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SharonN

Ramblings on the Westerdam 1/23/05

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Just back from the Westerdam Eastern Cruise last week so thought I’d share some thoughts on another wonderful cruise. Sorry if this gets too long and rambling but here goes…. To start with a short background, DH and I are in our early 50’s and this was our 14th cruise overall and 5th on HAL. We were on the Veendam last March and I won the Bingo Cruise so we decided to use it this January for our 29th Anniversary. We decided on the Westerdam because we hadn’t been to St. Marten or Tortola before and like to pick one that has something new. We booked it last June and HALs Special Accounts people were wonderful to work with on this. We had originally thought about keeping the inside cabin that came with the free cruise so that it would “feel” free. But when I was booking it I did ask about upgrading to an outside and she took some time figuring out the best deal for us. I think it was about $175 each so decided to go ahead and book an F Guarantee. A few months later I kept seeing some good prices advertised for Veranda cabins so decided to call and check on the difference. They checked again and it was only $48 each. We’d never booked a Veranda before (were planning to next year when we go back to Alaska) but couldn’t pass it up for that price. I’ll admit to being a little concerned about booking a Vista class ship since we really enjoyed the smaller HAL ships we’ve been on in the past.

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I booked the airfare and hotel thru them since we’d be traveling in Jan and knew the weather could be an issue. And of course it almost was. We were scheduled to leave on the 22nd the day before the cruise and as the day approached the weather predictions got worse and worse. We had already experienced major weather problems on our Christmas trip to Calif so were not looking forward to another one. We had about 6” of snow on Thu and they were predicting at least 12” on Fri night to Sat morning. We decided to book a hotel at the airport so at least we wouldn’t get stuck not being able to get to the airport on Sat. Actually was a good deal since we could park there for the entire trip at $2 a day so even with the room for one night it was about the same as the parking should have been. Anyway, we stayed up most of the night watching for snow that never really came. We had some sleet early in the morning but by the time we were ready to be driven to the airport it was fine. Our flight was on time and no problems with it at all. It was funny when we got to the airport thought that the 2 earlier flights to Orlando and Tampa were delayed. Not because of the weather in Dayton but because of Fog in Florida that prevented the planes from taking off from there. People on those flights were having a hard time explaining that to the people in Florida that were supposed to pick them up. When we got to Ft. Lauderdale we found our luggage right away (a very good sign after our Christmas trip!) and there were lots of HAL Red Coats around. They didn’t have any ships sailing that day so were pretty relaxed but were dreading Sunday due to the number of airports that were closing already. They said there were only 50 people coming in on Sat and 400 were coming in on Sun. (I assume this was the number that booked air thru them). The people from Princess and Carnival were running around like crazy since they had a lot of people arriving for ships that were already leaving. We were on the bus within 15 minutes and the only problem was the driver got lost and had to call in to get directions to the Westin. It was further away than I expected but was a very nice hotel but not much else around there. We decided to order dinner thru Room Service (very good but definitely not cheap) and relaxed looking forward to boarding the ship the next day.

