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QV/QM2 Kiel to New York with a Holland America Prelude

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I’m on the verge of leaving on a round trip Transatlantic.  The eastbound is on Holland America’s newest ship the Nieuw Statendam leaving Fort Lauderdale and ending May 5 in Amsterdam.


It’s more than a direct way home but I board Queen Victoria in Kiel, Germany May 9 for a short 3-day cruise to Southampton (with a stop in Skagen) where I transfer May 12 to QM2.




There’s a short 5-day getaway (Zebrugge and St Peter Port) before continuing on to a transatlantic, getting me back to New York May 24.




For a trip like this I would normally do a thread on each forum as well as a thread covering the entire journey somewhere neutral.  I can still do that but my understanding is that the Nieuw Statendam will be pretty much a twin of Cunard’s new ship (Queen Anne?) and there may be some interest on the Cunard forum from that angle.  If I do post here I’ll try to envision what differences there would be with an implementation based on Cunard’s values.


Assuming this is true I’ll start posting here Good Friday; otherwise you can look for me on May 9.





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I'm a great admirer of both your journeys and your writing, Roy. Personally, I'm very glad you posted here as I rarely go to the Crystal forum these days and will look forward to following your voyages. I'm sure there'll be great interest here on your thoughts about the parallels between Nieuw Statendam and the new Queen (however she may be styled - Anne or no). And we'll all enjoy following your travels, regardless. Bon voyage to you!

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Looking forward to it Roy. I thoroughly your recent Prinsendam posts

Bon Voyage

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So far so good.  Currently past Security at BWI airport food court looking down on my gate.  It’s currently 8:30 local time and the displays show my flight on time with the incoming plane 5 minutes early.    Storms predicted later today but right now it’s just a bit cloudy.  My flight boards at 9:35.



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26 minutes ago, rafinmd said:

So far so good.  Currently past Security at BWI airport food court looking down on my gate.  It’s currently 8:30 local time and the displays show my flight on time with the incoming plane 5 minutes early.    Storms predicted later today but right now it’s just a bit cloudy.  My flight boards at 9:35.



Safe flight and happy travels.

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Day NSminus2, Good Friday, April 19, 2019

The Nieuw Statendam is at sea from St Thomas to Half Moon Cay.  Queen Victoria is at Sea from Walvis Bay to the Canary Islands.  QM2 is at sea from Southampton to New York.

This is my travel day to Fort Lauderdale.  I had not realized I would be embarking on Easter Sunday but my congregation has a service on Maundy Thursday but not Good Friday so I was able to do that.  I wanted to allow plenty of leeway in being on time for the Nieuw Statendam so I booked a mid-morning flight.  

I had booked the Airport Shuttle for a 7AM pickup to be at BWI airport in plenty of time for my 10AM flight to Fort Lauderdale.  They called Thursday evening and revised my pickup time to 6:45.  When I went outside to check on my driver at 6:40 he was waiting just outside the door.  I was at the airport and inside security just after 7:30 with almost 2 hours before boarding started.

Flight 1917 was slated for gate A4 which is on a somewhat lower level than most of the concourse and I got coffee at the food court at a table overlooking the gate.  About 8:50 I noticed that while the incoming flight arrived a bit early at 9:10 the departure was pushed back almost an hour until 11AM.


I was thinking maybe a maintenance issue but all Florida bound flights were delayed and we were told it was an air traffic issue.  We started boarding at 10:30 and our takeoff roll came about 11:03.  I was surprised on boarding that our passenger emergency card was marked Boeing 737 Max.  Our crew was careful to emphasize that our plane was not a Max.


Most of my regular readers know I am obsessed with "Come From Away".  I don’t really spend much time reading but will do quite a bit at airports and onboard airplanes.  My book this time was "Channel of Peace" by Kevin Tuerff, one of the real "plane people" featured in the musical.  I finished the book about midway through the flight.

We landed about 1:30, roughly 45 minutes behind schedule, and I headed for the rental car counter after picking up my bag.  I drew a VW Jetta, the first car I have had that did not have a slot in the door for a key.  I wonder what happens if the battery dies so the remote doesn't work.


After some shopping rounds (grocery and pharmacy) I stopped at Panera for a late lunch and checked in at the Sheraton Four Points on Route 1.


One of the youth when I first joined my congregation in Columbia went into the ministry and is now a pastor in South Florida.  Miramar United Methodist observed a Good Friday service at 7:30 but I got lost enroute and missed the service.  I will do some more reconnaissance Saturday so that does not happen Easter morning.


I watched about  1 ½ hours of TV Friday evening and was in bed about 11:30.


As a parting shot this is a weekend of sad memories with the 24th anniversary of the Murrah Building on Saturday and the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting on Friday.  While most people will probably remember Columbine most, the Murrah building really stands out for me as many of the victims were my colleagues at the Social Security Administration.  I wish healing for the survivors.




