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Old May 5th, 2010, 03:05 AM
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Default May 9-16 Daily Virtual Cruise Reports from the Veendam

Beginning Sunday May 9 I'll be filing daily stories live from the Veendam, as we sail from NY to Bermuda.

Join with me to share one of my favorite things; getting to sail out past the Statue of Liberty.

I've never sailed this itinerary before; only having stopped in Bermuda for a 1 day port visit, during a transatlantic crossing. So you can discuss Bermuda with me, and leave tips here of what I shouldn't miss on this visit.

Just post any questions about the ship, Bermuda, or HAL and I'll do my very best to get answers.

Otherwise.. just "cruise along" with me and share the fun with me, and we'll see what trouble I can stay out. Mrs. Kuki isn't coming along to take care of me, and honestly when I travel without her, I do seem to get caught up in some mis-adventures.

Stay near the phone honey. I may have to call for bail money
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Last edited by Kuki; July 2nd, 2010 at 01:02 AM.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 12:58 PM
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Kuki - have a GREAT trip.

Looking forward to your daily reports & hope you don't have a rough crossing!!
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Old May 5th, 2010, 03:13 PM
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Have agreat cruise and I will be also reading your reports everyday.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 12:41 PM
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Have a wonderful cruise .I did the Manhattan to Bermuda in 1973 on the Cunard Ambassador ,that was our first foree into cruising .I vividly recall the Bon Voyage party before the ship left the dock with freiends and relatives .

I hope you have sufficient time and beautiful weather in Manhattan to see as much as you can of the area
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Old May 7th, 2010, 07:16 PM
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Have a great cruise.
we have just booked our first HAL cruise for the end of
sept so will probably have a few questions for you during your cruise

