supply of reservations, but only for one meal at a time. Those for whom Royal actually followed through on Classic sailed into their assigned tables while I stood in line waiting to be assigned a new table and a new waiters. At the end of the 4 days I had no reservations and the system told me I could not make reservations because I already had them. After 30 minutes with Guest Services and another visit to the dining room I finally had reservations but nobody on board showed any concern that I was not given what I was supposed to have. Anthem also had the only really bad food of the trio, a slice of French toast from the Solarium Bistro only slightly softer than a rock.

Bottom line HAL #1, Breakaway 2nd, and Anthem a distant last.