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Our January Cruising Experience - Very Long Post



 
 
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  #1  
Old January 26th, 2004, 12:27 AM
Howard Garland
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Default Our January Cruising Experience - Very Long Post

Sadly enough, our winter vacation came to an end yesterday, as we
returned to the icy mid-atlantic state of Delaware. Before settling
down to prepare my syllabi for the Spring semester, which begins for me
on February 10, I would like to relate the highlights of our 25 day
vacation.

We left Delaware on December 30, more than ready for this trip to the
tropics, and excited about seeing many old and new friends whom we knew
would be joining us at various stages of the trip. Our flight to
Lauderdale was smooth and uneventful and by 1 PM we were comfortably
settled in our accommodations at Embassy Suites.

Went to the pool to soak up some rays on this perfect 75 degree, sunny
day, before meeting our traveling companions for happy hour at 5:30. We
would be joined on the Carnival Legend New Years Cruise (our 42nd cruise
but the first over New Years) by four very dear friends. One of these
friends was our best friend, Linda, whom Eileen and I have known since
our first year in College (roughly 40 years). Linda was traveling with
her boyfriend Howie S. The other couple who would be joining us were
Jane (a former colleague from U. of Texas, now at U. Mass Amherst) and
her husband Dan (a former graduate student of mine at UT). We have
cruised many times with Linda, and Jane and Dan joined us on our Mercury
cruise last March.

Two other very old friends would be meeting us for Happy Hour. Ken (a
colleague from my very first post Ph.D. university appointment in
Psychology at Upsala College) and his wife Adine (one of the most
talented artists and coolest people that I have ever met). It had been
a very long time since we had seen Ken and Adine, and the plan was to go
to their place in Hollywood for dinner, when happy hour ended.

It was a perfect evening and a perfect beginning to our long vacation.

Legend New Years Cruise Dec 31 - Jan 8

We and our friends arrived at the ship about 11:30 AM. Prior to our
trip, Eileen and I had agreed to be witnesses at the wedding of a young
couple we had met on Cruise Critic, who were to be married right after
boarding at 1:30 PM. We left our friends and caught up with this
couple, as well as a group of 15 other mostly very young people that we
had met on Cruise Critic, who were also planning to attend the wedding.

After a rather long security delay, we were the first to board the ship
at 1:00 PM. We went to our midship cat 8G room (this was our third
cruise on the Legend so I will not review the layout of the ship) and
quickly changed in order to get to the Chapel by 1:30. The wedding was
beautiful and it was great to finally meet everyone in this very cool
group of kids that we had been communicating with.

New Years Eve on the Carnival Legend was quite an experience. We dined
(late seating) with our friends. Our waiter and assistant waiter
provided superb and friendly service throughout the cruise. Dinner was
awesome (more on this later). After dinner, we headed for the open lido
deck, which was already packed with people. In fact, in all of my 41
former cruises, I have never encountered so many people on the open
decks at the same time. The Caribbean band was playing (more on this
later), the champagne was flowing in unlimited quantity, and an enormous
screen high above the deck displayed a live video feed from Times Square
in NYC. The weather was PERFECT (and remained so for the next 24 days
of our vacation). Folks were partying with wild (but courteous)
abandon, and the excitement in the air was magical. Midnight was glorious.

At 1:00 AM, we headed for the disco. Those of you who know me, also
know that I have been to hundreds of dance clubs, at sea and on land.
Never have I seen a club so packed. Got to bed about 3:30 AM.

Our New Years Cruise on the Legend was close to perfect for me.

Food

The cuisine, which had been superb on my back to back cruises in 2002,
could only be described as "EXQUISITE" by cruise ship standards. None of
the other major cruise lines (and I have been on them all numerous
times) even comes close to providing a comparable dining experience.

Scrumptious chocolate truffles, soufflés, etc., caramelized walnuts and
almonds, peeled pistachio nuts in huge jars to accompany hand dipped
ice-cream and real whipped cream are hardly what any sentient being
would describe as vinyl desserts.

There was Boeuf Bourguignon at the international station for lunch one
day. It was perfectly prepared, with each ingredient sautéed separately
(as it should be). There was wonderful Bernaise to accompany the filets.

I'll leave it to lovely Babette to fill you in on the details of how and
why she put those 9+ pounds on her diminutive frame during the 1/8
cruise on this ship.

Music

In general, live music on this ship was a disappointment for me, as it
has been on most Spirit Class Ships. On this cruise, however, I did get
some insight about the cause of this problem.

There was a fantastic, young jazz group on the ship that played in the
cigar bar, outside the dining room, each evening. These musicians, whom
I befriended during my 16 days on the Legend, told me that they were
anxious to get off the Legend and back onto a Destiny class ship. They
explained that the crew quarters on Spirit class ships were very small
and provided no good access to open deck space for the crew. They also
stated that for this reason, most of the experienced musicians were very
reluctant to accept contracts on this class of ship.

I should also mention that all of the musicians complained about the
elimination of smoking at the atrium bar. This beautiful space, which
was constantly full during my previous two cruises, was near empty most
of the time, and none of the musicians were happy about playing there.

New Port Experiences

Thanks to Eileen's encouragement, I had wonderful experiences in Belize
and Costa Rica on this trip. In Belize, a bunch of friends and I went
cave tubing with Reggie. It was an awesome experience and I'd like to
thank all those on RTC who have recommended this trip. In turn, I'd
like to highly recommend the trip to any of you in reasonable physical
condition, who will be visiting Belize.

In Costa Rica, a I went zip lining in the jungle canopy with a bunch of
young folks that I had met on line and while aboard the ship. We
negotiated with Mambo tours for private van transportation to and from
the Almonds & Corals Lodge. The cost was $20 per person round-trip and
the drive took about 1.5 hours. Once there, we paid $40/person for a 2
hour adventure in the jungle canopy that I have to say was one of the
highlights of my life. There were 14 runs (about 300-500 feet each)
high up in the tree tops. Max height was probably about 70 feet off the
jungle floor. We were outfitted with a rock climbing harness, a helmet,
and some worn leather gloves. There were three lines from the harness
that hooked onto a pair of wheels with C clamps that were placed on top
of a heavy gauge steel cable for each run. On each run, you zipped to
platforms that were attached high up in the trees. At each platform,
you climbed higher to get above the level of the next platform in the
run. During the runs there were families of howler monkeys in the trees
all around me. There were also many sloths and toucans. I felt like a
cross between a bird, a monkey, and Tarzan. The last run took us down
to a beautiful beach, with great surf. For anyone who is physically fit
(including children aged 10 and above), this is a MUST do on your next
trip to Costa Rica. The Adrenaline rush is not really describable.

Legend Jan 8-16

Much to our delight, we were joined by Judi Carpenter (our friend and
travel agent) and Babette (an old virtual friend and a new in the flesh
friend) on this 8 day cruise.

Before the cruise, I informed the Maitre d, Omar, that we would be
joined by two very experienced cruisers, one of whom had been on 160
cruises but never on Carnival. He went out of his way to seat us at
table for 10 in the front of the dining room. We were seated with a
nice group of five other singles. It was a great group and dinners were
both a social and a culinary delight. Our first night in the dining
room, we informed our two female waiters that between the four of us, we
had been on 286 cruises (43 for Eileen and I, 82 for Judi, and a
whopping 161 for Babette). I think this comment was a bit intimidating
and we spent the rest of the cruise re-assuring these two women that
there service was very good.

During many great days of perfect weather out on deck by the aft pool, I
came to know and very much like Babette, who is as sophisticated a
cruiser as one can find.

Eileen made it to the ocean twice on this cruise and we had wonderful
times there. In St. Martin, we spent a perfect day at Orient Beach.
The weather was magnificent. I met some folks at the nude section of the
beach and spent about an hour there swimming and softening some very
strong tan lines.

In Barbados, we spent the afternoon and evening with Judi, Babette, and
just about the entire ship's crew at the Boatyard, a nice beach very
close to downtown. Sunset at the beach was very, very nice but I was
disappointed that there was no bonfire, as has been my experience on all
earlier visits.

