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#1
Lake Stevens, WA
28 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Hi all

I have spent many an hour looking over reviews, roll calls, conversations and plans here on CC. I’ve been quite the forum “lurker”. This site is a HUGE source of information! Even after all the searching and browsing, I still find myself slightly rudderless in the direction I want to go. All of you are a wonderful source of information, experience and in some cases confusion. Thank you all!


I’m going to classify myself as a first time cruiser but I have been on a cruise before. It was 1991 on the then 8 year old Nieuw Amsterdam out of Tampa. Ports were in Key West, Cozumel, Cancun, Jamaica and Grand Cayman. It was a honeymoon cruise and we were in our late 20’s. Now, being that young on any cruise in the early 90’s on HAL you can imagine the demographic! We were an extreme minority. We met the other honeymooners (4 additional couples) on the cruise and we were lucky to find one couple in our approximate age range. We ended up hanging together for the entire cruise! Thank goodness for that because it would have been a rather strange 7 days onboard for a young couple. It was a wonderful cruise on a beautiful ship with top notch food, incredible service, and accommodations that has left me with an impression of cruising that sticks with me to this day. It sounds as if HAL has strayed just a bit from what I remember. That is probably why I’m in the quandary I’m in!



Now in my late 40’s I’m looking to start making a habit out of cruising. For reference, I have only words, pictures and video of what cruising is like today on the various lines that I am looking into. I have no axe to grind with any of the major cruise lines, but I have my impressions. As for other cruisers opinions and perceptions….they are exactly that but I respect everybody’s opinion whether I agree or disagree. And because of those varied opinions, it has left me with more questions than answers for everything I have looked to decide on and move forward!



I like the style of Celebrity and HAL. Something about the mid-sized ships of HAL seems even more appealing but it may be the past experience. I’m not a big drinker and I want to stay away from hoards of kids but you can’t beat the flexibility, ports and pricing of the big three. I have a kid of my own and have no issues with anybody’s kids, it’s just a preference in this case. I do have a suspicion that you get what you pay for applies more to contemporary lines than others though. So, I’m not sure of what to think about Carnival, NCL or RCI. They look like nice, affordable middle of the road options but I am not interested in floating cities larger than aircraft carriers with 3500+ passengers. I’m looking for elbow room and a quiet area to take my mind off of everything. (I think I’m narrowing this down myself as I type on) For some reason Princess doesn’t come up much in my searching due to departure ports for this upcoming trip but I will definitely want to keep them in mind.


I would like to use my airline mileage (Alaska Airlines) so that narrows my departure ports – San Diego, Galveston or New Orleans. I can do a Florida departures but the airfare is outrageous with spring break coming up. I don’t want to burn ALL my miles at once. With all of this being said I really think I want to do the Mexican Riviera on the 2nd with HAL on the Zaandam. First off, I have never been there. The ship while older and smaller (I’ve read many reviews and they are all over the board) has to be decent. I do have the patience and capability to put up with many things most would find irritating. I will enjoy it! It is all about attitude, right?


With all of that being said I graciously ask directly for opinions. Remember, I respect them all and thank you in advance! The only thing holding me back is being a solo on this cruise. I’m prepared for it but what you do you think about HAL being a right or wrong choice for cruising solo? I’m not looking for hooking up, if I was I would already be booked!



Thanks!



Howard
#2
4,150 Posts
Joined Nov 2000
Haven't been on her as a solo
but have sailed five times on
Zaandam.

I really liked the ship. The size,
the cabins, public areas. Cabins
are bigger than on some other ships.
The service was excellent each time.

Think you will enjoy the cruise.

If you had the time/money try and
do the Collector's Cruise. Hawaii and Mexico.
Wonderful!
#3
New Port Richey, FL
1,842 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
I have yet to sail HAL, so I cannot comment. I would say that if you like the smaller vessels, the radiance class of royal carib is great. I took my first solo this past thanksgiving and I had a lot of "nerves" about it - I am over 50 and not at all interested in "hooking up"...but love to cruise. I am so glad I took that step and sailed solo...I loved it and think you will too...I am now booked on another radiance class for a transatlantic - 2 ports then 7 days at sea. And I am extremely excited to be on the sailing (and solo).
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"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." E. Hemingway



Up Next:

Radiance of the Seas, June 6, 2017 (Alaska with pre cruise land tour)
2018...Researching...

