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Cruising the Caribbean

Updated: Jan 25

Our 10-day Thanksgiving cruise left from Ft. Lauderdale. We were sailing on the Eurodam, Holland America’s first Signature Class ship. The ship was built in 2007 but got upgrades in 2015 and 2019. Our veranda cabin was larger than similar classes cabins on other cruise lines. It had a bathtub and all regular amenities. The room was not the cleanest when we checked-in. We mentioned it to the stewardess who took note and immediately indicated that they no longer provide turndown service in the evening. You can now choose between a morning or an afternoon service.


In past Holland of America cruises, we really enjoyed the shows, the comedians, the Lincoln Center Stage (music recitals by a quartet) and America's Test Kitchen (a cooking show presented by members of their television show). We were very disappointed on this cruise by the entertainment. The quality of the shows at the World Stage was very poor, the one comedian was not funny (first time in more than 30 cruises), the America's Test Kitchen is gone (we knew about it) and the Lincoln Center Stage is in the process of being replaced. Nobody told us about it before our cruise. The highlight of the entertainment was the orange party celebrated at the B.B. King’s Blues Club. Everybody is supposed to wear orange, the color of the Netherlands, in honor of the royal family, which is made up of members of the House of Orange. We enjoyed the music at Billboard Onboard, where dueling piano players perform while testing the guests’ trivia skills.


We had a few dinners at specialty restaurants. Half of them were included in our dining package. We ate twice at Pinnacle Grill (steakhouse) and twice at Tamarind (Pan-Asian) and once at Canaletto (a makeshift Italian restaurant put together each evening next to the Lido Market self-service). Tamarind was good and innovative, Pinnacle Grill was as good as usual, but Canaletto was poor except for the Osso Bucco. We had the rest of our dinners at the main dining room where most of the time you have to wait to be seated if you choose the “As You Wish Dining” option.


Our cruise deal also had the Signature Beverage Package, which has a limit of 15 drinks a day including coffee, soft drinks, and alcohol. It worked well at the beginning of the cruise, but a few days before debarkation the staff started telling us that they were out of our white wine and sparkling wine. It happened all over the ship. We finally had to talk to a beverage manager who told us that they were not out of it. We never had this problem with Holland America before.


Enough about the ship, we chose this cruise because of its itinerary. We had visited these islands before, but it had been a while for some of them. As it was raining when we arrived in Philipsburg, the capital of Sint Maarten (the Dutch side of the island), we decided to skip our visit to Orient Beach, the best beach on the island. Instead, we walked around Philipsburg for a couple of hours before going back to the ship.


In Antigua we had booked a ship excursion (we had two included in our package) on a catamaran.  They took us first to a snorkeling reef and afterwards to a very nice beach. The water temperature was in the mid-eighties, so it was very pleasant.


Our next stop was the island in St. Lucia. We docked in Castries where we had our second ship excursion, a creole tradition tour. We travelled by coach in the direction of St Mark's to first visit an old colonial-style house which had a breathtaking view of the city. Our next stop was Howelton Estate, one of the oldest homes on the island). They feature several artisanal attractions, and they have the usual souvenir shop. The place is a little bit commercial. Our last stop was the best. We toured the Fond Latisab Creole Park. They welcome you warmly and take you through the lush landscaping where they grow nutmeg, cinnamon, bananas, and cocoa.  They showed us how they used to saw wood by the rhythm of the "chak chak" and the drums. Afterwards our local guide made a demonstration on how to make cassava bread.  At the end, you are entertained to a creole folk dance before sampling the cassava bread with their local fruit or rum punch.


In Dominica, we took a little trolley-train tour of Roseau, the capital. It lasted a little bit less than two hours, and we visited the city and the Botanic Gardens. It has 50 types of indigenous plants and imported trees as well as the Sisserou Parrot, the National Bird of Dominica. It is protected and it is probably among the oldest species of Amazon parrot in the world. It is found only in Dominica.


We decided to have a beach day in St. Kitts and took a taxi from Basseterre to Carambola Beach Club in South Friar’s Bay. They have umbrellas, lounge chairs, a bar and a restaurant. It was a perfect spot to spend the day. The beach is on the Caribbean side of the island, so it is not windy or wavy.


We took a ship excursion for our day in St. Thomas. We had been there many times, and we did not want to rent a car. We were supposed to go first to the beautiful beach of Magens Bay and end up in town in the early afternoon for shopping. Our guide told us immediately that as it was Sunday and the shops close early, we would start our tour in the city. Most of the people were disappointed, as like us, they wanted to go to the beach. As we arrived in town a sales rep for one of the jewelry stores in town immediately jumped on our open-air safari bus and started her sales speech. We decided to walk around the city on our own. Most of the stores were not yet open. The rest of the tour was nicer, and we had a great time in Magens Bay, one of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world according to the National Geographic Society.   


Our next day was at sea before arriving in Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, where Holland America's private island is located. The beach is beautiful, and the color of the water is very picturesque. A great day to relax. At lunch they serve their traditional BBQ, which consists of a burger or a hot dog.


Altogether we had a great time during the cruise thanks to the destinations. As mentioned above we were disappointed by the cruise ship, the average food, and the lack of entertainment.


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