Cruise Specialists hosts Steve and Wendy Bodenheimer are taking us along on another amazing journey. We hope this series shows you what you can expect on a Holland America Grand Voyage. First as the kick off and now the first stops to their Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage (next voyage January 2018).
Have we ever explained what we do as Group Hosts?
It’s quite a variety of activities.
- We hold a “Chat Time” every day at sea where we’re available for questions, assistance, and just general socializing. On a voyage of this length, we will have several cocktail parties and a Group dinner.
- We will escort several exclusive shore trips arranged by Cruise Specialists.
- We help our Guests with general Internet questions and specific things like communication with family at home when needed.
- We distribute informational packets to Guest staterooms and decorate doors with fun hangings to identify Group members.
- We offer them complimentary dance lessons and take anyone who is interested out geocaching with us, the latter resulting in a number of them getting “hooked”.
But the most important thing we do is make ourselves available 24/7 for whatever our Guests need. That could be anything from a suggestion on what to do in a particular port, to helping solve a problem with their cabin, to going with them to the hospital if needed.
Most of our Guests don’t need a lot of help, but they are happy to know we are there if they do.
We left Ft Lauderdale for two days at sea, which were incredibly busy. Starting with our first Chat Time with at least half of our 45 guests stopping by to receive the 2017 Grand Voyage vests and messenger’s bag gifts that we distributed.
Lectures, exercise on the deck, meetings with staff to schedule our upcoming events, chatting with old friends, and dancing filled the first day easily.
On the second sea day, we had our first Group event, which was a pre-lunch Cocktail Party with most of the senior staff of the ship mingling with us. It was a testament to how important they consider our Cruise Specialists Group and we were delighted to have the Captain, Hotel Director, Cruise Director, Culinary Operations Manager, Executive Housekeeper, Guest Relations Manager, and Future Cruise Consultant with us.
Isla de Providencia, Columbia
Our first port is a small island best known for snorkeling and diving opportunities.
We did the required walk over Lover’s Bridge, followed the pleasant path along the shore to the remains of the old Fort, and found after an hour that we had seen the town.
This is a classic case of the old saying “don’t judge a place by its port”. While the town was nice enough, the rest of the island is spectacularly beautiful and unspoiled. Lush greenery covers jagged peaks, turquoise water laps small pristine beaches, there’s no large hotel, jewelry store, or Mc Donald’s in sight. We spent two hours with our friendly local driver, stopping at all the beautiful viewpoints, historically important locations, and hidden beaches. Small guest houses and hostels are the norm as are cozy, casual bars with tropical music in the background.
There are also some challenging trails to be walked, including one to “The Peak”, but it was too hot and too far for our short stay. Returning to the town, we understood why people come to this rather remote place.
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
Our second stop was one we missed in 2015 because of poor weather and dangerous seas. No problem’s this time.
The economy is driven by rich supplies of pineapples, bananas, and coffee which are heavily exported. In fact, you can enjoy some great plantation tours to see how all that ends up on your grocery store.
But eco-tourism is fast taking over as a major source of income. They’ve worked to protect the natural habitats and visitors enjoy ziplining, aerial trams over the rainforest, rafting and kayaking on the rivers, and observing their many species of birds and other animals, such as sloths and monkeys in the wild.Source
This time, we decided to revisit the Reventazon River for some whitewater rafting with a group of 16. It was a perfect day – overcast so it never got too hot and the river cooperated with some mild rapids – enough to jostle us around and get us soaking wet, but not wild enough to be terrifying to the new rafters in our group.
Whether you want a short South American adventure or full Grand Voyage, we’ve got options for you!
Contact Cruise Consultant Bridgett Quinn, whose 17 years of experience will help you find the perfect vacation.