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

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I love following your "Live Froms", Dave - so thank you for doing it again. We wish we could have stayed on for this cruise ... but just couldn't work it out. We are definitely there in spirit, and know you're having a grand time. :)

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Thanks for taking us along. We were on the Noordam for Thanksgiving 2012 and will be on her again this turkey day, leaving 11/25/2013, Turkeys At Sea. Loved the ship and that SY cabin, had to go again in one.

 

I did not know the SY qualified for priority boarding, tell me more. We are 2 stars but have a SY cabin......

 

Anxious to hear about the ports and looking forward to your great "live" report. Happy sailing, Linda

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I did not know the SY qualified for priority boarding, tell me more. We are 2 stars but have a SY cabin......

 

It does not ... "4 stars" get priority boarding.

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Wednesday, Feb. 20, at sea (Cont.)

We attended a Mariners’ reception at 12:15, and saw several people get bronze, silver and gold medallions. Just prior, the Captain announced that there had been a medical emergency on board and that we have changed course to bring us closer to Puerto Rico, from where the U.S. Coast Guard could fly a helicopter to evacuate the patient. This will mean that several outside areas will need to be cleared by 4 p.m. Several events were moved as well.

This also means we will be delayed arriving in St. Maarten tomorrow until about 10:30, but the Captain will delay our departure until 5 p.m. The ship’s Shore Excursion staff is making arrangements as necessary for ship shore excursions tomorrow, but I don’t know what will happen with those who have made private arrangements.

By the way, speaking of going ashore, we have a new product this cruise. It may be familiar to many of you, but we have not been on a HAL ship for a year, and it is new to us. It is called “Explorer” and includes tear-out sheets with port info and maps for each port in the itinerary. I’ve attached thumbnail photos so you can see what it looks like, although it will be too small to read.

I’m going to post this, change to short and go sit on the balcony for a while and “look for flying fish,” which DW insists is my code phrase for “take a nap.”.

More later,

Dave

1535675489_Explorercover.jpg.6a74f8052d4988c02d346a83fe27a042.jpg

321252306_Explorerportpage.jpg.21421c39fb52a0479965b25070ed7f43.jpg

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I love following your "Live Froms", Dave - so thank you for doing it again. We wish we could have stayed on for this cruise ... but just couldn't work it out. We are definitely there in spirit, and know you're having a grand time. :)

 

Donna,

 

Sorry to miss you this time! Hope we can run across you and your DH again on another cruise.

 

Dave

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It does not ... "4 stars" get priority boarding.

 

retdon,

 

Taxmantoo is correct. We were granted the embarkation privleges because we have 4-star status, not because we are in an SY stateroom. Only the SA/SB/SC deluxe suite cabins routinely get priority boarding.

 

Even as 4-stars, we do not have access to the Neptune Lounge and other perks reserved for the deluxe suites, although we do have priority tendering (the only port we tender on this cruise is Half Moon Cay, and they usually have those large ferries so there is no real problem tendering there.) And, we get discounts on wine packages, specialty coffees, etc. It is nice that HAL recognizes long-time cruisers that way.

 

Dave

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first thing when i get home from work is to check for your updates - makes me smile and forget a day at work.

 

was on the noordam 18 months ago

 

 

thanks

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Thank you for taking the time to do a "live from". Getting out of my car this morning on my way into work I dropped my purse upside down, as I was in the parking lot and picking my things out of the ice and salt and puddles in the parking lot with a biting cold wind in my face I knew I would rather be someplace warm. Thank you for taking us there.:rolleyes:

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Wow, I hope everything is going to be OK for the person with the medical emergency. I have never seen a helicopter land on my cruise ship before, I'm sure that will be interesting to see. Thank you for all the updates, it is very nice to be able to hear about your cruise! Looking forward to seeing tonight's dinner menu (always makes me jealous!)

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So glad to hear that the tear-out sheets with port info and maps is back! We missed having them on our last several cruises. The maps especially are good for those of us who like to "go it on our own".

 

Thanks again for all the information! :)

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Wow, I hope everything is going to be OK for the person with the medical emergency. I have never seen a helicopter land on my cruise ship before, I'm sure that will be interesting to see. Thank you for all the updates, it is very nice to be able to hear about your cruise! Looking forward to seeing tonight's dinner menu (always makes me jealous!)

 

They use a litter with a rescue diver and hoist the patient on board, while hovering over the ship.

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Just started reading this morning and WOW!!! what a great blog :D

 

Love hearing your experiences, all the great info, and the pictures. Haven't sailed Noordam yet so the pictures are really nice to see.

 

Looking forward to reading more!!

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Just started reading this morning and WOW!!! what a great blog :D

 

Love hearing your experiences, all the great info, and the pictures. Haven't sailed Noordam yet so the pictures are really nice to see.

 

Looking forward to reading more!!

 

Dave's live reviews always rank up there among the best. :)

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Wednesday, Feb. 20, at sea (Cont.)

Well, the helicopter came about 5 p.m. and evacuated the patient. I did not see the actual transfer, as the captain cleared all the decks forward for safety, but I suspect the helo did not land, but lowered a basket and perhaps a crewman or two to transfer the patient by basket and cable. The ship had turned into the wind and slowed considerably to lessen the cross-deck winds as much as possible to make the transfer as stable as could be.

The helo then sped away toward, presumably, Puerto Rico, and we turned and proceeded on our new path to St. Maarten. The ship seems to have picked up a couple of knots of speed, and the Captain estimated our arrival at about 9:30 a.m. at the St. Maarten pilot light. The problem, of course, is that we’ll probably never know how the person is and how it turns out.

