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RetiredMustang

Dave’s Live From Noordam Eastern Caribbean Feb. 18 – March 1, 2013

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Hello everyone! I’m doing another “live from” blog, this time for the Noordam Eastern Caribbean cruise from Feb. 18 – March 1. Our itinerary includes St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, Martinique, Domenica, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay. We are currently at a hotel in Plantation, FL, about 8 miles from Port Everglades. We will check out soon, do a bit of shopping, and then drive to the port.

A check on the Port Everglades web cam shows Noordam in port at pier 26. It’s always good to see the ship you are to board actually made it to port!

Travel to south Florida

We had a leisurely drive south from the Washington, D.C. area, arriving yesterday afternoon. The only things to note were that we drove through a heavy snowstorm for about 30 minutes in South Carolina, and when we drove through Jacksonville yesterday morning, it was 28 degrees F (-2 C), with frost on the verges. And, it warmed only to about 60 F (15C) yesterday afternoon here in the Ft. Lauderdale area, and is now 50 F (10 C). We normally enjoy the gifts of cooler air from Canada … in July and August. This cold front which dropped all the way to south Florida seems to be payback from Canada for the heavy snow we sent north a week earlier.

Today is forecast to be much warmer, and we should have fine weather for the boarding, boat drill and sailaway.

I will check in after we are on board and settled in. We start with two days at sea before hitting Philipsburg on Thursday.

Dave

 

Added on edit: The cruise is officially a "Southern Caribbean Wayfarer" cruise ... I just thought of it as going to the Eastern Caribbean, and so titled the thread that without thinking. I guess when I think "southern Caribbean" I think the ABCs.

Edited by RetiredMustang

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looking foward to reading your blog - its the next best thing to beeng there

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Hi Dave & thanks for doing this! I did an 11-day out of NYC on the Noordam in 2007, love the ship, & recently booked her for this time next year...same itinerary as you!

 

I look forward to your live report! Have a great cruise!

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Hello everyone! I’m doing another “live from” blog, this time for the Noordam Eastern Caribbean cruise from Feb. 18 – March 1. Our itinerary includes St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, Martinique, Domenica, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay. We are currently at a hotel in Plantation, FL, about 8 miles from Port Everglades. We will check out soon, do a bit of shopping, and then drive to the port.

 

A check on the Port Everglades web cam shows Noordam in port at pier 26. It’s always good to see the ship you are to board actually made it to port!

 

Travel to south Florida

 

We had a leisurely drive south from the Washington, D.C. area, arriving yesterday afternoon. The only things to note were that we drove through a heavy snowstorm for about 30 minutes in South Carolina, and when we drove through Jacksonville yesterday morning, it was 28 degrees F (-2 C), with frost on the verges. And, it warmed only to about 60 F (15C) yesterday afternoon here in the Ft. Lauderdale area, and is now 50 F (10 C). We normally enjoy the gifts of cooler air from Canada … in July and August. This cold front which dropped all the way to south Florida seems to be payback from Canada for the heavy snow we sent north a week earlier.

 

Today is forecast to be much warmer, and we should have fine weather for the boarding, boat drill and sailaway.

 

I will check in after we are on board and settled in. We start with two days at sea before hitting Philipsburg on Thursday.

 

Dave

 

Added on edit: The cruise is officially a "Southern Caribbean Wayfarer" cruise ... I just thought of it as going to the Eastern Caribbean, and so titled the thread that without thinking. I guess when I think "southern Caribbean" I think the ABCs.

 

Dave, you got that right! ;) We enjoyed shovelling 30 cms. (12'') of (drifted) snow! Hope that you are enjoying our "cold front"! :D

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I appreciate you taking the time to do this!!

 

I'm looking forward to follwing this!

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Always enjoy reading your posts:) Driving back from the coast Saturday (NC) saw heavy snow near I-95!!! It was weird and wacky in the Carolinas Saturday:D Know you will happy to see some warm weather:):)

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We spent 21 days on the beautiful Noordam Dec., 2011 to celebrate our 50th anniversary. Be sure to say hello from Mary Ann Beckham to Mark Pells, the best HM on the seas. He gave the CC Meet & Greet a wonderful get together. Have a fantastic time. Mary from Georgia

Edited by Cruisergal1208

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Really looking forward to your blog. We are going on for 21 days on March 1 as you come off.

If you get a chance, can you let us know who the piano player in the Piano Bar is on your cruise.

Thanks and have a wonderful cruise.

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Hey Dave, I will be watching your sail-a-way on the Port Everglades Web cam. It always shows the port side . Get there and let us know who you are. Have a great cruise. DW and I will be on Eurodam 3/30/13..

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Embarkation Day, Monday, Feb. 18

Well, we are happily aboard MS Noordam again, and delighted to be back aboard what is probably our favorite ship of the fleet.

