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mj_holiday

Summary of our cruise - Grand North Sea Crossing, Amsterdam to New York

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August 14 to Sept 3, 2019

It was a great trip, hope I have done it justice here.

 

August 13.

Our flight from DFW to Amsterdam was uneventful, which we like. We got through the airport and out to a taxi stand. We took the next taxi and what do you know it was a Tesla! Neat. We had a nice ride to out hotel. We like to stay at Motel One in Europe. Not elegant or spacious, we are there for just around 24 hours, but they usually have nice convenient locations, which this one did. We have visited Amsterdam several times in the past but there are still things for us to see. This time we did not want to rush or be on a schedule so we just walked around the district we were in, found a nice place for an early dinner/late lunch. We sat at the window and watched the bikes go by. We were across the street from the Rembrant House Museum. We did more walking and shopping, had a couple drinks in our hotel's bar and called it a night.

 

August 14.After a nice nights sleep, we were refreshed and ready to go. Our hotel had a very nice breakfast which we took advantage of. After a relaxing morning in the neighborhood we asked the hotel for a taxi for us. This one was not a Tesla, and the driver had to call someone to get directions for our boat. He handed me his phone. I was asked if I was sure we were going on the River Boat Navigator and I had to explain we were on an ocean cruise ship. We got to the correct dock and dropped our luggage and went to the waiting area to be checked in about 11:30.. Checkin was very quick and we were told our cabin was ready, nice surprise. Embarkation was suddenly done. We ran into a couple we had cruised with twice before and set up our Trivia team. We had last been on the Navigator last year after a dry dock and it had just recently had a dry dock Some things that I have noticed since the most recent dry dock: Some of the woodwork in our cabin had been painted, the shallow shelves near the door to the cabin between the bathroom and the closet were gone. After the dry dock last year an addition small set of drawers had been added in the closet, this most recent dry dock changed the original set of drawers and the recently added set of drawers into one set of drawers, basically the same drawer space, but the bottom three drawers each are as wide as the two sets of drawers had been. I missed the shallow shelves outside the closet. I had used this for our privacy/make up room door hangers and the breakfast order door hangers, a place to put room keys. The furniture in Prime 7 and LaVeranda has been changed. The window covering in Prime 7 have also been changed. . The Chihuly glass pieces that had been on the walls at the entrance to Prime 7. were gone, but could not find anyone who knew where they went. If I am remembering correctly, our cabin door did not have the heavy closer that it use to have. When room service came in the morning it was much easier for me to open the door and there was no struggle for the staff member to get hold of the door to walk through than I seem to remember. There is new carpeting through out. And I must admit that the first day as I was walking down the hallway, I thought oh no someone has gotten sick and I stepped over the “mess” only to realize it was part of the carpet design. Odessa, our cabin steward came to meet us and asked it we needed anything. I had called Regents guest services a couple months prior and what I had asked for was waiting for us, with the liquor being delivered that evening.

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Much has been discussed about the Vero water system that has been put on the Navigator. I am very supportive of trying to reduce single use plastic. I had no concerns about how the bottles are cleaned between fillings or where the water really comes from. Just like I have no worries about how ketchup bottles are cleaned and refilled, or how the coffee pots used for room service are cleaned. Regents has a set of processes and pass many types of inspections. Now for the Vera water itself. The bottles are heavy (but that is probably for them to last for many, many uses and also so they won't break in rough seas (ours fell one night). The water had no taste, just water. The bottles were difficult to pour from, until I got the hang of it.

This was the first time we have been on a cruise ship that used its fog horn, quite a bit, it was foggy several days.

 

 

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All of our sea days were basically the same, and we enjoyed them immensely. When we would wake up I would call and order coffee (usually two pots) and it always came within 5 minutes. Our paper was also hanging at the door. We would leisurely shower and get ready for the day. We would go to LaVeranda for breakfast. Then there was Bingo and enrichment lectures, other newspapers in the library, Mensa quiz, and Trivia. With lunch sometime during the day with a nap. For us most days were too chilly to sit by the pool. One sea day near the end of the cruise was the country fair. This was a first for us. The various ship organizations set up a carnival like stand where you try to win some kind of game. Housekeeping had towel folding, deck had tying knots, destinations had pictures of places that you needed to identify, bartenders had a tray of “martinis” to carry. And many other games. You played for 40 minutes, accumulating as many tickets as you could. Then tickets are drawn for prizes. They were nice prizes and only three were given away. The weather was great and it was fun event.

