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Day 8 - Disembarking/Embarking Tampa, FL

When & Where

semi-overcast 74 °F

Bright and early we arrived back to Tampa. For those people who were staying on the ship for the next two weeks, we were able to leave all of our belongings in our rooms, take our passports and any other documents we needed and reboard the ship.

Along with the previous nights 'When & Where' pamphlet, if you're continuing on the ship, you'll get an "Important Notice" about clearance process for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

For those of us staying, we were told to meet in the theater around 9:30am, and a staff member will escort everyone for in-transit guests. Again, they remind you to have Stateroom key, passport, and an In-transit card to show you're not going into town, and just want back on the ship. They do inform you that the procedure is dictated by the CBP officials and is outside the control of Holland American Line, and it should take around an hour. When you re-board, you just present the in-transit card to the staff and terminal security to identify you as a returning guest. The notice also says that any guest who are sailing for periods in excess of one month to attend at a minimum, one passenger safety emergency drill each month while on board. (it's just good to go to them all so they're not looking for you)

Included is a schedule for breakfast in the main dining room, as well as the Lido Market.

This did seem like a cluster as the Customs and Border Patrol didn't open until a certain time, and of course, they only work when they want to. Dealing with the CBP, it was more different than dealing with them at the airport. However, I knew that they were going to be minimum staffed, and working at a snails pace, so I went in with that mind set.

Only problem was, there were some older people who couldn't stand for long(er) periods of time and where we had to wait there were no chairs to sit down. Some of the older crowd were quite upset at that, and once they started to get really upset, it was time to clear Customs, and get back on the ship.

This wasn't anything Holland could do, as the CBP is the United States Government. So watching all the older folks yell and complain to the Holland staff, made me more aware that it wasn't their fault, it was the Tampa Port for not having enough places to sit for older people.

Got back on board, and of course did our mandatory Passenger Emergency Muster Drill. I really liked that Holland America has given their crews devices to check you in. So when you get to your station, they simply scan your card and it tells the ship that you're present and accounted for. We did have one guy who apparently booked a spa day, and so he came down in his robe and was very upset that he had to go through the drill. Just like with the airlines, it doesn't matter if you've flown one time or a million times, it's always good to pay attention and watch/listen to the crew during drills. You just never know when there's going to be an emergency, and no matter what you think....just listen and pay attention.

Once the Muster was over, I was able to go grab a departure beverage and get some snacks on the deck, then found a spot to watch us sail away, and under the Sunshine Skyway bridge. Once that was done, back to my favorite bar for some drinks, then watch all the 'new' folks trying to find their way around the ship.

The Rotterdam isn't that big of a ship, but if you aren't familiar with how cruises are, no matter how big or small they are, they can be confusing. Meeting some of the new folks around the bar waiting for their meal time, and getting to know our neighbors for the next two weeks.

Until Next Time,

Posted by Sluggoaafa 13:23 Archived in USA Tagged vacation america holland rotterdam tampa carribean hal Comments (0)

Day 1 Embarkation Day - Tampa, FL

When & Where

sunny 80 °F

Day One on a cruise is always the most busiest and stressful. Once you get to the port terminal, you have to check in to get your key-card which is the key to your room, and is used for everything from purchasing beverages, duty-free items, to embarking/disembarking the ship.

Weather in Tampa was around 76 °F, with some afternoon showers. Once I did get on board, I immediately went to my room to drop off my luggage, unpack, and get acquainted with my room attendants.

Room was set up for two people, so I had them put the beds together for me, which was very nice of them to do. As busy as they were, they did it very fast.

Once you get settle in, it's good to take a look at the "When & Where" pamphlet they have in each room to highlight the different daily activities for each day. Everyone gets a new 'When & Where' each night for the following day. If you booked any packaged before the cruise; ie Beverage package, any pre-paid service charges, or need any beverage cards...often times, the room stewards will have these either in envelopes on your bed, or sometimes they'll attach notices to your room number outside your room.

This pamphlet gives you times for the Dining room, bars, different events happening around the ship, and where they are happening along with which floor to go to.

