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Just returned, HAL's ms Rotterdam in the Baltics



 
 
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  #1  
Old August 5th, 2005, 05:26 AM
D Ball
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Default Just returned, HAL's ms Rotterdam in the Baltics

Greetings, RTC'ers,

I hope everyone is enjoying a great summer!

We just returned from a 12-night cruise on HAL's ms Rotterdam from Rotterdam
to Copenhagen with stops in Oslo, Norway; Arhus, Denmark; Warnemunde,
Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and
Stockholm, Sweden. We spent time in The Netherlands pre-cruise and in
Copenhagen and London post-cruise. We traveled as a party of 5 adults and 3
kids spanning the ages 12 to a very active 82.

The itinerary was grand and the driving force behind our selection of the
HAL ms Rotterdam. Once interested, we couldn't pass on a "flash" sale of
cabins about 45 days pre-sail. Our cruise experience on the Rotterdam,
however, was just "okay." The ship is quite lovely (she's HAL's flagship,
and it shows); our staterooms were very comfortable (love those Euro
pillow-topped mattresses) and well-appointed (we lucked out on our
guaranteed booking and were assigned the highest category of OV's in a
convenient amidships location); and the Signature of Excellence enhancements
are nice, especially HAL's creation of a New York Times co-branded Internet
cafe and library/multimedia center (one great place to hang out!). The food
and entertainment as we experienced them on this cruise were not a good fit
for us, though, and with the exception of our stateroom attendant, who I'm
delighted to report was the best we've ever had, service generally was not
up to par (there had been staffing cutbacks on this ship).

We were fortunate to unexpectedly take a "just for fun" Caribbean cruise on
the Carnival Miracle in June, so with two cruises fresh in mind, it's easy
to make comparisons. Curiously, our HAL and Carnival cruises are sides A and
B of the same record (yeah, how old am I to talk about records??!)--we
thought the food and service on Carnival were top notch, but the ship was
ugly! Based on what we've seen on 13 cruises over the past 5-1/2 years since
we've discovered cruising--and we've now cruised on all of the mainstream
lines except Disney, plus enjoyed one small ship river cruise
experience--our family's happiest on Carnival, Princess and
Royal Caribbean (in no particular order--each has its strengths and
weaknesses). Celebrity is still a question mark--she failed to impress when
we tried the Millie in the Med last summer--and we just don't think HAL or
NCL are good fits for our tastes and interests. YMMV

We go back to school early in Texas, so considering post-trip catch-up and
back-to-school chores, I doubt I will get a trip report prepared soon enough
to be of benefit to anyone who may be going to the Baltics before the season
is over or cruising on the Rotterdam soon. However, I am happy to answer any
questions.

BTW, the current production of Guys and Dolls in London featuring Ewen
McGregor as Sky Masterson is unexpectedly magical! I wholeheartedly
recommend it to any of you who may be in London in the next few months. Ewen
is the draw, to be sure, and he is surprisingly good on stage, but the
runaway stars are the American singer/actress Jane Krakowski who plays Miss
Adelaide and, collectively, the ensemble cast of actors/singers/dancers who
play the missionaries and the gamblers, plus the orchestra. The normally
reserved British audience (compared to Broadway theatre goers) went wild at
the end of a contagiously enthusiastic, "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat."
This musical (new to the West End and slated for a short run, at least with
the current cast) is very popular with residents, and our performance was
SRO--the first time I've ever seen folks pay to stand at the back!

Anyway, another memorable travel experience, moving right into anticipation
mode for the next....

Smooth sails to all,

Diana Ball
near Houston, TX


  #2  
Old August 5th, 2005, 12:12 PM
Becca
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Posts: n/a
Default

Welcome home, Diana, and thanks for the info on the Rotterdam. My cruise
friends tell me that I am not ready for HAL, but I hope to try them some
day. Maybe a 7-day cruise would be a little more livelier.

It is difficult for me to say which cruise line is my favorite. I would
have to say Princess, NCL, Carnival and RCI, in that order. I like
Freestyle and Personal Choice, although I know it does not suit
everybody. I enjoy the Solarium on Royal Caribbean, although their lunch
buffet is not the best. Celebrity was my least favorite cruise line,
but I hope that changes after I try the Millennium on the MOAGC2 in
February. I hear they have made some changes so I am looking forward to
it. I will be cruising with friends, so I am sure I will have a great time.

