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#41
Central Maryland
18,852 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
I had an Ocean View room on the Veendam, and it was very much what I expected. It was pleasant and to me having a full bath tub was a bonus, especially when I developed a sore toe walking in the rain in Boston and soaking the foot was a real help. There was ample work space at the desk, although the power was a bit of a challenge. There were 2 outlets (1 US and 1 Euro) but they were so close together I not use both the Euro outlet and my 3-way tap. I managed to get one other outlet from the TV power but I was generally feeling a bit short of outlets. The room was well serviced and there was fresh fruit every day. There was not a fridge but ice was provided twice a day.

My studio on the Breakaway was a unique experience. The room was tiny, and storage space was barely adequate. There was just an awkward and very small space for a single computer, there were a lot of outlets but no place to put anything to connect to them. The bath setup was a bit strange with commode, shower, and sink in separate spaces. It would have bothered me if I was sharing the room with a roommate, but worked fine for just me. Ice was provided twice a day. Power was available only when a card was in a slot by the door, when the card was removed EVERYTHING shut off immediately, no grace period to close the door before the lights went out.

I had booked a studio room on the Anthem but was upgraded to a regular balcony cabin. I did get a quick peek into a studio while it was being cleaned and it was a lot bigger than on the Breakaway, almost as big as a regular cabin. My cabin has a mini-fridge; it’s nearly packed with stuff for sale and I get very limited space there but it has been working. There is ample desk space, storage space, and power outlets, the only thing I would have preferred would be a tub rather than a shower. There’s a key slot for power but the electric outlets stay on and when the card is removed the lights stay on for several seconds allowing an orderly exit from the room. I found that on the Breakaway I often put a random card in the slot while out of the room but the less drastic cutoff on the Anthem kept me more honest about only using the card slot while in the room.

My bottom line on rooms is Anthem #1, then Veendam, and finally Breakaway.

Roy
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Future cruises:


7/18/18 Volendam/Westerdam Alaska >>> 8/10/18 Crystal Symphony Panama Canal
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
#42
11,000+ Club
11,243 Posts
Joined Oct 2001
Thanks, Roy. Great reporting. You have supplied us with lots of info worth saving. We will keep these posts of yours for very good use in future cruises. Hoping your cruise home is safe and without incidents.
Rick and Deirdra
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MST USNS Gen.Walker 9/66,Chandris "X" Amerikanis 2/78,Viking Princess 1/89, Nordic Empress 12/94, Empress 8/95, NCL Leeward 8/98, DCL Magic 1/99, NCL Sun1/02, Sky1/03, CCL Triumph 11/03, Brilliance 1/3/05, BR 1/2/06, GR 11/19/06, MJ 1/8/07, Empress 10/6/07,JW 1/6/08, EN 10/23/08(B2B)EN 10/27/08,MN 1/9/09,VY 2/22/09, MJ 5/22/09, MJ 9/18/09,OA 11/30/09(B2B)OA 12/01/09, MR 2/14/10,MJ 5/14,MJ 08/27,RD 10/16/10,AL 12/5/10,MR Cape Horn 2/1/11,FR 5/8/11,MJ 8/22/11,MN 9/5/11,VY 10/22/11(B2B)VY TA 10/30/11,JW 1/12/12, MJ 4/23, MN 7/6, MN 8/24,FR 12/16(B2B)MN 12/24, NV 1/26/13,MN 2/18(B2B)MN 2/22,MN last RCL cruise 3/29, EN 6/21(B2B)6/24, EN 7/26,EN 8/23/13 (B2B) 8/26/13, EN 12/23 (B2B2B2B) 1/3/14,RH 5/30/14,EN 7/25/14,VS 8/18/14(B2B)8/28,JW 12/20/14(B2B)12/27/14,MJ 2/20/15(B2B)MJ 2/23, GR 6/19,SKY 7/20,INDY 8/23(B2B)INDY 8/30,SKY 11/23,JW 12/20 (B2B) 12/27, INDY 2/18/16, MJ 4/25 (B2B) MJ 4/29, GR 6/18, MJ 8/26 (B2B)MJ 8/29, SR 1/13/17, MJ 4/25(B2B)4/29, MJ 6/5, AL 7/16/17, HR 8/26/17, MJ 9/18/17, SR 1/5/18, AL 6/17, AN 7/21, MJ 8/20, AD 10/21, IN 1/25/19, OV 5/13/19, GR 8/3, SY 9/21.
#43
Central Maryland
18,852 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Thanks, Rick and Deirdra.