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They had originally told us the buses would leave about 1:30 for the port but they passed in an updated letter the next morning that changed it to 12:45. We had a nice breakfast and walked around the hotel a bit before going to the lobby to wait. There were a lot of people waiting both for HAL and I think a Princess Group also. The 2 buses finally arrived and it took them a while to load up all the luggage but we were soon on our way. The traffic was fairly slow especially thru the checkpoint but we were at the port by 1:45. The embarkation was rather confusing and not as smooth as we’ve had in the past (though it will never be as smooth as it used to be when they’d check you in at the hotel and you could board when you got to the ship!). Apparently they were having some type of computer problems but it wasn’t clear what was going on. We passed thru XRay without any problems and had our documents checked briefly by a gentleman before going upstairs. The couple in front of us were a bit strange as they gave the man a very hard time because he asked them if they had their passports. They kept insisting “they were citizens and didn’t need them” and were actually very rude about it. When we got upstairs we sent to stand in the check in line and were asked for our number. We told them we hadn’t checked in yet and didn’t have a number. This was where it got confusing. Apparently we were supposed to get a number downstairs (I have no idea where since we had followed everyone else thru the building). He told us to just get in line with #22 which the couple behind us had. So they adopted us with their #22. We sat down with them and had a nice chat while we waited probably ½ hr or so. It was their first cruise and they were really looking forward to it. (Amazing how many first time cruisers we ran into on this trip). The line went pretty quickly as we had everything already filled out. From there you went directly on the ship but again it was a bit confusing as you just followed this line but had no idea of where you were going or why. Finally ended up in the conference type rooms on board where they finished off the registration (they had computers there) and took pictures etc. Apparently this wasn’t normal as some of them were talking about not supposed to have even been working that day. But we finished up and went and found our cabin (5055). It was very nice as expected. Seemed a bit smaller than the ones we’ve had on other HAL ships but I like the layout better with the bed turned instead of against the back wall and of course the veranda helped too! We were right over the end of the first lifeboat on the starboard side. Didn’t bother the view to the ocean at all but did block a bit of it if you wanted to stare straight down. Didn’t bother us at all and from inside the cabin you couldn’t even see the lifeboat. The desk area though is very crowded with the TV, Ice bucket and glasses, Paperwork, and Lighted mirror. There’s no room for anything else. The Hair dryer is in a cabinet on the bottom of it and the minibar on the other side with a small stool underneath. Luckily I don’t spend a lot of time on makeup etc as it might have been difficult to use the area for that.

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We then headed up to the Lido for lunch. We really liked the layout of the Lido and the different stations which definitely cut down the lines. The only disappointment with the embarkation lunch was there was no carved prime rib as we’ve had in the past. The broiled chicken was good just not the same. Everything else was very good and we certainly never went hungry.

 

 

It’s really obvious how much bigger the ship is than the S Class ones just walking the hallway to get to the elevators. Ok I admit it. I love the side glass elevators. I remember thinking what a crazy idea that was a few years ago when we first heard they were going to put them on the next class of ships. But I take it all back. They were lots of fun and not usually very crowded. One of them was not working for a day or two during the trip but didn’t see any problems with the others. As I stated earlier I was concerned about going on this larger ship especially after reading so many negative comments about them. But as we got used to it over the week it really grew on us and it is now one of our favorites. Even the rooms like the Piano Bar that look so bright and outrageous (at least to me) in the pictures are very nice in person as the darkness of the room sets them off. Other little things I remember are the “Mailboxes” for each cabin eliminating the traditional “under the door” delivery. It worked fine but I did find it a bit strange that they put things like your final bill etc out in a public area. Noticed the cabin next door had a Medical Insurance Claim form right in the front just in glancing by it. I don’t think I’d have wanted that to be so visible.

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Ok. I’ll get on to the Ports. The first day we stopped at Nassau but were only there for a ½ day. We originally hadn’t planned to even get off the ship since we’d been there previously and weren’t all that impressed. However, we had not been to the Atlantis Hotel so decided to take the tour over there. I’d highly recommend you don’t do this if you are only there for ½ day. It was extremely rushed. First they walked us over to the “ferry” for about a 20 minute ride to the hotel. The only real issue we had with the ferry is the steps to get on and off did not appear to be very safe but otherwise it was ok. Once there it was a long walk uphill to the hotel crossing the street several times because of construction going on. They split us into smaller groups as we quickly toured thru the hotel and the aquariums. It was actually very interesting just very rushed and we barely had time to catch the 11:00 ferry. There were others on the tour from a different ship but they had until 1:00 to catch a ferry. We were probably a few minutes late getting back but the line was so long to check back onto the ship it really didn’t matter. It took quite a while but we were soon back on board and ready for 1 ½ days at sea.

