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Hondu Wiltshire

Age: 41 to 50

Occupation:Management and Network Administrator

Number of Cruises: 6 to 10

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Zaandam

Sailing Date: July 29, 2000

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean (Nassua, San Juan, St.Thomas and

This was not the case in the Rotterdam Dining Room. We enjoyed good wine, good service and very good food. As usual, we had an intimate table for two against the glass partition on the upper level with a nice view looking down on the first level. HAL had a wine package that I had not seen before and the list is called the Wine Navigator.  On the list is 12 wines equally divided between white and red. The option is any 4 wines for $69 or 6 for $99.  We took advantage of the former. If we had purchase each bottle separately from the main wine list it would have cost us $84. I have to mention that one of the best desserts I always enjoy on HAL is the mango sorbert that is made on board. As for the dress code, there were 5 casual nights and 2 formal nights. For whatever reason, informal night was not included and if we had been notified, I could have left the extra outfit at home.

We attended all of the afternoon teas in the Crows Nest where the 180 degree view of the ocean was great and so were the treats and tea. Even more enjoyable was the elegant Royal Dutch Tea that took place on one afternoon in the Rotterdam Dining Room. There was a good variety of food in the Lido Restaurant but don’t forget to visit the omelet and fresh squeeze orange juice stations.

We prefer days at sea. It is great to be on the Sports Deck or walking around the Promenade Deck and be able to see nothing but the ocean. At sea days also mean enjoying the ship and doing many of the Passport to Fitness activities. Our days were filled with the following:

Walk a mile; Ping Pong; Quoits; Dance Class; Shuffleboard; Basketball; Paddle Tennis; Volleyball; Spa Seminars; Golf Putting;  Aerobics; Steam Room and the Steiner Fashion Show. We always enjoy our few minutes of fame modeling in the poolside fashion show on all our HAL cruises. We won a mixed doubles shuffleboard tournament and were awarded with HAL key rings. We also won mixed doubles in paddle tennis. Besides burning calories in the organized fitness activities, it is a great way to make friends since throughout the cruise most of the participants become regulars. I was amazed by one lady who was about 89 years old and a regular participant. From what I saw, she was more active that a 55 year old person. She was very outgoing, talking and laughing a lot. I bet her activeness and personality have a lot to do with her longevity. This was the seventh consecutive cruise that we have not rode a ship’s elevator. We use the stairs at all times and since we generally book a cabin near the lowest deck, you can just imagine how many times we go up and down the stairs. The Zaandam has the biggest gym of all the HAL ships we’ve cruised on. Among the various pieces of exercise equipment, there were 11 treadmill, 3 stairmasters, and 7 exercise bikes. One reason the gym is so big and spacious is because HAL eliminated the Juice Bar.

Our first port of call was Nassau and three other ships were in port including Carnival’s Ecstasy. The other two ships were Premier’s Imperial Majesty(formerly the Oceanic) and the Big Red Boat. Personally, they both look like rust buckets and not cruise ships. It was our first visit to Nassau but since the port call was very short and it was Sunday, we decided just to walk around a little and head back to the ship. We walked through the Straw Market but bought nothing as it was the same old thing of cheap souvenirs and T-shirts. Been there, done that.

In San Juan, we just walked around since we have been there before. We stop at a time piece shop and got my watch battery replaced for $5. We window shopped as there was nothing of interest to buy. Before going back on the ship, we sat and enjoyed the scenery in the square next to the Centro De Informacion Tourista in the shade of  trees. We had a good view of the Zaandam at pier 1 and the Granduer of the Seas at pier 3.

We passed the NCL Norway anchored in the harbor of Charlotte Amalie. Because of the low draft, its passengers had to be tendered to shore. I was impressed with the exterior of the Norway but I have no intention of sailing on NCL because of their “freestyle cruising” and proposed “a la carte dining.”  We always enjoy St. Thomas but since Sharen’s sinuses were acting up, we decided to skip the beach. We took a picturesque walk to the city and did some shopping. On our way back, it was too hot, so we got a taxi. Did a little more shopping at Havensight Mall and reboarded the ship. We dock early at Half Moon Cay and took the tender to shore. We grab a couple of hammocks that were shaded by trees. After relaxing for awhile, we sat near the surf and built a large sand castle and scrawled “Sharen Loves Hondu” in the sand. Later, three middle age women were walking by and one said, “how nice, are you on your honeymoon?” We laughed and Sharen said no, that we were actually celebrating our 9th anniversary. We did some snorkeling and saw a lot of fish especially when a few people started feeding them cereal. We had lunch at the Pavilion while listening to the Pantastic Steel Band. Afterwards, we enjoyed some swimming until 2:30 p.m. and then tendered back to the ship before the rush that would come with the 3:30 p.m. final boarding. Being our favorite port stop on a Caribbean cruise, we wished to stay longer.

 

There was a varied amount of entertainment at night. Since we are pretty active during the day, by the end of late seating dinner, we are almost ready to call it a night. The Explorer’s Lounge is always enjoyable with string music including a harpist with the tallest harp I have ever seen. After dinner drinks and chocolate covered strawberries are served. The Mondriaan Lounge had the usual cruise fare including Las Vegas style shows, comedy and magician acts and late night adult comedy. Crow’s Nest is where the disco would be and throughout the day recent movies like Hurricane and American Beauty played in the Wajang Theater. Prior to each daily feature, free fresh popcorn was served. Some nights, after dinner, we took leisurely walks around the ship enjoying the multi-million dollar art collection. Another after dinner pleasure for us was our romantic walks around the Promenade Deck.

Notes and Observations:

There was a good mix of passengers with a high percentage of middle age cruisers. There were 250 children on board and Club HAL has a program for ages 5-17. We saw babies of no more than 6 months old  and 2 pregnant women. One of the latter was very active in the Passport to Fitness program.

On one afternoon in the gym, this young couple was jogging on treadmills and left their two old nearby to entertain himself with a pacifier and a scooter. Well like all curious kids, he climbed on a vacant bike and on vacant treadmills reaching up to the control board. The father removed him several times and went back to jogging. But the kid’s curiosity was too strong. As I looked around the gym, I could tell that others felt like I did, that the kid was going to get himself hurt. The hotel manager just happened to come into the gym

and he too saw the makings for a bad injury. He took the child off of a treadmill and held him in his arms as the parents laugh and continued to jog. I could not understand why both parents insisted on jogging at the same time when it would have been far safer for one to take care of the child and then switch.

We were on the Promenade Deck for the departure from St. Thomas and  some passengers have never failed to amaze us with their contempt of the rules. The gangway was scheduled to be lifted at 4:30 p.m with the ship to sail at 5:00 p.m. As many as  thirty stragglers including a family of 5 with a baby boarded between 4:40 p.m and 4:50 p.m. It was like the ship had to wait for them since they walked nonchalantly along the dock. On the final morning, we went to the Mondiaan Lounge at about 7:30 to check-in with Delta Airlines. There was a line and after getting our boarding passes and baggage tags, we went to the  Lido Restaurant for a leisurely breakfast. We vacated our room just before 9 o’clock and was off the ship at 9:20 a.m. There was certainly no need for a special membership card that cost $35 to rush off the ship. We were at the airport by 9:45 a.m.where we sat and read until our 12:25 p.m. flight. And so ended yet another enjoyable cruise on Holland America which was made even more special by the pins we were presented for having achieved the first level of 25 sailing days.

Hondu
irieblue@airmail.net

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