One night we dined with Judi and Babette at the Golden Fleece supper
club on the ship. The food and presentation were as good as it gets. I
had a 22 oz prime porterhouse, perfectly prepared with bernaise. I'll
leave the rest of the details to Babette.

Sadly, on Jan 16 our cruising on the Legend came to an end. Left behind
were some great memories and one diamond earring lost from Eileen's
favorite pair. Debarkation was very, very smooth (there was none of
that self luggage handling I have read about on this board for other
Carnival ships). We went straight from the ship to Pier 66 for our one
day layover before boarding the Zuiderdam on Jan 17.

Meeting Sunny and Bernie

After checking into our lovely poolside room, we called Sunny and an old
cruising friend named Ruth to confirm a 3:00 PM meeting at our hotel.
We then headed to the pool for a couple of hours of swimming, lunching,
and sunning on this perfect 70 degree day.

Ruth arrived about 2:45 and Sunny and Bernie got there at 3:00. The
next 2.5 hours seemed to fly by. For those of you who have never had
the pleasure of meeting Sunny and Bernie, they were a pure delight.
Sunny is a highly intelligent and warm human being, who has led a truly
fascinating life. She is VERY articulate and I was transfixed with her
stories of living in England during WWII and emigrating to the US as a
young woman. Bernie is a great guy, in fantastic physical shape.
Despite the age difference, I think we hit it off wonderfully, and I
would be delighted to cruise or party with them in the future.

HAL Zuiderdam Jan 16 - 24

Got to the pier at 11:30 AM, checked in at the suite counter, and
boarded immediately. Our deluxe verandah suite on Deck 6 was the third
best accommodation we have ever had on a cruise ship. With more than
enough space for a world voyage, we were delighted with the suite. Our
wonderful cabin steward introduced himself, brought us what we needed,
and disappeared. We went to the Neptune lounge to meet the concierge
and take a light lunch. In what she has come to call a "Paxil moment",
Eileen introduced herself and me to the rather sour looking group of
older passengers who occupied the lounge. All responded in a friendly
manner.

This was our second cruise on the Zuiderdam. It is a beautiful ship,
with some design flaws that I discussed in my review last January. In
comparison to our first cruise on the ship, the dining room food was
excellent. New England lobster tails were served on "lobster night";
and they were very, very good. Nevertheless, it did not match up to our
culinary experience on the Legend.

I only took one lunch in the Lido. It was very good, but nothing to
write home (or to rtc) about. The ice cream bar was very disappointing,
no nuts at all, no liqueurs, and no whipped cream.

A special surprise on this cruise was that, unbeknownst to us, Ermalee
and Bill had booked the cruise with Judi after we left town. They even
chose to sit with us at the late seating, which was very flattering. We
had a great time dining with these good friends and our other four table
mates during the cruise. Ermalee has got to be the most mischievous 49
(plus) year old that I have ever met. She is also a very, very sharp lady.

Live music on the ship was a disaster. There was actually a Caribbean
band by the main pool but they were instructed to play all this cheesy
calypso stuff, like Yellow Bird. When I asked them to play a reggae
tune, the did a good job but quickly went back to following their orders.

The DJ (Matt) in the disco was the best DJ that I have ever found on a
ship. He also had an incredible selection of 18,000 dance tunes on his
computer. He was a really nice kid, who would play whatever I asked.
Problem was that the disco was empty most of the time and by 1:00 am I
and three couples in their 20's whom I befriended were the only ones
there. Between midnight and 1:00 am there were, perhaps, another 10
regulars consisting of some gay couples and singles. I really felt
sorry for Matt, who was not happy about his short work hours on this
boring ship. I also learned that there is a 1:00 am curfew for all
staff on this ship in the public areas; and the crew bar closes a 2:00 am.

The two production shows were not very good, although the Bob Mackey
costumes in the second show were very nice. They were all lip sync to
recorded music. One night, a male singer from Montreal was featured. He
was outstanding, and I would have liked to see him perform again.

The Filipino band in the crows nest might have been good if they had
played some good music. However they played what the crowd (hardly a
crowd) wanted and what they wanted was cheese.

The gym on this ship really sucked. Although the space was large and
well appointed, free weights were very limited. The heaviest dumbbells
were 37lbs, which is barely a warm-up for me.

The casino was typical HAL, with reduced odds (actual payouts) on the
video poker and slots. Even Eileen couldn't stand to be there.

Perfect weather once again contributed to another two wonderful beach
days for Eileen and me. First on Half Moon Quay, and later on Tortola.
Instead of visiting the Baths in Virgin Gorda (which Eileen would not
have been able to get to), I chose to go to Cane Garden Bay with her.
We had a wonderful morning on this beautiful beach.

In St. Thomas, I finally found the Opium perfume that Eileen uses. Not
a single store in St. Martin carried the perfume version of this
fragrance. I also found a spectacular pair of new diamond earrings for
Eileen (2.3 cts of breathtaking, white beauty).

HAL has bolstered it's typical racist policies on the Zuiderdam with a
new reactionary policy. They have decided to staff the Pinnacle grill
with an "all white group of Eastern Europeans (men from Hungary, women
from Romania)". I was told by a completely reliable source, that they
feel an all white staff would be more appropriate for this venue. I was
also told that the way they keep all asians out of the officers bar, is
to classify all white staff (including those Rhodes Scholars from the
Steiner spa) as petty officers. At this point, it is my firm intention
to write a shareholder's letter to Carnival Corp., asking the company to
explain the blatantly racist policies of its HAL subsidiary.

In my opinion, the biggest problem on this ship is the dominant
passenger group that HAL seems to attract. Two words sum it up for me:
unsophisticated and boring.

In the middle of our cruise, the ship sent an offer to all passengers to
remain for the Jan 24th sailing. Incredibly, they offered a rate of
$399 for balcony cabins, $299 for outside cabins, and $199 for insides.
Even though I was bored and losing a little muscle from an inadequate
gym, I was more than willing to stay. Hell, the free laundry and dry
cleaning that we received in our suite would have cost more than the
fare for an outside cabin. Amazingly, it was Eileen who said "No, can't
do another week on this ship!"

Debarkation was the fastest and smoothest that I have ever experienced.
We arrived at FLL by 9:15 and were able to switch our 2:00 PM flight
to the 9:45 in first class.

Well that sums up our wonderful winter trip. By the way, even though I
ate a lot (especially on the Legend), I lost 4 lbs during the trip.
Guess that extra 1000 calories/day that I burn on the dance floor each
evening is a major contributing factor.

Howie - with new and improved tan lines.

  #2  
Old January 26th, 2004, 12:33 AM
Charles
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Posts: n/a
Default Our January Cruising Experience - Very Long Post

In article , Howard Garland
wrote:

Well that sums up our wonderful winter trip.


Neat trip report!!!

--
Charles
  #3  
Old January 26th, 2004, 01:42 AM
Rusty
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Posts: n/a
Default Our January Cruising Experience - Very Long Post

Howard Garland wrote:
Sadly enough, our winter vacation came to an end yesterday, as we
returned to the icy mid-atlantic state of Delaware. Before settling
down to prepare my syllabi for the Spring semester, which begins for me
on February 10, I would like to relate the highlights of our 25 day
vacation.



(snip)


Meeting Sunny and Bernie

After checking into our lovely poolside room, we called Sunny and an old
cruising friend named Ruth to confirm a 3:00 PM meeting at our hotel. We
then headed to the pool for a couple of hours of swimming, lunching, and
sunning on this perfect 70 degree day.

Ruth arrived about 2:45 and Sunny and Bernie got there at 3:00. The
next 2.5 hours seemed to fly by. For those of you who have never had
the pleasure of meeting Sunny and Bernie, they were a pure delight.
Sunny is a highly intelligent and warm human being, who has led a truly
fascinating life. She is VERY articulate and I was transfixed with her
stories of living in England during WWII and emigrating to the US as a
young woman. Bernie is a great guy, in fantastic physical shape.
Despite the age difference, I think we hit it off wonderfully, and I
would be delighted to cruise or party with them in the future.


A special surprise on this cruise was that, unbeknownst to us,

Ermalee and Bill had booked the cruise with Judi after we left town.
They
even chose to sit with us at the late seating, which was very
flattering. We had a great time dining with these good friends and
our other four table mates during the cruise. Ermalee has got to be
the most mischievous 49 (plus) year old that I have ever met. She is
also a very, very sharp lady.