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A question for regular Cunarders as I haven't been on board for a couple of years.  Many cruise lines have set up either an app or a place on the ship's wifi where you can get things like daily menus.  Does Cunard have anything like that or is it still only on paper?





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Day NSminus1, Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Nieuw Statendam is in Half Moon Cay.  Queen Victoria is at sea from Walvis Bay to Gran Canaria.  Queen Mary 2 is approaching New York from Southampton.

I was up about 6 and did not do a lot during the day.  It had rained overnight and was still extremely cloudy when the sun should have come up.  The weather did pretty much get better over the course of the day with several hours of sunshine and temperatures in the high 70's.

My main activity of the morning was a dry run of the route to my Sunday destination.  I found that Friday evening I had stayed on I95 about 8 miles too far and was in entirely the wrong area.  With the correct plan getting to the church was easier than I feared but more difficult than I had hoped, and I should be prepared to get to the 8:30 service, drop my bags at the terminal, my rental car at the airport and possibly be on time to have lunch in the dining room.  At least I hope so.

When I returned from my explorations I walked to Publix for milk (and other supplies) and then to Panera for lunch plus dinner take out, a total of about 2 miles.  



I was in the hotel most of the rest of the day with just a short ride to the area across from the terminal plus a walk to Burger King (across the street) in the early evening for ice cream and coffee.  I only made minimal use of the camera with just a couple of additional pictures of the outside of the hotel.  I plan to wrap up the post early and be ready to be up early in the morning.

My parting shot will be a wish for a blessed Easter for those who observe it and a wonderful rest of Passover for those who celebrate that.


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14 hours ago, rafinmd said:

A question for regular Cunarders as I haven't been on board for a couple of years.  Many cruise lines have set up either an app or a place on the ship's wifi where you can get things like daily menus.  Does Cunard have anything like that or is it still only on paper?





Still on paper as far as I know.

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1 hour ago, Host Hattie said:

Still on paper as far as I know.

And thank goodness for that, and long may it last on Cunard. The first thing I do when boarding the ship is put away my tablet and smart phone, they'll come out only occasionally should I ever need to check an email. 


re;  Daily Menus, these are displayed outside the various restaurants and buffet area. Hopefully Cunard will not feel they have the need to 'race into the 21st century', with waiters taking orders on a tablet and guests having to wear wrist bands or medallions to gain access to their staterooms.  

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17 minutes ago, Bell Boy said:

And thank goodness for that, and long may it last on Cunard. The first thing I do when boarding the ship is put away my tablet and smart phone, they'll come out only occasionally should I ever need to check an email. 


re;  Daily Menus, these are displayed outside the various restaurants and buffet area. Hopefully Cunard will not feel they have the need to 'race into the 21st century', with waiters taking orders on a tablet and guests having to wear wrist bands or medallions to gain access to their staterooms.  

In the Grills you get a copy of the menu delivered to your stateroom, which gives you something to keep as a memento.

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10 hours ago, exlondoner said:

In the Grills you get a copy of the menu delivered to your stateroom, which gives you something to keep as a memento.

Almost the same as those who travel in Britannia category.  A selection of menus are often presented to the guest at the end of their voyage/cruise as a keep sake.    

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Day NS0, Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019, Board Nieuw Statendam, Fort Lauderdale

Queen Victoria is at sea from Walvis Bay to Gran Canaria.  QM2 is in New York

This was a picture perfect day in South Florida.   I set the alarm for 5 but was actually up a bit earlier.  I watched the arrival of my ship on the Fort Lauderdale webcam, did some last minute computer work, and repacked so everything including the things I had bought in Ft. Lauderdale fit into my 2 bags.


Around 6:30 I had enough done to feel there was time for a little walk.  When I first went outside it was clear that the moon was just about clear.  There were too many buildings around to see a sunrise but there was some nice color in the sky as I left 17th street and turned towards Publix before returning to the hotel.  My total walk was about 20 minutes.


I checked out of the hotel at 7:30 confident I could make my church in time for the 8:30 service.  The drive actually took less time than I expected and despite looking for a store where I could buy a USB cable I need (not found until after the service) I was at the Miramar United Methodist Church by 8:15.


Pastor David Range was circulating around the church and soon found me and introduced me to several members of the church.  The congregation is diverse but probably somewhat of a majority people of color and it was a very lively service.


At the end of the service I took a slightly different route back, finding the cable I needed at a Walgreens.  I dropped off my big bag at the port, filled the tank, and headed back to the airport to turn in my car.  A taxi had me back at the port about 11:45 and I was crossing the gangway at noon.

In the past embarkation day lunch in the dining room was a perk for Mariners (past HAL cruisers) but it opened to everyone a few years ago although it tended to be a defacto Mariner lunch since it was never listed in the program.  This is actually the first time I've seen it listed and I headed off to the dining room soon after dropping my carryon in the room.  Lunch was a chicken dish, skim milk, and a pastry type desert.  


