Not much to report yet, but I’m going to let my followers know that we are still on for the Caribbean. I’m methodical about preparations. Here is a bit of it.
Flight reconfirmations. This is always a good idea. First, the airline can mark in your reservation that you are still planning to fly out. This is best done about 72 hours prior. Second, sometimes the airlines will change their schedules and flight numbers. Never hurts to be aware. Done.
I’ve reserved a room in Tampa for two nights at the Ramada Westshore near the Tampa airport. It’s not a long distance from the airport or the cruise dock, maybe about half way in between. There is a mall and several restaurants nearby. Price is reasonable and the reviews are positive. There is a pool where I can check out my snorkel mask.
I’ve been checking the Holland America Cruise line site for updates and changes. Lo and behold, I’ve printed out our luggage tags for our updated room, number 358. This is a very nice cabin for several reasons. It has a nice unobstructed ocean view midway down the walk area around the Lower Promenade deck. We were in 372 last trip and there was noise from above in the kitchen and an obstruction on the edge of our view. While taking the walking tour of the galley, I discovered that the pot and pan washing station was directly above our bed! The bumping around wasn’t too loud, but you could hear the person working until about 10:30pm. So I got the deck plan and figured out what was above us on this trip. A lifeboat about 1/2 way across. Then a hallway that goes to a meeting room. Otherwise, a dead end unless you have a key to get into the back of the kitchen. Cool! No one will be walking above much at night. And if there is a flurry at the lifeboat station, I want to be awake! One other thing I like about this room is that it is about midship. Less rocking if the weather gets bad. I’ve heard of the sea getting pretty rough in the winter. Last trip coming from Panama, we had 14 foot seas while traveling from Columbia north to Cuba! I used to be extremely prone to motion sickness, but that run didn’t bother me at all. There were many people on the ship that got sick, though.
Further into the pile of paperwork, my check list. I finished it up today, typed it into wordpad, and printed it out. This list will cover future cruises and trips to the Philippines. This is a “limited space” list that covers packing into suitcases for airline flights. I’ll have to edit the list for foreign travel and I will resave the new list. If I don’t have checklists, I will CERTAINLY forget something important. I’ve got a file folder going with ’em.
Further still, I have to print information for shore trips.
We have settled on two trips so far that are not sponsored by Holland America. The first one is with Cityview Trolley in Key West. They have a very nice (according to people that have been to Key West before) semi guided tour of downtown Key West for $20 each. You can board and get off for the entire day. I like that. We will probably make a circuit, then get off at the places that interest us. The price is a touch steep, but I may never see Key West again and time is limited. The drivers supposedly talk about the sites as they loop around. Some drivers are quite entertaining. http://www.cityviewtrolleys.com/
I loved Guatemala on the last trip and I’m anticipating a good day trip with Gus, owner of Go-with-Gus tours. We are taking the “Livingston Humanitarian Tour”, a boat trip up the Rio Dulce river to a village and school. I love meeting locals and see how they live; this will be a treat. I have some goodies to donate, calculators, erasers, and chalk for the teachers and I’m trying to think of something for the kids. A friend is exchanging dollars for small change in quetzals to give away to the kids. If there aren’t too many, that might be a good plan. Go with Gus
The new age of cruising has made the small to medium ships not as cost effective. The Ryndam’s capacity is about 1,200 passengers and 950 crew. Contrast that to the new “Oasis of the Seas” that carries over 5,000 passengers! Cruise ports may tend to get crowded so…I’ve found a site that lists the number of ships in a given port. Cruisecal has the answer. We will have a bunch of people (4 ships) at Georgetown, Grand Cayman, but the other ports look reasonable. The megaships can’t access the smaller ports because of either size or logistics.
With so many choices and so little knowledge, I haven’t booked many shore trips yet. I did nail down two that I didn’t want to miss. The Bio-luminescent bay in Puerto Rico is something I just HAD to see. I lucked out and we happen to be in Puerto Rico on the night of the new moon. Meaning nothing but starlight and flashlights for illumination. A second booking is the zip line on St. Lucia. I’m thinking the pictures and stories will be awesome. Still debating about some sort of dolphin encounter, but the prices are steep. Maybe in Honduras.
Weather is looking good, so the drive to Spokane, flights from Spokane to Minneapolis, then on to Tampa should be OK. SHOULD BE! Ha ha on me with these bold words.
I’ll post an update from Tampa over the weekend.
Bye for now.