We were scheduled to arrive in Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island on Friday at 8:00 AM. We had a hard run from Aruba at about 18 knots to make our arrival time. Unfortunately, upon arrival the seas were much rougher than forecast. This is a tender port and we were diverted from Georgetown to Bodington Town, about 30 minutes away. Here a Princess Line ship was waiting and communicated to our captain that they had hired a local company to tender due to the swells but had decided not to attempt landing. Our captain sent a security detail in a tender to check out conditions. To make a long story short, our visit to Grand Cayman was cancelled due to the rough water. We were only one of three ships which made the decision not to attempt landing. This was disappointing because it was one of our most looked forward to stops. Kay was anticipating some shopping and for Carl, Janet and Li this would have been their first visit to the island.

Instead of tendering in Grand Cayman we continued our way on to Tampa at a slightly more leisurely rate. The weather was dismal with cooler temperatures, some rain with the sun only occasionally breaking through. Since there is not very much to tell in terms of places visited during these past three days, I will take the time to relate some of the ship experiences and observations.

This is our first time sailing on the Ryndam but we have sailed on the Masdam, a sister ship, twice before and the ship layout is identical so we felt right at home. Our captain, Mark Rowden is very personable and does a good job keeping the passengers informed. With our travels on Holland America Line we have enjoyed all of our captains with the exception of the Viking Cruise in 2012.

As mentioned in an earlier post, we received an upgrade to a Vista Suite Veranda on the 10th deck, the Navigation Deck. We have enjoyed the cabin, especially its location. We are one deck below the Lido and the Spa and only two decks above the main dining room. Since we never use the elevators it is quite a haul when we go ashore, with debarkation usually from level 4. We have had a few issues with our cabin. First, being just below the Lido I am usually awakened around 5:00 AM with the initial activity as the cooks begin to prepare breakfast. For some reason there is a flurry of activity for about 5 minutes and then things quite down. This is only a slight negative for the upgrade in cabins.

The other issue we experienced was about ten days into the cruise. We began to experience an exhaust odor in the cabin. I initially noticed this as we were leaving port and thought it was from the pilot boat accompanying the ship out of port. When the odor returned in the evening I reported it to the front desk and an engineering officer soon visited us. The odor was coming from the air conditioning system and she assured us that they would address the problem. It did improve but returned again later in the evening and we slept with the veranda door open. I again reported the problem and it was responded to immediately. This time the issue was resolved. Interestingly, Janet and Carl who are next door did not have the problem until our first visit by the engineering officer and then the odor showed up in their cabin. We both received a complimentary $25 beverage card in acknowledgement of the problem.

This is our first “Collector Cruise”. This is where you do two or more consecutive cruses. It appears that around 200 passengers or about 15% were continuing on the cruise. Some of those returning have been on multiple legs of the cruise. At least one couple have been aboard for 70 days. As much as I enjoy long cruises, I don’t believe I could repeat the same 21 day itinerary more than once. From December to March the Ryndam repeats two routes, a 14 day southern Caribbean leg followed by a seven day western Caribbean leg. Our purpose for this cruise was primarily just to get out of North Georgia in January and that we have accomplished. The climate has been wonderful the food and service excellent, but the scenery certainly becomes repetitive.

One of the “perks” with the higher level cabins is the experience of your cabin steward. Ours for this trip is Donne. He is a lead cabin steward. He is Indonesian and has been with HAL for 10 years. He is married and has three children. He spends 10 months each year on ships but has plans to soon remain home with his family. In the past we have had two stewards who serviced more cabins. Donne works by himself but has fewer cabins to service. His service has been excellent.

Our arrival in Tampa yesterday for the second leg of our cruise was interesting. US custom authorities require that the ship be completely emptied of passengers and the crew must all go thru immigration. Since we were continuing on the cruise, we were issued “in transit” passes. We left the ship, presented our passport & custom duty form to the Officer (which took about 30 seconds, after having wait in line for a while). We then had to wait until customs cleared the ship for re-boarding. Fortunately our “in transit” pass allowed us to board immediately instead of going through the normal boarding procedure.

Last night Janet won a liter of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum in the free Signature Shops raffle. This is the second prize she has won. Previously she received a very nice bracelet in their giveaway. Janet seems to be the lucky one this trip, maybe we should send her to the casino…

It has been a number of years since we have traveled on a cruise of less than 15 days. The first leg of 14 days of this cruise was pretty much what we normally experience on our longer cruises. With Holland America, it’s an older crowd of experienced cruisers who are pretty laid back. We were wondering how different our new fellow travelers would be on the shorter 7 day leg. It didn’t take long to find out! Although the average age is still much older that you would find on a Carnival or Royal Caribbean cruise, it is still much younger than a longer HAL cruise. There are more children, but still not too many.

I think the biggest difference is that the majority of passengers are not long time cruisers and as a result want to experience everything NOW. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this but it does make for a totally different atmosphere. Last evening there were more people in the shopping area, the casino and the showroom than I have seen at any time on the previous 14 days.

This is the reason I believe that most people who have never done a cruise longer than 7 to 10 days can’t understand how one could do a single cruise for one to three months. The answer it that it is a completely different type of cruise on the longer voyages. There is much less emphasis on the food, bar and casino and more emphasis on experience of new places, people and your personal educational opportunities. I love the longer cruises, but this might be my last short cruise.

Moon over Tampa

The attractive skyline of Tampa

Small lighthouse in the Port of Tampa

These poor guys were trapped for over 2 hours when their lift failed during routine cleaning operations.