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RetiredMustang

Dave’s Live from Ryndam Southern Caribbean Feb 16 – March 2, 2014

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Hello CC’ers,

 

I’m back with a blog of the Ryndam’s Southern Caribbean cruise. We sail from Tampa at 4 p.m. tomorrow, Feb 16.

 

Here is our itinerary:

- Key West 1-5 p.m. Feb. 17;

- Two days at sea (Feb. 18 and 19);

- San Juan, Puerto Rico noon-11 p.m. Feb. 20;

- St. Thomas from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Feb. 21;

- St. Johns, Antigua 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Feb. 22;

- Castries, St. Lucia 8a.m. – 3 p.m. Feb. 23 – after we leave Castries, we sail to Soufriere to pick up shore excursion passengers 5-6 p.m.

- A day at sea Feb. 24;

- Willemsted, Curacao 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. Feb 25;

- Oranjestad, Aruba 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. Feb. 26.

- It’s another sea day Feb. 27;

- Georgetown, Grand Cayman 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Feb. 28,

- A final sea Day March 1;

- Return to Tampa at 7 a.m. March 2.

 

Here is a map of our itinerary:

 

CSW414_zps03bd8346.jpg

 

Trip to Tampa

 

We drove from the Washington, D.C. area. A snowstorm hit D.C (and most of the rest of the East Coast) Feb. 12-13. We were able to get out and drive south on Valentine’s Day, spending the night in Savannah, GA. Today, Saturday, Feb. 15, we drove to Tampa, arriving early afternoon.

 

In Tampa

 

We are staying at the Marriott Waterside in Tampa, near the cruise port. This is a comfortable and convenient place to stay prior to the cruise. Here are a few photos of the hotel public areas:

 

The lobby (two views):

 

TampaMarriottWatersidelobby1_zps74a4cfe9.jpg

 

TampaMarriottWatersidelobby2_zps50127a3e.jpg

 

 

And the outside patio of the lobby bar:

 

TampaMarriottWatersideoutdoorbararea_zps8a964442.jpg

 

It was a nice sunny day in Tampa, and we enjoyed the warmth and sun after what has been a cold and dreary winter (although I admit that our CC colleagues in such places as Winnepeg, St. John and New England have had it worse.) In any case, it is great to get somewhere warm and sunny, and look forward to embarking Ryndam tomorrow on a great itinerary.

 

More later,

Dave

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Looking forward to your review. You do such a great job! Enjoy the warm weather.

 

Thank you! You did a great job with the report of this exact cruise a couple of months ago, but I figured we do different excursions and have different (not better, just not the same) experiences on board the ship, so I thought I would complement your thread with another viewpoint of the same cruise.

 

BTW, your thread really kept us going during the dreary months of winter until our turn!

 

Dave

Edited by RetiredMustang

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Love your reports - looking forward to tagging along for the virtual ride.

 

Chris,

 

Thanks much! Please take this as permission for you/Rich/Jacqui to grab anything you want from this thread for the HALfacts site. I was a frequent contributor to Joanie's site, and am willing to have my stuff potentially help other cruisers. I will email files after I get home (probably converting menu/program/etc. photos to .pdf), but if you want to snatch ship cabin/public room/whatever photos, please do so.

 

Dave

Edited by RetiredMustang

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Thank you! You did a great job with the report of this exact cruise a couple of months ago, but I figured we do different excursions and have different (not better, just not the same) experiences on board the ship, so I thought I would complement your thread with another viewpoint of the same cruise.

 

BTW, your thread really kept us going during the dreary months of winter until our turn!

 

Dave

 

Dave, don't be modest. I followed your live review several months ago, which gave me the courage to try one myself. Now I get to see the teacher at work again. I'll be reading and enjoying your review every day.

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Ooo. This is nice. I like reading your reports. Even open some of your images, as they are pretty good!

 

Nice itinerary. It's snowing outside. Again. :rolleyes: I could do this cruise right about now.

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Fantastic. I loved your review of your TA and it is on our radar. You y photos will pull me through the next fortnight. I can feel the thaw starting

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Love your live from threads:). I'm going to miss part of it because I'll be on my own cruise. Could you plan that better next time :D;):D? Hope you and Mrs. Dave have a wonderful time. Eat some bitterballen for me.

 

Cruz chic formerly lorekauf.

Edited by cruz chic

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Yea!! Another Dave and Mrs Dave live report. I am looking forward to reading about your travels and enjoying your marvellous pictures.

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Chris,

 

Thanks much! Please take this as permission for you/Rich/Jacqui to grab anything you want from this thread for the HALfacts site. I was a frequent contributor to Joanie's site, and am willing to have my stuff potentially help other cruisers. I will email files after I get home (probably converting menu/program/etc. photos to .pdf), but if you want to snatch ship cabin/public room/whatever photos, please do so.