I’ll report more tomorrow,

Dave

Dinner menu, Feb. 20

Appetizers: Fruit Ceviche; Crab Tower with Avocado Salsa; Eggplant Caponata; Caribbean Island Fritters.

Soups and Salad: Caribbean Pepper Pot Soup; Curried Breadfruit Soup; Chilled Guanaba Soup; Great Sound Salad.

Entrees: Fusilli Primavera; Avocado Citrus Salad; Baked King Crab Legs; Caribbean Braised Beef Pot Roast; Island Spiced Rack of Pork; Caribbean “Jerk” Chicken Breast; Curried Vegetable Cutlet.

Desserts: Frozen Calypso Espresso Torte; Key Lime Pie; Coconut Rum Cake; Apple Tower no sugar added; Vanilla Ice Cream; Cinnamon Ice Cream; Watermelon Sorbet; Strawberry Frozen Yogurt; no sugar added Chocolate Chip Ice Cream; no sugar added Vanilla Ice Cream; Brownie Hot Fudge Sundae.

From the Daily Program:

Vista Lounge: The Unique Comedy of Mike Robinson, 8:00 and 10:00 p.m.

Queen’s Lounge:DJ Jazzy Presents Karaoke Night, 9:00 p.m.; Motown Hits with Ben & the HAL Cats, 10:30 p.m. – midnight

Ocean Bar: Ben & the HAL Cats, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.; Lynn & the HAL Cats, 7:00-11:00 p.m.; Happy Hour 4:00-5:00 p.m.

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

Explorer’s Lounge: Adagio, 6:00-10:00 p.m.

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

Northern Lights; DJ Jazzy, Disco Fever 10:00 p.m. – midnight

Tonight’s Movie: Alex Cross, Queen’s Lounge, 5:00 p.m.; Lido Poolside 7:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Strudel Tea Time, MDR, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

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They use a litter with a rescue diver and hoist the patient on board, while hovering over the ship.

 

Yes, that is what I surmised as well, based on what I have seen before.

 

Dave

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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

Great blog ,thank you so much. Am so excited, sail March 1 for 21 day cruise. We have not been on the Noordam and are extremely looking forward to the experience. Looking for ward to reading more from you. :D:D

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Thank you for those awesome pictures.

 

Does anyone know what that ceiling sculpture in the Explorations lounge/library is? I've taken pictures of it and I love it. (I also have pictures of the atrium and that staircase from so many angles)

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So glad to hear that the tear-out sheets with port info and maps is back! We missed having them on our last several cruises. The maps especially are good for those of us who like to "go it on our own".

 

Thanks again for all the information! :)

 

It looks like the port sheets are even readable by the picture Dave has posted. Ours on the Ryndam were unreadable copies of copies of copies (so they appeared) that were useless Explorer inserts and gangway handouts.

 

Thanks for the updates, Dave!

Edited by 0bnxshs

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Ok, so we have been on several HAL cruises and I have always wondered about 1 thing. Now i will ask.

 

I think the Adagio strings are the quartet (or trio or whatever) that plays while we walk to dinner in the MDR? i have noticed a cart in the room with them that has liqueurs available. My question is: are these free? I can't figure out how they can charge for these, since I never see anyone tending the area. Or maybe I have this all wrong and these aren't the Adagio strings. And, i have never seen chocolates, so maybe I am looking in the wrong place or this is after dinner. this has been a real mystery to us on our past 4 cruises.

 

I am truly embarrassed to even ask but inquiring minds need to know... :o

 

can anyone shed light on this? Dave??

 

Thanks

ML

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Glad to see that the 'Explorer' is back. One of our comments on the comment sheet after our Noordam cruise that we had really missed it, so this is great!

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Ok, so we have been on several HAL cruises and I have always wondered about 1 thing. Now i will ask.

 

I think the Adagio strings are the quartet (or trio or whatever) that plays while we walk to dinner in the MDR? i have noticed a cart in the room with them that has liqueurs available. My question is: are these free? I can't figure out how they can charge for these, since I never see anyone tending the area. Or maybe I have this all wrong and these aren't the Adagio strings. And, i have never seen chocolates, so maybe I am looking in the wrong place or this is after dinner. this has been a real mystery to us on our past 4 cruises.

 

I am truly embarrassed to even ask but inquiring minds need to know... :o

 

can anyone shed light on this? Dave??

 

Thanks

ML

 

ML,

 

Yes, Adagio is the generic name for the string quartet/trio/duet that plays classical music in the Explorer's Lounge. The liquers are not free, but are charged at normal bar prices. There usually is one member of the bar staff who works the lounge, taking drink orders. On cruises years ago, we encoutnered speciality coffees on offer, also for a fee.

 

The chocolates, however, are free. I happened to take a photo of them dish of them last night before the music started -- small photo attached. The chocolates a long time ago were hand-dipped confections. Then there was a period where they were like melted chocolatepoured over nuts and such, cooled and cut into pieces. This cruise, they are molded and, as I discovered last night, some are filled -- the ones with a half walnut on top have a filling of walnut cream, almost like a marzipan.

 

Dave

157308261_ExplorersLoungechocolates.jpg.2b06047066774a8c2f9f74c4011d4065.jpg

Edited by RetiredMustang

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Thanks so much for your live post! Love the pictures, and menues you've posted. We will be on the 21 day cruise after yours. This is the fix I need to pass the next week!

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