Noordam, Part 9
Day 9 Wednesday May 12, 2010 Sea Day
It had been a rocky and restless night at sea, and we were up to see the dawn of our second to last Sea Day.
The temperature was already 27C or 81F, and the information on the cabin TV told us that there were gale force 9 winds, and 7-8 foot swells in the sea.
We could feel the rocking, as we had done most of the night, and as we made our way to the gym for Jamesí workout and my early morning Pilates class, we were really rolling.
I had signed up to do another Walk for the Cure, which was supposed to take place this morning, right after my Pilates class, but with the strong winds and the rocking, I figured they would hold it indoors.
Just as my class ended, an announcement was made that the Walk would be postponed due to the danger of the high winds on the Promenade Deck.
After doing Pilates partly on my stomach, and rolling around on the mat, I was feeling a little queasy with the rough seas.
I decided to play it safe and take a Gravol right away and went back to my cabin to lie down and sleep it off.
Fortunately, a two hour nap and a calming of the seas helped a lot, and I was feeling much better in time to meet our team for the 12:20 Name That Tune Trivia out by the aft pool.
Our teammate Phil played while IN the pool!
It was exceptionally hot out there, but we managed to get an umbrella for our table, and we did amazingly well answering the questions.
In fact, we got them all right, but unfortunately missed the bonus question and only came in 2nd place.
James and I had to rush off as soon as we finished Trivia as we had an invitation to the Captain's Repeat Passengers' Luncheon, held in the Vista Dining Room.
We were running late, and as we entered the elevator, the Captain himself stepped out, and James said "Hello Captain, we were just coming up to meet you," and Captain John Scott replied, "Well, you've just met me!"
So, we missed the formal meeting and the photo-op with the Captain at the luncheon, but at least we met him!
The luncheon itself was a spectacular affair. The dining room was full, and ours was the 2nd seating!
The tables were nicely decorated with fresh flowers, and champagne was poured throughout the meal.
The menu had a choice of 2 Appetizers; Mariner's Seafood Cocktail
OR Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken Breast. We had one of each, and they were excellent.
The choices of Entrees were: Poached Salmon with mustard sauce, sauteed spinach and potatoes,
OR Sirloin Steak with green peppercorn sauce, mashed potatoes and assorted vegetables,
OR Cheddar Quiche with caramelized onion, broccoli and served with mixed greens, and balsamic dressing.
I had the steak, James had the quiche and both our meals were delicious.
We also both enjoyed the dessert offering, Mariner's Puff Pastry Purse on a dialog of fruit sauces.
We were highly impressed with this fancy sit-down and be served affair, and the with the quality of the service and of the food.
So much nicer than the rushed cocktail parties with watered-down drinks we've experienced on other cruise lines. Kudos to Holland America for truly honouring their repeat passengers this way.
As if we weren't impressed enough already, as we were leaving we were called by name by a staff member posted at the door, and we were each handed a small cardboard box as a thank-you gift.
Inside, was an authenticated Delft pottery tile (coaster) imprinted with a Holland America Line and ship design. A very special souvenir, and a very classy touch.
From our lovely luncheon, we again rushed off to Trivia, meeting our team up in the Crow's Nest.
It was a much harder Trivia this time, and again, we didn't win. The winners this time got beautiful HAL sweat shirts, and we were impressed again with the quality of prizes for most of the games. In addition to sweatshirts, there were T-shirts, hats, towels, and of course, luggage tags, but in general, much better quality than most Trivia prizes we've seen before.
By mid-afternoon we finally got back out by the pool to enjoy some sun, and the much calmer seas.
During the late afternoon our ship passed along the rather barren coast of Haiti, attracting a lot of passengers to the rail.
It was a sobering sight, gazing at this desolate looking island, knowing of the disaster and destruction there, while here we were, luxuriating on a cruise ship.
Makes you step back and take a moment to appreciate everything that you have in life, and not take it for granted....
As we had decided to skip the dining room for dinner on this (formal) night and go to the Lido instead, we switched our show and dinner times around, attending the early show of "Vegas!"
This was a wonderful song and dance production number with great talent, beautiful costumes and sets, and excellent entertainment.
