Cruising…What Took Me So Long?

July 31, 2014 — Leave a comment

Just Cruising

45 years old and I have never been on a cruise. Until this past week. And I have no idea why I have not gone on one before this. Now I am able to say this was my best vacation……ever!

Jill and I decided to make our big trip a cruise this year – something she has done a couple of times. So I leaned on her heavily as we went through the process.  Who knew there were so many details to attend to when you go cruising especially if it involves international ports.  Thankfully I have Jill and because of her our entire trip was flawless.

ship

The MS Maasdam at port in Halifax Canada.

We picked out what I think was the best cruise for us to take for many reasons. A New England to Canada, 7 day cruise on Holland America’s MS Maasdam.

This was not one of those gigantic ships with over 3,000 passengers – it was one of Holland America’s mid size ships with a little over 1,200 people on board which for a first timer was nice because not once did I feel like there were throngs of people like you sometimes feel at places like Disney World.  And because this was a non-tropical cruise I think it attracted a different type of cruiser than those that tend to choose the Caribbean and such.  There were not a lot of kids on board and I think the average age probably hovered more above 55 then below 45 which was perfectly fine with us.  All of this and some nice ports to just walk and see the sights meant it was mostly tailored made for Jill and I.

cabin

Our home for 7 days – loved every minute of it.

Our stateroom was a Spa Ocean View – which was very nice, plenty of room and was conveniently located near all the things on the ship we used often (like the casino ;).

Jill heard of a tip to bring one of those plastic door hanging shoe holders to use on the bathroom door to organize all your toiletries instead of living out of the little bag you travel with them in. Great idea, not only did it eliminate the little bag issue but since there is no storage in these bathrooms it means we didn’t have the bathroom sink all cluttered.  Little thing I know – but it made a difference.

The stateroom attendants were great – leaving me fresh fruit every day, turning down the beds at night and seemingly always available when we needed anything.  Not sure if that’s the way on other cruises – but Holland America is doing it right. In hindsight though I think we’ll spend the extra money and opt for the balcony next time – there were several days we would have certainly used it.

The food in the dining room was wonderful – as was the staff.  Maybe it’s a function of the size of the ship – but everyone from the hostess to the wine steward knew us, knew what table we liked, knew how we liked our drinks and were always pleasant and greeted you with a smile.  It should have felt like we ate a lifetime of food but the portions in the dining room were always very reasonable – if you are one that likes mounds of food you would have been disappointed.  We ate everything from surf and turf, veal, lamb, venison and crab and I think Jill tried a bite of every type of fruit cobbler known to man.  Every meal there was a joy.

atrium

The glass sculpture in the atrium of our ship.

The buffet on the Lido deck was – adequate.  Not great but not bad…certainly better than a Golden Coral.  We only ate there for breakfast a few times and lunch if we happened to be on the ship.  We did eat dinner one night in the Pinnacle Grill –  which is supposed to be an upscale restaurant on board.  For the most part if fit the bill, but with the exception of Jill’s filet mignon, the food was not that much better than what we received in the dining room and not worth the extra cost.

We did some of the onboard entertainment – seeing comedian Kevin Jordan one night, attending a sip & savor which was a free appetizer and 2 sips of a wine for $4 – not really worth it.  But any of you who know us you know that we spent the bulk of our evenings after dinner in our favorite spot…the casino.

whatdayisit

You lose track of the day on a cruise I have learned – glad they had these rugs in the elevators to keep us all on track. 😉

I did not have any expectations for a casino on board a cruise ship – and we may find our experience different next time we go – but we had a tremendously good time every night.  I love playing craps and Jill will play with me for awhile in most casinos before the call of the slots gets to her (she is the queen of the slot machines by the way) but because the few decent slots they had on board were kind of stingy Jill and I played craps from the moment it opened at 9pm until we went to bed.

Now I don’t want you to think that we spent all this time just throwing money down because this was different.

The casino staff was outstanding – all the dealers and the wait staff knew us by name, talked with you not at you and made it very very enjoyable.  And because they were all from different parts of the world, how they pronounced our names became a source of amusement.  We would often hear “Zill, odds behind.” or “Sir Thomas another drink?”  There were about 7 of us that played every night so we got to meet some great people and have a lot of fun each night at that craps table.  Didn’t hurt either that both Jill and I went home with more money in our pocket then we came with.

The Maasdam at port in Quebec City.

The Maasdam at port in Quebec City.

As I said this was my best vacation ever. And I owe that in large part to the beautiful and wonderful woman who went with me.

I love traveling with Jill – we do it very well together.  We have very little, if any, stress, there is no “go,go,go” attitude, and we each have the ability to shut the world out for a few days and have it be just us. Walking hand in hand through the ship with this beautiful woman is like a dream come true. I am a lucky man.

It’s been a year since Jill and I took our first trip together to New York City and I thought how wonderful that was and wondered could we do it again?

Well since then we’ve been to Syracuse, Niagara Falls, Atlantic City, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Cherokee, NC and the Biltmore and now a cruise from Boston to Montreal all within our first year and half together. And every time the trips get better and better.

So looking forward to our next adventure – I love you beautiful.

Tommy D

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