Grant
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Old May 8th, 2010, 07:10 PM
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David and I have generally liked the Veendam. I'm anxious to hear about the remodel et al. Have a super trip and a margarita or a martini for us if you please. Cheers!
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Old May 9th, 2010, 11:28 PM
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Travel Day, Overnight, and Night One
Normally when I fly, especially without Mrs. Kuki accompanying me, I have a bit of a bit of a habit of running into some “unusual situations”. This trip, was atypical, as my flight left relatively close to “on time”, and I was even on it when it left.
Now, the actual airplane we flew on was not typical either. My seat was both an aisle seat and a window seat. That caught my attention! No I wasn’t flying this baby. It’s just an odd configuration. The overhead bin was just large enough to hold a ball-cap, if I‘d be wearing one.
The flight however was thankfully eventful, except for the circling we did in tough winds, attempting to land at Newark. One of our turns was so tight I could have just slipped out the window, and landed on deck of whatever RCI ship was docked at Bayonne, N.J.
But land we did, and to my disbelief my checked back was the third case to show up on the carousel. The Holland rep. was there to greet me, and another couple transferring to the same hotel, and off we went, to the Grand Hyatt, located immediately next to (and connected to) Grand Central Station.
Grand, in the name doesn’t refer to the hotel, but to it’s location… which is very good; a short walk to Time Square. Saturday night in NY, just walking is grand, so I was happy, and enjoyed a bit of a deli pig out at Carnegie Deli.
I awoke this morning to jump in the shower, and found the showerhead in the bathroom just hanging down, limp against the wall. When I turned it on, the water ran weakly down the wall. I guess I had more of a sponge bath, than I did a shower, then happily placed my Holland America luggage tag on my bag, and checked out.
In the lobby, I quickly found the Holland America representatives, and the other journalists on the trip, and we boarded a bus for the quick trip to the Manhattan Pier. I had completed my online check in, and HAL had expedited our check in process at the pier. I had my photo taken for embedding in my “sail and spend card”, received the card, filled in a form stating I had no evidence of The Plague, or Noro-Virus before boarding, and was off to cross the gangway. Other than a bridal party, I think I was actually the first passenger on the ship. Well… sort of on the ship. When they entered my card in their machine at the gangway, there was no me! No doubt the security officer working embarkation thought: “Not the way to start my day!”. Rather than hold up the line building behind me, he made note of my cabin # and sent me on my way, instructing me to check at the guest relations desk later to get the situation remedied.
I purchased a drink on Lido Deck later, and the system said I was still not me, but the bartender handwrote a receipt, and I was on my way. So, after my drink, my next step was to guest relations. After some time “behind the scenes” I was told somehow my entire reservation had disappeared, wiped from the system, between the time I checked in, and the time I boarded. I waited patiently, telling them there was no way I was going to back to the Grand Hyatt to spend a week. Guest relations staff were friendly, helpful and apologetic, and after about 15 minutes there was officially a “me”, and I was on my way, with a “sail and spend” card that we thought would work. I was set to begin the cruise.
Cabins were not going to be ready for occupancy until 1:30 P.M. so I proceeded to Lido deck to mil around with the other 1350 passengers.
I last sailed the Veendam in 1998. In the spring of 2009 was her most recent refit, where she was upgraded to the standard of Holland America’s “Signature of Excellence”, so we toured her to see the changes (much more on those as the cruise progresses).
I’m a smoker. I know I’m ugly, I stink… just shoot me! Now that we’ve got that out of the way. Here’s the facts…
The only places I’ve so far determined where one can smoke is an area in the Crow’s Nest Lounge, an area on the aft deck, starboard side by a bar, in the casino at specified times and days, in cabins and on balconies.
But, today, during embarkation one couldn’t smoke outdoors because we were “bunkering” (taking on fuel), the Crow’s Nest was closed for a private party, the casino was closed because we were in port, and the cabins weren’t available for occupancy. Unbelievably, I survived! (Sorry!)
The point is… I think non smokers will probably be quite pleased with Holland America’s restricted smoking policies in the public rooms; not so happy that it forces smokers to their cabins and balconies. We evil smokers will either adapt, or quit.
Smoking is a “hot button” issue for many. At the moment I think something like only 20% of the North American population smokes. I would actually like to see a cruise line set up “smoking sections” within the cabins onboard, even as an experiment. All of these cabins should be towards the aft of the ship, so even on balconies, smoke would be blowing back while the ship is underway.
At any rate, on to other less lethal topics…
At 4:15 the horn sounded for the life boat drill. New to Holland America, you aren’t required to take you life jacket with you to the drill. This is apparently to avoid injuries from people tripping on the long straps, as they literally dragged them along. Of NOTE… they cabin steward does knock on the cabin door to make you aware you should go to the drill, and once there, they did take attendance. I was there to yell “Aye”, but they didn’t ask me to show my sail and spend card to see if I was still me, or if I’d been deleted again.
It was quite a chilly and very windy day in New York today. With regard to weather, I’ve actually had little luck with sailing out of New York. This is my third time sailing out of New York, and each time we’ve sailed past the Statue of Liberty (which I LOVE doing), I’ve been dressed in clothes more appropriate for Alaska, and still shivering.
We’ve just pulled away from the pier. Time to head up out on deck and check out the sail-away party, as we pass next to Lady Liberty. Some thing new, since I last sailed Holland America, is a pool-side barbeque during sail-a-way. It apparently works very well, because there was a surprisingly large turnout. Of course there’s no way to tell if they were there for the food or the band, but the voice in my head was telling me the food must take a lot of credit for the resultant festivities.
Though the temperature was hovering close to 45-50 degrees outside, I made my way to the aft outdoor (and uncovered) “Retreat” area to get a better view, when I came across a few other hearty souls, most wrapped in heavy sweatshirts and even blankets to try and stay warm. But I also came across a young honeymoon couple, enjoying each other’s company in the hot tub.
This brought to mind just how many younger people I’d already seen on this cruise. For some reason it’s still not something many of think about when thinking Holland America. Some may think it’s just because I’ve grown old, having recently turned 60, so everyone just looks younger to me. But, though the “older folks” are most certainly still well represented, there seem to be substantially more young people at least test “driving dad’s Cadillac”.
Once again, I attempted to purchase a drink at a bar, and once again the ship’s computer system didn’t want to recognize my existence. Back to Guest Relations I went, and they checked and said I was A OK on their screen.
I wasn’t too concerned as my card opened my cabin door so I carried on. A short time later an invitation to a cocktail party arrived in my cabin mail slot, addressed to Lillian, with my last name. I couldn’t decide if Mrs. Kuki had arrived to surprise me, but changed her name before coming, or if I should be looking for a dress to wear to cocktails and dinner.
This cruise marks the first time I’ve been on a ship in over a year after a voluntary hiatus from cruising. Let me be clear… I am very happy to be at sea again. But I got reminded of two things very quickly; television service is pretty crappy, and internet service can be very spotty… which is why today’s report hasn’t been posted earlier, and you’ll also have to wait for the picture of the honeymoon couple in the hot tub as we left New York.
I told you, there’s always a bit of misadventure when I travel without Mrs. Kuki to manage me. BTW.. Happy Mother’s Day Dear!!
- A View From the Kuki Side of Cruising-
 