Koz
#4
Minnesota
1,488 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
I think you will like the Zaandam, I haven't sailed on her but she is similar to the Ryndam which I did a Mexican Riviera cruise on a few years back. I like the smaller ships as well and HAL is one of the few lines that is still doing the Mexican Riviera. You will probably also fit in a little better know than you did on your honeymoon cruise years ago.
#5
Lake Stevens, WA
28 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Originally posted by Belle
Haven't been on her as a solo
but have sailed five times on
Zaandam.

I really liked the ship. The size,
the cabins, public areas. Cabins
are bigger than on some other ships.
The service was excellent each time.

Think you will enjoy the cruise.

If you had the time/money try and
do the Collector's Cruise. Hawaii and Mexico.
Wonderful!
Thanks, Belle. I appreciate that coming from someone who is familiar with her. The more I look into the ship the more I like it. And I would love to do a B2B Mexico and Hawaii! It's not so much the cost but getting away from work for the duration. I hope to manage my vacations better to take advantage though.
#6
Lake Stevens, WA
28 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Originally posted by JeffKoz
I have yet to sail HAL, so I cannot comment. I would say that if you like the smaller vessels, the radiance class of royal carib is great. I took my first solo this past thanksgiving and I had a lot of "nerves" about it - I am over 50 and not at all interested in "hooking up"...but love to cruise. I am so glad I took that step and sailed solo...I loved it and think you will too...I am now booked on another radiance class for a transatlantic - 2 ports then 7 days at sea. And I am extremely excited to be on the sailing (and solo).
I didn't even think about searching from a ship-class (capacity or tonnage) to target the type of cruise I'm interested in. More research! Thanks, and enjoy the transatlantic!
#7
MA - Metro West
271 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Never sailed HAL, however, just have begun to experience Celebrity. For many years in my 20's and 30's I cruised with Carnival for the love of the nightlife and "high energy" but as I just turned 40 last year I tried a Celebrity ship and had a great time. Found the experience to be similar to a modern hotel resort. More a calmer passenger base, etc.

I just came back from the new Celebrity Reflection and recommend that ship highly. Mostly people in their 40's and 50's and nice modern ship.

If $$ is an issue, NCL has the studio cabins which only charge a single rate.

Good luck with your choice.

Bill
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Bill


39 cruises and counting:

Carnival - 25
Celebrity - 9
RCI - 2
NCL - 2
Princess - 1

And still to come.....

Norwegian Sky - February 2018
Celebrity Reflection - February 2018
Celebrity Silhouette - February 2019
#8
Australia
1,116 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
If I can't keep talking my sister into cruising with me I will also have to go solo one day, I know I will be fine but it is a bit daunting the first time I would imagine.
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Cheryl


Pacific Sun 2009
Diamond Princess 2009
Pacific Dawn 2010
Rhapsody 2010
Rhapsody 2011
Radiance 2012
Voyager 2012
Rhapsody --Nov 2013
#9
NYC
2,736 Posts
Joined Jun 2012
Originally posted by Bourne in 64
...It was a wonderful cruise on a beautiful ship with top notch food, incredible service, and accommodations that has left me with an impression of cruising that sticks with me to this day...

...Now in my late 40’s I’m looking to start making a habit out of cruising...

...So, I’m not sure of what to think about Carnival, NCL or RCI. They look like nice, affordable middle of the road options but I am not interested in floating cities larger than aircraft carriers with 3500+ passengers. I’m looking for elbow room and a quiet area to take my mind off of everything...
If you're going to going to make a habit of it (great habit btw), why not try them all? The majors lines certainly have affordable 3-5 day cruises with the caveat that the cruise lines typically use their older ships for their shorter cruises or cut back on some amenities and entertainment options but you do get a feel for their style.

Having tried Carnival, NCL, and Princess, I find myself most comfortable with NCL due in large part to the people I meet on Cruise Critic and the Meet & Greets and how NCL treats CC members. I like NCL's Freestyle Cruising concept and enjoy their product as a whole. I can see why people would prefer the other lines for various reasons.

