Date: 13/03/09 (17/03/09)
Seat: 5A and 2D
One of the best things about AF/KL's frequent flyer program Flying Blue is the Web Awards. With a bit of effort I managed to get a hold of a C class ticket to Curacao. Even though I am not a big fan of the Caribbean in general and the Antilles especially I wanted a long weekend of sunshine. I was also interested in the new Renaissance they build in Willemstad.
The flight leaves around noon from AMS. A perfect time. I arrived in time to enjoy the lounge a bit. The new section was also open now. Still nothing much as far as food is concerned. I did like the new quiet sections for sleeping.
Just bigger, but the same.
After about 45 minutes in the lounge I walked to the gate. I snapped a picture of an MD-11 (not my plane)
And one that was actually my plane.
The flight was really full. 100% in C and 100% in whY. I was originally seated in 6K but I soon found out the flight was a flying day care center. There were no less than 3 (!) babies seated in the second business class cabin. All of them cry babies and also 3 other young children who were restless and annoying. None of the families were seated together so I had the 'pleasure' of sitting next to a dad with a baby. I convinced the crew to do a version of musical chairs which finally ended me up in 5A with a gorgeous KL FA flying Non Rev sitting next to me.
My original 6J seat (before the switch)
The moment the doors closed and the fasten seat belt sign came on all children in Business and Economy started what must have been a well rehearsed symphony for annoying little pesty brads in A minor. I have never experienced that before. Behind me was a 2 year old the parents basically let roam freely (Isn't she cute? No she's not!), in the middle there were two more and finally one in 6J. The bassinet row in eco was also loaded with back up singers. I thank Etymotic for inventing the best earphones ever that almost drown out the sound of crying babies. I would strongly suggest making children up till 3 year old pay the full fare like everybody else, since they ruin it for everyone. I don't need any responses that your child is a dream. Apparently yours wasn't on board.
Just in case you don't believe me...
5A is a fine seat. Loads of legroom and no one leaning into you. The seats are not cold at all like seatguru always seems to suggest. There is lots of room in front of you. Agoraphobics beware!
What surprised me was the lack of discipline in enforcing the integrity of the business cabin. For those who have flown the MD-11 they might know that the second cabin is loosely separated by a curtain. A lot of passengers simply walked into C, asked the crew where the toilets are and were directed to the business class facilities. The strangest thing I had ever experienced happened next. A father came from Y with his crying child (yes, another one!) and was allowed to use the area in front of the starboard door in front of row 6 to play with her... I mean, very nice of the crew but still. He only stayed for half an hour by the way.
The front cabin looks pretty ideal by now...
About 1,5 hours into the flight we were served dinner (at 14:00?). A nice salmon starter and paella as the main course. Desert was a very good chocolate mousse. Dinner service was slow (no wonder on such a full flight) so it only ended 1,5 hours later. I did not take any pictures since I was sitting next to this rather attractive flight attendant and I did not want to look like a geek...
The flight time was 9:40 hrs and for 75% of the time we had added sound effects. The KLM crew was nice (as always) and offered me a bottle of wine for the discomfort. It really was unbelievable, also according to the crew. Customs at CUR was unbelievably quick and I was in a taxi 15 minutes after the doors opened.
I was looking forward to the Renaissance hotel in Willemstad. It had good reviews on TripAdvisor and it seemed a very good idea to have a resort style hotel with an artificial beach in the middle of town.
I just forgot that the hotel is on the Antilles were the lifestyle is just a little... different. Service was incredibly slow, they messed up about every order and at the pool they were more interested in talking to each other than serving the customers. Within 3 hours of arrival my Nokia Communicator was stolen and the hotel staff seemed very uninterested. The hotel had opened only recently and was still 'learning'. They only had a 41% occupancy and still everything went wrong. I fear for the future of this hotel.
I did have a room with a view that impressed!
The hotel was far from ready. The smell of glue was all over the floor.
The hotel is next to the fort. A nice place to have a drink or dinner.
The one thing they did know how to make: Quesadilla!
They were really fantastic.
All in all I was not sad to leave. I was a little late checking out so I did not get to complain too much about the experience. I wrote an email later expecting to hear nothing but I actually got a reply from the F&B manager. That surprised me. I will talk to him tomorrow. I expect a partial refund since I heard other guests received the same, like my companion on the flight back.
No pictures there. Customs at CUR was slow this time and there is no line for business class. Luckily my travel companion was a nice guy and we soon got chatting about our experiences with KLM. He also thought the devaluation of the FB program was reason to leave Skyteam.
The flight back was ruined by a very annoying draft that blew straight in my face (and into the guy I met in line who actually sat next to me). They tried to do something about it but they couldn't. They even asked the captain to turn off the airco since it was really bad. The crew made a note of the problem and advised me to complain to KLM. I wrote CR and I wonder what their response will be.
I did manage a couple of hours of sleep after watching The Devil Wears Prada and a light meal (forgot what it was).
We were 20 minutes early and I was at the office right on time. Not that anything worthwhile came out of my mouth. In summary it was a fun but slightly disappointing weekend break. Neither of the flights were particularly relaxing (like I normally find them) and the hotel was a complete let down. Positive point (as always on KL) was the crew. Where do they find these attractive, friendly and easy going people? Next time (yeah, right) I will go to the Hilton where the KL crew stays, but it is more likely I will never do the Caribbean or at least the Antilles again.
As always feedback is appreciated!
[Edited 2009-03-21 18:03:40]
[Edited 2009-03-21 18:28:38]