Monday, November 21, 2022

HAL Rotterdam

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This was our first cruise since the pandemic hit 2 years ago (our last cruise was in November 2019). We were supposed to sail on the HAL Rotterdam for an 11-day cruise beginning on Wednesday, November 9. Unfortunately, Tropical Storm Nicole was heading her way to FL and Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) was closed on the day we were supposed to leave. We were told to be at the port on November 10 by 4pm. This is the first cruise that we have ever had delayed. We watched the Port Everglades webcam and watched the ship arrive at the port at 11am.


The ship can hold 2668 passengers. Our captain was Bas Van Dreumel, the hotel director was Wessel van Oorschot, Food and Beverage Director was Saurabh Vaishampayan and our Cruise and Travel director was Karlijn Verpalen. We were at Table 202 on Deck 3 Dining Room and our servers were Eka and Ipan. Even though we are at a table for two, there is another couple at a table next to ours that was so nice to talk to at dinner. They were Sharon and Doug from Dallas, TX (see picture). Our cabin was 11053 and our cabin stewards were Dada and Nocodemus. We enjoyed ourselves and glad to be cruising again!

Day 1 Thursday, November 10, 2022, Embarkation

We watched the ship arrive at Port Everglades at 11am. We left the house at 1pm and arrived at the port at 2pm. We got on the ship by 4pm. We went to our cabin to get our keys and meet our cabin stewards (Dada and Nicodemus). I was surprised that our luggage was already there! After that, we went to find some lunch. I had pasta from the pasta bar and Don had fish. Then we had to go to our muster station (Deck 3) to get our key cards scanned. We walked from Deck 3 to Deck 11 where our cabin is. While we unpacked our suitcases, we watched the safety video. After that, we went to have dinner on the Lido deck, and I was excited to get my sirloin steak there. Then we walked around the ship. There was a sail away party on Deck 10 at the Panorama Bar at 8pm and there was a great turnout. Ruth (and her husband Larry) organized the party, and she was the perfect hostess! We also met Dorothy and Keith (Macon, GA), and Connie and Tom (central FL) and others but I can’t remember their names. Then we went back to our cabin, and I had no trouble falling asleep!


Day 2 Friday, November 11, 2022, Sea Day

I was up by 5am and sat on the Lido deck working on my computer, reading, or knitting until Don joined me. I had an omelet on the Lido deck and then we decided to go to the dining room, so I had French toast there. After breakfast, we walked on the jogging track. At 11:15, there was a lecture by Karlijn about The Deep Blue, and it was excellent. She talked about sea turtles and sunken treasure. Then we went to lunch on the Lido deck. I went to the Cabin Crawl at 1:30 (Don took a nap) where people volunteered to let us look at their cabins. Ruth did a great job organizing this with a sign to keep us all together and a list of the rooms for everyone to have in case we got separated. After that, we got ready for Dressy night and headed to the Billboard Onboard bar for Happy Hour (50% off). Don had vodka on the rocks, and I had a bloody Mary and it cost $10.33. We met a nice older man named Art who talked Don’s ear off about the Navy. At dinner, we ate with 2 other couples in the dining room. Karen and Steve were from Canada near Niagara Falls. The other couple was from Peachtree City, GA. After dinner, we went to the show Humanity by The Step One Dance Company which was very good.


Day 3 Saturday, November 12, 2022, Grand Turk

After an early breakfast, we got off the ship and went snorkeling at the beach right by the ship. We didn’t rent any chairs (I heard the guy tell this couple they were $30) so we just set our stuff in the sand. After 2 hours of snorkeling, we went back to the ship and cleaned up. Then we sat by the pool and relaxed (reading) until lunch opened. After lunch, we went back to the room and watched Romancing the Stone on TV and napped. We went to Happy Hour before dinner again. We went to our correct table for dinner this time and had a table for 2. Beside us was another couple from Dallas – Sharon, and Doug. They were going to charge Doug $8.50 for a shrimp cocktail, so he canceled that. After dinner, we decided the Captain needed something to brighten his day so we gave him one of my knitted gnomes. Then we went to the Captain’s reception by the pool and met Ruth. She is the Group and Events Director. She told us that the critically ill people were not from the same cabin but were in the hospital at Grand Turk and were much better.


Day 4, Sunday, November 13, 2022, Sea Day

The morning started off exciting! Around 5:30am, they closed off the back deck on Deck 9 to prepare for an emergency airlift off the ship. Around 6:30, we didn’t see the actual airlift but you could see the wind from the helicopter causing the artificial trees to really whip around. Later in the day, the Captain announced that three people were airlifted – the sick passenger, travel partner, and doctor.


We ate breakfast in the dining room and had a nice time with the other people. Then we walked on the jogging track until it was time to go to the lecture Unexpected Heroes which talked about the love and talent behind sports in the Caribbean. After lunch on the Lido deck, we went to another lecture – The Caribbean Spirit that told the story about rum. By then it was time to prepare for dinner and go to Happy Hour. For dinner, we had prime rib and it was very good. After dinner, we went to the show Timeless by Cantare which was 4 nice-looking men singing love songs. I enjoyed it more than Don of course!


Day 5, Monday, November 14, 2022, Barbados

We got off the ship around 10am and walked downtown. It was very breezy but hot in the sun. We walked along the water to the historic bridge and then around the town back to the ship. We walked about 6 miles. I stopped at this store and bought a Coke No Sugar and a White Rock Ginger Ale for $3 US and got .80 back in Barbados money. We were told that the exchange rate was $1 USD to $2 in Barbados currency. When we got back to the port terminal, there was a free shuttle back to the ship so we took it. We were back on the ship by 12:45 and went to the Lido deck for lunch. After lunch, we sat on the deck and relaxed until it was time to get ready for Happy Hour. After dinner, we went to the show theater to see the movie Top Gun: Maverick at 8pm and it was a really good movie.


