Our friends David and Ruth asked us to join them on a Caribbean cruise celebrating their fortieth anniversary. As they had never been on a cruise before, they asked for some suggestions.
We chose Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam because it is a mid-sized ship with just over two thousand passengers and a low passenger to crew ratio of about 2.3. Holland boasts they have the most space per passenger of any similar line. A smaller ship is unlikely to have as many entertainment options. A larger is likely to feel crowded.
Dave and Ruth exclaimed at the size of the ship as we drove up to the dock, but later on we saw the Allure of the Seas leaving our port, Port Everglades near Fort Lauderdale. The Allure is one of the largest cruise ships afloat, holding around six thousand passengers. We would like to try it someday if they ever offer a short cruise. It has an ice rink, central park with trees, surf pool and many other amenities only such a huge ship could offer.
As I stood in line waiting to go into breakfast our second day, I thought how lucky we have been. One either likes cruising or not. There seems to be little middle ground. We like it and have been fortunate enough to have cruised on six different lines.
As with everything in life, each cruise line has its plusses and minuses. And much depends on one’s personal preferences. We believe Holland has the best food of the lines we have been on. Royal, however, has better service. In particular, Holland does not seem to be as well organized for breakfast and lunch in their dining rooms. And although “senior citizens,” we enjoy an occasional Carnival cruise. By in large, they have a much younger crowd. The young adults are entertaining just to watch as they have a good time.
One can get waiter service at open seating (Norwegian calls it “free style”) where one can go into the dining room at any time. Sometimes, however, one must wait in line, and we like fixed seating in order to have the same waiters every night. That way they get to know our idiosyncrasies. Alie does not like ice in her water. I want decaf coffee. It also enables you to get to know your tablemates better if you are seated with strangers.
We also prefer late seating so that we have time to relax after our day’s activities before going to dinner. On this cruise, early seating is at 5:30 and late seating at 8:00. Although we asked several months ago, we were unable to get late seating before boarding. We have asked to be changed if an opening occurs. We shall see.
Uploading through a satellite is hard – fewer pictures are likely this time.