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Belgian fry

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About Belgian fry

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Brussels, Belgium
  • Interests
    Theatre, running, rugby
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Celebrity, HAL
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Halfmoon Cay

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  1. Thank you all for your kind comments. We look forward to being able to cruise again when all this is over, whenever that may be. Stay safe everyone!
  2. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. We were on HAL
  3. Sunday 15 March – disembarkation Disembarkation was delayed for a while (I guess for health checks), but as soon as our group was called, we headed off the ship, picked up our bags and passed through the checks with no difficulties. We had booked a transfer to Miami airport via HAL. This was very easy and good value for money. From the airport, we immediately took a shuttle to a hotel where we had booked a day room. Our flight was at 11pm and we had the room until 8pm, which was perfect. We spent the day catching up on the news, relaxing by the pool and reorganin our suitcases for the flights home. After the constant cleansing and hand-washing on the ship, the airport and planes were scary. So many people. Long check-in lines too, with many people desperate to get on flights out of the US (ours was overbooked). We made it home without any trouble though, later hearing that our Aer Lingus flight to Dublin was the last flight the company operated out of the US before suspending operations.
  4. Saturday 14 March – Halfmoon Cay I think we were on the second tender to Halfmoon Cay, where we had booked a clamshell. We decided to head down the beach to where it would be quieter. Once we had found a spot we liked, I went to the Water Sports Center and asked for someone to set up a clamshell. This took quite a while to sort out and I think I ended up asking 3 times. The process here could certainly do with some improvement. We had the island beverage package and had chosen a spot between cabanas 6 and 7. It wasn’t too far from the Captain Morgan bar, so we headed up there a few times. The first time, the bar wasn’t set up yet so it took a while to get a drink. Choices are also very limited. Just after 1pm, my husband set out to get us drinks. He was gone for ages. It turned out the Captain Morgan bar was closed, as was the “I wish I could stay here forever” bar, so he had had to head all the way back to the Rum Runners bar, where they were basically out of drinks and gave him a random cocktail made with whatever was left over. We wouldn’t take the package again. The last tender was at 2:30pm, yet more than an hour before that it was no longer possible to get a drink! The shops were also a disappointment here. We would have liked some HMC t-shirts, but the only size available was 4XL! We spent the day mainly round our loungers, in and out of the sea. We enjoyed the BBQ, even though it is pretty basic. We also walked all the way to the end of the beach, which was nice. Halfmoon Cay really is the perfect venue for the perfect beach day. When we returned to the ship, the captain informed us of HAL’s decision to suspend sailing operations. He explained that everyone would be required to disembark when we arrived in Fort Lauderdale and that the ship would then sail away with crew only. I guess this is when we realised just how serious things had become. We spent part of the evening packing (my least favourite part of the cruise).
  5. When we were there in March, people who had booked Mantas were being given clamshells. I wish I'd known before paying for a clamshell...
  6. Beware if you're thinking of buying this. We had it for a recent cruise. The bars take a while to be set up (everything has to be carried over from the ship), the choices are limited and by 1pm (for 2:30pm last tender), the only bar that was still open could only provide some random made-up drink because there was nothing left. We wouldn't purchase it again (and I'm kicking myself that I didn't remember to mention it in my survey)
  7. Wow. Thank you all for hour kind comments. Writing this has been fun and brought back lots of happy memories. I guess I’d better start working on the end.
  8. If you follow the HAL page on Facebook, they are currently publishing a picture of a mat every day!
  9. Friday 13 March – at sea Another quiet sea day, spent enjoying the ship and the sun. The only surprise here was that Pierre’s beverage package for HMC arrived, along with the card containing his birthday message (8 days after his birthday). I also attended “Ask the Captain”, which was both interesting and entertaining. Captain Timmers really is a very funny man. That evening, we ate in Canaletto. Like I said before, we are not speciality restaurant people, but earlier in the week we had been chatting to Herlina at breakfast, and she had convinced us to book at Canaletto for the Friday. We decided it would be fun to give it a try, especially with the twins as our waitresses. It turns out this was a good decision. We really enjoyed the food and we were treated like absolute royalty. There was a crew meeting about to start when we left Canaletto after dinner. I think it was probably to inform the crew of the changes that were to come (we still had no idea of how bag this had got in the real world during our cruise).
  10. Thursday 12 March – Saint Thomas We kept things simple in St Thomas, taking a taxi to Sapphire Beach, where we hired some loungers and spent our time between sunbathing and swimming. We enjoyed drinks and fish tacos from the bar there, along with the company of a very friendly cockerel! We had arranged to be picked up for the return to the ship and there was a van there for us (not the same driver). On our way back to the ship we asked our driver about post-hurricane recovery. She told us most people had been out of work for around a year after the last hurricane and described how long they had been without the basics, such as water and electricity and how everyone just made do and helped each other out. On the day we were there, it was announced that St Thomas was closing to visitors for 3 months. A very difficult prospect for everyone there, since the island relies so heavily on tourism.