 

Dave

 

Thanks so much!

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What! Leaving D.C. Just a little snow on the ground. This is sure working out for you. Definitely smart to go south where it is warmer. Right now it looks good to us here also! We enjoy reading your reports. Still enjoy your Viking cruise reports. Hoping!

 

Have a great cruise.

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Sunday, Feb. 16, Tampa - embarkation day

 

Thanks everybody for the supportive posts. John, we don't have Pinnacle booked, but I will try to see Colin and say hi. L (cruz chic) enjoy your cruise! Ruth, we are looking forward to meeting you on Amsterdam in August.

 

But before that cruise, we are now coming to the start of our Ryndam cruise. We went for a walk along the water to watch the sun rise this morning, and saw another sight as well -- Ryndam backing down the channel past the aquarium parking lot, toward her berth at terminal 6:

 

RyndambackingintoTampapier_zps8e112617.jpg

 

After breakfast, we came back to our room on one of the top floors of the hotel and took a look out the window, which faces north. We were able to see a good bit of downtown, and a little to the right (east) we could see the Tampa Bay Times Forum. DW said to look further beyond that roof. Here is what she/we saw:

 

Ryndambeyondforumroof_zps8d7179e8.jpg

 

Yes! Ryndam is in port; and we are just down the street. It's always a good feeling to know that you and the ship are at the same place at the time you are supposed to be. Now comes the longest morning of a cruise -- waiting to board.

 

I will check in after boarding and setting up the internet account.

 

More later,

Dave

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Wow! Looks like you could almost walk to the ship. Bon Voyage. Just wish Lou and Dave had a camera there.

 

Roy

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Oh goody, another "live from" thread - something to keep me going during this hideously cold winter on the "frozen tundra". Can't wait to sail away with you!

 

Smooth Sailing !:) :) :)

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Tampa really is a great port to cruise from. Enjoy your cruise and thanks for the considerable effort, Dave! :)

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Chris,

 

Thanks much! Please take this as permission for you/Rich/Jacqui to grab anything you want from this thread for the HALfacts site. I was a frequent contributor to Joanie's site, and am willing to have my stuff potentially help other cruisers. I will email files after I get home (probably converting menu/program/etc. photos to .pdf), but if you want to snatch ship cabin/public room/whatever photos, please do so.

 

Dave

 

how kind of you Dave - we really appreciate your support. Your pics and info are so wonderful!!!

 

Thanks so much!

 

ditto

 

 

Really looking forward to following along. Your reports are always so good. Have a wonderful time!!!

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Feb. 16, Tampa - embarkation day (cont.)

 

Well, we are aboard and I have opened the internet account. Ryndam is still using MTN, but the internet manager said they were shifting to Harris soon.

 

I will post a few things before boat drill, which is set for 3:15. I will catch up more later.

 

Here are some photos of the cabin, in two posts. First, the cabin and balcony:

 

Ryndam182_zpsbefb07cc.jpg

 

 

Ryndam182deskarea_zps2dad4df7.jpg

 

 

Ryndam182balcony1_zpsf0af19e4.jpg

 

 

Ryndam182balcony2_zps70c91327.jpg

 

 

More in the next post.

 

Dave

Edited by RetiredMustang

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Nice Dave; enjoy! :) if you two have dinner at the PG please tell the manager, Colin, I said hi

 

John, mission accomplished. Colin was in the PG as I was rambling about the ship, and I popped in and passed on your greeting. He was pleased that you remembered him.

 

Dave

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Thank you sir , this will be the second cruise of yours that I follow . Truly a pleasure . BTW I love the itinerary . Somehow we have never considered it , never even aware of it as we usually only consider departures from FLL . Have fun ! Frank

 

 

Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app

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Feb. 16, Tampa – embarkation day (cont.)

We spent yesterday consumed with all of the things involved with embarking a ship, and then with enjoying the experience, so I got behind in my blog. We now resume our regular programming …

Check in

We left the hotel and drove the mile or so to the ship at Terminal 6. Roy, it was indeed within walking distance, but I wouldn’t want to do it with a bunch of bags. A couple leaving the same time we were had Ryndam tags on their luggage as well – they took a cab.

The terminal is a different one from the one we embarked Ryndam in 2011. It looks new or at least newly-refurbished. We went through security/scanners and then filled out the medical questionnaires. The terminal had several small tables with forms and pens, so there was no bottleneck. We then went to the check-in lines. We noticed against the far wall that there was a separate check-in for suites and 4 or 5-star Mariners. We were heading toward that, when we were waylaid by a cheerful and efficient HAL rep who kept guiding us to the regular check-in line, even though we said twice we were 4-star Mariners. There was no line, so we just went with the flow. But, when we got to the agent, she said, “Oh, you are 4-stars. Why didn’t you say so?” But, she checked us in and went over and got our cards for us. We then went to the suites/Mariners area for a seat.

