Archive for the ‘Ships and such’ Category

So you think you can dance?

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

The cruise line that is most suited for ballroom dancing is probably Cunard Line.  Its two – and soon three – ships, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and the new Queen Elizabeth all feature a Queens Room, a ballroom, each with a dance floor that is considered one of the largest at sea.  If you like ballroom dancing, this is where you want to be: most every night you can dance to live music.  Some nights, you’ll even have a big band to swing to! 

And if you are a lady traveling solo, don’t fret!  On many Transatlantic Crossings, Cunard graciously makes gentlemen hosts available.  These gents will gladly glide across the dance floor with you – but keep in mind that single ladies may outnumber men considerably, so be prepared to share!

Not much of a dancer?  You’ll be happy to know that the Queens Rooms are also used for other pursuits: afternoon tea, for example, or fencing classes on Queen Victoria.

About the Holland America Line ms Oosterdam

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

I say it many times: we practice what we preach at Cruise Holidays and therefore we travel frequently on cruises around the world.  We feel that it is the only way to know what the differences are between the various cruise lines and the personalities of their ships, so we can make the best recommendations for our guests.

So it will come as no surprise that I have sailed on probably about 30-odd different ships over the past few years, varying from large “fun-ships” to small, six-star cruise ships, river cruise ships and some of the more unique lines like Windstar with their 300-odd guest sailing vessels.  With that experience comes the ability to quickly compare the level of service provided on a ship with that of its competitors.  And I am pleased to say that the crew on the ms Oosterdam was welcoming, warm and friendly.  The Captain, Arjen van der Loo, was probably one of the most personable commanders that I’ve met – talkative, informative and ready to talk – in a rather thick Dutch accent (and I can say so because I am Dutch myself) – about his ship, the itinerary and Holland America Line.  What a difference compared to some other lines, where the captain barely speaks for a minute and is almost impossible to understand, or simply is not interested in dealing with guests.  In that case, I say: go back to container ships – for many guests, the interaction with officers and crew is an important part of the cruise experience.

So did I find anything to complain about?  Service-wise?  Not really.  Of course, a higher level of service is always possible – but for the fares charged by Holland America Line, this Oosterdam cruise was definitely value for money in terms of service.

There are some ship facilities that I would have designed differently: for example, there are both male and female saunas just near the entrance to the spa.  Unfortunately, they are uncomfortably small: there is only room for about three people in the shower, one shower and a 3-foot bench to “cool down”.  On the opposite side of the spa are locker rooms with a beautiful view over the ocean, three or so showers, rest rooms and plenty of space.  Why not combine the two and simply have the sauna be a part of the locker rooms?

Of course, there is the option of purchasing a pass to the thalassotherapy pool and steam room area – maybe that’s why the “free” sauna wasn’t designed very attractively?