Monday, January 24, 2011

Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise to Eastern Caribbean

Nieuw Amsterdam Blog

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Embarkation day is often very busy with lots of scrambling, walking and waiting but oh so nice with the realization that the vacation is about to begin. Note to self (as a media person) make a check list of important items NOT to forget before going out the door. I’m kicking myself, because I forgot my video camera battery charger and spare battery plugged into the wall at home…Disaster! You should have seen my face when I realized I left it plugged in at home…the terror! You see, my job is producing video footage during the cruise and then I edit it all together when I get home. I use two video cameras, however; one is also my still photo camera (a Nikon D90) which also happens to take video. I schedule many interviews during these cruises and often do “two-camera” shooting so now I may be limited to using only my Nikon for photos and video. My first line of business was to check with the video guy onboard the ship to see if he has any equipment that might be compatible with mine, and I there is a possibility that my battery might work in his charger, so stay tuned as I will check with him later this evening. If my battery will fit in his charger then I might be lucky, but if it doesn’t fit, I’ll have to work something out with him to share equipment during specific shoots.

Ok, enough of the sob story. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy departing out of Ft Lauderdale on a cruise ship? Today in port were seven giant cruise ships including the Nieuw Amsterdam. After boat drill, which was at about 4:15, it wasn’t long before the lines were dropped and the Nieuw Amsterdam began to move away from the dock. The captain blew the ship’s whistle as we passed the condominiums and the residents of those apartments tooted their horns in return. This tradition was apparently started about 20 years ago and it makes our exit from Port Everglades that much more festive.

Holland America Line is truly a class-act, and it is such a wonderful feeling boarding the ship for the first time. The crew and staff are all so gracious and the ship’s interior design of course is very warm and classy with artwork everywhere. It’s like being enveloped into a utopian society where everyone is friendly and welcoming. So from a vacationer’s point of view, you can’t get much better than this. The latest CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) statistics for 2010 have indicated that the number of cruise vacationers is increasing and the projections for 2011 show even more increase during these challenging economic times. I have read that the cruise vacation industry is actually doing better than the hotel and resort industry and it won’t be long before the cruise industry will overtake the hotel and resort industry when it comes to numbers. A cruise is simply the best vacation value and more and more vacationers are discovering this.

Right now as I am writing this, I’m watching my son Jacob, playing in the pool on Deck 9 midship. The glass dome has been closed so it’s not as cool as the open air. My son is having a blast playing with the fountain and swimming in the pool. I thought I’d let him burn-off some energy before dinner. He had to put up with a lot of my video and picture taking today, and he has been bugging me since we boarded the ship to go swimming. When we left Minnesota yesterday, Saturday morning, it was fifteen below zero, so this is very nice to be able to stand out on deck without a coat and soak in the Florida sunshine. It was a little cooler today in Ft Lauderdale, however; at about 68 degrees. I’m a little achy right now because of all the walking today, so it’s nice to sit for a little bit and relax. Our home for the week aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam is stateroom 6036 on Deck six forward. I’ve always loved the beds on the Holland America Line ships, they are so comfortable and soft. I think I’m going to sleep well tonight.

Well that’s all I have for today. We’re onboard and ready to enjoy a week of bliss in the Caribbean aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam. Tomorrow we will be at Holland America’s private island beach area, and having been there before I can tell you that it is a slice of heaven on earth with powder-white sandy beaches.

Monday, January 24, 2011

We ate in Tamarind last night which is an Asian Fusion type of cuisine. The experience was excellent! Only the Eurodam and the Nieuw Amsterdam share this fine restaurant within the Holland America Line fleet. There were some unique tastes and flavors combined that offered a truly exquisite fine-dinning experience. My nine-year-old son even enjoyed the food, and it was funny to see him try sushi and caviar for the first time. At 9:30pm was the introductory show hosted by the Cruise Director. All of the performers gave us a sample of what to expect from them during the cruise, including a quartet of men called Cantare that made a very positive impression on the audience. I’ve heard good reviews already of these singers, so I had high expectations, and without question Cantare was excellent. My wife says she wants to go to that show for sure tonight. I was surprised to see my son dance, clap and enjoy the show last night.

Today we arrived at Half Moon Cay and were off the ship at 8:30am. It was cloudy and not as warm as we would have preferred in the morning, but we grabbed our clam shell and got settled on the beach. At 9:30am we had an appointment to participate in the stingray adventure, a shore excursion offered by Holland America Line. This is a fun excursion to do as a family if only it wasn’t so cold. We gutted it out and enjoyed feeding squid to the stingrays, then went back to our clam shell base camp on the beach. I took a little detour and stopped at Captain Morgan’s Bar, a new bar shaped like an old pirate ship. This was very cool! If you climb up to the top deck, you can get a fantastic view of the whole island from up there. At around noon the sun came out and we had a nice time on the beach. My son played at one of the play areas with more pirate ships to climb on. For families, there are great facilities where the kids can play, including a water park with a fountain and floaty things in the water. I have been to this beach about ten years ago when the Zaandam first came out and I was excited to bring my wife and son this time. I’ve been to a number of cruise line-owned beaches and Half Moon Cay is my favorite because of the powder-white sand and the incredible beach.

Access America, Sea-Band, Victorinox Swiss Army, The Cruise Web

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