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Everything posted by Petronillus

  1. I just read this entire thread and was hoping to see that Himself had chimed in. You all may know that virtually every Holland America cruise has a Catholic priest on board. In the most recent cruise we sailed on board the Koningsdam the priest conducted a renewal of vows for two couples immediately following Mass. If your heart is not set on having your ceremony conducted by the ship's captain, you might consider asking the priest. I would be astonished if he didn't welcome you with open arms, regardless of your religious affiliation or non-affiliation. If you wish to compose your own vows and to locate the ceremony someplace other than the Crow's Nest, the on-board chaplain may be the way to go. Best wishes!
  2. An eighth of a century is noteworthy! DW and I got married in late December. The date made perfect sense at the time but we found over the years that it's hard to focus fittingly on our anniversary in the midst of the Christmas holidays. So, a few (!!!) years ago we decided that we would have a real celebration in late April to mark 33⅓ years of wedded bliss.
  3. Thanks to everybody who has contributed so far! CC is such an astonishing source of information that rises to the level of wisdom. You have, as I hoped, given me so many avenues to explore. To Dulciana8: I hadn't thought about Thanksgiving week. What itineraries have you tried? From the US are we pretty much limited to the Caribbean?
  4. DW and I were fond of the Adagio Strings (which is a blanket name covering any group of string instruments performing classical music in a lounge (usually the Explorers Lounge, if I recall) on the way to dinner. On our recent Kdam cruise we encountered the Lincoln Center Stage, which was a quintet (two violins, one viola, one cello, and a grand piano). Their repertoire ranged from serious classics to light classics to film scores. They performed in an open concert venue that was used in the evening hours by the BB King jazz club. They are vetted by Lincoln Center in NYC and are top-notch. The caliber far exceeded the standard of the Adagio Strings.
  5. DW and I are planning on a post-Christmas cruise that will include our daughter, her husband, and their 8-year-old son. It will be our son-in-law's first cruise, and our daughter's first in over 20 years. (Our SIL is a great guy, for whom vacation means golf clubs.) I would looooove to sail HAL once again and accrue additional Mariners points, but I don't see it in the cards. We last sailed on the Koningsdam, the Caribbean in February. Great ship, but very little geared to the kids. The crowd was, frankly, geriatric. And several trips to visit Club Hal proved disappointing. I'm sure that a cruise during the Christmas school holidays will have a lot more school-age children on board, but I hesitate to count on that. I want to select a cruise that will provide the fun amenities that appeal to kids but one that will also make for a good experience for the grown-ups. What do you recommend? Should we consider Carnival as a sister line to HAL in the CCL family of companies? Should we (shudder!) look to one of the new 6000+ pax behemoths? I welcome all suggestions, having always found the HAL community on CC to be a great source of deep wisdom.
  6. We enjoyed almost all the shows on the World Stage but certainly noticed the lack of any of the usual song-and-dance production-number shows. One evening had a comedian who just couldn't find and keep his focus, but in a subsequent show he seemed to have recovered his mojo. There was a stride jazz pianist who was a brilliant and engaging showwoman who also performed twice. The BBC film with the live musicians (including the absolutely top-notch Lincoln Center Stage quintet!) was magnificent. The one show that just blew us away, however, was a dance troupe (about 6 superb young dancers) who performed a multi-media presentation that took full advantage of the three screens where the images frequently spilled over onto the walls of the auditorium (thanks to laser technology); they were even able to simulate an elevator that appeared to take the dancers higher and higher up a skyscraper. By far this cruise offered the best entertainment experience we've experienced on a HAL ship.
  7. I'm sorry but with all due respect, I have to observe that while our experience in February confirmed that it was necessary to arrive some time ahead (perhaps as much as 30 minutes, but I can't confirm personally) in order to snag a seat at the 7:30 show, we invariably (five or six instances) found a comfortable array of available seats for the later one.
  8. Many thanks! We've booked with the Banks Mansion. It's pricey, but then again, it's likely our only visit to Amsterdam. YOLO -- at least on this side of the grave.
  9. DW & I and two close friends are booked on 2-week the Rotterdam Baltic Sea cruise out of Amsterdam on September 7. DW & I are flying in on the 5th in the hopes of shaking off the effects of jet lag before sailaway. At this point in our lives this is likely the last chance DW & I will take to experience Amsterdam. Having checked other threads on CC, I see strong recommendations for the Park Plaza Victoria and for the Renaissance on Kattegat. They seem to be well situated relative to the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank House, which is my primary criterion. But I figure that my friends on CC (and particularly the HAL board) have other gems you'd be willing to share. What do you say? After an overnight flight from Chicago, we'll have about 1.75 days (2 overnights) to take in Amsterdam. What do you think would be our best base of operations until we report for boarding on the 7th? I don't want to say that price is no object, but it's not my number 1 consideration. As always, thanks in advance!
  10. Yes, but that's precisely the reference to the Battle of the Boyne (subjugation of the Irish at the hands of troops loyal to the English king, William of Orange) that continues to stir up sectarian resentments in Ireland, particularly among the Catholics of Northern Ireland. I'm just saying that from a marketing perspective, it's an unfortunate choice on HAL's part.