We crossed the Tropic of Cancer somewhere early in the morning, possibly about 2-3AM. When I checked my GPS while going to Café Promenade for coffee just after 5 we were about the latitude of Key West.

This was the first morning conditions were really conducive to walking, and I walked 5 miles (14.5 laps) on the jogging track, with the sun appearing through the clouds around lap 3. At the end of the walk I headed down to the WJ for an omelet.

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wor...6/dawn0609.jpg

Later in the morning I went up to the library to pick up the daily suduku.

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wor...06/library.jpg

Today’s schedule had relatively little of interest for me. I did have 11:30 reservations for the Northstar (the gondola like contraption that rises high above the ship) but it was out of service when I went up. On sea days the Compass lists a “Solo Travelers Lunch” meeting at the Bionic Bar. There were 2 people there who appeared to know each other; they did not suggest I join them for lunch and I did not press the issue. In his noon update Captain Erik reported we were about 1/3 of the way back to Bayonne. He expects calm conditions for the rest of the trip. When we left Bayonne he indicated we needed to sail 21 knots to be on time, today it was 20 knots so we’re making very good time.

Much of my afternoon was spent writing. When I went up to the WJ for lunch it was raining and no luck today dining on the back deck. A pool volleyball game continued despite the rain, probably not a very fun activity for Dru refereeing.

I goofed at dinner. I had reserved and dressed for the Grande for this evening, but walked up the wrong side of the hallway leading to Chic and Grande. Nobody said anything and I was soon seated in Chic, not realizing the mistake until I had ordered. I have posted the Grande Menu from the TV but without desert.

The evening show was a repeat of The Gift. There was also a 7PM comedy show by Al Ducharme in Two70. He was pretty good.

Today’s parting shot was something I’d heard rumors about but not confirmed. I have reviewed the Cruise Compass for the last day and was disappointed to find that there will be no Walk for Wishes. I understand that programs have a limited life span but was really sorry to see this one go. It was both a worthy cause and something that had a real program and participation value. I’m just glad I had a chance to be a part of many of them in the 5 years I’ve been cruising with Royal Caribbean and hope the new partnership with World Wildlife Fund will blossom into a program that future cruisers will have a real role in.

Roy
#44
Central Maryland
18,852 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
When I went up to deck 15 a little before 6, the wind was quite strong., and I held my initial walk to 5 ½ laps. There was a beautiful red sky before sunrise, and the sun coming up itself was quite pleasant.

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wor...6/dawn610a.jpg

When I went back up to the WJ for breakfast, the wind was much reduced and I walked the remaining 9 laps for my total of 5 miles. As the end of my walk approached, engineering staff was working on the Northstar, then testing it, and I saw at least one run with passengers onboard.

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wor...orthstarup.jpg

It wasn’t a very busy day for me program wise, but CD Dru and AM Chris held a session on “Life at sea” in Two70 at 11:45. They started talking a bit about their backgrounds, answered questions, and Dru concluded with a list of the 10 strangest questions he’s been asked.

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wor.../lifeatsea.jpg

I hadn’t heard anything Thursday night but apparently a couple of performances were cancelled. They were rescheduled for 5PM today. Most of my afternoon was spent packing, but also with another visit to guest services as I had requested an 8:15 departure and was assigned 9:45. The person ahead of me in line requested 10:15, and was given 8:00. Go figure.

By dinner time I had finished packing except for a few last minute items. Dinner tonight was at American Icon Grill. My entree was the generic chicken breast with a couple of nice bookends. The fruit medleys have always been interesting, although not quite as good as the chilled soups served on HAL, Cunard, and the Grandeur. The finale was Key Lime Pie, one of my favorites.

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wor.../06/medley.jpg

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wor...06/keylime.jpg

There was a farewell comedy show in the theater featuring Rondell Sheridan, perhaps the best comedian of the voyage. The show ended just before 8, and a little after 8 came the final sunset in front of my verandah. I am finishing this post about 9 and hope to be in bed early to be rested for my drive home.

