Cruise Ratings
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Sail Date: October 2007
Pre-cruise We flew on Qantas air points to Rome. The flights were Qantas Brisbane to Singapore, British Airways to London, Heathrow and Alitalia to Rome. Our London Alitalia connection was a potential problem as we only had ninety minutes ... Read More
Pre-cruise We flew on Qantas air points to Rome. The flights were Qantas Brisbane to Singapore, British Airways to London, Heathrow and Alitalia to Rome. Our London Alitalia connection was a potential problem as we only had ninety minutes between arrival from Singapore at terminal 4 and departure from terminal 2, and so it proved to be. Our seats on the Qantas A330 were pre-allocated - 28J &K. If you ever have these allocated get them moved. There is no window at 28K, just wall. We even asked as we were being checked in as we had checked on seatguru.com and were assured 28K had a window. It really was no big deal, just odd. Qantas service continues to improve and it was a good flight - good food and really great cabin crew. I had already checked-in for the BA flight prior to leaving home and had requested (and had boarding passes issued) for a pair of the 'two seats' at the rear of the 747-400. There are three rows right at the rear of the plain. These seats were confirmed at the transfer desk in Singapore. Waited in the Qantas Club at Changi until the flight was called. BA flight was also good, nice crew, decent food, flew through the night and it was dawn just as we arrived into London. Plane wasn't full and we each had two seats. View over London was spectacular as we came in. Arrived one minute early, was on first connection bus to terminal 2 but still didn't make Alitalia flight (dep 6.50am). Was placed on standby and flew on second available flight (about 1pm) with Business class upgrade to Rome. Caught the airport express in to Rome Termini and hotel was less than ten minute walk from station. Welcome Residences (one night) was booked through Bookings.com and was good value at EUR149 with breakfast. Big clean room, comfy (but very hard) bed. Ok brekky of pastries etc. Central location. There is a lift but we didn't use it as room was on first floor of accommodation. Would recommend. Caught Eurostar to Venice at about 1pm next day. Great trip. I love trains and have never been on a high speed train before. Had very nice three course lunch in dining car that included wine and water and even free coffee (due to slow service that we hadn't even noticed!). Caught # ? Vaporetto to San Marco stop and walked to Hotel Lisbona (two nights), again less than ten minute walk. The Bauer is directly across the canal from Hotel Lisbona. Bauer guests were paying EURXXXX, we paid EUR360 to look down on to the same canal from our room. Our room was TINY but comfortable. No lift and we were up three flights of VERY steep stairs. Again, very clean, lovely staff. Very good breakfast, with good variety. Booked water taxi to dock. Expensive but fun. Bags unceremoniously dumped on dock in the light rain. Two Costa ships, Millenium, Horizon and Rotterdam all docked at same time. CRUISE Check-in Check-in was a disaster. We arrived at just after 1pm as advised. The boarding 'lounge' was packed. We joined a queue, were asked if we had checked-in on line, said yes and were handed a card with number eleven on it. They called twenty something not long after, got to 34 and then started again. You get the idea. We were given no indication if there was a priority line for suite guests and didn't bother asking. As crowd very slowly thinned we sat down and had a cup of some fairly awful iced tea when some cups finally were found. We finally boarded at about 3.45. Really not a good intro to Holland America. Didn't need any instructions to our suite and went straight up forward staircase to deck 6. Cabin 6120 was (is) beautiful. More room than we needed, but appreciated it all the same. Worth every cent the upgrade cost. We visited some people in a deluxe - 7016 - and couldn't see where the money was unless you wanted to entertain in your room. We are quite capable of making our own bookings, don't need any more food than was already provided, had no problems with the coffee on board, already got free DVDs (didn't watch one!), did three loads of washing during course of cruise that cost us $9 and was able to choose cold wash and low heat dry (most likely not something I could be so choosy with even if the laundry was free in a deluxe). Quibbles - the valance was ripped (the actual valance had come apart from the part that goes across the bed bases), quite obviously, and I was quite surprised it was not replaced during our cruise. I certainly don't have anything but positive comments for our lovely room attendant Nai, but his supervisor should take the