Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2018 HAL Koningsdam

Our last cruise was on the HAL Koningsdam out of Ft. Lauderdale. Our captain was Emiel de Vries, the Hotel Director was Don Habetsthe cruise director was Christine Purcell, our dining stewards were Handrie and Suarsana. Our cabin was 1112 (an outside cabin) and our cabin steward was Agus.

 There were 2650 guests, 997 officers and crew. We traveled 3000 miles and used 232,470 gallons of fuel.

1/3/18 Embarkation:

We got to the ship around 10:30 and dropped our bags off. Then we had to go park our car at the Convention Center parking garage. After going through security, we had some difficulty getting checked in. Apparently, something happened to our cabin and they had to reassign us to a new one. So, after about a 90-minute wait, we were upgraded from an inside cabin (5172) to a nice cabin with a window (11121). Then we had lunch and a Mariner’s reception to go to at 2pm. We found our suitcases were sent to the old cabin so we got them ourselves and dragged them to the new cabin to unpack. After the lifeboat drill, we went to dinner which was nice. In the evening, we went to the poolside theater to see the movie A Mountain Between Us which was hard to hear because the pool was sloshing so loudly with waves. We were supposed to leave at 4 and didn’t leave until about 7:30 because the ship’s azipods steering system had a “little” problem. But we finally left and I hope there are no more “little” problems! After the movie, we stopped in the BBKing Blues Lounge but wasn’t very impressed so we went to bed.

1/4/18 At Sea:

Don was up all night with back cramps. He drank some Powerade and took a muscle relaxer around 12:30am. I got up at 5 and went to the Lido deck. While I was there, the crew members came up to the man behind me and asked if he was Mr. Charles and he was. His wife had been looking for him for a few hours and couldn’t find him. They called his wife and had him talk to her. I’m glad they found him. We had breakfast in the dining room but we weren’t impressed. Then we went to a 10am Cruise Critic meet up and I met Julian (Food and Beverage Director) and Fernando (The Wine Director) After lunch, we went to a Flower Arrangement lecture. Then we went to a talk about our next two ports: St. Maarten and St. Lucia. We also went to afternoon tea. By then we had to get ready for dinner and went to a Beatles Show in one of the lounges which was great. After happy hour, we went to dinner. We had reserved the table for at least 3 nights and checked after dinner the first night. The host said that would be no problem and wrote the table number down. As we entered we had been told that if we knew our table number to go ahead and sit down. Apparently, he was wrong and we were supposed to check in first. One host came by to let us know we didn’t check in and made a big deal out of it. Then he came by every 5 minutes to ask how our food was but I think he did it to irritate us. We ended up leaving and when I stopped by the host desk, they made it like we committed a major crime when we were just following directions! Then they said we reserved the time and not the table! (Every other Holland America cruise we have been on let us reserve the table and just told us to go to it each night!) But they were so rude that we will probably not eat in the dining room any more this cruise. We went back to our cabin until it was time for the show. We went to the comedy show to hear Jeff Neas and he was very funny!

1/5/18 At Sea:

We went to several talks about the different ports we were going into. Then we also heard the Captain talk about the ship along with the Hotel Director. We also walked about 3 miles on the walking deck which was fun. There were no lounge chairs on this deck on this ship so there were a lot of people exercising. We ended up going back to the dining room and was treated much better. I think it was because I talked to the Food and Beverage Director at the Cruise Critic meetup and he saw we were upset last night so I think he took care of our problem. But we will probably not go back again until the next formal night. We went to the show last night featuring the ship’s singers and dancers which was a great. Then we went back to our cabin and watched the movie “A Walk in the Woods.”

