Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mediterranean Cruise

Holland America Cruise Line
Embarkation Port, Rome (Civitavecchia)
 This past summer, Christine and I were fortunate enough to take a three week cruise of the Eastern and Western Mediterranean.
 Noordam, our ship, held 1924 passengers. This is our ideal of passenger capacity. We have sailed on larger ships and were disappointed. Perhaps we were spoiled by our first voyage of the Alaska Passage on the small Holland America ship Statendam. We loved it. Our next cruise was on a very large liner in the Western Caribbean and we did not like the large crowds and elbow to elbow people. We have also sailed on medium-size ships, but give us a choice and the smaller ships win.  
As might be gleaned, the Noordam has lots of balcony suites which is a plus; meaning we had a balcony suite on our first voyage. Since then, Christine will not settle for less. As returning mariners, we received an upgraded balcony suite. Christine, and therefore I, was happy with our room the whole trip. A side note: this coming year we are taking another cruise, and on the Noordam again. We ask for, and received, the same room again. Back to our present story; the dark shaft running up the middle of the ship is an elevator with windows which allows one to watch outside as it ascends or descends.
The boats along the rail serve two purposes. One of course is to hold passengers should the Captain get too close to land and ground the ship. (Not making light of the Costa Concordia as it was a real tragedy. Incidentally, we saw the ship still on its side as we sailed from the port. It indeed was too close to land.) On the lighter side, the other purpose of the boats is to serve as tenders (water taxis) at ports where the water is too shallow for ships to dock at a pier.
 There are so many things to do on a cruise ship that a person would have to try really hard to be bored.
 We loved the atrium and rapidly took some shots before the ship filled with people.

 This couple entertained us at the Captain's brunch for "veteran" mariners who have sailed on Holland America ships previously.
 And at the theater, there was nightly entertainment with a variety of themes.
 The Noordam had two pool areas. Christine liked the "adults only" area better and spent many hours and days in the hot tub in the front center of the picture. Frequently, as Christine would be soaking in the tub, I would go to the gym and spa for a workout. The exercise room was fully equipped and one could obtain whatever type of workout was desired.
 While passengers were not touring, eating, working out, lounging, swimming, soaking, gambling (on board casino), dancing, reading in the library, (activities go on and on), the events were interspersed with formal dining nights.
 Our cruise had six formal dining nights. For Christine, it meant at least three formal attires. For me, I just brought an extra tux shirt in case of an accident.
 Food. One can eat 24 hours a day aboard ship. (And some tried to). Imagine being in a large city and being able to go to any restaurant, cafe, or fast food establishment and order anything you wanted--free. That is what it is like dining on a cruise ship.
I was talking with one of the chefs and he said that they cook 10,000 meals a day. I said wait, there are about 2,000 passengers, approximately 1,000 crew, and eating three meals a day, that would be 9,000 meals. He said yes, but many would eat more than three times a day and gave an example of some who would have early breakfast, then come in for late breakfast, then line up at the counter and ask what was for lunch.
 The previous picture was part of a showcase of fancy bread. Above was one of several tables of deserts made from chocolate themes. (And for kids 8-80, the ice cream bar was open on the Lido from breakfast to bed time. Yes, the servers got to know me by my first name.)
Even so, especially in deference to the 10,000 meals story above, in the three weeks, Christine gained only one pound and I about 5--so we were not one of the four to five meals-a-day characters.
 But this was still the embarkation day so we took a fast trip around the walk to see the port sights. Of interest to me, note the red bulbous nose at the front of the near ship. These additions to ships have been of great assistance in stabilizing the rise and fall from head on waves. As a matter of fact, most of the ships today have to be in very rough water for one to realize there is any type of pitch or roll.
 Port traffic jam. Just like downtown Rome.
 In contrast, the three mast ship looks very serene.
 Time to start moving out. This tug assisted the ship from the pier and helped the ship maneuver in the narrow channel.
 Finally we are on our own steam and leaving port for our upcoming big adventure.
Which pleased Christine. A Mediterranean cruise has been one of her bucket list items for years and it was coming into being. And throughout the cruise, her years of devouring National Geographic Magazine stories and pictures would come to life close-up and personal.


  1. Noordam sounds interesting! Thanks for giving cruise enthusiasts more information about it and what they can find inside that liner. Perhaps you could try Celebrity cruises!

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    day. Bye