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sailawaybellaluna

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About sailawaybellaluna

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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    Traveling, Cooking, Reading, Sewing

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  1. Hi! We weren't aware of the new rules (I've been sailing HAL and Royal recently), but no one stopped us! I guess we got lucky! πŸ˜‰
  2. You'll have a great time! Cruising with toddlers is so convenient, I love it! I do take our white noise sound machine to plug in to ensure a quieter atmosphere. And HAL provides Pack N'Plays, so I like to take my own sheet!
  3. I wanted to finish up my review with our last night in Fort Lauderdale. After disembarking the ship (which was a very smooth process, BTW), we grabbed a large taxi to the Residence Inn Intracoastal / Il Lugano. What a GORGEOUS property! We were all absolutely thrilled with it! Yes, it's about a $30 taxi ride / 20 - 25 minutes from the port, but it was exponentially nicer than our night at the Embassy Suites! We had an enormous 1 - bedroom corner suite with balcony, dining room, and full kitchen. We had a lovely view of the intracoastal, and the room was less than $250. The service was excellent, as was the full breakfast included in the price...The beach is also just two blocks across the street I will try and find some pics to upload!
  4. Thank you for reading along! Supposedly our cabin was 228 sq ft, including the balcony. I think it's also important to note that the bathroom (particularly the nice shower), is a bit larger than most other cabins I've sailed in, so I think this accounts for a bit of that square footage! I don't mind a particularly small cabin, it was the layout (for 4 people) that was quite difficult for us.
  5. I'm so happy you saw my review and switched to a balcony cabin on Deck 8! I was actually quite shocked when I entered to the cabin and saw just how obstructed it really was! And I agree with you regarding the bed configuration...So inconvenient! Hope you enjoy the NS in December! It's a great itinerary!!
  6. Yes, you should ! It's really a special cruising experience in my opinion, especially compared to Carnival and Royal!
  7. Thanks for reading along! I felt like maybe I shouldn't have included that portion of the review mentioning the huge beach canopy. But I was just so annoyed about it!! πŸ˜‰ And you are exactly right about the brand new car in the parking lot - ha!
  8. The next morning we were up bright and early to pack up and get ready to say goodbye to the NS. Yes, I said pack up. We don't begin packing until the morning of disembarkation! I think with little kids, we need so many things, it's just not practical to partially pack the day before. Plus, space was so limited in our cabin, it just wasn't possible! Our view as we pulled into port at 6:45am: Unlike some other cruiselines, I love that HAL provides room service on disembarkation days. It made it very easy to get the kids settled with their food, while we packed us all up! I will say, if you are in a cabin like ours and use the sofa bed, make sure you really pull it all apart and search underneath it before vacating your cabin. I found some really nice prescription glasses under ours. I started digging around because I couldn't find my watch or my wedding ring! Sure enough, during the night they both fell from the nightstand into the bed folding mechanism and under the bed! I was so happy that we were able to stay in our cabin until 8:30am! We made sure to clean it up for our steward, throwing away all the old papers and garbage and such. I appreciated not being kicked out too early. We got in line with our luggage and the entire process getting off the ship was very smooth and efficient! I was so sad to say goodbye to the NS! One more post to come about our post-cruise night in Fort Lauderdale!
  9. After finally making it back onboard, we didn't have very much time to clean up before heading to dinner! I had the scallop entree on this particular night, and it was perfect!! For dessert we had these hazelnut chocolate bars that were also delicious! Following dinner we decided to head to the World Stage on Deck 2 for the encore performance with Ken Boyd and Joseph Reohm. Basically, one started with a bit of comedy, and then there was a brief magic show. Our kids really enjoyed it! We got called out by the comedian and I just wanted to sink down into my chair, but it was a fun evening. πŸ™‚ I really love that the entertainment is family friendly on Holland America. During my February cruise on the Carnival Liberty, I took my friend (who is new to cruising) to the marriage show. I've seen this show probably 15 times on various cruises, and it's always hilarious and just a bit naughty. Oh my goodness, it was definitely rated MA and completely tacky and out of control.One man actually took off his pants! We stopped by one of the comedians as well, and it was just vulgar with crass language and not even funny! It was a refreshing change to be able to take our kids to a performance like this on HAL! I'm sad to say, after the show was done, our cruise was pretty much done as well. 😞 We headed back to the cabin to get situated for the night, and I decided to briefly head out to the casino to see if I could win back my losses ($140) from the week. I'm happy to say I won back over $100, and was smart enough to cash out!!! One more post coming about our disembarkation...