  11. Just got back from 11 days on the Koningsdam. The Club Orange looked underutilized. We were in a "Vista" suite, thus did not qualify for using it. Sour grapes, perhaps, but I didn't feel that we were missing out on much. I have to wonder about the choice of the name Club "Orange." If I were Irish, I might take it as an ethnic affront.
  12. Gosh, Suzy! I should have known you'd be on top of it! Thanks. It's great to think we'll be out of the grip of an awful Chicago winter in a couple days' time.
  13. What number can we give our family to use for calling HAL in the event of an emergency, i.e., if they need to get word to us while we are on board and underway?
  14. I am grateful for all the guidance. Based on your collective input, I'm inclined to go with SPB Tours. They offer packages that encompass almost all the other ports of call on our cruise. I was particularly struck by the negative reviews I read on TripAdvisor.com. First, that there were so few of them. And secondly, SPB took all of the complaints seriously and, it appears, bent over backwards in each case to make things right. Thanks to you all!
  15. DW & I are booked in the 14-day Baltic cruise in September of this year. We are traveling with another couple, although we are not constrained to book all shore excursions with them; for an attractive enough package we could be a party of four, or DW & I could go off on our own as a party of two. Our itinerary includes two days in St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida!), scheduled to start at 7:00 am on Friday and to end at 6:00 pm on Saturday. The Russian visa, which is both expensive and complicated to obtain, is required but "waived" if a two-day shore excursion is booked through the cruise line or directly with a state-approved tour operator. In other words, Mother Russia discourages tourists from wandering around on their own and encourages them to submit to the watchful eyes of a selected minder. My chief objective in this connection is to spend as much time as I desire in the Hermitage viewing as much of the collection as I desire and at the pace I desire. Sure, we can take a whirlwind tour of other "must see" attractions but I absolutely do not want to be rushed through the Hermitage or to miss parts of the collection that I am keen to see and see at my leisure. Here's where I turn to the vast wisdom and experience of the CC community: does anyone out there in CC-land know about (ideally, have firsthand experience with) a reliable and reputable tour operator who will customize a private tour that will serve my needs?
  16. My apologies to despegue. My post was supposed to read as follows: "You, sir, are a throwback to a bygone age. You are a gentleman. If hats were still fashionable menswear, I would doff mine in your honor." Let the record be corrected.
  17. You, sir, are a throwback to a bygone age. If hats were still in fashion, I would doff mine in your honor.
  18. That's new information to me. We're booked on the Koningsdam next month, and the information I've received says that on that new class of HAL ships electric outlets abound in the cabin and so the extension cords/power strips are not needed. In the past we have brought our own without objection or incident, and I believe it was equipped with a surge protector. And once, our cabin steward brought us one.
  19. That's so good to hear. It's a hassle to pack formalwear, but your comments make it seem worthwhile.
  20. By happy coincidence, we're on the same cruise! I'm already a member of our Roll Call. Am so looking forward to meeting you.
  21. I admit it: I'm a fair-weather friend. That is to say, I follow this board only when I'm anticipating a HAL cruise. So, I just learned, incidentally, that while I was away, "formal nights" were done away with in favor of "gala nights." The significance, I further learned, is that gentlemen are no longer expected wear business suit and tie (and, ideally, a tuxedo or other formal wear) for dining in the MDR, much less for the evening's subsequent on-board activities. If I'm understanding correctly, a collared shirt and chinos meet the new standard. Is there more I should know? Formal nights (i.e., with tuxedo, patent leather shoes, and all) was one of the things that, for me, made HAL special. Now would I be a small conspicuous (maybe even ridiculous?) minority if I showed up on "gala nights" decked out in my finery? If this topic has been thoroughly hashed out in another thread, I'd appreciate it if one of you out there in CCland would point me to the relevant posting.
  22. How very sad. I'm sure, though, there are other decks, other than poolside, where one can stretch out on a deck chair in the open air with a good book.
  23. Congratulations on getting your choice of stateroom. Let me add another recommendation. On our Alaska cruise we booked at the first opportunity our voyage-long access to the Greenhouse Spa's hydro pool and thermal lounges. I found the thermal lounge chairs to die for. On our subsequent Mexican Riviera cruise it didn't add much, and I thereupon decided to hold off on the thermal lounge except for colder-weather itineraries (i.e., Alaska and northern Europe).
  24. At Buick Motor Division we used to refer to the dashboard trim as "taintwood." "Whatever it is it ain't wood." Thanks to all, as ever, for the helpful information. I'm counting down the days. It almost (as if!) makes the prospect of a Chicago winter palatable.
  25. We have booked a midwinter cruise to the Caribbean on board the Koningsdam. One of the features I associate with HAL is the beautiful teak-wood promenade that completely encompasses the promenade deck without interruption. DW and I have walked off many an overindulgence by strolling the promenade deck. The pdf of the Promenade Deck on the Koningsdam appears either (1) to get blocked off in the aft sections of both the port and starboard side or (2) to narrow down to a width that wouldn't accommodate two walking abreast. I trust that some denizen of CCland will be kind and gracious enough to enlighten me. I've also noticed that the Koningsdam's Sports Deck has a running/jogging track. I can't recall ever encountering a runner or jogger on the Promenade Deck. Is that forbidden? Thanks!
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