Monday, December 29, 2008

Cruise Travel Health Insurance

Sailboats in the waters between ST John and ST Thomas

Travel insurance is something I’ve never been in a position to use. This is the first trip where our not showing up for sailing would cost us big. What’s the risk? We’re in our late 50’s, reasonably healthy and don’t expect any major issues. However, Dad has had a lot of medical support the past three months and that is a big risk. I’m opting for the insurance.

In looking at my options I realized all I needed was a basic policy that would do four things. Refund or reschedule our trip if a family member had medical problems. Cover us while being out of the country for medical care. Get us back home if we had to leave the trip early due to a need for extra medical care. Provide a daily allowance for the spouse if the other one of us needed medical care off the ship and it left without us.

Our insurance is with Blue Cross Blue Shield. In a phone call with them, I find that they have coverage where we are going. It’s not complete coverage, so I’ll have peace of mind with something extra.

Holland America has their own policy. I choose one through Travel Guard, partly because it is less expensive, but it is also easier to determine what coverage I have.
POSTED BY dan h AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
travel insurance
Saturday, December 27, 2008

MS Eurodam - Holland America Cruise Reviews

MS Eurodam
MS Eurodam on the water

The MS Eurodam is a brand new ship, launched just a few months ago. It looks and feels like a very nice resort hotel, with extra amenities. So here’s my opinion among all the Holland America cruise reviews.

The big pros:
  • There is more than plenty of food and most of it was really quite good. A few things could have been better and some sauces were not quite my taste. I like to control how much sauce I pour over my food, so I order it on the side. That worked.
  • Lots of walking. Wandering around the ship and walking the decks easily added lots of steps.
  • I loved the bed – the mattress was great! I overheard a complaint that the bed was too hard. Must be personal taste.
  • The piano bar was great fun!  The singer/pianist had a great rapport with the listeners and there was a lot of laughter. A memorable evening, particularly when my husband said only one song and stayed two hours.
  • Three sessions at the acupuncturist, Rebecca, fixed me up fine.
This is what bothered me.
  • Electrical Plugs-There are no plugs on the wall with the bed. Some people use a cpap like I do to breathe better while sleeping, and more need to use them than does. A crewmember ran an extension cord across the room for me. The electric toothbrush had to be charged on the desk. I understand that this limits electrical consumption but this is a significant deficit.
  • Being able to travel light and throw clothes in a washer would have been nice, but then this is a traveling hotel and it doesn’t work that way. Maybe living in an RV has given me certain expectations.
  • More time to explore in each port. Maybe when fuel costs rise again they’ll do that to control costs. It was nice to discover which places we liked the most. May not have found them otherwise.

This could be one of the best value cruise ships, but then this is my first cruise. Guess I’ll have to go on some more and find out. 

POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Thursday, December 25, 2008

Best Cruise Food

I think I have this figured out now. I always hear about the food on cruise ships. There has been a nice variety and a lot of healthy choices and snacks and room service available at no additional charge (except in the Coffee Shop where you pay for special coffees and the same cookies that are free downstairs). 
And the food has been good and plentiful but so far I wouldn’t write home about it - but I am. Tonight I splurged and had soup, salad, entre, and dessert. This is a lot better!
The difference? I didn’t pick the healthy choices for all of it. Ah, now I understand. Food is better with sauces and creams, etc.   Since I have been avoiding those things, I haven’t really participated in the main activity on a cruise ship…"eating." Not just food for nutrition, but Eating with a capital “E”. Now I get it! The best cruise food is eaten with gusto.
That said, the good news is that the choice is ours. In my defense (if I needed one on a cruise ship - which I don't), I walked about 13,000 steps yesterday and again today. It's easy to get a lot of walking in on a ship this large, going to meals and back is a great boost. Add in an active day, even shopping,  and you can add a lot more in.
I did find the food at the Tamarind Restaurant superior without adding the fat and calories.  We dined at two of the three specialty restaurants.  The Canaletto, Italian, was supposed to be fancier than the Lido but it wasn't. The Tamarind was excellent.  There was no extra charge for Caneletto and Tamarind cost a little extra. Be sure to make reservations in advance.  (And if you are like me, pick an early time...8:30 is too late for a 3-4 course meal unless you are going to stay up late that night and enjoy the entertainment.)
Bon appetit!
POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Kid Friendly Cruises