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The next stop was on Wed in St. Marten. There were at least 7 ships there that day and it was very crowded everywhere. They definitely had some problems tendering in that day. Apparently 2 of the lifeboats had problems with their propellers and that delayed things for a while. We also saw one medical evacuation while waiting in line and the CD told us that night there had actually been 6 medical evacuations that day which delayed things too. We had signed up for the “Mild & Wild” Safari tour and there were only 8 of us from the ship on it. When we got to shore they had us wait for about 13 people from the NCL Dawn which was anchored close to us. While waiting we got to talking to some of the others and found one of the other couples was CURISERGAL from the board. They had posted on the RollCall board but we hadn’t made any real plans to meet up with them since they were so busy with other cruises! We had already met with K&RCurt after the Safety Drill. It was great meeting both couples and we ran into them on and off throughout the week. Anyway, we didn’t have long to chat before they loaded us into the Vehicles. The other 6 were in the first one and we were in with some younger crowd from the Dawn in the 2nd one (Bright Pink). The 3 vehicles then started out for the tour thru the crowded streets. We didn’t get too far before they turned around and headed back. It wasn’t clear what for until we got to some parking lot where they had a lot of people on a bus that they then loaded up into our vehicles along with several others. Then we were off again. The Tour did not turn out to be what was advertised and many of the people were very upset with it (mostly because they thought they’d be drinking during the whole trip and they only got 1 can of beer at the Shopping Stop). We’re not drinkers so that part didn’t bother us but the tour guide really did point out things that no one was interested in (i.e. the post office, every cemetery, the brick plant, houses, etc) over a speaker that was very hard to hear. I just checked the write-up on the HAL site and it looks like it’s been changed to more reflect what we actually did so that’s good. The shopping area in Marigot was actually a newer mall. I would have preferred the more craft type area we passed shortly before there. We then headed to Orient Beach. We were supposed to have an hour there but only had about 45 minutes (probably because of the initial delay). It would have been nice to spend a bit more time there. We then headed back to the Parking area where they’d picked up the people on the bus. They told us all to get on the bus even though we told them we hadn’t come on the bus to begin with. So on we go and of course it’s standing room only. They then decided to take some people on the other trucks and asked if anyone wanted to go Shopping. We stayed on the bus since we were ready to get away from the crowds and back to the ship. Well they headed out to the ships that were docked which is really not that close to where the Tenders come in. Some of the people on the Princess Ship were already past when they should have been back on. At the port the Security Guard comes on asking everyone to show their ID. We did but obviously they didn’t look too close since they weren’t for a ship that was there. We still figured they’d just take us back after the others got off. But the driver and one other person from the Tour company started questioning why we hadn’t gotten off and seemed rather upset at us. He said we were supposed to have gone on the trucks to the Shopping area. They did take us back but were not very pleasant about it. Anyway, I don’t think I’d recommend this Tour to anyone.

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You got on the Westerdam after we got off on the 23rd. We did both the eastern and western.

There was 1 midship elevator that didn't work the entire time we were on the ship. All the glass elevators worked.

When we got on the ship at terminal 29 on Jan 9th, the computers weren't working then and we had to get our pictures taken on the ship. And there were a couple of days when the computers didn't work anywhere on the ship and all bills had to be hand written.

Our final bill came in an envelop - no one could see the amounts.

St Maarten - we had very seas there - 5 passengers that I know of were hurt getting on and off the tenders. We love St Maarten but because DH has a bad leg, we chose not to risk an accident on the tenders.

When we were leaving St Maarten, they had trouble getting tender 13 out of the water - the davots weren't working. They didn't use tender 13 for the next 2 weeks. One of the reasons we docked at terminal 13 on Jan 23 was so that they could put tender 13 down in the water and work on repairs. Sounds like they didn't get the problem fixed.

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Sharon, I'm enjoying your report very much. I'm not interested in the Vista-class, and don't care for the Caribbean, but the report is still worth reading! Imagine how much others are liking it!

Thank you for some great posts. :)

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Great review so far Sharon.

 

I hope to get mine going tomorrow. Today is our sons birthday so I won't have time tonight.

 

As far as the tenders. Tender # 13 was working fine and we rode in it to HMC late in the week. I attended the talk with the Chief Engineer and he explained the issues. Apparently as the first two tenders off of the ship got to the dock in St. Maarten, there had beed some lines left in the water. Both tenders got lines caught in their port side propellers, leaving them with one usable engine. They had to bring them back to the ship and pull them out of the water to get the ropes out of the propellers. Add in the 6 medical evacuations and that's what fouled up the tendering process in the morning. We had no issue tendering back to the ship in the afternoon.

 

As far as I could see the tendering process worked flawlessly at HMC.

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Glad to hear that they got tender 13 and her davots fixed - it really wasn't the tender itself - just couldn't get the tender back onto the ship properly.

But to have 2 tenders get ropes in their propellers - bad news there for a while. Glad they could finally get them fixed.

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Enjoying your review, Sharon.

