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Old May 14th, 2010, 11:39 PM
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The Last Straw
I’ve spoken in a previous day’s report about steps taken onboard to try and prevent any spread of gastronomical illness (Norwalk type viruses), such as keeping reachable sides of the buffet covered in film wrap.

Yesterday included with the Daily Program an insert was also included stating there had been some cases reported onboard, and reminding people to wash their hands well, and often. There were also signs of more thorough cleaning of public areas by the crew, as well as banisters, tables, etc.

It doesn’t seem the “outbreak” is very severe as I haven’t witnessed any passengers who appeared to be ill… if that means anything.
One oddity though in this regard; I drink quite a bit of Diet Coke, and each time I do, I’m given a can of Diet Coke, and a glass of ice, but no straw. That’s been the case from the first day, and continued. It’s only odd because I’m not given a straw to drink it through. This is certainly not a big issue, or I’d ask for a straw. It just something I’ve never seen before while cruising. The normal process I’ve seen, is straw placed in the glass with ice, with the top part of the paper covering the straw still in place, showing no staff members had touched the part of the straw you’d be putting to your lips.

Face it; we drink coffee and juices directly from cups and glasses; we put cutlery in our mouths when eating, and drink beer directly from the can occasionally, so the lack of use of a straw is not earth shattering. But in a state of diligence one might think even that measure would be considered preventative.

It does make the bit of the cynical side in me wonder how much money they expect to save by not using straws when they serve sodas.

This evening was the second Formal Night. Tonight we dined in the ships alternate (with a $30 PP surcharge). The Veendam’s Pinnacle Restaurant was added during the 2009 refit, and really doesn’t possess the standout ambience of other ship’s in the Holland America fleet. Though the service was quite slow, when the food did arrive it was outstanding. 14 travel writers present, and I think every morsel disappeared from everyone’s plate. Aside from speed, the service could be more polished in consideration of the fact that guests are paying a premium to eat there, but thoughts about that do disappear once you start digging in to the delicious food.

The only bad thing was getting out of the restaurant at 11 P.M. it was too late to see tonight’s production show, titled Encore, which I heard later was very impressive. I walked through the casino and the few blackjack tables were already filled, so I thought I’d go out by the Retreat upstairs. On my way past on Lido Deck, the late night snacks had started, and I had eaten so much, that seeing people piling food on their plates almost made me sick to my stomach. For a moment I thought I should eat some more to settle my stomach.

Bermuda Cruising
I understand that one can fly to Bermuda from most cities in the northeastern United States in about 1 ½ hrs. Apparently it’s quite common for many people to visit Bermuda using that means of transportation. I’m also told by the Bermuda Tourism people that the average stay in Bermuda is 3 to 4 days. Visitors from further distances might stay a full week.

I found the short terms of the stays quite surprising. I suppose I had always thought of Bermuda as a vacation destination, rather than as a quick weekend getaway. Other than the sometimes very good bargains available for flights to Bermuda, the cost of a land stay in Bermuda can quite high. Apparently, in high season hotels can run $300 to $400 per night, and dining and entertainment are not necessarily cheap either.
As the Director of Tourism explained to me, the costs of hotels in Bermuda is not really different from the same costs in cities such as New York or London, for example. Having just spent a night in New York, I certainly can’t argue that case.

Cruising from Bermuda is a bit different than “regular cruising”. By that I mean the majority of cruises I’ve taken involve multiple ports of call within a particular region. On some itineraries, and on a limited number of ships, there may be the odd overnight stay, but as a rule, in each port of call the ship arrives in the morning, and leaves sometime later that afternoon or evening.

When you book a Bermuda cruise, Bermuda is where you are going. It’s all about visiting Bermuda. In essence you are using the ship as your transportation, and accommodation while visiting Bermuda. Of course, by ship, there’s also the advantage of having whatever meals you wish to have on the ship, and those costs being included in your fare.

I know quite often, on Caribbean cruises, some experienced cruisers will even skip getting off the ship in some ports which they’ve visited often. This wouldn’t seem as likely on cruises to Bermuda, when it is the sole destination.
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