The bag I left with the porters arrived about 2:30 and unpacking began in earnest.    The bag I sent via Luggage Forward was last to arrive, during the first stage of the muster drill.  There is another revision to the muster drill (not certain if it's just some ships or fleet wide).  Now there are only 2 stages instead of 3.  The first stage appears to be a hybrid of the old first 2.    Soon after the call of the first (Crew) alert we are told to return to our cabins (and on the Nieuw Statendam are instructed to watch the safety video on our cabin TV.  A bit of confusion has been removed from the final stage.  I remember the general alert to be sounded and told midway through the announcement not to leave our cabins until the announcement has been finished.  By the time that instruction comes I've always been at least halfway to the muster station.  Now we leave as soon as the General Alarm is sounded.  My muster station is in the Rolling Stone Rock Room just one deck above my cabin.

My early dining is at 5PM, and that was also sailaway time.  This sailaway addict was not going to be in the dining room when we left so I headed up to my planned perch on deck 11.  A webcam follows cruise ships out of Fort Lauderdale, and a group of Holland America Cruisers likes to watch the ships leave.  I have a large towel with a message on it and set up just above the Nieuw Statendam.  While I was waiting the Zuiderdam left port ahead of us.



Then it was out turn to head out to sea.  I did not "request a wave" and the camera didn't zoom in on me but an alert poster caught me and posted a screen shot of me.


I stayed in the lido for an entree (I would have chosen a poultry dish if I had not gotten chicken at lunch) and the grilled cheese looked (and tasted) very good.  I stayed for ice cream and just on a guess dropped down to my table in the dining room (8-top) next to the back window on deck 3) and joined my table for coffee and desert.  There was a nice Easter display outside the door.


The featured entertainment in the World Stage was comedian John Wing.  I thought he was good.  


After the show I stopped at Billboard Onboard for a diet coke.  That venue was quiet but it the music from the Rolling Stone Rock Club was quiet prominent.  The view out the window was calm seas  and a pretty sky.


I spent most of my post show time unpacking and was in bed about 11.

As a parting shot this voyage began in picture perfect conditions.  May we have several more



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Day NS1, Monday, April 22, 2019,  At sea, MS Nieuw Statendam

Queen Victoria is at sea from Walvis Bay to Gran Canaria.  QM2 is at sea from New York to Southampton

I'm slow getting into walking as I try to catch up on other things.  I did walk about 5 laps or 1 2/3 miles.  One disadvantage of the Promenade deck on the Nieuw Statendam (as well as most HAL ships) is that on an eastbound traffic the ship is heading directly into the sun so the only way to see a sunrise from the outside is to go up to the very top deck (deck 14).  I made it just in time.


Some of the real estate on the Nieuw Statendam is off limits without paying extra.  Much of deck 12 is devoted to cabanas that come at extra cost.


On the way down I walked through the Crows Nest (will be the Commodore Club on Cunard's new ship).  The expanse of glass and views are breath taking.


The library is this one shelf in the Crows Nest.  I thought it was a little bit better stocked than the one on the Koningsdam.  I am virtually certain it will be somewhere else on the new Cunarder and much bigger.  I don't have photos but the library on Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth is much better than what is on the HAL's Vista and Signature ships.  I think with the advent of e-readers HAL is seriously cutting back on libraries while I have not witnessed that on Cunard.


The large pool deck has a moveable cover.  I'm not sure as that will transfer to the new Cunard ship as I don't remember the pools on QE or QV being covered as they are on all HAL ships except the Prinsendam.


We had our Cruise Critic Meet and Greet at 10 in Billboard Online.  It was quite a large group, but I did not see any representation from the ship.  I talked to a couple of refugees from the Oasis of the Seas.  They indicated that the Nieuw Statendam worked well for them as the dates are exactly the same as the Oasis crossing and they were able to easily get flights to the next stage of their journey in Ireland.  They were taken care of quite well when their cruise was cancelled and were happy to find a suitable replacement.  After the Meet and Greet several of us went on to a cabin crawl.  I'll have photos later once I catch up with daily events.


There was a 12:30 performance at Lincoln Center Stage which was essentially a pops concert entitled "Bernstein to Buble".  The opening piece was the prelude to West Side Story which was quite an interesting take arranged for just piano and strings.


EXC Guide Karlijn had her first talk  "The Real Pirates of the Caribbean", at 3.  I guess that should have set off a red flag for me but I'm having trouble adjusting to dinner at 5, and lost track of the time.  When I finally started thinking about dinner and looked at my watch it was already 5:40.


Of course that meant another dinner in the Lido, but with minimal adjustments.  I had planned on Rack of Lamb for the first Gala night and I only needed to shift to lamb chops.  Not bad.