 
 
 
 
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Old May 10th, 2010, 12:44 AM
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Veendam - Continued
To start, I want to backtrack just a bit to last night because I have to mention how excellent our dinner was. For some reason the first night of every cruise is a bit chaotic in the dining room. As a wise friend once said, and I’ve since stolen it as my own…. “ it’s our first night, not the ship’s, so there’s really no excuse for chaos”. Our group had a reservation in the Anytime Dining room, and though I knew the table numbers, I entered the dining room from the lower level, which is for everyone using the anytime dining. I wanted to get a peek at the system in operation, to observe it for just a few minutes.
There were two lines; one for those with reservations, another for walk-ins. It was just prior to 8 P.M. There were a couple of groups who appeared to be waiting to be seated, and a line perhaps 3 or 4 deep of others waiting to be seated, but other than overhearing a gripe or two, things to be proceeding fairly efficiently.
I ordered a fruit medley to start, a seasonal salad, and Prime Rib for my entrée, and I was completely satisfied with each course. I’m not a huge fan of Prime Rid because it can often be quite fatty, but I felt tonight’s was as good as I’ve had on any ship. I somehow managed to squeeze in a piece of excellent apple strudel accompanied by a very good cup of coffee.
I’m admittedly not a gourmand, but I know what I enjoy, and I very much enjoyed tonight’s dinner. Always nice to begin a cruise with a satisfying meal, with little drama.
Through lively conversation, we’d overstayed our welcome in the dining room, and it was late to attend the first night’s show, so I walked the public areas a bit. The casino appeared quite busy for a first night. It is smaller than I recall from our previous sailing, possibly because of the newly added Mix Lounges area nearby. I’ll have to check to see if the casino size was indeed reduced.
Our clocks were going forward, meaning an hour of missed sleep, so I didn’t stop to play a bit of Blackjack, as I’m want to do. Devoted writer that I am, I returned to the cabin to write for you. A few hairs pulled out of my head over connection times, and the signal for ESPN fading in and out, but I did get the first report sent before retiring for the night.
My cabin steward had brought me the coolest ashtray for my cabin (so I could exercise my filthy habit). Today, I suppose it would be considered “Art Deco”, but I bet it comes from very old stock, hidden it the depths of the bowels of the ship somewhere. If you remember the type, it’s deep, and has a spining-top set of plates on it. It looks like a Spinning Tip I’d played with as a child. Now it’s “antique”; a dangerous endangered species, that likely on any ship, other than a HAL ship, they wouldn’t know what it even is.
Now, I’m either going to smoke a cigarette to use, or just play with it, or go to sleep.
Clock’s go forward one hour tonight, so I think sleep is going to win out.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 12:18 PM
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KUKI - thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Sounds like you are having a great time so far.

Could you please do me/us one favour and put a break line between paragraphs - it's kind of hard on the eyes reading it - at least you did break it down in paragraphs, whereas some people never do this.

e.g.

Travel Day, Overnight, and Night One

Normally when I fly, especially without Mrs. Kuki accompanying me, I have a bit of a bit of a habit of running into some “unusual situations”. This trip, was atypical, as my flight left relatively close to “on time”, and I was even on it when it left.

