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Cruise: The ship

September 8, 2010

The Rotterdam was great, and Holland America’s staff lived up to all the accolades. They have the embarkation and disembarkation process down to a science, and it worked like a well-oiled machine.

Our cabin, 7061, was a handicapped verandah suite on the aft (end) of the ship, practically dead center on the back of the ship. One drawback to an aft cabin was the distance to get to things at the front of the ship, but I just considered it more exercise. We occasionally heard the chairs being moved on the deck above, and some engine noise, but it didn’t bother me, and definitely didn’t affect Mom’s sleep once her hearing aids were out.

It was wonderfully spacious, with plenty of room for a wheelchair. It was well-decorated, and everything looked new. The television was small, but adequate. There was plenty of closet space and hangers.

The bathroom had just a roll-in shower (some handicapped cabins have handicapped showers as well as the standard jetted tubs, but not ours). Their system for the shower water worked better than any other handicapped bathroom I’ve seen (and European bathrooms where the shower isn’t set apart from the rest of the bathroom). In seven days, there was never any water on the floor of the rest of the bathroom, much to my surprise.

One odd thing about the cabin:  the toilet had a mind of its own. Once on the first day, it didn’t flush. I called the front desk, and as I’m telling them about it, it flushed. On its own. For the rest of the cruise, it sometimes flushed when we flushed it, and it sometimes flushed a few minutes after. Not a big deal, but odd.

The balcony – oh, the balcony was beautiful, and large, with two chairs, a small side table, and a chaise lounge. Privacy wasn’t an issue: if I was standing right at the balcony and someone on the retreat deck above was standing right at the railing, they could see me, but it seldom happened.

One nice thing about the cabin was that there was a space between the curtains and the sliding doors to the balcony, which meant that I could slip outside early in the morning without disturbing Mom with light, noise or cool weather.

Our cabin stewards were Jabar and Roby, and they quickly learned that I liked ice, and that we generally spent the evenings in our cabins. The ice bucket seemed to always be full, even when we returned from shore, and our fruit basket was kept supplied with apples and bananas. If either of them were around when we were coming and going, they helped with getting the wheelchair in and out of the cabin.

The beds were wonderfully comfortable, as were the sheets and towels. My favorite thing, though, was the robe. I’m not a big robe-wearer, but the HAL robe was thick and comfy, and I used it a lot. I should have bought one, but cheaped out.

Something we took advantage of frequently was the free DVDs. They had a wide variety, and I just called in the title number, along with a second or third choice, and it was delivered to the room.

The Explorations Lounge was a library/computer spot/game area, with a coffee/pastry bar. I was surprised at the big selection of books that could be checked out, including large print books, and there was also a paperback exchange, which I took advantage of. There were also games like Cranium, and jigsaw puzzles.

Another thing I especially appreciated was the Times Digest, a daily eight-page digest of condensed articles from the NY Times. It kept me feeling a little bit more in touch with the outside world, as did CNN on the television. You can also access the NYT website for free, along with the HAL website.

Other spots on the ship:

  • Showroom at Sea – generally cold, decorated a bit pimp-ishly, but nice.
  • Crow’s Nest – spent some time there on glacier day, but never at night.
  • various bars – passed through them during the day; again, generally cold and somewhat pimp-ish in style.
  • Casino – avoided like the plague.
  • Lido deck – didn’t use the pool or hot tubs, but sat on the deck. Appreciated the retractable roof.
  • Greenhouse Spa – toured it the first day, but Mom didn’t  get the thermal suite package, and I passed on spa services.
  • Gym – never had time to use it, but there were ample machines, and a beautiful view from the front of the ship.
  • Self-service laundry – nice touch, they supplied the soap. It was $2 for a wash, and $1 for an insane number of minutes in the dryer – something like 99 minutes on permanent press.

Smoking: we thankfully didn’t run into smoke issues, except for cigars once. No smoke on our balcony from our neighbors, and no smell in the hallway. The only place smoke was an issue was in the casino and the area immediately outside it, but we simply avoided it. We didn’t go to any bars or the Crow’s Nest at night,  but I assume those areas are likely smoky in the evening.

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From → Alaska, Elder travel

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