I would be interested in any feedback on this cruise and any shore tours. We are unable, due to time constraints, to spend an extra few days in Costa Rica as some other people on this board did.
I continue to be amazed at the wealth of knowledge of the participants of this board not to mention their helpfulness!
We enjoyed the Amsterdam for its newness, largeness, and passenger service. This was our fourth cruise with HAL. Be sure to have the HAL personnel, in Fort Lauderdale, provide a morning trip to the Everglades. Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, was OK but nothing outstanding. St. Johnís, U.S. Virgin Islands, snubbing was outstanding. Willemstad, Netherlands, was interesting Ė like a trip to the Nederlands. Panama Canal was always interesting; be prepared for a long day Ė itís too bad that there isnít a port stop there. San Jose, Costa Rica, the coffee plantation is a must to seet.
Thanks Jim, I appreciate your reply. We are flying in the day of the cruise. How did you make arrangements for the Everglades tour? We would love to go, if time permits. Did you take a ship's shore tour in Nicaragua? Also, we are flying home the last day of the cruise but would love to see more of Costa Rica. How did you arrange that stop?
We would appreciate any more of your comments. I understand there are a few people on this board that have booked on the Amsterdam in the near future. This will be our first cruise with HAL and we are really excited.
HAL flew us in a day early because we live on the west coast and they put us up in a nice local hotel. The next morning, the HAL rep in the hotel arranged for the tour as you don't board until that afternoon. The ship damaged one of its two main propellers during our passage thru the Canal; thus, we could only travel at half speed and we had to skip Nicaragua. The ship's tour personnel arranged for our plantation tour since we had the time by skipping Nicaragua. We, also, previously arranged for a ten-day post-cruise tour of Costa Rica - it was wonderful. We visited both coasts, volcanos, crocodile and bird refuges, etc.; even swam in hot volcano water pools, etc.
Sounds like you had an absolutely wonderful trip! We are flying in from the Toronto airport and I would expect that it would be the day of the cruise. However, I would not say no to flying in the day before! Approximately how far in advance did you receive your travel documents?
Again, many thanks, Jim.
For an up-close-and-personal look at Amsterdam (and the hunkiest Captain in the fleet), check my website at
At Half Moon Cay, stake out a hammock or two and rent "blue floaties". I'm sure they have a real name, but I don't know what it is.
If you have a choice, I'd opt for a balcony cabin on the starboard side since you're coming from Florida. Then make friends with somebody on the other side of the ship. It seems that cruise ships are usually in the southern (really western) lane of the canal and if you're facing the "middle" of operations, you see a lot more.
Before you go, don't fail to read "The Path Between the Seas".
If there's anything else we can help with around here, don't hestitate to ask.
pamda -- CM First-Time Cruisers Editor who's waiting to do the Canal a third time.