 

 

Thank you for being so detailed. That's great.

Eager to read more.

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Well on to Tortola. When I first saw reports about the Virgin Gorda and the Baths a couple of years ago I put it on my “want to see” list so that is one of the reasons we chose this particular cruise. So you can probably guess that we booked that tour. We met in the Lounge to get our “Pink dot” as stated on our tickets then shortly headed down to the ferry. Even though we were docked at the pier the ferry picked us up as if we were tendering. I guess it confused some people since there was one couple for another tour that ended up on the ferry. The person going thru the tickets found one for another tour and came on to find them so they were redirected to the dock for their tour. And then we were off for the ride over to Virgin Gorda. Can’t remember how long it took but probably about 20 minutes. Then we got off and boarded the Shuttles for the Baths. After a brief introduction by the tour guides as to how to get down to the first beach etc we headed off. The hike was not as difficult as I thought it might be so we didn’t have any trouble getting down. The view was definitely worth it. It was overcast that morning and it did rain for a bit while we were there but it didn’t bother us. We decided to stay at the first beach and not try the trek to the 2nd one since they said there was quite a bit of bending required (and my body doesn’t bend that well!). We probably should have tried to go part way like some of the others but enjoyed where we were anyway. The waves were definitely hard and were knocking people over and coming up pretty far. This didn’t leave much room for placing towels and bags etc but everyone found rocks for them or hung things on the trees. No one was hurt while we were there but I heard later on board that someone got banged up against the rocks later that day (not sure if it was someone from our ship or another but they weren’t on the tour). We headed up to the top with plenty of time to meet for the shuttle back to the ferry. Talked with quite a few people on this tour and everyone was very friendly. There were no problems with the trip back to the ferry and then to the ship. This tour I’d definitely recommend if you like Views etc. From what others said it is much calmer other times of the year and there are a lot of fish etc. No way to see that with the waves the way they were when we were there. But it made for some pretty views (and we’ll see about the pictures when I get a chance to download them).

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Well everyone was ready for another sea day after this and we enjoyed ourselves (ok so we ate, slept, played Bingo, ate, slept, etc most of the day but we were on vacation!). Didn’t win another cruise but we had a good day anyway! The only negative was it was also the day of the dreaded Disembarkation talk since we would be at Half Moon Cay on the last day.

 

 

Finally time for Half Moon Cay. We had been there one other time in 2000 on the old Westerdam (our Veendam cruise last year didn’t stop there) and were looking forward to it again. We had reserved a Clam Shell and booked the 10:15 Eco Lagoon Tour so decided to go over early to make sure we had a good location before our tour. The ship was there earlier than expected and started tendering by 8:00. We were shocked when we went to get a Tender Ticket about then and got #1 with no wait. We headed down and the tender left shortly without being full. We ended up with the first clam shell to the right of the Rental Hut and were happy with the location. The weather was a bit overcast and not overly warm but it was sure better than what we would have had at home so we enjoyed some time watching the beach area then headed out for our tour. We had thought it was on the Glass Bottom Boat at the Tender dock but it was a different tour in the new lagoon area. They took us over there on a Shuttle with people signed up for the AquaTrax tour. We ended up with only 10 people on the boat (which did have a glass bottom section) and a very nice tour guide named Travis (ok so I’m a big Randy Travis fan so you can’t go wrong with a guide with that name!) We had a very nice ride around the lagoon (sometimes slow watching for things and others fast as they went to the different areas) and learned some things about the area and islands. Nothing exciting but a very pleasant experience if you like that sort of thing. We did see the people riding the AquaTrax, those in the Kayaks, the people fishing for boneheads (?), and the Stingray Area. All of this is a good distance from the normal beach and doesn’t impact the original area at all. We met K&RCurt again when we got back on the shuttle (they’d just finished their Kayaking Adventure!). The Shuttle stopped at the BBQ area and since it was just about 11:30 we decided to get off and eat. Good food as usual and we grabbed some drinks and desserts to take back to the Clam Shell. We spent another couple of hours there and took some walks along the beach getting our legs wet at least. It was a bit cool and not too many people were getting in the water. The Massdam was supposed to be in about 11 but was late. So with the coolness and them being late it never got as crowded as I expected it to be with 2 ships. The tenders were running very well when we decided to go back and we had a very short wait. Don’t think I’d book a Carribean cruise again that didn’t stop at HMC. And I think going the last day of the cruise was a very nice way to end the trip.

