Cruisin’ with the Crew or Bermuda Bound

Well, we’re a month (or so) into recruiting cruisers for our wine and culinary adventure on the high seas and things look very good.   If you haven’t yet booked a cabin, if you’re on the fence, let me tell you about some of the really cool aspects of the trip and tip you in the direction of joining us.

If you’re unfamiliar, here’s our plan along with some added details.

Cruisin' for a Bermusin'

Cruisin' for a Bermusin'

Check into your cabin on the 9th of May aboard Holland America Lines’ ms Veendam in NYC (http://www.hollandamerica.com/cruise-vacation-onboard/Veendam) and you’ll find two bottles of wine waiting for you, a little token of our appreciation.  We then sail away and drop anchor a day and a half later in St. George’s, Bermuda. While we’re underway, Kimberly and Mike will be conducting a wine tasting that will be just for our little group. We’ll be using our own wine and, rest assured, we’ll be pouring more generously than the ABC would allow if we were here in the store.  Mike (that’s me!) will also be giving a cooking demo for our group in the ship’s Culinary Arts Center, a demonstration kitchen designed by the folks at Food and Wine magazine.

When you’re not occupied with Wine gourmet activities, the ship offers loads of things to fill up your time.  Let me count the ways.  To start, there’s one casino, two pools, three nightclubs, and four restaurants (not counting the coffeehouse and poolside pizza joint).  You’ll also find a gym, a spa and on-board demos and workshops of various stripes. If the kids are along, there’s Club HAL (for the extra young’uns) and two teen clubs for hangin’ out away from the ‘rents and little brothers and sisters.
. . Did I mention that there’s a casino?

We recently learned that the ship has been through a refurbishment this year.  As a result, all the staterooms have been updated; new linens, color schemes and carpeting.  They’ve also been able to create  an additional cabin “level” that may be of interest.  All HAL ships have a teak deck that runs the perimeter of the ship, unbroken, at the main level.  I’m sure that I’ll be found walking it over and over, talking to myself, as I analyze what just happened to me in the casino.
Anyway, I bring up the teak promenade for this reason:  There is a new class of cabin (just added) called, “Lanai”.  It falls between the Ocean View and the Verandah style cabins and is differentiated by having a sliding glass door that directly accesses the promenade.  Each Lanai cabin is also given a pair of chaise lounges that flank the door and are reserved for the exclusive use of the passengers in that cabin.

The Promenade, taken on an Alaskan cruise, before the addition of the Lanai cabins.

The Promenade, taken on an Alaskan cruise, before the addition of the Lanai cabins.

It is, as you might expect, priced between the cost of the Ocean View cabin and the Verandah model.  Regardless of which cabin you select, there’ll be two bottles of wine (from us), fresh fruit every morning, and European pillow-top mattresses for your slumbering.

. . . . I suspect I’ll feel so pampered that it will be all I can do to stop myself from ringing the purser to have him come kick the stool out from under me.
. . . you know, after the casino.

So here’s where it gets really cool. The Veendam, unlike many cruise ships, is small enough to pull right into the downtown mooring areas in Bermuda.  It will not be necessary, as it is for larger ships, to moor across island and bus our way into town. The Veendam will be downtown, dockside and will leave open all of its amenities,  – all restaurants, the casino (a casino!), etc. for its stay in port.  It will literally be like having a four-star downtown hotel.  We’re also told that, nightly, the street in front of the ship is closed to traffic for a street party.

Ain't it just the ginchiest? - St. Georges, Bermuda (photo by John Mason)

Ain't it just the ginchiest? - St. Georges, Bermuda (photo by John Mason)

Take two days to explore Bermuda’s original capitol, St. George’s.  It looks quaint, cozy, and clean from all the brochures – kind of like Disney but without the costumes, nametags and lists of showtimes.  The ship will weigh anchor after about two days and steam around to the other side of the island to moor dockside (again) in Hamilton, Bermuda’s current capitol.

Is that a banana in your hand or are ya just happy to see Hamilton?

Is that a banana in your hand or are ya just happy to see Hamilton?

If you have something going on – don’t worry about.  You can catch a cab the ten miles or so it is between ports. Then we have another two days in Hamilton before pulling out for the return voyage to NYC.

On the way back we’ll have another wine tasting and (finally) a wine taster’s lunch, just for us – in the Pinnacle Grill.  The Pinnacle Grill is the finest fine-dining establishment aboard.

Who wouldn't pine for the Pinnacle?

Who wouldn't pine for the Pinnacle?

While you can eat anywhere else aboard ship at no additional cost, to eat at the Pinnacle takes an additional $25/person/meal – but don’t you worry about it.  We’ve included the cost of the luncheon in the whole cost of the trip.

Please join us here, in the store, on Tuesday, Oct. 27 from 4:30 to 7pm for a special (and free!) cruise-related wine tasting.  We’ll have Larry Garnett of Holland America Lines and Tom Rush of Travel Lovers in Lynchburg here to answer any and all of your cruise related questions. So work up some good ones.  [ex.  Can we water ski behind the ship?  What if I’m allergic to bananas and crabs?  Will you be screening “Titanic” while we’re underway?]
You get the idea.

Here’re some nifty Ship Facts:

  • Gross Tonnage: 55,758grt (One registered ton equals 100 cubic feet)
  • Length: 720 feet
  • Beam: 101 feet
  • Maximum speed: 22 knots (maximum)
  • Ship’s Registry: The Netherlands
  • Passenger capacity: 1,350
  • Crew: 557
  • Passenger to Crew Ratio:  2.4:1
  • Dedicated: January, 1996 by actress Debbie Reynolds
  • Refurbished, February 2009
    Recovering from a wine tasting.  That's the ms Veendam in the background.

    Recovering from a wine tasting. That's the ms Veendam in the background.

    The Veendam's Casino.   - Did I mention that there's a casino?

    The Veendam's Casino. - Did I mention that there's a casino?

    The Retreat on the aft Navigation Deck.    WHERE'S MY MIMOSA!

    The Retreat on the aft Navigation Deck. WHERE'S MY MIMOSA!

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    Published in: on October 21, 2009 at 7:02 pm  Comments (1)  

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    1. We are OFFICIALLY IN!!


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