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BEFORE YOU GO

Review: Holland America Line’s Pinnacle Grill

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On every cruise line, there are specialty restaurants that you really look forward to. You might even save them for a special occasion or your final night on the ship, just to end the cruise on a high note. For me, the Pinnacle Grill – featured on many Holland America ships – is one of those restaurants. During a recent trip on the ms Eurodam, I swung by for dinner one night.

Making Pinnacle Grill Reservations 

There are a couple of different ways to make dining reservations for the Pinnacle Grill. You can dial 88 from your cabin’s telephone,  stop by the restaurant’s front desk and see a hostess, or make a reservation via the app when you’re logged onto the shipboard Navigator, which is free to use when connected to the ship’s internet.

The cost is $35 per person, and trust me when I say you should definitely make a reservation. This place is popular, and it fills up fast. We went to make reservations on a Sunday and found that there was nothing available until Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. Proving that beggars can’t be choosers, we immediately booked the table… and then looked forward to it all week.

Scouting the Menu 

Pinnacle Grill

Photo: Holland America Line

Long before we dined at the Pinnacle Grill, I was stalking the menu. I viewed it online, I stopped by the restaurant during the week to check it out in person and then, when finally we sat down for dinner, I continued mulling over the choices. Everything on the menu sounded amazing, and I suspected I might even wind up getting two entrees. They charge an additional $15 for a second entree, but sometimes, a guy’s just got to splurge… especially in a steakhouse.

The choices weren’t going to be any easier when it came to the appetizers either. Among those that jumped out at me? The lobster bisque, the jumbo shrimp cocktail, and the spinach salad.

The main course section of the menu features entrees divided up by “land” and “sea.” On the land side, you’ll find exactly what you’d expect, with options like steak, pork chops, and lamb. There are also vegetarian options, including wild mushroom ravioli. (But come on… what kind of sadist takes a vegetarian to a steakhouse?) And if you really have an appetite, you can go for the President’s Cut. Weighing in at 36 ounces, this bone-in rib eye (a cut hand-selected by Holland America’s president, Orlando Ashford) comes at an upcharge of $59 and is big enough to be shared. (Unless you’re really, really, really hungry, in which case… have at it!)

Over on the sea side of the menu, there’s lobster, shrimp scampi, Alaskan King crab legs and more. Dessert options include a Not-So Baked Alaska with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, creme brûlée, souffle and ice creams.

Read More: Holland America’s Pinnacle Grill Menu

The Pinnacle Grill Dining Experience 

Pinnacle Grill

We got to the Pinnacle Grill at 6:30 p.m. and were seated immediately. Entering the dining room, I noticed that most of the spaces allocated to booths are more intimate and reserved for couples. Four guys with appetites? We were seated at a great table in the center of the room and given menus. I still wasn’t sure what I’d be ordering. It was sort of like when the teacher hands you a test and, despite having studied, you’re not sure you know the answers!

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One of the servers welcomed us, offered suggestions and asked if we had any question. “How much,” I asked, “is the upcharge to add Alaskan king crab legs to my entree?” At $15 — less than they’d be back home — I was sold. I’m not a big wine drinker — I can tell a red from a white, although things get confusing when you start talking about rosés — so we settled on a $59 bottle of Portrait Barossa Shiraz.

So what did I wind up ordering after days of mulling over my options? I went pretty traditional. Jumbo shrimp cocktail appetizer, a 23-ounce porterhouse, and the aforementioned crab legs. Like most people, I’ve rarely ever eaten creamed spinach outside a steakhouse, but again, it’s sort of part of the true steakhouse experience. So I went with that and asparagus as sides, with a creme brûlée dessert to top off the meal.

Most Memorable Dish

Pinnacle Grill

I’m going to go with the Alaskan King Crab Legs. Is there anything better than crab legs dipped in steaming-hot butter? (Okay, maybe lobster, but…) As a big fan of seafood, putting a plate of these in front of me was all it took to make me happy. It didn’t hurt that they accompanied that 23-ounce porterhouse, perfectly prepared (medium rare) and beautifully seasoned.

