This is the 2nd part of the June 2011 trip onboard Holland Americas MS Rotterdam. Part of a larger collection of stories originating from a cruise from Holland, up to the Baltic sea, and through the Gulf of Finland.
Port of Rostock
The Port of Rostock is less than an overnight cruise around the coast of the capital region of Denmark. Even though we were aware that there was plenty to see, the sight of the port did not inspire us to get off the boat. Rostock and Copenhagen are just over 100 miles apart, as the crow flies, and we needed a break from walking concrete. We made the choice to stay on board to take advantage of the MS Rotterdam’s gym, pool, and buffets.
A giant cruise ship is an
enclosed environment, so catching a cold or flu is going to be easy if you do
not keep your hands clean. The ship has plenty of sanitation hand-gel
dispensers dotted around the ship, so there is really no excuse for keeping
your hands clean. The other temptation is to eat high-calorie content food 6-times
a day and leave the salad for the fishes. Poor eating habits in combination
with drinking too much is going to lower the bodies immunity. We all caught a
bad cold for 5 days of the 10-day cruise, it could have been avoided, or greatly
reduced by treating my body better.
There are various exercise
classes, this is not a justification to binge, but it does at least make you
feel less guilty for binging. The classes are good; ranging from
full-heart-attack style cardio workouts to less extreme stretching. If you are
the kind of person that prefers to go at their own pace, they have a gym, or
you can take a 1/9 Mile walk around the 3rd deck of the ship.
The swimming pool has a
retractable roof, which is often open unless there happens to be a might
rainstorm, and it makes a pleasant place to meet or stare out to sea. There is
a massage room, that must be booked in advance because it is popular.
Personally, I do not like to be touched by a stranger, plenty of people out
there find it relaxing, so good luck to them.
On the last couple of days,
we found that the Ship had a play area for kids older than ours, so the playroom
was closed to us. The itinerary that we were on, meant we were the only family
with a small baby, other than the captain. A majority of the passengers were beyond
60, even though many were genuinely nice, meant we had some passengers
complaining that we were onboard with young children ruining the cruise.
The theatre is big, huge in
fact, and the venue is used to introduce all the new passenger to the
facilities and itinerary of the journey. Our favourite place was one of the
main decks that had a coffee shop bar, board games and a few shops. The coffee
shop as an Internet lounge, so if you are desperate, you can connect to social
media and keep friends updated for a price.
We were lucky and had a room with a double be and a sofa, however, this was still tight considering we needed to fit a baby cot in it. The room felt claustrophobic with the three of us in it, even though it was a decent sized room with a shower and wardrobe.
It is also worth mentioning that even though this ship has wheelchair access and various lifts, getting an electric wheelchair through the tight corridors and manoeuvring through a bedroom was tricky. The entire cruise hat to wait for the tide to change so that the chair could be taken onboard.
Another thing about the room was that, even
though it was a few decks up from the sea with a window, we had no way to open
it, and that meant to replace air-conditioning with fresh air we needed to keep
going out on the deck.
There was not one member of
staff that was rude, or unhelpful. All the crew seemed to love children, they
entertained them and went beyond the call of duty in terms of being accommodating
to my son’s dietary needs.
The room was always clean, made up, and we
would always come back into the room with the towels made into some sort of
animal. We paid for the week-long laundry service, it was worth it, we put the
dirties in a bag at the end of each day and the next day it would be clean and
There seemed to be no shortage of food, mostly inclusive, and we had all increased our body weight by 10% by the end of the cruise. Nearly every day for lunch and breakfast, the cruise laid on giant buffets to cater to the health conscious and the sweet-toothed. We often gathered around the pool area for a mid-afternoon snack, personal favourite, the Mexican styled nachos bar , or occasionally a BBQ was laid on.
In addition to the buffets the main dining hall provided a full civilised seat service, offering set 4-5 course meals. This two-storey restaurant serves up to 2 seatings to cover all the passengers, depending on time slot the chosen. The restaurant has a panoramic view out to sea, or on this day, the port of Rostock. At least 1 of the 6 restaurants were open at any one time, mostly free. Some restaurants that were a’la carte, and there were not cheap, personally, the inclusive venues were of such a high quality, there did not seem to be any reason to eat anywhere else.
Every destination essentially lands in a
tourist trap, so there is no shortage of tat that can be picked up. They must
have known that people get bored, need to find a way to spend their money, and
they provide an opportunity to buy crap onboard the shop from destinations that
you didn’t visit. To state the obvious, if you need lots of bottled water or a specific
food, then buy it on shore leave. The shop is fine for emergencies, and the price
is ok, but it is still a lot cheaper off the boat.
In terms of medical, we needed to bring a load
of medicated baby milk, other than that the onboard clinic is extremely good
for emergencies. So, if you wake up feeling seasick, slipped in the shower and
bruised your bum, or just nursing the worst hangover ever, then the Medical bay
is more than happy to help.
Simply fantastic, whether the weather is good
or bad, the sea seems to never replicate itself. Every dimension of objects on
land comes across differently viewed from the sea. Whether it be going under a
giant bridge, weaving through the small islands on the Fjords of Sweden,
or just watching the swell trail the boat. It is simply fascinating to watch.
A few Cruises that I have been on in the past
have ended up in a storm, you come out of your environmentally controlled room
in the morning into torrential rain. Unless it is such a massive storm that the
ship must birth, you can barely sense the movement, and it just adds more
character to the trip.
Do it again? Certainly, without young children.
Everything is done for you, there is no pressure to stay on or get off the
ship. If you want to visit countries that are usually a pain to get a visa in,
then this is the way to do it. Food is good, drinks too easy to drink, and it
is the ultimate in getting away from the mobile phone.
A cruise cabin is a hotel room that floats to different destinations, there is no packing and unpacking required. As a tourist it is great, you can see 7 locations in 10 days with little or no hassle. It is tiring, maybe something to do with the motion of the boat, the amount of walking required around the locations, or the copious amounts of food.
Even though this cruise had everything, the
sheer size of the boat made it feel a bit enclosed. Cruise ships I have been on
in the past where perhaps a third the size, they had a lot less to offer in
terms of quantity or quality but were more enjoyable because they felt more
like a boat. Any cruise is good for someone that is happy on water, so really
the only choice to make is whether you want the classic or luxury experience.
If the box is empty, it means that the deals are gone for the dates.