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okat817

zuiderdam 3/12-3/20 review

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Hello all- we just got back at midnight last night. We stopped in Orlando on the way home to Savannah.

 

We had a wonderfull time on this trip. This was my first cruise so I can't compare it but I know a good time when I have it.:D

 

Embarktation was a breeze. Much easier than I expected. We parked at the Park n' Fly and were taken imediately to the port which is only 2 minutes away. It was only $45 for the week with a coupon that was included with my documents.

 

After we boarded the ship, I was traveling with my 10 year old DD, we heard the call that rooms were ready so we went to drop off our carry-ons. We then went up to the lido for lunch. We met Hunky-Dory first thing and I was so excited to meet him, it was like seeing a celebrity. I had a Deli sandwich and my dd had buffet. Let me just say here that I am an unbelievably picky eater and so take whatever I say about the food with a grain of salt. I dont eat most food that is served on a buffet so I cannot tell you what I thought of it but my dd had it at least once a day and she was very happy.

 

We had entered in a spa drawing that we did not win but were glad for those who did and we went to the club HAL meeting to sign dd up and get oriented with the program. DD could hardly wait to go that evening.

 

We ate dinner that night at the pinacle grill and it was excelent. Well worth the extra money. dd loved the voncano cake and the creme brule was ok. I recomend having the volcano cake.

 

Later that night dd went to club HAL and I went to meet my table mates for the late seating dinner. We were at a six person table and there was only one couple there. They were great people and I enjoyed talking to them.

 

At the end of day one I took in the show and turned in because we were ariving at HMC at 8 am and I wanted to be ready.

End of Day 1

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We arrived in HMC at 8 am and we were on the first tender boat off the ship.

 

The sand on the island was powder and very light. the water was crystal clear and the prettiest color of blue.

 

We picked out our clambshell near the childrens water park so I could keep an eye on dd. We brought our own snorkel gear so we started practicing right away. I think we spent about 4 hours off and on in the water. We went to the cookout which is accesed by a tram car pulled by a tractor. The food was O.K. Hamburgers and hotdogs, cold salads,etc.

 

We had the glass bottom boat tour after lunch. I was a little disapointed with this excursion only because the glass bottom was aprox 18" wide and you had to lean over the built up sides to see down in it. Otherwise it was a pleasent experience.

 

Right after we got back from the boat ride we went on the horseback riding excursion. This was fun. If you have never been on a horse I would be hesitant to book this excursion. It may seem that HMC has no hills big enough to be afraid of coming down, there are some pretty high points and you go up and down them. In fact our rear guide lost his horse halfway through the ride and had to walk back while the horse took his own way back to the corral.

When we got back there were horses already fitted with water pads. The guide took the reins of my 10yr old dd's horse and we went into the water many of the horses were swimming including mine. It was great fun. They let my dd do it twice. No one fell off and everyone loved it.

 

We were the last people on the Island and took the last tender back.

 

Later that night DD took advantage of room service and then went to the movie wich was Lemony Snickets Series of Unfortunate Events.

 

I had dinner in the dining room with my 2 table mates and then went to the show with DD. I believe that was the night when the Elton John tribute show was held. Don't miss this! He was great!

 

End of day 2

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Keep it coming! No need to worry about unpacking, laundry, etc. - those things are downers anyway :rolleyes:

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Day 3 was a sea day, dd and I went to the dining room for breakfast> I must say that the portion sizes are just perfect, for example I ordered the french toast and it was 3 triangles which is just right for me. I can't say that I ever walked away feeling over stuffed. The same goes for dinner portions.

 

I walked around the ship got in on a friendly game of trivia, lost a friendly game of trivia. I watched an art auction. About the art, I was really suprised at the quality of the artwork sold on the ship. They had authenticated Dali, Picasso, Rembrandt, and Miro to name a few.

 

I met dd in the dining room for lunch,(as I said before I'm not much for buffet)

DD had some great looking fish n' chips I had a hot pastrami on rye.

 

Club Hal runs from 9:00am-12:00pm, 2:00pm-5pm then finally from 7:30pm-10:00pm. I liked this schedule because that meant that my dd had to be with me at least 3 times a day.

 

The rest of the day was for lounging on the veranda deck and reading my book.

That evening was formal night and it was nice to see everyone so done up. Some people really got into it. There were very few exceptions and those who did not dress up stuck out like a sore thumb.

 

I believe I capped this night off by going to the piano bar where Kory was singing and getting the audience involved. It was alot of fun and I don't normaly sing in public places but he was so corny that I couldn't help myself.

Everyone was joining in and even dancing.

I turned in after that, he closed at 1am and we were due at St Thomas at 8am. There isn't much to do after 1am except the casino and the disco so if your looking for nightlife this isn't the place. I wasn't looking for nightlife so I was ok.