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wor...6/sheridan.jpg

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wor...6/lastdusk.jpg

As a parting shot I’ll use one of Dru’s favorite questions. One day someone said/asked “I’m in the wrong elevator. Where’s the ‘Tuesday” elevator?”

Roy
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Future cruises:


7/18/18 Volendam/Westerdam Alaska >>> 8/10/18 Crystal Symphony Panama Canal
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
#45
11,000+ Club
11,243 Posts
Joined Oct 2001
Roy,
Prepare for high temps in Maryland tomorrow. Low to mid 90's.
Thanks for your reports!
Rick and Deirdra
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MST USNS Gen.Walker 9/66,Chandris "X" Amerikanis 2/78,Viking Princess 1/89, Nordic Empress 12/94, Empress 8/95, NCL Leeward 8/98, DCL Magic 1/99, NCL Sun1/02, Sky1/03, CCL Triumph 11/03, Brilliance 1/3/05, BR 1/2/06, GR 11/19/06, MJ 1/8/07, Empress 10/6/07,JW 1/6/08, EN 10/23/08(B2B)EN 10/27/08,MN 1/9/09,VY 2/22/09, MJ 5/22/09, MJ 9/18/09,OA 11/30/09(B2B)OA 12/01/09, MR 2/14/10,MJ 5/14,MJ 08/27,RD 10/16/10,AL 12/5/10,MR Cape Horn 2/1/11,FR 5/8/11,MJ 8/22/11,MN 9/5/11,VY 10/22/11(B2B)VY TA 10/30/11,JW 1/12/12, MJ 4/23, MN 7/6, MN 8/24,FR 12/16(B2B)MN 12/24, NV 1/26/13,MN 2/18(B2B)MN 2/22,MN last RCL cruise 3/29, EN 6/21(B2B)6/24, EN 7/26,EN 8/23/13 (B2B) 8/26/13, EN 12/23 (B2B2B2B) 1/3/14,RH 5/30/14,EN 7/25/14,VS 8/18/14(B2B)8/28,JW 12/20/14(B2B)12/27/14,MJ 2/20/15(B2B)MJ 2/23, GR 6/19,SKY 7/20,INDY 8/23(B2B)INDY 8/30,SKY 11/23,JW 12/20 (B2B) 12/27, INDY 2/18/16, MJ 4/25 (B2B) MJ 4/29, GR 6/18, MJ 8/26 (B2B)MJ 8/29, SR 1/13/17, MJ 4/25(B2B)4/29, MJ 6/5, AL 7/16/17, HR 8/26/17, MJ 9/18/17, SR 1/5/18, AL 6/17, AN 7/21, MJ 8/20, AD 10/21, IN 1/25/19, OV 5/13/19, GR 8/3, SY 9/21.
#46
Central Maryland
18,852 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by Pumbaamd
Roy,
Prepare for high temps in Maryland tomorrow. Low to mid 90's.
Thanks for your reports!
Rick and Deirdra
Thanks. I was hoping the heat would break before I got home but I see 90F until at least 6PM. Not looking forward to that.

Docked about 6:40.

Roy
#47
Central Maryland
18,852 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
I was up actually a little before 5, found the Café Promenade closed. It looked like we were very close to the terminal and I headed up to deck 15 and found we still had about 15 miles to go. As I reached the top deck what had been a lovely pre-dawn turned into a nice sunrise. I walked 4 ½ laps on the jogging track (1 ½ miles) and at the end we were ready to pass under the Verrazano Bridge. It looks like midship is really the best place to get a good view of our bridge passage. Heading down to Café Promenade, there was quite a line of people waiting for coffee. Once I had mine, it was up to deck 5 to view our final arrival.

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wor...6/dawn0611.jpg

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wor...errazzano3.jpg

As we backed into the terminal two US Navy cargo shops, the Shughart (docked) and Yano (drydock) were at the adjacent repair yard and drydock. I got a final picture of the Tear and headed up to my room.

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wor...6/shughart.jpg

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wor...backtotear.jpg

A large freighter, OOCL Washington was at the dock opposite us and rumbled past with tug assistance a few minutes later.

