Cruise Line: Premier
Ship: SS Rembrandt
Date of Cruise: July 14-22, 2000
Nassau Cruise on the SS Rembrandt
By: Andy Taylor
This cruise, really two back-to-back cruises, was part of a Charter out of Baltimore MD. Didion Cruises booked the Rembrandt for the month of July and had several different itineraries. We chose the 6 night sailing to Nassau followed by a two night party cruise to nowhere. The idea of the Nassau cruise appealed to us since we love sea days and this was almost all sea days, a real treat. Also, although we have been on several cruises, we had not been to Nassau yet so we signed up.
Premier Cruise Line had been having a rough summer with the trouble with Big Red Boat II, a shake down of executives and rampant rumor on the Internet. We were more than a little nervous that our cruise would even happen but as we pulled up to the dock in Baltimore there she was in all her glory. The beautiful SS Rembrandt, formerly the Rotterdam V. She looked very impressive and we couldn't wait to board her. We had recently read many glowing reviews of her interiors and we were dying to check her out ourselves.
Embarkation was tedious and took about an hour from the time we got in line until we were on board. We entered on B deck since our cabin was down there and were escorted to cabin 726, B deck aft. Our initial impression of the cabin was, well, small but nice. I had read a review warning not to book on the aft of deck B on the Rembrandt because of inadequate A/C. We had already been assigned the cabin, the ship was sold out and we couldn't change. We thought we would make the best of it. The cabin itself was comfortable enough although never cooler than 78 degrees. The real problem was in the hallway where it had to be between 85 and 90 degrees. We were later told that we were directly over the boilers so that explained the temperature.
We headed out for a quick bite to eat and then to explore the ship. We were immediately impressed with the décor and condition of this beauty. What a treat to find a classic liner that had basically just been maintained and not redecorated! The main staircase is a real marvel and after taking the history tour we figured out how it was used to divide the classes, very clever. The show lounge, or Auditorium as they call it, is ahead of its time. Originally only used for movies, it has been made into a true show lounge with orchestra pit, and ample stage. It also has a balcony which must have been unusual for its day. We were told on the tour that the balcony was for the first class passengers and the main level for the tourist class.
The Queens lounge, a large airy space, is used for most events. It can seat quite a few people and for daytime activities works great since you can look out the large windows and watch the sea. The adjacent Ocean Bar was a favorite. Small and intimate, it also has huge windows with lovely sea views. Big comfortable turquoise chairs made you want to sit for hours and the whimsical red door with angled class cut outs is classic 50's at its best.
The Casino, formerly a tourist class lounge, has stunning Lalique-like chandeliers. It also has a fireplace, which must have been lovely when it was a lounge.
The lido area, added in 1969, is typical. It is fairly pleasant and serves its purpose but isn't really in keeping with the rest of the ship. The pool area behind the lido is large and has two more cascading decks above it for sunbathing. The pool is pretty small and quite deep. Not made for non-swimmers at all.
One deck up is the Upper Promenade deck. This deck was formerly all first class public rooms. Starting in the front behind the balcony to the theater is the Ambassador lounge. This room is incredible. The tour guide called it the "Austin Powers" room but I don't think that does it justice. Dark and intimate with lots of glass or crystal windows that resemble headlights, it is a stunning room. The seating is especially interesting and looks fabulous after being re-upholstered last year. We were told that the entire ship had been re-carpeted and re-upholstered last year with the original colors but in flame retardant fabrics. The old girl looks almost as good as new.
The smoking room has the most modern floor to ceiling windows. Viewed from the outside on the promenade deck, you would think you were on a new Celebrity ship, they look so smart and current. This room has some fabulous furniture too but was used mostly for Karaoke so that effectively kept us out of there most of the time.
Behind the smoking room is the fabulous Ritz Carlton Lounge. What a gorgeous room. The furniture, the curved staircase, the enormous mural all combine to make it one of the most elegant rooms afloat. The detail in the balustrade is amazing too with brass fishnets catching fish. Just beautiful. We did have an elegant time at a wine tasting here and occasionally they have appropriate music in the Ritz but it is unfortunately mostly used as a disco. I suppose it works as one but it seems wrong all the same.
The two almost identical dining rooms, low in the ship for stability, are lovely with the two deck high ceilings covered with Delft porcelain. There are many tables for two and four and we enjoyed the room very much.
Now for the cruise.
We left Baltimore almost on time, pulling out from the dock at 1:30 PM. Sailing down the Chesapeake Bay was delightful. Once out to sea we picked up speed and she really cuts through the waves like a hot knife in butter.