Afterward, we and our tablemates enjoyed a quiet dinner in the Lido restaurant, where it was calm, not rushed, and the choice of food was every bit as good as in the dining room.
For the 3rd time today, we played Trivia again after dinner. This time it was held in the Northern Lights Disco, with DJ Mark, who was frustratingly slow and at times, inept, leaving long pauses between questions and having a great deal of trouble with the technical side of playing sound bytes of musical trivia.
Tonight's Name That Tune was all Beatles, which I loved, and we got all the answers correct except the 2 point bonus question.
As we again tied for 1st place with another team, one of us from each team had to go up for the tie-breaker question. (Yours truly again).
When he played the song, we were supposed to put up our hand if we knew it, and after one note I recognized it right away and blurted out the answer. The other person put up her hand, repeated my answer, and was awarded the prize.
I was so frustrated because our team had done so well, and I blew it, but they were very forgiving.
The last special activity on this evening was the Officer's Black & White Ball, held up in the Crow's Nest.
It would have been nice to see all the officers in their official dress uniforms, and everyone else in their formal wear, but we didn't go, quite simply because Kat and the HAL Cats were the musical entertainment, and we just really couldn't stomach hearing her butcher any more songs.
So, it was off to bed to discover our Towel Animal suspended from a hanger on the draperies!
Noordam, Part 10
Day 10, Thursday May 13, 2010, Last Sea Day
The last day of a cruise is always the hardest, knowing that you have to pack everything up and get ready to say goodbye.
But before we did that, we had a busy day planned!
We started with a room service breakfast, a nice relaxing way to start the day. Then, off to the gym and Pilates class by 8 a.m., followed by the Walk for the Cure which was postponed from yesterday.
The weather was beautiful, 27C or 80F, with a nice breeze which made walking on deck quite comfortable.
The Walk was started with some words of encouragement, some statistics, and with a group of survivors . There were about 100 people participating, and the HAL representative told us that in the 4 years that the cruise lines have been doing the Walk for the Cure, they have raised almost 2 million dollars for Breast Cancer research.
This was the 5th or 6th Walk I have done, and I always enjoy the experience. There is always a certain camaraderie among us, as we are all walking for someone. This year, I was thinking of CruiseMates Trip and Judy, as well as a good friend back home.
James walked with me this time, and we enjoyed the beautiful sea views as we made our way around the Promenade Deck for 5 out of the 9 times it required to make up 5 kms.
We were just too hot and tired and had to quit early, but really appreciated the HAL crew who were stationed at the starting point handing out cups of water, cold towels, and lots of encouragement as they danced to their boom box, playing music to urge us on!
At the end of the Walk, there was a gathering of participants in the Atrium lobby, where pink refreshments were served; pink lemonade, pink watermelon, and pink-iced cookies which were delicious!
We spent the remainder of the morning packing and/or enjoying the sun out by the aft pool, before our 12:30 Name That Tune Trivia game.
Our team did great, scoring a perfect score + 2 extra points for standing up and doing the Macarena!
Unfortunately, we tied again for 1st place, and again, I was chosen to go up for the tie breaker. It took 3 songs for either of us to recognize a song, and the girl from the other team got it first. I let my team down yet again, but they didn't seem to mind, we had fun and that's what counts!
We tried again with our team at the 2 p.m. Trivia in the Crow's Nest with Cruise Director Mike. He was such a super host, he made losing fun!
Back out to the pool area for my last afternoon of sun, while James did his customary videotaping all around the ship.
It's always fun when we go home and are suffering from PCD (Post Cruise Depression) to watch his videos and re-live our cruise.
On this last evening, we attended the early show in the Vista Lounge. It was a combination show, featuring gymnast Lance Ringald, followed by Jim Curry and more of his tribute to John Denver. We looked forward to seeing what the gymnast would do, as we'd been told he was quite good. We were not disappointed!
Lance was a very personable, funny guy, doing some basic gymnastic stuff, and called our Cruise Director out on stage to try a few moves.
He then did some pretty amazing balancing, juggling and body moves that were entertaining, but nothing prepared us for his act with the scarves
There were long, floor to ceiling scarves, which he proceeded to climb and do all sorts of acrobatic moves and poses to a variety of music and movie themes. It was very clever and absolutely hysterical!
