Sailing into the Caribbean

As I write this at 06:40, 25 minutes past sunrise, we’ve just passed Anguilla and are approaching Sint Maarten. These 2 islands are the first land we’ve seen since leaving Fort Lauderdale, which is now 1167 miles behind us. The weather has been poor, with winds averaging 30-35 knots and the outside decks have been closed for most of the voyage as a result. But it looks like today could turn out to be decent. I’ll back up a bit here now to continue the journal.

November 3: This was our hotel, the Marriott Hollywood Beach. We read some reviews that said it’s tired. Perhaps a bit but it offers great value for a beachfront hotel – it’s immaculate and the breakfast buffet was excellent for $16.95.

The Broadwalk in front of the hotel. At 11:00am we checked out, had the desk clerk call a cab, and headed for Port Everglades. We made a stop at a wine store, and the cab fare came to $40 with tip.

Boarding the Noordam was extremely simple – the best we’ve yet experienced. Our first impressions of the ship were very positive. This is one of Holland America’s larger and newer ships – she was built in 2006 and carries 1,918 passengers at double occupancy. Our only prior experience with Holland America was on the Amsterdam which carries 1,380 passengers, but the Noordam doesn’t feel any larger. Our cabin wasn’t ready yet and the buffet area was jammed with people so we went up to the Crow’s Nest bar which was empty. When I took the next photo at 1:26 the rain was coming down in buckets but it didn’t last very long.

We did a bit of exploring around the ship – this is the Vista Dining Room, the main one.

We got in our cabin, a Category VA Verandah on Deck 7 forward, at 2:30. This is our first balcony cabin ever, and it took a while to wipe the silly grins off our faces. Is it ever nice! I’ll show you photos of it later, but this was the view of the dock from it.

As the Zuiderdam was departing at 5:55pm, the Caribbean freighter Elbcarrier, berthed in front of us, was preparing to.

The evening light, at 6:10pm.

This yacht was being escorted by one police boat in front and two behind it – very odd.

The parking garage at the pier at 7:10, 20 minutes before we sailed.

We made reservations for Canaletto’s for 8:30. This is a small full-service Italian restaurant – there’s no surcharge and it was very good.

November 4: There is ship-related art everywhere, much of it high quality.

One of the largest of the non-nautical art pieces.

The main theatre is very small compared to what we’ve become used to. The Destination Speaker (“Travel Guide”), CJ Rogers, is a disappointment, just reading prepared scripts. We went to her Pirates talk and the next one about our first 3 ports, but won’t bother with any more.

The weather had been erratic but at 3:30pm on the 4th we entered a storm system that stayed with us for almost 2 days.

This is Explorations, the Internet area and library. It’s a very nice space.

It’s now 07:50 – we’ve had breakfast in our cabin and are now docking at Sint Maarten. We’re meeting our tour guide on the dock at 9:00…

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