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lovetotravel2

Zuiderdam Review 3/26- 4/2

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Hi,

 

I will start this out by saying this was our 1st cruise- we weren't quite sure what to expect. We cruised with our children ages: 16, 13, 9, and 6. There were approximately 2000 people on board during this cruise.

 

We believe that any experience is as good as your attitude. We tried to get to know the crew members, especially our room steward and dining stewards. Most of this review is from memory as our luggage got delayed in transit so I can't refer back to the actual schedule.

 

We truly had the vacation of a lifetime! We stayed pre-cruise at the Hilton Garden Inn Dania Beach. What a wonderful hotel and I'm picky! The rooms were clean and comfortable, the pool was warm, and the service was hospitable. They were willing to shuttle you around wherever you wanted to go within reason. We had a fun night at Dave and Buster's just across the street on Friday.

 

We arrived at embarkation around 1:30. There were minimal lines at that time and it was relatively easy. We did have all of our paperwork filled out ahead of time. Since it was after 1:00, our rooms were ready when we arrived. We stayed in room 1002 and 1006. We immediately went on a tour of the ship, and sure enough, the minute we entered the Lido restaurant, we met Hunky Dory! We immediately introduced ourselves and I let him know how popular he is on this board! What a great person!

 

We had a dining time of 8:30 in the lower dining area. Throughout the week we received fabulous service from Harismajaya and Anggi. They made recommendations on menu items, and were usually right on. They also made a point to remember our names and gave attentive service. We will miss them.

 

On Easter Sunday, we arrived at HMC. I knew from reading posts here that we should try to get to the island early in order to get seats, especially near the shade. We arrived in the Queen's Lounge to get our tender tickets at approximately 8:30 am. We were given tender tickets #4. The ride was a bit choppy on the way to the island. When we arrived, we had our pick of seats. I was also able to rent 2 clamshells, even though they showed up as "waitlisted" on the HAL website. Thank God we rented the clamshells because it was hot! HMC was absolutely beautiful. I am glad we arrived when we did because anyone arriving after 11:00 had to fight to find chairs- it got that busy. The barbecue on HMC was pretty decent.

 

Our younger kids enjoyed the water area and also met up with Club HAL for the Easter scavenger hunt. This was the beginning of the end as far as seeing our younger 2 kids- they loved Club Hal, and so did we! We headed back to the ship from HMC around 3:00 as the kids wanted to participate in the Easter egg hunt and we needed a break from the heat.

 

We attended Joel Mason's tribute to Elton John on Sunday. He was an outstanding entertainer and I could have watched him every night without getting bored. Great show not to be missed!

 

Monday was a day at sea- these were our favorite days. No rushing to get out of bed in order to go explore. Yes, there were issues with finding chairs. But since the kids were up at Club Hal, we didn't need to be by the pool and went up to the deck. Chairs were even hard to come by up there, but we managed to find a couple. We spent a leisurely day on the ship and then prepared for our 1st formal dinner. Arrive early for the dinner if you want to get your picture taken- the lines were long.

 

The food was always the best on formal nights. We were tempted to skip the formal nights so that we wouldn't have to pack formalwear for 6, but our older daughters wanted to experience it and we're grateful that we did!

 

We spent Tuesday at St. Thomas. We took a taxi to the downtown shopping area and were approached by Luen to take a small tour around the island and spend 2 hours at Sapphire Beach. We shopped for a couple of hours before we left on the tour at approximately 12:15. We were dropped back off at the ship around 4:45. For 6 people, the cost was $100.

 

We made several stops on the way to Sapphire beach and the guides gave talks about the different areas- very interesting. Sapphire Beach was beautiful and crowded, due to 6 ships being on the island that day. I would have been annoyed if I was a guest at the Sapphire Beach Resort seeing all of these cruisers being dropped off and invading their pool, beach, and restaurants! The 2 hours went by quickly and we headed back to the ship. In hindsight, I would have made the decision to spend at least some time on Magen's Bay. The guides discouraged this due to the crowds.

