March 22, 2022

Day 2 - Half Moon Cay

Half Moon Cay is the private island for Carnival and Holland America. We share the sands with the the MS Rotterdam. Seas are very calm, making the tendering process very easy. A quick pass by all the shops, and it is back to the  ship. Beaches are not for me.

The temperatures are in the mid 70's very sunny in the morning, but by afternoon some clouds begin to roll in.

Several hours after departing for Aruba there are a few showers. The seas have increased to a few feet. There is a little roll to the ship. Yeh!

It seems to be a common thread among all cruise lines. Technology just does not work as it is supposed to. In addition to losing all reservations, there are dozens of credits and charges appearing on my account that just don't make sense. The TV remote does not function. A call to the front desk and nothing is fixed. Fortunately the one thing that is correct is the ending balance on my on board account. How they got there would be anyon'e guess. 

We had dining reservations for 5:30. After the first night we were told just come at 5:15 and go to the same table. Don't bother to stop at the desk. Fine with me.

The food is OK but nothing special. The waiter is getting to know us which helps. He already knows I don't want an appetizer, and may order desert, but only after finishing dinner, not before.

The Island Magic Steel Band is great. I have seen them before, but couldn't remember where. I ask them what ships they have played on. It was on The MS Amsterdam during my world cruise that our paths crossed.

We pass through some rain, nothing severe.

Tomorrow is a sea day.

March 20, 2022 Day 1, The MS Eurodam

Covid is at a lull, you will note that I did not say gone. I was fortunate and the only symptoms from my contracting covid was a minor cough, no different than what can result from allergies. After a week of isolation at home, I tested negative and resumed normal life.

Allergies have been particularly troublesome this year. Partially because of the weather and the fact that global warming is increasing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere which in turn increases plant production of pollen.

The Holland America Eurodam is headed to my favorite part of the Caribbean, Aruba, Curacao and Panama Canal, a 10 day cruise.

It has been many years since I have sailed Holland America, I am not sure what to expect.

Packing is easy as I have been home only three weeks. My 30 year old suitcase is showing the signs of many hundreds of trips and thousands of miles of travel. I make the decision that it needs to be replaced when I return home.

The drive to Ft. Lauderdale is easy and non eventful. Holland assigns a boarding time. Ours was at 1:40 PM. allowing a departure from Clermont after 8:30.

Just a few days before departure, Holland introduced an optional process that promises faster check in. Called Verifly, it is a website where we can upload all boarding information so at the port we can skip many of the usual lines and save time.

Initial setup took more than an hour. We will see how many minutes we save.

As always I park at Park-N-Go just outside Port Everglades entrance. We are early and are the only two passengers on the shuttle for the MS Eurodam. We don masks to enter the terminal, still a federal requirement, and the process begins.

There is no signage for "Verifly" but we are soon directed to that line. Only a few passengers in front of us. After checking the Verifly information, the agent also wants to see our boarding passes, both electronic and paper, explaning that often the verify system doesn't work. 

It seems to work fine, needing to just show the cleared for boarding screen on verifly at one more check point. When working 100%, no need to show anything except the first screen on "Verifly". No juggling passport, boarding pass, vaccination records, and negative covid test paperwork.

Within minutes we are on the ship at our cabin door. I say at the door, not in the cabin as neither key works. A cabin steward comes by and we gain access to the cabin. Adequate but tight. The big surprise is that the shower is in the tub, contrary to what pictures of the cabin showed. There is also a 4 or 5 inch stepup into the bathroom.  Not a passenger friendly design. I will manage, carefully, very carefully.

The muster drill instructions are on the TV, and all we need to do is check in on the deck where our life boat station is located.

Holland has an "App" like other cruise lines. I was very dilligent and made dining reservations before leaving home. No surprise, by the time we got to the ship all the reservation were lost.

Soon learning that the ship was less than one third full, with about 700 passengers, there was no problem making reservations when we wanted.

Food was good, service adequate, nothing exceptional.

Classical music on The Lincoln Center Stage. Two piano players, Gabe and Mandy, at the piano bar across from the casino, and an exceptional comedian in BB Kings  provided most of our entertainment for the evening.

The cruise director joined the ship today. An employee of Holland for many years, he and his wife just escaped from Kiev, Ukraine a few days ago. Several weeks after the savage invasion by Russia.

A surprise feature in the main theater was a presentation about the history of Holland America from its earliest beginnings transporting europeans to America back in the late 1800's. Many interesting facts that are probably only useful for a game of Holland America trivia.

The weather is perfect, the skies clear as we head to our first stop at Half Moon Cay.