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About Sailnsurf

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  1. Its pretty good and it's easy. I was also diagnosed with coeliac disease only a few years ago. My first cruise after being diagnosed was with HAL on the Volendam in 2016. I managed well on that cruise. My last cruise was on HAL's Nieuw Statendam in June this year. I found it even easier than before and that almost all food servers either had knowledge of gluten free foods or knew enough to know they needed to consult someone more senior. The wait staff in the Main Dining Room and all Specialist Restaurants were well informed. I can pass on a few tips. Once you have informed HAL of your H's condition ( which the terms of contract require you to do 90 days prior to sailing so do so as soon as you are able) you should receive an acknowledgement from HAL that the Ship Catering section has been advised. When you make any food order in the MDR or Specialist restaurants the computer system will identify that your H is Celiac and is restricted to Gluten free foods. I would however caution against relying on this alone - always specifically make your H's needs known and if food is served without the server confirming it is gluten free, ask for that confirmation. It is easy for mistakes to be made. We had booked open dining but as soon as we boarded we booked a set time that suited us. That way you can also ask for the same table so that you have the same waiters. I had not done that before and it made a real difference. The waiters get to know your preferences and things like gluten free toast ( I prefer it to bread) together with a separate butter dish were provided within minutes of being seated and without my having to even ask for it. The MDR menu will usually have some items marked as gluten free but you are not limited to those choices. You can arrange that the next night's menu is provided towards the end of the meal and within reason you can select almost anything and it will be specially prepared gluten free. I often threw out challenges to my waiter whether a particular dish could be prepared gluten free, and if not would select an alternative. I was amazed at some of the dishes which could be provided. When booking at a Specialty Restaurant I always arranged to pre-order my meal because some dishes can be prepared gluten free, but not easily at short notice. The Lido buffet was initially a nightmare. The serve staff there appeared to have been trained to play it safe and to always say that the dish concerned contained gluten. Better safe than sorry. In desperation I sought out a maître D/ Food Station Manager, and thereafter I was able to obtain the Lido Menu either at Dinner the previous evening or at breakfast. If I knew I was having lunch in the Lido I would pre-order, giving an approximate time, my waiter would ensure that was passed on and I would then contact the station manager when I arrived. I had some really good meals served personally to me at the Lido. This is the type of service which I think sets HAL apart and which makes cruising with HAL such an easy holiday for a Celiac sufferer. I hope this is of help to you/your H.
  2. We completed a 21 day Norwegian Fjords cruise on the Nieuw Statendam, which is virtually identical to the KDam, in June this year. Prior to this we had cruised on smaller HAL ships, Eurodam, Noordam and Volendam. We had a fantastic cruise on NS but we definitely felt more crowded than on the smaller ships. But there was also a subtle change - a sense of some loss of the illusion of exclusivity which HAL somehow manages to create. We found the Lido pool area, which we had previously been a pleasant place to relax and watch the world go by had become so noisy due to the playing of documentaries during the day, that it was an under utilised area, causing people who would have used it to go elsewhere. This no doubt caused unnecessary crowding in those areas. It was very difficult to get a seat at any time in the Grand Dutch Café. The conclusion we came to was that in future we would only be interested in cruises on HAL's smaller ships (we have a booking for the Zuiderdam). But everyone is different and obviously HAL has done the numbers and concluded that there will be more people who like their larger ship offerings than not. For our review of the Nieuw Statendam see the review section and our heading " The Nieuw Statendam - a beautiful ship but not necessarily better". I am sure with all the information provided by all who have responded that you will be able to make a decision which will be best for you. Good luck and enjoy your cruise.