 

We ate all but 2 dinners in Compass Rose and the food was good, the food temperature was good and the service was good. We had one meal in Prime 7, again good food and service. DH ordered crab legs and they asked if he wanted them shelled, which he did. When they were served, the serving size was huge. I bet there was two pounds of crab meat rather than 2 pounds of crab in shells. There was no way he could eat half of the amount they brought. We ordered the carmel popcorn sundae, but asked that it be split, which was done also. We had a pizza brought to our cabin one evening when we just wanted to watch a movie. Between LaVeranda and Pool Grill, lunch was always good. There was a nice variety.

 

The lighting in the Compass Rose has been changed since we were last on the Navigator. Previously there were “black lights” in the dining room that added a tint to the pictures. The black lights are gone and pictures look just great when taken in the CR.

 

The online account info that you look at on your room TV is really confusing and when I looked at ours after several days I didn't see all of our On Board Credit so I went to reception. He immediately printed our account out and showed me the statement and he acknowledged that the online view on the TV is”not right” The account included the Regents Choice Excursion I had selected several months prior and paid with a credit card, which I got back through my on board credit our TA got us.

 

A week or so into the cruise we got the forms for Mid Cruise comments. I had nothing to complain about and I complemented a couple of the servers. A couple days later a crew member came and found us in LaVeranda during lunch and told us he had gotten my comments complementing a staff person.. He wanted to know that he appreciated the comments.

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Vibration – There has been much warning on Cruise Critic boards about vibration on the Navigator. We were on deck 9 midway between baft elevators and the rear. Yes, the ship vibrated when coming into port and leaving port. It was not bad, it was a ship!. We heard the vibration in our cabins and heard/felt it in LaVeranda and Galileos. Our experience with the vibration would not deter us from getting a cabin in this end section again, it was a nonissue.

 

Before I discuss our ports and excursions I need to make a couple of points about the activity levels and peoples' ability to handle a tour. I spent a lot of time reviewing the excursion descriptions (including the activity level) when I booked them. Then when we got to our cabin, we got a complete list of excursions and an errata page that changed some of the content. Since I had all our excursions reserved, I really didn't look at the information because I wasn't going to change anything. However just before the first tour I looked at the complete list of excursions, I saw that some of the activity levels had changed on tours I had selected. One of our Level 2 excursions went to a Level 1 and one of our Level 1 tours went to a Level 2. I did not do anything (it was too late) and hoped it would work out. These changes didn't effect us since the one that went to a Level 2 ended up being on the port that got canceled. But what was an issue was that as a whole there were Level 1 tours that had way more activity/steps than described. And we were on some Level 2 tours that were very mild activity wise and less effort than some Level 1s. I appreciate Destination Services trying to refine the tours but if they make changes after the tours have been booked, it would be very nice (and easy) for them to send the passengers emails to let them know something has changed.

 

Another interesting thing about our tours. All the buses/vans we got onto had at least 1 row of seats reserved for handicapped. We were no way the first on the bus; (don't know how all those other passengers get in front of us). By the time we got on the bus, there were still at least 2 seats and sometimes more, of the reserved seats up front.

 

Our first port was Kirkwall, Scotland. We had a face-to-face meeting with immigration. This was pretty organized as we met in the theater and when our groups were called we went through the stars lounge got our passports and showed them to immigration and handed our passports back to crew. The port was chilly, rainy, windy and also very green. We did a panoramic drive around the island and stopped at a village “Margaret's home” There was only a couple stores open, but it was an interesting visit.  We did get to see an art show by a local artist, most of the pieces were cut paper designs and very pretty and interesting.

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At Faroe Island we had a tour with a boat to take us out to Vestmanna Cliff area and see puffins and birds. It was a nice boat ride, not very fast or rough at all. It did rain off and on, but we were inside the boat, there was plenty of room. On our way out we received much information about the islands and emphasized the fact that they were on the Scandinavian model of education and health care. On the island the sheep are not fenced in; they just grazed on the cliffs until they need to be brought in for sheering. It was explained that at times it has been known for a sheep to fall off of the cliffs and get swept out to sea. During the bus ride to and from the ship, it was foggy and we did not stop at any scenic lookouts because you couldn't see more than 2 feet in front of you. If was amusing in that we would come to a scenic turnout and the guide would tell us what we couldn't see down in the valley.

