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The Chamberlains

Age: 49 and 50

Occupation:Account Clerk and Pastor

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Statendam

Sailing Date: March 31st, 2003

Itinerary: Mexican Riviera

We are absolutely sold on Holland America. This is our 4th cruise aboard HAL, and we have been very satisfied each time. This was a week-long cruise, round trip from beautiful San Diego, California. The cruise was full, but we never felt crowded. The check-in process was smooth and efficient; and soon we were headed for our cabin on A-deck. This is the lowest passenger deck, but the rooms are still delightful. We have had a Verandah cabin on a previous sail; and we were apprehensive if we'd be disappointed in "something less" - but our ocean view cabin was great! It had a queen size bed, a nice living area with a couch and coffee table, a television, wonderful closet and drawer space, and a bathroom with shower/tub combo. The only thing we missed was the little refrigerator that had been in our previous Verandah cabin. But there's an ice bucket that the steward fills every day, without being asked.

We loved kneeling on the bed at the window, and watching the sea go by. Who needs a television? We saw a few whales, and enjoyed tremendous sunsets from our ample window. Actually, being "lower" on the ship meant being closer to the ocean view. Nice.

Our cabin steward and dining servers were gracious and efficient. Holland crew are Indonesian, and very helpful and courteous. They always put on a "crew show" on one of the evenings, after the "regular" entertainment in the lounge. It's fun to see. They work hard.

We have found that we don't really care where we're headed, since we love the cruise experience itself. Just the thought of being able to order chocolate cake at 3 AM is a luxury! Holland America has a unique "no tipping" policy - of course you should tip, but it's totally up to the passengers as to how much and when. Generally, passengers offer their financial thanks to the crew on the last night of the cruise.

Port stops on this Mexico cruise included the famous Cabo San Lucas, as well as smaller places such as Lareto. We disembarked at each stop; but only to say "we visited" - the ports were not the highlights. It was fun cruising in the boat "tenders" - the vessels used to transport passengers ashore when the ship could not dock pierside, due to its size. We really enjoyed the amazing amounts of large pelicans who lounged around the piers.

The meals aboard the Statendam were wonderful, and attractive. There are always at least 6 entrees from which to choose; and also at least 2 soups, 4 appetizers, and 2 salads. After the meal, a dessert menu is given. Desserts were top notch, too.

We did not eat aboard the specialty (Italian) restaurant - there is an extra charge for this, and we were very happy with the food in the elegant dining room. We often had lunch on the lido deck, which was buffet style and great. HAL always has an ice cream bar and offers pizza, hot dogs and burgers poolside. For breakfast, we split the days between room service and eating in the full service dining room.

The shows were mediocre, but still entertaining. Lots of song and dance revues, but they all sort of resembled each other. The entertainment had been better on our previous HAL cruises. The cruise director seemed nice.

We love catching a movie in the theatre - HAL offers free popcorn and cookies.

We had nice dinner guests, and enjoyed our nightly conversations.

We walked the promenade deck every other day - they have a walking track that's great exercise, and you can't beat the view! HAL offers full exercise equipment, but we preferred the walking.

On our 7-night cruise, there were 2 formal dinners, 2 informal dinners, and 3 casual dinners. A nice mix.

It was fun to browse the "on ship" stores - some things were reasonably priced, while others were pretty expensive. Something for everyone, I guess. HAL has a "no cash" policy while on board - everything is charged to your cabin (they probably do this on all cruise lines?). It works pretty well. Be sure to pay your tab before the morning you disembark - they'll end up calling your name on the loudspeaker if you still owe them $$.

One of the best things about cruising is the ability to "take the time" to relax and rest. It's great to get away from the phone and regular appointments.

There is a false stigma about cruising - those who have not gone think it's for the rich and famous, only. This is untrue. If you consider that the trip includes all meals, all transportation, your hotel, and your entertainment, it's an incredible bargain. If you shop the internet, etc. you can get great prices (sometimes cheaper than camping!!).

HAL has several activities happening each day, ranging from games of skill to crafts to lectures to ship tours. You can participate in as many or as little as you like - ahh!

We are so grateful to have discovered cruising - it's a wonderful venue for us, and we dream of future sailings as soon as we hit port!

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