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St. Louis Sal

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  1. So sorry to hear that vtcruising passed away. I stumbled upon this thread when looking for some more info on Infinity. I noticed one of your posts and thought, "wait, that's George C from my Rock and Romance cruise!" It's always sad when you get to know someone from their post here on Cruise Critic and then they are gone. There have been many that I hoped to cruise with someday and never had the chance. RIP, vtcruising. St. Louis Sal
  2. Not very good at putting in photos, so I will see if this works.
  3. It was great reading everyone's ROV experiences and seeing pictures. They have definitely upped the price. I would love to have the string quartet play, but we had the pianist from the piano bar (mind is blanking out on his name) and he played so beautifully, asked for our requests and he included "Somewhere My Love" which was our wedding dance. We had appetizers, drinks and a cake. The only thing that seems different is, I don't remember getting a bouquet delivered to our cabin. Besides the two pictures in our album, the party planner took a bunch with my camera so I have quite a collection! St. Louis Sal
  4. I was just looking at the album they gave us so I have the vows handy: The Captain: On this occasion we are witnessing the reaffirmation of those vows of love made on your wedding day. During the intervening years, you have lived through sickness and health, pain and pleasure, success and failure. Because of your love for each other, you have persevered through the bright sunlight of the mountaintops and the depths of the sea. Your love has brought you together to this joyous occasion where hand in hand you renew the vows of love and trust in each other. You have come aboard the Amsterdam together to confirm to each other and make public, that your destinies shall be one and your joys shall not be known apart. Your Renewal Vows: I come once again before you to renew our vows of marriage. I promise to be strong in my love, gentle in my care and unwavering in my trust. In the name of all we have created together and all we are yet to become, I offer you my hand, as your partner, life time friend and companion. And of course the famous toast: Here's to good ships and wood ships, and ships that sail the seas. But the best ships are relationships and may yours always be! We did this for out 40th and I'm hoping to be on a HAL ship next year to do our 50th. Now I am a little weepy, it was a very beautiful ceremony-thank you Captain Fred Eversen. St. Louis Sal
  5. My family has sailed many times over Christmas and New Years. We have always given an extra gift at Christmas. I usually take cards with me that say Happy Holidays and I always write a personal note thanking them for what a great job they do in taking care of us. I always give to our room steward(s). If we have assigned dining and become close to our waiters we may give them gifts as well. For the room stewards I usually do $5 or $10. $5 for the dining room staff. The gifts to our room stewards are in addition to what I usually give them at the end of the cruise as an extra tip. St. Louis Sal
  6. We took a cruise to Alaska this summer on the Noordam. I'm lucky enough to be a 4-star Mariner and I love my free laundry. But this was a first for me; each time my laundry arrived back in my cabin, it came with a note. The first one said "Welcome to Alaska We care for the cloths you wear". It was handwritten and signed by a member of the Laundry team. I got one attached with each of my deliveries. It was a nice gesture and I enjoyed reading them to see what they would say! Has anyone else gotten laundry "love" notes? St. Louis Sal
  7. That reminds me of what my dad used to tell my mom (who liked to be ready for any possibility): You're not going to Timbuktu; they will have stores. St. Louis Sal
  8. We were on the Noordam for it's first cruise through the Panama Canal. There was a lady at our dinner table that had been on the inaugural cruise and they treated her like a queen!! I would love to do an inaugural cruise of a ship some day. St. Louis Sal
  9. How I wish I could do just 3 pairs! I have lots of foot problems and can never tell whether a pair that was comfortable yesterday will be comfortable today. I usually take 6 to be on the safe side. I have a pair of flats with a Velcro strap that can be worn with or without socks. They are my go to for plane travel as they are easily removable. I take two pairs of trainers (Asics plus my skecher ones which are fairly light weight). I take one pair of high heel sandals for dinner (usually either platform ones or I have a pair of Crocs that are inch and a half heel and very comfortable; Crocs used to make "real" shoes, but they don't anymore.) Then usually two pairs of flat sandals (Abeos or Naots) for casual days, dinners and around the cabin. That many shoes means I have to be careful about the rest of the things I pack. I wear one pair, put one pair of sandals in my carryon and the other four in my checked luggage. The only time my luggage was overweight was when I added some Raven's Brew coffee and some canned salmon to my luggage in Alaska. Whoops. My husband does two pair normally, wears his New Balance trainers on the plane and packs his dress shoes. Occasionally he will add sandals, but not always. I am jealous; his suitcase usually weighs less than mine. St. Louis Sal
  10. The current incarnation of the Crow's Nest on the Eurodam is blah. I spent absolutely no time there. The Explorations Café location is now the excursion desk. The original bar has been cut to 1/2 bar, 1/2 coffee café. One corner is a sort of small sales room/video presentation area divided partly with a bookcase for give one/take one books from the passengers. The seating as a whole is not relaxing. The library is scant and not welcoming. I trekked there from my aft cabin to the excursion desk to ask a question and that was pretty much it. I had no desire to spend any time there. St. Louis Sal