Becca


D Ball wrote:
Greetings, RTC'ers,

I hope everyone is enjoying a great summer!

We just returned from a 12-night cruise on HAL's ms Rotterdam from Rotterdam
to Copenhagen with stops in Oslo, Norway; Arhus, Denmark; Warnemunde,
Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and
Stockholm, Sweden. We spent time in The Netherlands pre-cruise and in
Copenhagen and London post-cruise. We traveled as a party of 5 adults and 3
kids spanning the ages 12 to a very active 82.

The itinerary was grand and the driving force behind our selection of the
HAL ms Rotterdam. Once interested, we couldn't pass on a "flash" sale of
cabins about 45 days pre-sail. Our cruise experience on the Rotterdam,
however, was just "okay." The ship is quite lovely (she's HAL's flagship,
and it shows); our staterooms were very comfortable (love those Euro
pillow-topped mattresses) and well-appointed (we lucked out on our
guaranteed booking and were assigned the highest category of OV's in a
convenient amidships location); and the Signature of Excellence enhancements
are nice, especially HAL's creation of a New York Times co-branded Internet
cafe and library/multimedia center (one great place to hang out!). The food
and entertainment as we experienced them on this cruise were not a good fit
for us, though, and with the exception of our stateroom attendant, who I'm
delighted to report was the best we've ever had, service generally was not
up to par (there had been staffing cutbacks on this ship).

We were fortunate to unexpectedly take a "just for fun" Caribbean cruise on
the Carnival Miracle in June, so with two cruises fresh in mind, it's easy
to make comparisons. Curiously, our HAL and Carnival cruises are sides A and
B of the same record (yeah, how old am I to talk about records??!)--we
thought the food and service on Carnival were top notch, but the ship was
ugly! Based on what we've seen on 13 cruises over the past 5-1/2 years since
we've discovered cruising--and we've now cruised on all of the mainstream
lines except Disney, plus enjoyed one small ship river cruise
experience--our family's happiest on Carnival, Princess and
Royal Caribbean (in no particular order--each has its strengths and
weaknesses). Celebrity is still a question mark--she failed to impress when
we tried the Millie in the Med last summer--and we just don't think HAL or
NCL are good fits for our tastes and interests. YMMV

We go back to school early in Texas, so considering post-trip catch-up and
back-to-school chores, I doubt I will get a trip report prepared soon enough
to be of benefit to anyone who may be going to the Baltics before the season
is over or cruising on the Rotterdam soon. However, I am happy to answer any
questions.

BTW, the current production of Guys and Dolls in London featuring Ewen
McGregor as Sky Masterson is unexpectedly magical! I wholeheartedly
recommend it to any of you who may be in London in the next few months. Ewen
is the draw, to be sure, and he is surprisingly good on stage, but the
runaway stars are the American singer/actress Jane Krakowski who plays Miss
Adelaide and, collectively, the ensemble cast of actors/singers/dancers who
play the missionaries and the gamblers, plus the orchestra. The normally
reserved British audience (compared to Broadway theatre goers) went wild at
the end of a contagiously enthusiastic, "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat."
This musical (new to the West End and slated for a short run, at least with
the current cast) is very popular with residents, and our performance was
SRO--the first time I've ever seen folks pay to stand at the back!

Anyway, another memorable travel experience, moving right into anticipation
mode for the next....

Smooth sails to all,

Diana Ball
near Houston, TX


  #3  
Old August 5th, 2005, 03:24 PM
villa deauville
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Default

Welcome back Diana.
I love the London theater. Has a different "feeling" than Broadway.
especially their plays.

SUNNY

S'nd I
XXX

(* _*)

  #4  
Old August 5th, 2005, 06:05 PM
Charles
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Default

In article , D Ball
wrote:

We just returned from a 12-night cruise on HAL's ms Rotterdam from Rotterdam


Welcome back. That is a great itinerary. Might do that itinerary next
year but definitly on a different cruise line! I will try HAL but first
on a shorter seven day cruise.

--
Charles
  #5  
Old August 5th, 2005, 07:05 PM
D Ball
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Default

Hi, neighbor, good to hear from you. I am still looking forward to cruising
with you one day--but let's make it Princess, LOL. Actually, I'm with you,
when you're with friends, the ship hardly matters. We had a ball traveling
with good friends on this Baltics adventure.