Here are some notes about some things that may be of interest so far:

Arrival at the port:

We arrived about 11:30 a.m. There is a lot of construction going on, not only on I-595 still between the Florida Turnpike and I-95, but also from the end of I-595 into the port. It appears that they may be building ramps from the freeway directly to the port, but until then, you will be weaving around construction to get to the security gate. It is well marked, but be aware that it will be slow going. We were prepared for it, but the security people did indeed want to see photo ID and cruise documents before they let us proceed.

We went easily to the mid-port parking garage and walked to pier 26 to embark Noordam. We were a bit confused, because we seem to remember an elevated walkway from the garage to the other side of the road, but it is not there – either we are having a serious senior moment, or they have taken it down since we last were here. At least some consolation – there are still signs directing people to the phantom walkway, so maybe the mind isn’t totally toast. At any rate, we went to ground level and crossed to the terminal.

Check-in

We dropped our checked bags with the porters on the pier, and then joined a snaking Disney-style line inside the terminal. Near the end was a HAL rep checking for suite passengers and, as it turned out, 4-star (and presumably 5-star) passengers. We identified ourselves as 4-star and she had our cabin number on her list, and presented us with “S” tags … and the obligatory health questionnaire. We filled out ours, and joined the suite/4-star line for check-in. There was another snaky Disney-style line for others.

Check in was pretty much the usual, with the passport swiping and things. They took my photo, but DW’s was still on file from last year’s Maasdam sailing. Why hers was there and mine not is a mystery … although the agent joked why she wasn’t bringing the same young blond stud as last time, and I told him it had been a tough year for me, aging me about 30 years.

We then entered the waiting hall and went straight for the escalator to the second deck – our “S” badges allowing for expedited boarding. An agent upstairs also saw us approach, and took us to the head of the short line, allowing us to bypass the photographers and board immediately.

Our rooms were ready as is now the norm, and our bags came by 2 p.m. We are trying open dining this cruise, for the first time, and I went to the Lido to confer with the dining reservations person outside the Canaletto area, to confirm our Canaletto and Pinnacle reservations for later in the cruise, and to make reservations for the first four nights. As we like to eat early, and I was the first to ask, we got reservations for a table for 2 along the window. We’ll see how it goes the rest of the nights.

Internet packages

One of the first things I do when boarding is go the Explorations Café to pick up the instructions on how to register for the Internet (it’s simple, but I always check in case they’ve changed the procedures and it now requires turning counter-clockwise three times while reciting “Paul is dead” or something.) It is still simple … but they now have more choices of packages. From the instruction sheet

Time plan #1: 1000 minutes for $250.

Time plan #2: 500 minutes for $175

Time plan #3: 250 minutes for $100

Time plan #4: 100 minutes for $55

Pay-As-You-Go: $0.75 per minute

A one-time $3.95 activation fee applies to all users.”

People who sign up the first day still get a 10% bonus, so that, for example, a 500-minute plan purchased the first day actually gets 550 minutes. Also, the drawing in the Explorations Lounge is now for a free 1000 minutes,

Formal nights:

We had not only the first day’s daily Explorer in our cabin, but also the port guide Explorer, with information about each port. That one listed the formal nights for this cruise:

Tues., Feb. 19, the first day at sea

Sat., Feb. 23, the evening of the Barbados port visit

Wed., Feb 28, the day at sea between St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay.

All the others are listed as Smart Casual, except for Feb. 22, the evening of the St. Lucia port day, which is listed as Tropical Casual. That’s a new one on us. DW said we should look for a Tommy Bahama shirt with parrots or something on it for that night, and I added that I should buy some fake dreadlocks as well. We (she) decided that was not a good idea.

That’s about all I have time for before the boat drill, which is set for 3:15. Sailaway looks like 4 p.m. today, which is earlier than normal. But, I overhead someone say we are the only ship sailing today, so I guess we don’t have to wait our turn for anyone else. I’ll post this and check in later.

Dave

Edited by RetiredMustang

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Thanks Dave - looking forward to following along with you.

 

Also, thanks for putting in your original post the cruise, dates, ports, etc. Some people just start right in saying they arrived at the airport (which one) and stayed at a nice hotel on ___ street (which city) and travel to the port was easy (which port) and they were looking forward to _______

They don't have a countdown clock to tell us what ship and what ports, etc. I like to know the details without having to play "Where's Waldo" :)

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Embarkation Day, Monday, Feb. 18 (Cont.)

Boat Drill was quick and easy, and everyone cooperated. I think the threat of being put off the ship if you blow it off is having a salutary effect on attendance and attention of passengers to the crew.