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Really enjoying your review - hurry with the rest - we leave for Fla. on Thursday!

:-)

Sandy

Charlotte

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Great review! Keep it coming! I'm with Sandy and Charlotte on the Zuiderdam next week, and I can't get enough of it! I'm glad you liked the Elton John tribute, I have heard good things about it.

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We will be on the Z also next week so appreciate the info! Any opionions on kids Club would be great! We want to book the Pinnicle the first night but know our boys would not like it. Is the kids club open the 1st night?

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We were all awoken early for immigration we were to be ready by 8:00am to be called down by floor. I heard alot of grumbling from other pax but I didn't mind as we had an excursion at 9:15am to go to st Johns Trunk Bay.

We went through imigration easily and exited the ship at around 9am as the meeting point for the excursion was the gangway. We had ordered room service breakfast and we were missing several items that we ordered, this was a reacurring theme with breakfast. Not once did we get everything or when the count was right the items were wrong. My suggestion is go to the lido or the dining room when at all possible.

We met our group on the peir and were hustled to an open air taxi and driven to a boat that held aprox 150-200? people. We then sat on the boat for an hour waiting for pax from other cruises to board. My dd went to sleep with her head on a table for the entire time. We left St. Thomas at 10:30 and set off for St. John.

St. John was beautiful, we went in another open air bus into the jungle and came out to a beautiful beach. We were given snorkel gear and a time limit of 1 hour before we had to board the bus back to the ferry. We hurredly got to snorkeling. The water was choppy that day however it was manageable and we had a pleasant swim.

We were rushed back to the ferry and went back to St Thomas. We arrived back at around 2pm. I later learned that we could have bought a ticket on a later ferry and returned up to 3 hours later. We deffinately would have done this had we known. If you are planning to do this excursion look into doing this on your own as you will have a much looser schedule and be able to have fun without looking at your watch constantly, but definately visit St John.

 

We left the ferry and went to the shopping district which was a short walk. There is alot of traffic and an enourmous amount of honking. We had lunch in a 10 table bar and grill in an alley way(everything is in an alley). We shopped around, bought a few trinckets and were aproached by 2 women who wanteds to braid my dd's hair. My dd's hair is very long and I was worried about the price but they charged me $1.50 per braid. That was aparently a very good price so we did it.

 

We were back on the ship for our 5pm appointment at the spa. I was having a facial and dd had a neck and shoulder massage. I suggest waiting for shore days to book any spa treatment. They will post any specials on the board in the spa the morning of the specials. My facial was $20 and my dd's massage, which turned into a 25 min full back massage was $30.

 

I went to dinner without dd again and found myself without any tablemates so I invited myself to the nearest table that wasn't full. They were delightful people and we had a great time.

 

I believe this was the night that the magician performed. He was very good and my dd was thrilled by his performance. The puppy in the act is adorable.

Turned in early as we were to arrive in Tortola at 7am and we had a 8:30am excursion to Virgin Gorda.

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The kids club is open the first night and they have a sail away party for the kids starting at 7:30pm. They had several fun activities including an icecream eating contest, a treasure hunt, tye dying a t=shirt as well as a free cd case with the weeks schedule for the club. There were about 50 kids in the 9-12 age group on our sailing and they were allowed to sign themselves in and out so if they are old enough you do not have to pick them up. If they are under 9 they must be picked up by a parent or someone on your list. My dd was loathe to miss any of the evening activities. They also offered a group sitting from 10pm to 12am for a $5 an hour charge. Have fun, I know we did.:D

 

PS spend alot of time on HMC as this was deffinately the most kid friendly beach and it had the calmest easiest to swim water.

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Thanks, We have 7 year old twins and they love the clubs on Disney and Princess. It sounds like HAL's will equally impress them! They like dressing for dinner but think the Pinn. might be too much for them, they would do fine but not really enjoy like we will.

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We arrived promptly at 7am and what a beautiful place this was. There was none of the hustle and bustle of St. Thomas and I apreciated that very much.

 

We had breakfast in the lido and quickly departed the boat to take our excursion to Vigin Gorda. This went very quickly as we were only one of 2 ships in port and the other was the Raddison with I think fewer than 800 pax.

 

This excursion is a must but you have to be physicaly active. There is alot of climbing, walking and the surf is very strong at the beach.

There is a 15min walk down to the beach, it is steep and could be dangerous without the proper walking shoes. Wear your athletic shoes! After the walk you could go right to the beach where there were fascilities or you could go through the caves. We went through the caves. It was beautiful. There were several times it was slippery and depending on the tides it could be filled with water or reletively dry. It was low tide this time so it was fairly dry. After you come out of the caves, you come to a very secluded beach with a fairly strong tide, The sand was rocky and after about 3 feet out the ocean floor suddenly dropped off. There were alot of kids playing in the shallow water and body surfing in the strong tide. It was a truly beautiful place and probably the highlight of my trip.