The nice thing about missing the dining room is that I took my food out on the back deck and the sun was just starting to set.


The Captain's welcome toast was held on the pool deck around 7:30.


HAL's Pinnacle Class ships do not have a movie theater.  Instead movies are shown on the pool deck where there's a big screen (it is not used as a distraction at other times.  I had been thinking of watching the evening movie "The Basis of Sex" but it didn't happen.  Captain Jeroen on the Prinsendam always alerted us to time changes in his noon announcements but Captain DeBoer is not doing that and I only learned we were losing an hour when I returned from dinner and there was a little card on my bed.  I decided I needed the sleep and called it a night about 10 (11 Atlantic time).

As my parting shot there is one thing I regret missing being on this cruise.  The touring version of Come From Away opens Tuesday evening in Baltimore's Hippodrome theater.  Having seen this cast in Pittsburgh I know I'll be missing a great show.  In absentia I say "Welcome to Baltimore"



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Day NS2, Tuesday, April 23, 2019,  At sea, MS Nieuw Statendam

Queen Victoria is at sea from Walvis Bay to Gran Canaria, QM2 is at sea from New York to Southampton

Like most of my sea days this one started with a morning walk and it's probably time to talk a little bit about the promenade deck.  I'll preface this by saying that my first love in cruising is Crystal and many of my values mirror theirs.  Both of their ships have a lovely promenade deck but while wide and expansive it is a place for walking (NO loungers) and that is what I'm accustomed to so the absence of the loungers on HAL's new ships doesn't bother me in the least.  I've assembled a couple of collages representing a lap around the ship.  


The top row of the first one runs from the door outside the dining room (like Vista/Signature/QE/QV there is only an aft door on the starboard side with the galley on the port side).  To me the amount of walking space is about the same as the other ships given that much of the space on the other ships is taken up with loungers.  The middle row on that collage continues across the bow and back to the port door by the world stage.  The bottom row of that collage continues back the port side to midship.

The top row of the next photo continues back from midship to the point where the dining room begins.  The accumulated plaques are in the midship doors.  It seems like quite a collection for a ship less than half a year old but many right now are duplicates.


The area where things get a bit touchy are the sides past the dining room.  On the port side there is one wide space which I assume is mainly the emergency exit leading to the aft lifeboats.  The aft passage across the stern is wide enough for easy passing or meeting another walker.  Finally, the section past the dining room on the starboard side is again narrow.

I walk early in the morning and rarely encounter a need to pass or be passed by other walkers, and have not yet had an encounter at the narrowest points.  The surface is imitation teak rather than real which I like on Cunard as all it really needs is a little touch up with a damp mop.  Spraying huge amounts of water every morning seems to be deeply imbedded in the HAL culture.  While that does tend to make the walk a bit more treacherous it does have the slight advantage that I can hear anybody approaching from behind squishing well before they get to me.  I'll have more to say about the promenade deck when we have On Deck For a Cause (Group walk for cancer) on May 1.

I got in 7 laps (2 1/3 miles) before heading up to deck 14 at sunrise, but there was no sun; I don't think I ever saw it in the morning.

There are 2 lecturers on the cruise.  The first. Tim Calvert was a lecturer on the first leg of my Grand South America cruise in January, but it looks like only one of his talks matches what he did then.  His first (10AM) talk was on the great Atlantic ocean liners.


Cruise director Jairo had his first coffee chat (11AM) in the Lincoln Center stage with Step 1, the dance company for the World Stage.


In his noon update Captain deBoer indicated he expected improving conditions over the next 24 hours.  I continued wandering a bit taking a few more pictures, starting with the aft pool.


There is a specialty restaurant (Tamarind and Nami Sushi) behind the aft staircase above the aft part of the lido deck.  I'll speculate that it could be extended a bit and become the Grills Restaurants on the new Cunarder (it's fun to speculate not really knowing anything).


The fitness center is in the usual place at the forward end of the lido deck.


I did not do a lot in the afternoon but did some writing and some file organization.  Holland America sells a "soda card".  It costs $25 and has a value of $50, good for about 21 sodas.  On most ships you get a receipt on each use but on the Nieuw Statendam it's all electronic.  I stopped by the front desk to get a statement on the card and at the same time signed up for the behind the scenes tour.  It will be 1PM Friday.

There were only 2 of us at table 232.  It was what they call the Culinary Council dinner; not a favorite of mine but I chose the carrot salad, pasta, and raspberry tart.


When I returned to my room there was another orange card, indicating another hour forward on the clocks.  Fortunately the show on stage was at 7 rather than 8.  Jon Stetson is a mentalist ("mind reader") whose observations are quite astounding.  He is said to be the inspiration for the US TV show, "The Mentalist".


After the show I stopped out on the promenade deck just in time to get a little glimpse of the setting sun.


