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   Cruise Travel - Millenium Cruise

Day 2 - Thursday, December 30, At Sea

by Joe Koshuta, TravelPage.com

December 30, 1999 - Holiday greetings from on board m/s Volendam:

This is not quite as easy as it seems. I was hoping to have direct access to the web site from my cabin so that I could post updates throughout the day, but instead I have to go to the WebSite, the ship's Internet Cafe, and e-mail the updates to someone else who then posts them to the site. Digital Seas, the folks who developed the Internet Cafe, did a nice job of insulating the user from the details of opening a browser or having to type a URL which is probably fine for most users but it is a bit limiting and cumbersome if you just want to get in to post updates to a web site. I apologize for not be able to post more often but at least we understand the extent of the technology.

Today we spent the day cruising off the Northwest coast of Cuba - here's the required picture of Cuba (...I really do hope they have completed all of their Y2K work) - and tonight we will continue cruising off the Southeast coast and then head back towards Grand Cayman. I'll report on Grand Cayman tomorrow. For today, I spent the morning walking through the ship's public areas taking pictures so I thought I'd give you a quick run down starting from the top on the Sport Deck (9). Forward is the Crow's Nest Lounge I mentioned yesterday where we had our bon-voyage party. It wraps around 3/4 of ship above the bridge and is a great place to be when the ship is arriving or departing. It's full of original artwork, commissioned for the Volendam and is divided into a number of distinct but adjoining areas so that even if it's crowded it doesn't appear to be.

Further back on the Sport Deck is the sliding dome over the Lido pool and paddle tennis courts. Immediately behind them is small room called the Sky Room. It's reminiscent of the Sky Room on the old Rotterdam and is used for children's - Club HAL - activities. That's one area where Holland America could have done better planning as there is only one counselor for 34 children between the ages of 5-8. There are a total of 135 children on the cruise. It's also a lot more informal than the other lines with no sign-in and minimal monitoring of the children participating in the program. One of the mothers in our party stayed the whole time this morning from 10:00 AM to Noon because she was afraid to leave the poor counselor alone with the group.

Down one deck is the Lido Deck (8). Forward is the Ocean Spa Gym which is great. It's roomy with sufficient equipment and has a great view over the bow of the ship. The Beauty Salon and Massage adjoin the Gym. Proceeding towards the stern you pass the Lido Pool and Dolphin Bar. The Terrace Grill is also located in this area and you can get grilled food from about 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. This whole area is under the retractable dome which they opened today around 8:00 AM.

I had the pool to myself and was ready to jump in for my laps when I realized that the water temperature was close to 90 degrees. I was afraid I would faint if I put my head under water so I proceeded past the Dolphin Bar, through the Lido Restaurant and out to the un-heated Outside Pool. It was a bit smaller but looking on the bright side I was able to set a personal record for number of laps during my morning swim.

The Lido Restaurant is large and well laid out and we haven't had to fight for a table yet. If you don't want to get up early and visit the Lido you can get eggs and bacon as part of room service. That's an improvement from some of our other trips where breakfast was limited to bread and cereal.

There are two decks of staterooms below the Lido Deck, the Navigation Deck(7) and the Verandah Deck (6). Proceeding down the stairs you arrive on the Upper Promenade Deck (5). The forward part of this deck is the balcony for the Frans Hals Lounge. Once again, the room is spacious and elegant with dark wood and burgundy colors. Moving on towards the stern you pass the Ocean Bar on the left and the Gift Shops on the right. The Ocean Bar was one of our pre-dinner gathering spots on the old Rotterdam and this one contains similar elements. I'll let you know whether it delivers on our expectations.

Next you pass through the Atrium which spans three decks and is highlighted by a very colorful yet subdued glass sculpture. Since it's the holidays there are Christmas trees throughout the ship. Past the atrium on the left is the Casino, Casino Bar. On the right are some more shops and the Seaview Lounge which has a small piano bar connected to it. Further back you pass the Hudson meeting room and the Erasmus Library. The Internet Cafe, WebSite is wedged between those two rooms. On the left side is the Explorer's lounge with is one of the quieter places to catch up on your reading. Finally, at the stern of the ship is the top level of the Rotterdam Dining Room which seats over 700 people per seating. Again, this is an elegant room with music during dinner and twinkling lights embedded in the ceiling.

The last deck with public rooms is the Promenade Deck (4). Outside you can make a complete circut of the deck and 3.5 of those make up a mile. There are wooden deck chairs and this one of my favorite places to catch up on my reading. Inside, the lower level of the Frans Hals Lounge takes up the forward part of the deck. While the upper level is theatre seating, the lower level is configured more like a lounge with tables and groups of chairs. Walking towards the stern you pass the photo gallery on the right and the Front Office and Shore Excursions on the left. Not sure if it was because of the number of people but many of the shore excursions were full prior to the lifeboat drill. They've been able to create additional excursions but if you ever go on a holiday cruise strongly consider signing up immediately. This goes for the Marco Polo alternative restaurant. By early evening on the first day almost everything was booked with the exception of some tables for the last night. On the left is the Wajang Theatre where movies are shown - with fresh popcorn - and daily religioud services are held. There's a small video arcade room on this deck as well directly across from Marco Polo.

Tomorrow is Grand Cayman and we are planning to visit Stingray City. I hope to file a report on that excursion in the afternoon. Thanks for reading.

Check back later for updates or click here to learn more about Holland America's Fleet.

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