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That evening we were notified by the captain that we were staying in port (Faroe Island) until 2 pm the next day. There was a storm between us and our first port in Iceland. So we would miss our first Iceland port, but that does happen. So we had a nice evening and that night there was no movement since we were in port. The next morning (Sunday) we walked into town, not much open, but we found a small cafe and went in and enjoyed a local beer. We sailed around 2pm and again there was a lot of fog with the fog horn blasting every 3-4 minutes. It was a rocky night sleeping and about 2 that morning I got up to put items back in place or just left it on the floor but corralled the items with extra pillows to keep from moving all over the room.  As we were heading out of the Faroe Islands we could see a salmon farm, rings of a fenced area in the ocean for raising salmon.

 

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We finally made it to Iceland, to Isafjordur – we did the Tour of Lifestyle and Culture. We first went to a waterfall and our tour guide gave us all a drink from it, this is where the town gets their water. One very interesting thing about the area is that it seems to be common for avalanches to hit the village. There are avalanche barriers up at various places along the mountains to help protect the town. We then went to a museum that showed lifestyle from 1890 and 1940 There were samples of dried fish, smoked shark and schnapps. We then drove to a recreated fish factory, with original buildings and someone was there with the traditional clothing people wore to keep both dry and warm. It was very buggy there and most of us didn't stay very long. Our next stop was a Lutheran Evangelical church. We were entertained by a young lady in traditional dress who sang some traditional songs and played a harpsichord. 

After lunch we walked back into town to have a local beer. We found the brewery and each had a flight with samples of local beer.

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Edited by mj_holiday
add a sentence.

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Our next stop was Reykjavik. Our tour included a very tall church that was named for a priest who wrote poems that are now read each year during lent. The church also had a beautiful organ at the back. The pews were designed so that they can face the front of the church and the backs can be moved so that people can sit and face the organ for a concert. We stopped at the National Museum which many artifacts from during “settlement” Also many artifacts taken from Catholic churches when the country became Lutheran. We then stopped at a dome which was over 4 large storage tanks of geothermal water and we had a 360 degree view of the town. Our tour guide also explained some about how the homes are heated from the geothermal water. She showed us one of many pump houses through out the city. She mentioned that her home is set up so that after the hot water warms her home she has it run under her driveway so she doesn't have to shovel snow. The water comes out of the ground at 80-90 Celsius. She also showed us a soccer field that is kept warm with hot water so that it can be used all year long, no snow will stay on the warm field. Our last stop was to a village that recreated days of settlement. There were sod houses which have rock walls and sod on the roof, one layer with the grass facing down and then one layer facing up. There was also a church with a sod roof.

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On our way to Greenland, We saw a couple very large icebergs sailing south, made me think of Titanic. We sailed through Prince Kristian Sound which was breath taking. Saw glaciers and waterfalls. Just beautiful.

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Our next port was Paamiut, Greenland. This is a very small village. We did a walking tour of the town. This was marked a level 1 activity. But our walk through town included a very long set of steps up to a lookout. We made it about halfway up and then told our guide we would wait for him to come back down We were not the only ones who stopped. I am glad we stopped because at the beginning of one of the flights there were some rocks to step on and I could see most people having difficulty getting through them (no hand rail there). We walked by the town's church (could not get in) which was beautiful and behind the church was a smaller building the same color and style of the church. We were told this is similar to a funeral home for housing the body before the church funeral service. We stopped at a souvenir shop (someone's house), that had several pieces of jewelry that were carved from stone and also carved from reindeer bone. They took dollars, Euros or credit cards. While we were there several people set up some tables outside with souvenirs also. We also went into the museum across the yard, which had some interesting items on display and a rather large display of beaded pieces.