I'll finish off with a picture of the World Stage.  I don't think there is much of a back stage area but hopefully I will find out more on Friday.


My parting shot originates from the Cruise Critic roll call for the planned Oasis of the Seas transatlantic that was cancelled due to a shipyard accident in the Bahamas.  Several of those peoples are "refugees" on Holland America ships, and one is on the Rotterdam.  He reported being stranded again, this time due to severe storms in the eastern Atlantic.  According to Marine Traffic, the Rotterdam is still waiting out the storm in Ponta Delgada, almost 24 hours past when she was due to leave.  May the weather subside in time for the Rotterdam not to miss too many ports and especially before we are to go there (Monday).  JUST moving, 23 hour delay



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Cabin Crawl


These are photos from out cabin crawl the first sea day.  While the furnishings will certainly be different on Cunard's new ship I expect that the cabin positions and categories will be mostly the same.

Our crawl started on the top full passenger deck (there are a couple of higher decks with cabins around the forward staircase but no higher full passenger deck.


Cabin 8180 and 8038 are both regular verandah cabins.




The cabin on deck 7 was a Neptune Suite, I think likely a Queens Grill suite.


Cabin 6212 is a regular verandah cabin but facing aft.


Cabin 6126 is called a "Vista Suite".  I think it would be a regular Britannia cabin on the new Cunard ship but at the high end of the scale.


Cabin 4217 is another example of a "Vista Suite".



We then went down to deck 1.  Cabin 1038 is a regular Ocean View cabin.


The other 2 cabins we looked at were also on deck 1.  We looked at my Family Ocean View but I'll cover that in another post.  The final one was one of the solo cabins.  I forgot to get out my camera but had a similar one on the Koningsdam and will include a  photo of that.  These are the 12 forward most cabins on the first deck.





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Day NS3, Wednesday, April 24, 2019,  At sea, MS Nieuw Statendam

QM2 is at sea from New York to Southampton.  Queen Victoria is at Gran Canaria, Azores.  Coincidentally, I don't remember ever hearing of Gran Canaria before but in our first lecture of the day Tim Calvert noted it was the last stop Columbus made before heading west on his first transatlantic voyage, making final preparations to his ships for the long crossing into the unknown.


On this voyage much of my walking is hemmed in by getting out of bed and ready at one end, and going up to deck 14 for sunrise at the other end.  As we sail east sunrise and sunset tend to get about a half hour earlier each day but then an hour later each time the clocks get moved.  This time I got in 11 laps (3 2/3 miles) before starting up to deck 14 forward.  I was actually about 3 minutes late getting to my perch but then I waited and waited and waited until the sun made a presence.  As I arrived a steward was just starting to set out the loungers on the Observation deck and said where do you want yours?  I took a spot looking forward and waited another 20 minutes until the sun started to appear through the top of the clouds.  Had I known how long it was going to be I could have finished walking before going topside but you never know if there will be an unexpected break in the clouds.


I did complete 5 miles (15 laps, sort of)  with several of the laps detouring to the lido for coffee and/or food.  The lido entrances each have a pair of hand washing stations but there are also sanitizer dispensers at the stairway landing.


There were 2 morning (10 and 11am) presentations on the World Stage, first the aforementioned talk by Tim Calvert on Columbus, and then the other speaker, Brian Beck, on "The Armada".


In his noon update Captain DeBoer indicated we had passed about 80 miles south of Bermuda overnight.  I was surprised at how close our path came to Bermuda.

It was a pretty quiet afternoon although it was past lunch time when I finally completed my walking.

I'm starting to get used to 5PM dining but still haven't gotten used to the idea that the dining room is at the opposite end of the ship and was a bit late to dinner again.  This time it was just me and one other but not the same one as Tuesday.  I chose the Caesar salad, roast turkey, and peach crisp.


The entertainment on the World Stage was a vocal group, Vox Clever.  I skipped it in favor of  Karlijn's talk on the history of the Panama Canal.  In retrospect, I would probably have preferred the show as the talk only went as far as the opening of the canal, nothing about the Panama operation and the expansion.

My parting shot will be a belated wish for a great Anzac day for those who observe it.



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Day NS4, Thursday, April 25, 2019,  At sea, MS Nieuw Statendam

Queen Victoria is at sea from Gran Canaria to Southampton.  QM2 is at sea from New York to Southampton.

Weather and sea conditions continue to be excellent.  The first positive sign I saw was when I stepped out on the aft Lido deck and the moon was shining brightly above the flag pole on the stern.


Since we did not adjust our clocks Wednesday night sunrise was early again Thursday morning and I only walked about 2 miles before heading up to deck 14 to watch.  There were clouds on the horizon but the sun found a nice little opening.  I walked a 3rd mile in spurts over the morning and the final 2 miles after lunch.  For most of my walking I am wearing a sweatshirt and shorts, and that is just about right.