I'm mostly a lurker - but I think Sunny is the most fascinating person
on the newsgroup. I always read her comments. Ermalee is a very close
second as my favorite. How fortunate you are to include both of them
in your very interesting report. Thanks, Rusty


  #4  
Old January 26th, 2004, 01:48 AM
Lunyma
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Posts: n/a
Default Our January Cruising Experience - Very Long Post

Great report, Howard! Thanks for sharing!!!



  #5  
Old January 26th, 2004, 02:20 AM
clint
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Posts: n/a
Default Our January Cruising Experience - Very Long Post

Howie, long and BORING!
"Howard Garland" wrote in message
...
Sadly enough, our winter vacation came to an end yesterday, as we
returned to the icy mid-atlantic state of Delaware. Before settling
down to prepare my syllabi for the Spring semester, which begins for me
on February 10, I would like to relate the highlights of our 25 day
vacation.

We left Delaware on December 30, more than ready for this trip to the
tropics, and excited about seeing many old and new friends whom we knew
would be joining us at various stages of the trip. Our flight to
Lauderdale was smooth and uneventful and by 1 PM we were comfortably
settled in our accommodations at Embassy Suites.

Went to the pool to soak up some rays on this perfect 75 degree, sunny
day, before meeting our traveling companions for happy hour at 5:30. We
would be joined on the Carnival Legend New Years Cruise (our 42nd cruise
but the first over New Years) by four very dear friends. One of these
friends was our best friend, Linda, whom Eileen and I have known since
our first year in College (roughly 40 years). Linda was traveling with
her boyfriend Howie S. The other couple who would be joining us were
Jane (a former colleague from U. of Texas, now at U. Mass Amherst) and
her husband Dan (a former graduate student of mine at UT). We have
cruised many times with Linda, and Jane and Dan joined us on our Mercury
cruise last March.

Two other very old friends would be meeting us for Happy Hour. Ken (a
colleague from my very first post Ph.D. university appointment in
Psychology at Upsala College) and his wife Adine (one of the most
talented artists and coolest people that I have ever met). It had been
a very long time since we had seen Ken and Adine, and the plan was to go
to their place in Hollywood for dinner, when happy hour ended.

It was a perfect evening and a perfect beginning to our long vacation.

Legend New Years Cruise Dec 31 - Jan 8

We and our friends arrived at the ship about 11:30 AM. Prior to our
trip, Eileen and I had agreed to be witnesses at the wedding of a young
couple we had met on Cruise Critic, who were to be married right after
boarding at 1:30 PM. We left our friends and caught up with this
couple, as well as a group of 15 other mostly very young people that we
had met on Cruise Critic, who were also planning to attend the wedding.

After a rather long security delay, we were the first to board the ship
at 1:00 PM. We went to our midship cat 8G room (this was our third
cruise on the Legend so I will not review the layout of the ship) and
quickly changed in order to get to the Chapel by 1:30. The wedding was
beautiful and it was great to finally meet everyone in this very cool
group of kids that we had been communicating with.

New Years Eve on the Carnival Legend was quite an experience. We dined
(late seating) with our friends. Our waiter and assistant waiter
provided superb and friendly service throughout the cruise. Dinner was
awesome (more on this later). After dinner, we headed for the open lido
deck, which was already packed with people. In fact, in all of my 41
former cruises, I have never encountered so many people on the open
decks at the same time. The Caribbean band was playing (more on this
later), the champagne was flowing in unlimited quantity, and an enormous
screen high above the deck displayed a live video feed from Times Square
in NYC. The weather was PERFECT (and remained so for the next 24 days
of our vacation). Folks were partying with wild (but courteous)
abandon, and the excitement in the air was magical. Midnight was

glorious.

At 1:00 AM, we headed for the disco. Those of you who know me, also
know that I have been to hundreds of dance clubs, at sea and on land.
Never have I seen a club so packed. Got to bed about 3:30 AM.

Our New Years Cruise on the Legend was close to perfect for me.

Food

The cuisine, which had been superb on my back to back cruises in 2002,
could only be described as "EXQUISITE" by cruise ship standards. None of
the other major cruise lines (and I have been on them all numerous
times) even comes close to providing a comparable dining experience.

Scrumptious chocolate truffles, soufflés, etc., caramelized walnuts and
almonds, peeled pistachio nuts in huge jars to accompany hand dipped
ice-cream and real whipped cream are hardly what any sentient being
would describe as vinyl desserts.

There was Boeuf Bourguignon at the international station for lunch one
day. It was perfectly prepared, with each ingredient sautéed separately
(as it should be). There was wonderful Bernaise to accompany the filets.

I'll leave it to lovely Babette to fill you in on the details of how and
why she put those 9+ pounds on her diminutive frame during the 1/8
cruise on this ship.

Music

In general, live music on this ship was a disappointment for me, as it
has been on most Spirit Class Ships. On this cruise, however, I did get
some insight about the cause of this problem.

There was a fantastic, young jazz group on the ship that played in the
cigar bar, outside the dining room, each evening. These musicians, whom
I befriended during my 16 days on the Legend, told me that they were
anxious to get off the Legend and back onto a Destiny class ship. They
explained that the crew quarters on Spirit class ships were very small
and provided no good access to open deck space for the crew. They also
stated that for this reason, most of the experienced musicians were very
reluctant to accept contracts on this class of ship.

I should also mention that all of the musicians complained about the
elimination of smoking at the atrium bar. This beautiful space, which
was constantly full during my previous two cruises, was near empty most
of the time, and none of the musicians were happy about playing there.

New Port Experiences

Thanks to Eileen's encouragement, I had wonderful experiences in Belize
and Costa Rica on this trip. In Belize, a bunch of friends and I went
cave tubing with Reggie. It was an awesome experience and I'd like to
thank all those on RTC who have recommended this trip. In turn, I'd
like to highly recommend the trip to any of you in reasonable physical
condition, who will be visiting Belize.

In Costa Rica, a I went zip lining in the jungle canopy with a bunch of
young folks that I had met on line and while aboard the ship. We
negotiated with Mambo tours for private van transportation to and from
the Almonds & Corals Lodge. The cost was $20 per person round-trip and
the drive took about 1.5 hours. Once there, we paid $40/person for a 2
hour adventure in the jungle canopy that I have to say was one of the
highlights of my life. There were 14 runs (about 300-500 feet each)
high up in the tree tops. Max height was probably about 70 feet off the
jungle floor. We were outfitted with a rock climbing harness, a helmet,
and some worn leather gloves. There were three lines from the harness
that hooked onto a pair of wheels with C clamps that were placed on top
of a heavy gauge steel cable for each run. On each run, you zipped to
platforms that were attached high up in the trees. At each platform,
you climbed higher to get above the level of the next platform in the
run. During the runs there were families of howler monkeys in the trees
all around me. There were also many sloths and toucans. I felt like a
cross between a bird, a monkey, and Tarzan. The last run took us down
to a beautiful beach, with great surf. For anyone who is physically fit
(including children aged 10 and above), this is a MUST do on your next
trip to Costa Rica. The Adrenaline rush is not really describable.

Legend Jan 8-16

Much to our delight, we were joined by Judi Carpenter (our friend and
travel agent) and Babette (an old virtual friend and a new in the flesh
friend) on this 8 day cruise.

Before the cruise, I informed the Maitre d, Omar, that we would be
joined by two very experienced cruisers, one of whom had been on 160
cruises but never on Carnival. He went out of his way to seat us at
table for 10 in the front of the dining room. We were seated with a
nice group of five other singles. It was a great group and dinners were
both a social and a culinary delight. Our first night in the dining
room, we informed our two female waiters that between the four of us, we
had been on 286 cruises (43 for Eileen and I, 82 for Judi, and a
whopping 161 for Babette). I think this comment was a bit intimidating
and we spent the rest of the cruise re-assuring these two women that
there service was very good.

During many great days of perfect weather out on deck by the aft pool, I
came to know and very much like Babette, who is as sophisticated a
cruiser as one can find.