Now, the actual airplane we flew on was not typical either. My seat was both an aisle seat and a window seat. That caught my attention! No I wasn’t flying this baby. It’s just an odd configuration. The overhead bin was just large enough to hold a ball-cap, if I‘d be wearing one.

The flight however was thankfully eventful, except for the circling we did in tough winds, attempting to land at Newark. One of our turns was so tight I could have just slipped out the window, and landed on deck of whatever RCI ship was docked at Bayonne, N.J.

Have a WONDERFUL time and keep up with your great reports.

Dee Dee
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Old May 10th, 2010, 01:42 PM
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Hi Toots,
Leave it to you to practically blow into NYC,and then out to sea...We sure did have a blustery cold weekend here,and I am glad you will see some warmth soon, in Bermuda.

Bruce would have ordered a prime rib, right along with you,and ate it with gusto....glad your 1st dining experience started off on a good note..

Back in 98, when you guys sailed on the Veendam,and I stayed in FLL. Robi was able to get me a tour on the ship...I remember some "secret" cabins up on the suite level. The were inside, and humongus..the crew member showing us around, said they were not handicapped, just BIGGER! Maybe you can find out, so some Cruisemates can take advantage of the extra space..

Looking forward to your next chapter..enjoy!
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Old May 10th, 2010, 02:26 PM
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Hi Kuki, really enjoying your writing adventures for this cruise. We just returned from another Transatlantic (Navigator of the Seas). Great cruise and crossing!! Looked forward to all your dailing reports on the Veendam. John & Priscilla
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Old May 10th, 2010, 02:48 PM
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TRIP - you said "Back in 98, when you guys sailed on the Veendam,and I stayed in FLL. Robi was able to get me a tour on the ship...I remember some "secret" cabins up on the suite level. The were inside, and humongus..the crew member showing us around, said they were not handicapped, just BIGGER! Maybe you can find out, so some Cruisemates can take advantage of the extra space.."

I remember HAL taking some of the Inside cabins on Navigation deck to make room for the Neptune Lounge - these could have been the "secret" cabins.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 03:01 PM
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Default Veendam Honeymooners leaving NY

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Old May 10th, 2010, 03:07 PM
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Veendam at Sea Cont’d
If you’re reading along with me on this cruise, just a reminder to be easy on me as I am writing this on the fly, and mostly late in the night, and posting it unedited. So, please excuse the grammatical errors, typos and even misspelling which in evidently occur during the process.
Now, back to the regularly scheduled programming…

The Veendam Lido Deck buffet is still set up in continuing cafeteria style buffet lines, as opposed to the newer ships, many of which feature separated “action station” style separated individual serving stations. I’d made a mental note yesterday, the all the buffet lines required staff serve the food, as opposed to passengers helping themselves. In fact the front of the buffet line, where one would normally help themselves is covered by long lengths of film wrap. I imagine this was done to prevent the spread of gastrointestinal illnesses (such as Noro-virus). When I went to the buffet for breakfast this morning, the same system was still in place. This even included the areas where coffee and tea is normally accessible. One had to wait in line for the staff to serve coffee. This did make getting a cup of coffee a rather long process, and had to be repeated to get a refill. I noticed a waiter, attempting to get a coffee refill for a guest, but the staff working the coffee station told him he had to get in line with the other passengers waiting.

I can understand the preventative move in establishing the system, but it frankly doesn’t make for very efficient service, nor does it make very good use of the time of the crew involved.

Last night at dinner we had an interesting discussion at our table about Internet cruise sources, web sites, and social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Within the context of that discussion, Erik Elvejord, the Director of Public Relations for Holland America, and our host on this trip, told me he recently discovered that CruiseMates was Holland America’s # 1 source on “the net” for “click-throughs”, which means many of the members of the CruiseMates community do click on HAL’s advertising on CruiseMates seeking more information about Holland America cruises. So, thanks to all the members and readers at CruiseMates for helping make us #1 with Holland America!

I've finally wised-up to the fact that wifi in the cabins is hit and miss. Whereas in public rooms it's very good. So while I write in my cabin most nights, once I head to a public room I should be able to get these reports out in a timely matter.

