LaCastillo

LaCastillo

Second Mate
San Antonio TX
Joined 05/2017

12

Cruises

4

Reviews

13

Helpful Votes

Howdy! Married with 2 furry babies, my husband and I are native San Antonians. We took our first cruise in 2010 and are 3-star mariners with Holland America. I'm in college admissions and spend most of my free time planning our next vacation!

Upcoming Cruises

Past Cruises

Koningsdam

December 2018 - 11 Night Southern Caribbean Seafarer (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip) Cruise on Koningsdam

Another great cruise with just a few hiccups

Overall we had a great time. This ship had just come out of dry dock and I wasn't sure what to expect. There were some changes to the floor plan from the last time we sailed on it. The biggest disappointment was that the shops were not really ready. The two largest shops (not the high end jewelry/watch shops) still had much of their inventory in boxes well into the start of the second week of the cruise. The inventory and selection we were used to was just not there and that was disappointing. The Rolling Stone room was a bit underwhelming as well as the same songs are played every night.

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Veendam

December 2017 - 14 Night Southern Caribbean (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip) Cruise on Veendam

Fabulous cruise to the Southern Caribbean

I've been planning this cruise for months, and it didn't disappoint. These were the best ports we've visited on any of our cruises. The food was great. Service was great. We loved everything about this cruise. It was a wonderful two weeks. I can't wait to sail again!

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Koningsdam

December 2016 - 9 Night Eastern Caribbean (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip) Cruise on Koningsdam

Different Experience but still a beautiful ship

New ship. We were prepared for it to NOT be like we have experienced with HAL before. It is indeed different. While we prefer the style of Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam over the Koningsdam, we would still sail Koningsdam again because the level and quality of service from HAL is consistent and worth every penny.

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Nieuw Amsterdam

December 2015 - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip) Cruise on Nieuw Amsterdam

Zuiderdam

December 2014 - 11 Night Panama Canal Sunfarer (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip) Cruise on Zuiderdam

Wonderful time doing a partial Canal transit

As it turned out we were there for the 100 anniversay of the canal, which was kind of cool. We thoroughly enjoyed the Zuiderdam and all of ports. Quite a memorable time.

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Navigator of the Seas

December 2013 - 7 Night Western Caribbean (Galveston roundtrip) Cruise on Navigator of the Seas

Eurodam

December 2012 - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean (Ft. Lauderdale roundtrip) Cruise on Eurodam

Allure of the Seas

December 2011 - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean (Ft. Lauderdale roundtrip) Cruise on Allure of the Seas

Veendam

July 2011 - 7 Night Bermuda (New York roundtrip) Cruise on Veendam

Nieuw Amsterdam

December 2010 - 7 Night Western Caribbean (Ft. Lauderdale roundtrip) Cruise on Nieuw Amsterdam

Ryndam

April 2010 - 14 Night Western Caribbean Collector (Tampa roundtrip) Cruise on Ryndam

Koningsdam

Koningsdam

Sail Date: December 10, 2018

Another great cruise with just a few hiccups

Overall we had a great time. This ship had just come out of dry dock and I wasn't sure what to expect. There were some changes to the floor plan from the last time we sailed on it. The biggest disappointment was that the shops were not really ready. The two largest shops (not the high end jewelry/watch shops) still had much of their inventory in boxes well into the start of the second week of the cruise. The inventory and selection we were used to was just not there and that was disappointing. The Rolling Stone room was a bit underwhelming as well as the same songs are played every night.

Read Full Review

Koningsdam

Koningsdam

Sail Date: December 14, 2016

Different Experience but still a beautiful ship

New ship. We were prepared for it to NOT be like we have experienced with HAL before. It is indeed different. While we prefer the style of Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam over the Koningsdam, we would still sail Koningsdam again because the level and quality of service from HAL is consistent and worth every penny.

Read Full Review

Cruise Tips

Soufriere, St. Lucia

Holland America does a great job of getting really close to the Piton and turning around several times so that everyone on board gets a great view.

Philipsburg, St. Maarten

We took the water taxi ($7 pp roundtrip) to the shore and had previously made arrangements to rent an umbrella and chairs at Holland House right on the beach. For $20 we got the chairs, umbrella and six beers. Great location. Close to shopping and ship. Great way to DIY.