Eileen made it to the ocean twice on this cruise and we had wonderful
times there. In St. Martin, we spent a perfect day at Orient Beach.
The weather was magnificent. I met some folks at the nude section of the
beach and spent about an hour there swimming and softening some very
strong tan lines.

In Barbados, we spent the afternoon and evening with Judi, Babette, and
just about the entire ship's crew at the Boatyard, a nice beach very
close to downtown. Sunset at the beach was very, very nice but I was
disappointed that there was no bonfire, as has been my experience on all
earlier visits.

One night we dined with Judi and Babette at the Golden Fleece supper
club on the ship. The food and presentation were as good as it gets. I
had a 22 oz prime porterhouse, perfectly prepared with bernaise. I'll
leave the rest of the details to Babette.

Sadly, on Jan 16 our cruising on the Legend came to an end. Left behind
were some great memories and one diamond earring lost from Eileen's
favorite pair. Debarkation was very, very smooth (there was none of
that self luggage handling I have read about on this board for other
Carnival ships). We went straight from the ship to Pier 66 for our one
day layover before boarding the Zuiderdam on Jan 17.

Meeting Sunny and Bernie

After checking into our lovely poolside room, we called Sunny and an old
cruising friend named Ruth to confirm a 3:00 PM meeting at our hotel.
We then headed to the pool for a couple of hours of swimming, lunching,
and sunning on this perfect 70 degree day.

Ruth arrived about 2:45 and Sunny and Bernie got there at 3:00. The
next 2.5 hours seemed to fly by. For those of you who have never had
the pleasure of meeting Sunny and Bernie, they were a pure delight.
Sunny is a highly intelligent and warm human being, who has led a truly
fascinating life. She is VERY articulate and I was transfixed with her
stories of living in England during WWII and emigrating to the US as a
young woman. Bernie is a great guy, in fantastic physical shape.
Despite the age difference, I think we hit it off wonderfully, and I
would be delighted to cruise or party with them in the future.

HAL Zuiderdam Jan 16 - 24

Got to the pier at 11:30 AM, checked in at the suite counter, and
boarded immediately. Our deluxe verandah suite on Deck 6 was the third
best accommodation we have ever had on a cruise ship. With more than
enough space for a world voyage, we were delighted with the suite. Our
wonderful cabin steward introduced himself, brought us what we needed,
and disappeared. We went to the Neptune lounge to meet the concierge
and take a light lunch. In what she has come to call a "Paxil moment",
Eileen introduced herself and me to the rather sour looking group of
older passengers who occupied the lounge. All responded in a friendly
manner.

This was our second cruise on the Zuiderdam. It is a beautiful ship,
with some design flaws that I discussed in my review last January. In
comparison to our first cruise on the ship, the dining room food was
excellent. New England lobster tails were served on "lobster night";
and they were very, very good. Nevertheless, it did not match up to our
culinary experience on the Legend.

I only took one lunch in the Lido. It was very good, but nothing to
write home (or to rtc) about. The ice cream bar was very disappointing,
no nuts at all, no liqueurs, and no whipped cream.

A special surprise on this cruise was that, unbeknownst to us, Ermalee
and Bill had booked the cruise with Judi after we left town. They even
chose to sit with us at the late seating, which was very flattering. We
had a great time dining with these good friends and our other four table
mates during the cruise. Ermalee has got to be the most mischievous 49
(plus) year old that I have ever met. She is also a very, very sharp

lady.

Live music on the ship was a disaster. There was actually a Caribbean
band by the main pool but they were instructed to play all this cheesy
calypso stuff, like Yellow Bird. When I asked them to play a reggae
tune, the did a good job but quickly went back to following their orders.

The DJ (Matt) in the disco was the best DJ that I have ever found on a
ship. He also had an incredible selection of 18,000 dance tunes on his
computer. He was a really nice kid, who would play whatever I asked.
Problem was that the disco was empty most of the time and by 1:00 am I
and three couples in their 20's whom I befriended were the only ones
there. Between midnight and 1:00 am there were, perhaps, another 10
regulars consisting of some gay couples and singles. I really felt
sorry for Matt, who was not happy about his short work hours on this
boring ship. I also learned that there is a 1:00 am curfew for all
staff on this ship in the public areas; and the crew bar closes a 2:00 am.

The two production shows were not very good, although the Bob Mackey
costumes in the second show were very nice. They were all lip sync to
recorded music. One night, a male singer from Montreal was featured. He
was outstanding, and I would have liked to see him perform again.

The Filipino band in the crows nest might have been good if they had
played some good music. However they played what the crowd (hardly a
crowd) wanted and what they wanted was cheese.

The gym on this ship really sucked. Although the space was large and
well appointed, free weights were very limited. The heaviest dumbbells
were 37lbs, which is barely a warm-up for me.

The casino was typical HAL, with reduced odds (actual payouts) on the
video poker and slots. Even Eileen couldn't stand to be there.

Perfect weather once again contributed to another two wonderful beach
days for Eileen and me. First on Half Moon Quay, and later on Tortola.
Instead of visiting the Baths in Virgin Gorda (which Eileen would not
have been able to get to), I chose to go to Cane Garden Bay with her.
We had a wonderful morning on this beautiful beach.

In St. Thomas, I finally found the Opium perfume that Eileen uses. Not
a single store in St. Martin carried the perfume version of this
fragrance. I also found a spectacular pair of new diamond earrings for
Eileen (2.3 cts of breathtaking, white beauty).

HAL has bolstered it's typical racist policies on the Zuiderdam with a
new reactionary policy. They have decided to staff the Pinnacle grill
with an "all white group of Eastern Europeans (men from Hungary, women
from Romania)". I was told by a completely reliable source, that they
feel an all white staff would be more appropriate for this venue. I was
also told that the way they keep all asians out of the officers bar, is
to classify all white staff (including those Rhodes Scholars from the
Steiner spa) as petty officers. At this point, it is my firm intention
to write a shareholder's letter to Carnival Corp., asking the company to
explain the blatantly racist policies of its HAL subsidiary.

In my opinion, the biggest problem on this ship is the dominant
passenger group that HAL seems to attract. Two words sum it up for me:
unsophisticated and boring.

In the middle of our cruise, the ship sent an offer to all passengers to
remain for the Jan 24th sailing. Incredibly, they offered a rate of
$399 for balcony cabins, $299 for outside cabins, and $199 for insides.
Even though I was bored and losing a little muscle from an inadequate
gym, I was more than willing to stay. Hell, the free laundry and dry
cleaning that we received in our suite would have cost more than the
fare for an outside cabin. Amazingly, it was Eileen who said "No, can't
do another week on this ship!"

Debarkation was the fastest and smoothest that I have ever experienced.
We arrived at FLL by 9:15 and were able to switch our 2:00 PM flight
to the 9:45 in first class.

Well that sums up our wonderful winter trip. By the way, even though I
ate a lot (especially on the Legend), I lost 4 lbs during the trip.
Guess that extra 1000 calories/day that I burn on the dance floor each
evening is a major contributing factor.

Howie - with new and improved tan lines.



  #6  
Old January 26th, 2004, 02:42 AM
Tolk
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Our January Cruising Experience - Very Long Post

clint wrote:

Howie, long and BORING!
"Howard Garland" wrote in message
...

Sadly enough, our winter vacation came to an end yesterday, as we
returned to the icy mid-atlantic state of Delaware. Before settling
down to prepare my syllabi for the Spring semester, which begins for me
on February 10, I would like to relate the highlights of our 25 day
vacation.

We left Delaware on December 30, more than ready for this trip to the
tropics, and excited about seeing many old and new friends whom we knew
would be joining us at various stages of the trip. Our flight to
Lauderdale was smooth and uneventful and by 1 PM we were comfortably
settled in our accommodations at Embassy Suites.

Went to the pool to soak up some rays on this perfect 75 degree, sunny
day, before meeting our traveling companions for happy hour at 5:30. We
would be joined on the Carnival Legend New Years Cruise (our 42nd cruise
but the first over New Years) by four very dear friends. One of these
friends was our best friend, Linda, whom Eileen and I have known since
our first year in College (roughly 40 years). Linda was traveling with
her boyfriend Howie S. The other couple who would be joining us were
Jane (a former colleague from U. of Texas, now at U. Mass Amherst) and
her husband Dan (a former graduate student of mine at UT). We have
cruised many times with Linda, and Jane and Dan joined us on our Mercury
cruise last March.