Heck, it only took me a day to "settle in" I do get smarter eventually
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Old May 10th, 2010, 05:11 PM
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Sorta sad seeing a pom pom hat in a hot tub..oh well, pretty soon,he will be bare headed!
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Old May 11th, 2010, 07:25 AM
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Default Shrimp Cocktails Anyone?

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Old May 11th, 2010, 07:34 AM
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Default After Our First Full Day On the Veendam

I had heard that on occasion the sailing from New York City to Bermuda can offer a bit of “a ride”. There was some minor motion last night, but through the day today the seas just had a slight ripple, and though it only got into the mid 50s F, when the sun was out it felt quite warm. A surprising number of people were out pool-side in bathing suits, enjoying the sail.

The daily schedule listed quite a number of activities, from some pool-side fun, to digital photo classes, to a wine tasting ($15 per person), as well as a beer tasting (which I didn’t attend, so at the moment I don’t know the cost), to afternoon tea… where I did stop in for a little nibble.

My cabin,#817, is located on Deck 4. Make sense? I think someone had fun coming up with cabin numbers when designing the Veendam’s deck plans. It would have made so much more sense to have cabins on Deck 4, begin with the number 4; but then no doubt it wouldn’t have provided someone with such good humor doing their work. Sadly, my mind can understand the fun they likely had, and wish I’d had the assignment. If I were in charge the numbers wouldn’t even relate to the cabins next to them. I’d have the cabin right next to me numbered 1263, and #192 on the other side.

At any rate, cabin #817 is a standard outside cabin, with a window. The layout makes excellent use of the space. It’s well designed space, with more than enough drawer space, closet and shelf space. The one thing I do miss is a small refrigerator. I am a bit surprised these weren’t added in the refit last year.

The bathrooms were obviously redone, and they’re very nice, and certainly utilitarian. There is a bathtub/shower combination, and it’s equipped with a flexible, moveable shower wand, with very good water pressure.

Word is out that the Veendam will not be stopping in St. George tomorrow, as stated in the itinerary. Tendering passengers to shore is required in St. George, and the prediction is seas will be a bit to rough to easily and safely bring the ship to anchorage there. Instead we’ll be heading directly to Hamilton, and tied up pier side, directly off of Front Street. The final decision hasn’t been made, but that seems to be the plan at the moment. This is the third week of Veendam’s Bermuda itinerary, and the previous two sailings also had the same results. As the calendar moves further into “ the season” it probably becomes more likely that the ship will anchor off of St George as intended.

In the afternoon we were taken on a tour of the galley. Over the years I’ve been on several galley tours, but of late most have been on the larger ships which have been built the past few years. In comparison it was somewhat odd visiting a smaller galley today. Certainly every bit of space available is made use of, and in some areas there’s only small spaces available for the crew around the kitchen equipment needed.

During our tour we were told of one thing that I would guess is probably unique to Holland America; there are two crew galleys; one for the Filipino crew and another totally separate for the Indonesian crew. It was explained that the distinct galleys had nothing to do with any issues having to do with the relationships of the crew from different countries. Rather it was because of the dietary restrictions and needs of the two different cultures. For example, the Indonesians do not eat pork products, yet pork is very popular with Filipinos. On cruise lines with a more international mix of service staff and crew there’s likely more compromise on food preparation necessary, but because of the mostly Filipino and Indonesian crew on Holland America they are able to address their needs more specifically.

I’ve been avoiding the elevators and just taking the stairs, but earlier today I rode the elevator, and it told me today was Monday. I remember this feature; the day of the week on the carpet in the elevators, on Royal Caribbean ships, but I don’t recall seeing it before on Holland America ships. I think it’s a nice feature for cruises, because sometime between day 1 and day 7 your mind normally turns to mush.

This evening was the first of two formal nights; tonight and Friday night. The remaining nights are designated “smart casual”. As per the trend I’ve noticed over the past several years, seeing men in tuxedos on ships has become much more the exception than the rule. Perhaps 10% of those I saw around the ship tonight were wearing tuxedos, perhaps 75% were wearing suits and ties. The other 25% were wearing “other“.

Did anyone check that math? I was just checking to see if you were paying attention.