Day 6 , Tuesday, November 15, 2022, Martinique

We arrived in Martinique at 7am. We walked around town until 10am. People were not overly friendly here. When we tried to buy a soda in the grocery store, they wouldn’t take US dollars. We sat on the deck until lunchtime and returned again after lunch. Before happy hour, I went to get our luggage tags for disembarkation and was able to pick the group according to the time we wanted to get off the ship. We had happy hour and then dinner in the dining room. We went to the show In Tandem by The Step One Dance Company. There was this cute little girl who just had to dance in the aisles and was enthralled with the dancing!


Day 7, Wednesday, November 16, 2022, St. Kitts

We got off the ship at 8am and walked around until 11am. We bought 2 sodas for $3 in the grocery store. Then we found the Fabric Store (Church St. and Cayon St.) where Don buys his postcards. The artist wasn’t there and was told she was quite elderly and didn’t come down much anymore. Then the lady in the store offered to take the four postcards ($1 each) upstairs to her and asked her to sign and date them. We walked near the cricket stadium, and the police car stopped us telling us we shouldn’t go any further and suggesting we go back to the tourist area, so we did. We walked around some more before finding a post office. The girl was so nice and patient with figuring out how much each sheet of stamps cost in US dollars. Don ended up buying $32 of stamps. We returned to the ship for lunch and sat on the deck until happy hour. After happy hour we went to dinner and the show which featured the illusionist, TJ Tana.


Day 8, Thursday, November 17, 2022, St. Thomas

We got off the ship in St. Thomas at 8am and walked around until 9:30. We went to the Pueblo supermarket to get some soda for $1. This was the first time I saw a diet Pepsi on the whole cruise! We got back on the ship and relaxed on the deck until lunchtime. After lunch, we relaxed on the deck until it was time for happy hour. After dinner, we went to the show All In by Cantare. I enjoyed the four men singing better than Don did. Then we went back to the room and finished watching Aladdin with Will Smith. We also watched a movie called American Underdog that told the story of Kurt Warner, a pro football player.


Day 9, Friday, November 18, 2022, Sea Day

Today was a sea day so we didn’t do much. I partially packed my suitcase today. We sat on the deck and relaxed all day until happy hour. After dinner, we went to the show Musicology featuring the dancers.


Day 10, Saturday, November 19, 2022, Half Moon Cay

We were going to get on the tender at 9am but then it started raining. Instead, we sat on the deck and relaxed all day. I did go to the NY Deli and got us 2 bagels. They scan your card but it doesn't cost extra. Then they give you a device that vibrates when your order is ready. At 4pm we went to the enrichment lecture The Origin Story which told the history of Holland America and it was very well done. After dinner, we packed our suitcases. Then we went to the bar for a drink before coming back and putting our suitcases out in the hallway. We watched movies until bedtime.


Day 11, Sunday, November 20, 2022, Ft. Lauderdale

We had breakfast at 6am and then we got off the ship at 8am. I liked that we could choose what time we wanted to get off the ship and got the luggage tags for that time. It was well organized for getting off the ship and we got our luggage quickly. The line for customs was fast because we didn’t need to show our passports. They used face recognition machines and then we were done. Parking cost us $150. We were on I-95 by 8:30.

Changes we noticed:

  • Turn-down service in the evening for your cabin has to be requested and is not automatic.
  • The Lido deck didn't have as much variety as it used to have.
  • The dining room dinner sound (xylophone) isn't used anymore.
  • After dinner, there used to be a guy in a bellman's uniform that passed out mints, ginger, and dates but not anymore.
  • We didn't see on the dining room menu the following items: Beef wellington, creme brulee,or baked Alaska.
  • The shrimp cocktail was an extra $8.50 if it wasn't on the dinner menu.
  • The pasta bar on the Lido deck was there but the guy didn't really make any fresh pasta for you. He told you to get what was already there.
  • There was only 1-hour happy hour in 2 specific bars each night and none in the Crow's nest.  

Things I Learned:

  1. To get on the internet on my computer I have to go to:
  2. The internet was $179 for the premium package.
  3. There was no movie theater on this ship.
  4. They will turn you away from the dining room if you have shorts on.
  5. On some ships, the Lido deck service is better than the Dining room but we enjoyed the dining room on this ship.
  6. I like happy hour with 50% off better than the old $2 off the second drink or 2 for 1.
  7. I don’t mind missing ports if it is for a medical emergency. I am always thankful that that emergency wasn’t for me.
  8. I need to bring heartburn medicine for Don when we travel.
  9. There was Dim Sum and fresh stir fry on the Lido deck for lunch every day.
  10. I love having an omelet made for me every morning!
  11. It was easy to walk into town when we got to Barbados.
  12. Barbados – 2 sodas cost $3 USD.
  13. You cannot wear anything with camouflage when you get off the ship in Barbados.
  14. Martinique was not very friendly, and they don’t take US dollars.
  15. St. Kitts – 2 sodas cost $3 USD.
  16. St. Thomas – Pueblo supermarket – Diet Pepsi was only $1!
  17. We like the cabin on deck 11 which opens right out to the jogging track.
  18. Don't always depend on the menu on the Navigator app. The last night's menu was wrong.
    Original photo by Pat Hensley

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