Castries, St. Lucia

From experience we knew the folks outside of the cruise terminal can get very aggressive. So, we booked an excursion that was called Northern Highlights and beach escape. We were disappointed as the "highlights" was just driving around with nothing in particular to see and we had only 1 hour at the beach. At the beach, you had to pay extra for an umbrella and chair.

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

We docked at CrownBay which is ok. We did book a beach excursion to Magen's Bay and that was fantastic--crowded but really really nice.

Bridgetown, Barbados

One of my most favorite ports! We paid $5 pp each way for a shuttle to Harbour Lights on Carlisle Bay. I had pre-booked and paid for 2 chairs and an umbrella ($25 total) which included use of the showers and bathrooms. We had a wonderful time. Another great DIY excursion.

Roseau, Dominica

Wasn't sure what to expect at this port but it was great. The port itself was not so great as it was the "industrial" port but we did book an excursion to Hibiscus Falls and then to a local beach. It was quite a drive but the falls were beautiful. You do have to walk down several steep steps to get to the falls but it is amazing! The beach we went to was nice--a black sand beach--but shade is limited and if your group arrives later in the day, then you are out of luck finding shade.

Fort-De-France, Martinique

This is a very pretty/scenic port and there is much to see and do if you just want to walk around in the immediate area. We booked a snorkeling excursion and that was great. Because we docked closed to the city center, we had plenty of time to do the excursion, go back to the cabin and then head out once more to explore for a bit. Would love to return.

Koningsdam

Koningsdam

Prime locations--like Crow's nest and the loungers on the top tier of the pool area get taken quickly.

Castries, St. Lucia

The immediate are around the port is not much to look at. The taxi drivers that hang around the terminal are very agressive--and I mean very. We finally found someone to take us to Vigi (vee-gee) beach. It is not far from the terminal, but it is on the other side of the airport, so walking is not ideal. We paid $15 each way for the taxi (we probably should have haggled for a better price) and then paid $20 for 2 loungers in the shade. There were bathing facilities and a cafe near. The beach is very clean and the view gorgeous. Unfortunately the water that day was really rough and not ideal for swimming. The people working there were very attentive and made sure we had everything we needed. They told us that some days the water is just rough like that.

St. George's, Grenada

What a delightful little port! We decided to take the hop-on-hop-off trolley for $19 pp. It takes you all around the port area and makes stops at different places. Entrance to the fort is included as is entrance to the local museum. We saw some great things and took some great pics. We even visited the Grenada Chocolate factory, which was very cool.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Having visited San Juan before, we decided to just walk around the Old Town. We walked the entire length of the Paseo de la Princesa, which takes you along the perimter of El Moro fort. It also takes your right to the door of San Juan. It is very nice. The old town itself looks to be back to normal. There is some damage here and there but you can't tell if it is from the hurricane or not. Several of the business right on the water front (across from the ship's pier) are not operating.

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

We went to Coki beach on our own. What a great day! It was a 15-20 minute ride by taxi--about $20 each way for 2. We paid $20 for 2 loungers and am umbrella. Would definately visit here again if we visit St. Thomas.

Basseterre, St. Kitts

What a beautiful island! We booked an excursion for a beach break. We drove about 30 minutes to Spice Mill beach resort. It was a gorgeous drive to the beach and the beach/bay area was beautiful. Worth the money for sure.

Pointe-A-Pitre, Guadeloupe

I wasn't sure what we would do at this port. The excursions were limited but my research also indicated that there wasn't much to do at the port area. So, we booked an excursion that took us to Pigeon island for snorkeling. The drive was about 45 minutes and went through the national park/rain forest. The drive was very nice. We went from Basseterre to the island next to it, gran terre. The beach area was apparently a preserve founded by Jacques Cousteau. Losts of family out enjoying the water. We took a boal and circled Pigeon Island several times, finally stopping to snorkel. On the way back, we stopped at Ecrevisses falls in the national park and it was beautiful. Wonderful photo stop. This was my least favorite port as I felt the excursion was over priced. But without the excursion, I am not sure what we would have done.