During our galley tour this afternoon we’d been shown the large screen in the galley that is the meal count system. It displays the numbers of each entrée being prepared for that evening’s dinner, and as orders come in to galley through dinner, they are scanned, and the numbers ordered are shown and subtracted from the total available.


This afternoon the screen showed they expected more than 1/3 of the passengers would order “the surf & turf”, which is a combination of beef tenderloin and giant prawns.

I had noted from the screen that only 37 orders of the Mushroom Ravioli was being prepared, and since we were dining at 8 P.M. I thought I would order it, to see if they still had it available. Though it was delicious, I’m guessing I could have possibly had another 30 orders.

As is usual on formal nights, the show in the showroom was a “production number”. Tonight’s performance was entitled Bob Mackie’s Broadway. It was explained it was so named because all costumes had been designed by Bob Mackie. I have such a bad ear for music, I find it difficult to tell the difference from Les Miserable to ZZ Top, so I only stayed for a few numbers, and I’ll have to wait until I talk to some more knowledgeable folks who saw it, to share their opinions of the talent. I understand that this isn’t the best trait for someone who writes cruise reviews, but I normally rely on Mrs. Kuki’s more well tuned opinion on musical productions and concerts.

After leaving the showroom, I swung by the casino, and at least during the show, it was a bit quieter than last night. Interestingly, they have a poker table in the casino, with a live dealer, not the automated “Poker Pro” tables which have become so common on ships, and the poker table was full. I didn’t do any gambling tonight, choosing to check out some of the lounges instead. Mix, the newest combination of lounges on the ship was quite busy; particularly the piano bar portion.

Then I was off to bed, and waiting to see where the ship is when I wake up. I’m assured we’ll be somewhere in Bermuda.

I’m thinking my cabin steward may be new to the “towel animal thing”, as when I returned to the cabin tonight I found a blind frog on my bed.

We did wake up this morning achoring at St. George.
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Last edited by Kuki; May 11th, 2010 at 04:38 PM.
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Old May 11th, 2010, 04:39 PM
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Old May 11th, 2010, 09:48 PM
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Default A few pics of St George Bermuda

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Old May 11th, 2010, 09:49 PM
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Old May 11th, 2010, 09:53 PM
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Default The "Fun" story of the day in St. George

St. George, Bermuda
The final decision was made some time during the night that the Veendam would be dropping anchor off of St. George after-all.

The results of that decision provided me with considerable comic fodder for the day, and most likely a huge demand for headache medication for the officers, shore excursion staff and crew of the Veendam.

I’d booked a Segway Tour in St. George for 1:15 P.M. I’ve never ridden on, operated (or whatever terminology is correct in describing what you do with this device) a Segway, and I’m such a clumsy fellow, I thought it might be safer than walking.

To begin the story about today, I have to set it up by informing you the tender service for St. George is run using large local boats, or as the case was today, a single boat, not the ship’s own tenders.

It was noted on my tour ticket to allow 1 hour for tendering to shore. It’s estimated to be a 45 turnaround from ship to the tender pier. The tender schedule was posted in the “Daily Program”, and I noticed a tender scheduled for 10 A.M. and another departing at 11:30. I made the decision that the 11:30 tender should fit my schedule requirements. That was until their was an announcement that the scheduled 10 A.M. tender would be delayed until 10:30, followed shortly thereafter by another announcement delaying it a further half hour. and then, delayed again, this time until 11:00 A.M., so I decided I’d best catch that tender.

At 11 A.M. an announcement was made that in 5-10 minutes the tender would be ready, and everyone was asked to wait until then to make their way to the gangway. The only problem was almost every passenger still on the Veendam had already filled all the hallways and staircases from the gangway location on Deck 3, up to Deck 6. I just poked my head out the cabin door once in awhile until I saw no bodies filling the hallway, and I did manage to get on the tender just prior to it leaving.

These delays tend to create a bit of havoc, having to get passengers who booked ship’s tours to shore in time for their shore excursions. But several tours did end up getting either cancelled, or joined on to later tours because of it.