A few minutes later, about 11, the cruise director came ashore and got on the announcing system to say that the ship had been cleared, but that they were running a little behind with the rooms since more than 1200 passengers had just gotten off that morning. He said we could go aboard, but please go to the Lido until the announcement was made that the rooms were ready.

The Lido was in Code Orange with no self-serve available, but we did not eat lunch. We were not hungry after a large breakfast at the Marriott, but we went to the Lido bar and officially christened the start of our cruise:

Lidobardrinks_zps4f6b2a7c.jpg

We enjoyed what is one of our favorite moments: we have made it aboard the ship, and it won’t sail without us, and the whole of our cruise is ahead with all of the possibilities and promises of good times. We savored the moment and toasted the future.

On board

About 11:45, the announcement came that the rooms were ready. We went to ours, and I got several shots before DW started unpacking our carry-ons. Even in a suite, unpacking is better if just one person does it so you aren’t getting into each other’s way. DW prefers to do that, since she wants to know where everything is and figures she can tell me if I’m looking for something and can’t find it. So, I’ve learned over the course of many cruises either to sit down out of the way or make myself scarce. I proceeded to do so, wandering the ship to check out our dining table, look at the dinner menu, talk to the internet manager, get some shots of the public areas, etc. It was then when I noticed Colin in the Pinnacle Grill.

I went back to the cabin, and took photos of the daily program and things. Our shore excursions packet came, and our bags showed up a bit later. So, I parked myself at the desk, out of DW’s way, and posted those earlier posts prior to boat drill.

Boat drill was the usual, with announcements that anyone who refused would be put ashore. Everyone at our station made it, and I presume everybody else did, as I did not hear of anyone being kicked off.

We then repaired to the Mix for a pre-dinner drink, and encountered the bartender Rolando, whom we had met on Noordam last year. He served us our glasses of wine and we chatted for while. He also served us some hors d'oeuvres (small crab/lobster cakes, and spanakopita pockets, but no bitterballen, sorry L).

More later,

Dave

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I remember Rolando from our December on the Ryndam. He made the best "Perfect" Manhattans. We would frequent the Ocean Bar just for that reason alone. He also made sure we had a supply of hors d'oeuvres. Such a nice person. Just 14 more days until we have another with Rolando at the helm.

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John, mission accomplished. Colin was in the PG as I was rambling about the ship, and I popped in and passed on your greeting. He was pleased that you remembered him.

 

Dave

 

Thanks Dave; enjoy your voyage on RYDM! I'll be watching the Key West cam

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Feb. 16, Tampa – embarkation day (cont.)

We went into dinner at 5:15. Early fixed dining has been 5:45 for several cruises, and we were not sure why Ryndam went to 5:15, but had no problem with it. Our table, #85, is against the rail along the back. It is a table that normally sits 4, but we had asked for a two-top, and they had it set for only 2 places. Nice.

Here are the menus:

16FebdinnermenuA_zpse25a83f5.jpg

16FebdinnermenuB_zps48a68063.jpg

We both had the tomato Florentine soup (which I finished about the time I remembered the camera). Our main dish was the traditional prime rib:

16Febrpimerib_zps635297a6.jpg

Here is the dessert menu:

16Febdessertmenu_zpsf27dc418.jpg

I had the apple strudel (again forgetting the camera), which was very good. DW had the red velvet cake. She reported that the frosting was lighter than normal, like it had been whipped a bit, which she enjoyed.

More later,

Dave

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Feb. 16, Tampa – embarkation day (cont.)

After dinner, we went out on the deck to catch some better views of the sail through Tampa Bay. We got out there just as the ship was passing under the bridge. Here is a shot back past the wake to the bridge.

bridgeTampa_zps45f4c224.jpg

We then took a stroll on the deck, but when we turned into the direction we were sailing, the wind was a bit cold, so we went back inside. We went to the Explorer’s Lounge and listened to Adagio for a while. The two ladies were OK, but missed a note now and then.

By then, the casino was open, so we went and played the silly penny slots for a while before turning in.

More later,

Dave

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Feb. 16, Tampa – embarkation day (cont.)

Here is the front of the Explorer booklet, which outlines our itinerary, and the bio of Captain Mark Rowden:

Explorercover_zpse3d67ba2.jpg

More later,

Dave

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Monday, Feb. 17, Key West

Today we are due into Key West at 1 p.m. Last evening, the Captain said we are due to dock at Mallory Square, which is great – it’s right downtown. He also said he expected to get there a bit faster, and expected to dock at noon.

Here are photos with today’s program:

17FebProgram1_zps49ccfbce.jpg

17FebProgram2_zpse201a753.jpg

 

 

More later,[/font]

Dave

Edited by RetiredMustang

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