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About lyndarra

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Lake Macquarie, Australia
  • Interests
    Motorcycles, geocaching, windsurfing
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  1. And extreme right media sources are reliable and truthful?
  2. How can you tell if they are students? Ask to see their student i/d cards? They could be 100% Aussies or local business employees. They could be visitors from other countries outside Asia with Asian ethnicity. Young tourists on work visas, not necessarily of Chinese origin. On my recent HAL NZ cruise there were quite a few Asian looking cruisers and when chatting with them most had N. American accents, also, some were Ozzie and some English. Big mistake judging by appearance.
  3. I forgot to mention wardrobe and storage space. There are plenty of hangers and hanging space but not full length. My dinner pants had to folded on a hanger rather than being clipped to a hanger by the cuffs. There was plenty of room for shoes in the bottoms of the wardrobes. There were eight drawers for undies, shorts ,socks T shirts etc. We split them evenly between us, four each. The sofa was large and comfy but we rarely used it except for dropping back packs, hats and other miscellaneous items on it that we couldn't be bothered putting away. As for the bathtub, people with mobility issues may have difficulty getting in however there is a convenient grab rail on the wall to assist. A non slip rubber mat is provided for placing in the tub while showering. There are three wall mounted dispensers containing shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. We both used these rather than our own, which we didn't bring anyway as we have used these products before on a previous HAL cruise and found them satisfactory. We're not to fussy about that sort of stuff. Oh, and HAL still leave a couple of chocolates on the bed each night along with a towel animal. Dark and light chocolate alternated each night. BTW. The cabin felt palatial compared to the one I had on my recent MSC cruise which was also OV. The HAL cabin was little wider but at least 2 metres deeper. The MSC cabin was more like a single cabin with a kingsize bed. The MSC cabin also had half the hanging, storage space and drawers - an indicator of it being designed for a single occupant? The MSC cabin had no room even for a single chair. The only thing I could sit on (apart from the bed) was an upholstered box that went under a very small desk.
  4. Large Ocean-View Stateroom Cabin C Quite roomy once the double bed was split into two singles which gave us useful cabin space. Also there was a double fold-out sofa which would have made it very cramped for 4 in a cabin but, as there were only two of us, no problem. Room was clean and in excellent order. Bathroom was a little small but had a shower over bathtub. It was a very high step to get in the shower. No problem for me at 6'1" but my companion at a tad under 5'2' got a bruise on her leg trying to step over one time - not happy. Counter space was adequate but not a lot of above counter top storage. It was enough for us. There was a magnetic devise to hold the door open in rougher seas which was handy when visiting the bathroom at night. Only real complaint was the size and positioning of the TV. The screen was a bit small for reading subtitle text but worse was using the remote from the bed. The shelf on which the TV is mounted is too wide and blocks the signal from the remote to the TV sensor. I had to do the channel changing as I had the longer arms to hold the remote up high to clear the sensor blocking shelf. A big plus is the DVD player and free movie DVDs (which we didn't have time to use). Only a single power outlet but that was no problem as I brought my Aldi power unit which has interchangeable international plugs giving two Oz power outlets and four USB charging slots.
  5. My CC review has been published. Here it is. More will follow. Please ask questions if there is any information you think I can help you with. I have edited this version to qualify or explain things a little better, also obvious grammar and spelling mistakes I may have missed. My cruising backgound since 2012. Celebrity 6, HAL 4, RCI 3, Carnival 1, Princess 1, MSC 1. I titled this review "A New Winner" because HAL is my new favourite cruise line, previously it was Celebrity. It was a close call and up until now HAL was my 2nd favourite. So why the new winner? I have found, in the past, the two lines to be comparable, the defining point was the food on this cruise - I could not fault it. And to a lesser extent, entertainment. Anyway, here's how my 5th NZ cruise went. Why 5 NZ cruises? This one was because my travelling companion had not previously cruised NZ. She had preciously visited the south island but not the north. We organised a 7 day, pre-cruise tour, of the north island by rental car and staying at pre-booked motels. The itinerary for this cruise was fairly standard NZ except for the inclusion of Oban on Stewart Island off the southern point of the south island. As it turned out, weather prevented anyone going ashore. We boarded in Auckland at about 1pm after doing a morning Segway tour of Devonport. We breezed through boarding procedure, no delays or hassles. Our cabin was ready so we dumped our carry-on stuff and went to meet up with a couple who had joined us for the cruise. My initial impression of Maasdam was that it was, obviously, an older ship but in excellent condition. It has been very well maintained and no excessive wear and tear evident. Decor was tasteful but a little dated, no problems there the same for our cabin. More on that below. You will find rust without looking too hard. We, my companion and two friends, chose anytime dining, which turned out to be about 7.30 each night. Later than I prefer but suited us better as earlier dining clashed with happy hour and trivia. We tried the main dining room breakfast one day only but preferred the Lido. Lunch was always in Lido. The Lido was great, plenty to choose from with a different roast each day and plenty of variety of other foods and desserts, including ice cream. There was plenty of fresh fruit daily, apples, oranges, bananas, plums, peaches, cherries and strawberries! There was also a lido special seafood lunch with king prawns, lobster, small crayfish, mussels etc. There was plenty to go around. We only had one dinner in the Lido and were quite happy with that too but the offerings in the MDR were so good. We never had a problem finding somewhere for the four of us to eat in the Lido. It was often very busy but seating was not a problem. Another plus, for some, is that most of the food was served to you. Less chance of guests needlessly handling stuff. No problems or delays ordering drinks, staff were quick to offer tea, coffee etc. MDR. This was the deal breaker. Maasdam