Two other very old friends would be meeting us for Happy Hour. Ken (a
colleague from my very first post Ph.D. university appointment in
Psychology at Upsala College) and his wife Adine (one of the most
talented artists and coolest people that I have ever met). It had been
a very long time since we had seen Ken and Adine, and the plan was to go
to their place in Hollywood for dinner, when happy hour ended.

It was a perfect evening and a perfect beginning to our long vacation.

Legend New Years Cruise Dec 31 - Jan 8

We and our friends arrived at the ship about 11:30 AM. Prior to our
trip, Eileen and I had agreed to be witnesses at the wedding of a young
couple we had met on Cruise Critic, who were to be married right after
boarding at 1:30 PM. We left our friends and caught up with this
couple, as well as a group of 15 other mostly very young people that we
had met on Cruise Critic, who were also planning to attend the wedding.

After a rather long security delay, we were the first to board the ship
at 1:00 PM. We went to our midship cat 8G room (this was our third
cruise on the Legend so I will not review the layout of the ship) and
quickly changed in order to get to the Chapel by 1:30. The wedding was
beautiful and it was great to finally meet everyone in this very cool
group of kids that we had been communicating with.

New Years Eve on the Carnival Legend was quite an experience. We dined
(late seating) with our friends. Our waiter and assistant waiter
provided superb and friendly service throughout the cruise. Dinner was
awesome (more on this later). After dinner, we headed for the open lido
deck, which was already packed with people. In fact, in all of my 41
former cruises, I have never encountered so many people on the open
decks at the same time. The Caribbean band was playing (more on this
later), the champagne was flowing in unlimited quantity, and an enormous
screen high above the deck displayed a live video feed from Times Square
in NYC. The weather was PERFECT (and remained so for the next 24 days
of our vacation). Folks were partying with wild (but courteous)
abandon, and the excitement in the air was magical. Midnight was


glorious.

At 1:00 AM, we headed for the disco. Those of you who know me, also
know that I have been to hundreds of dance clubs, at sea and on land.
Never have I seen a club so packed. Got to bed about 3:30 AM.

Our New Years Cruise on the Legend was close to perfect for me.

Food

The cuisine, which had been superb on my back to back cruises in 2002,
could only be described as "EXQUISITE" by cruise ship standards. None of
the other major cruise lines (and I have been on them all numerous
times) even comes close to providing a comparable dining experience.

Scrumptious chocolate truffles, soufflés, etc., caramelized walnuts and
almonds, peeled pistachio nuts in huge jars to accompany hand dipped
ice-cream and real whipped cream are hardly what any sentient being
would describe as vinyl desserts.

There was Boeuf Bourguignon at the international station for lunch one
day. It was perfectly prepared, with each ingredient sautéed separately
(as it should be). There was wonderful Bernaise to accompany the filets.

I'll leave it to lovely Babette to fill you in on the details of how and
why she put those 9+ pounds on her diminutive frame during the 1/8
cruise on this ship.

Music

In general, live music on this ship was a disappointment for me, as it
has been on most Spirit Class Ships. On this cruise, however, I did get
some insight about the cause of this problem.

There was a fantastic, young jazz group on the ship that played in the
cigar bar, outside the dining room, each evening. These musicians, whom
I befriended during my 16 days on the Legend, told me that they were
anxious to get off the Legend and back onto a Destiny class ship. They
explained that the crew quarters on Spirit class ships were very small
and provided no good access to open deck space for the crew. They also
stated that for this reason, most of the experienced musicians were very
reluctant to accept contracts on this class of ship.

I should also mention that all of the musicians complained about the
elimination of smoking at the atrium bar. This beautiful space, which
was constantly full during my previous two cruises, was near empty most
of the time, and none of the musicians were happy about playing there.

New Port Experiences

Thanks to Eileen's encouragement, I had wonderful experiences in Belize
and Costa Rica on this trip. In Belize, a bunch of friends and I went
cave tubing with Reggie. It was an awesome experience and I'd like to
thank all those on RTC who have recommended this trip. In turn, I'd
like to highly recommend the trip to any of you in reasonable physical
condition, who will be visiting Belize.

In Costa Rica, a I went zip lining in the jungle canopy with a bunch of
young folks that I had met on line and while aboard the ship. We
negotiated with Mambo tours for private van transportation to and from
the Almonds & Corals Lodge. The cost was $20 per person round-trip and
the drive took about 1.5 hours. Once there, we paid $40/person for a 2
hour adventure in the jungle canopy that I have to say was one of the
highlights of my life. There were 14 runs (about 300-500 feet each)
high up in the tree tops. Max height was probably about 70 feet off the
jungle floor. We were outfitted with a rock climbing harness, a helmet,
and some worn leather gloves. There were three lines from the harness
that hooked onto a pair of wheels with C clamps that were placed on top
of a heavy gauge steel cable for each run. On each run, you zipped to
platforms that were attached high up in the trees. At each platform,
you climbed higher to get above the level of the next platform in the
run. During the runs there were families of howler monkeys in the trees
all around me. There were also many sloths and toucans. I felt like a
cross between a bird, a monkey, and Tarzan. The last run took us down
to a beautiful beach, with great surf. For anyone who is physically fit
(including children aged 10 and above), this is a MUST do on your next
trip to Costa Rica. The Adrenaline rush is not really describable.

Legend Jan 8-16

Much to our delight, we were joined by Judi Carpenter (our friend and
travel agent) and Babette (an old virtual friend and a new in the flesh
friend) on this 8 day cruise.

Before the cruise, I informed the Maitre d, Omar, that we would be
joined by two very experienced cruisers, one of whom had been on 160
cruises but never on Carnival. He went out of his way to seat us at
table for 10 in the front of the dining room. We were seated with a
nice group of five other singles. It was a great group and dinners were
both a social and a culinary delight. Our first night in the dining
room, we informed our two female waiters that between the four of us, we
had been on 286 cruises (43 for Eileen and I, 82 for Judi, and a
whopping 161 for Babette). I think this comment was a bit intimidating
and we spent the rest of the cruise re-assuring these two women that
there service was very good.

During many great days of perfect weather out on deck by the aft pool, I
came to know and very much like Babette, who is as sophisticated a
cruiser as one can find.

Eileen made it to the ocean twice on this cruise and we had wonderful
times there. In St. Martin, we spent a perfect day at Orient Beach.
The weather was magnificent. I met some folks at the nude section of the
beach and spent about an hour there swimming and softening some very
strong tan lines.

In Barbados, we spent the afternoon and evening with Judi, Babette, and
just about the entire ship's crew at the Boatyard, a nice beach very
close to downtown. Sunset at the beach was very, very nice but I was
disappointed that there was no bonfire, as has been my experience on all
earlier visits.

One night we dined with Judi and Babette at the Golden Fleece supper
club on the ship. The food and presentation were as good as it gets. I
had a 22 oz prime porterhouse, perfectly prepared with bernaise. I'll
leave the rest of the details to Babette.

Sadly, on Jan 16 our cruising on the Legend came to an end. Left behind
were some great memories and one diamond earring lost from Eileen's
favorite pair. Debarkation was very, very smooth (there was none of
that self luggage handling I have read about on this board for other
Carnival ships). We went straight from the ship to Pier 66 for our one
day layover before boarding the Zuiderdam on Jan 17.

Meeting Sunny and Bernie

After checking into our lovely poolside room, we called Sunny and an old
cruising friend named Ruth to confirm a 3:00 PM meeting at our hotel.
We then headed to the pool for a couple of hours of swimming, lunching,
and sunning on this perfect 70 degree day.

Ruth arrived about 2:45 and Sunny and Bernie got there at 3:00. The
next 2.5 hours seemed to fly by. For those of you who have never had
the pleasure of meeting Sunny and Bernie, they were a pure delight.
Sunny is a highly intelligent and warm human being, who has led a truly
fascinating life. She is VERY articulate and I was transfixed with her
stories of living in England during WWII and emigrating to the US as a
young woman. Bernie is a great guy, in fantastic physical shape.
Despite the age difference, I think we hit it off wonderfully, and I
would be delighted to cruise or party with them in the future.