Final Thoughts

Pinnacle Grill

You know how sometimes when you’re eating in a main dining room, you settle for food that might not be the hottest or prepared exactly the way you might like it? I think that when you eat in a specialty restaurant and are paying extra for the meal, the game needs to be upped. That was certainly the case here. Everything came out hot and perfectly prepared. Well, almost everything. I didn’t much care for the creamed spinach. The taste was fine, but it was almost like a puree, which was a different consistency than I’m generally used to in steakhouses. Whether it was an off dish or simply the way this particular chef likes to prepare the spinach, I don’t know. It’s not that it was inedible or even bad, just… different than what I’m used to.

The wine, food, and great company combined to make this yet another top-notch Pinnacle Grill dining experience. If you’re a fan of steakhouses, this is one at-sea venue that’s definitely worth checking out.

The Pinnacle Grill can be found on all of Holland America’s current ships. The restaurant also offers lunch at $10 per person, and the menus are known to change regularly to reflect the freshest available ingredients.

holland america pinnacle grill

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BEFORE YOU GO

Review: Jack’s Shack Grand Turk

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Located in the Turks and Caicos Islands is the Grand Turk Cruise Center, a cruise port that was built by Carnival Corporation in 2008. The port is designed to berth two cruise ships at a time and has one of the largest Margaritaville’s in the Caribbean inside the terminal gates. Guests usually flock to the giant pool with swim-up bar, or sit on the beach right in front of the cruise ship.

Jack's Shack

For the guests that want to experience Grand Turk in a not-so Grand way (and free Wi-Fi), they can make their way down to Jack’s Shack. Jack comes from the northeast and was an engineer that was hired to develop the Grand Turk Cruise Center for Carnival Corporation. While he was down there, he was approached to help build a dive shop for one of his friends, and you could say the rest is history.

How To Find Jack’s Shack

Jack's Shack

When you disembark your cruise ship in Grand Turk, you will have to go through a gift shop before you can access the cruise terminal area. One you’re through the shop, turn left and walk down to the beach. When you’re on the beach and looking at your cruise ship, to your left will be the dock and to the right is miles of beach. You will to turn right and keep walking. You will eventually come to the end of the Carnival port area where you will notice there are no more beach chairs. If you look on the shore you’ll see pink houses, keep walking for a few more minutes and you’ll come up on (or smell the jerk chicken) from Jack’s Shack. Or you can look for Topher. Once you see him you know you’re close because he’s normally on the beach welcoming people.

Meet Topher, The Caribbean’s Most Famous Dog

Jack's Shack

Topher (short for Christopher Columbus) is a Goldendoodle that came to Jack’s Shack several years ago as a little fluff ball. Now, he’s still full of energy and loves to entertain the cruise guests. There is nothing this dog won’t do. He goes paddle boarding, digs deep in the sand looking for crabs, swims, and patrols the beach to make sure no other dogs move in on his territory. As nice as he is, he’s really territorial. If stray dogs come on the deck at the shack, Topher gets aggressive with them and barks them off of it.

Pick The Bar or Beach… or Both

Jack's Shack

If you want to grab a cocktail when you’re at Jack’s Shack you can belly up to the tiki-style bar and be get an island0 concoction or local Turk’s Head beer.

If you want to go straight to the beach before other people do, get yourself a chair or ask one of the friendly workers there to help you get situated. The blue beach loungers are free but there is a $10 charge if you want to get an umbrella (and believe me, in the Caribbean sun you’ll need one.) The water is warm, blue, and clear, just as you’d expect at an idyllic Caribbean island. Grand Turk is a great port to forgo an excursion and just have a laid-back beach day, and Jack’s Shack is the perfect place to bury your toes in the sand.

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Jack’s Shack accepts cash, and credit cards with a $20 minimum.