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Our second port in Greenland was in their capital of Nuuk. We had a home visit here. It was scheduled for the afternoon. There were shuttles to town but we didn't take one not knowing how long these would take so we waited before our tour and went out. There was a little shop where we were waiting that sold some nice souvenirs (Destinations had told us this store did not sell souvenirs). Our home visit was very nice. We had not done anything like this before. We were offered the choice of a visit at a home that had a longer walk or one with a bus taking us. We selected the one with the bus. As you look around the town there are steps every where going up to homes. We visited a lady who was a retired school teacher. She had a very nice tea set up for us with some traditional biscuits and cakes. She explained that their house had been rebuilt since it was very old and the first floor is a home for

their daughter. Between our host and the guide that brought us, we learned a lot about their life. She casually mentioned that when someone gets a whale, an announcement is made over Facebook and it is first come first served on getting some whale meat which is very traditional food. She also showed us a husk of a Narwhal whale, about 5 ft long with some carving on it. Usually people take off their shoes when they go into a home, but we did not since it would probably take us just as long to get our shoes back on as the entire tea did. The walls of their homes are at least 18 inches thick, but her home and many that we saw in town had lots of windows. Lots of nice views of the sea.

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More sea days and we make it to St. John's Newfoundland. Several of us were really confused by the Passages for that day that described there was a very large difference with tide levels and we expected the ship to be either a lot higher or lower when we returned from our tour. But the water level was the same. Now at home and putting this together, I realized that the Passages we got titled St. Johns Newfoundland really had a description of St. Johns, New Brunswick which is on the Bay of Fundy, and this is where the large difference is tide levels will be found. We did an excursion looking at the geology of the area, and it was very interesting and we went to some very interesting places. We stopped at a place high up on the top of a mountain called Cabot Tower with great views of the valleys and the sea. We could see lots of walking paths down in the valleys and along the rocks. We also stopped at a GeoVista Center with some very interesting displays on the formations of the area. There was also a very interesting display on the Titanic and the deficient materials used and lack of procedures or training, i.e. the two people on lookout for icebergs did not have binoculars or flashlights. It was also explained that for fishing in the area rivers and ocean there is a very high fish density. Before dinner we were entertained by a St. John's local group “Greeley's Reel” which was a very enjoyable show. I really appreciated having entertainment before dinner.

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Our next port was Halifax, Nova Scotia We took the bus to Peggy's Cove. This was a great excursion. We learned lots of interesting things about the area and our first stop was a “Fisher” monument. The entire area is just large granite stone with very little growing. This monument was carved in the granite. I am not sure there is anyplace else in the world like this. Just beautiful. Because of all the granite there is no city water. And this year there had not been as much rain as normal, so people are running out of water and would need to have a truck bring them water. We saw this happening with a restaurant we had just visited.. It was a nice sunny day and we enjoyed seeing Peggy's Cove. Our guide also gave us lobster 101 lesson with a couple lobsters. We had a gingerbread snack in the restaurant which was nice. Our ride back to the port was also enjoyable. On past cruises tour guides usually talk all the way to the main attraction and are silent on the way back. All of our tours had guides that gave us information throughout the entire ride and I appreciate that.

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Isn't St. John's great?  We finally made it last fall on a cruise.  BTW, it's "Saint John" NB, and "St. John's" NFLD--note the spelling difference--that's how we learned to distinguish these places as schoolchildren!

 

I saw a snap of Peggy's Cove taken early this week while the tropical storm Dorian was going through--looked a bit different!

 

Thanks for posting the details of your wonderful cruise!

Edited by Wendy The Wanderer

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Bar Harbor, our next port, is such a pretty place. This is a tender port which impacts how destination services call us for tours, and it seems a lot of people don't listen. Also at this port, US Immigration did a face to face with everyone on the ship before we went ashore. (While people seemed to gritch about this, it was quick and also meant we didn't need to go through immigration when we disembarked in NY). Our tour was on Victorian homes in Bar Harbor. We were on a large van with 12 people. We were taken around the island with discussion about the various homes, and quite a few of them were Victorian and centuries old. We stopped at a small village in the interior of Bar Harbor and saw many different parts of the island. After the tour we stayed in town and had lunch and enjoyed the scenery and the town.

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We arrived in Boston on a warm sunny day. Several of our fellow passengers had guests come on board for a visit, which was a nice thing to do. We went on a tour of Harvard. I was surprised that there were quite a few people taking this tour. It was a very interesting tour, but it definitely was a hike at first to see the athletic fields. When I had an issue making a “walk” light crossing the street and yelled for our group/guide to let me catch up, a couple people thanked me for getting the guide to slow down. After the athletic fields the rest of the tour was very interesting. The guide (a sophomore) explained many of the unique things about Harvard – such as financial aid, dormitory customs, codes of honor, some history about various buildings. We ended up at the Harvard Coop and did some shopping.  We passed the building that houses the Harvard Lampoon, even though construction in the area, it was still a neat building to see. On the way back to the ship, several people on the bus told the guide on the bus that the walking pace was way too fast.

