Last week, I sat down about three days into the cruise and wrote out our experiences to that point - I will post that log now...and tomorrow or the next day I will add more about the cruise. We had a wonderful wonderful time even though the seas got really rough - neither of us suffered from sea sickness at all - we just couldn't walk straight cause the ship was moving all over the place. Everyone looked like they were on a cheap drunk! We were unable to land at two of our four ports of call because of Noel - dang!! But we had a great time anyway.
so here goes:
Saturday October 27, 2007
We flew from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale yesterday afternoon and caught a free shuttle ride from the airport to the Hampton Inn where we spent the night. It was a really nice hotel – of course not so luxurious as the Dolphin has been but the people are so friendly and they go out of there way to make our stay comfortable. We had eaten a good lunch at the airport before leaving Orlando so were not really hungry come supper time, besides which is was really raining so we just enjoyed the treats put out by the Inn – salsa end chips, cheeses and crackers and juices. Ed made arrangements for us to leave our extra suitcases at the Inn for the week we were cruising. That way we only had one large suitcase apiece plus our computer bags.
Saturday morning we had a wonderful continental breakfast of eggs and sausage, muffin, milk and melon slices at the hotel. The Shuttle picked us up at the front door and took us back to the airport where we met up with the Holland America Cruise people. They put us on a big bus and we headed to the Port. We embarked out of Port Everglades. It was fun getting to the dock and seeing all the big cruise ships at the different docks.
We were onboard before noon and we sent up to the Lido deck to have some lunch. This deck has a huge dining area that is open from about 5 am for breakfast and is open until midnight!! The ice cream bar is always open and the food has all been fantastic – They feed a lot of people!! Even though this is 'fast food' we still eat on glass plates with nice silverware and cloth napkins. We can have as much or as little as we want!! Fun!! Interestingly enough there is not an open bar for soda!! There is water, tea and lemonade – free, all you can drink but you have to request coke, diet coke or sprite from the servers. We purchased a soda card on Saturday for $25 for 20 sodas!! That makes them about 1/3 the regular price and you don't have to pay the 15% gratuity either.
The ship is sooo gorgeous!! The elevator doors are works of art. There are outside elevators too – so you can see the sea as you go up or down. My mom would have hated them - but they don't bother me and I love being able to see all around as I ride up to deck 10 or down to deck 3. Deck 1 and 2 are within the bowels of the ship .
We were able to get in our stateroom by 3 o'clock and so were able to drop off our computer bags and my purse. Our main suitcases disappeared into the bus we rode to the port and we didn't see them again until after dinner when they finally got delivered to our room. We joined a tour of the ship for first timers and it was good – it showed us how to find our way around ship – we of course had already found the Lido deck (deck 9) but we were shown the casino, the library, the atrium, the photo shop, the shopping areas, the beautiful dining rooms, the theatre and of course all of the bars. Lots and lots of bars!! We have found though that we can sit down and enjoy the live music and order a coke and relax as well as those who drink.
For all the bars and availability of liquor I haven't seen any drunkenness – other than the stumbling gait of EVERYONE because of the movement of the ship. None of us have our sea legs yet! The seas got rough Sunday night and all day monday and we were all staggering around. (By the time ran into rough water again on Thursday and Friday we didn't stagger as much even though the seas were rougher and the tropical depression had turned into a hurricane - we still walked like a bunch of drunks but we seemed to have better control.)
We joined everyone on deck at 5 pm for the going away party. We all received a souvenir glass – everyone else had mai tai's or rum punch in theirs – we got ours with coke and diet coke instead!!
We got to watch four cruise ships leave Port Everglades ahead of us. I don't know how they decide who goes when but we got to follow them all out into the ocean. We had to leave the party up on deck 9 and 10 early – even before we sailed because we have the early dinning schedule – 5:45 PM ...I chose that one so that I could enjoy their fabulous meals and still have my blood sugars at a good level by the time I went to bed at night, when I get to poke my finger and check my sugar level.
The meal was fantastic. It is a beautiful dining room and each place setting had two or three knives and forks and spoons, plus a whole array of silverware at the top of the dishes too – they are your desert utensils! The servers unfolded our linen napkins and placed them on our laps! Then they handed us a menu with about eight choices of appetizers (including soups, salads, and regular appetizers and another eight choices of entrees. Ed and I both chose the “tower of ...(can't remember now what it was called!) it was crabmeat and avocados and it was good.. A little too fishy for me but I still enjoyed it. The main entree was prime rib and it was sooo good. Ed had pork chops and he enjoyed that too. Then they came around with the dessert menu!! Everything was soo delicious! The only downside was our table. There were places for eight and there were only six of us. The other four people at our table was a group of ladies -either sisters or good friends – but they spoke mainly in Spanish. Three of the four had flown in from Mexico City for the cruise where they met up with the one lady from Ft Lauderdale. So they chatted back and forth in Spanish and left us out of most of their conversation.
Saturday night they had a LATE show in the theatre – it was the welcome show and they only put it on once so we had to stay up late for that one... it started at 10:30 pm, but it was worth the wait.
Sunday morning we slept in till about 9:15 and then got up and got ready and went to breakfast. This meal was at the Lido deck again – we had fresh omelette's made to order with fresh fruit and milk to drink. We met a fun couple from Arkansas and shared our breakfast table with them. (We ran into them at lunch time again so continued our conversations.) Then we went back to our stateroom and changed into our swim suits and headed up to the Lido deck - it was packed so we went on up to the 10th level deck and found some chaise lounges and enjoyed the sun and the sea. We read and talked u
ntil all of a sudden a squall went past and sent everyone scurrying inside to get out of the rain. By the time we had gathered up our towels and books and gotten down the steps to the Lido deck the squall had passed and the decks were clear so we got our choice of some nice seating around the pool and hot tubs. It was a day AT SEA. So we just relaxed an enjoyed.. At one point they came on the intercom and were telling us where we were (latitude and longitude- lots of help there !! HAH! ) and how fast we were traveling. They also said that there was a tropical depression forming but they were hoping that it wouldn't come our direction.
