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Rotterdam Transatlantic Part 3

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PART 3

 

My first sailing on HAL was on the gracious ROTTERDAM in 1981, an 11 day round trip cruise from New York to Bermuda and the Caribbean. Of course there are very few ships as beautiful as the older Rotterdam and it is a shame modern ships are not duplicating its grace. I guess the Line's think having a rock climbing wall or ice skating rink is much more important. So many of the ships today are ugly and uninspiring so today's cruisers miss the awe one experiences when a truly graceful ship is within sight. Really, is anyone going to compose a symphony or write a great novel or love letter because they are taken by the GOLDEN PRINCESS or the new WESTERDAM? As I recall, the service on that particular sailing was average and the food uneven. But I loved the musical groups they had on board especially a dixieland band that played out by the swimming pool. The Rotterdam, as I recall, was home of one of the first lido dining areas and it was wildly popular. The Rotterdam was a true ship and I went home happy from the experience.

 

I subsequently sailed on the NOORDAM in 1985, a 14 day Mexican cruise round trip from San Francisco. Later sailings came in 1995 on the new STATENDAM, in 1997 on the RYNDAM, and in 2000 on the MAASDAM and VEENDAM. My sense is that the line has improved with its takeover by Carnival although opinions of that matter vary tremendously. (There is little doubt that Carnival saved HAL from oblivion, however.)

 

When I boarded the ROTTERDAM in February 2004 for a 10 day cruise, some years after 9-11, I was most curious to see if I could detect any changes (especially cut backs) since my last sailing in 2000. yes, security was tighter. They served a lesser grade of caviar. But unlike what some others have reported, I continued to be impressed by the service in the dining room, and in the various lounges and cabin. So no, I did not see a decline in standards but when I go on vacation, I focus on the wonderful positive aspects and minimize any small shortcomings. But as perhaps many readers agree, it drives me crazy to still have to listen to loud obnoxious PA announcements about bingo and other activities that passengers are aware of if they read the daily program. Note to HAL: PAssengers know how to read. Please do not bother us with intrusive PA announcements about the latest gold by the inch sale or art auctions!!!! After all, we are trying to read, think, listen to the sea, find a lost wife, sleep on a deck chair or have a quiet converstion with a fellow passenger.

 

One big change I noticed was that more and more, the public areas outside the retail shops on the Rotterdam have been taken over with tons of sale items thrown about on tables as if the theme of the cruise was "TURKISH BAZAAR TIMES." Trust me. This is not good. The area sometimes took on the rowdy appearance of a WAL MART with underpants thrown about everywhere. Is that the sort of white sale environment HAL is proud of?? Is this what passengers really demand? I can't believe that could be possibly true. Please HAL: can we keep all the junk inside the shops???

 

For this summer sailing I had requested and was granted a large table at the final sitting (8:30) in the ROTTERDAM dining room. It was located near a window so the views could be great especially in these waters with the sun sometimes barely setting before rising again. As most of you know, HAL has instituted a 4 sittings policy. I would think this would cause the kitchen to be less rushed and burdoned and thus the food better and I suppose this was the case as I found the food to be of good to excellent quality. Our table was served by two excellent waiters and a very able wine steward. We could not have had better service. for whatever reason, our table turned out to be the CRUISE DIRECTOR'S table, and although he never appeared, various ship entertainers such as the Three Tenors dined with us several evenings. In addition, other staffers from the ship would join us as well. Of course, such folks are usually good company especially since they provided complimentary wines. You could not have had better, more amiable, stimulating, fun people at this round table that I was lucky to share. I noticed several times other passengers nearby would glance over to our fun table as if to ask "How come we aren't at a neat table like that??"

 

At the end of the end of my first dinner on this voyage (about 10 PM) I took a long walk around the lower promanade deck. It was now dark. The ROTTERDAM was quiet, still off the coast of long Island . One could see the twinkling lights of inbound ships. But mostly, one could hear the waves slapping and roaring up against the dark blue hull as if telling you in a delightful fashion that many wonderful magical days were to come...and I returned to the stern to look out at the long wake . . . and I knew what the lovely waves were telling me in their poetic manner just had to be true.

 

More later...

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More, more, more......please.

 

 

No matter how many installments you give us, it will not be enough. Such enjoyable reading. Thank you.

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Your writing is pulling at my heart......

 

Full moon ...smooth seas to you

I totally agree, deck chair's writing is great. You feel like you are actually on the ship. Thanks, looking forward to #4

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Like others I am enjoying reading your reviews and look forward to future installments.

 

Although you have just started posting on CruiseCritic, I read that you have been on many HAL and Cunard cruises.

 

Question: Can we access other reviews that you have written?

 

Thanks again.

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I just adore your reviews ...soo well written!! We will be on the Rotterdam this Feb. and your review makes the wait too long!!

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