I am positively sure that reading a review is one of the last things you would like to do, am I right? The experience we all are going through nowadays is very discouraging to say the least, that's why we need some kind of entertainment to put our minds at peace and that's my goal in writing this review; I hope I'm able to accomplish it! Together let's make the best of it!
This 10 day cruise was aboard the HAL Koningsdam to the Southern Caribbean and started on February 23rd. ending on March 4th. We left Canada towards Ft. Lauderdale one day before departure; at that time we were slightly aware of that virus and the effect caused on board the Diamond Princess but as I said, "just slightly". something that in a way allowed us to enjoy the cruise fully. Passengers and staff were also behaving completely free of any kind of concern.
Before starting with the overall review of that cruise, I want you to know that last June 2019 we cruised around Norway on board the beautiful Nieuw Statendam (pictures & review's titled "Canadians on Viking Lands") it was too short (7 days), visiting too many places for the first time (e.g. Amsterdam, Oslo and another three Norwegian ports) and not having enough time left to be able to enjoy that ship. That made us try to find another longer cruise with her; unfortunately time-wise it wasn't possible so we opted to go with her older sister, the Koningsdam.
Cabin - Vista Suite 6123
Great location, good sized cabin, good storage as long as you have the knack to find places to use, location of closets too narrow without enough space for two persons and in direct contact with bathroom door meaning that when opening that door it was not possible to use the closet, veranda comfortable and spacious enough for two persons to fully enjoy it, comfy beds, etc.etc., in general a good cabin. Another point that comes to mind is the very small table provided; we only used it for breakfast and it was really problematic. It was very heavy and difficult to move around and generally got in the way most of the time.
The big issue was the size and facilities in the bathroom and though it is exactly like the one in the Statendam, for whatever reason this time its defects were more noticeable The shower is of a good size and everything in there worked well. * Issues 1) The location of the toilet is very awkward and uncomfortable. 2) Counter and sink ridiculously small! and 3) Storage minimal. In one word, except for the shower stall, the place wasn't pleasant.
The stateroom Assistants were two guys (Dewi and Herman) who complemented each other perfectly, having our cabin always spotless albeit that we never left a mess when leaving the suite. We have great consideration for all staff having to work so many cabins and knowing very well that in general passengers expect them to put in order the mess they left behind. I know what I am saying because we took a peek when the clean up was going on and doors were open; it was hard to believe our eyes! And we were wondering if those people have any respect for themselves. Besides that high quality work, these guys were fantastic towel animal makers! especially Dewi whose picture of his creation (a swan) you will see on the attached pictures.
Luckily we avoided delays in arrival to ship because we took an experienced hotel transfer driver. Otherwise by taxi, we would have spent many dollars and twice as much time.
We were on our own and we really think you don't need to book a tour for this one. We were very lucky that ours was the only ship at the island but anyway once you get near the beach, you realize how busy it is so if you would like some place more private you have the option to take the Tram (the Station is just there) that will take you all the way to the Dining Pavilion (lunch is free) or walk along the pathway, as we did, and when finding the place of your liking, you will find lots of empty lounges and umbrellas at no charge. We had a fantastic swim in those out of this world blue waters, a blue we had never ever seen in all our many beach experiences. Really outstanding. After sunning for quite a while we had a great lunch (excellent broiled chicken breast and beef burger, salads and desserts), with a very good white wine (at extra cost as EBP it's not accepted). After enjoying every moment we left towards the ship, very happy indeed after spending a great time on that beautiful island that in our minds epitomizes paradise.
We've been there several times so we went out for a while coming back to the ship, with the idea of having a more tranquil atmosphere. How wrong we were!!! At any rate we did our best to enjoy the rest of that sunny and warm day.
This was our first time in Amber Cove and first with the mentioned Shore Excursion Group on a tour called "Playa Dorada beach day" 4 Hrs - From the ship to reach the Tour bus we had to walk, I should say meandering through the port and parking lots and approach road for about 30 minutes and though it was early in the morning it was quite hot, humid and sunny; not a very good start. However, the tour guide was a very pleasant young girl as well as her assistant; going around showing the city we saw (but not visited) the Cathedral San Felipe Apostle, Fort San Felipe and from afar the Teleferico that goes all the way to the top of Pico Isabel de Torres, pity we didn't go there because the view would've been superb. After all that city sightseeing we headed to Playa Dorada; a very expansive beach, with quite a few places to eat or have drinks and with lounges and umbrellas close the shore. There are several All Inclusive resorts nearby but they did not make the beach seem crowded at all. Very private indeed and not being busy helped a lot. The waters were quite turbulent and having the red flag up, we decided to skip going in for a swim. Decided to wait for lunch till getting back on the ship and that's what we did once on board. In general, except that very long walk to reach the tour bus, it was quite a pleasant excursion especially as our group was only eight people.
We've been there before so no tours. On walking around, right away we noticed how much it had changed from our last time there (around 4 or 5 years ago) and besides the ship docked as far as possible from the port. Naturally it was hot, humid and sunny so we didn't go all the way into the center of town not even getting close to the famous Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge but we had a great lunch in a Restaurant located inside Fort Amsterdam on the second or third floor of the fortification walls on a covered veranda facing the sea; it was a very pleasant and refreshing experience.