Cruising with Class on the Holland America

Happy New Years! Gotta start off the year right with actually writing about some kind of travel. I crossed off another “to do” item off of my travel list. Believe it or not, I have never sailed the high seas on a cruise ship. Cruising was not high on my travel list, but many of my friends had lots of positive things to say about cruising, especially when you are EXHAUSTED. I heard that when you cruise, you are wined and dined. Apparently, people have also had withdrawals after leaving a cruise. People have boasted about turn down service, gourmet meals, not keeping track of time and not having to cook or clean. Sounded good from the start, but I had to experience what people were talking about. Cruise to Puerto Vallarta & Cabo San Lucas, here we come!

Talk about convenience. The cruise ship was docked in San Diego. It was a simple drop off at the port station. I had no transfers at the airport. It was easy breezy. Cool thing about a cruise, there are not as many restrictions regarding how much you bring on. This cruise allowed a bottle of wine per person, Cha Ching!

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Customs: Going through customs was a “cinch”. My mother and I had our passports ready to go. We filled out a quick paper that asked us about our current health status. So personal questions about stomach issues and bowel movements were asked pre-boarding. We waited in line for about 5 minutes and then were flagged down by the next attendant. They checked our boarding passes, passport and we smiled for a quick camera shot. Right away, our cruise card was issued and we walked on board. We were greeted right away by an Indonesian staff. We took the elevator to the Dolphin Deck.

Room: We had a small cabin that had a medium sized window. The room was smaller than I expected, but then again, I’m not sure what I was expecting for a cruise cabin. I expected it to be a bit more colorful. I was a little disappointed with how sterile the room looked. There was a sprig of color with a few toss pillows that had bits of orange, brown and blue. The Dutch map from the 1800’s brought a bit more historical pizazz to the room and fed my curiosity for a moment, but I felt that the room would have to grow on me a little more. It did as the week progressed. A little unpacking from my suitcase did the trick. There were about three closets and some dresser drawers to start making the place feel like it would be my temporary home.

Exploring the Boat: There were 9 floors to the Zaandam. Right away, I jumped on to the closest elevator and went to the Lido Deck, 4th and 5th floor and checked out the dining room ASAP. My mother and I went to the LIDO deck to go get some lunch. As I quickly scanned the deck in Terminator fashion minus the laser beams, I saw spaghetti, salad, chicken, paninis, fruits, desserts, soup, sushi etc. There were at least a hundred people or so already engaging in cruise behavior. Right away I noticed that there were hand sanitizer stations all around the buffet area. I saw lines of people already waiting to be served. I went to go grab a california roll, but right away we were told to let the servers serve us the food. I’ve heard about gastrointestinal issues on cruises, but the very gesture from the servers reminded me that the cruise would mean “close quarters”.

It was nice to walk around and see a boat with little pieces of history here and there. Just seeing a harpsichord on my way to the dining hall was awesome. I saw some Egyptian Art as well as some Indonesian Masks.

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Dining Hall: I was very impressed with the dining room on the Zaandam. I felt like I was transported back in time. I felt like I was experiencing classic dining from the 1940’s and 1950’s. Yes, I grew up watching Bob Hope, Doris Day, Marlon Brando type films. I would watch Bob Hope and Bing Crosby films and remember their classic dining experiences where women were “dolled up” just for an evening dinner. I loved the glam and details of the dining room. Even as a young child, I can recall table settings, artwork, draperies, chair covers, beautiful stages where some kind of entertainment was going to unfold. The Rotterdam deck reminded me of all these beautiful things that I used to watch back in the day.

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It was refreshing to see a Maitre’ D direct us to our table. I watched as he circulated around each table section to make sure everything was efficient. It was delightful to order an appetizer, a soup and a main entree followed by a dessert and coffee or tea EVERY DAY. A girl could get used to this type of treatment on a daily basis. My mom and I really enjoyed conversations based around our meal selections. Of course we tried each others dishes and the portions were just right, European size! THANK GOODNESS!

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Shrimp Cocktail split in half. Just the perfect size!

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Beef Wellington on the first night! Delectable & Divine!

More to feast on, just hoping that the cruise wont add more pounds like everyone has warned me about. Time to walk the teakwood decks for some exercise.

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