responsibility. In no way did it affect the enjoyment of our room, this is just an observation. - Although the bed was comfortable it was still two beds pushed together. Celebrity places a single queen sized mattress across the two single bases when room request is for a queen. - Room is designed to be a twin as evidenced by the light switches behind the bed. When made up as a queen you switch the lights on every time you sit up in bed. - had no idea there was a radio in the room until someone told us about the little switch on the wall. Compendium could do with some pages on how things work in your cabin eg. Where the radio is and how it works, how to listen to CDs through TV etc The Rotterdam had just come out of ten days in dry dock. It was very obvious in our first walk through that a lot of carpet had been replaced; there was that lovely new carpet smell. I'll say right now that the ship was in beautiful condition, sparkling even. We had no complaints ship wise at all. I know there were problems with overflowing toilets and ineffective air-conditioning, but we experienced none. One of the dividers between our cabin and 6122 came open during the first night. Was repaired late the next afternoon as we sailed from Dubrovnik. Dining Dining lower main - allocated table 125, an eight, centre at the very rear of the restaurant against the sloping windows. On the first night only one other couple, a gay couple from Puerto Rico - Eduardo and Ernesto. Great guys. Our servers were Ketut (supervisor), May (waiter) and Widato (assistant). Second night we were joined by our other three companions, all ladies, two friends Edith and Sue from Phoenix and Edith's daughter Irene from Florida. They all loved K but I always got the feeling he was looking for an 'angle', May was lovely but got confused a fair bit (wrong meals ordered, wrong meals placed on table), and Widato was great. He needs to be promoted and I said that on my guest card. First wine water was Louis who bordered on being servile, just a little creepy. Second was Pepe who was much more sincere in his demeanor. Food La Fontaine - we ate in the restaurant 23 of 25 nights (and one breakfast). Missed it after late shorex in Casablanca and attended Sommelier's dinner in Pinnacle Grill one night. Had no reason to eat elsewhere. It was great. The food was very, very good. Better than we expected. Presentation always very good. Meals were always hot. Main lower was far from full and maybe this helped with food temp. Most nights we ate a starter, soup, entrEe and dessert although sometimes missed either a soup or starter. Never ordered a salad. Ate lots of cold soups and they were all very good. Ate lots of prawns (giant shrimp) and they were never less than excellent. One ordinary chicken dish (too dry), two ordinary steaks (ordered medium rare and they were more medium-well). Steaks themselves certainly not what I'd call rib but we have very good steak in Australia but never buy a piece that would be more than 250 gram. Al even had meatloaf one night, he said good, I thought hilarious. Deserts were maybe the only let down but were never bad, maybe ordinary on most nights. Quibbles - never enough vegetables, but show me a high end restaurant on shore and I'll show you a meal with two strips of carrot, three green beans and one asparagus spear. The veggies we got were always good, never over cooked. - Always felt like we were being rushed through our meal. WE sat down, were handed the menu and within two minutes were being asked what we wanted. Sent Usually sent May away and asked for more time. Most nights we were one of only couple of tables left at the end of dinner and the whole restaurant around us was usually reset by the time we stood up. I know these goes work disgustingly long hours but didn't like the feeling we were holding things up. - No spicy Indonesian served at any stage, what a wasted opportunity. - Restaurant was way too hot but may have been confined to rear of restaurant. I never finished formal nights with my bow tie on. Night before we arrived in Lisbon we all asked to be moved to another table to try and make dinner a bit more bearable. We were moved to table 310, a six two tables forward towards the centre of the room, and it was much better. Kept same wait staff. Lido buffet - Breakfast - Swiss muesli was dismal although it improved after Lisbon. Was like drinking yoghurt with a cup of muesli dropped into it. I love Bircher muesli and I'm guessing the increased number of Europeans after Lisbon may have been the reason it improved. Food was good, great omelettes, horrid sausages and bacon although they eventually had a separate pile of both that were not crisped to death and was more to the liking of the non North Americans. Not sure why Americans like that over cooked stuff? Good porridge (oatmeal). Lots of fresh fruit, great fresh orange and grapefruit juice, horrid overly sweet other juices. Good coffee from the machine. Never a problem getting a table. Lunch - a bit repetitive, although always good quality. Great sandwiches and wraps made to order. Never ate a cooked meal at lunch. Some good alternative food (Asian mainly) out by pool on taco stand. Didn't touch the burgers or hotdogs. Pinnacle Sommelier's dinner. Food and wine exceptional. Service so so. One of the waiter's shirt tails hanging out. Thought Sean should have gone around to each table to meet guests (who'd paid quite handsomely). Not in the same league as the SS United States Restaurant on Celebrity Infinity. Pinnacle lunch - awkward. We were the only people in restaurant. Food good, service ok, waiter poured half a beer and left the can on the table. Again, Sean could have come out and said hello. He could hardly have been that busy in the kitchen. Little things that just don't make the five star cut. Room service - breakfasts were all good, also had couple of dinners that were fine. Beverage service We bought wine maybe every third night, when we didn't take one of our bottles to the restaurant. Ok it was expensive but every bottle we bought (and we bought some more than once) always resulted in us saying to each other, "that's very nice". Daniele, the Cellar Master actually calls Broadbeach home, a suburb down on the Gold Coast about an hour and a bit from here. The roaming bar staff sometimes got a little intrusive but soon got the hint if you didn't want drink. Maybe could have been a bit more variety with cocktail of the day. Public spaces and flow The Rotterdam is a beautiful ship. The public spaces are classy and elegant. Even the casino isn't the usual garish sensory overload. Starting up top - Crows Nest, a really nice space, even more useful by being able to be split up. That dance floor was way too slippery though in formal/leather soled shoes. - Lido restaurant - never seemed crowded, could always get a table, was nice to be able to go and sit out the back and look down on to the pool and out to see where we'd been. - Lido pool - how great having a retractable roof. How weird no-one was ever in it after about 7pm except us. How odd that the jacuzzis weren't uncovered until 9am, just bubbled away under their nets. There are no change facilities. Just two single toilets and two open showers. - Gym and Greenhouse spa - didn't step inside the gym and Al had one massage. - Sea View pool and bar. Once it warmed up our favorite day time place. What a view!!! Again, there are no change facilities. Just two single toilets and two open showers. - Ocean Bar - great bar, boring music, would be a great jazz bar. Shopping arcade - not intrusive, male staff aloof compared to wonderful HAL staff, but flow was interrupted every time it was formal night with huge lights, cabling, backdrops etc. - Tropic Bar/Ambassador lounge great for pre-dinner drinks and we enjoyed Jeff Warren's piano playing. - Explorations Cafe - bought a coffee from here maybe every couple of days, more on sea days. Loved the creamy cold drinks. Didn't make use of library or internet was we bought our won books and had the laptop. - Sat in Explorations Lounge for many hours. This is where I sat to type the blog and it was my favorite space on board. - La Fontaine - a beautiful room, especially during the day when the shades were open (same for Queen's Lounge). Very hot and noisy at aft end of restaurant under the upper level, against the windows. - Down on to deck 4 - Pinnacle Grill, nice room that could do with at least a couple of windows, even they were frosted glass due to lifeboats hanging directly outside. Chairs a bit creaky (same for La Fontaine). - Wajang Theatre, didn't see a movie here but went to a cooking lesson with Sean from the Pinnacle and Al went to a lecture. Didn't have a wine tasting (except with Daniele in La Fontaine), attended no art auctions, went to bingo three times which takes me into the - Queen's Lounge. Great room, really good site lines, only chairs that weren't very comfortable were the single tub chairs. Entertainment We saw all of the cast shows except one. All except Hats Off were really good. Hats Off was awful. Again we only have Infinity to judge against and it had bigger flashier shows, a bigger cast but it was a much bigger ship and had the space to do it. The singing and dancing was great. I'm always amazed how well they keep their feet and there was at least two nights we were really rocking and rolling while the show went on regardless. Both crew shows were great, loved the Indonesian show especially. Specialty acts were really good with one terrible exception - an Australian 'acrobatic' comedy act. They were worse than appalling. We, and plenty of others, got up and