1/6/18 St. Maarten:

We got off the ship at 8:30 and decided to walk into town which was only a 10-minute walk. We passed a grocery store so we stopped and bought a Powerade for $1. We walked around town and saw a lot of damage from the hurricane. There were a lot of tarps and boards across windows. We also damaged light posts and palm trees. We went to the beach but the water was too rough for swimming so we didn’t rent chairs. When Suzette came to work, we visited her and gave her a bag of food. She had such a positive attitude about life and was so grateful to be alive! She said the sand got so high after the hurricane that she was able to walk right onto the roof of the restaurant and look down inside. Then we walked around town some more before walking back to the ship. There was a rain shower but it stopped by the time we got to the port. The port had beer for $3 but we had passed a shop on the way that sold beer for $1 so we walked back there. We bought 5 beers and then carried 4 back to the port to drink at a table there. When we got back on the ship we had lunch. After lunch, we went back to the room for a nap. At 4 we went for Happy Hour and then had dinner on the Lido deck. After dinner we went to the show featuring Brett Cave, a pianist who was very entertaining. He wore a bright red suit and was trying to imitate Elton John. Then we went to bed.

1/7/18 St. Lucia:

We were off the ship by 8:20 and docked at Port Seraphina. It took us about 15 minutes to walk into town. We noticed that there were a lot of police presence around. Most of the stores were closed because it was Sunday. We did see some food and vegetable vendors on the sidewalk. We came back to the ship around 11am and then had lunch. After lunch, we sat by the pool and relaxed until we left the port. Then we had dinner on the Lido deck. We walked around the ship and then got back to our room to find 5 phone messages. Earlier in the day we had written a letter to the hotel director because we had a charge on our account that wasn’t ours. I had gone to the guest services a couple of days ago and they said they would check into it and let me know but nothing was done. This concerned us because we were worried that someone was charging things to our account. We also worried that someone had another key to our cabin because the same card for charging was the same card used to enter our cabin. We went back up to guest services and met with Cahren, a supervisor, who assured us that it would be taken care of. The charge was entered manually which means that someone might have put in the wrong account number. She also promised to check with security to make sure no one had used a card to enter our cabin. At 9pm, she called us to let us know that security said only the cabin steward and us had gained access to our cabin. That was a relief. We watched a movie Victoria and Abdul and then Big Bang Theory until we went to bed.

1/8/18 Barbados:

We got off the ship at 8:15 and walked into town. The chaos at the taxi stations was overwhelming but once we got past that, everything was fine. It took us about 10 minutes to walk into town along the water. We walked to the famous bridge and it was pretty. They were also setting up the area for the installation of the Governor General at 4pm. It was hard to find a public restroom but we found one at the Colonnade and a guard had to unlock it for you. We got back to the ship in time for lunch. We tried to sit by the pool but when they retracted the roof, it got too hot and we moved. We finally went back to the cabin for a shower and a nap. After happy hour, we had dinner at the Lido deck and then went to see the show featuring the husband and wife juggling team called Airborne. We were in bed by 8:30pm.

1/9/18 Martinique:

We had a nice day in Martinique and walked around town. It didn’t seem as hot as Barbados to us. Most of the places wanted Euros and only some took US Dollars. We did buy some souvenirs at a place that took US Dollars and gave change back in US Dollars. They had people in red vests saying, “May I Help You?” to help tourists get around town and answer any questions. We were back on the ship by lunch time. Then we sat by the pool for a little bit but the rain arrived and they closed the roof over the pool. This made the humidity level go up so we went back to our cabin. Don watched the movie Now You See Us 2 but I took a 2-hour nap. Then we went to happy hour, dinner, and the show. We were in bed again by 8:30!

1/10/18 Antigua:

We walked around Antigua yesterday and there were 4 other ships in the port. I was surprised how over the years it still is as dirty and run down as ever. I know that we pay port fees and taxes and with about 5000 tourists a day coming in, there must be a lot of corruption if there isn’t enough money to improve, clean, and fix the infrastructure. We got back on the ship by lunch time. Sat by the pool again until they retracted the roof and let the sun in. Then we went back to the cabin for a nap until happy hour. After dinner, we went to the show featuring a magician who was pretty good.