As for your concern over children and crowds, I've always been able to find a quiet place to sit and relax with a book and rarely feel crowded. There's usually a venue with no event going on. Most NCL's ships have about 2000 passengers with the exception of the new megaships (Epic Breakaway, and Getaway). You may also want to avoid cruising when school is out.
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#10
CT & FL
473 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Originally posted by kylenyc

As for your concern over children and crowds, I've always been able to find a quiet place to sit and relax with a book and rarely feel crowded. There's usually a venue with no event going on. Most NCL's ships have about 2000 passengers with the exception of the new megaships (Epic Breakaway, and Getaway). You may also want to avoid cruising when school is out.
I'm not into the screaming, bouncing off-the-wall kiddies. Therefore, I generally look for longer cruises which sail during non-vacation times.

I made an exception for this past NYE. Big mistake.
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- Navigator of the Seas 3/31/17- Southern Caribbean
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#11
Lake Stevens, WA
28 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
I want to follow up and thank you all for your input! The trip was beyond description and going solo was more fun than imagined it would be. Made plenty of friends and was able to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. Mostly EAT!! Good gravy I gained 5 pounds!

I'm going to write up a review so I won't go into details here, but my only complaint about the ship, it's crew, the food, the entertainment or any other aspect of my week on the Zaandam was the complaining by other cruisers.

Looking for my next destination now!! Alaska this summer? Caribbean next spring? So many cruises, so little time! I'm going to make time.
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Dancing with the Stars, Western Caribbean, January 2014 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zrxryde...7639951880065/

MS Nieuw Amsterdam Ship Photos, January 2014 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zrxryde...7639951861395/

MS Zaandam Photos March 2013 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zrxryde...7632957402165/

Mexican Riviera Photos, March 2013 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zrxryde...7632961475296/







MS Nieuw Amsterdam III - Western Caribbean, Sept 1990
----way too much time between cruises----
MS Zaandam - Mexican Riviera, March 2013
----Dancing with the Stars at Sea----
MS Nieuw Amsterdam IV - Western Caribbean, Jan 12 2014
#12
317 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
Bourne 64 - now you're hooked! I look forward to your review.
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Past Cruises:
2017 NCL Breakaway
2016 Norwegian Getaway
2015 Norwegian Getaway
2015 Liberty of the Seas #2
2015 Liberty of the Seas #1
2014 Carnival Breeze
2014 Independence of the Seas
2013 Norwegian Epic
2012 Allure of the Seas
2011 Carnival Glory
2009 Carnival Paradise
2008 Carnival Pride
#13
Australia
1,116 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Originally posted by Bourne in 64
I want to follow up and thank you all for your input! The trip was beyond description and going solo was more fun than imagined it would be. Made plenty of friends and was able to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. Mostly EAT!! Good gravy I gained 5 pounds!

I'm going to write up a review so I won't go into details here, but my only complaint about the ship, it's crew, the food, the entertainment or any other aspect of my week on the Zaandam was the complaining by other cruisers.

Looking for my next destination now!! Alaska this summer? Caribbean next spring? So many cruises, so little time! I'm going to make time.
Five pounds hee hee. Look forward to your review
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Cheryl


Pacific Sun 2009
Diamond Princess 2009
Pacific Dawn 2010
Rhapsody 2010
Rhapsody 2011
Radiance 2012
Voyager 2012
Rhapsody --Nov 2013
#14
Minnesota
1,488 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
Originally posted by Bourne in 64
I want to follow up and thank you all for your input! The trip was beyond description and going solo was more fun than imagined it would be. Made plenty of friends and was able to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. Mostly EAT!! Good gravy I gained 5 pounds!

I'm going to write up a review so I won't go into details here, but my only complaint about the ship, it's crew, the food, the entertainment or any other aspect of my week on the Zaandam was the complaining by other cruisers.

