Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Quick Review of Our Holland America Line Cruise Vacation

This is a sponsored post. 
Catherine and I swimming at Half Moon Cay, Holland America's private island in the Bahamas.
That's our ship in the background.
We were super excited to be able to cruise on the ms Noordam just before Christmas.  Our group, spanning three generations, consisted of myself, my husband, Catherine (age 4), Dominic (9 months), Grandmom, and Grandpop.  We started in Fort Lauderdale and visited the Bahamas, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.  There is simply no way I can fully cover everything that happened on our cruise, but here's a quick review!

This was my first time on a Holland America ship, and it was Catherine and Dominic's first cruise.  The ship itself was beautiful and classy.  I wouldn't call it understated, but it was not ostentatious.  There are a variety museum worthy masterpieces sprinkled throughout the ship.  I was also very happy that they decorated beautifully for Christmas.  Catherine thought the "golden room" was quite fancy.

Catherine especially loved the gingerbread village in the main atrium, aka the "golden room".
Our room was quite lovely.  We were pretty excited that we were able to have a Verandah stateroom at an affordable price.  It had a queen-sized bed, a little couch that converted to a bed for Catherine, and floor-to-ceiling windows. (There was also a drop down bed, but Dominic wasn't quite ready for it.)  The signature Mariner's Dream™ beds were actually quite comfy.  Our room stewards Hary and Yasa kept our room beautifully shipshape.  Catherine wasn't the only one that enjoyed the legendary animals that they made for us, I made sure to take a picture of every single one.

We attended a towel folding demonstration where they showed us how to make a variety of animals,
 including a swan and an elephant.
There was always something fun to do!  Catherine loved the Club HAL, which is Holland America's youth program.  (She loved it so much that I have dedicated an entire blog post to Club HAL.)  I enjoyed the cooking demonstrations; I especially enjoyed the Creme Brulee demonstration and tasting!  Since the ship had two pools, there was always room for us to splash about.  The midship pool even had a movable roof, which was great when we were in Mexico because it was a very drippy day.

Catherine and I enjoyed the pool.
Isn't the dolphin sculpture behind us neat?
The nighttime entertainment was about average in my opinion.  On all of the other cruises that I've been on there were two viewings of the nightly big show.  This time there was only one.  Dominic, Grandpop, and I attended most of the magician's show.  While he didn't have any completely knock-your-socks-off tricks he did have a well put together routine, and it was quite humorous.  My husband, Grandpop, and I also enjoyed the comedian.  The big song and dance show was entertaining.  (Although I couldn't quite decide if the accompanying light show was cool or distracting.)  We didn't really participate in any of the other nightlife festivities.  Two activities that I never got the chance to attend (because I was busy doing other fun things!) were the Sit and Stitch and Afternoon Tea.

This was the best fourless chocolate cake ever.  Seriously.
The food was amazing.  This was my fifth cruise and I think it was the best cruise food yet.  The service was impeccable.  I wasn't sure if I would like having a set dinnertime, but I have been completely won over.  Not only would I say that I didn't end up minding it, I might even say that I prefer it!  The wait staff got to know our preferences after our first day!  Our server, Doni S., went above and beyond.  He made Catherine one happy little girl by making her a new origami animal every day.  The maitre d', Robbien F., was always helpful.  Doni and Robbien both made sure to have yogurt and milk for my extremely picky eater.  Our second waiter, Febi, was also fantastic.  We considered ourselves to have the best table in the dinning room.  We were at the very back by the windows.  Every night afforded us a gorgeous view.  (The food was so good that I decided to give it a blog post of its own!)

My cuties posing outside of the buffet.
Can you cruise with kids?  Absolutely!  Dominic and Catherine loved the cruise.  The staff absolutely doted on them.  I couldn't believe how many of them were able to call my children by name!  (I think Dominic was the most popular person on the entire ship!)  While cruising as a family was a very different experience from cruising as a couple, it worked out very well.  All of the restaurants had high chairs.  They made sure to deliver a child size and infant size life jacket to our room.  Club HAL gave Catherine a safe place to have "normal" playtime.  Kid friendly foods were readily available.  Even my extremely picky eater never went hungry.  (Be sure to check out my post on what to bring on a cruise if you have small children.)

Here's a quick run down of our itinerary and activities:


Monday
Fort Lauderdale, Florida  
Board, explore the ship
Tuesday
Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
Beach day
Wednesday
At Sea

Thursday
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
The Blue Hole
Friday
Georgetown, Cayman Islands
Saturday
Cozumel, Mexico
Grandmom & Grandpop: ruins
Sunday
At Sea

Monday
Fort Lauderdale, Florida


In a nutshell, we had a great time and I highly recommend Holland America.


For more of our cruise related fun check out the following:

Disclaimer: I received a few amenities while on board in exchange for my honest opinions.   

22 comments:

  1. Oh man, I would love to go on a cruise again. So glad you guys have a fun trip!

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  2. That sounds like fun! The thing, besides price, which has held me back from cruises was having to share the space with people I don't know at all. How is that? I know that may sound weird, since these ships are so huge, but the idea of being in the same space with strangers for so long is not nice to me.

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  3. HI, looks so neat! Thanks for sharing!
    msstitcher1214@gmail.com

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  4. Living in the city I don't get to see miles and miles of sky very often. It's one of the sights that can make me glad and thankful to be alive.

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  5. This looks so much fun! I have always wanted to go on a cruise but just haven't been lucky enough yet I guessl

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  6. It's esp great that so many generations of your family got to vacation together - thx for sharing!

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  7. Looks like you all had a good time. ..awesome. ..

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  8. With all the cruise horror-stories on the news all the time, it's good to see that it's possible to have a wonderful time on cruise! I've never been on one before, but it sounds amazing.

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  9. Lovely family pictures of special times together...there is NOTHING like warm family love - warm family memories!
    Such beautiful children!

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  10. I have yet to go on a cruise, but would love to one day. The folded towels are cool.

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  11. This sounds like so much fun! I would love to take my family on a vacation.

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  12. I've never been, but would love to go.

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  13. i have yet to take a cruise and can't say it is on my to-do list, but it seems like it would be an experience -craftyone

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  14. my goodness! what an idea for special times with family. thanks for the suggestion and pictures.

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  15. Heard good things about this cruise line. Thanks for your review!

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  16. How blue is that water?! Amazing. I have been on one cruise and the towel animals and bedspread folded into a heart were sweet touches :) Ok, have to go on another soon!!
    mbrigham7 at yahoo dot com

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  17. Looks like you and family had a great time. I love cruising. Have been on Holland and they are a great cruise line.

    sherryglover1 on Rav

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  18. Living right here in Florida and yet I've never taken a cruise. It's pretty much a sin, right? haha. You and the kids are so cute and your pictures say it all. I'm really wanting to go now. Thanks for sharing with us.

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  19. That was a fabulous cruise. I've never been on one and probably won't ever. It lookslike so much fun.

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  20. I've never been on a cruise, this looks like a good one

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