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Ok. Sorry this is really getting long but as you can tell we had a really good time so want to get it down for my records even if it bores the rest of you! Well guess it’s time for Entertainment. The band in the Crow’s Nest was usually TNT. I think they were the same ones that did some sets on the Lido including some Island Music. What I heard was good but we didn’t spend a lot of time in these areas when they were playing. The band in the Ocean Bar was Down Beat and we heard them a few times. Ok but I really don’t think the female singer had that good of a voice. The Champagne Strings were in the Explorers lounge but we only heard them as we walked thru the area (sorry I’m not really into that type of music. Give me an old fashioned Country song any day). Steve Lowenthal was in the Piano Bar. We tried to get in there the first few nights and it was mobbed. We did get in a few times near the end of the cruise before dinner and enjoyed him very much. I heard a lot of comments from others about having a good time there too.

 

 

There were movies in the Queens lounge most days (when they weren’t having private parties for a group of St. Louis Cardinal Fans) but we never went. The same ones seemed to be played on the TVs in the room on different days. The ones I see listed are Wiimbleton, Mr. 3000, The Village, Bourne Supremacy, De-lovely, Spiderman 2, King Arthur, Collateral, The Terminal, Taxi, First Daughter, The Forgotten, and Cellular.

 

 

I know a lot of people don’t go to the shows but we usually enjoy them so here’s the ones we saw.

 

Sun – Bernie McGrenahan Comedian. He was actually very funny and everyone seemed to enjoy him. He did a late night adult set later in the week that we tried to stay up for but didn’t make it. The Westerdam Cast singers and dancers did a few numbers too and they were very good.

 

Mon – Cast show The Grand Tour. This was the best ship’s cast we’ve ever seen. The lead singers were both very good (the female especially) on everything we heard them sing. The 2nd level singers were also pretty good (A few songs that didn’t fit them sounded a bit odd but when they got one that was right for them they had good voices too). The dancers were also very good and with the special stage affects available on this ship it was very enjoyable. There were parts where one of the girl dancers was on wires and they did some pretty amazing things with the male dancer twirling her and throwing her around.

 

Tue – Joel Mason. At dinner on Mon night I mentioned to our tablemates that we’d seen a great show on the Veendam last year with an Elton John Impersonator. Well when we got back to our cabin we found the program for Tues and saw he was scheduled again. We’re not even Elton John fans but I know some of you have seen his show and it is a great one. Our tablemates said they wouldn’t have gone if we hadn’t mentioned it since there not Elton fans either but they were glad they did go since they enjoyed it too.

 

Wed – Adam Kario Seems there’s a juggler on most ships and he was better than most (Not as funny as Barnaby who we saw on the Amsterdam a few years ago). The best part was with his audience participation and the person he picked was perfect for the part. (He gave him the impression he was going to juggle large Knives over the blindfolded guy and then dropped a club on him)

 

Thu – Leo Ward Illusionist – Ok there’s almost always a magic act on the ships too but this was one of the best we’ve seen and we really enjoyed the show. You know it’s all a trick but still can’t figure most of it out.

 

Fri – The Westerdam Cast in Stage and Screen. Another good show though I think I enjoyed their first show more.

 

Sat – Leo Ward and Joel Mason both performed and it was a very good show. Leo did more comedy this time than magic but he was pretty funny. Joel was good as usual

 

The other thing they did this time was a Westerdam Superstar show through out the week. It was their version of American Idol. Unfortunately since we had late sitting we didn’t get to see much of it. They had several rounds with members of the cruise staff playing Ryan, Paula, and Randy. Leo Ward played Simon very well. We saw part of one show that started at 9:45 but left to see Joel Mason before it was over. We tried to go to another couple but were late due to dinner and the place was totally filled up. It was held in the Queen’s lounge. We heard lots of comments about how good it was but I think they could have picked a better time for it. And if it’s going to be that crowded then maybe it needs to be moved to the bigger lounge.

 

 

Well it’s time for a few more loads of laundry so I’ll post some final thoughts on Meals and anything else I think of later tonight.