After getting my assignment changed at Guest Relations Friday, I was scheduled to leave the ship at 8:15. I did some computer work and final packing of my overnight stuff and then headed down to the Diamond Lounge about 8. Within a couple minutes the Concierge came around and said all the groups up to mine were cleared to go ashore. There were probably about 100 people in line waiting for the gangway but the line moved quickly. The bags in the terminal were in many small groups and it was easy to find my bags among the 12's. There were many customs agents and I was second in line with one of them, quickly processed, and the agent accepted my NEXUS card without issue (it is supposed to be a WHTI compliant ID, but some agents still have rejected it).

It was a short walk to the parking garage. I stowed my bags in my truck, returned to the terminal for a final toilet stop, and was driving out of the garage at 8:35. Not bad for an 8:15 tag schedule.

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wor...6/homeward.jpg

Unlike my trip to Bayonne, I returned home on I78 and I83. I was in Pennsylvania about 10, Maryland about 12:30, and after lunch home at 1:45. I think this route is a bit longer but seemed a lot more stress free.

I have no idea how the self carry worked but if you’re a bit pro-active about your departure time regular disembarkation can be a breeze. I do think I was among the first out of the terminal with regular debarkation, so a need to be away before 8:30 would call for self assist.

Soon after arriving I headed out to the supermarket, UPS store to retrieve mail and my fire department office. When I checked my email, the RCI survey link was there so I’ve done my evaluation.

My first and probably only Quantum Class voyage is now history. I am home from my errands in time to watch the NY webcam sailaway; the Anthem seems to have started and held up; I wonder what’s going on.

As a parting shot, 2 of my recent ships are heading back to Bermuda. Bon Voyage to all those on the Anthem and the Veendam.

I’m home for about 6 weeks before the Northwest Passage, to be followed by a Cunard/Seabourn transatlantic, and my next RCI cruise is on the Grandeur in January.

Roy
#48
upstate New York
330 Posts
Joined Apr 2013
I've really enjoyed following you on these last three sailings. We have yet to sail on a Holland ship but we are strongly considering Veendam to Bermuda in 2017. Docking in Hamilton is the deciding factor as we have done Breakaway twice and Explorer OTS once. Exciting to hear you are doing the Northwest Passage. I hope to be able to follow along on such an unusual sailing. It's my hope to sail on Crystal some day!
#49
11,000+ Club
11,243 Posts
Joined Oct 2001
Originally posted by rafinmd
My first and probably only Quantum Class voyage is now history. Roy
Roy, we have not yet been on a Q class ship. Have no interest to do so, hearing several negative reports. Your statement above helps to confirm our thoughts. Thank you.
We had Radiance booked for Alaska next week, but had to cancel due to several issues. Fortunately, we have found five free days in our schedule, and will be sailing on GR to King's Wharf next Saturday.
Did you leave anything behind in Bermuda? Maybe we could find it for you.
R&D
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MST USNS Gen.Walker 9/66,Chandris "X" Amerikanis 2/78,Viking Princess 1/89, Nordic Empress 12/94, Empress 8/95, NCL Leeward 8/98, DCL Magic 1/99, NCL Sun1/02, Sky1/03, CCL Triumph 11/03, Brilliance 1/3/05, BR 1/2/06, GR 11/19/06, MJ 1/8/07, Empress 10/6/07,JW 1/6/08, EN 10/23/08(B2B)EN 10/27/08,MN 1/9/09,VY 2/22/09, MJ 5/22/09, MJ 9/18/09,OA 11/30/09(B2B)OA 12/01/09, MR 2/14/10,MJ 5/14,MJ 08/27,RD 10/16/10,AL 12/5/10,MR Cape Horn 2/1/11,FR 5/8/11,MJ 8/22/11,MN 9/5/11,VY 10/22/11(B2B)VY TA 10/30/11,JW 1/12/12, MJ 4/23, MN 7/6, MN 8/24,FR 12/16(B2B)MN 12/24, NV 1/26/13,MN 2/18(B2B)MN 2/22,MN last RCL cruise 3/29, EN 6/21(B2B)6/24, EN 7/26,EN 8/23/13 (B2B) 8/26/13, EN 12/23 (B2B2B2B) 1/3/14,RH 5/30/14,EN 7/25/14,VS 8/18/14(B2B)8/28,JW 12/20/14(B2B)12/27/14,MJ 2/20/15(B2B)MJ 2/23, GR 6/19,SKY 7/20,INDY 8/23(B2B)INDY 8/30,SKY 11/23,JW 12/20 (B2B) 12/27, INDY 2/18/16, MJ 4/25 (B2B) MJ 4/29, GR 6/18, MJ 8/26 (B2B)MJ 8/29, SR 1/13/17, MJ 4/25(B2B)4/29, MJ 6/5, AL 7/16/17, HR 8/26/17, MJ 9/18/17, SR 1/5/18, AL 6/17, AN 7/21, MJ 8/20, AD 10/21, IN 1/25/19, OV 5/13/19, GR 8/3, SY 9/21.
#50
Central Maryland
18,852 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Thanks nancynana9950 and R&D. R&D, have a great time on Lady G. Just one request, I'd like to hear about boarding conditions in Baltimore. It looked to me when I passed the port on I95 that a boarding ramp was in place, but reports from the latest cruise do not agree with that. Obviously, I wasn't able to get anything more than a quick glimpse.