Though they no doubt tried their best to deal with the chaotic day, but in this particular situation, in Bermuda, it’s only about a 45 minute bus ride from Hamilton (where the ship can dock) to St. George, and there are also ferries available. Therefore it would seem somewhat wiser to go directly to Hamilton and run all tours from there.
 
One interesting thing about traveling without Mrs. Kuki, I tend to hear more of what people are saying around me , instead of being involved in conversations with Mrs. Kuki or other travel mates. I enjoy people watching anyway, and today I combined that with eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. Ok… spying. With all the delays today, my “ears were burning”. At least in the sampling of the folks within my ear shot, there were quite a number of unhappy campers… er cruisers.

While wandering about town waiting for my tour I did talk to several people who had taken the morning tours, and everyone who chose a tour out in the country- side seemed to have very positive comments about the tours themselves. But people who had booked 4 and 5 hours spoke of it being 9 hours from the time they left the ship until they stepped back on the ship.

I did run into the ship’s shore excursion Manager and Assistant Manager near the tender pier, and both seemed somewhat harried. However, as I overheard them field various complaints I can tell you both were very focused, and presented themselves in a most professional and apologetic manner. I’m hoping to find out over the next few days who “the ship” feels was most responsible for today’s events.

Eventually my group for the Segway Tour was gathered together (at least those who’d made the tender on time) and we were led on a short walk to the Segway Tour’s offices. There we waited quite some time for the return of the earlier Segway Tour. After some more hurry up and wait, we found out the earlier tour was delayed getting back because someone on the tour had an accident.

As we waited for them to return to the office, the Shore Excursion Manager did graciously offer anyone who didn’t want to wait any longer a full refund, and some sort of credit for another tour later in the week. Everyone chose to wait.

BTW… thankfully the passenger involved in the accident was not seriously hurt, and I saw him walking back to the tender pier under his own power.
When the previous tour did get back, and Segways returned, the operator was now short two Segways. The injured passenger and his wife were transported back to the office by car, and their two Segways had been left on the roadside where the accident had occurred.

By this time I was rolling on the ground laughing. The entire day was really just too totally messed up, to be anything but funny.

I quickly volunteered to give up my spot, as I was a guest of Holland America, and not a paying customer. It was the only right thing to do for the others who had been waiting so patiently to try the Segways.
Unfortunately in just the short time I was walking around in St. George today, I did see several people who fell, twisting ankles, etc. Just one of those very strange days, where nothing seems to unfold as it should for anyone.

At that point I simply caught the tender back to the ship. And as the tender pulled away from the dock, I did see people running and waving for us to stop; no doubt at the point knowing they had a minimum one hour wait for its return.

This was the first time the Veendam has made it to St. George, and that likely had something to do with organizational problems they encountered with tenders and shore tour operators.

Until they smooth the process, they might want to seriously consider going directly to Hamilton, where they can tie up at the dock, and transport tours from there. I don’t believe it would make the process much longer, and it might in fact make the entire process easier on their guests, and translate to happy guests instead of what they were today.

When I returned to my cabin there was an invitation to a cocktail party this evening waiting for me, and apparently, to the invitee, I am still Jillian. I had to run out, wait for another tender, and run around St George, to find a cocktail dress in my size XXL.

From about 4 P.M. on, there were several announcements stating tenders were available to go ashore. About 7 PM, as I was getting dressed for the cocktail party, there was an announcement , and I almost fell over laughing. The announcement “ There is a tender available at the gangway for anyone WILLING to go ashore”. You can’t make this stuff up!
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Old May 12th, 2010, 07:48 AM
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St George is one of our favorite places in Bermuda - we usually get off the boat and walk to Tobacco Bay and swim/snorkle for the day and then would return to the ship for nap & early dinner and then leave the boat and explore for the evening - enjoying the local show put on in the square and finishing up our evening on shore with a cocktail at the White Horse - but we were always at dock and did not have to use tenders - I hope this does not take away from our enjoyment having to use tenders when we go in September -
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Old May 12th, 2010, 03:18 PM
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Thanks for everything! what a mess the first time at St. George.
Sounds like it would be a good idea to stop only at Hamilton.
Lets hope they get there act together soon. Great review, keep it coming!!
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Old May 12th, 2010, 04:47 PM
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Thanks for this live report...we will be on the 6/27 sailing, and can't wait! Hopefully they will have all the kinks worked out by then.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 04:52 PM
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Kuki:
U r one funny dude. Why r u sailing alone? I sure hope there r folks on that ship that get u. Keep it up!!!!!! I'll be there 7/25. Wanna sneek into my cabin and hide something for me to find?
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Old May 12th, 2010, 10:25 PM
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Default veendam first ship in 3 yrs to dock IN Hamilton