HAL Zuiderdam Jan 16 - 24

Got to the pier at 11:30 AM, checked in at the suite counter, and
boarded immediately. Our deluxe verandah suite on Deck 6 was the third
best accommodation we have ever had on a cruise ship. With more than
enough space for a world voyage, we were delighted with the suite. Our
wonderful cabin steward introduced himself, brought us what we needed,
and disappeared. We went to the Neptune lounge to meet the concierge
and take a light lunch. In what she has come to call a "Paxil moment",
Eileen introduced herself and me to the rather sour looking group of
older passengers who occupied the lounge. All responded in a friendly
manner.

This was our second cruise on the Zuiderdam. It is a beautiful ship,
with some design flaws that I discussed in my review last January. In
comparison to our first cruise on the ship, the dining room food was
excellent. New England lobster tails were served on "lobster night";
and they were very, very good. Nevertheless, it did not match up to our
culinary experience on the Legend.

I only took one lunch in the Lido. It was very good, but nothing to
write home (or to rtc) about. The ice cream bar was very disappointing,
no nuts at all, no liqueurs, and no whipped cream.

A special surprise on this cruise was that, unbeknownst to us, Ermalee
and Bill had booked the cruise with Judi after we left town. They even
chose to sit with us at the late seating, which was very flattering. We
had a great time dining with these good friends and our other four table
mates during the cruise. Ermalee has got to be the most mischievous 49
(plus) year old that I have ever met. She is also a very, very sharp


lady.

Live music on the ship was a disaster. There was actually a Caribbean
band by the main pool but they were instructed to play all this cheesy
calypso stuff, like Yellow Bird. When I asked them to play a reggae
tune, the did a good job but quickly went back to following their orders.

The DJ (Matt) in the disco was the best DJ that I have ever found on a
ship. He also had an incredible selection of 18,000 dance tunes on his
computer. He was a really nice kid, who would play whatever I asked.
Problem was that the disco was empty most of the time and by 1:00 am I
and three couples in their 20's whom I befriended were the only ones
there. Between midnight and 1:00 am there were, perhaps, another 10
regulars consisting of some gay couples and singles. I really felt
sorry for Matt, who was not happy about his short work hours on this
boring ship. I also learned that there is a 1:00 am curfew for all
staff on this ship in the public areas; and the crew bar closes a 2:00 am.

The two production shows were not very good, although the Bob Mackey
costumes in the second show were very nice. They were all lip sync to
recorded music. One night, a male singer from Montreal was featured. He
was outstanding, and I would have liked to see him perform again.

The Filipino band in the crows nest might have been good if they had
played some good music. However they played what the crowd (hardly a
crowd) wanted and what they wanted was cheese.

The gym on this ship really sucked. Although the space was large and
well appointed, free weights were very limited. The heaviest dumbbells
were 37lbs, which is barely a warm-up for me.

The casino was typical HAL, with reduced odds (actual payouts) on the
video poker and slots. Even Eileen couldn't stand to be there.

Perfect weather once again contributed to another two wonderful beach
days for Eileen and me. First on Half Moon Quay, and later on Tortola.
Instead of visiting the Baths in Virgin Gorda (which Eileen would not
have been able to get to), I chose to go to Cane Garden Bay with her.
We had a wonderful morning on this beautiful beach.

In St. Thomas, I finally found the Opium perfume that Eileen uses. Not
a single store in St. Martin carried the perfume version of this
fragrance. I also found a spectacular pair of new diamond earrings for
Eileen (2.3 cts of breathtaking, white beauty).

HAL has bolstered it's typical racist policies on the Zuiderdam with a
new reactionary policy. They have decided to staff the Pinnacle grill
with an "all white group of Eastern Europeans (men from Hungary, women
from Romania)". I was told by a completely reliable source, that they
feel an all white staff would be more appropriate for this venue. I was
also told that the way they keep all asians out of the officers bar, is
to classify all white staff (including those Rhodes Scholars from the
Steiner spa) as petty officers. At this point, it is my firm intention
to write a shareholder's letter to Carnival Corp., asking the company to
explain the blatantly racist policies of its HAL subsidiary.

In my opinion, the biggest problem on this ship is the dominant
passenger group that HAL seems to attract. Two words sum it up for me:
unsophisticated and boring.

In the middle of our cruise, the ship sent an offer to all passengers to
remain for the Jan 24th sailing. Incredibly, they offered a rate of
$399 for balcony cabins, $299 for outside cabins, and $199 for insides.
Even though I was bored and losing a little muscle from an inadequate
gym, I was more than willing to stay. Hell, the free laundry and dry
cleaning that we received in our suite would have cost more than the
fare for an outside cabin. Amazingly, it was Eileen who said "No, can't
do another week on this ship!"

Debarkation was the fastest and smoothest that I have ever experienced.
We arrived at FLL by 9:15 and were able to switch our 2:00 PM flight
to the 9:45 in first class.

Well that sums up our wonderful winter trip. By the way, even though I
ate a lot (especially on the Legend), I lost 4 lbs during the trip.
Guess that extra 1000 calories/day that I burn on the dance floor each
evening is a major contributing factor.

Howie - with new and improved tan lines.





With all due respect, I like HAL and do not appreciate being labeled as
unsophisticated and boring. This kind of generality is unbecoming. The
comment (as well as much of the tone of the review) is supercilious and
condescending. My comments are, of course, those of a boor...a boring
boor!
  #7  
Old January 26th, 2004, 03:35 AM
Benjamin Smith
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Our January Cruising Experience - Very Long Post

Howard Garland wrote:

Won't say anything about the Legend, she seems to be impressing, at
least in her cruise aspects.


HAL Zuiderdam Jan 16 - 24

Ermalee has got to be the most mischievous 49
(plus) year old that I have ever met. She is also a very, very sharp lady.


Today I went to a brunch at Iridium, a NYC jazz club. Performing there
was 80 year old Bob Dorough of SchoolHouse Rock acclaim. More than this
Bob is a very accomplished and creative jazz musician and individual
music stylist. It was impressive as he shows minimal, if any, frialties
of a man of his age. Ermalee isn't 49 plus, she's whatever age she is.
Whatever age someone is, they are, and the more age they've have the
more experience they've had. At 44, I feel I've got to go a long way to
achieve the cool I've found of some people in their 70s and 80s, but I
attribute this cool to them being comfortable with their age and it
showing in their attitudes and behavior.

Live music on the ship was a disaster. There was actually a Caribbean
band by the main pool but they were instructed to play all this cheesy
calypso stuff, like Yellow Bird. When I asked them to play a reggae
tune, the did a good job but quickly went back to following their orders.


Howard, I think the macarna is cheesy. I think bad renditions of Bob
Marley's music is cheesy. Some music is overplayed, and Yellow Bird is
an old standard overplayed, but there's certainly newer music
overplayed. I don't find raggae hipper than calypso, and prefer calypso
to the less creative and tired raggae beats. But both can be fine if
done in an original and fresh approach and this is rare on cruise ships.
For the most part, the music on ship is for atmosphere, and the bands
onboard are there to provide favorites.

The DJ (Matt) in the disco was the best DJ that I have ever found on a
ship. He also had an incredible selection of 18,000 dance tunes on his
computer. He was a really nice kid, who would play whatever I asked.
Problem was that the disco was empty most of the time and by 1:00 am I
and three couples in their 20's whom I befriended were the only ones
there. Between midnight and 1:00 am there were, perhaps, another 10
regulars consisting of some gay couples and singles. I really felt
sorry for Matt, who was not happy about his short work hours on this
boring ship. I also learned that there is a 1:00 am curfew for all
staff on this ship in the public areas; and the crew bar closes a 2:00 am.


To tell you the truth, it isn't that big a deal for most of HAL's repeat
clientele. They do ballroom dancing and I think HAL is an early evening
ship, not late night ship. The disco thing won't be part of the HAL
experience as much as other ships and that's fine with me. Hopefully,
for Matt, there will be cruises when the disco is "hopping", but I would
not expect that to happen as often on HAL as it does on RCI or Carnival.




