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  1. Some final thoughts… …The Rotterdam. She is a beautiful ship and I enjoyed being onboard. Since I normally take longer cruises with few children, it was nice having the Sea View pool as adults only. Please note I have nothing against children (I was a teacher for 38 years) but it was nice to have a quiet pool where I did not have to dodge playful children. On the topic of kids, all the ones I saw were very well behaved and polite. My one negative is storage. It’s fine for a short cruise but anything longer it would be difficult for two (or more) in a cabin. …Entertainment. It was a mixed bag. The steel drum band (Island Magic) and Chris Bannister (John Denver) put on amazing shows. …Have it All (HIA). I found this well worth the money with the included excursions, drinks, dinners, etc. …Club Orange. I enjoyed the dining room and the ability to go when we wanted. Elena and Monique were wonderful and very attentive. There were small perks (fancy robes, dedicated lines at Guest Services and Shore Excursions, priority tendering and embarkation, etc.) which didn’t amount to much for me. The change in cabins didn’t help me since I needed a handicapped cabin. Unless I was cruising with friends that had it (like this time), I probably wouldn’t get it again …Internet. This was the best internet I have had on a ship. I had the Surf package as part of the HIA. I had no trouble logging in or staying online. The speed was great. It was much easier to change devices than I remember from before. …Food. All the food was good. Dinners in the Tamarind and Pinnacle were amazing. We ate one meal at the NY Deli (the pizza was extremely good) and I ate lunch at the Grand Dutch Cafe which was also very good. The Gelato was excellent and not that expensive (4ounce for $2.95 plus gratuity). …Crew. As usual the crew was fabulous. …Fellow cruisers. As I mentioned in one of my posts, I couldn’t believe how nice people were whether offering help, making space for my rollator and me, or a dozen other things. With all the negativity we hear on a daily basis, it was heartening to meet people that are caring. You really do meet the nicest people on a cruise. …All of you. I appreciate all of you who read the posts and those who responded. It was fun hearing from those who I have met in person (brings back great memories of past cruises). ….Results of my test cruise. The excursions I took went well. I didn’t get off the ship at some ports but was prepared for that. Things took me longer than they would have BC (before cancer) but I was able to do most everything I really wanted. Knowing I won’t be able to do many things I liked to do BC ( wander around on my own, take longer excursions, do walking tours, etc.), I am planning to go on the Pole to Pole cruise next year. My TA got me the handicapped cabin on deck 3 of the Volendam which is also in a location that is convenient to the Promenade deck. So, barring any unforeseen problems, I will be writing another Live report in 299 days (according to my countdown clock). Smooth sailing until next time!
  2. Home again, home again! - March 29, 2024 Because we had an 11:52 flight and were using Luggage Direct, we were in the first group to disembark. That meant an early wake up and you may have realized that I am not an early bird. I was amazed how many people were getting off in the first group. I had to wait as four filled elevators went by before I gave up and used the “go up to go down” trick and finally was able to get to deck 1. It took about 15 minutes to get off the ship, walk through the terminal, and get on the bus (we took the HAL shuttle) to the airport. We were at the airport with a couple of hours to spare so we had an ok breakfast at the Jack Nicklaus restaurant while waiting. The flight to Charlotte was full but went quickly. We had lunch at a good barbecue place before our flight to Richmond. My daughter picked me up and I was home by 6:30. I was really tired so I made it an early night ( hence the lateness of this post). I am going to write one more post with some final thoughts but want to thank everyone who has been following along. Smooth sailing until next time!
  3. A half day at Half Moon Cay - March 28, 2024 I knew that I wouldn’t be able to use my rollator on the sand and wasn’t sure how good the pathways were, so I chose not to go ashore. I heard later that a woman fell out of her wheelchair on a path - glad I made the choice I did. The last tender back was supposed to be at 2:30 but they announced five people were missing. Eventually they must’ve been found because we sailed away. I had decided to try the pizza place and when I got there Frances and Tony were waiting for it to open. They had gone ashore but found the water too cold for comfort. After a very good pizza and salad, we went to the Sea View pool. I stayed in the pool about an hour. The water felt wonderful The last trivia of the cruise was another hard one. I had 10 of 17 and the winners had 14. 1. According to Rolling Stone magazine, what is the only non-English song in the top 500 of all time. 2. What is Canada’s #1 summer sport? 3. What actor played Batman in the 1995 movie? 4. What did the Wicked Witch of the West write in the sky? 5. In what year was the first Tour de France? 1. La Bamba 2. lacrosse 3. Val Kilmer 4. surrender Dorothy 5. 1903 After trivia I finished packing before a quick trip to the shops (I had non-refundable OBC) and then to our final dinner in the Club Orange dining room. We skipped the show and I put my dinner clothes in the suitcase and wheeled it out. Early morning tomorrow- we are meeting at 7:20! Smooth sailing until next time!
