December 30 2009
We've been home now for about a week. Everything's put away and we've had a chance to evaluate this trip and to select the photos (from literally thousands that George took and the 60 that I took from my iPhone) that you see on these pages.
A quick summary:
• Absolutely! We were very happy with the ship, with the itinerary, and with the overall experience.
• Fresh-squeezed orange juice in the Main Dining Room for breakfast (not just in the Lido); apparently this is HAL-wide now.
• The fresh pineapple! We were told it was obtained in Hawai'i when the ship was there on the previous cruise. Best I've ever eaten, even in Hawai'i.
• Rosario Strings every evening in the MDR — not just on formal nights. They were there probably 30-45 minutes before moving to the Explorer's Lounge.
• All of the music! Great HAL-Cats group, the piano music of James Blackman; all of the groups, really.
• Terrific Guest Relations Staff and Dining, Beverage, Room Stewards. The best!
• Birds singing in the MDR at breakfast on sea days (a tape, obviously!); haven't noticed this before.
A Tip from One Who Knows:
• An Assistant Dining Room Manager who said he held the position of Lido Dining Manager for the Eurodam's inaugural cruise says that the best way to indicate to the Lido staff that you'll return to your table so it shouldn't be cleared is to tip your chair back toward the table. He says this is a universal signal, understood by all.
We'll do this again:
• Put some sort of decoration on the door. Our Christmas bow was a quick guide to where our cabin was; looking down those long corridors it was easily visible and our neighbors said it was a marker point for them too. Don't want to use tape; I'm going to take a quarter-inch strip of elastic that can be sewn at the ends and slipped over the door, top to bottom, with a little ring on it that can be used as a "hook" for something tasteful and seasonal.
• Take grocery store paper bags, cut down to about 10 inches high that, once we're unpacking, can be folded down at the top to create a sturdy "lip" at the top. Two of these fit on a closet shelf and keep stacks of clothing in good order.
What I won't forget next time:
• A watch! I'm so used to using my iPhone as a timepiece that I never thought to pack one, but on the ship, I really don't want to carry the phone everywhere.
Not the best, but not enough to change our perception of an excellent cruise:
• Code Red the final 4 days. We've gone through Code Red twice in our 11 cruises, both times on the Amsterdam. I think it's coincidence though.
• Sloppy dressing to the extreme at the evening shows. Surely swim trunks, tight shorts, shirts that are so ill-fitting that the buttons keep popping, old T-shirts, and baseball caps for the men and short-shorts with T-shirts for the women aren't appropriate for any evening in the Queen's Lounge, let alone on formal nights. It didn't improve our negative opinions about this when we realized the one of the most blatant offenders was the Roman Catholic priest assigned as staff to this cruise!
• Overall, we had the wonderful service and comfortable problem-free accomodations, along with the terrific staff, enjoyable food and pleasant entertainment we always have enjoyed with Holland America. We'll be back for another HAL cruise in April 2010.
Blog Content & Website Design: Marney Wilde • Photographs by George Wilde