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Wendy - thanks for the lesson on the different spellings.  I find it very interesting that "Passages"  had us going to Saint John, Newfoundland with the description telling us about a town around the Bay of Fundy.

 

We got very little information about what Dorian did after leaving US.  I thought about the places we had just been to on the eastern coast.

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Getting ready for the cruise to come to an end, we went to Krew Kapers before dinner, which was fun and very enjoyable. It was fun to see crew members show their various talents.

 

Our last port of the cruise was Martha's Vineyard. This is a tender port, and the ride seemed very long. Again there were about 12 of us on a large van for a Full Island Tour. This was very interesting. We went around the entire island and learned much about the island and history. Much info was also given about sights that were in “Jaws” movie, which is always fun. (We came home and borrowed the movie from our library to see places we had been to) Homes of several famous people were pointed out (or rather the bushes surrounding the homes) and stories about various aspects of the island. It was very enjoyable.

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New York – the ship went by the Statute of Liberty way too early for me to see. Our disembarkation was pretty smooth, we only needed to wait for a porter to help with suitcases. We took Regent provided transfer to the airport. I was impressed about how well organized this was. Our bus was labeled same color and number as our luggage tags for the group called to disembark. The bus was not even half full, so I didn't feel crammed in. All was great until we got to the airport. There is a lot of construction at the LaGuardia airport and after we stopped at Terminal D for the second time, our driver (through an airport traffic worker) told us that the bus was too tall to go Terminal A (where all on the bus needed to be). We were told we needed to get off the bus and look for a shuttle to get us to Terminal A. All the passengers said that wasn't acceptable and we stayed seated and finally the driver got in his seat and started driving and this time I saw him follow signs to Terminal A. Don't know what the problem was, I did write Regent guest services and got a reply which basically let me know they heard what I was saying.

 

In summary it was a great cruise. The crew of the Navigator pampered us every time we turned around.

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57 minutes ago, mj_holiday said:

New York – the ship went by the Statute of Liberty way too early for me to see. Our disembarkation was pretty smooth, we only needed to wait for a porter to help with suitcases. We took Regent provided transfer to the airport. I was impressed about how well organized this was. Our bus was labeled same color and number as our luggage tags for the group called to disembark. The bus was not even half full, so I didn't feel crammed in. All was great until we got to the airport. There is a lot of construction at the LaGuardia airport and after we stopped at Terminal D for the second time, our driver (through an airport traffic worker) told us that the bus was too tall to go Terminal A (where all on the bus needed to be). We were told we needed to get off the bus and look for a shuttle to get us to Terminal A. All the passengers said that wasn't acceptable and we stayed seated and finally the driver got in his seat and started driving and this time I saw him follow signs to Terminal A. Don't know what the problem was, I did write Regent guest services and got a reply which basically let me know they heard what I was saying.

 

In summary it was a great cruise. The crew of the Navigator pampered us every time we turned around.

Event though I live in Manhattan, I always find myself up on deck as we go by the Statue of Liberty - never get tired of it. I especially enjoy watching the expressions of the crew and the other passengers as we sail by.

 

For anyone reading this, at least for the next couple of years, LaGuardia airport should be avoided AT ALL COST! The airport is currently undergoing a major renovation project and dealing with the airport is a nightmare. On the local news we have continuous stories of people who are running down the highway trying to catch their flight and waiting for an uber/lyft can take in excess of one hour. Flights have had to be cancelled because the crew is stuck in traffic. The problem is that the area of the airport has very limited space so any type of deviation from normal operations will cause massive disruption. Normally I fly out of a LGA all the time, and now will travel either to JFK, EWR or PHL in order to avoid LGA.

 

gnomie

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Thanks for posting such a great and detailed cruise report. This is definitely an itinerary that would appeal to us. When we were on a Navigator in 2014 and visited St John NB our niece and her partner came on for the day as visitors so we didn’t manage to see the area. 

We have been lucky to visit Halifax twice and Peggy’s cove is a must see for sure.

Thanks, Jean.

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