Happy Hour. We had gone to the Ocean Bar before drill, and repaired there afterwards. The bartender told us happy hour tonight was 6:00-7:00, but would be earlier the rest of the cruise. The deal is the buy one, get another for a dollar deal. We have found lately that happy hour tends to be too crowded what with everyone waiting until post time, and then jockeying the poor bar staff to get their cheap drinks NOW, so we will probably be in a different bar at that time. Perhaps Crow’s Nest, which has happy hour for the later diners. We are early diners, so it may be quieter when we are looking for a pre-dinner wine.

Sorry, we did not try to do a departure wave, but we have a cabin on the starboard side, and were not out on our balcony on sailaway in any case.

Dinner. We went for our 5:15 reservation, and were seated right away. This is probably old news to those who have done open dining before, but there were two greeting lines, one for those with reservations and one for walk-ups. We were attended to quickly, and were able to order a glass of wine each easily. I had the bay shrimp starter, which was not in the usual shrimp cocktail glass, but came on a plate with salmon mousseline – an interesting touch; it was one of the signature chef’s dishes, and was a step up from the usual. DW had the beef tenderloin carpaccio and reported it excellent and fork-tender. I had my usual rare prime rib (excellent as usual), while DW tried the pork bucco, which was a take-off on osso bucco (braised veal shanks) only with pork shanks; again, reports were highly complimentary. She had the red velvet cake (which came with cream cheese frosting), and I revisited an old HAL friend I had not seen for a while – cinnamon ice cream. It was a maudlin reunion of old friends.

Adagio: After dinner, we tried the slots for a while, but quickly tired of that (we do so more and more quickly these days), and went to the Explorer’s Lounge to listen to Adagio. I noted that they did not list the act in the daily program as Adagio Strings, and (having been alerted by previous CC threads) suspected it was not a quartet. It turned out to be a duo of piano and violin. Still, the two ladies were talented, and we enjoyed a nice hour or so of classical tunes, including Strauss, Bach and Beethoven.

We found a note in our cabin that we are to set our clocks ahead an hour tonight, which means it is already late for this early riser. We put out the order for morning coffee, and I will sign off for the night. I will check back soon, probably tomorrow, depending on the reliability of the MTN signal. I have taken several photos of the ship, and will try to post some. Joanie, I will email you high-res ones as usual when we return home.

Below is a compilation of information that readers of my previous blogs seemed to enjoy, so I will try to include it on this one as well. Thanks to all for coming along.

Dave

Dinner menu, Feb. 18

Appetizers: Celebration of Fruit Cocktail; Cocktail of Bay Shrimp; Carpaccio of Beef Tenderloin; Grilled Four Mushroom Crostini.

Soups and Salad: Seafood Soup Provencal; Cream of Chicken and Artichoke Soup; Chilled Carrot and Orange Bisque with Cumin; Heart of Romaine Lettuce Nicoise..

Entrees: Penne with Crips Pancetta; The Chef’s Salad Bowl; Barramundi (a fish) with Coconut-Lemongrass Reduction; Prime Rib of Beef au jus; Pork Bucco; Crepinette of Roaster Chicken; Sweet-and-Sour Tofu.

Desserts: Red Velvet Cake; Balsamic Strawberries; Viennese Apple Strudel; Passion Fruit Mousse Cake no sugar added; Vanilla Ice Cream; Cinnamon Ice Cream; Raspberry Frozen Yogurt; Vanilla Frozen Yogurt; no sugar added Triple Chocolate Ice Cream; no sugar added Vanilla Ice Cream; Pineapple Sundae. Cordial of the Day: Mocha Mint, $5.95.

Available Daily: French Onion Soup “Les Halles”; Classic Caesar Salad; Grilled Coho Salmon; Perfectly Grilled Breat of Chicken; 8 oz. New York Strip Loin Steak; Idaho Baked Potato; White Rice; Steamed Vegetables.

From the Daily Program:

Vista Lounge: Let Us Entertain You, featuring the Noordam Singers and Dancers, 9:30 p.m.

Queen’s Lounge: Ben & The HAL Cats, 10:00 p.m. – midnight

Ocean Bar: Lynn & the HAL Cats, 7:00-11:00 p.m.; Happy Hour 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Piano Bar: Entertainer Diane, 9:00 p.m. – close

Explorer’s Lounge: Adagio, 7:00-11:00 p.m.

Crow’s Nest: Solor Guitarist David, 4:00-6:00 p.m. and 8:00-10:00 p.m.; Happy Hour 9:00-10:00 p..m.

Northern Lights; DJ Jazzy, 10:00 p.m. – close

Tonight’s Movie: Cowgirls & Angels, Queen’s Lounge, 6:00 p.m.

 

Edited by RetiredMustang

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Who is the captain on this cruise? Thanks for the marvelous descriptions of everything. It's helping me get ready for our March 22 TA.

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