Nancynana9950, can I ask where you live. I grew up just north of Syracuse and went to college in Binghamton. It's a bit unfortunate that I would have been going to Central NY in September for my high school reunion but will still be on the NW Passage cruise.

I'll be reporting on that trip on the Crystal forum, along with Keith1010,

Roy
#52
11,000+ Club
11,243 Posts
Joined Oct 2001
Originally posted by rafinmd
R&D, have a great time on Lady G. Just one request, I'd like to hear about boarding conditions in Baltimore. It looked to me when I passed the port on I95 that a boarding ramp was in place, but reports from the latest cruise do not agree with that. Obviously, I wasn't able to get anything more than a quick glimpse. Roy
Will do, R&D
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MST USNS Gen.Walker 9/66,Chandris "X" Amerikanis 2/78,Viking Princess 1/89, Nordic Empress 12/94, Empress 8/95, NCL Leeward 8/98, DCL Magic 1/99, NCL Sun1/02, Sky1/03, CCL Triumph 11/03, Brilliance 1/3/05, BR 1/2/06, GR 11/19/06, MJ 1/8/07, Empress 10/6/07,JW 1/6/08, EN 10/23/08(B2B)EN 10/27/08,MN 1/9/09,VY 2/22/09, MJ 5/22/09, MJ 9/18/09,OA 11/30/09(B2B)OA 12/01/09, MR 2/14/10,MJ 5/14,MJ 08/27,RD 10/16/10,AL 12/5/10,MR Cape Horn 2/1/11,FR 5/8/11,MJ 8/22/11,MN 9/5/11,VY 10/22/11(B2B)VY TA 10/30/11,JW 1/12/12, MJ 4/23, MN 7/6, MN 8/24,FR 12/16(B2B)MN 12/24, NV 1/26/13,MN 2/18(B2B)MN 2/22,MN last RCL cruise 3/29, EN 6/21(B2B)6/24, EN 7/26,EN 8/23/13 (B2B) 8/26/13, EN 12/23 (B2B2B2B) 1/3/14,RH 5/30/14,EN 7/25/14,VS 8/18/14(B2B)8/28,JW 12/20/14(B2B)12/27/14,MJ 2/20/15(B2B)MJ 2/23, GR 6/19,SKY 7/20,INDY 8/23(B2B)INDY 8/30,SKY 11/23,JW 12/20 (B2B) 12/27, INDY 2/18/16, MJ 4/25 (B2B) MJ 4/29, GR 6/18, MJ 8/26 (B2B)MJ 8/29, SR 1/13/17, MJ 4/25(B2B)4/29, MJ 6/5, AL 7/16/17, HR 8/26/17, MJ 9/18/17, SR 1/5/18, AL 6/17, AN 7/21, MJ 8/20, AD 10/21, IN 1/25/19, OV 5/13/19, GR 8/3, SY 9/21.
#53
Central Maryland
18,852 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
This is probably the one where I will get the most disagreement.