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The other thing they did this time was a Westerdam Superstar show through out the week. It was their version of American Idol. Unfortunately since we had late sitting we didn’t get to see much of it.

 

At least on the O'dam, they taped these shows and showed them the next day on TV.

 

Great reporting!

 

-dave

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Service was very good with the exception of the Crows Nest. Not sure why since that’s usually where we’ve had exceptional service on other HAL ships. They were almost rude when we asked for Cokes off our Soda Stickers. They were extremely slow with orders for everyone during the couple of Bingo games held there. The lady next to me at one was getting extremely upset since she asked several times for her drinks and when they finally came about 30 minutes later they weren’t even the right ones. When she mentioned it to some of the others they gave her a look or tried to make some excuse about it being busy. It was busy in there but… Service in the Vista Lounge was better. I had to laugh but felt sorry for the server the last night of Bingo. There was a lady behind us that ordered some type of drink with several detailed instructions (ice separate, with a twist, and a few other items) that she repeated several times to make sure he got it right. He came back with it shortly and she asked why there was only 1. He didn’t understand her comment. All of the previous Bingo games were 2 for 1 drinks but this one wasn’t. Well she insisted that it was always 2 for 1 at Bingo (though the program clearly doesn’t show it for this one) so was very rude and finally refused to take the drink she ordered. He was trying to be pleasant and explain it wasn’t a 2 for 1 time. She complained about him off and on the rest of the game but it was definitely not his fault.

 

 

I never did get our Cabin Stewards name but he was great as usual. Snuck in while we were gone. We did see in him the hall several times and he always had a cheery Good morning (afternoon, evening) Mr and Mrs N. Our Dining Room Waiter was Neoman and his assistant was DeDe. They were both very good and we enjoyed our meals. A few minor mistakes the first night or two that were quickly corrected and no problems at all the rest of the week. We had the 8:00 sitting at Table 31. It was a table for 4 with a couple of very nice women from the Chicago area. We don’t drink wine but the wine steward was very friendly and the couple of times we asked for a soda he got it with a smile. Service in the Lido was very good. I remember reading other reviews about no one taking their tray to the table or getting water etc. However, there were always people there to take your tray and bring water. There was another person going around with a cart to give you coffee.

 

 

The food tasted as good if not better than on last years cruise. My husband enjoyed several of the “Comfort food” selections including the meatloaf (hey he’s used to heating up his own TV dinners at home so what would you expect!). I was a little disappointed in the lack of some things I’m used to. Seems there always used to be 2 nights where they had Prime Rib and it was always in the Lido the first day. The only time it was served here was the last night in the Dining room (though it was very good). The only steaks they really had in the Dining Room were Top Sirloin. Good but seems we used to get a filet one or two nights. They did have Surf and Turf the last formal night so I asked for the Turf only and got 2 small filets that were very good. Maybe they’re trying to get you to eat at the Pinacle. We did plan to but never got around to it since we did enjoy our tablemates etc in the Dining Room. Next year we’ll do it for sure. The Dessert Extravaganza was held Friday Afternoon in the Dining Room. It was nice and well attended but by the time we got there (20-30 mins after it started) the line was still very long and they were out of a lot of things. The Chocolate fountain was flowing but there was nothing to use it with just empty trays. There were a few chocolates remaining and several cakes still to choose from. We enjoyed the one we selected but if you want a better selection it’s best to go early. We did enjoy room service on our balcony and it was delivered on time and hot. They did call to make sure we got it on time and that everything was ok.

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It took us a few days to get used to the layout of the ship since it is definitely different than the other HAL ships we’ve been on. Even though we kept saying we had to go up or down when it was really the other direction we managed to go the right way. As the week went on we decided we really liked the ship and having the additional areas it provides. It never seemed crowded (except at the Lido when we got back from the Nassau tours) and it was supposedly a sold out ship. We heard there were some people that didn’t make it until Wed in St. Martin due to the storms in the East. I really feel bad that they missed so much of the cruise. I’m sure there were some that didn’t make it at all so I hope they get to do a replacement one soon. We were so lucky the storm tracked a bit further North or we would have been among those who were late.