The highlights of the morning were a talk at 10 by Tim Calvert on lighthouses and a Captain's Q&A at 11.  I stayed for about half of the talk on lighthouses (It was all photos and any segment was pretty much self sustaining).  The Captain's Q&A was PACKED.  I was lucky to find a seat on a plastic platform like the one in front of me but standees pretty much had the aisles jammed.  It may be that transatlantic cruisers are more interested in this kind of thing than  those sailing the Caribbean because Captain and Jairo seemed stunned at the turnout and quickly announced there would be another one after the Azores.


The session opened with quite a long introduction of Captain DeBoer and then a video tour of the bridge and engine room.  I discovered we had a bit in common as he said he had 5 years in the Baltimore Washington area as a flight instructor (the area, not the flight instructor part).  He said he applied to KLM as a pilot but at 32 was too old, so "here he is".


I do like to speculate on what the new Cunard ship would look like and am thinking that the Lincoln Center Stage/BB King Blues space might be the spot for the Queens Room.  


There's even a cutout in the deck a la QE/QV.


In addition to completing my walk my one afternoon activity was a talk by karlijn on "The secret language of ships", flags, hull markings, and whistles".

There were 4 of us at table 232.  My choices were the apple salad, lasagna, and ice cream.


Several people have mentioned the dining room looking like the belly of a whale.  I don't really see it on the upper level but noticed the look while entering and leaving.  I don't know if those ribs have a structural role of are just decorative, and if they will show up on the Cunard version.


The primary entertainment was a variety show of mentalist Jon Stetson and comedian John Wing.  I passed on it for the movie, "The Upside".  Unlike other HAL ships the Pinnacle class does not have a movie theater and movies are shown on the pool deck with the loungers all turned to face the screen.  I retired soon after the movie as we lost another hour overnight.


My parting shot is not one I want to make.  I'm not getting a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings about the operation of the Nieuw Statendam.  I think most of the issue is in communication.  One sore point is that while on the Prinsendam Captain Jeroen always broke the news (good or bad but it seemed more often bad) about clock changes in his noon briefings.  I've never seen any warning about time changes until that little card shows up at turn down leaving evening plans largely in limbo, and have often left me with contingency plans "I'll do this if we lose an hour and that if we don't".  I also would have thought the crowding for the Captain Q&A could have been anticipated (Wasn't there one on the maiden voyage), and there seem to be more billing errors on this ship than usual.  My last straw came just before bed time.  A card was slipped under my door cancelling Friday's behind the scenes tour "for lack of interest".  Based on the turnout at the Captain's Chat I would guess the tour would have sold like hotcakes if it had only been announced.  Finally the card said "We have tried to contact you".  Perhaps they employed Jon Stetson but I got no notes and specifically checked for messages on my phone and there was NOTHING.  Something just doesn't seem right.




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Day NS5, Friday, April 26, 2019,  At sea, MS Nieuw Statendam

Queen Victoria is at sea from  Gran Canaria to Southampton.  QM2 is at sea from New York to Southampton

The moon is waning but a good half of it was shining brightly above the ship as I went up to the lido for my first cup of coffee.  


I'm still having a bit of difficulty adapting to how much earlier the sunrise gets as we sail eastward.  I was able to walk 10 laps (3 1/3 miles) before heading up to deck 14.  I was thinking I was just in time for sunrise, but while walking the time had advanced from 7:10 to 7:07 and the sun had just passed through a narrow open space at the horizon.  It's rays did filter beautifully down into that little bit of open space.  I completed my 5 miles about 8:30.


A maritime tradition is for the builders to embed a coin into a new ship.  That coin on the Nieuw Statendam is on the superstructure to the forward mast and I go right past it on my way to my sunrise observation point, with the coin sitting in a little gap in the railing.


I have a new reader, a former colleague at the Social Security Administration who also employs his statistical skills to analyze betting patterns.  The casino is on deck 3 forward, near the stairs where my cabin is.  It's a smoking venue and I usually stay down on deck 2 until getting past it but I did pass through once today.


There were 2 morning talks on the World Stage, Tim Calvert with "The Admiral Graf Spree" and Brian Beck with "How to Build a Navy".  Neither struck my fancy and I skipped them.  In his noon update Captain DeBoer indicated the winds and the seas would pick up a bit in our final sea day heading to the Azores.  (It appears the change was even more than he expected).  Finally, our nearest land is in the area of our destination, 534 nautical miles to the nearest of the Azores, Fajazinha.  I had lunch in the Pinnacle Grill, the burger and the berries for desert.


Karlijn had her talk on our first 2 ports, Praia de Vitoria and Ponta Delgada, at 3 at a packed World Stage.  We are at industrial areas at both ports with a shuttle into town.

There were 4 at table 232 for our second gala night.  I chose the daily Caesar Salad, the Rack of Lamb, and the Forest Berry Tart with ice cream.