Drink Menu

Jack's Shack

  • Janet’s Mojito $10 (fresh mint, lime, white rum, and soda)
  • Mermaid’s Take $10 (blue raspberry, vodka, soda, and lime)
  • Golden Doodle $10 (Red Bull and dark rum)
  • Dark and Stormy $10 (Ginger beer and dark rum)
  • Jack’s Shack Rum Punch $10 (coconut rum, topical punch, grenadine, and dark rum)
  • Reef Recker $10 (coconut and pineapple rums, blue curaçao, and juice)
  • Sandy Vagina $10 (coconut rum, vanilla vodka, and pineapple juice)
  • Blue Margarita $9 (tequila, lime, blue curaçao, and sprite)
  • Jazzy Cockatoo $9 (coconut rum, mango juice, and dark rum)
  • Paranoia $9 (white rum, lime, sprint, and peach schnapps)
  • Sex on the Beach $9 (vodka, cranberry, pineapple, and peach schnapps)
  • Señor Peniz $9 (jalapeño infused tequila and mixer)
  • Pina Colada Virgin $6, Full Strength $11

Food Menu

Jack's Shack

  • Jerk Chicken $10
  • Burger $10 (cheese add $1)
  • Hot Dog $10
  • Butterflied Shrimp $17
  • Cracked Conch $11
  • Fresh Local Fish $12
  • Grilled Italian Hotdog $8
  • Conch Fritters $8
  • Chef Special (see chalkboard)

Side orders with an above order $4, separate $6

  • Fries
  • Salad
  • Rice
  • Hot Jerk Sauce $10 bottle

Don’t Forget About the Free Rum Shot

Jack's Shack

You can go to the Jack’s Shack website and sign up or print your voucher for a free rum shot while you’re visiting. It’s very simple and you can use it even if you don’t buy anything, just hand them the voucher and you’ll get a shot of rum, easy as that.

I have been to Jack’s Shack a number of times over the last few years and always enjoy my beach day there. If you’re looking for a quieter, smaller alternative to Margaritaville, I highly recommend taking the walk down the beach to this fun spot.

Final Thoughts

Jack's Shack

Is Jack’s Shack significantly cheaper than Margaritaville? Not really. But it does offer a break from the crowds and has locally sourced food that is cooked right in front of you. If you plan on using your credit you’ll want to ask them if the credit card machine is up. Hurricane Irma did a number to Grand Turk and the internet is still spotty. Once you go to Jack’s Shack once, you’re return time and time again.

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BEFORE YOU GO

5 Reasons to Book Your Next Cruise Onboard

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Any time you’re on a cruise having the time of your life, the first thought that comes to mind is “Okay, so when can I do this again?” Maybe you’ve even gone home after your cruise and immediately received those emails to “sail with us again.” But a lot of cruisers don’t know about (or just don’t take advantage of) the ship’s future cruise desk, where you can book your next cruise while you’re on one – and get a ton of perks for doing it.

Why Book Your Next Cruise Onboard?

1. Money off your onboard account

Want to get some money taken off the bill of your current cruise? Sometimes, booking a future cruise while onboard one will grant you credit to your current onboard account. So, if you know you’re going to cruise again (aren’t we all?), why not go for it and take advantage of the free money?

2. Future onboard credit

One of the most popular reasons cruisers will book a cruise while they’re on one is the guarantee for onboard credit toward that future cruise. The amount of onboard credit offered will vary, but who can pass up free money? Especially when we all know we’ll be taking another cruise at some point or another. Carnival Cruise Line ships have the Loyalty and Cruise Expert desk where you can take advantage of this. 

3. No set sailing date

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When you book another cruise while you’re on a cruise, you don’t have to commit to a specific ship, itinerary, or sailing date. Instead, you are given a time frame, usually anywhere from 12 to 24 months, in which you have to use this deposit toward your next cruise. So, if you put down $500, you might have, say, 2 years within which to book your next cruise and apply that $500 toward that cruise. This is important to know, because many people hesitate to visit the future cruise desk on a ship because they think they’ll be locked into specific dates. Not everyone knows their vacation schedule that far in advance, and the cruise lines know that. That’s why this flexible option is such a good deal.