walked out. I bumped into Susan Wood the next day and told her that I was no longer Australian and had made the ultimate sacrifice and become a Kiwi due to how terrible the act the previous night was. Pianist, violinist, cellist, harpist, opera singer, latin singer, ventriloquist, illusionist, couple of comedians - all really good. The English comedian was hilarious and was my favorite act of the cruise. If anyone wants names we have the daily programmes and can provide this. Bar entertainment - someone told us that HAL is supposedly trying to aim for the baby boomer crowd. If that's the case they need to up the tempo of the music being played in the bars (or at least a couple of them). To our ears it seemed the same style of music was being played in the Ocean Bar, Tropic Bar/Ambassadors, Explorations and Crows Nest whenever live music was being played. One of our tablemates asked Susan why there was no jazz or up-tempo music played anywhere and her reply was "this is what our passengers want". Sorry Susan, not all of them. Christmas carols were playing out by the Lido through the piped music. ARGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! We did enjoy Jeff Warren in the Tropic Bar/Ambassadors Lounge before we went to dinner each night as he played something different each night (plus requests) but we avoided the Ocean Bar like the plague as it was the same music over and over and over. Ditto the Crows Nest. Joy needs some new music, same play list every night. JT is described as a DJ. He told us all he did was press a button as the music was pre-programmed. What an incredibly boring job and he looked bored every time we were up there. Apparently all he could do was change the order of the music. I know the Crows Nest is described as the late night disco but the discos I know usually play music from the very recent past, not disco every single night. If HAL wants to increase the bar revenue from the Crows Nest, play some better music in the Crows Nest for the after 10.30pm crowd. We do exist! While I'm on the subject of the Crows Nest, the bar staff here were the only ones we would say had an attitude. The bar staff everywhere else on board were great with special mention to Noel, Lawrence, Maria A and Marcelo. Activities Pretty lame. Horse racing twice, hole in one in the pool twice, golf around the World in the Atrium once if I remember rightly, build a ship, scavenger hunt twice, one hour long pool games in the aft pool. Apart from daily team trivia and bingo twenty times a day, that was the extent of activities. Susan has finished her tenure; maybe the new Cruise Director will actually make the activities a bit more active? I can't understand why more use of the aft pool wasn't made once we left Casablanca and it warmed up. There was definitely no excuse not to make more use of the Lido pool at any time. Maybe everything was aimed for that average age of maybe 70 although there were plenty older than that who put us to shame in the energy stakes. Ports, port info and shorex The port maps provided were too vague and information very limited. I realize HAL can't provide really detailed maps but often where the ship was docked wasn't even included. We brought books and maps with us but some people didn't/couldn't and were relying on the ship to give them this info. Ian's port lectures were of limited value. We had no expectations as we had done most of our own research. When Ian spoke of his personal experiences the information was fantastic - insightful and useful. Too much though sounded like it was just something that had been downloaded from the internet. Way too much time in each lecture was devoted to a spiel on essentials for every port visit - take the daily programme with port agent details, take sunscreen, take toilet paper, take emergency money. Better idea would be to have one 'going ashore essentials' lecture and then concentrate on more detailed port specifics before each port visit. Dubrovnik Our shorex here - sea kayaking - was cancelled due to lack of numbers. It was a bit cool and wet when we arrived so we weren't too sad! We walked to the old town from the port. It was a really nice walk. Took us about an hour I think. The old town was amazing. Walked the whole way round the walls. Had a great lunch at a restaurant overlooking the fishing boats. Millenium was in town so the old town was fairly busy but it was a great day. Malta Ship docked right below the city. I had booked a private tour with Chris and Joan Sheridan of TouringMalta. We were accompanied by six fellow CruiseCritters on our trip. We had a great day circumnavigating the island. Was a full day starting in Medina and finishing at Hypogeum and the Tarxian Temples. We were dropped off up in the town and wandered the streets before walking down to the ship. Sicily Docked