Holland America Cruises and Oprah have partnered to offer travelers the Adventure of Your Life experience. I recently set sail with a few other Omag Insiders for a week of cruising the Caribbean……
****Thank you to Oprah Magazine and our friends at Holland America for hosting this trip of a lifetime.
Imagine a week of cruising the Caribbean, traveling to beautiful places, enjoying incredible meals and entertainment, all while immersing yourself in a soul refreshing seven days of Oprah inspired experiences designed to teach you how to live your best life. That's how I started off my March, and it was truly life changing!
From the moment we stepped aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam ship I felt a sense of peace and positivity settle in. Perhaps that is just the power of Oprah, she seems to have that effect on people. Also could have been from reading over my itinerary for the week while on the plane ride to get to this point. I was feeling lighter and less stressed, motivated to embrace a week of relaxation and renewal.
Once on board we checked out our room and then set-out to explore the rest of the ship. Our Verandah room had a big cozy bed, a spacious area to spread out and a wonderful balcony big enough to sit and enjoy the view. The wall closet had plenty of space to store our clothing and articles for the week, and drawers attached and more drawer space under the bed. The bathrooms are good sized too so you don't feel cramped while taking a shower or getting ready.
First we visited the Lido deck to take a look at the pool area and check out the view from atop the ship. There are pools located midship towards the front and also at the back of the ship. The midship pool has a retractable roof so you can still enjoy the pool area even if the weather isn't great. There are lots of lounge chairs and also private cabanas available for guests to reserve.
Past the pool area you'll find the main dining room which offers several buffets featuring gourmet cuisine of all sorts. Mexican, Italian, Asian, American, whatever mood you're in there's a meal to match. I loved the create your own salad bar where you can choose from a huge selection of healthy fare. There are fruit and cheese plates, carved sandwich stations, desserts and dining options galore. The midship pool has a delicious quick-serve burger bar and there's a great pizza place by the back pool too. You definitely won't go hungry on this ship!
While there are plenty of fun things to do and see aboard the Holland America Cruise ship, the destinations you'll explore are also exciting. Our HAL cruise took us through the Caribbean, first stopping at Key West and continuing on to Turks & Caicos, the Dominican Republic and Half Moon Cay.
We strolled the streets of Key West, shopping and site seeing all afternoon. This charming little place is so vibrant and the vibe makes you feel like everyone is on permanent vacation. The sailboats dotting the sea, the colorful houses and buildings, the cobblestone streets….. there's so much character built into each and every corner.
HAL cruise line offers a whole list of fun excursions you can reserve for each destination if you want to do more than explore. In Key West you can visit Hemingway's home, take a tour of the city, explore the art district and more.
We spent the day in Half Moon Cay soaking up the sun on the beach and splashing in the clear blue waters. This little island is so pristine and beautiful it truly feels like you've stumbled upon paradise.
Inspiration, Motivation, Relaxation and Mindfulness- Oprah Inspired Activities Onboard
While we were at sail I had time to do a bit of soul searching and soul centering thanks to the activities and workshops inspired by Oprah and O Magazine. I loved the early morning Just Breath yoga sessions that focused on finding your flow and setting your intention for the day. Working through stretching and strengthening poses by the pool helped me start the day with clarity and a more present state of mind.
Finding Mindfulness is something that Oprah focuses on in her own life and shares through the content on Oprah Magazine and Oprah.com. And it's also a part of the Adventure of Your Life itinerary where you can learn how to practice being more mindful and all the ways it can benefit your everyday life.
I also had the opportunity to hear Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage discuss how she developed the story and characters from her new book. I picked up a copy of the book, the latest Oprah's Book Club selection from the O Magazine shop onboard and I couldn't put it down. It's a must read!
I loved the little notes and gifts from Oprah that were placed in our cabin at turn down. Beach towels from Land's End one evening, a book tote another night. They were thoughtful surprises and the accompanying messages really helped give me a little end of the day dose of gratitude and perspective.
O Beautiful! and Love That! are two HAL + Oprah onboard activities that I had the chance to be a part of. These two shows were designed to give the audience an inside look at how to incorporate the beauty and style trends from the pages of O Magazine into their everyday lives. And I got to “model” the latest looks and fashion! Honestly, I was a little nervous at the idea of “working the runway” and taking the stage in front of a big crowd. But once the O Magazine team of experts had transformed me I felt so gorgeous I was ready to strut my stuff.
For the O Beautiful! show O Beauty Director Brian Underwood shared three current hair and makeup trends. I modeled a “glam glow” look with glowing skin and a versatile loose wave. The fabulous hair and makeup team worked their magic and I loved the finished look!
Adam Glassman, O's Creative Director curated the Love That! swimwear style session sharing tips on how to find the perfect suit to fit and flatter your body and style. The Lands End team helped with sizing and matching up looks that were comfortable and stylish for vacation, by the pool or on the beach. I loved working with Lands End!
Holland America Cruises- Dining & Restaurants
Another highlight of cruising with Holland America I really, really enjoyed was the food! Oh my gahhh, the food!!! We had some of the best meals I've ever had, in my life, on this cruise. We hit up the Lido Market most days for breakfast and lunch and made dinner reservations at a few of the restaurants onboard the Nieuw Amsterdam for dinner. The Pinnacle Grill offers steak and seafood in an elegant, upscale dining room. We at at the Pinnacle twice and loved the filet mignon, king crab legs and lobster meals we ordered. They also have a wonderful wine selection. Three of the other nights we ate at Tamarind, the more exotic restaurant serving up Asian-Fusion. It was amazing! The food, the service… fantastic! We had sushi and it was so fresh and perfectly crafted. The spice crusted filet, the sea bass, the thai beef salad. I know I'll be dreaming about the dinners from our cruise for weeks…. months to come!
And When the Sun Goes Down…..
My favorite thing from our Holland America Cruise though was watching the sunset each night from the top deck. It was breathtaking, the way the sun seemed to dip right into the ocean. The colors of the sky, the soft rolling waves. It was also the moment each day when I settled into being most present and feeling the beauty of this whole experience. It gave me time to reflect, feel gratitude and joy, shift my mindset from the ever rolling run of the day to just being still. And happy.
While it was so sad to say goodbye, I came home from this cruise feeling so inspired, so present and so motivated to focus on my life. On taking more time to pursue the things I'm most passionate about. On living for the now. On sharing joy with the people I love most and gratitude for the moments that make me feel loved. On making this adventure of my life extend beyond this one wonderful experience and become a way of life.
“The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.” — Oprah
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