Looking for my next destination now!! Alaska this summer? Caribbean next spring? So many cruises, so little time! I'm going to make time.
Glad you had a great trip, now you will be hooked like the rest of us.
#15
Lake Stevens, WA
28 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
I'm hooked already! I'm obsessed actually
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Dancing with the Stars, Western Caribbean, January 2014 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zrxryde...7639951880065/

MS Nieuw Amsterdam Ship Photos, January 2014 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zrxryde...7639951861395/

MS Zaandam Photos March 2013 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zrxryde...7632957402165/

Mexican Riviera Photos, March 2013 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zrxryde...7632961475296/







MS Nieuw Amsterdam III - Western Caribbean, Sept 1990
----way too much time between cruises----
MS Zaandam - Mexican Riviera, March 2013
----Dancing with the Stars at Sea----
MS Nieuw Amsterdam IV - Western Caribbean, Jan 12 2014
#16
Ottawa Canada
332 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Oh, it doesn't take much....get your cheque book ready!! I did my first ever cruise just on a whim in February...within 2 weeks of return I had booked back to back inaugural sailing on Getaway and Epic next Feb...I think it had something to do with the snow...more coming tomorrow! :-)
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Norwegian EPIC - Transatlantic - April 2017
Carnival VISTA Inaugural - Mediterranean - May 2016
Norwegian PEARL - Eastern Carribean - Jan 2015
Carnival BREEZE - Western Carribean - Oct 2014
Norwegian GETAWAY Inaugural - Eastern Carribean - Feb 2014
Carnival LIBERTY - Western Carribean - Oct 2013

Norwegian DAWN - Western Carribean - Feb 2013
#17
Virginia
21,256 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Glad your first solo cruise was a success! Let us know when your review is posted.
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Fall Foliage Cruise -http://fallfoliagecruise2015.blogspot.com/
South Pacific/North to Alaska - http://halcruises2016.blogspot.com/

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#18
Lake Stevens, WA
28 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Originally posted by Tango99
Oh, it doesn't take much....get your cheque book ready!! I did my first ever cruise just on a whim in February...within 2 weeks of return I had booked back to back inaugural sailing on Getaway and Epic next Feb...I think it had something to do with the snow...more coming tomorrow! :-)
Yeah....Checkbook is out!! I'll be talking to Carly my PCC and finalize booking this week. It's been a week! I think Carly could book me a bunk in the bilge and I might buy it.

Originally posted by Scrapnana
Glad your first solo cruise was a success! Let us know when your review is posted.
Thanks, me too! It was the best of times. They did post my review on the Zaandam. I could have done better but I think I conveyed some good points. It really was a wonderful experience.
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Dancing with the Stars, Western Caribbean, January 2014 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zrxryde...7639951880065/

MS Nieuw Amsterdam Ship Photos, January 2014 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zrxryde...7639951861395/

MS Zaandam Photos March 2013 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zrxryde...7632957402165/

Mexican Riviera Photos, March 2013 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zrxryde...7632961475296/







MS Nieuw Amsterdam III - Western Caribbean, Sept 1990
----way too much time between cruises----
MS Zaandam - Mexican Riviera, March 2013
----Dancing with the Stars at Sea----
MS Nieuw Amsterdam IV - Western Caribbean, Jan 12 2014
#19
Australia
1,116 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Hi, I hope I haven't missed your review, looking forward to reading it.
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Cheryl


Pacific Sun 2009
Diamond Princess 2009
Pacific Dawn 2010
Rhapsody 2010
Rhapsody 2011
Radiance 2012
Voyager 2012
Rhapsody --Nov 2013
#20
Lake Stevens, WA
28 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Hi, Cheryl

If you just go to "select a ship" on the member reviews and drag to the bottom the Zaandam will be there. It's the newest review.
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Dancing with the Stars, Western Caribbean, January 2014 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zrxryde...7639951880065/

MS Nieuw Amsterdam Ship Photos, January 2014 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zrxryde...7639951861395/

MS Zaandam Photos March 2013 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zrxryde...7632957402165/

Mexican Riviera Photos, March 2013 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zrxryde...7632961475296/







MS Nieuw Amsterdam III - Western Caribbean, Sept 1990
----way too much time between cruises----
MS Zaandam - Mexican Riviera, March 2013
----Dancing with the Stars at Sea----
MS Nieuw Amsterdam IV - Western Caribbean, Jan 12 2014