  11. On my most recent cruise, the cruise director had a new title: Cruise and Travel Director. The theatre was vastly underused as one of the members of the show had been injured and both of the scheduled production shows were cancelled. I was traveling with a newbie to cruising and she was really looking forward to the shows. I did not want to burst her bubble, but truly HAL hasn't had a decent production show in ages. She did enjoy the Indonesian crew show. We also had a comedian and a magician. They each did one show and then combined for a show. There was no band of any kind. My favorite performers were the Lincoln Center Stage quintet. This was on the Noordam and the location for the Lincoln Center Stage left a lot to be desired. People walking past talking, despite the signs saying performance in progress. And since HAL is always looking to make money, there is no bar service for this venue, which is surprising. St. Louis Sal
  12. Alaska weather is a total gamble. I just came back from a roundtrip out of Seattle, end of June. The first day was a solid wall of white. That was a first for me after 8 other Alaskan cruises. Our day in Ketchikan was absolutely stunning-pure sunshine, perfect temps. Last September I took one of the final cruises of the season (and the last land trip of the year; they all waved good-bye and locked up as we left). The cruise days were lovely weather at all the ports, the land part was mixed, more drizzly than not. Several years ago we took our daughters with us in September and the weather was picture perfect except for Ketchikan where it rained buckets. I say go when you can and bring some layers so you are prepared weather-wise. As far as the ships, the Noordam and the Westerdam are favorites of mine. I just went on the Noordam and thought she was in very good shape. St. Louis Sal
  13. I just got off Eurodam last week and I have sailed her several times. She's definitely one of my favorite HAL ships. She has the Tamarind (an upcharge but worth it). Tamarind is an Asian restaurant that even my "American comfort food" loving husband likes. I enjoy the Lincoln Center Stage (although it's location is not totally ideal and it's a tad small for the more popular concerts.) The America's Test Kitchen is fun (located in the Queen's (multi-purpose) lounge (also where B.B. King Club performs.) I really enjoy the thermal suite. The casino is quite small, but it is also now non-smoking!! The only cons I can think of: 1. They have tampered with the Crow's Nest and it's not so nice. They have moved the excursion desk there (where Explorations Café was). This means that, instead of it being conveniently mid-ship, it's a trek up to the observation desk all the time. They cut the original bar and now it's half bar, half Explorations coffee bar. They turned one corner into a sort of mini movie, spa salesroom venue. I truly didn't spend much time up there this last cruise (and didn't get a single coffee from Explorations Café). 2. I am not a fan of Eurodam's atrium, design-wise (personal taste). I like most of the other ships better. HAL is never an over-the-top, glitzy public space kind of ship design, but the Eurodam atrium is just kind of meh. I'd be glad to answer any specific questions you have. Bon Voyage St. Louis Sal
  14. If you are a member of AAA, you can get foreign currency with no transaction charge (there are minimum amounts you have to buy though). There is a charge to convert back. I keep Euros and Pounds since I travel enough to use them. The Swiss Francs I had I spent down so as not to bring too much home. St. Louis Sal
  15. I'm a big fan of Celebrity but for Alaska I always end up with Holland America because I like their itineraries the best. I would definitely do a round trip for your first cruise and save the one way for a time when you can do at least two weeks so you can add a land tour. I haven't looked at anything for your dates. We are leaving on the Eurodam on Saturday out of Seattle and doing Inside Passage, Juneau, Glacier Bay, Sitka, Ketchikan and a stop at Victoria. I chose this one because Sitka is one of my favorites. But it's always fun to book a cruise that does Skagway where you can do the White Pass train or take a fast ferry over to Haines. If you can afford it, a Neptune Suite on a HAL ship will give you plenty of room. Or a Signature Suite is some extra room (but no access to the Neptune Lounge). Otherwise a combo of a balcony and an inside would work. Everyone can enjoy the balcony and you still have extra space. I have done Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier-either one is a stellar pick. Icy Strait Point is wonderful. Whatever you choose it will be a fantastic trip. St. Louis Sal
  16. Thanks for the great review! I started reading it at the beginning but then I got busy getting ready for our Alaskan cruise on the Noordam. I finally found my way back to your commentary and it was just like reliving a lot of my cruise. Some day I need to be organized enough to take notes and do a cruise commentary, but until then I just like to read ones like you've written. Random comments: My husband and I did the White Pass railroad up and back this time, but once before in Skagway we did rent a car and drove all the way to Whitehorse. The border patrol guy told us that only 3% of the people that come off the ship and drive over the border go all the way to Whitehorse. One interesting thing that happened: when we arrived back and went to fill the tank (having promised to return it full) the only filling station in town had no electricity and therefore was not pumping gas. They had already called the rental car places and we were told to just drop off the car, they would fill the tank later and bill us. I was a little skeptical about that, but sure enough the amount on my credit card for gas was just the amount I was expecting. I loved your pictures, especially the bears at Mendenhall and the eagles. My husband and I took the whale watching cruise in Juneau and although we had a good time and everyone was thrilled with the whales they saw, we actually didn't see nearly as many as in our past visits. (I didn't tell anyone that, they were having a good time and were impressed.) I have traveled on the Nieuw Amsterdam before and somehow I never saw the gallery bar! I don't know how I missed it. I definitely will search for it if I get to cruise on Nieuw Amsterdam again some day. I have been back from my Alaska cruise/tour for 10 days now and am still suffering from post cruise sadness disorder. I miss my towel animals, I miss my chocolates and turned down bed, I miss someone cleaning my bathroom (twice a day!) and cooking all my meals. Thanks again for sharing your experiences, St. Louis Sal
  17. Thank you! I was getting ready to answer when I saw you beat me to it. I have had cabins that far forward and on even higher decks on other ships but that particular cruise was one of the bounciest.