All afternoon the sea got rougher and rougher. The boat movement became much more pronounced. As we came out of our cabin dressed and ready for our first formal dinner and couldn't even walk straight. Here we are all gussied up looking like a couple of cheap drunks. However, everyone else was walking the same way. This ship isn't as large (width wise especially) as the Royal Caribbean that we sailed on before so even though the captain is employing the stabilizers we can definitely feel it. As the server from the bar came to our table to take the drink orders one of the ladies said she didn't dare drink anything stronger than water and the server said the joke at the bar was that when the seas were rough, the more you drank the less wobbly you walked – We did
n't test that theory out. I wore the gorgeous red dress from Kecia's wedding – it still fits me better than it did for her wedding!!
As we were getting dressed for dinner I heard Ed groan – what is wrong I asked...he didn't say a word, so I asked again --- he said my black shoes... Did you forget them I asked – no and he held two totally different black shoes out for me to see – two left feet!! So he ended up wearing his suit with sandals and black socks. Its not a style you want to copy!!
At tonights dinner we started off with shrimp cocktails...the shrimp were so big and so juicy. Then I had crab legs and Ed had a new york steak. The crab legs had been cut in half length wise!! So I didn't have to dig for the meat!! WOW! Then for desert I had an ice cream sundae and Ed had the pineapple flambe'. What makes these meals really nice (besides the service, the dining room, the music and candlelight, etc) is that they aren't huge servings. You aren't stuffed as you walk away. You can fool yourself into thinking that you didn't have too many calories since you are stuffed to the gills.
There were a lot fewer guests in the dining room last night and I think it is because of the rough seas. Thank heavens Ed and I have been able to handle all of it with out any problems at all. I thought I might have to head down to the infirmary to get some Dramamine (which they hand out for free) but I've been fine.
They put on a fantastic show in the theatre and even though the boat was rocking in the 8-10 foot swells, those dancers didn't miss a beat!! AMAZING. It was 60's music and we loved it. We are going to have to break down and admit we are getting old when we go on a cruise and they play OUR music - for a whole show! There aren't many children on this cruise – certainly not like there was on the Royal Caribbean. I would say 90% of the cruisers are age 40 and above. Yes Jamie – that would make you a kid again !!
We are enjoying the balcony in our room – even though we are getting the tail winds from a hurricane now, it is still warm!!! I think they said 77 degrees!! Its warmer outside than in!! They over do the air conditioning in some of the areas – most of it is comfortable but I did buy a zip up sweatshirt on board today and it feels so nice. So Kelly and Jamie – pack a sweater. (I found out later that they turned the air conditioners on high to help those who were suffering from motion sickness!! )
I did have problems getting to sleep with the waves – Ed had opened the cupboard door that has the little refrigerator in it because he says it gets so hot in there – anyway, the door opened and closed and opened and closed and opened and closed with the movement of the ship. I just keep telling myself that we are making memories!! We have had the lifeboat drill and they tell us they will stay afloat even if they are overloaded and even if they fill up with water. I know how to put on my life jacket and I know which life boat we have been assigned to! I am set!!
This morning (Monday ) we arrived at 7 am at Grand Turk Island – but because of the winds and waves our captain chose not to dock.- He said that he was informed that the water and beach excursions had been canceled due to inclement weather. There are only 8 days a year that Grand Turk does not enjoy sunshine – this is one of them. instead this is another day at sea and we are heading straight to Tortola. All those people who had prebooked excursions will be credited that amount back to their accounts. I didn't feel too badly as I just rolled over and went back to sleep!! 7am EDT is tooo early for anything!!
We headed up to the Lido deck for breakfast and I had a waffle smothered in berries and whipped cream and a bowl of fresh melon and pineapple. Also – fresh squeezed orange juice!!
I didn't think anyone made their own orange juice anymore!
There are a lot of different activities on board – even closing off the outside decks because they are too slippery from the rain – but we aren't bingo players and we aren't into art auctions and the movies they've shown so far haven't caught our eye. We have wandered and talked to people and read our books and just relaxed. We did buy the embarkation picture they took of us and I had Ed get the cute scrapbooks that were on cle
arance sale for just $6 so I will have fun scrapbooking my vacation when I get home. Then we wandered over to the shops....I got my jacket and we got a cute silver bell that has Zuiderdamm - then Ed drug me over to the jewelry store (I mean I fought him every step of the way ;-) and bought me a lovely emerald necklace – we looked at matching earrings too but they were just way tooo expensive.
Then we headed back to the dining room (the fancy one) for lunch – they serve all three meals there every day – I had raspberry soup – YUMMMMY. It is a cold soup and it is probably made up of blended raspbe
rries and cream. Ed had a black bean soup. Then we both had deep fried fish and chips. It was good. We sat at a table with four other people and had a fun visit with them.
This afternoon we have taken naps and read and I've been typing. I have to say I love being so thoroughly spoiled by our cabin steward. Din comes in at least twice a day to tidy up the room,
bring fresh ice , turn down the sheets at night for us and leave their famous towel art- - This is a cute crab – last night they came to our room with a complimentary fruit bowl – bananas and oranges – YUM. There are two white cotton terry robes for our use onboard. Everyday there are printed activities with highlights about the next port so we will lknow where we are going and when.
All in all, in spite of the weather it's been great!