BOLT has been off the ship for 5 days now. We’ve had some time to reflect and evaluate our experience on our Holland America 30 day cruise from Seattle to Singapore.
For the last 5 days we’ve had to arrange and obtain our own transportation, lodging, meals and activities. These are all things the cruise lines do very well. But BOLT is looking for more than just comfort and convenience. We’ve developed a little ratings system of 1 – 5 stars (*) to share our opinions on seven criteria with you.
Cruise ship cabins are small but we never felt cramped or claustrophobic. The cabin stewards are wonderful, coming in twice a day with fresh towels, ice and anything else you need. There is so much public space on the ship that all you really need the cabin for is sleeping, bathing and dressing. My favorite spot for relaxing and reading was the sunny lido deck on the top of the ship. Kathy loved the jazz bar where she would take her computer and spend time with our fellow passengers. We both enjoyed the library area, lots of books and games available. Every public area had big windows so you could always see the ocean.
Lots of it! Healthy options! A multitude of choices!
But I have to say that after 30 days I was pretty tired of it. Kathy and I preferred the Lido buffet where you could get pretty much all the offerings from the main dining room. I liked that even though it was buffet style the majority of the food was behind glass and was served to you. I think that kept us healthier and there was also less waste. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were also served in the beautiful main dining room. Every once in a while we enjoyed this more formal setting. There were also daily teas (yucky), an ice cream bar (yummy) and a pool side spot where you could get burgers, hot dogs and fries. They had the best vegetarian portobello mushroom burger ever! The best thing about cruise ship food is that it is included in the price of your cruise, even room service is available at no charge. Most of the lines have added ‘specialty’ restaurants where you can pay for a meal. We had two included nights in the Statendam’s specialty restaurants. I do not think either meal was special and would not recommend these spots.
This rating is based on how much bang do you get for your buck? We figure we paid about $83 a day per person. Take into account this includes all our food, room, maid service, entertainment and travel to 12 exotic places. We can and do travel for less but not in such grand style.
We crave new experiences, sights and sounds. We do not enjoy shopping, water sports or large commercial tours. Cruise ships offer lots of those type activities in port. We prefer to get off the boat and walk into town. We love meeting new people and learning about new cultures. We enjoy visiting religious buildings and museums. We did what we could when in port but the time allowed is brief. On board ship the nightly shows were Vegas style revues, magic and comedy shows. We went to a few and were underwhelmed. During the day there were lectures about various topics. I really enjoyed the ones on the ports of call and the series on hula.
If you want a queer experience a repositioning cruise is not for you. The passengers were mostly heterosexual married couples with a fairly big group of single travelers as well. We are out everywhere we go, unless safety is an issue, and the ship was no different. We danced together, held hands and introduced each other as our partners.
Everyone on the cruise was very friendly and we experienced no problems.
Elder Appropriate? *****
Cruising, especially these long repositioning cruises, are perfect for the older traveler. We were actually two of the younger people on board. We were pampered, and did exactly what we wanted, when we wanted. We met many seniors who cruised constantly.
The B in BOLT is for black. Seeing and connecting with other black people is important to us. This doesn’t determine where we decide to travel, but we do look for and enjoy meeting other black folks as we move through the world. Of the 1300 ship passengers there were 8 black people (including us) I think there 5 black crew members. Most of us made it a point to smile, make eye contact and speak. We felt the Black love, no matter how small our numbers.