The featured entertainment was Step 1 dance company with "Stages".  It was again crowded and I got only a tiny plastic platform to sit on and stayed only for a couple of songs.  We lost another hour moving to Azores time.  The wind had picked up but I stepped onto deck briefly as the sun was getting down to the horizon.


My parting shot will be a happy birthday  wish to King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.



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Day NS6, Saturday, April 27, 2019,  At sea, MS Nieuw Statendam

Queen Victoria is at sea from Gran Canaria to Southampton.  QM2 is at sea from New York to Southampton

The great weather we had for the first week at sea could not last but at least the only issue was wind.  The doors to the promenade deck are quite heavy anyway, I could not budge the manual door and the automatic doors were either turned off or roped off.  I went up to the jogging track on deck 11 which was sheltered.  I could see that it was not completely cloudy as the moon was visible in the middle of the sky.


The jogging track goes around the midship pool roof and is 12 laps to a mile.  I walked 18 laps (1 1/2 miles) plus two more at noon and one lap around the promenade in the afternoon for a total of 2 miles.


I missed a bit on the sunrise time.  It was just a little after 7:30 and when I went on deck about 7:45 it was just passing into some very low lying clouds.


I had a pretty quiet day mostly working in my room.  I like to be out on deck for the Captain's noon update, usually at the forward end of the jogging deck.  We are expecting to pick up the pilot for Praia de Vitoria about 8:30.  I'm having trouble what the ship designers were thinking when they designed deck 11.  There are showers and a number of huge towel return stations but neither any pools nor any towels.  I try to use the benches at my announcement spot but they are frequently wet.  A towel would be very useful and there's an easy spot to return it but no place to get it.  Go Figure.


I like to take my food from the lido outside to enjoy it.  Being Koningsdag I was wearing my orange tee shirt.  It was a bit too chilly for that on the aft deck and I checked out the midship pool deck but all those tables were in use so I just kept my fleece half zipped up.

There was a special menu cover for Koningsdag and I guess a special wine list.  I don't think most of my dinner was particularly Dutch but chose the Caesar Salad, Lamb Shank, and OMG the Dutch Apple Pie.


The entertainment on the World Stage was a second show by the vocal group Vox Clever.


After leaving the show the sun was settling in to some clouds lining the horizon.


The Koningsdag "Orange Party" was at 9:45.  I not a party person but dropped by briefly and the turnout was quite awesome.  There was also a special orange beer for the occasion.


While the party was in the BB King Blues Club it was really too big for that venue and there was a huge spillover into the
Rolling Stone Rock Club.

As a parting shot I don't really watch a lot of news but understand there is a budding flood situation in a number of areas including Atlantic Canada and areas of the central US.  Stay safe.



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Day NS7, Sunday, April 28, 2019, Praia Da Vitoria

Queen Victoria and QM2 are (or should I now say were) both in Southampton.  The next time they meet I will be coming in on Victoria and leaving on Mary.

I was a bit confused about Praia, a port which was not on the itinerary when I booked.  I was once in Praia, Cape Verde on the Amsterdam (a replacement for some African ports cancelled due to the 2014 Ebola outbreak) but Praia Da Vitoria is in the Azores further north.  I had never been to our scheduled port (Horta) either, and think that was a tender port so that was likely a positive change.

The day started semi-normally with about 2 miles of walking on the promenade deck (thankfully with a lull in Saturday's winds).  I had time between the end of my initial walk and sunrise to return to my cabin for a break, and our course had shifted just barely enough so I could just see the sun from the promenade deck.


I got breakfast (an omelet) in the dining room.


Praia lacks a cruise terminal and we docked at a general pier with a shuttle into town.  I left just after 10 for the 20-minute ride.  We were dropped off near the Mercado which was surprisingly small.


At the foot of the street there's a promenade along the beach.  The winds had picked up again and sand was blowing so I did not linger.  Also nearby is the town square with what looked like the back of the city hall.


The main church, Santa Cruz, was just up the street.


On the shuttle into town I passed what looked like it might have been a grocery store.  It was and I bought a few snacks for my times ashore.  Praia's Island (Terceira) is not densely populated and there are quite a few dairy farms even close to town.


On my way back to the ship I passed the other end of Praia Grande and got a nice view of the docked Nieuw Statendam.


I had planned on getting lunch on the ship but plans sometimes change.  In Crystal's Bistro (probably the equivalent of Explorations Café on HAL and perhaps Carpethia Lounge on QM2) one of the favorites is "Portugese Tarts".  I did not find them in Brazil but I noticed a bakery in town (A good 800 miles from Lisbon) and just popped my head in to check.  They were there and I bought one.


I walked across the street to a little garden area for a chair to eat and there was a group of scouts gathered under a tree.  It looks like Portugal's scouts are coed at all levels but this group appeared to be all girls.  They were selling cookies.  I asked the leader if I could take her picture and she countered "would you like me to take one of you with the scouts?"  Sure.  The cookie was freshly baked and delicious.