was truely excellent in service, quality and variety. Up until now Celebrity (IMHO) pipped HAL by offering a little more variety. Celebrity have, of late, cut back an variety to the same level as HAL so it came down to the food itself. I can say, for the first time, I did not have one dish I could not say I was unhappy with. There was usually more than one dish in each course I would have liked. All dished I ordered were done pretty much to perfection. Presentation, quality ingredients, serving temperature were all great. A couple of the steaks served up to us were a touch overdone to what was ordered but not enough to spoil their enjoyment. Serving of courses was not rushed nor dragged out. The seemed to come out when we were ready. Only one of our group returned a meal in the 12 days and that was only because it was not what she thought it was, nothing to do with the cooking. We had an excellent meal in Sel de Mer. No complaints there. Entertainment. If anyone has read previous Maasdam reviews they will already know that there are no production shows. And we didn't miss them. There were entertainers and the ones were saw (we didn't see them all) were all good to great. A professional dance couple (G), impressionist (VG) and a special mention for singer/guitarist Patrick McMahon who I have seen on two previous cruises and he never fails to impress with his energetic (understatement) and very entertaining performing. Renditions of Neil Diamond, Johnny Horton, Willie Nelson, songs, among others. I think "Copperhead Road, has become his signature song. My days were filled in with (excellent) Microsoft workshops, I have done these on previous cruises and always learn something new, trivia (usually two a day in the Crows Nest which seemed to coincide with Happy Hour - buy one drink and get another the same for an extra $2. There was a slight American bias in the questions but there were also New Zealand and Australian ones thrown in as well. We did reasonably well. Spent time playing 500 too. We didn't have a deck of cards with us but on enquiring at guest services if we could by some, we were given a deck. Cool. Weather. Blessed, as they say, with good weather almost every day. Goldilocks weather, not too hot, not too cold, just right. Had a little rockin' and rollin' between Oban and Fiordland with a few bumps in the night but it lulled us off to sleep. Only moderate swell across the Tasman and Bass Strait. We were able to enter Fiordland and had great weather with a little wind. My fourth time here and it never fails to impress. Tours. We didn't do any ship tours. We did one pre booked, one booked on arrival in port and another self guided. I also spent a little time geocaching in port. Disembarking. Due to the Coronavirus the NSW government required that we do a self assessment and complete a form to describe any respiratory issues. It struck us as odd that this was done in Sydney but we could wander around Eden the day before without it. We had a total immigration check, guests and crew, before getting off in Hobart. This all went very smoothly causing little delay, unlike US immigration last November in Puerto Rico that was a debacle going overtime by two hours or more and ending in fist fights among people wanting to reboard. Other stuff. Well stocked games room and library. A room for bridge players. Comfy bars that never seemed too crowded. Two promenade decks. Deck tennis and ping pong available. Plenty of loungers around main pool and no lounger hogging. Cruise Director was great as was the Captain who was visible around the ship at times. Friendly crew, always a smile and hello in passing. There's probably other stuff I've forgotten but nothing of any consequence.
  6. You will enjoy the Noordam. I cruised on her to New Guinea Dec 2018. Noordam has a similar set up with Trivia and Happy Hour in the Crow's Nest. I also like the free Microsoft tutorials each day, several times a day. They have a dedicated class room for this with free use of their lap tops with tutors, under contract, from Microsoft.
  7. Eden is open for (cruise) business. Called in there a week ago on Maasdam. Spent a couple of hours in the Whale museum (highly recommend) which is at the top of the hill at the end of the path from the dock area to town.
  8. A post re excursions on another thread reminded me. Maasdam was still offering tours, in their onboard brochure, of the Cadbury factory in Dunedin. To my knowledge, it has been closed for about two years, the site being acquired for a new hospital. That would be an interesting excursion - not.
  9. I can see Wangi from my place. I'll give him a wave. GBS.
  10. Maasdam Theatre. Here's one I forgot about. The Maasdam has a small "theatre". It's more like a lecture room but it has three screens; a largish central screen and two smaller screens, one off each side of the larger, and comfy seating. Why three screens? I think this is because the seats are so close to the main screen that those sitting off to the sides would end up with cricked necks as the seats all face the front and are not angled towards the main, front and centre, screen. Looks odd but, in practise, it seems to work ok. As I've seen on some other cruises, popcorn is provided when a movie is on but not in enough quantity so meet demand. It was brought in a few minutes before the movie started and you have to be quick to grab a bag. Watch out for elbows and flying handbags in the scuffle🤪. I only attended one movie as screening times clashed with other activities and one of the movies I had seen before but it would have been good to see it again. They were both New Zealand productions. Full credit to HAL for making the effort to select "themed" films, after all, it was a NZ cruise. The one I would have liked to have seen again was Hunt for the Wilderpeople; a very funny story with social overtones. The movie that I did go to see was Pork Pie. I hadn't heard of this one before; it was hilarious. A police car chase the from the north to the south island involving a Mini Cooper and, towards the end, lots of vintage Minis - Coopers, Deluxes, Clubmans, 850s et al, (Think Blues Brothers). Toss in a bit of romance, love lost then found again. And a happy ever after ending. Sweet as! I got the impression that the large number of N Americans in the audience were enthralled and thoroughly smitten by the Kiwi sense of humour even though there was some difficulty following the dialogue due to Kiwi "English". I had trouble with that myself.
  11. 550 is on Main Deck close to the lifts that go straight up to the Crow's Nest. Handy for Trivia (twice a day on sea days) and coinciding with happy hour.
  12. You have nothing to worry about. You'll be fine. I've just come back from my sixth or seventh visit to NZ. I always a great place to visit except those kiwis talk a bit funny but you'll get used to it.😀
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