Until recently, I thought the entertainment on HAL’s R and S class ships was pretty limited. They are now using a new entertainment company and I think the quality of the shows and especially the dancers has improved. Entertainment is of course subjective and the Veendam had fewer choices than the other ships but I thought the quality of the shows in the Showroom and the guy in the piano bar were very good. I also appreciated the fact that you could just walk into any of the entertainment and never had to worry about reservations.

The Breakaway has some very nice shows but almost all of them require reservations and they all seem to get sold out very quickly. I was able to get into only 1 production show, Burn the Floor. It was nice but I thought overly long. Most of the other shows including the comedy club required reservations and by the time I tried to book stuff about day 2 there was nothing available.

That was largely true on the Anthem as well, but there was more flexibility than on the Breakaway. The 2 main production shows as well as some of the shows in Two70 required reservations but they seemed easier to come by. There were also a couple of headline entertainers who briefly joined the ship; I thought the comedian was very good, the singer not so much to my taste.

One thing all 3 ships had was some form of piano bar. I thought Jeff on the Veendam was excellent, I did not really watch Matt on the Anthem much, partially because he had the Schooner Bar packed and jumping and I didn’t find a seat. I stopped by the Piano Bar on the Breakaway several times when the guy was scheduled to be playing but all I ever saw was an empty piano.

My bottom line on entertainment: (1) Veendam, (2) Anthem, (3) Breakaway

Roy
#54
Central Maryland
18,852 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
I find it hard to do true comparisons of internet but I’ll give you my impressions. My strategy was a bit different on the 3 ships. On both the Veendam and Breakaway I had extended visits to Bermuda. In both cases I purchased 72-hour wifi passes in Bermuda and used the ship’s internet mostly while at sea. On the Veendam internet is sold by the minute, and it was fairly pricey. The speed was low but not the lowest I’ve seen, and performance was slowish but stable. I was able to complete my blog entries and personal email and business with about ½ hour usage per day.

On the Breakaway my internet came as part of a promotion. They are different from most cruise lines that internet is priced by megabyte rather than by minute. I had to choose from several optional “perks” of booking and came as 300mb of data. I had no idea on embarkation of what 300mb really meant in terms of what I could do. It lasted for my entire cruise and I had quite a few megabytes left over when I disembarked. The wifi packages in Bermuda were pretty much dirt cheap, $15 for 72 hours which easily covered my 3 port days on the Breakaway and were a perfect fit for my 72-hour visit over 4 days on the Veendam. I was able to access the internet from the lifeboat deck on both ships (better on the Veendam in Hamilton) but did most of my work then off the ship. After returning home I analyzed my usage and found I averaged about 1.2mb per minute, giving the equivalent of about 250 minutes, which would have been enough for 7 days without the wifi card. I thought the wifi performance was roughly the same as on the Veendam.

The best ship’s internet was on the Anthem. They had a pre-embarkation sale which was about $9 per day for the cheapest plan. That plan was fast enough that I was able to watch several webcam sailaways from the ship and download updates for my Ipads. The only slight negative was that it used a code delivered to my stateroom, so I would have liked to but was unable to use the internet until the rooms were opened up at 1PM. I’m not sure how well the technology RCI is using would work with HAL’s worldwide itineraries.

My bottom line (1) Anthem, (2) Breakaway (since it was free), and (3) Veendam.

Roy
#55
Central Maryland
18,852 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
There are a couple of components to disembarkation, the ship procedures, and the port procedures. Royal and NCL, respectively, are the only lines of the 3 using the Bayonne and Manhattan terminals regularly, but all 3 sail from Boston, including the Dawn to Bermuda.

All 3 ships started the process with self assist disembarkation.

On the Breakaway there was little or no pre-departure organization of the disembarkation process. At about day 5 luggage tags were set out by Guest Relations with a chart of what time each color was expected to be called. You simply picked up the tags corresponding to the time you wanted to leave, with no need to notify anybody about what you picked. I know NCL offered airport transfers and I’m sure there were special tags for the transfer people but I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it. Somehow the system seemed to work reasonably well although the lines at customs were pretty long. We were supposed to be out of our cabins by 8:30 although the first color was not expected to be called until 9:15. I think that would have been a pain if I’d been in a regular cabin, but the studio lounge was a great place to wait. As it was, we were called at 8:40, not 9:15. It was about 40 minutes from my tag being called to exiting customs.