As for being "ready for HAL," there's the rub. Our 82-year-old friend who
was with us wasn't "ready for HAL." Doesn't that suggest HAL is out of touch
with the tastes and interests of its clientele? I mean, what exactly is that
magic age when I'll lose my taste for vindaloo or my interest in listening
to a raucous set of rock and roll?! I like baked chicken and torch songs,
too, but geez, considering how rich our lives are today with the explosion
of cuisines and entertainment options...I just don't think a steady diet of
"tepid" and "cautious" remains a successful hospitality plan for any market.
But I agree with you, a 7-day cruise on one of HAL's purpose-built Carib
ships, e.g., the Zuidy, must offer a cruise experience more similar to what
we've enjoyed on the other lines. I know many RTC friends have had a lot of
fun on those cruises.

Take care, Becca.

Diana

"Becca" wrote in message
...
Welcome home, Diana, and thanks for the info on the Rotterdam. My cruise
friends tell me that I am not ready for HAL, but I hope to try them some
day. Maybe a 7-day cruise would be a little more livelier.

It is difficult for me to say which cruise line is my favorite. I would
have to say Princess, NCL, Carnival and RCI, in that order. I like
Freestyle and Personal Choice, although I know it does not suit everybody.
I enjoy the Solarium on Royal Caribbean, although their lunch buffet is
not the best. Celebrity was my least favorite cruise line, but I hope
that changes after I try the Millennium on the MOAGC2 in February. I hear
they have made some changes so I am looking forward to it. I will be
cruising with friends, so I am sure I will have a great time.

Becca



  #6  
Old August 5th, 2005, 07:50 PM
D Ball
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Karen, what a treat to have a new ship in New York for you and Hans to try.
I am sure you will feel very comfortable returning to HAL after your forays
into alternative cruise experiences--kinda like spending time with an old
friend. I understand there is controversy over the loss of certain classic
HAL features in the new builds and secondary to SOE enhancements. No matter
what you and Hans decide on that issue, I think you will find a lot to like
about many of the things that are new to HAL. We certainly appreciated the
graceful blend of old and new on the Rotterdam. As mentioned, we thought
Explorations was a particularly wonderful venue. There are comfy leather
couches and arm chairs, plus repro Eames chairs/ottomans with personal music
stations/listening headphones (ala Celebrity's Notes) looking out to the
ocean; a surprisingly large and varied library of books; a library-style
newspaper and magazine reading table (with current papers stocked each port
day); suede-topped community jigsaw puzzle table and card/game tables (with
separate card and gaming rooms, as well); Internet stations featuring free
access to HAL's website and the Times online; and of course, HAL's teaming
with the Times means the printed news digest with puzzle is delivered daily,
plus there are these tables with puzzles on them and grease pens...a fun
novelty. Oh, yes, and a specialty coffee bar ala Starbucks--but the prices
were better, e.g., my double latte was $2. And here's something to look
forward to: I have never slept so comfortably on a cruise as I did on the
Rotterdam. The new Euro pillow-topped mattresses are wonderful, plus we
asked our steward to add a topping to bridge the gap between the two beds
pushed together...it was absolutely divine!

Enjoy your planning and anticipation,

Diana

"Karen" wrote in message
...

Diana, thanks for your very balanced view of the ROTTERDAM, especially
compared with the cruises you've taken already. I haven't been on an
HAL ship in about seven years, and I'm kinda interested to try them
again, which will probably happen when the new NOORDAM comes to New
York as its home port next year.

Karen



  #7  
Old August 5th, 2005, 08:26 PM
D Ball
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Posts: n/a
Default

Hi, Sunny. We agree with you, London theatre seems a little different to us.
By our observation, everyone's more respectful of the "fourth wall"--actors
don't often break character to speak directly to the audience, and the
audience is more reserved in their vocal responses, laughter and applause.
That is why it felt really electric when this hometown crowd spontaneously
roared with approval at the end of the song I mentioned and, at the end,
rose almost en masse to give a standing ovation surprisingly early in the
bows, long before the principals made their appearances. We didn't see any
plays this time. The other musical we saw was The Producers. It was a great
production and a lot of fun. But that is a show London audiences are very
uncomfortable watching! They aren't real sure about Mel Brooks' humour.

Both shows started about 10 minutes late because all bags are now searched
on entry. Interesting new touch--this has probably made it to Broadway, but
I haven't been in a couple of years--you could drop a 50p coin in a holder
affixed to the back of the seat in front of you to release a pair of plastic
"opera glasses." They worked better than expected!