  18. If you are bothered by rough seas, I would avoid SY5001. The wind was so strong we could not open our balcony door for part of the cruise. We are not bothered by rough seas, but it was definitely one cabin where I felt it more than most other locations. Also this cabin is in front of the bridge so they control your outside lights and ask you to close your draperies at night because of the light. The Koningsdam was okay overall but she's pretty low on my list of HAL ships.
  19. We are leaving soon on the HAL Noordam for Alaska. I was on the Noordam on her first passage thru the Panama Canal. She barely scraped through and required some painting at a later port. I think she is the biggest ship I've sailed in Alaska. I have to agree with others here-we may end up spoiling a beautiful place with popularity. It reminds me of Iceland where they are struggling with the last few years of increased tourism, trying to build infrastructure without ruining the wildness people come to see. St. Louis Sal
  20. Dev'sMom, I was just about to share my experience walking up to Exit Glacier when I read your last post. I am so sorry to hear this. I will pray that you beat this disease and will be there for your son. We have been fortunate to travel a lot since my husband's retirement and my visit to Exit Glacier was during one summer when we drove our RV all the way to Alaska from St Louis But in August of 2015 my husband was diagnosed with leukemia. Fortunately for us, his was a type that was highly treatable (although with better odds for younger people, he was 77.) It was a rough time, chemo is so hard on your body; he spent almost 6 weeks in Barnes Hospital/Siteman Cancer Center. Because of his age and some other health problems he faced kidney dialysis and had his heart stop 3 times. The upshot is-he is in remission! We have returned to cruising and are looking forward to being back in Alaska, leaving from Vancouver on September 9 on the Noordam. Take care, I am sure many friends and family are pulling for you. Keep your vision focused on the wonderful future that is waiting for you and your son. God bless, St. Louis Sal P.S. as you can see by my signature, even though my husband's last consolidation therapy was in March of 2016, we were back on ships by the end of the year, celebrating with three cruises. Since then we have been to both Cuba and Iceland. We are packing in as much as we can together.
  21. We had rented a car in Juneau before. We were picked up at the pier, driven to a little office down the road toward the airport. Got the car, drove all around (took the bridge over to Douglas Island, to take picture of sign that says "end of the road" which it literally is). Lots of fun. Told to leave car parked in town. Easy. Next time-reservation lady says office has moved, no pick up at the pier but not a bad walk to the office. Hah! And after our sightseeing, we had to walk back as well. We will be in Juneau soon on our next cruise and I can see that the rental car is still a hike. We are older that we were the last time too. So I think we will take a whale watching cruise. Just a heads up for next time for a hiking possibility. A friend took the tram up Mt. Roberts and hiked back down. She said it was a lot of fun BUT it took longer that they expected and they had the honor of being one of those people everybody is watching make a run for the ship. Thanks for bringing back some memories. St. Louis Sal
  22. Definitely recommend Tamarind (are you sensing a trend?) My husband is not even a big lover of Asian cuisine, but there are several dishes he enjoys there. We are not big Pinnacle Grill lovers. We've been a few times and each dinner was just a little, meh. Some dishes were superb, others not and the service is strange. I like a leisurely dinner but not quite that leisurely. Plus, one time, when my wine steward never came back to my table, I mentioned I would like to order a glass of port, I was schooled by my waiter on the fact that taking that order was not his job. Okkkay. We are more likely to do Canaletto on a longer cruise, just looking for something different. It used to be free and considering the quality, I think it should still be free. St. Louis Sal
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