What to pack is always a problem when one travels, especially for women who feel the need for a more varied wardrobe. We often hear the advice, "Pack your suitcase and then take half the stuff out." That advice is usually good. We never need everything we take. However, one has to think about what we really need before we start removing things. Remember too, when you cruise, you move into your floating accommodation, unpack your suitcase and it does not need to be repacked again until you reach the end of the cruise. If you have been accustomed to touring vacations, you will realize what a luxury that is!
Laundromats are available onboard ship for the use of passengers. This reduces the number of clothes needed on the trip, especially if the trip is one of the longer ones. Wash and wear items can be done quite quickly. There is also a bathtub clothes line in case you need it for your hand washing. Of course the ship has full facilities for laundering and dry-cleaning aboard too, so you can have it done for you.
Pack one formal outfit for The Big Night. The dress can be a full length formal, a cocktail dress or something dressy. Whichever you choose, be sure you feel good in it, as it will be a special night for you. Men can rent a tux if they choose, however a suit and tie is quite acceptable. On nights when the dress is not formal, passengers dress with a " little class" for dinner in the dining room. I found a dress, skirt and top or smart pant suit was quite appropriate at those times. Remember there will no doubt be over a thousand people onboard the ship with you, so no one is going to notice if you wear the same clothes often. A change of scarf or different costume jewelry can change the appearance of an outfit. Mix and matching can increase the variety of costumes using less actual pieces of clothing.
Another word about clothes: Most people come aboard dressed quite casually. Slacks, t-shirts or pant suits are most common. People are prepared to spend their time pursuing leisure activities. Some passengers get involved in fitness activities. For those people jogging suits or shorts are frequently seen throughout the ship. Rubber soled shoes, like runners are good for most activities in the day time, especially walking out on deck. When the weather is sunny and warm, a walk on the deck is very inviting. Remember your swim suit if you like to swim or sunbathe. The Ryndam has both an indoor pool with a retractable glass cover and an outdoor pool on the Navigation Deck, so swimming was a popular activity.
Although many guests enjoy eating all their meals in the elegant dining room, if that is not your cup of tea, there are other options available. On the Ryndam a very attractive and tasty buffet was available in the Lido Restaurant for breakfast, lunch and a late night snack too. After the evening's entertainment was over, some of us found it was a great place to meet and chat about the day's events before retiring for the night.
Cruisers can really have a cash-less society. All onboard purchases can be signed for during your cruise. Each cabin has a safe for the use of guests. Money, jewelry, travelers cheques, plane tickets etc. will all fit nicely into these safes. It is operated by swiping one of your credit cards or telephone cards through it. Therefore you only have to take your room card lock and your other card in your pocket when leaving your room. This saves the ladies from carrying purses around with them all day. If you leave your credit card imprint at the office onboard ship, then you do not even have to go through the process of checking out at the end of the voyage. You will be automatically billed for any purchases you made, at the completion of the trip.
Holland American's no tipping policy makes tipping your choice. That is nice. They tell you up front that the ship pays it's staff well, therefore passengers are not expected to make up for salary deficits. If you feel that a certain member of the staff has gone out of their way for you, you may choose to give them something, but it is neither obligatory nor expected.
I strongly recommend that the material sent out with your tickets be studied carefully. I wish I had taken the time to really digest the layout of the ship before boarding it. ( For those who want to do it early, Holland America's website has copies of their deck plans.) I would have saved myself many unnecessary steps, as I repeatedly went to the wrong end of the boat looking for the restaurant! It was fun to explore the ship and although elevators were available, I chose to walk the stairs instead, as I felt the exercise was good for me, when I was enjoying my food so much! Whatever level of activity or inactivity you choose, you will find your wishes well met onboard a cruise ship.
By M. Maxine George
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