It was going to take a lot more then a rude airport gate attendant and port agent, and a little storm named Hurricane Tomas to ruin my vacation! So on Friday, Nov. 5th, 2010, the fun began.
This was Ken's 2nd cruise and my 8th (I think) cruise. This was my 2nd Holland America cruise. I thought the laid back clientele and more unique activities, such as cooking classes and computer classes, not to mention the food, would be something Ken would enjoy. That it left out of Ft. Lauderdale was also a plus (that was even before our daughter moved there, now it's really a plus!). So on the day before the cruise, we hopped on a non-stop flight and eventually headed off to Ft. Lauderdale.
I say eventually because there was a problem with our plane being overweight. So they grounded us for about 45 minutes while they pleaded for 3 people to delay their trips. 1 couple did finally agree to, but noone else on the plane was budging. I guess we were all heading to a cruise. Finally the gate attendant threatened us in a harsh voice that since noone else would get off the plane, then 4 pieces of luggage were being removed and they wouldn't tell us whose. Soon the flight attendants took over the intercom and apologized profusely and guaranteed us that noones luggage was going to be left behind. Over weight and all, we did make it to Fort Lauderdale safely.
We spent that night overlooking the ocean at one of our Wyndham properties in Pompono Beach. We rented a car for the day and enjoyed our short, but sweet, stay there.
Next morning our adventure continued. We dropped the rental car off at the Budget dealer closest to the port since it offered complimentary shuttle service to the cruise port.
Soon we were waiting in line at the port to board the Eurodam. But only for a short time. The scanners quit working and we were all told to sit down. Passengers just arriving walked up and got in line and before they were made to sit down, the scanners would start working and we would be at the back of the line again. This happened 3 times before we finally were able to board.
Once on board, we headed to the lido buffet and had a very good lunch. The food on HAL has been my favorite so far.
Back to our embarkation day---shortly after 1pm, our stateroom was ready so we eagerly went to check it out. This was our 1st balcony cabin and it was really nice. We were near the back of the ship in cabin VD4148, and only 2 cabins away from the elevators. This area of the ship had slightly deeper balconies then the other balcony cabins and the cabin was a nice size.
We attended most of the nightly shows. Turns out the same headline performers that were on my last HAL cruise (on the western coast on the Oosterdam) were now on this ship now. I was actually happy to find that out. They were fantastic! The main entertainer, Joel Mason, played an Elton John tribute.
While we were waiting our turn to leave the port, we even got to see the huge new 5,400 passenger, Oasis of the Seas Royal Caribbean ship. Made our 2, 200 passenger ship look small!
For months before our cruise, I had researched our ports and really looked forward to the Turks and Caicos. It's suppose to be a great place to snorkel and dive. There's even a 7000' wall a short distance off shore which I had mixed emotions about seeing. As it turned out, my plans for that island were foiled. Tomas decided to head straight there the day we left Ft. Lauderdale, so HAL decided we should head elsewhere. We ended up at Samana, Dominican Republic.
We were warned over and over again not to venture off on our own like we could on the other ports, so we booked a $79@ snorkel and beach excursion. I did enjoy it, although I'm surprised no body drowned at the snorkel spot we were taken to!
One advantage to our new itinerary was that we arrived at our next port several hours earlier then originally planned. As we sailed into the harbor, Ken and I stood on our balcony and marvelled at the huge fort at the entrance of the bay.
After completing the bus tour, we headed off to catch the free trolley and headed up to Fort San Felipe del Morro, or Morro Castle, which was built back in the 16th century.
In 1893, Puerto Rico became US territory by terms of the Treaty of Paris which ended the Spanish-Amirican War. In 1942, concrete artillery observation posts and underground bunker were added to El Morro to defend against possible German attacks. In 1949 it became San Juan National Historic Site. In 1961 the US Army moved out of the fort and it became the jurisdiction of the US National Park Service. In 1983, the fort was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. We easliy spent over 2 hours there.
Next stop on our cruise was St. Thomas.
Walking through the Best WEstern property to get to the beach.
After a sea day---which was actually nice after 3 straight days of running around on shore (or in the ocean) all day---we hit our last port, Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. This is their private island and is beautiful. We were even greeting by a rainbow as we sailed into the bay.
I had heard there was some shore snorkeling there, so we tried it out.
When the excursion was over, we enjoyed the beautiful beach some more.