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Everything posted by blythe

  1. We are just off the Zaandam 8/3-8/10 NE/Canada cruise from Boston to Montreal. Embarkation seemed well-organized and fairly speedy. The muster drill, however, seemed quite disorganized. Lots of passengers had gathered on deck near their assigned lifeboat station prior to the drill. But they then made everyone go back inside and reassemble again. It was a mess but didn't last too long. We had to tender at Bar Harbor, which is usual, and then again at Sydney, which can sometimes occur if there is another ship that takes precedence at the main dock. Then, at Quebec City, we had to dock quite some distance from the usual dock at the base of the Old City. They did provide shuttles. The docking situation was disappointing but nothing that one cannot manage. I never felt crowded except at the Lido, which we avoided whenever possible. We almost always dined in the main dining room. The service was fine and the food was generally good. We had an ocean view cabin, 1873, which was mostly quiet and spacious enough for a 7 day port-intensive cruise. There was a surprising amount of storage. I was impressed by that. The bathroom contained a tub/shower combo which was fine for us but I don't see how anyone with limited mobility could climb into and out of the tub. I would recommend taking a nightlight to plug into the bathroom outlet. The wall hairdryer worked fine for us as we both have short hair. Be aware that the handle gets extremely hot if you have it on for long. Cabin service was just fine. I had low expectations for this ship but, overall, was pleasantly surprised and generally pleased. This being high tourist season, all ports were extremely crowded and I would not do this itinerary at this time of year again. But we still had a good time!
  2. Thanks for the input. I may have to rethink having lunch in the PG. Perhaps dinner would be a better option. It's been many years since we have been on a HAL ship and I don't recall much about the food. Anyway, I am sure we will be able to find something that we will enjoy.
  3. We are considering either lunch or dinner in the Pinnacle Grill. Have never eaten there before so would appreciate some input about the menu, service, etc. Thanks.
  4. Thank you Ruth C. Am I correct that breakfast options include the main dining room, Lido, or room service? We plan to lunch in port, at least on a few occasions, as we want to try a lobster roll!
  5. Thank you so much for the information. That helps a lot. How early can you get your tender tickets? We have a private excursion scheduled for 10:30 so I am hoping that will allow enough time to tender into Bar Harbor. The group we are with also has scheduled a tour to Peggy's Cove in Halifax. Other than that, we are taking a very laid back approach to activities. I'm sure we will find enough to occupy our time. May I ask what cabin were you in? We are also on Dolphin deck, in an OV.
  6. We will be on the Zaandam next week and I would love to hear about the food, entertainment, specialty restaurants, anything that you could share. Also, what did you do in each port? Thanks!
  7. Thanks, AryMay, for your comment about the smoky smell in your cabin (#1824) experienced at tender ports. I was able to look up the location on the deck plan and am glad that our cabin is located more mid-ship, starboard. I'm hoping we don't have any problems. I'm very much looking forward to sailing on the Zaandam.
  8. Thanks to all who responded. I am delighted to hear that Zaandam has a fine library. Although we do plan to have some sort of activity to experience all the ports, we still want to leave some time to relax and enjoy the ship. We thought we'd do a short tour of Acadia NP via one of the independent tour companies; maybe just walk around the port at Sydney; do our own walking tour of Quebec City. The group we are with has already scheduled Peggy's Cove for Halifax, plus a tour in Montreal. We are undecided about Charlottetown. Everyone's input is very helpful and I appreciate it.
  9. Thanks for the replies. I would like to know about the tendering process at Bar Harbor. Is it easy to be off the ship early enough to make a 10a.m. private excursion? Also, where does the Zaandam dock at Quebec City? Is it right near the Old Town and easy to do one's own walking tour?
  10. Sorry, gmg613, we are on the August 3-10 cruise, otherwise would love to share a tour!
  11. QHsailor, thanks for your input. How was the tender service at Bar Harbor? Did you take an excursion? We are considering either a short tour of Acadia National Park or simply walking around the town and along the scenic ocean trail. Also, what did the Viatour of Chateaux Frontenac involve? Does the ship dock near enough to old town to just walk around on one's own?
  12. Thanks for the replies. The link to the Sydney info is great.
  13. How is the food in the Pinnacle Grill?
  14. We will be aboard the Zaandam in August with a stop in Sydney from 10am to 6pm. Also in port will be the Carib. Princess. I'm debating just booking a ship's tour (yes, I know, more $$$) due to convenience but am seeking input about reliable indy tours that might be just as safe, considering the large number of cruisers in port that day. Thanks for any help/suggestions.
  15. Lois, have a wonderful Azamara cruise! I always enjoyed reading your reviews and seeing your pictures when you were mostly cruising Celebrity. May I ask you, what are you taking in the way of luggage? You always look so well put-together that I presume you spend a good amount of time planning what you will take.
  16. Thank you to everyone who replied. I am going to use Lois' suggestion to monitor the weather about a week ahead of time. That will help in deciding what clothes to take. I want to keep packing as simple as possible. Wish me luck!
  17. Thanks, Ashland. When you book online do you have to pay in advance or do they collect the fare when you go pick up your ticket at Testa's?
  18. The Zaandam is an old ship and gets very mixed reviews; however, I want to be as proactive as possible in doing whatever I can to address any problematic issues, large or small. Normally, we sail Celebrity in the Caribbean and nothing less than a balcony. I have packing for those cruises down to a science! Some special circumstances find us sailing with other people this time. That, and the itinerary, are primary and the ship is secondary. That said, I also want the shipboard experience to be as pleasant as possible. I welcome any suggestions!
  19. Thank you for the replies. The cruise is from Boston to Montreal so Bar Harbor is our first stop. I've checked both Olley's Trolleys and Acadia National Park Tours and am leaning towards the Acadia one. It leaves at 10a.m. and lasts about 3 hours. We've never done the NE/Canada route so I'm trying to get organized and plan ahead as much as possible. If anyone has any recommendations for Sydney, Charlottetown, or Quebec I would be very happy to know of them.
  20. Thank you for the tips. My husband and I both have short hair that dries quickly so even a low- powered hairdryer will probably suffice. The tea light is a good idea. Would never have thought of that. I always take along a regular plug-in night light but not sure how many outlets there are in the bathroom. I want to pack as lightly and efficiently as possible so appreciate all suggestions!
  21. Approximately how long is the tender ride at Bar Harbor? We will be on the Zaandam in August, scheduled in port from 7a.m. to 4p.m. Barring unforeseen problems, it seems that we would be able to be ashore for an excursion by 10a.m. Does this sound reasonable? Thanks.
  22. I understand that the amenities in an ocean view cabin are not quite the same as a balcony, but will there be a hairdryer and a nightlight in the bathroom? It's been many years since we sailed a HAL ship. Thanks.
  23. Thanks, waterbug, for the trekking pants suggestion. I've never had any of those but will do some research. I want items that will do double or triple duty. When in the Caribbean, I usually just take a pair of white sneakers (I wear a lot of white), sandals and one pair dressy shoes. Somehow, white sneakers don't seem appropriate for this cruise even though it's August. Am I over-thinking things? Would a pair of darker walking shoes be better? Any suggestions are welcome.
  24. Thank you, Lois and geocruiser, for your input. The tip to check weather.com is very good. Am I safe in thinking that long pants, comfy tops, and a sweater or two will suffice for days in port? Of course, I'd bring along a rain jacket, gloves, maybe a medium weight hooded jacket? This is so different than planning for Caribbean cruises. I want to have the proper clothes but also want to avoid overpacking.
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