  4. Last lazy sea day - March 27, 2024 Once again I had a lazy morning and lunch in the Lido. After a piece of cake from the “Cake me Away” cake extravaganza, I sat on my balcony and knitted. Today’s trivia was really hard and I had only 10 of 17. The winners had 14. 1. What was the name of the cool guy gang in Grease? 2. Which 1989 Disney movie was the last animated totally by hand? 3. Which album came in second to Thriller in the 70s? 4. In Morse Code, what letter is represented by a single dot? 5. What is cynophobia the fear of? 1. T-birds 2. The Little Mermaid 3. Born in the USA 4. e 5. dogs I started packing (ugh!) after trivia. After dinner we went to see the comedian. Somewhere along the way I lost my keycard so I went to Guest Services and it had been turned in. Half Moon Cay tomorrow. Smooth sailing until next time!
  5. Doing nothing in San Juan - March 26, 2024 I slept late and had contemplated walking around a little but after going out on the balcony, I decided it was too hot. I did some knitting instead. Frances and Tony had decided the same thing about going off the ship. We had lunch together then changed for the pool. It felt wonderful and I stayed in over an hour, skipping trivia. After dinner we went to the show which was another performance by the steel band, Island Magic. They were terrific again. Sea day tomorrow. Smooth sailing until next time!
  6. HAL does tend to attract an older demographic, especially on longer cruises. This is a 12-day cruise and there is fair number of middle aged people and families. I have found the food very good. Rotterdam is a lovely ship and the newest in the fleet. I also like that it is a mid-sized ship and you are not cruising with 4000+ of your closest friends.
  7. Riding the rails through St. Kitts - March 25, 2024 Since my excursion didn’t leave until 12:30, I had a very leisurely morning. At 11 I had an early lunch at the Grand Dutch Cafe and then started the walk to the meeting place (Have I mentioned that all the excursions meet on the pier? They also are not using the number stickers.). We were warned that the walk could be as much as three ship lengths so I left early since I walk slowly. I made it with plenty of time to spare. There was about a ten minute drive to the “St. Kitts Scenic Railway “. The rail cars are double deckers but unfortunately the liquid sunshine was pouring down so not many went upstairs to the open space. The ride lasted around 90 minutes and the sun came out about half way. We were given rum drinks along the way. Our driver/guide picked us up for the 30 minute drive back and along the way we saw the churchyard where Thomas Jefferson’s great, great grandfather is buried. We were among the last to return for the 4:30 all aboard time. Today is Frances’s and Tony’s 19th anniversary so they were dining at the Pinnacle. I ate there also but earlier so they could celebrate. The meal was so good - I had the candied bacon, filet mignon, mashed potatoes, and key lime pie. Chris Bannister performed again (last time was John Denver songs) singing a variety of songs. He got a standing ovation again. I was too tired to attend the Orange Party but I was impressed by how many wore Orange. I have always thought that you meet the nicest people on cruises and this one is no exception. I have been amazed how kind and helpful people are. Whether it is holding a door or the elevator for me, making space, or helping if I need something, someone is willing to help. Today I had two different ladies offer to push my wheelchair along the pier so I would not have to walk so far. Nice to meet so many caring people. San Juan tomorrow. Smooth sailing until next time!
  8. I would not have been happy if I had to pay for it. I think it’s about $100. Fine, if you enjoy steam, saunas, and hot tubs but it was definitely not my thing.
  9. Visiting the spa in Guadeloupe- March 24, 2024 I had booked an excursion at home and I still don’t know why since it was classified as “moderate”. Later I realized it had poor reviews so I canceled it once onboard. Nothing else appealed so my plan was to spend the day in the spa for my free five star day. Turns out I am not much of a spa person. The hydro pool was what I was looking forward to but it wasn’t much more than a large hot tub with a couple of showers that pumped out water so strong that my thin skin would have bruised under it. I stayed in for about 20 minutes and then sat on one of the tile, heated lounges. I did not find it real comfortable and left after about 25 minutes. I contemplated going back after lunch but Frances and Tony came by while I was eating so we sat and talked about their morning. They had walked off the ship and looked around but didn’t find anything exciting. Afterwards I had no desire to go back to the spa so I had a gelato instead. The gelato is another thing I like about the larger ships. At 4:00 trivia I had 13 of 17. A team won with all 17. 1. Which two planets are known as “ice giants “? 2. The first iPhone came out in what year? 3, Which blood type is the Universal Donor? 4. What does the “E” in Chuck E. Cheese stand for? 5. Who played Winifred in Hocus Pocus? 1.Neptune and Uranus 2. 2007 3. O- 4. Entertainment 5. Bette Midler After dinner (another delicious one), I listened to Derek (plays piano in the billboard lounge) play hits of the 70s. Another great thing about this ship has been the wi-fi. The internet has really been good. I have had no problems connecting or staying on and the speed has been great. I have the “Surf” package which came with the Have It All deal. I don’t stream so that has not been an issue. St. Kitts tomorrow. Smooth sailing until next time!