in Messina, one block from the main street. Took HAL shorex to Taormina - Taormina and the Greco Roman Theatre. The weather didn't co-operate so we didn't have a chance to see Mount Etna in the distance, just the shroud of mist and rain that were hiding it. Taormina was quite beautiful. Our guide gave us lots of info on the way to and from Taormina and gave us an opportunity to leave the group once we were in the town. Bought a couple of bottles of wine to enjoy on board. Civitavecchia Lots of ships in port - a Seabourn, a Seadream Yacht Club, Seven Seas Mariner and Arcadia. We walked to the station, maybe 45 minutes although there was a shuttle to the entrance of the port area. Caught the 8.05 train in to Rome after buying two BIRG tickets for EUR9 each. Train took about an hour. Caught connecting train to Ostio Antica where we spent the morning. Train back in to Rome then Metro to Circus Maximus station. Saw Pantheon, Hadrian's Tomb, St Peters Square and then train back to Civitavecchia. Bought more wine at station in Rome. Feet were aching so we were both glad to rest them on the train and then see shuttle to get back to ship. Only port we needed our passports but neither of us was asked for them at any stage. Monte Carlo Was awake for amazing experience of ship reversing in to the tiny harbor of Monte Carlo. The harbor is just spectacular. We intended to catch the bus to Eze for the morning and then look at the old town of Monte Carlo up around the castle in the afternoon. Waited at the bus stop above the Casino for a while with no sign of bus. Went down to the info centre and on the street below and were told that there are no buses to Eze on a Sunday. Al went back up to the stop and told the fellow Rotterdam passengers there was no point in waiting for the bus. We thoroughly enjoyed Monte Carlo. Walked up to the castle. Wandered around the old town. Back down to the port area. Had a really good lunch, wandered around the marina some more and headed back to the ship with plenty of time to spare. Barcelona Loved Barcelona. Caught shuttle to bottom of Las Ramblas. Not much open when we arrived. Caught Metro to station closest to Park Guell. Entered park from end away from monument park. Was amazing walking around a corner of the path and the monument park was below us. Loved the mosaics. Visited Gaudi's house. Managed a picture of the famous Gaudi lizard surrounded by the crowds. Back down to the Metro and into the centre of town. Queue at La Pedrera VERY long so we head to la Sagrada Familia. Words cannot describe it. Fantastic!!! Was looking for a tapas bar to have lunch but somehow end up in an all you can eat restaurant that is full of locals. Great fun. Stumble across Casa Batllo. Was on our list nut not near the top. Glad we did. The brilliance of Gaudi is on full display here. Wander through the Barri Gotic and then across to the beach, past the marina and then back to the shuttle stop. Fabulous day. Valencia We spent the day with a friend of mine who had come down from Madrid. We walked (again) to Ciudad de Las Artes Y Las Ciencias. Visited the science museum and the Oceanarium. The most amazing place (architecturally) I have ever been. Another great day. Lisbon Shorex today provided by our travel agent. Although we didn't see as much as we could have if we'd been on our own we still got a great taste of Lisbon. Started day with ride on Funicular and then visit to the Institute of Port. Walking tour through part of old town. Terrific lunch provided as part of shorex. Quick trip out to Belem but not enough time to stop at the tower. Loved the exterior tiling. We will be coming back here. Cadiz Took HAL Stunning Seville shorex. Worth every cent. Seville was … stunning. Coach ride less than hour and a half. Quite comprehensive walking tour. Tour was slowed down by passenger who had two prosthetic legs. I understand that people should not be excluded but by taking a walking tour that is indicated as strenuous you should take this into consideration before booking and realize that your participation may mean that the other people on the tour could be held up by you. Flame away. Great lunch provided. Would have loved to see the old Expo 92 site at closer range than from across the river but there is only so much time in a day. Great tour and would highly recommend. Marrakech I had pre-arranged a private tour with TangierTour for the same eight CruiseCritters as the Malta tour. During the cruise to Lisbon we received a shorex booking form that indicated we would now be in Casablanca long enough for HAL to offer a Marrakech tour. We didn't hesitate to put our reservation in and were over the moon when we received our tickets. We explained this to the group we would have been touring Casablanca with and they understood our decision. We were sat at the