 

We returned to Tortola after 2 hours on VG at around noon. We then took a taxi to Cane Garden beach. There we rented beach chairs and DD went to play with some kids at the beach. They were playing reggae and had several bars set up on the beach. I'm not much of a drinker but a drink called a bushwhacker caught my eye. It looked like a milkshake and tasted like one also. I had 3, oops.:o This beach was beautiful and I also highly recomend visiting here. The taxi ride was $6 per person each way.

 

We had our taxi driver come back at 3:30 just in case because our all abourd was at 4:30. We stopped at the flea market so I could get some conch shells for my classroom. They were $10 apiece which was alot less than St Thomas.

 

I slept until 8:00pm. (bushwhackers!)

 

At dinner I had a great appetizer of brie encrusted with hazelnuts, trust me,order 2.:)

After dinner I went to the piano bar where I had lots of fun playing Name-that-Tune even if we lost badly.

 

I also tried my hand at slot machines and didn't win once so I went to bed.

 

I have to sign off for now and make dinner. More later--Tracy

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I probably would not have taken my dd here except that her favorite meal in "the whole wide world" is filet mingon. It was very good and she enjoyed it very much. I also think that she was on her best behavior because it was the first night and she was so excited to be there. She was making sure that she was using the right fork and such. It was cute.

 

On sea days you can have lunch there for $10 a person, We did on day six and filet was on the menu for lunch as well. I have to say that my dinner there was far superior to my lunch when I had to send back my lunch once for being overcooked and then a second time for being practically raw. If you can,get a late seating for the pinacle after club Hal has started.

 

Have a great time:)

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Wow, awesome review! Thanks so much for sharing your cruise with us! It sounds like a wonderful cruise! :)

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Day 6 was a sea day so we slept in and dd went right to the kids club while I went to the Vista dining room for breakfast. I ordered the eggs benedict and it was very good.

 

I tried to go up to the pools and get a chair but they were all being "used". Chair hogging was a big problem on this day. I decided to go to the veranda deck and get a chair in the shade to read my book.

 

Later that morning I went to a Scattegories tournament that was downright cutthroat. There were several PAX in there that were really mean, one even called me weird. I won anyway.:D The CD gave me 2 prizes because he felt so bad about how the other Pax were acting.

 

I met DD for lunch at the Pinacle. I already wrote about that, then I went to the art auction to observe. DD went back to the kids club.

 

Later that afternoon was the dessert extaveganza which I had heard on boards was going to be a chocolate extraveganza and was going to be a late night snack. There was a long line and I took my dd and her friend. It was at tea time so I think it was 3:15-4:00pm. There were several torts very nicely decorated, a chocolate fountain with bananas to dip and several varieties of pastries. One of the cakes was decprated with marzipan mica and cheese and I said to my dd that I loved marzipan and the waiter heard me and put a mouse and a huge wheel of cheese on my plate. Just make sure you check your daily schedule for this event because alot of Pax missed it thinking

this was going to be at night.

 

Thatnight was formal night an dd went to eat early with her friend and went to the show as well. That night was baked alaska night wich was the only option for dessert as far as I could tell. I don't care for baked alaska but I had already had so much dessert at the earlier buffet that I didn't care.

 

My dd joined me for the second show and she just loved it. She left before the end because she was tired. I thought they did an excelent job on this show and later I found out that several of the cast had just joined the ship this week so I was doubly impressed. I went to the piano bar and then went to bed.

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What a great review okat817 - we'll be on the Zuiderdam in early June and enjoyed reading all of your info. Do have a question - was your trip to St. John's thru HAL or one you arranged privately? If it was a HAL excursion, was it the Trunk Bay Beach trip or National Park Island Tour?

 

Thanks again for your enthusiastic review.....

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Later that morning I went to a Scattegories tournament that was downright cutthroat. There were several PAX in there that were really mean, one even called me weird. I won anyway.:D The CD gave me 2 prizes because he felt so bad about how the other Pax were acting.

 

Hmm I have to wonder if this was the same tournament that I was playing in. There was this one woman playing who kept trying to tell Drew, the assistant CD how the game should be played, and what rules she always played with (making them the be all to end all I guess). And to top that off whenever her answers were questioned by the other teams, she would get quite defensive and argue her point until the other teams just said "the heck with it" and gave in. Of course, maybe that was her strategy? ;) There is nothing like a competitive game of Scattegories but people like this individual sure ruined the whole thing for me. It's a good thing she wasn't playing Pictionary with me that week...she might have gone away crying if my team stole the winning point from her team like we did in the end to another team. :D

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Keep it coming! No need to worry about unpacking, laundry, etc. - those things are downers anyway :rolleyes:

 

What? You don't bring home your room steward to handle those things? I thought he came with the room!

