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P. Pine

Age: 57

Occupation:Registered Nurse

Number of Cruises: 7

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Volendam

Sailing Date: January 12th, 2006

Itinerary: Southern Caribbean

Mt husband who is 61, myself and friends of ours were excited to leave on our first 10 day cruise. We cruise every January. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale Airport the day before we lefton our cruise. I read all the cruise reviews I could before we left & they talked about the eldery cruisers and they were correct. I felt like a young person around all the old people in wheelchairs and with their O2 tanks. You need to give them credit, they could be sitting home!! It took a hour of waiting in line to board the ship. We were told this is unusual but they were having problems with the cameras. The Volendam was a beautiful ship, clean and well taken care of. The rooms are a good size and the bathroom was the largest I've had on any cruise I was on prior to this one. There was a bathtub too. Our bags were in our room by the time we arrived. We unpacked & took a tour of the ship. We had the late seating at 8:30PM. Our waiter & bus boys were terrific. They were friendly but quick. You never had to ask for anything twice. The captain of our area of the dining room was attentive. I asked him if we would have creme brulee and he told me that the menu rotated and we would not be having it during our cruise. I was a little disappointed. The next night, our table was served crume brulee...what a surprise and it was so good. While we are talking about food, we thought the breakfast was very good. Fresh pancakes, waffles and a great choice of fruits. Breafast ended at 11a. Lunch on the lido deck was okay but not great. They did have burgers, hot dogs and toco's as well as the usual. The desserts were out past lunch and almost always there were home made fresh cookies. They were my friend and my downfall. Dinner was good. My husband & girlfriend were not impressed. Room service was good, quick and a pretty good selection.

We had 2 days at sea which we loved but sat on the back deck because the main pool had a retractable roof and it was too windy for the elderly people sitting there. It was also too hot with no breeze. We met a couple from Alberta Canada. They were in a group of about 85 farmers and cattle ranchers on the cruise. My friend & I really enjoyed talking to Donna and she taught us the difference between a bull & a steer as well as alot of other things about raising cattle. She invited us to a sing along that night by her group. We went and really enjoyed singing .cowboy songs.

Sunday, we arrived at Aruba. We had signed up for snorkeling on a beautiful cat. The snorkeling was great and the ride gave us a good view of the Island. We stopped at a beach for 45 minutes and my friend and I went on a double tube ride behind a speed boat. We screamed alot during the 10 minute ride and loved every minute of it. After a shower & lunch, we went into town. The shops were all closed because it was Sunday and I was disappointed. My daughter had visited Aruba last year and loved it so I was anxious to see the island. We rented a stick shift jeep which had seen better days and needed shocks, to take us around. We drove to Baby Bay and then to the natural bridge. We were surprised by the cactus growing everywhere. We ended up at the California Lighthouse in time to see a beautiful sunset. Would like to visit for a week sometime in the future. Monday we were at Curacoa. We slept a little late as we had no excurision booked. We left the ship and took a short ferry ride to a little village. The buildings were so cute and so Dutch. The village was so touristy. Knockoff pocketbooks were everywhere. Found 2 internet cafes but could not email home from either. There was a party at castoff with fireworks. But there was no steel drum music at anytime during the cruise. We were in the Caribbean but I guess Holland America must have forgotten. The music was from Frank Sinatra's time. It hurt to listen to the music.

Tuesday another day at sea. It must be hard for the cruise director and the staff because the ship was dead by 11pm. The Crow's nest was also dead most times. I am use to a piano bar with the piano in the middle and a bar around it. Songs like "piano man" and "Margarittaville" should be played so everyone can join in not "Strangers in the Night" which puts people to

Wednesday we arrived at Dominica. It is very green with mountains and very pretty but not much there. We were taken by vans through a jungle for about 45 minutes. We arrived at the river for our tube ride. This was listed as very active in the listing. I was a little concerned but my friend Jean said "how bad can it be floating down a river?" When we were put into tubes with plywood wired to the bottom it should have been a red flag. It was over rocks and rapids and a little scary at time but a great ride, I would do it again. Next month they have alot of rain and can take the river all the way to the beach, we could only go half way. We saw a couple of rainbows and 2 whales as we pulled out of Dominina. NEAT!!!!

Thursday we visited St Thomas. My husband was a little under the weather and was not up to the ferry ride to St. Johns. It took longer than we thought so I caught the ferry back to Red Hook so I could meet my husband to go into town. We had to be back on the ship by 3:30.My friends went on to Trunk Bay which they loved.

Friday was another day at sea and we were getting a little sad that our cruise was coming to an end.
Saturday we were tendered to Holland America's private Island. It was perfect. There were a couple of little showers but we really enjoyed our day on the island. It was so relaxing and a perfect last day for our cruise.

Sunday were arrived back at Ft Lauderdale. Leaving the ship was quick , our bags were in a certain area and there were people to direct us to our bags.

We really debated the pro & cons about Holland America. There were alot of elderly guest but no children which was a plus. The ship was nice & the food was good. I would sail again with Holland America. We also enjoyed the ports. They really need to improve their entertainment. They need a steel drum band and peppy music. Hope this helps answer some questions.

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