  10. Quiet day in Barbados- March 23, 2024 I have been to Barbados twice so I had made no plans to get off. Pre-cancer I would have gone for a walk around the pier area but now I conserve energy where I can. I watched tv after sleeping in until 9 and must admit I am spoiled with the nice TV not on the small ships. Lunch in the Lido and then into the Lido pool for an hour. It was a partly cloudy day so it wasn’t too hot to sit in the sun afterwards. Frances and Tony came by and we talked about their morning beach excursion. Trivia at 4. I had 11/17 and the winners had 14. 1. What country’s motto is “Sea to sea”? 2. In what Disney movie is Clayton the villain? 3. Where is the largest active volcano? 4. In what year did the first Barbie come out? 5. What are the names of the three fairy godmothers in Sleeping Beauty? 1. Canada 2. Tarzan 3. Hawaii 4. 1959 5. Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather I went to Shore Excursions about the one they wouldn’t let me on with the rollator and was told it had been taken off my account. I found a seat in the Crow’s Nest (it was Happy Hour so it was packed) to watch the sail-away. First they announced for a family that was missing and then, a few minutes later, we weren’t going to sail for an hour. I gave up and went back to my cabin and took a nap. Dinner was delicious as usual and then we went to the show. It was ballet and not our cup of tea. Guadeloupe tomorrow. Smooth sailing until next time!
  11. She really is a beautiful ship. Enjoy your cruise!
  12. Good tour in Fort-de-France, Martinique- March 22, 2024 I signed a for an “Easy” tour, Panoramic Martinique. There was no problem with my rollator (there were at least four) and I was able to get the handicapped seat in the front. Our guide, Gislaine, was a teacher and very good telling us about the island. We drove through the center of the island, passed the volcano (that wiped out part of the island in 1902), and along the coast. We had two rest stops/photo ops but I stayed on the bus. Back on the ship by 1:30, I had lunch in the Lido where I met up with Frances and Tony. They had walked downtown in the heat and were in need of lunch, too. Trivia was at 4, and with all aboard at 4:30 there were more players than yesterday. I had only 8 of 17 and the winners had all correct. 1. The movie “The Beach “ was filmed in which country? 2. What is the state pie of Florida? 3. Who was the first female singer inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? 4. Who had the most home runs in a single season? 5. Who was the lead singer of Genesis before Phil Collins? 1. Thailand 2. Key lime 3. Aretha Franklin 4. Bobby Bonds 5. Peter Gabriel After trivia I sat on my balcony as we sailed away. We were back to the Club Orange dining room for dinner. We were all tired so we didn’t go to the show (a comedian). Smooth sailing until next time!
  13. My dinner at Tamarind. Thai citrus scallops Wasabi and soy crusted beef tenderloin (I didn't have the wasabi) Passion fruit cloud