The next day was a sea day and we enjoyed that but the ship seemed to be warming up all day. That night was formal night and you could tell that everyone was pretty miserable in their finery. We both had tuxes on so we could really feel the heat. At this point, they were acting like nothing was wrong which was annoying since you usually freeze to death on most ships. We returned to our hot cabin right after dinner to shed our hot clothes and headed off for the Temptation Review. It was just too hot in the theater though so I went to bed early and had an uncomfortable night tossing and turning.
The heat was no better the next day and by the time we arrived in Nassau we were dying to get off the ship. We walked into town and found a cool place with nice island music for a good dinner. Once back on ship we had another hot night in our cabin. The next day we enjoyed Nassau and Paradise Island. We spent some time at the Atlantis Resort and were really impressed with that. Back on ship we had another hot evening and slept on deck. We had been scheduled to leave Nassau at 3 AM that night and when we woke up the next morning and were still in port we know something was up. The captain finally acknowledged that the A/C wasn't working properly and we would remain there most of the day in order to repair it. It gave most people some more time to explore Nassau so even though there was quite a bit of complaining we made do.
We finally left Nassau at 6 PM. We were 15 hours late leaving and knew that the Captain couldn't make up all that time. The good news was the A/C was working again. Not at peak efficiency but tolerable for us. We had heard that many people had jumped ship in Nassau so I nicely asked at the purser's desk if it would be possible to change cabins. They said that they would see what they could do. Early that evening there was note under our door and we were moved to Cabin 520 on A deck. It was a fabulous cabin, almost twice as big as the first and just wonderful. Two twin beds, two chairs and a table, a wonderful vanity with stool and lots of birds-eye maple cabinetry. The bath was large with marble behind the sink and a bathtub! We were in heaven. It never hurts to ask for an upgrade!
The rest of the cruise was lovely and we did make up some time but we were still almost 8 hours late getting in. This was really unfortunate for the 2 night cruise following us. Some of them made the best of it but the Rum Punch was really not enough compensation. They missed the whole afternoon, lunch buffet and dinner. The ship only had a buffet when they boarded since it was already 8 PM. We made out quite a bit better on the 6 night cruise. On the last day of our six nighter cruise vouchers for a cruise of up to 7 days were put under everyone's door. This made most of us very happy but there were still some who didn't feel that this was enough compensation. I only hope Premier is around long enough for us to use the free trip. We are going to use ours for the Rembrandt as we really did love her despite the problems.
We also met up with a group of friends from the Cruise Addicts BB on the 2 night cruise. We had met last year on the Regal Empress and we had a bigger crowd and even more fun this time. Too bad it was so short though. We are looking into something out of New Orleans for the next get together.
Now some good and bad things we noticed, good first. The ship has a wonderful liquor policy. You are able to take liquor purchased in the duty free shop back to your cabin for consumption there. I think it is marvelous that they have this sensible policy. No one likes trying to smuggle booze on board. The staff was professional and polite. They were really pushed to their limits with the A/C problems too. They never complained and continued to do excellent jobs. As I said earlier, this ship rides beautifully. Being a steam ship she had very little vibration and handles large swells like the ocean liner she is. Almost all the cabins on this ship are pleasant and comfortable. Some of the inside cabins were very small however so pick carefully. The entertainment was GREAT. Well, we did have the Temptation Review on board and they were bringing the house down. They did 4 shows (two different) and were true professionals. I highly recommend you try to see them anywhere they perform. It was the best entertainment we have seen at sea. They also had a Legends Show and they were pretty terrific too, with a really good Elvis.
Now the negative. Hopefully this will be a thing of the past since I saw what looked like 2 huge A/C units being hoisted on board as we were leaving the ship but until the A/C is fixed properly, it will only be moderately cool. I'm sure that this will be taken care of. The food was hit and miss. We had some great dishes and some terrible ones. Really needs to be more even. There was no pool band. While this wasn't a huge negative I always like one on sail away. I'm not sure if this is related to the A/C problems but there was no cold water in the cabins. This was particularly bad since we were so hot already but hopefully this will be rectified soon too. The plumbing and water pressure was OK but I did hear some complaints about it.
Would we do it again? YOU BET. In lots of ways, this is our favorite ship that we have sailed on so far. I truly wish Premier the best of luck and pray that they continue to lavish the old girl with the TLC that they have so far. In spite of the problems, we had a fantastic time.