Navigating the Shores of Cuba, The Dutch Way

It’s a relaxing day at sea this morning aboard Holland America Line’s Veendam. Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

At Sea; Saturday, February 17, 2018
Holland America Line’s Veendam came to life at two in the morning today, pushing away from our berth in Havana, Cuba and setting out into the Caribbean Sea. We’re sailing the western coast of Cuba for much of the day today, en-route to the southern Cuban city of Cienfuegos for a day of touring tomorrow.

Holland America Line’s Veendam, as seen yesterday at her berth in Havana. Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

It’s not that much of a run; Veendam is sailing at a comfortable 12 knots to make it to Cienfuegos on-time for our arrival just before seven in the morning tomorrow. But a relaxing day at sea does provide guests with the chance to rest up and recuperate from what was, for most guests, a rather late evening in Havana thanks to nighttime tours to the Tropicana Cabaret and the Cabaret at the Hotel Nacional that arrived back shortly before one this morning.
If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that sea days are the perfect time for me to talk about the ship and what’s going on onboard. Today is no different! There are plenty of great activities going on this morning – many of which have strong educational roots in terms of Cuba.

Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

Today, for example, guests can learn how to make Sweet & Spicy Cuban Classics in the America’s Test Kitchen interactive cooking school on Deck 7 forward. One of Holland America’s most recent partnerships, these America’s Test Kitchen demos are some of the most interesting and engaging cooking classes I’ve seen at sea – and I don’t even really like cooking classes. They’re also complimentary, meaning you can enjoy them to your heart’s delight.
Explorations Central (EXC) talks were also held today on both Cienfuegos and our final port of call, Georgetown, Grand Cayman. These lecture-style presentations are much more authentic and in-depth than your average “Port-and-Shopping” style talk that had, until recently, been a staple of most popular cruise lines. I used to avoid these like the plague because they’d only recommend that guests visit Diamonds International and Del Sol – as if each port had nothing more interesting to offer. These EXC talks, however, bring a touch of expedition-style cruising to Holland America’s cruises here in Cuba, and are being rolled out across the fleet.
GoPro Classes were also held in the Hudson Room on Deck 7. These photography workshops are great for those who are new to this micro-HD camera and, of course, you can also purchase your own GoPro Hero 5 or GoPro Session HD onboard if you lack one.

Seen at night, the elegant Crow’s Nest up on Deck 12 offers Happy Hour from 4pm to 5pm, and again from 10pm to 11pm. Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

With 180-degree wraparound windows, the Crow’s Nest is one of the most attractive scenic cruising spots afloat. Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

Holland America still offers some wonderful features that I’d forgotten about, like Afternoon Happy Hour. From 4pm to 5pm, guests can get drinks in the Crow’s Nest Lounge on Deck 12 or in the Ocean Bar on Deck 8, with the second drink available for just $2. It’s a great deal, and the line doesn’t care what you do with the second drink. So treat a friend!
In Mix on Deck 8 midships, a daily Sip & Savor promotion is offered that pairs a rotating selection of appetizers with a glass of wine for only $5. Today’s special: Braised ox tail praline with pineapple relish and jus, paired with a glass of Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc or Chile Beringer Merlot.

Sip and Savor at Mix on Deck 8. Stay for the cool piano vibes, too! Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

All these extra diversions can pack on the calories, but ther

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