As always, we had a spectacular time in your old stomping ground, Sunny. The
new Winston Churchill museum associated with the Cabinet War Rooms is
marvelous.

Take care,

Diana

"villa deauville" wrote in message
...
Welcome back Diana.
I love the London theater. Has a different "feeling" than Broadway.
especially their plays.

SUNNY

S'nd I
XXX

(* _*)



  #8  
Old August 5th, 2005, 09:45 PM
Dick Goldhaber
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Posts: n/a
Default

In 1994 we went to see "Phantom of the Opera" in London, sat in the
"nosebleed" section and availed ourselves of the "opera glasses".

I cannot remember whether there was a charge for usage.
--
DG in Cherry Hill, NJ


"D Ball" wrote in message
...

Both shows started about 10 minutes late because all bags are now searched
on entry. Interesting new touch--this has probably made it to Broadway,

but
I haven't been in a couple of years--you could drop a 50p coin in a holder
affixed to the back of the seat in front of you to release a pair of

plastic
"opera glasses." They worked better than expected!


Diana




  #9  
Old August 5th, 2005, 09:51 PM
Dick Goldhaber
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Default

Charles,

You will probably find that on HAL there is a marked difference between the
ambiance of a 7 day cruise and a 12 day (or longer) one.

DG

"Charles" wrote in message
d...
In article , D Ball
wrote:

We just returned from a 12-night cruise on HAL's ms Rotterdam from

Rotterdam

Welcome back. That is a great itinerary. Might do that itinerary next
year but definitly on a different cruise line! I will try HAL but first
on a shorter seven day cruise.

--
Charles



  #10  
Old August 5th, 2005, 10:11 PM
Cathy Kearns
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Posts: n/a
Default


"D Ball" wrote in message
...

As for being "ready for HAL," there's the rub. Our 82-year-old friend who
was with us wasn't "ready for HAL." Doesn't that suggest HAL is out of

touch
with the tastes and interests of its clientele?


It could be you and your 82 year old friend aren't the clientele HAL is
aimed at. I am fine with HAL, and I'm 45. I am not a big partier, nor do I
like hanging in bars, but I do go to the shows. I'm up early to hit the
gym, or even better, take a run on shore (I love it when they dock early).
I like HAL because of their iteneraries and the S class suites are a
reasonable price for a cabin size I could live with. I hate crowds and
lines, and both the ships and iteneraries I've sailed keep those to a
minimum. For instance, New England cruise in July was sold out, yet there
were no crowds for anything on the ship. The ports were not crowded, as we
were the only ship docked in any of the ports. In general, is HAL having
trouble filling ships? Do they need to expand to vindaloo and raucous rock
and roll?

(Extra note, I love Indian food, and all types of exotic food, prepared by
those who really know that food. I have yet to meet a head chef for HAL
that specialized in anything other than continental. And when they stray,
other than to Indonesian food, they usually go wrong. But they are great at
continental food. And when I get off the ship for lunch I can find my local
specialties.)

I mean, what exactly is that
magic age when I'll lose my taste for vindaloo or my interest in listening
to a raucous set of rock and roll?! I like baked chicken and torch songs,
too, but geez, considering how rich our lives are today with the explosion
of cuisines and entertainment options...I just don't think a steady diet

of
"tepid" and "cautious" remains a successful hospitality plan for any

market.
But I agree with you, a 7-day cruise on one of HAL's purpose-built Carib
ships, e.g., the Zuidy, must offer a cruise experience more similar to

what
we've enjoyed on the other lines. I know many RTC friends have had a lot

of
fun on those cruises.

Take care, Becca.

Diana

"Becca" wrote in message
...
Welcome home, Diana, and thanks for the info on the Rotterdam. My cruise
friends tell me that I am not ready for HAL, but I hope to try them some
day. Maybe a 7-day cruise would be a little more livelier.

It is difficult for me to say which cruise line is my favorite. I would
have to say Princess, NCL, Carnival and RCI, in that order. I like
Freestyle and Personal Choice, although I know it does not suit

everybody.
I enjoy the Solarium on Royal Caribbean, although their lunch buffet is
not the best. Celebrity was my least favorite cruise line, but I hope
that changes after I try the Millennium on the MOAGC2 in February. I

hear
they have made some changes so I am looking forward to it. I will be
cruising with friends, so I am sure I will have a great time.

Becca





 




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