1/11/18 St. Thomas:

We docked at the Havensight Pier. Our favorite beach was still closed and we were warned that our other snorkeling place (Coki Beach) wasn’t in good shape. We walked about a mile and a half into town. It was so sad to see all the hurricane damage. We were back on the ship by lunch time and then sat by the pool all afternoon. I actually felt like doing some knitting which I haven’t felt like doing much at all on this cruise. After happy hour and dinner, we went to the show featuring LiveWire, a husband a wife who played music with a Celtic twist. She played an electric fiddle and was very good.

1/12/18 At Sea:

It was a nice relaxing day at sea. After breakfast, we just relaxed by the pool until lunchtime. Then we had a special luncheon. In the afternoon, we packed and then relaxed in the cabin until happy hour and then dinner. We went to the show and then came back to the cabin and watched TV show about Grizzlies in Alaska which was really interesting. We also got to turn our clocks back an hour to Eastern Time!

1/13/18 Half Moon Cay:

We got on the tender at 8:15. As they were loading the 400 passengers on the tender, it started pouring down rain and we were on the top level so we got soaked. By 8:40, we were on the beach, the rain had stopped, and the sun was shining. One part of the beach was roped off because they had a tropical storm that caused dangerous exposed rocks so no one could use that area. The lifeguards spent the whole time chasing people off that part. I couldn’t believe that they would climb over the yellow line or walk around it and ignore that it was closed! Later, a group of people grabbed stacked chairs and was going to block the walkways with them but the lifeguard wouldn’t let them. Instead, he told them that they could make a new line in front of the people already on the front row. This really ticked off the people in the front row. Don calls this the Beach Chairs War. It was fun to watch!  We spent 2 hours on the beach when Don noticed dark clouds forming. So, we offered our chairs to 2 elderly ladies who had just arrived and headed back to the ship. As we got to the ship, it poured down rain again but we were on the covered bottom. Meanwhile, a lady passed out on the tender and before anyone got off, the medical team jumped on and took care of her. After cleaning up, we had lunch on the Lido deck. Then we came back to the room and relaxed until happy hour and dinner. After dinner, we went to the Variety show where past performers did some more (Airborne, Jeff Peterson, and Livewire). We came back to the room, finished packing and then put our suitcases in the hallway.

1/14/18 Disembarkation:
We had Pink 3 tags, so we expected to get off the ship at 8:15 but didn’t get off until almost 8:45. I woke Don up at 6:30 and then we went to breakfast. Our ship docked at Terminal 26 but our car was at Terminal 4. I had to go to guest services to ask if there was a courtesy shuttle to the parking garage and they said there was. I don’t know why they never announced that for everyone to hear. When we got off the ship, we found the courtesy shuttle and the driver was extremely nice. We got to our car at 9:10 and was on the road by 9:20. We got home at 8:20.    

Things I’ve Learned:
1.     Don’t let the dining room staff intimidate you. I’m easily intimidated but my husband isn’t. I’m so thankful he stood up to them.
2.     I’m not a fan of poolside movies because the sloshing of the pool water made it hard to hear the movie.
3.     It is good to get exercise when you are eating lots of rich food.
4.     Having dinner on the Lido deck is pretty nice because you can get the food you want and not wait to be served.
5.     Get to the Show Theater at least 30 min. early to get a good seat.
6.     Check your account statement several times throughout the cruise to make sure you don’t have any mysterious charges on it.
7.     It was nice to walk into the town at St. Maarten.
8.     The hurricane did a lot of damage to St. Maarten but they are coming around. It may take years for them to get back to normal.
9.     The beach at St. Maarten was pretty rough and I worried about the debris under the sand and water.
10.  St. Lucia is not my favorite island but my hubby likes it.
11.  Barbados was a safer place than St. Lucia.
12.  There wasn’t a lot to do in Barbados so the next time we will go to the beach again.
13.  Martinique is a pretty island.
14.  Martinique was friendlier than expected. 
15.  Public libraries are good places to use the restroom and the free internet.
16.  Antigua is a dirty place.
17.  St. Thomas had a lot of hurricane damage.
18.  We like Half Moon Cay.
19.  We like coming back to the ship for lunch instead of the island barbecue.

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