  11. Wednesday 11 March – Saint Kitts/Antigua/sea So, as I mentioned before, when we left Barbados, we had received information that it was unclear whether we would be allowed to dock in St Kitts, and the captain had decided we would head to Antigua instead. Since we had booked a private excursion in St Kitts with Royston (recommended on these boards), I went to guest services who allowed me a phone call so that I could inform him that we needed to cancel. Whilst in St Lucia, I had managed to reach out to cruising friends via Facebook and ask them for recommendations for Antigua. We had decided we would go to Nelson’s Dockyard and then a beach. In the end though, we found ourselves that morning sitting just off the coast of Antigua. The authorities had changed their mind about allowing us to dock but were refusing to give the captain a reason for this refusal. The captain informed us that they would keep trying to make contact for a while. In the end though, it became clear that the authorities weren’t even prepared to enter into any kind of discussion, so we left and started making our way to St Thomas. Another sea day with nothing to report. We did actually receive a daily planner with more activities, but I think I threw the wrong one out at the end of the trip!
  12. Tuesday 10 March – Saint Lucia When you get to the terminal in Saint Lucia it’s complete chaos, with people everywhere trying to get you to book their excursions. We had already decided what we wanted to do, which was to go to Pigeon Island nature reserve and just wanted to get a taxi/van. We ended up booking with Heritage Tours and, after some waiting around, boarded a van with people going to several other destinations. Pigeon island was the last stop on the route, but it was probably no more than 20 minutes or so. We, and the others who were there from the ship, arranged for our driver Peter to come back for us at 3pm. It all worked out fine and our Peter was ready and waiting for us all before the agreed time (he had also given us his number in case we had any problems). Pigeon Island is a small nature reserve with a fort that you can walk/climb up to. The admission fee means that there are no vendors on the beach trying to sell you stuff. We were disappointed that the ticket office could not provide us with a map and that the visitor centre was closed. We walked up to the top for great views though. It was hot and we should have taken water with us. Once we had headed back down, we spent some time at the beach, then had cocktails and a really tasty lunch at the Jambe de Bois restaurant, then more time at the beach, then a final cocktail before heading out to meet our driver. At sail away we were allowed on the helipad on deck 5 for scenic cruising with views of the Pitons. The visibility wasn’t really great as there was cloud and even a little rain, but it was still an enjoyable experience .
  13. I think you mean in St Lucia? The answer is yes, and it's in my next post, which is ready to go!
  14. Monday 9 March – Barbados: We were docked at the furthest dock from the terminal, which is either a long walk or a ride on a little train. We chose to walk to the terminal for our excursion. The shops weren’t open, although Pierre managed to pop his head into one to check out the prices on Rum. We headed to the meeting point for our excursion and waited to be called. For Barbados, we had chosen to do a Catamaran excursion with Calabaza Sailing Cruises. I had done this excursion several times before and couldn’t wait to take Pierre. Gina, the owner, is a lovely person and I had contacted her in advance for help with tagging on a visit to the Mount Gay distillery. We took a short ride to the catamaran and set sail. You get food and drinks as soon as you board and throughout the trip. No Gina today, but her son Danny was at the helm and there were two other, very attentive and fun, crew members. Our first stop was to a snorkel spot where we saw turtles and stingrays. The turtles are really not shy at all and came really close to us. The stingrays stayed on the bottom. Then onto another site where there were several wrecks. There were lots of fish here. After that, we set sail along the coast for a while. The feeling you get when sailing along sitting on the nets with a drink in hand is just the best! We anchored for lunch and some more time in the water before sailing back along the coast for the end of our excursion. Gina had arranged for her shuttle driver to drop us at Mount Gay on the way back to the ship. Another passenger decided to join us. The driver said he would come back and pick us up once our visit was over, which was great as it meant we didn’t have to make arrangements for a taxi. We enjoyed the tour and tasting and headed to our van, joined by two more people who were heading to the cruise port. There had been several passengers from a Celebrity ship on this excursion. They were due to be in St Kitts with us again 2 days later, but had already been informed that St Kitts wouldn’t accept their ship and that they would be going to Dominica instead. We had heard nothing about a change of port. However, when we got back to the ship, we received information that our scheduled stop in St Kitts would be replaced by Antigua.
  15. The morning we arrived in Barbados, we headed to the Lido for breakfast. We were talking about our previous cruise on the Rotterdam where a waitress called Magdalena had taken such good care of us. I walked up to the buffet and who should I bump into but Magdalena herself? I couldn’t believe it. Some of you may already have seen my post on this subject (in a recent Cruise Critic topic), but I’m copying it here for those who haven’t: "We had a lovely waitress called Magdalena in the Lido in June on [Holland America's] Rotterdam. We would deliberately sit in her section every morning. She was so bubbly and full of energy and very kind to those in our party who needed extra help... On our Koningsdam cruise a few weeks back, my husband and I were sitting at breakfast talking about her. I walked up to get a bagel and guess who I found? Magdalena! We were really thrilled to find her again... In the evenings, she worked in Canaletto. Seeing this, we popped our heads in to say hello, except that there were two Magdalenas!!! Well OK, not two Magdalenas but Magdalena and her twin, Herlina. It was their first time working on a ship together and they were thrilled... Magdalena and Herlina would always make a point of greeting us warmly whenever they saw us. Herlina convinced us to book a meal at Canaletto, where we were treated like royalty! Two delightful young women who are a tribute to the company. I would gladly sail on any ship they are on!" So here is a photo of Magdalena and me, just after we bumped into her.
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