  14. It really was! I don’t get a balcony on the long cruises so I am making the most of it.
  15. My excursion that wasn’t in St. John’s, Antiqua - March 21,2024 I was contemplating canceling my excursion when I reread the description. It said that we were to take a walking tour of the dockyards. Not sure what I was thinking when I booked it - dockyards sound like uneven areas and steps. Finally I decided to try it and if I couldn’t take the walk I could sit by the bus. Turns out I didn’t need to make the decision. When I got in line on the pier, the rep from the tour company said I could not take my rollator - there was no room on the bus. I told the HAL rep and I am hoping to get part of my money back. i ended up going to breakfast (very unusual), sitting on my balcony, having lunch, and then spending an hour in the Sea View pool (which is adult only). Bumped into Frances and Tony and sat with them until time for trivia. Team trivia - I had 11 of 17 and the winning team had 14. 1. What is the most populous country in Africa? 2. What birthstone dissolves in vinegar? 3. Who invented the reflecting telescope? 4. What is the largest inhabited castle in the world? 5. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was originally used as what? 1. Nigeria 2. Pearl 3. Newton 4. Windsor 5. Bell tower Spent more time on the balcony (enjoying a margarita) before dinner. We dined at Tamarind (Pan-Asian). My meal was amazing. I will post some pictures tomorrow. The show tonight was a tribute to John Denver’s music by Chris Bannister. He was very good. I am signed up for a tour tomorrow and am hoping for a different outcome than today. Smooth sailing until next time! 1. Nigeria 2. Pearl 3. Newton 4. Windsor 5. Bell tower
  16. Visiting the two parts of St. Maarten/Saint Martin - March 20, 2024 I survived my first excursion! I slept late and decided on Gelato for lunch. Frances and Tony walked by while I was eating it and we sat and talked for a while. All the excursions meet on the pier so I left a bit early for the 12:45 meeting time. One of the bus drivers was nice enough to push me in the wheelchair to the bus. I was on a 24 seat bus and there were 23 of us so I didn’t get a seat to myself and wasn’t able to get many pictures. We drove around the island visiting both the Dutch and French sides. We had a 45 minute stop in the French side. I had a rum punch and sat in the shade until time to get on the bus. I was tired when I got back on the ship so I rested after a quick shower (it was a hot day). We ate a little earlier than usual. After dinner I listened to the piano player, Derek, for a time but I was too tired to stay for the whole set. Another island, and another excursion tomorrow and this one starts at 9:30. Smooth sailing until next time!
  17. Hi, Sandy, I have been knitting on the balcony. Another shawl! Hope all is well with you.
  18. A few pictures of my cabin which is handicapped accessible but not wheelchair accessible. This is a beautiful ship but the storage is ridiculous. Let's hope HAL holds on to the smaller ships for long voyages.
  19. Lazy Sea Day - March 19, 2024 I did not do much of anything today. I went to the morning talk on "The Caribbean Spirit" (rum), had lunch with Frances and Tony, sat on my balcony, went to a future cruise presentation, attended trivia, and then a port talk, and had dinner. I skipped the show - it was a comedian. Team Trivia (although I'm not on a team). I had 9 of 17 and two teams had 100%. 1. What is the most common English word beginning with "M"? 2. Who wrote Gone With the Wind? 3. What is 400 in Roman Numerals? 4. What is the first sign of the zodiac? 5. What is the last letter of the Greek alphabet? 1. me 2. Margaret Mitchell 3. CD 4. Aries 5. Omega St. Maarten tomorrow and my first excursion. Smooth sailing until next time!
  20. A Relaxing Sea Day - March 18, 2024 I really was exhausted - I slept for 11 hours! I love sea days- they can be as busy as you want. My morning was very lazy. I canceled a shore excursion that was too active for me and had rotten reviews and then went to a talk about “The Deep Blue” by the cruise director. After lunch in the Lido I went to Movies trivia. Movies aren’t my specialty but I managed to get 10 of 17. The winning team got 100%. 1. What was the name of Dr. Brown’s dog in Back to the Future? 2. What is the name of Keanu Reeves’ character in The Matrix? 3. The first Oscars were presented in what decade? 4. What is the name of the sultan’s daughter in Aladdin? 5. What kind of animal is Bambi’s friend Thumper? 1. Einstein 2. Neo 3. The 1920s 4. Jasmine 5. Rabbit After trivia I wrote up yesterday’s report then spent over an hour sitting on my balcony. General Knowledge trivia was at 4. I got 8 right and the winning team had 10. They are giving out the HAL pins as prizes. I thought they had given up on prizes - there weren’t any on my last two cruises. 1, Who was the only British pope? 2. Which country has the highest life expectancy? 3. A glengarry is what type of clothing? 4. What is the term for a group of hippos? 5. Which Canadian city is considered the “Hollywood of the north”? 1. Adrian 2. Monaco 3. A hat 4. A bloat 5. Vancouver I tried the gelato after trivia. This is my first time on a large ship with a gelato station. It was worth the $2.95 charge. Frances, Tony, and I had dinner early at 7 so we could make the 9 o’clock show. Tonight was the first “Dressy” night and I was pleasantly surprised with how many people were dressed up. Dinner was delicious (I had beef tenderloin) and the show was fantastic. It was a steel drum quartet called Island Magic. They will perform again before the end of the cruise. I’m used to the second show being sparsely attended but there was a good crowd (the first show was completely full). Tonight’s menu My first towel animal in ages! Another sea day tomorrow. Smooth sailing until next time!
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