November 2015 - 24 Night Circle Hawaii & Mexican Riviera Collector (San Diego Roundtrip) Cruise on Veendam
Best HAL cruise to date.
We have cruised twice aboard the Statendam, and now aboard the Veendam. This was the best one.
Capt Noel O'Driscoll was competent, and informative. As sailors ourselves, we really enjoyed getting the weather and sea-state updates and forecasts. Of course, conditions that would dramatically affect our little boat were barely noticeable by the Veendam. It was fun to observe the seas from "on high" knowing that we did NOT have to secure the decks for heavy weather, or check about the cabin for potential "missile hazards" that could come loose in a big sea.
The crew were all a delights. Although we realize that this is their training, they did their jobs well, and were fun to talk to, also. Getting a little more insight into how lives are lived in Bali, Java, Mumbai, and other places that I may never visit was a joy. Enormous thanks to the Cabin Stewards, who kept our cabin as-neat-as-a-pin, in spite of us. Thanks to the kitchen staff who must have spent literal hours picking grapes off of the stem, in addition to all of the other tedious fruit-cutting-up, meal preparing, pastry baking, et al, that they do. Thanks to the amazing people that keep the ship clean and tidy. They clear away what must amount to literally millions of plates, cups, saucers, glasses, utensils, and napkins every day. What a CHORE! Thanks to the bridge crew, for keeping us on course over hours, and hours crossing open sea. Again, as sailors, my husband and I have spent many nights at sea, spelling each other at the helm, which, thanks to the investment in an auto-pilot, meant keeping an eye on the radar screen for potential obstacles. That, however, did not include being responsible for over one thousand other souls. Just the two of us being responsible for just the two of us is way different that making sure a ship-load of passengers, some of whom can be rather frail, get from point A, to point B, and back to point A without mishap. Bravo. Last, but not least, thanks to the officers who oversaw all of the the above. For the most part, all worked like the proverbial fine Swiss watch.
Thank you also for the new (to me) "On Location" activities. My sister and I had a great time learning a hula dance, how to play a ukulele, making real flower leis, making a "grass" skirt, an arm band, towel critters, etc. Even having to perform for the rest of the guests was...amusing. The destination specific entertainers helped to bring the idea of cruising to Hawaii together with actually being in Hawaii. As we drove around the various islands we were more aware of what makes them special to the descendants of the original settlers. All of the above made the trip especially enjoyable as we are not card players, gamblers, wine connoisseurs, or pool-side loungers.
All in all, it was a lovely trip and, although we are not planning on taking another cruise any time soon, I'm sure that we will again, one day.