Archive for March, 2013

The Hilton Garden Inn, Ft Lauderdale

March 23, 2013

My choice for pre and post cruise lodging in Ft Lauderdale! 

Check out this brief video!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvSY6d_Zf7E

Videos and Pics of our March 2nd, Eurodam Cruise

March 10, 2013

Click the link below for videos and pics of our Eurodam cruise:

http://pinterest.com/scottlara1961/holland-america-line/

Dancing with the Stars on the Eurodam

March 9, 2013

Words cannot begin to the express the excitement of Dancing with the Stars on the Eurodam.

I’m uploading video now, but the finale on Friday night was incredible!

You will want to book a HAL cruise TODAY if:

You LOVE Dancing with the Stars,

You LOVE to Dance, and/or

You want a chance to win a free cruise!

Give me a shout at slara1961@gmail.com if you want more details and stay tuned for the video!

Scott

Day 7 on the Eurodam

March 9, 2013

Marty and I have been to Half Moon Cay many times, both with Holland America Line and with our own Carnival Fascination right here in Jacksonville, Fl.

It was a little cool outside, so Marty stayed on the ship, but I jumped on one of the first tenders off the ship.

It’s critical that if you want to get a beach chair, get to HMC early!

I took a tour of the new villas on the beach!

Incredible! Hot tub, mini kitchen, loungers, etc. True luxury!

Pics and vids to come!

Scott

Day 6 on the Eurodam (At Sea Day)

March 9, 2013

Nothing beats an at sea day on Holland America Line.

Marty enjoyed more of the HAL Digital Workshop classes.

Marty and I both received mini-facials (pics to come). I feel ten years younger!

We both enjoyed the Greenhouse Spa including the hydro-pool and the thermal chairs!

Very relaxing!

Pics and Vids to Come!

Scott

Day 5 on the MS Eurodam

March 9, 2013

Marty and I have been to St. Thomas many times. We stepped off the ship and walked to the Pueblo which is a great local store.

We then caught the “Safari” which is the local bus. It’s only $1.00 so it’s much cheaper than a taxi.

We walked around downtown and looked for some free wi-fi!

One of the crew said you can pay $4.00 at the Asian restaurant near the pier, so we got back on the bus and headed back to the ship.

Marty went back on board and enjoyed several HAL Digital Workshop classes with Mollie. I was on the internet at the Asian restaurant, but the connection was very slow!

I went back to the ship and spent some time with the Martster!

If you haven’t experienced Holland America Line yet, I urge you to give me a shout! I would happy to tell you more about it!

Scott

Day 4 on the Holland America Line, MS Eurodam

March 7, 2013

Day 4

Marty and I have been to San Juan several times. This time we took a tour of the rainforest! We enjoyed the 60 minute ride to El Yunque. This is the only subtropical rainforest in the U.S. We learned quite a bit about nature and the importance of this great natural resource.

While on the bus, a gentleman sitting behind me asked if I was on the Eurodam in Nov of 2011. I said yes. He replied that he was with a friend of his by the name of Jeff and his family on that cruise, and his friend Jeff thought I looked like PBS star and travel guru, Rick Steves. I vividly remember that moment, because Jeff was the 10th person on that cruise that day who asked if I was Rick Steves.

I promised myself in the morning whoever was the 10th person that would ask me that question that I would reply yes.

Of course when my wife walked up to us and was visibly displeased, the jig was up. The man walked away angry that I deceived him, but he was the lucky number 10 that day.

Later during the week of that cruise, I ran into Jeff in the elevator and apologized. He smiled and said no problem.

I told the gentleman on the bus to tell his friend Jeff that Rick said hi. He laughed and said that he’s sure Jeff would appreciate that!

After the shore excursion we walked to our favorite destination in San Juan, the CVS pharmacy. If you need anything during your Holland America Line cruise and you’re stopping in San Juan, the CVS pharmacy is located just steps away from the ship and has almost everything you could ask for.

Later that night Marty and I enjoyed an incredible dinner in the Pinnacle Grill on board the Eurodam. Marty enjoyed the surf and turf and I enjoyed the 10 ounce filet. The ambience, food and service of the Pinnacle Grill is truly 5 star. Dinner in the Pinnacle Grill is a MUST when you sail on Holland America Line.

After dinner I returned to the Queens Lounge and once again rocked to the sounds of the BB King Blues Club All Stars until midnight.