The Filipino band in the crows nest might have been good if they had
played some good music. However they played what the crowd (hardly a
crowd) wanted and what they wanted was cheese.


What is this cheese you speak of Howard? And what's good music?



In my opinion, the biggest problem on this ship is the dominant
passenger group that HAL seems to attract. Two words sum it up for me:
unsophisticated and boring.


In what way did you find the pax unsophisticated and boring?
There are some HAL repeaters on the group that want to know.

Ben S.


  #8  
Old January 26th, 2004, 03:38 AM
Dick Goldhaber
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Our January Cruising Experience - Very Long Post

Thank you for a wonderful review, Howard.

Danni and I kinda wondered where you and Eileen had gone but Danni suggested
that you were away and, as always, she was right.

Next time you go please notify me so I won't worry about you guys.

Being where you were was better than where we were for several reasons.
First. your butt didn't freeze every time you walked out the door, and
second, you didn't have to deal with what was being written by some of this
newsgroup's favorite flamers.
--
DG in Cherry Hill, NJ



"Howard Garland" wrote in message
...
Sadly enough, our winter vacation came to an end yesterday, as we
returned to the icy mid-atlantic state of Delaware. Before settling
down to prepare my syllabi for the Spring semester, which begins for me
on February 10, I would like to relate the highlights of our 25 day
vacation.

We left Delaware on December 30, more than ready for this trip to the
tropics, and excited about seeing many old and new friends whom we knew
would be joining us at various stages of the trip. Our flight to
Lauderdale was smooth and uneventful and by 1 PM we were comfortably
settled in our accommodations at Embassy Suites.

Went to the pool to soak up some rays on this perfect 75 degree, sunny
day, before meeting our traveling companions for happy hour at 5:30. We
would be joined on the Carnival Legend New Years Cruise (our 42nd cruise
but the first over New Years) by four very dear friends. One of these
friends was our best friend, Linda, whom Eileen and I have known since
our first year in College (roughly 40 years). Linda was traveling with
her boyfriend Howie S. The other couple who would be joining us were
Jane (a former colleague from U. of Texas, now at U. Mass Amherst) and
her husband Dan (a former graduate student of mine at UT). We have
cruised many times with Linda, and Jane and Dan joined us on our Mercury
cruise last March.

Two other very old friends would be meeting us for Happy Hour. Ken (a
colleague from my very first post Ph.D. university appointment in
Psychology at Upsala College) and his wife Adine (one of the most
talented artists and coolest people that I have ever met). It had been
a very long time since we had seen Ken and Adine, and the plan was to go
to their place in Hollywood for dinner, when happy hour ended.

It was a perfect evening and a perfect beginning to our long vacation.

Legend New Years Cruise Dec 31 - Jan 8

We and our friends arrived at the ship about 11:30 AM. Prior to our
trip, Eileen and I had agreed to be witnesses at the wedding of a young
couple we had met on Cruise Critic, who were to be married right after
boarding at 1:30 PM. We left our friends and caught up with this
couple, as well as a group of 15 other mostly very young people that we
had met on Cruise Critic, who were also planning to attend the wedding.

After a rather long security delay, we were the first to board the ship
at 1:00 PM. We went to our midship cat 8G room (this was our third
cruise on the Legend so I will not review the layout of the ship) and
quickly changed in order to get to the Chapel by 1:30. The wedding was
beautiful and it was great to finally meet everyone in this very cool
group of kids that we had been communicating with.

New Years Eve on the Carnival Legend was quite an experience. We dined
(late seating) with our friends. Our waiter and assistant waiter
provided superb and friendly service throughout the cruise. Dinner was
awesome (more on this later). After dinner, we headed for the open lido
deck, which was already packed with people. In fact, in all of my 41
former cruises, I have never encountered so many people on the open
decks at the same time. The Caribbean band was playing (more on this
later), the champagne was flowing in unlimited quantity, and an enormous
screen high above the deck displayed a live video feed from Times Square
in NYC. The weather was PERFECT (and remained so for the next 24 days
of our vacation). Folks were partying with wild (but courteous)
abandon, and the excitement in the air was magical. Midnight was

glorious.

At 1:00 AM, we headed for the disco. Those of you who know me, also
know that I have been to hundreds of dance clubs, at sea and on land.
Never have I seen a club so packed. Got to bed about 3:30 AM.

Our New Years Cruise on the Legend was close to perfect for me.

Food

The cuisine, which had been superb on my back to back cruises in 2002,
could only be described as "EXQUISITE" by cruise ship standards. None of
the other major cruise lines (and I have been on them all numerous
times) even comes close to providing a comparable dining experience.

Scrumptious chocolate truffles, soufflés, etc., caramelized walnuts and
almonds, peeled pistachio nuts in huge jars to accompany hand dipped
ice-cream and real whipped cream are hardly what any sentient being
would describe as vinyl desserts.

There was Boeuf Bourguignon at the international station for lunch one
day. It was perfectly prepared, with each ingredient sautéed separately
(as it should be). There was wonderful Bernaise to accompany the filets.

I'll leave it to lovely Babette to fill you in on the details of how and
why she put those 9+ pounds on her diminutive frame during the 1/8
cruise on this ship.

Music

In general, live music on this ship was a disappointment for me, as it
has been on most Spirit Class Ships. On this cruise, however, I did get
some insight about the cause of this problem.

There was a fantastic, young jazz group on the ship that played in the
cigar bar, outside the dining room, each evening. These musicians, whom
I befriended during my 16 days on the Legend, told me that they were
anxious to get off the Legend and back onto a Destiny class ship. They
explained that the crew quarters on Spirit class ships were very small
and provided no good access to open deck space for the crew. They also
stated that for this reason, most of the experienced musicians were very
reluctant to accept contracts on this class of ship.

I should also mention that all of the musicians complained about the
elimination of smoking at the atrium bar. This beautiful space, which
was constantly full during my previous two cruises, was near empty most
of the time, and none of the musicians were happy about playing there.

New Port Experiences

Thanks to Eileen's encouragement, I had wonderful experiences in Belize
and Costa Rica on this trip. In Belize, a bunch of friends and I went
cave tubing with Reggie. It was an awesome experience and I'd like to
thank all those on RTC who have recommended this trip. In turn, I'd
like to highly recommend the trip to any of you in reasonable physical
condition, who will be visiting Belize.

In Costa Rica, a I went zip lining in the jungle canopy with a bunch of
young folks that I had met on line and while aboard the ship. We
negotiated with Mambo tours for private van transportation to and from
the Almonds & Corals Lodge. The cost was $20 per person round-trip and
the drive took about 1.5 hours. Once there, we paid $40/person for a 2
hour adventure in the jungle canopy that I have to say was one of the
highlights of my life. There were 14 runs (about 300-500 feet each)
high up in the tree tops. Max height was probably about 70 feet off the
jungle floor. We were outfitted with a rock climbing harness, a helmet,
and some worn leather gloves. There were three lines from the harness
that hooked onto a pair of wheels with C clamps that were placed on top
of a heavy gauge steel cable for each run. On each run, you zipped to
platforms that were attached high up in the trees. At each platform,
you climbed higher to get above the level of the next platform in the
run. During the runs there were families of howler monkeys in the trees
all around me. There were also many sloths and toucans. I felt like a
cross between a bird, a monkey, and Tarzan. The last run took us down
to a beautiful beach, with great surf. For anyone who is physically fit
(including children aged 10 and above), this is a MUST do on your next
trip to Costa Rica. The Adrenaline rush is not really describable.

Legend Jan 8-16

Much to our delight, we were joined by Judi Carpenter (our friend and
travel agent) and Babette (an old virtual friend and a new in the flesh
friend) on this 8 day cruise.

Before the cruise, I informed the Maitre d, Omar, that we would be
joined by two very experienced cruisers, one of whom had been on 160
cruises but never on Carnival. He went out of his way to seat us at
table for 10 in the front of the dining room. We were seated with a
nice group of five other singles. It was a great group and dinners were
both a social and a culinary delight. Our first night in the dining
room, we informed our two female waiters that between the four of us, we
had been on 286 cruises (43 for Eileen and I, 82 for Judi, and a
whopping 161 for Babette). I think this comment was a bit intimidating
and we spent the rest of the cruise re-assuring these two women that
there service was very good.