There are times for the Excursion office (for those who haven't booked any shore activities prior to the cruise), Windows digital workshops, Spa raffle drawing, Park West art auction, Future Cruise consultants, Port Shopping Ambassador, Trivia meet-up, Single & Solo mingle, Friends of Bill W meet-up, LGBT meet-up, Mass (for those who choose to visit), Casino times, Bingo times, Main Stage entertainment times, and the most important, the Mandatory passenger Emergency Muster Drill.

This drill is where everyone must gather on the Promenade deck with their key-card, to get checked-in, and shown where to meet in case of an in-cruise emergency. Each key-card has their designated muster drill meeting point location which coincides with a life-boat. (luckily, we didn't have to worry too much, but it's good to know the emergency stuff)

Once the Captain and Cruise Director make their required safety announcements, then it was time to do some venturing around the ship and see what the ms Rotterdam had to offer.

I was somewhat towards the front of the ship, so first thing I ventured into was the Main Stage (right). It was located on decks 4&5. As I was walking up the steps, I did pass one bar which I noticed, however some Art (left) was placed in the open area, so I didn't really take notice at first. (little did I know that this was going to be my favorite spot on the ship)

After finding where the main stage was, I then wanted to venture and see where the pools were, so I started walking up to the 8th floor where the Lido deck was, and where the Lido pool was located.

The Lido pool had two Jacuzzi's, and a pool for everyone to enjoy. As you can see in the picture to the left, it does have a glass roof, which does open later if at a port, or slightly open if there isn't too much wind from sailing (right)

It was great to see some people enjoying themselves before the clouds rolled in and started to rain upon our departure, but many people tried to enjoy as much as they could by walking around and partaking in the departure beverages on the Sea View bar/pool area on the back of the ship.

As much as I would have liked to have been back there, I kind of had a sense it was going to rain, so I remained inside and continued touring the ship to see what it had to offer. There was one stairway that had all kinds of plaques and awards for the ms Rotterdam. It was very impressive as many of them were plaques from cities the ship first docked at after it was commissioned. These awards and plaques were two floors, and I noticed that this wasn't a very frequented part of the ship as the railings were very smooth, & shiny as if they were just installed. (Some of the other railings in the major stairwells were a bit more rough)

I did enjoy seeing the very large 3-story clock that was near the concierge desk. The clocks were set with times all around the world. I never heard it chime, so not sure if there was a chime....I'm sure if it did, it was turned off as it was directly in front of the front desk.

Continuing my tour, I was able to find the main dining room, one of the elite restaurants on board, the buffet area, and the 'Crows Nest' where I frequented on the ms Eurodam quite often.

The Crows Nest is where I sat and watched our departure from port as it had begun to rain, and shortly after we departed (4pm), it was time for dinner at 5:15pm.

I can't remember what I ate the first night, however I did meet a mother and son from New York, a gentleman who called himself the "Bead-man", and an elderly woman who I later found out was 93 years old traveling by herself. She and I happened to have run into each other several times, she was a joy to talk with.

Dining was a 'smart casual' affair, however it still takes a while for all services to be completed. Since I was at an 'Open Seating', that meant I sat with others who have open seating, and we aren't given our menus until everyone sits at the table.

Once everyone has been seated, then we are given the evenings menu, then the waiters come around and ask the ladies what they would like to eat first, followed by the men. Once they leave, a Wine Steward will come over and ask everyone if they would like any wine, or other drinks, then the appetizers come, followed by soup and/or salad, then the main entrée, and of course, the dessert.

Simple conversations such as introductions, where you live, what you do, why you're on the trip etc. Over-all, dinner is done within 2.5hrs. After dinner, then everyone goes their own way.

Since this was February 4th, Super-Bowl LII was being aired on a big screen in the Main Stage. Many guests were a bit upset, however others were actually thrilled. I tried to stay away from the game, as I was recording it, but I did catch the Half-time show and watched the great finish after the half-time.

Such a busy day, getting to know the ship, meeting a few people, and wondering around takes a toll on you, so after the game, I went back to my room to rest, and see what the next day in Key West, FL was going to be like.

So with that, there is day One of my 21-day cruise.

So until next time,


Posted by Sluggoaafa 11:31 Archived in USA Tagged vacation america holland rotterdam tampa carribean hal Comments (0)

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