This is a continuation of our cruise. We spent 2 weeks on the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam.This week we went to Half Moon Cay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Key West. Our captain is Captain Bas van Dreumel and he was born in the Netherlands. Our cruise director is Jeremy Hale.
Day 1 Embarkation
It was really nice to watch everyone scrambling around with their carry on luggage waiting to get off the ship and knowing that we didn’t have to. We ate breakfast in the dining room and then went out on the deck to look out at the port. I was able to do some reading and knitting before we had to report to the show room at 9:30. They scan our cards as if we left the ship so they could have a zero count of passengers for customs. No one ever asked for our passports and about 10am, we were allowed to leave. I also booked an 8 hour tour for Cozumel since we would be there almost 13 hours. After that we sat on the lido deck and listened to the band. During that time we watched the drummer throw a tantrum, pack up his cymbals and leave during the set. The leader told him that he couldn’t leave because they had to finish the set but he left anyway. A little while later he came back. After the life boat drill we went to see the movie Expendables 3 which was pretty good with big name actors. We met new people at our table for dinner – Joe and his three adult daughters, Danielle, Sharon, and Michelle. Joe and Michelle live in New Jersey and Danielle and Sharon live in San Diego.
Day 2 Half Moon Cay
We got up early and had breakfast in the dining room while we waited for information about the tenders. Around 9am, the captain announced the wind was too strong and the water too rough for the tenders so he was cancelling the day at this port. So, we sat out on the deck and read until it was time for the movie. We watched Guardians of the Galaxy which we enjoyed. By then it was time for lunch. After lunch we sat out on the deck for a while but the wind was so strong that it was too cold for us so we went to our cabin to watch TV. The water was really rough in the afternoon and we were rocking and rolling the whole time. After dinner we went to see the comedian Brian Bradley.
Day 3 At Sea
After breakfast we sat on the deck and read until time for the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet in the Crow’s Nest bar. Then at 11:30 we were invited to the Indonesian lunch for people on the Collector’s Voyage. We really didn’t enjoy the food at all but enjoyed talking to a couple from Newcastle, England. After lunch we went to the movie theater to see Lucy which was interesting but not bad. Then we went to the lido deck to find some real food for lunch. In the afternoon we sat on the deck and read. It was formal night at dinner and then we went to the show called It Takes 2 with the ship’s singers and dancers.
Day 4 Grand Cayman
We decided to get off the ship around 8:30 and walk around Grand Cayman instead of going to the beach. We walked to the Penny Black (stamp shop) but it didn’t open until 10:30. We got back on the ship around 11am. After lunch we went to see the movie Magic in the Moonlight which was a very slow movie. A lot of people fell asleep and even snored through the movie. After the movie we sat out on the deck for a couple of hours and read. We had a nice dinner but we didn’t go to the show.
Day 5 Cozumel
They changed our meeting time for our tour from 10:20 to 10:45. I think because many people missed their tour yesterday. We went on an 8 hour tour to the Tulum Ruins. First we got on a ferry to Playa del Carmen. We should have known it would be rough when they were passing out plastic barf bags and within minutes people were barfing because the crossing was so rough! From there we had an hour long bus ride to the ruins. They stopped at a shop along the way for 30 minutes which was not listed in the tour write up. Then we felt really ripped off when they insisted that we take the $2 shuttle at the ruins because it was a really long walk and they needed to be able to control our big group. One couple refused and walked the short walk and was there before all of the group arrived on the second shuttle. There were 60 ruins and we spent 3 hours wandering around there before we got back to the bus to Playa del Carmen. The ruins were really pretty and right along the coast line. The breeze was glorious and kept it from being hot and miserable. We walked around Playa del Carmen before meeting at 6:30 to take the ferry ride back to Cozumel. The ride back to Cozumel was much smoother than earlier. When we got back to the ship we had to go eat at the Any Time Dining in the dining room because they closed the assigned seating in order to have a Mexican fiesta on the Lido deck.
Day 6 At Sea
After breakfast we sat out on the deck and relaxed and read until lunch time. After lunch we went to hear the Island Magic Steel Band concert which was outstanding. After the concert we walked 3 miles on the deck and then had a snack. By then we watched TV in our cabin and took a nap before getting ready for formal night at dinner.
Day 7 Key West
We got off the ship and took the shuttle to town. Then we walked around town. It was nice and warm and sunny. We walked from Mallory Square to the Southernmost point in the USA. Then we walked back to the entrance to the naval base to get on the shuttle back to the ship. Don was not feeling well and got overheated so he felt miserable. We returned to the ship in time for lunch and then sat out on the deck watching some naval training. We also packed our suitcases and got ready for getting off the ship tomorrow. Then Don napped in the afternoon.
Day 8 Debarkation
After I ate breakfast (Don was sick with a head cold), I came back to the cabin and we packed up last minute stuff. Then we just waited in the cabin until they called our color tag and number. We requested to get off between 8:45-9:15. We got off the ship around 8:45 and my parents picked us up. The longest line was after we got our luggage and had to stand in line to go through customs.
Things I Learned
1. They change the serving utensils at the buffet every 20 minutes with clean ones.
2. It is nice to know we have been to a port previously so we weren’t so disappointed when the port was cancelled.
3. I don’t seem to like Indonesian food.
4. Go to the upstairs on the ferry when going over to Playa del Carmen where they open the windows and less people barf.
5. Don’t take the $2 shuttle at the Tulum ruins.
6. I would not take the ship’s tour to Tulum for $125 per person. (We got it at half price because I won a prize at one of the shows).
7. We don’t like Any Time Dining.
8. Eating lemons can help vertigo.
9. Bring the national park pass when getting off in US ports.
Original photos by Pat Hensley