Grenada harbor walkabout: St. George’s looks brand new after Hurricane Ivan

By Tim O’Keefe Grenada (pronounced “Greh-NAY-dah”) so reminded early Spanish sailors of the beloved green hillsides above their home port they named it Granada (“Grah-NAH-dah”). The spine of a steep hill divides St. George’s, the island capital. The harbor side of the hill, known as the Careenage, is the most picturesque. The cruise dock is located on the wrong side at the Esplanade, which has been developed extensively due to the fairly recent opening of the cruise …

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At look at St. Vincent, a rarely visited island in the Caribbean

Looking down on the St. Vincent cruise terminal at Kingstown THIS is where the notorious Capt. Bligh left his lasting mark The main reason Linda and I chose this 35-day Maasdam itinerary is because the ship stops at places most cruise lines don’t. The island of St. Vincent in the Grenadines was a major attraction because I hadn’t seen it for far too long. With scuba diving now on my back burner, a cruise is my best …

Read moreAt look at St. Vincent, a rarely visited island in the Caribbean

Choose the right cruise cabin: How much rock ‘n roll can you tolerate?

By Tim O’Keefe There is no delicate way to say this, but when a container of barf bags is hung on a rail beside all the Maasdam elevators, I know the captain is anticipating high seas and a rough ride. (If you don’t know what a barf bag is, then you are recent to air travel, but at one time at least two these motion sickness bags were in the pocket of every airline seat, the one …

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Dominica is the Caribbean’s whale-watching capital

By Tim O’Keefe The captain of our whale and dolphin excursion boat slips a hydrophone into the water only two miles off Dominica’s shoreline and almost directly in line with downtown Roseau. He fine-tunes the underwater listening device, hoping to pick up the clicks, pings, whistles or any other sound made by the pod of female sperm whales that reside in Dominica’s deep coastal waters year-round. So far Moby Dick’s sisters have proven elusive, without a single …

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Cooking class, part two: Chef Joseph makes his class more fun than recess

Part 2 of 2 By Linda O’Keefe Last night the ship rocked and rolled like a 60’s band without any music, unless you count the water in the pipes sloshing back and forth. But despite the waves, I’m on my way up to deck 7 for a hands-on cooking class with Chef Joseph Caputo. I enjoyed the free cooking demonstration with the chicken soup so much I think this $29 hands-on cooking class will be a lot …

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Maasdam’s Guest Chef Joseph F. Caputo: Part one of two

By Linda O’Keefe Today I’m attending a cooking demonstration with the Maasdam’s guest Chef Joseph F. Caputo who will prepare Coconut Chicken Soup. I’m eager to learn how.  Chef Caputo is part of Holland America’s regular program of bringing aboard chefs who not only are outstanding in their kitchens but also in their teaching skills. When I arrive at the Culinary Arts Center, I find all the ingredients for the soup are divided and ready.  The chicken …

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Dining on the Maasdam: In-room service reflects a ship’s overall commitment to quality

Herb-crusted prime rib with horseradish By Tim O’Keefe Good dining and good service: Some ships I have cruised on had one but not the other. Several, including now the Maasdam, have had both. Having never sailed on NCL, I am not sure why they paint “Freestyle Dining” on the sterns of their ships, which implies the rest of the cruising world is somehow enslaved or held captive to their main dining room. On the Maasdam and all …

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Gadgets and gear: These items make extended cruising much easier

By Tim O’Keefe Power Strips (Those of you who normally cruise in a suite can skip this first part, assuming you have a plethora of electrical outlets in such cabins. Not in my budget for such extra amenities.) The average cruise cabin, regardless of age of the ship, typically is way behind the times when it comes to the electrical needs of the modern traveler. Think of all the items you need to charge every day: iPod, …

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The St. Kitts sugar train is a sweet ride and it has an unlikely association with Skagway, Alaska

By Tim O’Keefe Many of us seated in the fifth and last of the two-story passenger cars are acting like jacks-in-the-box as we continually pop up from our seats, photographing one stunning island view after another as our toy railroad chugs along at a maximum of just 8 mph. On the right we have the coastline to shoot and, later, the islands of St. Eustatius and Saba in the distance. The left is dominated by seemingly endless …

Read moreThe St. Kitts sugar train is a sweet ride and it has an unlikely association with Skagway, Alaska

Making lemons from lemonade, or, stranded in a strip mall

By Linda O’Keefe The clock goes off at 6am and after a few minutes I drag my groggy-eyed self out of bed. Before heading up to the Lido Restaurant for a quick breakfast, Tim checks the weather outside via the camera HAL has mounted on the bow connected to our stateroom’s TV. It looks fine and I’m anticipating a fun day of sightseeing and photography on beautiful St. Thomas. As I step off the elevator and peer …

Read moreMaking lemons from lemonade, or, stranded in a strip mall

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