During many great days of perfect weather out on deck by the aft pool, I
came to know and very much like Babette, who is as sophisticated a
cruiser as one can find.

Eileen made it to the ocean twice on this cruise and we had wonderful
times there. In St. Martin, we spent a perfect day at Orient Beach.
The weather was magnificent. I met some folks at the nude section of the
beach and spent about an hour there swimming and softening some very
strong tan lines.

In Barbados, we spent the afternoon and evening with Judi, Babette, and
just about the entire ship's crew at the Boatyard, a nice beach very
close to downtown. Sunset at the beach was very, very nice but I was
disappointed that there was no bonfire, as has been my experience on all
earlier visits.

One night we dined with Judi and Babette at the Golden Fleece supper
club on the ship. The food and presentation were as good as it gets. I
had a 22 oz prime porterhouse, perfectly prepared with bernaise. I'll
leave the rest of the details to Babette.

Sadly, on Jan 16 our cruising on the Legend came to an end. Left behind
were some great memories and one diamond earring lost from Eileen's
favorite pair. Debarkation was very, very smooth (there was none of
that self luggage handling I have read about on this board for other
Carnival ships). We went straight from the ship to Pier 66 for our one
day layover before boarding the Zuiderdam on Jan 17.

Meeting Sunny and Bernie

After checking into our lovely poolside room, we called Sunny and an old
cruising friend named Ruth to confirm a 3:00 PM meeting at our hotel.
We then headed to the pool for a couple of hours of swimming, lunching,
and sunning on this perfect 70 degree day.

Ruth arrived about 2:45 and Sunny and Bernie got there at 3:00. The
next 2.5 hours seemed to fly by. For those of you who have never had
the pleasure of meeting Sunny and Bernie, they were a pure delight.
Sunny is a highly intelligent and warm human being, who has led a truly
fascinating life. She is VERY articulate and I was transfixed with her
stories of living in England during WWII and emigrating to the US as a
young woman. Bernie is a great guy, in fantastic physical shape.
Despite the age difference, I think we hit it off wonderfully, and I
would be delighted to cruise or party with them in the future.

HAL Zuiderdam Jan 16 - 24

Got to the pier at 11:30 AM, checked in at the suite counter, and
boarded immediately. Our deluxe verandah suite on Deck 6 was the third
best accommodation we have ever had on a cruise ship. With more than
enough space for a world voyage, we were delighted with the suite. Our
wonderful cabin steward introduced himself, brought us what we needed,
and disappeared. We went to the Neptune lounge to meet the concierge
and take a light lunch. In what she has come to call a "Paxil moment",
Eileen introduced herself and me to the rather sour looking group of
older passengers who occupied the lounge. All responded in a friendly
manner.

This was our second cruise on the Zuiderdam. It is a beautiful ship,
with some design flaws that I discussed in my review last January. In
comparison to our first cruise on the ship, the dining room food was
excellent. New England lobster tails were served on "lobster night";
and they were very, very good. Nevertheless, it did not match up to our
culinary experience on the Legend.

I only took one lunch in the Lido. It was very good, but nothing to
write home (or to rtc) about. The ice cream bar was very disappointing,
no nuts at all, no liqueurs, and no whipped cream.

A special surprise on this cruise was that, unbeknownst to us, Ermalee
and Bill had booked the cruise with Judi after we left town. They even
chose to sit with us at the late seating, which was very flattering. We
had a great time dining with these good friends and our other four table
mates during the cruise. Ermalee has got to be the most mischievous 49
(plus) year old that I have ever met. She is also a very, very sharp

lady.

Live music on the ship was a disaster. There was actually a Caribbean
band by the main pool but they were instructed to play all this cheesy
calypso stuff, like Yellow Bird. When I asked them to play a reggae
tune, the did a good job but quickly went back to following their orders.

The DJ (Matt) in the disco was the best DJ that I have ever found on a
ship. He also had an incredible selection of 18,000 dance tunes on his
computer. He was a really nice kid, who would play whatever I asked.
Problem was that the disco was empty most of the time and by 1:00 am I
and three couples in their 20's whom I befriended were the only ones
there. Between midnight and 1:00 am there were, perhaps, another 10
regulars consisting of some gay couples and singles. I really felt
sorry for Matt, who was not happy about his short work hours on this
boring ship. I also learned that there is a 1:00 am curfew for all
staff on this ship in the public areas; and the crew bar closes a 2:00 am.

The two production shows were not very good, although the Bob Mackey
costumes in the second show were very nice. They were all lip sync to
recorded music. One night, a male singer from Montreal was featured. He
was outstanding, and I would have liked to see him perform again.

The Filipino band in the crows nest might have been good if they had
played some good music. However they played what the crowd (hardly a
crowd) wanted and what they wanted was cheese.

The gym on this ship really sucked. Although the space was large and
well appointed, free weights were very limited. The heaviest dumbbells
were 37lbs, which is barely a warm-up for me.

The casino was typical HAL, with reduced odds (actual payouts) on the
video poker and slots. Even Eileen couldn't stand to be there.

Perfect weather once again contributed to another two wonderful beach
days for Eileen and me. First on Half Moon Quay, and later on Tortola.
Instead of visiting the Baths in Virgin Gorda (which Eileen would not
have been able to get to), I chose to go to Cane Garden Bay with her.
We had a wonderful morning on this beautiful beach.

In St. Thomas, I finally found the Opium perfume that Eileen uses. Not
a single store in St. Martin carried the perfume version of this
fragrance. I also found a spectacular pair of new diamond earrings for
Eileen (2.3 cts of breathtaking, white beauty).

HAL has bolstered it's typical racist policies on the Zuiderdam with a
new reactionary policy. They have decided to staff the Pinnacle grill
with an "all white group of Eastern Europeans (men from Hungary, women
from Romania)". I was told by a completely reliable source, that they
feel an all white staff would be more appropriate for this venue. I was
also told that the way they keep all asians out of the officers bar, is
to classify all white staff (including those Rhodes Scholars from the
Steiner spa) as petty officers. At this point, it is my firm intention
to write a shareholder's letter to Carnival Corp., asking the company to
explain the blatantly racist policies of its HAL subsidiary.

In my opinion, the biggest problem on this ship is the dominant
passenger group that HAL seems to attract. Two words sum it up for me:
unsophisticated and boring.

In the middle of our cruise, the ship sent an offer to all passengers to
remain for the Jan 24th sailing. Incredibly, they offered a rate of
$399 for balcony cabins, $299 for outside cabins, and $199 for insides.
Even though I was bored and losing a little muscle from an inadequate
gym, I was more than willing to stay. Hell, the free laundry and dry
cleaning that we received in our suite would have cost more than the
fare for an outside cabin. Amazingly, it was Eileen who said "No, can't
do another week on this ship!"

Debarkation was the fastest and smoothest that I have ever experienced.
We arrived at FLL by 9:15 and were able to switch our 2:00 PM flight
to the 9:45 in first class.

Well that sums up our wonderful winter trip. By the way, even though I
ate a lot (especially on the Legend), I lost 4 lbs during the trip.
Guess that extra 1000 calories/day that I burn on the dance floor each
evening is a major contributing factor.

Howie - with new and improved tan lines.



  #9  
Old January 26th, 2004, 03:46 AM
Charles
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Our January Cruising Experience - Very Long Post

In article , Dick Goldhaber
wrote:

Danni and I kinda wondered where you and Eileen had gone but Danni suggested
that you were away and, as always, she was right.

Next time you go please notify me so I won't worry about you guys.


Howard posted quite a few times to r.t.c. about the three successive
cruises he and Eileen were going on right up to their departure.

--
Charles
  #10  
Old January 26th, 2004, 04:01 AM
D Ball
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Our January Cruising Experience - Very Long Post


Welcome home, guys. Sure enjoyed hearing all about your trip full of friends,
food and fun. Howie, I'm thrilled you did the zip line adventure in the canopies
of Costa Rica. We did it in Puerto Vallarta and felt the same rush; I can't
wait 'til we can do it in CR where it all began. Eileen, take care of those
new sparklers, you lucky girl, you!

Diana
 




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