Later in the evening I attended the Filipino Crew show. Filipinos make up a large number of the crew and I thought it was important to attend as our friend Glynda who is on the Eurodam with us serving in the Explorer Lounge personally invited me to attend. Glynda is one of the crew who we met back during our March 2012, 14 day Maasdam Southern Caribbean cruise.

I really enjoyed the show and learned much about the Filipino culture!

I will be posting pictures and videos later this week.

Scott

In Grand Turk on the MS Eurodam

March 4, 2013

Today is Monday, March 4th and we docked in Grand Turk this morning.

Back in Nov 2011 during our Thanksgiving cruise, the Eurodam wasn’t able to dock in Grand Turk due to bad weather. I was disappointed because Grand Turk is one of my favorite ports. You can’t beat the huge pool at the Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville and the free wi-fi!

The skies were cloudy and it was windy when we docked this a.m.

Marty and I walked over the Margaritaville and had a couple sodas while I did some work (blogging and real work that actually pays the bills!)

If you don’t get a great wi-fi signal at Margaritaville, walk over to the smoothie shop. They have great wi-fi there.

After returning to the ship around 11:30 a.m., we ate lunch on the Lido deck.

Shortly after lunch, Marty and I walked out to the back pool deck and I thought I recognized a familiar face from the past.

I said hello to crew member Glynda and shouted to Marty. Glynda was one of our favorite staff on our March 2012, 14 day Southern Caribbean Maasdam cruise!

Marty and I hugged Glynda and we quickly caught up with each other. That’s another reason why Marty and I love Holland America Line. We get to know the crew and it’s a great reunion when we see them on another cruise! Just like seeing Cruise Director JT, Hotel Manager Stan Kuppens, and so many other officers and crew of HAL, it’s great to see them again and again.

As we departed Grand Turk, I had the opportunity to interview Tommy Peters, CEO of the BB Kings Blues Club. Tommy mentioned there are 4 clubs on land, and Holland America Line just recently brought one of the bands to the MS Eurodam. Interestingly enough, the members of the band only met about 3 weeks ago and they are working together to bring some incredible entertainment to the Eurodam.

We all know that passengers turn in early on Holland America Line, but no longer. With the BB Kings Blues Club on board, guests are dancing until the wee morning hours. The band is eating up the excitement and giving it right back to the audience.

Marty and I will be dining in the incredible Pinnacle Grill tonight.

Talk to you on Tuesday during #cruisechat from San Juan.

Scott Lara, Scott Lara1961 on Twitter.

Peace!

Ms Eurodam, Sunday March 3rd, 2013 ( At Sea Day)

March 4, 2013

We are underway heading to Grand Turk on the beautiful Signature-class Holland America Line MS. Eurodam. This is the 3rd time we’ve been on the Eurodam and we are happy to be here!

Holland America Line has the Explorations program on board:

Explore our World: On the Eurodam, Travel Guide CJ is presenting a series of discussions about the places we visit and she’s always happy to answer any questions

Explore Food and Entertaining: You’ve got to visit the state-of-the-art Culinary Arts Center on the Eurodam presented by Food and Wine Magazine. Party Planner Laurie is hosting a series of shows: from throwing a memorable party, to picking the perfect bottle of wine.

Explore Technology: On every Holland America Line ship Marty and I have sailed on, she always attends the technology classes. HAL has partnered with Microsoft Windows to launch the first entirely complimentary digital program at sea. At your own pace, you can get comfortable with the on-line world. From photo editing to social networking, Techspert Mollie shows the way. If you want to learn more about technology, don’t miss these free classes!

Explore Well Being: Lifestylist Nick’s Mind, Body and Spirit program offers varying paths to personal growth. Beginning with complimentary Tai Chi for all ages each morning, and through a host of fitness and wellness events.

In addition, the entertainment on board the Eurodam is over the top. In years past, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for guests on a Holland America Line ship to be asleep at 9 p.m., but no longer! With the advent of the new BB King Blues Club, this ship is a full blown party until well after midnight. I will be interviewing members of the band later this week. Stay tuned for my videos of the BB King Blues Club which comes from the packed Queen’s Lounge on the MS Eurodam.