On the Anthem we filled out a questionnaire asking for our preferred departure time. That questionnaire seemed to be totally ignored as I requested 8:15 and was given 9:45. After a visit to Guest Relations I was reassigned to 8:15 (the person in front of me was assigned a time 1 ½ hours EARLIER than requested so it seems like the times assigned must have been pretty random. For embarkation morning the instructions were silent about when we needed to be our of our cabins, but we needed to be at one of the departure lounges 15 minutes early. My 8:15 color was called at 8:00 and things moved quite quickly from there. I was driving out of the parking garage at 8:35 after stowing my bags in my truck and returning to the terminal for a last minute toilet break so I estimate I was past customs about 15 minutes after my tag was called.

On the Veendam we were given a survey around day 2. For those using transfers, the HAL form (and only HAL form) collected information about flight times with the times coordinated with flight departure times. Otherwise, we were given a choice of independent departure times, and I got the time requested. HAL policy is clear that the stateroom is yours to keep until your departure time is called. (HAL works some real magic here when this is combined with having the rooms ready on embarkation; I believe they assign some personnel other than the usual room stewards to turning around the room) My tag was called at 8:46, the beginning of my window of 8:45 to 9:00. From there departure was a true breeze. One thing that is very nice about Boston (I assume for all cruise lines) is that we meet with CPB immediately on entering the terminal BEFORE we claim our luggage, a lot easier than lining up for the agents with all our stuff. I was waiting at the Silver Line bus stop 10 minutes after my tag was called. Amazing!

My rating here (1) Veendam/Boston by a mile, (2) Anthem, and (3) Breakaway. One more part to come, overall conclusions.

Roy
#56
Central Maryland
18,852 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
I’ll take the ships in the order I sailed them. Holland America is one of my go-to cruise lines and I’ve been on the Veendam and it’s close sisters for over a hundred days so far. It’s definitely a smaller ship which will appeal to some people and not to others; it appeals to me. The choices in activities and entertainment are more limited on the bigger ships but I consider what they offer to be quite good. The activities run more to cooking demonstrations than to belly-flop contests and the like, and there isn’t really much in the way of night life. That all works for me, less so for others. I knew pretty much what to expect on the Veendam with only 2 surprises, one not very welcome and the other not very surprising. The not welcome one was pizza. There’s a new pizza oven on the back lido deck. They had about 6 varies of pizza, each with about 6-8 different toppings. I asked for a plain cheese pizza and was told it essentially was not available. I think a step backwards. The one not so surprising was the Location Guide. Each HAL ship has a location guide, their destination expert. They work for the entertainment department rather than shore excursions and are generally good to excellent sources on information on the ports of call. They give port talks, have desk hours for individual questions, and are stationed on the gangway on each port day to answer any last-minute questions. While the location guides are generally good to excellent, Jeremy was outstanding. Not really a big surprise but not something I could have assumed either. The Veendam of course has no solo cabins and what solo activities there are are somewhat hit or miss. I had a table of 6 at dinner with 2 couples and one other solo and we were a good mix and enjoyed our time together.

The Breakaway was my first modern NCL cruise. I concluded I’m not really an NCL person, not really a Freestyle devotee, and found the need for show reservations a hassle. I actually found that I had less opportunity to make spontaneous plans on the Breakaway than I have on any recent ship. I would probably not sail again on an NCL ship except for the ones with studio cabins. There were 2 significant positives. I really enjoyed the Night Out concept where there was a special night with encouragement to be well dressed without putting an obligation on everybody. I enjoy getting dressed for dinner occasionally but do not enjoy dining with the empty chairs of tablemates put off by a dress code. The other real positive was the studio. For one thing, while other ships have a few solo cabins that quickly sell out and demand premium prices, the Breakaway has about 60 which seems to pretty well match the demand and keeps the prices reasonable. The other bonus is the studio lounge where 60 people in a common location fosters a sense of community that you do not see in other ships. NCL does studios right. NCL will never be my first choice in a cruise but the studios add value both from price and experience perspectives and I will be eager to return from time to time.

