By: Susan Fleitman, Travel Consultant; Kia Young, CTA and Senior Travel Consultant; and Pete Iznaga Jr, CTA and Senior Travel Consultant
Three co-workers embarked on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam for a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise. That’s not the first line of a well-worn joke, but the beginning of an amazing familiarization trip. Not only did we spend time getting to know each other, but we also got to learn about the Holland America brand.
We departed from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We opted to grab a shuttle to the port, which got us there in a speedy 10 minutes. Once we got to the cruise terminal it was another quick 20 minutes to get onto the ship.
The first exciting thing happened as we got on the ship. We got free t-shirts as our cruise was an O, The Oprah Magazine Adventure of Your Life Cruise. Who doesn’t love free stuff? This is just one of the amazing partnerships that Holland America has cultivated.
My stateroom which had a nice balcony from where I took many pictures. You don’t spend a lot of time on the balcony and it sure is nice to have it on sea days and arriving and departing from the different ports.
We were entertained with a variety speakers from the O-verse. Nutritionist, Ann Louise Gittleman was very enlightening with highlights from her new book, Radical Metabolism: A Powerful New Plan to Blast Fat and Reignite Your Energy in Just 21 Days. Also speaking were Books Editor, Leigh Habor, Beauty Director, Brian Underwood and Senior Editor, Molly Sims along with a half dozen others.
We experienced many of the other new partnerships of Holland America; BB King’s Blues Club, Billboard Onboard, Lincoln Center Stage, America’s Test Kitchen, BBC Earth to name a few. Hands down, our favorite was BB King’s Blues Club. We closed it down most nights.
Turks and Caicos
Our first stop was Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos where we took part in one of the many fun EXC excursions. We opted for the Island Exploration by Electric Hummer. It was a fun way to drive around the island.
Our second stop was beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico. We opted to walk all around old town, taking advantage of all the great shopping and sites within walking distance of the ship.
We walked all over San Juan and ended up at Las Raices, which had some great traditional Puerto Rican food. On the recommendation of a friend from San Juan, we stopped in at Restaurante Raices and had some delicious frosty beverages and local cuisine.
Our third stop was Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas. We decided to take the Skyride to Paradise Point, 700 feet above sea level. Took some of the best panoramic pictures after riding a tram up the hill in St. Thomas. This was probably my favorite island after San Juan.
You can see why in the pictures. The views are breathtaking and at times I thought this is what you will see in a postcard. However, pictures do not do justice to the natural beauty of one of the many U.S Virgin islands. We enjoyed the beautiful view, did a little shopping and of course had a lovely cold drink.
Our final stop was Holland America’s private island of Half Moon Caye, Bahamas. This place is like paradise.
We opted to do another EXC tour called Horseback riding by Land and Sea. It was exhilarating! First we rode around the corral area before setting out on a winding ride to the highest point on the island and then back to the start for a cold drink while our horses were “dressed” for swimming with a special saddle and rope halter.
We then rode our horses into the surf for a swim down the beach and back. It was one of the most thrilling things we’ve ever done. This was the best excursion and allowed you to explore the island.
Then as all good things do, our cruise came to an end. We had a great time with Holland America Line!
Toll Free: 1-800-935-2620 Ext: 618
Kia Young Senior, CTA
Senior Travel Consultant
Toll Free: 1-800-935-2620 Ext: 617
Pete Iznaga Jr, CTA
Senior Travel Consultant
Toll Free: 1-800-935-2620 Ext: 162