I also want to give a shout out to DJ Seth. After the Captain’s Welcome Toast and “Dream Park” show in the Mainstage Theater, DJ Seth was spinning the tunes in the Northern Lights disco. Maybe he will let me guest DJ tonight after Marty and I have dinner in the Pinnacle Grill. Watch out Armin and Tiesto, DJ Stone Mountaine is in the house!

On board the MS Eurodam, Scott Lara, Scott Lara 1961 on Twitter.

Peace!

Back on the MS Eurodam!

March 3, 2013

On Friday, March 1st, Marty and I drove from our home in Jacksonville about 6 hours to Ft Lauderdale and spent the night at the Hilton Garden Inn. We got in around 7 p.m. and had a great night’s rest before our 7 day cruise.

We jumped on the hotel shuttle to the cruise port around 9 a.m., arrived at the Pier at 9:20. We didn’t have to wait at all as we walked right up to the check-in desk. Depending on when you arrive at the pier, you can wait for a bit, but we hit the timing just right.

We were given a card with the number 6 signifying we were in the 6th group to board. It seems like each group only had about 10 people each because it wasn’t even 5 minutes before they called our group.

We walked right on board; security scanned our room keys and boom, on the Eurodam.

We made our way to our inside cabin (6155). This is a Category “K” on the Upper Verandah deck. The last time we were on the Eurodam during Thanksgiving 2011, we were in an inside Category “N” cabin, and that was a bit small. Back in October of 2010, we had a Category “J” inside cabin on the main deck which boasts a whopping 200 square feet. This was perfect because our daughter Brittany was travelling with us.

I want to commend Holland America Line for coming up with a way to have the cabins ready when you board. I know on other cruise lines, you aren’t able to enter your cabin until 1:00 p.m. Getting to your cabin early means you can drop off your carry-ons and head to lunch!

Being a 3-star Mariner on Holland America Line means we were invited to attend the Mariners Luncheon in the Rembrandt Dining Room. I had an incredible Reuben sandwich with Cream of Broccoli soup. Marty had the Bacon and Avocado burger. We both enjoyed not only the food, but the incredible service of the dining room staff.

After lunch, we walked through the Lido deck to the pool amid ships where we saw JT Watters. JT was our cruise director during our November 2011 Thanksgiving Eurodam cruise. It was great seeing JT again. JT is an incredible cruise director because he connects with the guests, is accessible and is passionate about giving everyone a great vacation experience.

After catching up with JT, I walked over and met DJ Seth. Seth is 21 years young and has been on the Eurodam about 10 weeks. He is excited to be on Holland America Line and mentioned he wanted to talk again later in the day.

Marty and I enjoyed dinner in the Tamarind Pan Asian restaurant at 7:30 p.m.  Marty and I have enjoyed the Tamarind twice in the past. The service is top notch starting from when you enter the restaurant. The manager and the staff bow to you when you enter. How cool is that? If you enjoy Pan Asian, you have got to try the Tamarind.

A new addition to the Entertainment on the Eurodam is The BB King Blues Club. I walked to the Queens Lounge about 8:30 p.m. and the place was packed. I will be talking to members of the band later in the cruise, but for now let me say the house was rockin! Guests were on their feet dancing like nobody’s business to the great tunes of the past!

I also stopped by the Mainstage Theater and saw DJ Seth kicking off “ShowTime”. This is the event where the guests see all the entertainers on stage as an introduction to the cruise. Seth did an incredible job of getting the guests out of their chairs and singing along with him including to the classic favorite, “YMCA”. As I looked over my left shoulder from my front row seat, everyone in the theater was on their feet doing the arm motions to the song!

Cruise Director JT then came out and did some introductions of the other entertainers on the ship.

Later on during the evening I stopped by the Northern Lights Disco and caught up with Cruise Director JT and DJ Seth and spent some time sharing stories from my previous Holland America Line cruises.

I want to thank Holland America Line for modifying the smoking policy in the casino. In the past, you would have to walk through a wall of smoke in the casino as you make your way to the popular Piano Bar. I was happy to learn that the revised smoking policy prohibits smoking in the area of the casino near the Piano Bar. Smoking is still permitted in the casino, but in a limited area away from the Piano Bar. This is a refreshing change that we non-smokers deeply appreciate.

Stay tuned this week for my daily updates from the MS Eurodam. You can follow me on Twitter @scottlara1961 and follow me with hashtag #scotthal.

Thanks for all the retweets!