A few weeks had gone by since the 5 days of fun on Liberty of the Seas, and my friends were bugging me to find another cruise for all of us. It didn’t take long for me to find a Holland America Line 7 day cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam, a ship I had already filmed on and knew pretty well. The cruise would stop at their private island, Half Moon Cay ( a lovely place), Cozumel, Mexico, Grand Cayman and Key West, Florida. My friends had wanted to visit Key West and so this was a nice way to get there.
Before embarking, I contacted some of my friends from Holland America to let them know we’d be on board and I found out that the Cellar Master was Fernando, who I knew from filming on the Eurodam last summer and that the Captain was the same one I filmed with 2 years ago. I was excited to get to see them again.
Holland America Line had a great wine policy where you could bring as much wine on board as you wanted. The only stipulation was that you’d have to drink it in your room or be charges a small corkage fee. (This policy ended as of January 30, 2014- you can now bring on one bottle per person in each room.) It was a great policy and we took advantage of it.
After getting on the ship, we headed right over to the Champagne reception where I knew Fernando would be. He was super excited to see us and had told me that there was a bottle of Champagne waiting for us in our room. Well, that was certainly a nice surprise and special treat.
Our friends had never been on Holland America ships before so we took them around to get them acquainted. They, like us, loved the fact that the ship has an outside promenade deck where you can either leisurely relax in comfortable chairs or have a walk around the entire ship and get some exercise. Both of those activities became part of our daily routine.
We had been given an 8:00PM dinner time in the main dining room that we hadn’t actually planned on but, it turned out to be just right for us all. We had a table by the window and our servers were all fabulous. Sometimes, the first meal on a cruise can be a bit chaotic but, my friends and I were quite impressed that everything was perfect and the quality of the food was exceptional.
The next day we arrived at Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. It was a gorgeous day and we tendered off the ship easily. Since Patrick and I have been there before we just wanted to take a walk around while our friends decided to snorkel. When it was time to eat we just returned to the ship knowing most people would be on the island indulging in the bbq that they prepare.
Patrick and I were invited to the Captain’s cocktail party and it was nice to not only see the Captain and his wife again but to reminisce a bit about our time filming. We then had dinner in the ship’s Italian restaurant, Canaletto. Since filming, the restaurant has changed the menu so this became a new experience for us both. While they used to have an antipasto salad that they would serve to start you off now, they have a selection of “small plates” on the menu. Thinking they would really be small, Patrick and I ordered 3 different ones. We also ordered pasta and main courses. Needless to say, the small plates were not very small at all and by the time we finished those, then the pasta, we were already quite full. But, every thing was absolutely delicious that we just continued to eat. We had veal and sage polpettine, zuppa di pesce, vermouth braised clams, salumi, potato gnocchi with braised short rib, rigatoni with sausage and olives, roasted pork loin saltimbocca and chicken cacciatore. All was washed down with a fruity and flavorful Chianti, We left that meal rather full and needing to walk around the promenade a few times.
In Cozumel, we took an easy time getting off the ship and spending a few hours sipping on Margaritas and having fun at the local Senor Frogs. It’s hard not to have a good time at one of those. We were all given these fun balloon hats and our friends wore them for quite some time after we got back on the ship, even at the afternoon tea! We’re glad our friend, Eddie, who is the Restaurant manager didn’t throw us out.
That evening, Patrick and I went to have dinner at Tamarind, their Pan Asian restaurant. We have eaten at Tamarind, and I filmed quite a few of the restaurant’s dishes so already knew we were in for a treat. It was a
little odd at first because there was a lot of vibration and our wine cork rolled right off the table. But, we were moved to another area that was a bit calmer and proceeded to have another tasty meal.
Patrick had a pompano baked in rice paper that was succulent and aromatic and I had Penang Red Curry chicken that was creamy and rich with just the right amount of spices.
We had no plans for Grand Cayman except to visit Corita’s Copper Kettle where we had filmed just 2 years ago. Unfortunately, when we got to where the cafe had been it was now a trendy coffee house and no sign of Corita anywhere. Time marches on. Still, we found a comfortable bar by the water to sip beer and enjoy the day.
While our friends chose to continue eating dinner in the main dining room, Patrick and I once again chose a specialty restaurant. Tonight it was Pinnacle Grill. We were met at the door by Cellar Master, Fernando and with him was the Food & Beverage Director, Franck. The 2 of them escorted us to our very romantic table and we were offered a complimentary cocktail that Franck whipped up himself. Turns out to be a delicious Champagne cocktail with some hidden secrets of his. (You’ll have to email me for those!) Shortly after our drinks arrived, the ship’s hotel director came by to say hello as well. I certainly felt special that evening.
Our final stop was Key West and it was a gorgeous sunny day to just walk around and see the town. We browsed and shopped and then returned to a cafe that Patrick and I had been to with my mom just a year before. Delicious sandwiches, salads and some sparkling wine made that day complete.
We were back in the main dining room with our friends and finished the cruise off with sumptuous lamb, the remainder of our wine and my plate of international cheeses. This was the finale to yet, another marvelous time at sea.
All the best,