Today, the Veendam was the first ship in three years to dock at the pier, directly on Front Street in the central core of Hamilton. All other ships that currently feature Bermuda on their itineraries either dock at the Dockyards, or will anchor off of St. George.

We’ll be docked here in Hamilton for 2 ½ days, and throughout the season the Veendam will be the only ship docked IN Hamilton. I consider this a huge advantage, if you’re wanting to cruise to Bermuda, and reason enough to choose the Veendam over other ships calling here.

It was a very busy day in Hamilton. Representatives of the Bermuda Department of Tourism had offered our entire group of journalists an escorted tour of some of the highlights of Hamilton.

I’ll go over the sights we visited later, but want to begin today’s report filling in what I was able to learn regarding the difficulties I talked about in yesterday’s report.

We were joined at lunch today by Stacey Evans, Bermuda’s Assistant Director of Tourism, Promotional Services, as well as our host Erik Elvejord, Holland America’s Director of Public Relations. Though perhaps a bit uncomfortably I had to ask about the issues that arose with the tendering in St. George yesterday that created the problems. Both were quite forthright, but explained there were meetings this afternoon on that exact topic, and I would learn more later.

This evening William Griffith, Bermuda’s Director of Tourism came onboard to join, Eric and the press group for cocktails. Once again, I had to ask if a satisfactory resolution had been agreed to, to assure the same problems wouldn’t arise on the ship’s next visit.

Tonight both Erik and Mr. Griffith were more than willing to discuss it. Mr. Griffith, a most friendly and gracious person (who I’m betting is wonderful at his job) assure us that they will do “whatever it takes” to ensure a smooth tendering operation on the ship’s next visit, next week, and on all future sailings.

He explained that it was thought that the 500 person capacity would be adequate, and because this was the first ship to go through the process he admitted to yesterday unfortunately being the “teething pains” of first visit. Mr. Griffith also told me he will personally be e-mailing me next week, with a full report on the stop next week.

So… while it is sad that the guests on this week’s cruise were negatively impacted, you really can’t ask for more than a promise to address the issues and resolve them, to make sure it never repeats.

Because it’s been such a busy day, and evening, and because I have an early morning golf game tomorrow, and an early evening sail to see the “Famous Homes and Hideaways”, combined with the fact the ship’s Internet service being on and off today, I’ll fill in the rest of today’s story the next chance I have to write.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 10:35 AM
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When I was there in 1973 ,Bermuda to me was paradise .I wonder if its still the same ?
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Old May 13th, 2010, 03:25 PM
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Had a nice time on the Veendam 5/2/10 to 5/9/10 Voyage. Four days in Hamilton was great We cruised the ferry over to St. George on 5/4 in the afternoon and only noted that 8 shops were only open for business
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Old May 13th, 2010, 04:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuki View Post
Today, the Veendam was the first ship in three years to dock at the pier, directly on Front Street in the central core of Hamilton. All other ships that currently feature Bermuda on their itineraries either dock at the Dockyards, or will anchor off of St. George.

Well not quite true.. Just a few months ago the Seven Seas Mariner docked on Front Street.



In 2008 the Norwegian Dream docked in Hamilton fairly often, when she could not make it into St. George's as well. But it is correct to say the Veendam is the first ship to be scheduled to regularly call at Hamilton in the past three years.





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Old May 13th, 2010, 07:32 PM
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Thad.. thanks. Could be possible. I was just going by what I was told by HAL and the Director of Tourism ... or at least I thought I did
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Last edited by Kuki; May 13th, 2010 at 07:47 PM.
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