I was back at the ship about 1 and just added skim milk to finish off my lunch.  There was a flurry of activity at 5PM.  The only show on the World Stage was Blue Planet:Underwater Adventure (3 and 5), plus the Interdenominational Worship Service and of course my scheduled dinner time.  I went to the worship service and had Canaletto reservations for 7:30.

Just as the service ended Captain deBoer came on the PA and announced the winds were too high for a safe departure and we were waiting but also had called for a tug.  I went up to the Canaletto about 7:15 and the tug had just arrived.  


Canaletto was actually not ready for me a little early so I had a cup of coffee while waiting.  The special of the day was Chicken Parmesan, along with the Canaletto Salad and Pistachio Gelato.  I was pretty tired and did not do much in the evening but get started on the day's photographs.


Sadly, for a Cruise Critic person active on the Holland America forum there can only be one parting shot today.  The community has lost one of it's strengths, the long time Moderator of that forum as well as some others.  Host Walt was always dignified and respectful, always ready to help when needed and a rock steady influence.  Rest in Peace, Host Walt.  You will be sorely missed.



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Thank you for your kind words about Host Walt, he will be much missed on the HAL and other boards.

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Day NS8, Monday, April 29, 2019, Ponta Delgada, Azores

Queen Victoria is at sea from Hamburg to Southampton.  QM2 is at sea from Southampton to New York.

My walk on board was early and about 2 miles.  After the major turnaround ports of Ft. Lauderdale, Southampton, and New York this is my most visited port on this itinerary.  I was there in both 2008 and 2015 on the Crystal Serenity, and most recently on my next ship, Queen Victoria, on my segment of her 2016 World Cruise.  It was a busy day for the port with 3 cruise ships in town, us, N&O Oriana, and Celebrity Reflection.  There is a cruise terminal but it can only take one ship.  The Reflection, on an overnight stay, got that slot.  We were also supposed to be joined by the Zuiderdam but it got rerouted to Praia da Vitoria.  I don't know what they would have done with her as even the cargo ship docks were completely packed.


I have only booked a couple of tours on this journey (both with Cunard) and on this visit just took a walk around town a bit.  We (as well as Oriana passengers) were required to use a shuttle bus to get away from the ship.  It dropped us at the port entry which was also in the heart of the tourist district.  Nearby was Jardim da Praça 5 de Outubro, one of the main squares in town with 2 churches (now or previously attached to convents), Igreja de Sao Jose to the left and Santuário de Nosso Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres on the right.


Lisbon is noted for it's superb mosaics.  While that level of detail is not in the Azores there are still some streets with nice mosaic patterns.


Walking parallel to the waterfront but a couple of blocks back there was the Tribunal of Commerce with a nice garden across the street.


Turning to walk further inland I lost track of anything on the map.  The next thing I was able to recognize was the Church of the Jesuit College, initially dating from the late 16th century, but with the building in it's current form dating from the early 18th century.  The Jesuits were expelled in 1759 and the building went through several transitions but is once again an active church.


Wandering back to the center of town I arrived at Sao Sebastian, the city's primary and lovely church.  


Nearby there was a bakery "Mascote" where I bought another of those Portugese tarts.  A couple of blocks later I found another supermarket where I bought a few cartons of UHT milk for later times ashore.  There is a Burger King in the cruise terminal complex and I stopped there for coffee as well as enjoying my tart at a bench on the marina part of the complex.


It was 17C (about 53F) on the thermometer as I returned to the shuttle landing.  The port entrance is also marked by an old fortress (Sao Bras).  It is an active military base but also has a museum including some bunkers built for protection during World War 2.

It was just starting to drizzle a bit as I returned to the ship.  By 1 it became a steady rain that lasted most of the afternoon.


There were just 2 of us at table 232.  The menu selections didn't really appeal to me but I chose the Orange and Radicchio salad, the always available strip steak, and the Cherry Crisp.  Our waiter also warned us that we would lose another hour, leaving us just one hour short of Amsterdam time.


The entertainment in the World Stage was comedienne Jo Little.  She was pretty good but not great.  We were due to leave at 6 and I thought I saw lines dropping but when I returned to my room after the show and the TV was on the bow channel we were still docked.  We started moving about 8.


It was still daylight then and about 8:30 I went out to look for a sunset.  The lifeboats were hiding my view from the front of the ship so I walked all the way to the stern and it was just settling to the horizon.


My parting shot will be partly "the rest of the story" and partly about weather in general.  I had seen little presence of wind during the day but learned Thursday morning that we actually had pulled away from the dock about 6:30 but the winds picked up and we had to make an emergency controlled return to the dock until we could get a tug assist.  Always be ready for the weather to pull off a surprise.



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