Number of Cruises: 19
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: May 24th, 2002
Itinerary: New England/Canada
The ROTTERDAM VI (she was parked next to the QE2) is a beautiful vessel, more like a liner than a cruise ship. The elegant interior decor was resplendent with flowers, magnificent works of art, and museum quality artifacts everywhere. The 3-story high clock in the atrium is stunning. I had a partial Oceanview cabin category D on Lower Promenade Deck. Some of these cabins have full or partial obstructions so look at the brochure. These Oceanview windows have a heavy mirror glaze on the outside so during the day it is impossible for "deck-walkers" to see in to your cabin, but at night pull the curtains in case you have a peeking Tom! The cabins are very comfortable; 2 twins that convert to a queen-size, lots of pillows, sofa and writing desk, shower with tub, wall safe for your valuables, TV, hair dryer, phone, wall mounted thermostat control (important for the changing weather of New England). Being below the Galley did not present a problem as I never heard any noises from above, nor from outside on the teak walking deck that wraps around the ship (no jogging is allowed). A balcony would have been a bit much as we were in a port of call every day and I never would have had the chance to enjoy it. The ship has a wonderfully stocked library, card room, and Internet computer room (75 cents per minute). The Main Show room has comfortable single and double seating chairs, instead of large long rows of bench seating some of the other new mega-ships. The Crows Nest lounge atop the ship has wonderful 270 degree views of the ocean and is also divided into cozy areas with its own bar. There is a game arcade for the kids, a wonderful Java Cafe with fresh coffee, cappuccinos, espresso, and fresh cookies. There are quite a few other small lounge areas scattered along the Upper Promenade Deck with intimate cozy dance floors. The casino did not appear to be paying out according to several reports from fellow passengers.
For this cruise I decided to do something totally different, and that was to eat every meal, breakfast, lunch AND dinner, in the Lido Restaurant. I never ate in the main dining room (La Fontaine) or the reservations-only (but free of charge) Odyssey Restaurant, although I heard the food and service in both were superb. Call me crazy, but I have done the "lobster" and the "baked Alaska" to death, dressed up in tuxedos until I am blue in the face, and wanted to be able to eat my meals in 25 minutes, not 2 hours. At dinner it also affords more tables for 2, a quite candle light dinner with the soft crooning sounds of Frank Sinatra or the string quartets of Mozart in the background instead of the loud jumble of voices from 750+ passengers. For dinner in the Lido Restaurant the soup and salad, shrimp cocktails (I always took 2 of them), cheeses, fruit bowls, etc are set on a buffet line, but the 4 or 5 main entrees were always cooked fresh to order. You selected from basically the same menu that is in the Main dining room but in a much more casual and quiet atmosphere (still no shorts or swimwear allowed at dinner). After placing your order, pick a table and they will bring your main course to you when it is cooked.
The buffet breakfast and lunches were great; Breakfast consists of eggs or omelets to order, French toast, Danishes and doughnuts, bacon, sausages, and ham, fresh cheeses, cereals, of all kinds, breads, and juices. LOTS of fresh fruit. Lunches were hamburgers, hot dogs, and tacos by the pool....inside, hot soups (always delicious), chicken, fish, and more substantial array of food items and desserts. Always a large selection.
As the itinerary was quite busy and I was up every morning at sunrise, I also did not see any of the main shows, although most of the passengers gave them rave reviews. I never stayed up too late, but I did catch several of the movies playing in the theater (delicious fresh popcorn!).
Ports of call (and what I did in each) included Newport, RI (Cliff Walk and Mansions), Boston (Freedom Trail Walking Tour and USS Constitution), Bar Harbor (Acadia National Park Best of Both Worlds), Halifax, NS (Peggy's Cove Lighthouse and the Titanic Connection), Sydney, NC (Fortress of Louisbourg), Charlottetown, PEI (independent walking tour), Saguenay Fjord, Quebec City (independent walking tour) and ending in Montreal. I highly recommend booking shore excursions ON-LINE well ahead of time (2-3 months) as the most popular ones WILL sell out. Most of these cities are very easily walked, but in Boston shuttle buses were run from Quincy Hall to the pier (2 1/2 miles). The ship moored along a pier in all ports but Newport and Bar Harbor were we anchored out and ran tenders in to port (15-20 minute tender ride). The weather ranged from the 40's to the 70's, light to thick dense fog, drizzle and some rain, and brilliant sunshine...and sometimes all in the SAME day. Be prepared and pack in layers. There were 2 formal nights, 1 semi-formal, and 6 casual for this 9-night cruise. Yours may vary but it should be about the same.
Disembarkation in Montreal was quick and painless. We moored at 7:30am, cleared customs at 9am. Disembarkation started at 9:20, I was off the ship by 10:30am. The night before they gave you color coded tags for your luggage that matched your post-cruise travel plans, and a debarkation "number". Once cleared they call out numbers every 10 minutes. We had filled out a Customs form on the ship and you give it to the Canadians upon leaving the boat. The bus ride from the pier in downtown Montreal to Dorval took 35 minutes on a traffic-free Sunday morning. Once at the airport your luggage gets off before you are allowed to, then you claim your luggage (make sure it is YOURS, someone took mine and did not even notice). Here is where the fun ends. You get in line to "check-in" at the airport. Filled out another Customs form here, then they tag your luggage for departure. Then you and all your luggage go to another line to pay the 15$CAD departure tax. Then to another line to verify you have paid and to tear the tax ticket and see your Passport (again). The next line is US/Canadian Customs (after this point is were you finally dump off your "checked luggage") and the next line is the metal detector. It took nearly 90 minutes to go through this fiasco. But that is security in this day and age...
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