Reflecting on the cruise....
The entertainment was outstanding. As women who weren't as familiar with the story of Olivia Records and her amazing artists, we treasured the opportunity to learn more about the history of Olivia. Cris, Meg, Teresa, Barbara, Dianne and Suede were exceptional and their performances truly memorable. We've always loved Olivia comedy and Vickie, Dana, Elvira, Kate and Karen did not disappoint. Lisa, Zoe and Roxanna, (all are talented musicians as well as funny women) stepped in to support many of the musical performances. We're grateful that we listened to and had the chance to meet Billie Jean King...she is truly our shero! Each night we'd review the next day's schedule and decide on what we wanted to do. So many activities were appealing...it was difficult to balance activities with much needed down time.
The stops in Half Moon Cay, Curaçao and Aruba were very nice. We enjoyed the culture, architecture and shopping in both Aruba and Curaçao, and the beautiful beach at Half Moon Cay. Without a doubt though, our favorite were the days at sea.
The Nieuw Amsterdam is beautiful and huge...really huge. The lines for entertainment were VERY LONG. We spent hours (really) in line...but the wait was rewarded by the wonderful performances. To get BJK to sign our copy of her book, we waited nearly 2 hrs in line. To her credit, BJK kept signing until all waiting had their autograph.
The Olivia staff did pretty well considering some difficult situations. Overcrowding and long lines caused some performances to be moved and/or delayed (after some had been waiting for a long time). The show assignment (wristbands) issue was another ugly situation. With such a large cruise, all could not attend the same show. To divide the cruise into two groups was obviously a difficult decision that upset many. It's impossible to please everyone and that definitely proved true. It was uncomfortable to hear angry words, frustration and lots of complaining, especially when the venting was often done on Olivia staff members who are volunteers. Truly, there were some situations that could have been better organized or anticipated and possibly handled differently, but our hope is that lessons learned during the first cruise will be a benefit for cruisers on week 2.
This cruise attracted an older crowd than the other trips we'd been on, it was awesome to see our more 'mature' sisters dancing, singing and celebrating. We hope to follow their lead some day and continue our travels long into retirement.
The HAL staff were responsive and professional. We thought the food was very good and the beverages tasty and fairly priced. We especially enjoyed the Tamarind and Pinnacle Grill.
All in all, we had a great time! Reconnecting with friends made on other Olivia trips and new friends made this week will be one of our our top highlights. While we aren't sure that we will take on a large trip again, we are glad we did go this time.
Thanks Olivia, HAL and fellow cruisers for a memorable trip!