We met a young man about 9-10 in the elevator one morning. Asking how he liked his trip he said "I do!" What do you like best? "The X Box." Do you have one at home? "Yes." For him this is one of the kid friendly cruises.
I did listen to a grandfather comment to another adult that this cruise line doesn’t have as much kid oriented activities as some lines. According to him, Royal Caribbean is much better for kids. Ice skating, roller blading, wall climbing and other active sports. None of the kids I saw were unhappy - they were having fun.
I had never known that cruises would specialize. Of course Disney is kids oriented as well.
Some have said Holland America is more for the 40+ group. Carnival for the younger party set. So keep that in mind when you start planning a cruise.
Many of people were cruising with grandparents or other relatives.  Sort of a family reunion on water.  Many others like to take advantage of the short school week and get away with just them and the kids.  Some might have taken a break from the kids and left them with friends or family, although that isn't very likely on a holiday weekend.  But then you never know, do you?!
POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Cruise

Stuff comes up, delays scheduling and suddenly we're on a Thanksgiving cruise. 
There are some holiday cruise kids. They must be busy at the pool and Club Hal because we don't see much of them except at meals. A lot of the family groups look like the grandparents are along as well. Thanksgiving is popular since they only miss a couple of days from school.
It's a relaxing way to celebrate the holidays, particularly since others cook and clean, there are plenty of activities, and a nap is easy to take in.
POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Sunday, December 14, 2008

Work on a Cruise Ship

The people, mostly men, on the crew are incredibly hard workers. The room stewards get up about 6:00 in the morning and work all day. They may get breaks, but they work until 9:00 or 10:00 at night, 7 days a week for 10 months.
On HAL, the crew is primarily from Indonesian and the Philippines. The two cultures work well together on the ship and their friendliness is a delight. It is doubly amazing since they are away from their families for so long and work such long hours. (And we think we have it tough!)
I’ve gotten to know a couple of the crew with a little more than a passing “how are you today”. "Lucky" is a room steward. Very personable and friendly. His towel animal creations were fun to find.
“Burt” Reynolds hands out trays/dishes at the buffet for breakfast and lunch.  He is familiar enough with the United States that he can sing a song about several states, including Texas. I taught him “Deep in the Heart of Texas” and wrote down the two verses I remember. At least once he was working the evening meal as well.
I don’t know his name but there was a gentleman who works the front desk whose whole face lights up when he smiles. I was watching him for a few minutes and commented to him about what a nice smile he had…he replied with that wonderful smile again. Two nights ago and I still think back on it.
The captain works 3 months and then is off three months.  I don't remember about the Environmental Officer. It seems the higher your ranking, the shorter the work term.
Since most of the crew are not American citizens, once every 3-4 months they have to meet with US Immigration Services.  That happened on the day we disembarked.  I think it is pretty quick/easy but it adds to their tasks for the day as they have about 4-5 hours to clean the rooms and get them ready for the next set of passengers.
POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
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It’s not a dream; it is a Holland America Alaska Cruise!

No one knows Alaska like Holland America Line. Premium service and comfort has been perfected. Tradition is evident everywhere, from classic teak deck chairs to friendly stewards offering hot chocolate - complimentary, of course. Every stateroom is larger than most other cruise lines and offers stylish appointments such as the custom-designed Mariner's Dream bed.    Get the most from Alaska by enjoying a verandah stateroom or suite, which are more spacious than any other ships in our class. Dining on a Holland America ship is a delight to experience with detail to quality and service that is top notch. Enjoy the elegance of the main dining room, the Pinnacle Grill or a quick bite by the pool or room service.


Every day on board brings a wealth of activities and enrichment programs to showcase Alaska at its best. Learn new ways to prepare seafood in the Culinary Arts Center, presented by Food & Wine magazine. Keep in touch with your work or loved ones in the Explorations Cafe, powered by The New York Times. Relax in the Crow's Nest and enjoy panoramic views. 

What makes Holland America Line a step above?
  • Every cruise in Glacier Bay National Park will feature ranger commentary from the bridge and an informative presentation. A Hunan Totem speaker will talk about their ancestral ties to the land.
  • A ranger from Wrangell-St. Elias National Park will provide bridge commentary for every visit to the mammoth Hubbard Glacier. Tinged natives will showcase their culture during visits to Yakutat Bay.
  • Seattle departures will host a pre-cruise presentation by a ranger about thonal parks of the Inside Passage.
  • Land tours offering several choices to fit your time and to see the most of Alaska.
  • Comfortable domed rail cars and coaches making travel enjoyable to some of most desirable destinations in Alaska.

Be sure to bring your binoculars along to view the many different wildlife experiences up close.




Denise Belisle Stone
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