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We slept in again because our docking time was either 12:00 or 1:00pm, I can't remember. We went to the Vista dining room for breakfast and they were really busy. We sat at a 4 person table with another couple who had ordered about 10 min before we got there. about 15 min later our food came out but the couple who had been there still did not have thier food. I had ordered the eggs benedict again and this time it looked as if it had been sitting under a heat lamp for a long time. DD's breakfast was fine.

 

We had booked an excursion to go snorkeling in the ocean by boat and one of the stops was to snorkel with the sharks. I can't remember what the name of the excursion was. We docked a little late and the trip was scheduled for depature at 12:30 so I think we got started at 1:00pm. We walked through the marketplace to a bus that took us for a 30 min ride through a very depressing section of the island to the boat that we were taking to the open water. We boarded a small boat I think there were about 30-40 people on board and were given snorkeling gear. We traveled for about 10 minutes to a place out pretty far with a very strong current. There was a coral reef below us and we were to get off the boat and snorkel . My dd decided that it was too choppy for her and stayed on the boat. I got in and found the water very difficult to swim. A few minutes later a wave went over my head and I breathed in a large amount of water. While trying to recover from this I swallowed several mouthfulls also. All this time I'm basically drifting farther and farther away from our boat. I would say I was about 100 feet away by now and trying my best to get back. There were 2 other swimmers having similar difficulty beside me. Luckily there was another boat with scuba divers close by so I and the other two swimmers went to that boat. Our boat came by after all the other swimmers were back on board and picked us up.

 

I was a little sick after that experience so I decided not to go back in the water again when I couldnt touch the floor of the ocean. The next stop is where there were sharks. They dropped a chum basket about 20 feet down and that attracted the sharks then the snorkelers got in the water and held on to a line. The sharks were swimming about 15 feet bekow them and lots of people got some great pictures I imagine. When all the swimmers were back on the boat they brought up the chum cage and trew the dead fish on the surface. This is when all the sharks came up and started feeding on the fish. It was really cool. These were Caribbean reef sharks that apparently are scavengers and that is why it was safe to get in the water with them. Most of the people on board did go in there were only about 8 of us who did not.

 

By this time I was feeling really sea sick and so were several of the other PAX. We went to one more spot that was pretty calm and lot of people said it was beautiful, lots of fish and shells.

 

We headed back and took a different route because we had several people at the resorts. We shopped at the marketplace for a few minutes then headed back to the ship as the all aboard was at 6:30 and it was already 6:00.

 

We settled in for our last night. The late show was actually early, at 6:30, so we missed it. I believe it was a montage of the ships entertainment. DD went to the kids club and had a farewell party and I went to dinner and then to the piano bar for sing along. Had to have my bag outside the door by 1:00am for the next days disembarktation.

 

Disembarktation was a breeze as well. we waited in our room to be called and that happened around 9:15.

 

We had a great time on our cruise and I would deffinately do this again. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask. I would be happy to answer them if I know the answer.

 

PS It was the Trunk Bay excursion

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Enjoyed your review - Thanks!

 

I have a 10 year old dd also, and was interested to see your dd's view of things.

It appeared to me that you gave her alot of freedom on the ship - you felt it was safe for her to be about the ship without you? Did she go to bed before you got back to the room?

I have been wondering about the freedom issue for both my 10 yr old and my 15 yr old (who would not be in Club HAL activities together because of the age difference).

Don't want to be paranoid, but don't want to be stupid either.

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Club Hal ended at 10:00 and we always met back in the room at that time. She either went to bed or came with me to the shows. Usually she went to sleep. Also during the day she was almost always with her friend that she made on the ship. For the child to be in club Hal in the 9-12 age group they had to be able to sign themselves in and out or they would be moved to the next lower age group wich was 5-8. We always had a meeting place and time and she stuck to it so I wasn't worried.

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An absolutely great review of your cruise okat817. Thanks for sharing.

 

Later that morning I went to a Scattegories tournament that was downright cutthroat. There were several PAX in there that were really mean, one even called me weird. I won anyway.:D The CD gave me 2 prizes because he felt so bad about how the other Pax were acting.

 

Scattergories is always cutthroat. There is always ONE who has to dispute every answer and it should be such a fun game. Win or lose it is how you play the game! So glad you won!

 

So, when is your next cruise?

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Hi Okat! I was so so thrilled to read your review for many reasons! The first was that you were one of the few reviews of the Zuidy that I have read that were favorable! We(me, my dh, my two dd's age 5 and 8, my parents, my sister, her DH and her DS age 6) will be on the Zuidy on 4/23 and I have been in a complete panic because so many reviews have been negative! I LOVE YOU!!! Also I have been tremendously unsuccessful in getting any info about Club HAL from these boards at all so I thank you for that as well!!! I am newly rejuvenated and excited about going!! Thanks!!!:) :p :o :rolleyes: :cool:

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