  3. I am a loyal HAL fan, not the most experienced cruiser, but have completed 3 back to back cruises and one re-positioning cruise, covering the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, Western Europe, Baltic countries, Japan to Alaska and most recently from 2 June to 23 June the Norwegian fjords on the Nieuw Statendam. My purpose in this review is not to deal with every aspect of the cruise on NS, as most topics are well covered in the many reviews published since its launch. It suffices to say she is a beautiful ship, well designed in all respects (other than the closed in effect of the Promenade Deck), and is tastefully finished in its furnishing and art works. She is operated like a well- oiled machine. Her Officers and crew do an amazing job. Rather my purpose is to give my opinion on a few issues, with which some may disagree, but in relation to which, if there are enough others who agree, may give HAL cause to make some changes which I think could alter the experience of future passengers on the NS very much for the better. For me the problem with the NS does not lie in any way with the ship or its crew. The problem is with the passengers. Those we came in contact with were very nice people – it is just there were too many of them. In the first 7 day leg of the cruise they had not learned how to spread more evenly between the many venues. Everywhere seemed crowded. During the second 14 day leg passengers were definitely better distributed but it was still not easy to find a table in the Lido during peak periods (we were in a party of 4 which probably made it a little more difficult) and there were still queues waiting to be allocated tables in the Main Dining Room. We also found during both parts of the cruise that it was difficult to find a quiet place to play cards or just to relax and enjoy the quiet of ocean travel. The effect for me, compared to previous cruises on the Eurodam, Noordam and Volendam, was a sense that the somewhat illusory feeling of a degree of some exclusivity which HAL managed to create on those ships, had been lost. There are a few things which could be done to address some of these issues. Our observation was that the covered front pool area was much underutilized except during meal hours. The reason for this was noise. Documentaries were often shown on the large screen during various times of the day. Very few people seemed interested in them but everyone had to deal with the blaring sound which made conversation difficult. Other than meal times this large seating area was virtually deserted. At night when movies were shown there was often no more than 4 or 5 people watching. On previous cruises we would often sit in this area and just enjoy the world going by. I would suggest that the large screen and sound system not be used at all during the day. This will take pressure off other areas. Thought might be given to whether there is any benefit in showing films at night on cruises to colder areas or whether some better use could be made of the area. During the day we also experienced that talks were given in public lounge areas. On one occasion a talk was being given using a public address system which was so loud you could not hear yourself think in the adjoining lounge area. We and others got up and vacated the lounge. This could be easily avoided by ensuring any talks are conducted in isolated areas or closed rooms. Although we had an overall very enjoyable cruise I personally will be unlikely to cruise again on the NS or the Koningsdam because of the sense of loss of exclusivity to which I have referred. I query whether cruise lines have made the right decisions in the move to bigger and bigger ships. It is now well known that Amsterdam has concerns about the flood of tourists associated with cruise ships and that Venice is concerned about the effect of cruise ships. Bergen now intends to place limits on the number of tourists which may visit that city. I love cruising and will remain loyal to HAL for as long as possible because I think it is a very well- run company, which trains its staff to serve its clients well and which in my experience has always been responsive to any concerns raised. But for now my future cruising will be restricted to HAL’s smaller ships.
  4. Thanks very much for your helpful reply. That puts my mind at rest.
  5. My wife and I have booked a Verandah cabin with Queen bed, which is designated as a quod cabin, for our Norwegian cruise on the Nieuw Statendam leaving on 2 June. I wonder if anyone who has occupied a quod verandah cabin on the NS can advise how the cabin is configured when only occupied by a couple? Does it present as a normal cabin with main bed and sofa? Is there any other bed or convertible arrangement which might cause any obstruction?
  6. Thanks to all who have provided details of their own experiences and informed views designed to give guidance. This is an example of Cruise Critic working as it should. I have found it very useful. Balancing all information, I have been tipped by Fouremco's post, highlighting the risk of significant swells, in favour of a decision to go midship and midlevel on this cruise. My wife will feel more comfortable knowing we have done what we can to minimise the effect of any instability and with that knowledge will make the best of whatever comes.
  7. Thanks also 3rdGenCunarder. Your reply is most helpful and much appreciated.
  8. Thanks Miss G that is just the sort of factually based and helpful reply I needed to help make a decision. I enjoyed the link too.
  9. Well thanks for your help!! Different sea conditions can be expected in different locations. I was happy to have an aft cabin in the Med but thought it better to select a midship cabin for a North Pacific crossing. That proved a wise decision. Incidentally, I have never been sea sick but my wife is sensitive to motion so I would not choose an aft cabin if significant swells are likely to be experienced. Short rough seas are not likely to be a problem thanks to modern stabilisers. I do not know what conditions are likely on the US East coast North of New York in the Fall ( I am from Australia) . I would assume that the St Lawrence would be perfect for an aft cabin but would appreciate any guidance which others can give based on their experience.
  10. I am thinking of booking an aft cabin for a New York to Quebec cruise on the Zuiderdam in late September 2020 and would welcome guidance about the suitability of an aft cabin particularly having regard to sea conditions. We had a marvelous Mediterranean cruise in an aft cabin on the Noordam but never experienced much of a swell. On the other hand we did a North Pacific crossing on the Vollendam from Japan to Alaska when walking the promenade deck alternated from up to down hill as we cut through the swell. Fortunately we were in a mid ship cabin. I don't think an aft cabin would have been comfortable in those conditions. I would love to hear views of those who have done a New England Canada cruise.
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