  10. Thanks for reading along! If we wouldn't have had children that needed to eat, I would have been happy to simply have a cocktail (or two!) and skip the buffet lines! πŸ˜‰ Given the tendering situation, it probably would have been nice to head back much earlier and miss the chaos! But we had such a short day there as it was, it would have been a shame to shorten it anymore...
  11. A few more pics from the Captain Morgan's pirate ship bar: I meant to post these pictures below in my previous post...If you don't care to walk too far on the beach, and would just like to easily sit down without carrying a beach chair through the sand, this was the scene as soon as you entered the beach. These pictures were taken at 8:45am. A few hours later, these chairs were completely full: Once we finished our drinks, we headed over to the food lines. Now I will say, I thought the BBQ lunch was handled much more efficiently on Princess Cays, and even back on Cococay when I was last there. The landscaping and bar around the BBQ facility doesn't allow for very cohesive lines, so there were TONS of people weaving in all directions waiting for food. And it did NOT go quickly. There also wasn't a great deal of shade, so it got hot standing there. The sun doesn't bother me much, but I knew it would be difficult for my parents. So we waited in line, filling four plates with food and simply stacking the extra plates underneath. My husband stuck all the extra cutlery and napkins in his pockets, and we got enough food for the six of us. They had some self serve fruit and salads, but the hot food consisted of: hot dogs, burgers, fish tacos, rice and beans, and some white fish. It was really all quite delicious and I was pleasantly surprised! Much better than the food on Princess Cays! They also had some yummy desserts the kids were excited about. Once we finished eating, we spent another couple of hours playing in the water with the kids. It was just such a beautiful day! Before we knew it, our time was up and we needed to head back to the tender queue. This was the last picture I took, and you can see the beach had alread started emptying out. The time stamp on this picture was 2:05pm, and the last tender was at 2:30pm. Oh my goodness, the line was INSANE. It took us 90 minutes to get back to the ship. Waiting in line and waiting as they filled the tender. It was a very long and hot process, and the lines were very long. I'm not sure what made the process so inefficient? Everyone seemed to have their cards out and ready, and bags prepared for the security scanners. I know tender ports typically require more patience and time, but this was quite exhausting. We ended up sailing late that day, and I don't think the last tender arrived until well after 4pm. Still, it didn't spoil the beautiful day we enjoyed at HMC! More to come!