Bridgetown, Barbados

Very nice port but the ship was a distance from the terminal. The ship did have shuttles to take us back and forth. The terminal is nice and has plenty of shopping but there is a larger shopping center a short walk away. We booked a beach excursion and when to Harbor Lights beach club, about a 10 minute drive from the port. This was the best beach of all that we visited on this trip. Beautiful, clear water that was very calm. You can swim our for a bit and the water doesn't get past 6 ft. We loved this beach and would return to this beach club on our own if we visit again.

St. John's, Antigua

This was a busy port with lots shops right next to the terminal. We booked a snorkeling excursion that also took us to a beach. Great excursion. Water was really chopping which really freaked out some folks, but the crew of the catamaran were super nice.

Veendam

Veendam

This is a nice ship but it is a small ship. If you are used to sailing on Royal or Carnival, you will be shocked by the size. Even if you are used to sailing the bigger ships of HAL--like Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, etc. you will still be surprised. But after a few days we got used to the smallnees. It made it a very intimate experience and it was nice that all the crew remembered your names. We very much felt at home.

Willemstad, Curacao

What a beautiful port! So picturesque! HAL docks in the downtown area and even passes through the "floating bridge". We enjoyed sitting on the promedade deck as we watched the bridge open and close. We hired a taxi/van driver and he took us all around the island for 3 hours--$15 each, I think. We made several stops, including one to the Curacao distillerary.

Enter Panama Canal At Cristobal

Amazing! I recommend anyone get up early to see the approach because all the good viewing spots are taken up quickly. From our balcony we could actually touch the sides of the locks. Incredible experience.

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

The port itself is not much, nor is the surrounding area. We booked an excursion to do white water river rafting and it was awesome! Probably the best exursion we've done.

Cartagena, Colombia

The ship docks in a very "industrial" port but you do get nice views of the bay. We booked an excursion to the fort and also had a city tour. It was very nice. Lots of begging, which is hard to stomach. But still, we had a wonderful time.

Exit Panama Canal At Cristobal

We left the ship for an excursion. Rather than returning to the ship and exiting the locks, most exursions will end in Colon and the ship picks you up there.

Oranjestad, Aruba

We did a DIY beach break. It was very easy as the public bus stop is righ across from where we docked. It think it cost us $2 round trip to get to the beach. The beaches are very clean and there are chairs and palapas on some of them. If you do use them, however, someone (I think from the nearest hotel/park) will collect $5 a person for their use. The water was very rough the day we went and I took a major swan dive. It scared the heck out of me!!

Willemstad, Curacao

If your ship is small enough (like those of Holland America), it docks in downtown Willemstad--not the big mega pier. To do this it will pass through the Queen Emma bridge. This floating pontoon bridge swings open about every 30 minutes. It is a delight to watch it open and close from the ship.

Willemstad, Curacao

Don't miss the Curacao Liquor Distillery, where the Senor family created and now produces their world-famous Curacao blue liquor! Mini museum, taste testing, gift shop--all for free!

New York, New York

If you sail out of Manhattan, secure a spot on deck on the starboard side...you will pass right by the Statue of Liberty while sailing down the Hudson. Awesome photo opp!

Willemstad, Curacao

If your ship docks by the swinging bridge, don't forget to get out on deck to see the floating bridge "open" and "close" for your ship. It is quite a sight!

St. George's, Bermuda

A stop at the Lily Bermuda perfumery is a must! This perfume can only be purchased in Bermuda (or on their website). But if you see something you like, buy it because the stores on the island are limited and they don't always have the same fragrances as the perfumery.

Philipsburg, St. Maarten

We also enjoy St. Maarten. This time we made a point of going to Marigold to try something tasty at Sarafinas. Yumm!

Grand Turk Island

This may be my second favorite port because of how close the ship is to the beach. Also, Margaritaville has a huge pool in the port that cruise passengers are free to use.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

We enjoy San Juan very much but decided to visit the Barcardi Factory on our own. We winded up spending less than $10 a person to get there and back. Great visit.

Koningsdam

Koningsdam

Don't get hung up on how things look or are arranged on their other ships. Koningsdam is nothing like the other ships--enjoy it for what it is.

George Town, Grand Cayman

Take tour (or DIY) of the the Cayman Islands Brewery and the Cayman Spirits Distillery. The distillery makes Seven Fathoms Rum, THE BEST rum I have ever had--I've had rum from Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, etc. & this is by far the best. Get a behind the scenes look and samples of the rum & beer

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