back of the bus with a person who we soon became good friends with - Cindy Conley, head of the medical centre. A great HAL asset!!! The tour was a major disappointment. The bus travelled too slowly out to Marrakesh. Spent too long at rest breaks in both directions and way too long at lunch. The visit to the Kasbah was amazing but rushed. The Saadian tombs weren't worth the half hour wait. A visit to a craft store was in fact a visit to a rug shop that was very high pressure. Half an hour at what was for us the highlight of our trip - Jamaa El Fna Square - was an hour too little. All people who took the tour received a 20% credit. Dakar Took the Pink Lakes of Retba shorex. Another fantastic trip. For anyone who travels to Africa and South America please head the shore lecturer's advice and ask before taking someone's picture and if they ask, pay them for taking their picture, a dollar will do. If someone holds up their finger and shakes it they mean do not take my picture. Please respect this request. I will not go in to detail here about one elderly, inconsiderate, ignorant, and sadly American gentleman jeopardized our visit to the village by the Pink Lake by taking a picture of one of the villagers, and upsetting her terribly in the process, even when she indicated no. I go in to more detail of this and then his even more amazing actions on my Travelpod blog. I am amazed at the way so many of the passengers very blatantly 'looked down' on the people of Africa and Brazil. It was often very openly and loudly discussed both on board the ship and on the tour buses we were on. Very sad. Americans wonder why they have an image problem around the world? Mmm… Dakar was an assault on the senses and the mind and I was not prepared to head out in to the city when we got back to the ship. My brain was totally overloaded from the morning. Al and Cindy (medical centre head) were going to get a cab in to town but also eventually decided against it. There were reports of people being threatened as they left the dock. Whether or not that was true is open to speculation. There were lots of markets set up on the dock and we bought some great trinkets. I am a hopeless bargainer and people laughed when they heard how much I paid. In the context if what this holiday cost is was no more than a moderately expensive bottle of wine. Better in the hands of someone in Dakar than spent in the shops or beverage department on board ship (we were sponsoring the latter quite enough!). Lots of people apparently spoke to Ian afterwards and wondered why we went there. Neither of us have any regrets about visiting Dakar, mine relate to the superior attitudes of too many of our fellow travellers and sharing our moving hotel with them, but I needed to be much more mentally prepared and will be next time we venture to Africa. Sea days and Equator crossing Sea days were great although we thought the activities department could have been a bit more 'active'. Attended the bridge and engine room talk with the Captain, the Chief Engineer and the Chief of Security. It was extremely interesting and the Captain has a great sense of humor. Equator crossing ceremony was great fun but was by the lido for some reason. Recife Took HAL Igarassu and Itamaranca shorex. Had a great morning although visit to manatee centre did not occur due to being closed for maintenance. Given 15% discount before we even left the dock and offered 100% refund if we got off due to 'no manatees'. No-one took them up on the offer. Did not know we would visit beach for hour and half after seeing Fort Orange, visit was originally only 15 minutes. Sat with Joanne, assistant casino manager and ate local food and drank beer. Lots of fun. Joanne is lovely, another asset to the company. I completed a very favorable shorex comment card on this tour. Started it by saying this was a great trip that we thoroughly enjoyed. Made one small comment that the staff could have reminded us to take towels if we didn't have them. I received a call from Sylvain the shorex manager. He was extremely defensive and said his no time to do something like I suggested and that I should read my ticket more closely. I was both shocked and offended at his remarks, and disagree. How long could it take when they are giving you a sticker to stay take "don't forget a towel". They certainly had time to say there's water for sale around the corner. Mmmm… Amazingly we received another letter from him a few days later offering a 50% refund on the tour price. We found out later that there had been a large group who had objected to sitting in the bar at the beach for an hour and a half. That was the bit we loved the most! Grabbed a quick lunch when we got back to ship and caught free shuttle in to Recife. Found ATM machines - when you go into mall you are dropped off at, turn