 

 

Debarkation went better than Embarkation. The luggage when we got off was not sorted totally right (we had Brown 1 but finally found one of ours in the 5 area). I was a bit upset that two of my TSA Approved locks were gone. I don’t remember seeing anywhere that they shouldn’t be used and I prefer to lock luggage when you have to put it out in the hall. We haven’t had any problem with the airports with them (one of the Security officers told us it was the same as unlocked as he was scanning ours). The third one wasn’t touched so guess I need to find the link for where I ordered them and get some replacements. The only other issue was some minor confusion with the buses since they were sending us over to ones that were already filled. They finally had more come and we had plenty of time to make our 1:15 flight so no big deal. The flights home were pretty uneventful though we had to really rush to make our connection in Cleveland. There was 30 mins between flights and we were in row 27 of the first plane. No one else seemed to be in much of a hurry to get off. The guy on the cart noticed we were running as we came down the escalators to get from C to D concourse and told us to hop on. He called another cart to pick us up at the top of the escalator to take us to our gate which was at the end. Very friendly and we appreciated it since the plane was already boarding when we got there.

 

 

So all in all we had a great trip, got some well needed rest, and can’t wait until the next time. Sure there were some minor issues but nothing that got in the way of our having a great trip. So now we’re back to the white stuff on the ground that still hasn’t melted and getting up early to get to the office and trying to read the emails that piled up while we were gone. And no future cruise booked yet. How much worse can it get? Next year is an Alaska year (we took our first cruise there for our 10th anniversary and our first HAL one there for our 20th so looking forward to going back for the 30th). I’m pretty sure we’ll go with HAL again and can’t wait to review the tour Itineraries when they come out later this year.

 

 

Well I think that’s about it for this report. Thanks for reading and hopefully someone will find something useful in this mass of words (Remember how hard it was to get up to the right number of words when writing a paper in school!)

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Well done! Thanks so much. It is interesting that your menus in the DR were somewhat different than ours on the O'dam (we had Prime Rib on the 3rd night, lobster tail rather than surf&turf, etc.). There evidently is some variety even among the Vistas....

 

-dave

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Thanks for taking the time to finish your report. I wasn't bored at all.

We also enjoed the cast's Grand Tour show.

Glad to see that you got to enjoy Joel Mason. He came on the second week of our cruise.

Do agree that the woman singer in the Ocean bar was terrible - and too loud. One evening as we were walking by the Pinnacle, there were several people sitting at the tables by the railing and I know they couldn't help but here her sing.

We were fortunate that both times we went to the Baths, it was in late spring and summer and the water was much calmer. Hope you get back there someday.

The first week we had an absolutely beautiful day - warm and sunny on HMC - a Saturday. On Monday when we went back it was very windy and cool. Because so many people were still sea sick from the night before, not many went ashore.

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DH never had trouble getting coffee refills in the Lido - cartman always managed to find him when we decided to eat there. And we always noticed that there were crew to help people with trays.

The first week of our cruise we had New England lobster tails and Beef Wellington. Your menu sounds exactly what we had the second week as there were some slight changes - like Surf and Turf.

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2 for 1 drinks - even though we didn't play bingo, we did enjoy going for the 2 for 1 drinks. We had just the opposite experience. In the Vista Lounge there was only 2 bar staff getting drinks and they couldn't make it around to everyone while in the Crow's Nest there 4 workers serving and 2 bar tenders making the drinks.

It was the same thing on our cruise - no 2 for 1 drinks at the last bingo when they play only one game - fill the card.

TSA locks. We have been using them for nearly a year now. And haven't had any problems with them being cut off at the airports or missing while on the ship. Did you have anything missing from your luggage?

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I think the reason that you didn't get as much top quality beef is that the price of beef has gone through the roof in the last couple of weeks. Ditto on the price of lobster. I was in Sam's Club today and lobster was $9.60 a pound. Even London Broil is advertised at $3.99 a pound this week, about double what it was a month ago.

 

Did they serve much lamb? Or fish?

 

When we were on the Westerdam in December, we had prime rib of beef the first day in the Lido and twice during the week in the dining room. We ate in the Pinnacle the first night and had huge delicious porterhouse steaks.

 

There were several nights that they served lamb (which I love).

 

Did they serve mesclun greens in the Lido on the salad bar? They did for our cruise. Also they had smoked salmon every day, as well as pate at lunch several times during the week.

 

Thanks for your great review. I'm glad you had a great time.

 

Roberta

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