Okey dokey. Here it is for what it is worth.
Embarkation Was one of the easiest and quickest we've had in awhile. We have always like embarking in San Diego and true to form it was simple and easy. There were three ships in port on the 21st and I did not care for the way they handled the baggage. We had to take it to the space between the two ships and just leave it there. I was concerned it might end up on the wrong ship but no worries. We were through the line and the first ones on the ship in about 20 minutes. We arrived at the terminal about 10:30 am.
Overall Condition of the Ryndam She had just recently come out of drydock and she was freshly painted on the outside and looked beautiful in the San Diego sun. The interior had a few worn spots on furniture and carpet but overall she is still quite lovely. As usual the crew keep her spotlessly clean and shining.
The public rooms are more than comfortable and we were not bothered by smoke in any of the public lounges. There was a bit of a lingering smoke smell in the Crows Nest in the early am but nothing we couldn't deal with.
Staff and Crew As always the hotel staff and ships compliment are wonderul, efficient and highly motivated to provide the best of service and comfort for us.
Captain and Master of the Ship: Pieter Jan Van Maurik
Hotel Manager: Ceese Tesselaar
Cruise Director: Drew Murdock
I thank them all for providing a wonderful cruise for us.
Dining and Food OK, here is where it gets just a little bit sticky folks. We booked at the last minute and were given As You Wish Dining. To be perfectly honest it wasn't as bad as I had expected. Others have done a good job of explaining how it works so I won't go into that. Suffice it to say I never saw anyone waiting longer than 5 minutes for a table and those I spoke with were quite happy with the arrangements. For the solo traveler it may be different. My DH isn't normally fond of the main DR and chooses to eat most nights in the Lido. He was impressed that we were able to be seated, order and finish dining in about 45 minutes. However, when I went alone to the DR I was invariably seated with two other couples. They do ask if one wished to be seated with others and it worked out fine for me.
Now, the food. It was extremely disappointing. I don't care for the new menu format at all. It is set out in such a way that you have to read the entire menu. For example there may be two soups listed on page one, but another soup may be listed under the chef's recommendations and yet another listed in the always available section. I found it annoying and just not logical in its format.
The food was blah. It was not bad and not good. It was indifferent, which is worse. I had no trouble finding something I like to eat every night, believe me. It was just that there was rarely anything that jumped out and said Yum. There seem to be fewer appetizers available for the evenings. I used to sometimes make a meal of the appetizers and some soup. For some reason all the desserts tasted the same! It may be I am getting jaded and used to the food, however I was disappointed.
The service in the DR was wonderful as always and the lower DR Host Rachmat was absolutely the best.
The dining in the Lido was quite good and offered more of the same selections as in the main DR than on other cruises. It would seem they are trying to even out so that everything is available everywhere. On the last formal night surf and turf was available in the Lido. DH was very happy The Lido manager Antonio was accomadating and the service was efficient, pleasant and swift.
Entertainment I love the production shows. We had "On Broadway," "Club Nevada" and "Street Singin.' " The cast is a new one and although they haven't quite pulled it together yet, they were good. I do have to say that the production show "Street Singin' " reminded me a lot of the acts that they did in the passenger show called both "Golden Rolldies" and later the "Great Pretenders." Many of the songs and costumes appeared to be the same. Especially shining out was one of the lead male singers Christopher, and two very enthusiastic dancers Chip and Callie. I enjoyed them and look forward to seeing them again in Jan. I know they will be really great together by then.
We also had Bryson Long, comedy/juggler; Janine Gardner, late night comedy (she was a hoot); Jeff Peterson, comedy magician; and Donnie Abraham, Sinatra Martin type impersonator. They were all entertaining and I enjoyed them. The CD Drew put a lot into getting good entertainment and it shows. There were no lecturers or enlightment talks as there used to be. I did miss them. We did have lovely local dancers come aboard in Topolobampo and they were very good.
I am not covering any kind of ports or shore excursions. We have done this trip many times and therefore did not partake of any excursions. In some ports we barely got off the ship. I am pleased to say that there were only two "art" auctions in the ten days we were on and they were poorly attended.
The "night action" in the Crows Nest was great mostly due to Kelly who is an excellent DJ and one of the best activity staffers I have met.
The pianist in the Ocean bar, Alexsander Courtney, was excellent if a bit of a drama queen. The group Meryll and the Halcats left a lot to be desired. Meryll has a wonderful strong operatic voice, not at all suited to the type of music for lounge singing. She should be in the production shows. The regular band U-4 was great. We have sailed with them before and they keep getting better. The HAL orchestra led by Larry was wonderful.
This has gotten longer than I anticipated. We had a wonderful time and fully look forward to spending 30 days on her in January. If I can answer any questions please let me know.