left and there is a room of ATMs on left about twenty meters into the mall. The Bradesco Bank ATM recognized Al's Commonwealth Bank ATM card as not from Brazil and offered the screen in English. My Suncorp Visa debit did not work anywhere in Brazil. Wandered in to Recife, walked through the markets, seemed like we were the only westerners there. Was an amazing experience. Stumbled on to the Casa da Cultura, the old Recife prison that has been converted into a craft market. Bought some more trinkets. Caught a cab up to Olinda. Didn't head Ian's advise and instead of using one of the licensed guides, we were taken around the town - absolutely beautiful - by a young guy who then proceeded to fleece us by charging us 100 reias each. Stood in a dark street with no sign of a taxi, we thought it wise to pay up and get in the car he arranged. We paid 20 reais in a metered taxi all the way from Recife to Olinda. His car cost 30 to go maybe half the distance back to the ship. Initially the driver pretended to have no change but eventually we got 60 change from the 100 reais we gave him. Lesson learnt!! Listen and be more careful and always have small notes, not leave yourself with just big ones and in potentially risky situations. Don't be put off though, Recife was great, we just made a couple of silly mistakes. Salvador We loved Salvador!!! Took the HAL Historic Salvador (now Salvador, City of Contrasts) walking tour. Another great tour. Caught a bus to the bottom of the old upper town and walked up through the cobbled streets to the main square and the Lercada - the elevator - then got back on the bus and went out to yet another church, this one the second most visited in Brazil. We are totally churched out. Tour drops us off at the Mercado near the port or would have taken us back to the ship. We shopped, bargained much better, had a great lunch from the restaurant up on the top level of the market. Shopped some more. Caught the Lercada up to the old city, and then back down again (for total of 20 reais). Was a great day. Captain had told us he had to open the throttles to get Rotterdam to Rio by 2am morning after next. I loved it. The ship came alive at 25 knots. Was amazing standing down at the back of deck 3 watching the churning ocean and the wake trailing out behind the ship for the day and a bit. Disembarking, post cruise Rio Woke to a grey and dreary Rio. Was the last place we expected it too. Ended up sitting in Explorations Lounge as when we got back to our room after breakfast it had already been made up as a twin and wasn't 'ours' any more. We had booked a shorex to Corcavado that ended at the Intercontinental although we were staying at a hotel on Ipanema Beach. The weather conspired against us and we got only a couple of fleeting glimpses of an un-shrouded Christ the Redeemer but the Funicular was a great ride. We were joined by a local samba band who entertained us in both directions. Quick drive along Copacabana and Ipanema before being dropped at the Intercontinental. Gee, it's a long way out of the action. Bags eventually arrived and we headed off to the Best Western Sol Ipanema. Great rate USD per night for an oceanfront deluxe booked on Ipanema.com. Room was on 10th floor, with a great if initially dreary view. Went to a churrascaria for dinner. Next day walked to Sugarloaf as the clouds began to lift. What a fabulous view. If the weather had been better we would have taken a helicopter ride from there around Rio. Next time! Taxi back and then went down and laid on the beach for a couple of hours and drank caipirinhas made on the beach. Went to Plataforma samba show. Booked through the hotel and paid a hefty premium but the show was fantastic and the transfer to and from the venue prudent. Flights home LANChile and Qantas. LANChile flight to Santiago actually left early. Great refurbed 767, good crew, good food. We had been sent a message by Qantas that the flight from Santiago to Auckland had been delayed so were prepared when they told us this at the transfer desk in Santiago. Were each given a dinner voucher (nice touch). Managed to catch a few winks on the comfy airport seats! Plane eventually left over five hours late. A340 in need of a serious update. Missed our Qantas connection in Auckland (by hours!) but we were put on next direct Auckland Brisbane flight not long after lunch. Went and sat in the Qantas Club where we also grabbed a shower and had an food, good coffee and an open bar etc. Walked in our door at not much after 5pm Read Less
Rotterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.3
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.6
Family 3.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.4
Enrichment 4.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.1

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