March 24, 2022

Day 4 - Aruba

The seas have calmed as we move into the southern waters of the Caribbean. Breakfast in the cabin more or less arrived on time, but the order was not accurate.

Holland is struggling with many of the details that we as passengers always take for granted. Numerous guests are talking about how room keys don't work most of the time. Actually a problem I encountered on Holland the last time I cruised them 5 or 6 years ago.

There are a number of public space clocks about the ship. Not only are they displaying the wrong time, they are all different.

The control for the TV is impossible to work. sometimes it does, other times no response. The balcony door latch doesn't work. Frozen by salt and resultant corrosion. The APP is just like Royal, unpredictable and unreliable. Reservations get lost, and all activities are not listed. Basic information like hours of operation are lacking. On board account billing is undecipherable. But I digress. These are just minor inconveniences.

We arrive in Aruba on time. My first task is a visual check of my tree growing on the sandbar. It looks stressed, but still survives. Maybe a reflection of the observer. I have been watching this tree for over 10 years. When I first saw it I was sure it would be gone in a few months. Wrong.

The Explorer Of The Seas is docked in front of us, probably the ship we could see in the distance last night.

Our mission of mailing some post cards is accomplished by a friendly staff member in one of the jewelery stores who offers to mail them for us. Just one example of why I like Aruba and Curacao, the friendly people.

The weather is perfect. Temperatures in the mid 80's, an occasional cloud with about  25 knot winds.

Iguana Joe's has reopened from the pandemic. The drinks, food and service are good, as it has been for years. You would never know they were shut down for nearly two years. Even the menu's are the same.

All aboard isn't until 10:30 PM giving passengers plenty of time to enjoy the evening in Aruba. The casinos call many, I elect to spend the evening of the ship.

After dinner, an hour of comedy by Lamont Ferguson. The second and last show he is doing on this cruise, he flies  home tomorrow. Playing to a full house in BB Kings lounge he is unquestionably the best comedian I have ever heard.

Eaarly dining at 5:15 allows for attending all evening activities.

The passenger mix is pretty much as I expected. A more mature crowd than Royal or Celebrity, but still some younger passengers and a dozen or so kids under 16. Interestigly I have only seen one motorized scooter, and just a couple of passengers with walkers. Yes I am approaching the more mature segment of the passenger manifest. 

It will be the buffet for breakfast tomorrow. We arrive in Curacao about 7:00 and should be cleared by 8:00. The skies are vey clear. I am sound asleep when we leave Aruba about 11:00 PM

Tuesday March 22 - Day 3 at Sea.

Breakfast was ordered for 7:00 AM delivery. Promptly at 7:00 there is a knock on the door. Everything was as requested.

The first entertainment for the day is a Q&A with the piano players. A complicated story of covid and another entertainer that backed out of a contract the day he was to board a ship, and a new piano duo is formed. I have found thier music enjoyable. Varied, energetic, and not a request Gabe and Manda wouldn't play. She is on her 12th or 13th contract, Gabe not only his first, but  his second week on a ship ever.

Part way through the program and the ship comes to an emergency stop. The captain tells us that two people in a small boat were flagging us down by waving thier life jackets, an international signal of distress. A small boat is launched, but as they approach the signaling vessel it turns and speeds away.

A practical joke? A poor attempt to hijack a cruise ship? Someone trying to escape Hatii? We will never know. An hour lost and we continue on our way.

Other entertainment today includes a cooking class, flower arrangement tips, and a presentation on sea life.

Several hours after the signaling vessel incident, rumors are passing among the passengers that pirates tried to board and take over the ship. Good thing the captain announced to the whole ship exactly what was going on or the rumors may have had us heading into battle with Russia. 

I am familiar with cruise lines subcontracting the spa, casino, and art sales to outside companies. Holland America has gone further. All entertainment is contracted to outside companies, not only creation, but scheduling and management. Furthermore the same production shows are on multiple ships at the same time. Not exactly an incentive to book a different ship for another cruise. Local management on the ship is having less and less control.

With only about 700 guests, the dining room along with all other venues are sparsely occupied. At most 250 people in the 800 seat main theater, most often only 25 or 50.

Another change Holland america has made is with thier guest lecture speakers. They are not present. Instead the have produced lecture programs professionally produced with excellent graphics and story line, and the presentation is done by the cruise director reading from a teleprompter.  Much better than most of the guest lectures I have everencountered. Personally I think a great improvement.

Another acceptable dinner, not exceptional. The seas have increased as a result of 25 to 30 knot winds. The stabilizers keep the ship fairly stable but occasionally there is a shudder throughout the ship as she hits a larger swell. All passengers are taking it in stride.

Tonights show in the theater is followed by a couple of sets of piano music. Tomorow we dock In Aruba about 1:00 PM. I think the captain is making up for the hour that was lost earlier in the day. I will know when the ship is cleared in Aruba.