While I enjoyed my time on the Anthem I would have enjoyed my time on just about any other ship just as much. There are supposedly 16 solo cabins on the Anthem but 4 are also sold as part of family suites so it’s really just a dozen full time solo cabins. They are nice but I don’t think the nicer cabin makes up for the amenities of the Studio lounge. RCI is primarily my go to cruise line for cruises out of my home port of Baltimore. I love both the Vision and Radiance class ships. My last RCI cruise was Transatlantic on the Allure of the Seas. The ship was not my cup of tea but I always had the feeling of being on a well run ship. Sadly, I did not get that impression on the Anthem. The biggest issue was the dining snafu and the unwillingness of anyone on board to follow through. Add to that the lack of coordination of departure times with those requested and digital signs throughout the ship that failed to respond appropriately to user input (they have worked well on all my previous RCI ships) and I did not come away feeling positive. It seems the Captain was somewhat aloof; the only time I saw him was his back in the next room when I was on the All Access tour. Being around is not really the Captain’s job, but he is responsible for everything and it does not sit well for him being out of touch when things are not going well. I heard a lot of negative comments from fellow passengers.

I really have no incentive to return to the Anthem when my price for a solo cabin was double what I paid for a Studio on the Breakaway and more than I am paying for occupancy of a double cabin for 9 days on the Grandeur. I expect to continue to sail the Vision and Radiance class ships but when they go away I probably will as well.

My bottom line is the Veendam number 1. Some of the things that appeal to me may not appeal to others, but spending days in Hamilton is a big plus, and will largely be a thing of the past once the Veendam is gone. Number 2 would be the Breakaway. I tend to cruise for the things I like. While there’s quite a bit that wasn’t a good fit for me, the studio experience was a huge plus that I can’t get anywhere else. I will choose those experiences judiciously, but definitely expect them to be part of my cruising future. Anthem was a distant last, some frills that were nice but mediocre basics. Both of my other Bermuda ships, as well as any other RCI ship I’ve sailed in the past strike me as better choices.

Except for questions this concludes my reports here. My next solo cabin voyage will be the Koningsdam in February. Next up overall is the Northwest Passage on Crystal Serenity in August that I’ll be reporting on the Crystal Forum of Cruise Critic and at http://aroundamericabitbybit.wordpress.com.

Roy
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1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
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#57
11,000+ Club
11,243 Posts
Joined Oct 2001
Originally posted by rafinmd
Thanks nancynana9950 and R&D. R&D, have a great time on Lady G. Just one request, I'd like to hear about boarding conditions in Baltimore. It looked to me when I passed the port on I95 that a boarding ramp was in place, but reports from the latest cruise do not agree with that. Obviously, I wasn't able to get anything more than a quick glimpse. Roy
We boarded today thru deck 1. Maybe what you saw were the usable remains of the original ramp. Will ask around this week to get the latest news. Boarding was not impaired all that much boarding on Deck 1. Maybe waited 3-4 minutes for an elevator.
High seas expected tonight and tomorrow.
R&D
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#58
Central Maryland
18,852 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Thanks, good to know that boarding went well. I thought I remembered that in addition to allowing boarding at an upper level, the ramp acted as an overpass that allowed forklifts with luggage to cross under the passengers, preventing a traffic jam, but perhaps I remembered incorrectly.

May the seas not cause you any undue problems. I won't be back on RCI for a while but looking forward to my Grandeur Glass Block in January.

Roy
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7/18/18 Volendam/Westerdam Alaska >>> 8/10/18 Crystal Symphony Panama Canal
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
#59
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There was originally a traffic jam with luggage, but they figured a way out of that. Our bags were delivered faster than ever, on any ship.
R&D
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#60
Central Maryland
18,852 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by Pumbaamd
There was originally a traffic jam with luggage, but they figured a way out of that. Our bags were delivered faster than ever, on any ship.
R&D
Thanks, that's good to hear. One more request. If you get a chance, can you let Paulette know who the Activities Manager is?

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...0#post50288200

It sounds like the Blairs were suddenly redeployed. Is Paul Rutter back as CD?

Roy