Read More: Carnival Change Future Cruise Credit Program

4. Discounts or room upgrades

Yet another perk to booking while onboard is the potential to receive discounts and room upgrades. Instead of waiting around for the next sale to come through your email, you can simply talk to the friendly faces at the future cruise desk about any deals offered for your next cruise. That sounds much better than spending hours clicking through tabs to find the best deals and discounts.

5. Travel agent credit

There are some cruisers who won’t book their next cruise while onboard one because they have a trusty travel agent back home. The only way for a travel agent to get credit for the booking (and therefore to get paid) is they book it, and the cruiser doesn’t want deny them that credit. However, on most cruise lines, as long as your travel agent booked the cruise you’re currently sailing on, the future cruise desk can arrange it so your travel agent’s name is also on your future booking. Just make sure that when they show you your booking confirmation you see your agent’s name as well.

Do you book your next cruise while on your current cruise?

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BEFORE YOU GO

Navigating Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port (Port Everglades)

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If you’ve sailed from the Fort Lauderdale cruise port, you know how busy it can get. Especially during the winter cruise season, sometimes there are 12 ships embarking cruise guests at the same time. Recently, the cruise port received major upgrades.

Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, and Princess Cruises sail from the port on a seasonal or year-round basis.

Getting to Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port

Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port

The Port Everglades Cruise Pier is accessible from interstate 95 and 575. There are three entrances into Port Everglades.  The 17th Street Causeway entrance which is located at Eisenhower Boulevard, State Road 84 entrance located just off of US 1, and the I-595 East entrance.

Proper identification such as a driver’s license or passport is required and your vehicle may be subject to search.

  • I-95 south, take Exit #26 to I-595 East. Exit 12b, to Port Everglades.
  • I-95 north, take Exit #24 to I-595 East. Exit 12b, to Port Everglades.
  • I-75 north or south, take Exit #19 to I-595 East. Exit 12b, to Port Everglades.
  • On the Florida Turnpike north or south, take Exit #54 to I-595 East. Exit 12b, to Port Everglades.

Alternative Transportation

If you’re flying into the Fort Lauderdale airport for your cruise you can get a taxi, Uber, shuttle service, or take advantage of the cruise line transfer service that is available for purchase when you book your cruise.

  • Uber: $12-$16
  • Taxi: $20
  • Cruise Line Transfer: check with your specific cruise line

If you’re flying into Miami and cruising from Port Everglades, expect a 45 minute to an hour transfer. Like Fort Lauderdale, you can take advantage of a cruise line transfer, shuttle service, or an Uber. A taxi is by far the most expensive way to transit between the two locations.

Parking Prices

Parking fees at the Fort Lauderdale cruise port are some of the cheapest in Florida and are charged on a per-night basis. The parking garages are multilevel and are secured. Each parking garage at the cruise terminal has crosswalks to the corresponding cruise ship.

  • $15 per day for regular cars and trucks
  • $19 per day for oversized vehicles

Alternative Parking 

There are park and cruise hotels in the area that let you park your car in their lots if you purchases a night pre or post-cruise. One of the hotels that I use when I drive to Fort Lauderdale is the Hilton Garden Inn Airport Cruise Port. This property offers a charter bus service that will take you to and pick you up from the cruise pier.

You can also park your car off-property at a reduced price set by the company. Each park and cruise location will vary in price and will offer a shuttle to drop you off at your designated cruise terminal.

Tips

  • If you’re driving to the cruise pier and want to experience less crowds, consider boarding later. Most cruisers try to be the first passengers on the ship. By giving yourself extra time to get to the cruise pier and not rushing, the embarkation experience will be much more pleasant.
  • In my experience of flying into the Hollywood-Fort Lauderdale International Airport, taking an Uber has been the most economical way to get to the cruise port. If you’re considering Uber, use promo code ydhf9 for $5 off your first four rides.  You can even enter the code before you use it.

Do you have any tips for sailing from the Fort Lauderdale cruise port?

Featured photo via Port Everglades

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Hi, this may be of interest to you: Review: Holland America Line's Pinnacle Grill. This is the link: https://cruiseradio.net/review-holland-america-pinnacle-grill/