Monday, February 29, 2016

HAL Westerdam 2016

A couple of weeks ago we sailed on the HAL Westerdam out of Ft. Lauderdale. Our captain was Vincent Smit and our cruise director was Sara Kostner. Here are the pictures from our trip.

Day 1 - Embarkation 2/13/16
Embarkation was extremely smooth. We went through security easily with my laptop, my knitting, and 3 cans of diet Pepsi. We didn’t wait too long before they were letting us board the ship. Our cabin was 4090 and ready for us. The only thing we didn’t care for was that they upgraded us to a oceanview room which is also a handicapped room. This means there is less storage and no couch. The bathroom is bigger and handicapped accessible which takes up the room space. But the cabin steward, Eli (pronounced Elly) is nice. We had the lifeboat drill and one of the Westerdam singers, Zack was in charge of our group. We went up to talk to him after the drill to tell him what a great job he did and he told us he was a singer and invited us to come say hi to him after the show.

Day 2: At Sea 2/14/16

We had to turn our clocks forward one hour which threw me off. I actually slept in and didn’t get to breakfast until 7am (which is my 6am). I had an omelet and bacon for breakfast. Then I had to register online for the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage. After that we did our walking. At 1pm we went to the Champagne Art Auction, at 5pm we went to see the movie Spectre in the Queens Lounge. We also checked out the DVD Fargo from the main office. It was formal night (they call it Gala night) at dinner and then we went to the show All About Love at 10pm. We went up to Zack afterwards and he even remembered us from the lifeboat drill (which is amazing since they see thousands of people every week!) After the show we went to the front office to buy a postcard stamp for Grand Turk and they didn’t have any. They said that it would be mailed either from San Juan or St. Thomas.

Day 3: Grand Turk 2/15/16

We ate breakfast in the dining room and missed the announcement that cancelled the port. When we got out on the deck, the Captain came on the intercom explaining that we were not going to Grand Turk because of 40 mph winds and high seas. So, we had another day at sea. So we headed to San Juan and will arrive there early. We went to see the movie The Martian which we enjoyed. Then after lunch we walked our 3 miles and sat on the deck to relax for awhile. When it started to rain, we went back to our cabin to watch the DVD Skyfall. After dinner we went to see the illusionist, Leon Etienne who has been on America’s Got Talent, the Jimmy Fallon show and other venues. While we were waiting for the show to start, we met Jenn who usually works with the children’s program on the Westerdam but is on vacation at the time. Her husband is the stage manager here on the ship and she was taking pictures of the illusionist for publicity reasons. She was so interesting and fun to talk to! I know I probably talked too much and asked too many questions but she never acted like it bothered her. This ship has been exceptional about making guests feel welcome and special. The show was exceptional and we are so glad we went!

(ETA: I apologize to Jenn but when I researched Bacardi Rum Factory Tours when we got to San Juan and they are now charging $12 for the tours!)

Day 4: San Juan, Puerto Rico 2/16/16

After finding out that the Bacardi Rum factory was charging for the tours, we decided to tour the forts instead. We went to Castillo de San Cristobal first but it was too early and it wasn’t open so we walked a mile to Castillo San Felipe del Morro. We spent a few hours exploring the fort and it was a lot of fun even though it was extremely hot! We left there and headed back to the ship for lunch and stopped at Don’s favorite thrift store where he bought about 220 matchbox cars! Then we had to lug 2 heavy boxes all the way back to the ship! Not sure yet how we will get them off the ship but we will worry about that later. After lunch we went to the Castillo de San Cristobal and explored it. We were so tired that in the late afternoon we stopped at CVS to get diet pepsi and Gatorade. After dinner we went to see the comedy show David Crowe.

Day 5: St. Thomas 2/17/16

We had a lovely day at Coki Beach at St. Thomas. It cost $10 each for the cab ride, $5 each for a lounge chair, and $20 for a bucket of beer (6 bottles). We did some snorkeling and saw a lot of beautiful fish. Next to us sat 3 very nice ladies, Janice, Joanne, and Heather from Michigan. Heather now lives on St. Thomas and was nice enough to “persuade” some people from setting their lounge chairs right on top of our feet. When we returned to the ship, we were starving so we ate a late lunch. Our 30-minute ride took over 90 minutes because of an accident and then a detour. I didn’t realize how strong the sun was and we both got cooked (I forgot our sunblock)! My hubby was so miserable that he went to bed and slept all night. He didn’t even want to go to dinner and I went alone (which got me a lot of attention from the waiters and maitre’d who kept stopping to talk to me because they felt bad I was all alone). I had a nice evening reading a good book.

Day 6: At Sea 2/18/16

It was a nice day at sea. After breakfast we went to the magic show where the illusionist showed us how he did a couple of tricks and then did some new ones. Then we had a special luncheon for 3 star mariners (their frequent flyer type program). After lunch we went to a question and answer session with the Captain which we always enjoy. Before dinner we went to see the movie Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks in it and it was great too! After dinner, we skipped the show and packed up one of the suitcases.

Day 7: Half Moon Cay (Bahamas) 2/19/16

We had a lovely day and got off the boat today in Half Moon Cay. We sat on the beach for about 30 minutes before deciding that it was just too cool to swim so we returned to the ship. Then we were able to walk our hour before going to lunch. After lunch we finished packing until it was time to go to the movie to see Steven Jobs which was interesting. Luckily I found out that I needed to move my clock back and not forward so we got an extra hour of sleep. After dinner we went back to the cabin to put our suitcases out in the hall.

Things I Learned:

1.     I don’t need to pack as much as I did.
2.     We need to put on sunblock when we go to the beach even if we sit in the shade.
3.     Bring extra duct tape.
4.     We like sitting at a table for 2 for dinner.
5.     7:45pm is a good time for dinner.
6.     Anytime Dining is not as bad as I expected.
7.     Pack one suitcase to the brim the day before you have to pack. Then pack only 1 suitcase on the last day.

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