Jim Curry had a hard act to follow, but once again, he wowed us with his beautiful, clear voice and his wonderful tribute to the music of John Denver. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house when he sang that traditional last-night-of the-cruise song, "Leaving on a Jet Plane".
Very few people know that although it was made famous by Peter Paul & Mary, that song was written by John Denver!
A very entertaining show on many levels, and we were glad we hadn't missed it!
For dinner this evening, we had made plans with our tablemates Elaine and Lou to try Canaletto's, the Italian Specialty restaurant located in the Lido dining area.
They had tried it earlier in the week and had recommended it to us, and the best part was, it was at no extra cost!
We had a bottle of champagne in our cabin all week that we never got a chance to drink, so we brought it with us to share with our new friends.
Canalettos', although in the Lido area, was in a more private, quiet corner, Italian in theme and decor, including the waiter's costumes.
The service was great, our champagne poured for us, and our various courses brought without too much waiting.
There was antipasto, bread, Minestrone Soup, Salad, and James had a delicious deep dish Lasagne, while I enjoyed a fantastic plate of Spaghetti and Meatballs.
Just when we thought we could eat no more, our waiter brought out a huge plate of what looked like yellow soap suds - it was Cotton Candy!
I do not frequent Italian Restaurants so I was not aware that this was somewhat of a tradition, and it was certainly a novelty to me!
As we were enjoying our sweet treat, I almost choked when I spotted a man at a nearby table who had placed his entire serving of cotton candy on his head! I just had to run over and snap a photo (with his permission, of course).
Elaine and I followed our candy with a delectably delicious Lemoncello Creme Dessert, which was a sort of creamy lemon mousse in a parfait glass, and poured over top was a very powerful Lemoncello Liqueur. Extremely tart, but tasty!
All four of us were barely able to move by the time we left Canaletto's. It had been a great last meal, and we were so happy to have shared it with our friends. We had made plans to meet up with the other couple who had become friends during the cruise, April & Phil, for goodbye drinks in the Ocean Bar, overlooking the Atrium.
They had just come from the 2nd show in the theatre and had enjoyed it as much as we had.
We were all sad that our cruise had come to an end, we had all had so much fun individually and together throughout the 10 days.
April and Phil's honeymoon was now over, and they were going back to work. Elaine and I were going home to look for work.
All of us were going back to our normal lives, back to reality, but we promised to keep in touch, and we would all love to cruise together again one day.
We will all have special memories, and lots of pictures, of our time on the Noordam!
Thanks for your memories RD! Another thank you for thinking of us, as you walked for the cure. I did my first walk last year, with Judy's & my name on my back...Cruisemates thinking of on another, is a hallmark of our community
When I walked I swear everybody walked around twice to my one around the deck..when the last walk around ended..so did my walk That I was there walking was a blessing I won't forget, and hope to do it next cruise as well.
Trip, with her book & tea!
Chat Hostess & Board Moderator
Hi Rollerdonna , I really enjoyed reading/viewing your cruise aboard the Noordam ! I took a 20-day cruise aboard the Noordam in March 2010 and I had a great time as a solo-passenger visiting all the eastern & western Caribbean ports of call ! You certainly heard right about Samana , D.R. , I booked one of the excursions from the shore excursions desk and I was really disappointed with this tour ! It was a total waste of time ! I hope HAL will drop this port of call and maybe substitute it with Santo Domingo instead . Indeed all meals were very good on board the Noordam , as well as the entertainment every evening . There were many varied activities every day and it was simply a matter of choosing the ones that interested you the most on the daily program . This program had a detachable portion on the right-hand side , which made it easy to fold and carry around with you all day long . Service on board was impeccable and all staff members ( around 800 ) at least the ones I came into contact with , were always smiling and greeting me no matter where or which deck . I enjoyed this cruise & ship so much , that I have booked a stateroom for the holidays ( Dec.23rd to Jan.6th ) ! If there is anyone going on this holiday cruise ( from Ft. Lauderdale - round trip ) , please send me a quick reply and let's meet on board . Lane