  12. The next day was Half Moon Cay! I had never been there before, but I was able to visit Princess Cays just five weeks prior onboard the Carnival Liberty. (I got to sneak away for a little girl's trip with one of my best friends of 30+ years!). I was so pleasantly surprised by just how much I LOVED Princess Cays! I hadn't expected much at all from a cruiseline's private island, but I was blown away by the beauty! All of that to say, I think my expectations were a bit higher for our day at Half Moon Cay! Now HMC is a tender port, so you must go down to the Lincoln Center Stage / BB Kings and collect a number. I made my family get down there at 8am, and we were on the first tender boat of the morning! I guess I'm not really a "sleep in and relax" type on vacation... Ha! Anyhow, the day was not off to a great start. We sat on the tender boat and it started raining on us. The sky was ominous, and I was a little concerned how our day would go. Fortunately, once we got to the island, the rain stopped and the skies started to clear! The first thing I did was to traipse all the way down past all of the cabanas, bathrooms, etc., to the edge of the island where there are just a few chairs and hammocks. There was hardly anyone there yet, and it was gorgeous! I was able to secure six chairs partially shaded and this hammock! As you can see, the sun came out and it turned into a gorgeous day! I had packed some inflatable floaters, beach balls, snorkel equipment and sand toys from home, so the kids were having a blast! The top few pictures above were taken between 8:55am - 9:10am. Around 10:30am or so, it started getting REALLY crowded. And lots of people had the same idea we did, and dragged chairs all the way down. Many of them started setting up directly in front of people who had been there since 8:30 in the morning. I'm sorry, but this really drives me crazy. You don't set up on a LARGE beach directly in front of people! My husband laughs at me, but I went ahead and put our towels down below us so this wouldn't happen. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before a family showed up with a bright neon orange beach canopy! Now I've never seen anything like this. We have beach tents that we take when we hit the beach on the weekend. But this was like a portable EZ-up that was about 10 x 12 feet! And wouldn't you believe that they set up right next to me. In fact they anchored it at the bottom of my beach chair. Once it was up, my parents (who were sitting under the trees in the shade) could no longer see the water or the beautiful ships docked out on the horizon. Sometimes people have no manners, and it completely baffles me. This was one of those instances! Anyhow, not to ruin our day. I was so thankful for a gorgeous day!!! My husband and I left the kids swinging in the hammock for a bit and headed to the Captain Morgan Pirate Ship Bar! Now I thought this looked kind of kitschy, but oh my goodness, it was so picturesque inside and I absolutely loved it! We ordered some frozen drinks and sat upstairs at a little table overlooking this window. It was a great memory to make! More to come...
  13. Thanks so much for reading along! I'm glad to hear you love El Convento too! I've never stayed there, but it would definitely be a treat to be able to! I think it's such an easy, walkable city and especially great with kids!
  14. We got back onboard in St. Thomas and cleaned up just in time to watch a gorgeous sailaway. The Konningsdam was trying to engage us in a little horn war, which was fun. I have a video of it, but I'm not sure how to post it here? We headed to dinner at 5:30pm but it seems I didn't take many photos that evening?! After dinner, we headed to the Lincoln Center Stage for their 7pm performance called "Classics Favorites". Again, it was wonderful! Following the performance, we put the kids down and I believe I went to the casino for a bit. I don't think I won so I traded places with my husband while he tried to recover my losses! πŸ™‚ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The next day, Friday, would be a DAY AT SEA. We were excited to relax in the cabin a bit and just be lazy this morning! It turned out to be a GORGEOUS day! Check out that blue water! My son wanted to head up and shoot some hoops, so I ended up spending a little over an hour up on Deck 11 at the Sports Court! It wasn't too long before a couple of teenagers joined him, and they had fun playing basketball together! The Sports Court is set up really nice. You can play tennis or volleyball there as well. As you walk around deck, you'll also find lots of built in exercise equipment you can use! After my son was finished playing basketball, I snuck about 45 minutes alone out on deck to read and enjoy the view. It was hot out there though, so I messaged my husband on the HAL app (free!), and suggested we meet at the pizzeria for lunch. We really enjoyed the lunch and salads again at the New York Pizzeria on Deck 10. After lunch we headed back to the cabin to freshen up. During the afternoon we took the kids up to play checkers in the Explorations Cafe before heading down for Afternoon Tea in the dining room. They loved the selection of sweets today! There was a chocolate cake with gold glitter on it! Tonight would be our second gala night, so we got dressed up for our dinner at 5:30pm. Everyone was dressed very nicely, but I didn't notice people dressing as formal as I have seen on other ships. On one sailing I took with my mom out of Southampton, England, nearly every man onboard was in a tuxedo during formal night! I guess the Caribbean is naturally just a more relaxed sailing... I'm sorry I didn't take many photos this evening...I did absolutely love my Surf n' Turf at dinner however! And as usual, I found the dining room service to be excellent. As with our previous evenings, we hit up the Lincoln Center Stage after dinner to enjoy the 7pm performance called, "All American"! It was a great show! More to come...
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