 

Wednesday was spent in Road Town, Tortola. We got off the ship and took a taxi to Cane Garden Bay. We arrived early- around 9:30. Wow, those taxi drivers sure give you the ride of your life! By 11:00, the beach started to fill up a bit, but nothing compared to HMC and St. Thomas. The beach area was beautiful and the water warm. We really enjoyed this day.

 

We were ready to head back to the ship around 1:00. We thought we would do some shopping, but after arriving at the shops decided to just head back to the ship. Did I mention it was hot?

 

Thursday was another restful day at sea.

 

On Friday, we arrived in Nassau. We decided to check out the area to see if we would want to come back to visit on an extended vacation. We headed to the Cable Beach area. We were not impressed with the Spring Break loud atmosphere and decided to check out Paradise Island- much more our style.

 

We explored the Atlantis resort and then headed to the public beach access area. The kids enjoyed this beach and the waves were huge- actually dangerous for smaller children. We had another great day!

 

We sadly disembarked on Saturday around 9:50 am and headed back to the Hilton Garden Inn.

 

Highlights:

 

1. Club Hal was outstanding for the kids! From the moment they woke up in the morning they were ready for the days activities. The counselors were wonderful. We never heard the words, "I'm bored"! The kids had such a great time!

 

2. Service- the service was attentive and friendly. We really enjoyed the atmosphere.

 

3. Food and drinks- Overall the food selection and quality was wonderful. As previously reported, the pizza and pasta buffet is really, really good. We also enjoyed the ice cream bar. I also enjoyed sipping on the iced water with a lemon slice throughout the week at no charge. My husband enjoyed his bucket of beer- 4 bottles for $10 near the Lido pool. We did buy a soda card for the kids to use during the week.

 

4. Entertainment- Joel Mason was super, as was Cielen, the magician. There were other activities to choose from- something for everyone.

 

5. Weather- It was sunny, hot and beautiful every single day- a great escape from Wisconsin. The seas were mild and none of us got seasick.

 

Yes, there were some negative points.

 

1. The common areas were chilly. Remember, to bring a sweater or jacket in the hallways, restaurants, and theaters.

 

2. $$$ Overall, this was an expensive vacation for a family of 6. It was our first cruise and I didn't anticipate some of the hidden costs that go along with a cruise. I'll know next time when planning.

 

3. With teenagers and younger children, it was awfully difficult to be dragging ourselves out of bed around 7:00 am to head off to the islands. Except at HMC, we could have slept in and headed to the islands later in the day, as we never spent the entire day at any destination- we really enjoyed our time on the ship.

 

Wow, I can't really think of anything else negative! What are some people thinking? This was a spectacular ship with friendly, helpful employees. Dane Butcher, the cruise director, had a wonderful sense of humor and did a great job! We truly enjoyed this experience and met some wonderful people.

 

Let me know if you have any questions. But, truly, I'm a pretty picky customer. Our family went in with the attitude to be friendly to the service providers and to genuinely make this a vacation to remember. It definitely was all that and more!

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Great review from a first time cruiser! Glad you had such a great experience. Where are you going on your next cruise? :D

 

With all the Zuiderdam reviews posted here over the past couple of days, I wonder if there are any other HAL ships sailing? :) Maybe the Zuiderdam's been cloned.

 

I'm curious...what specific "hidden costs" did you encounter? It might help others who are planning their first cruise to better anticipate expenses.

 

Thanks again for posting your review.

 

Roz

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Great Review! Thanks so much for sharing your cruise! I'm really glad that you enjoyed it and that the weather was nice. Our kids still love Club HAL - glad yours did too!

 

We frequently cruise with our children and know how much it can add up - especially the shipboard account and the cost for activites in ports. We spend less now as we've sort of "been there - done that" with some of the souveigners and photos, etc. It is nice to get the formal photos of the family though - especially when everyone is dressed up.

 

Thanks again for taking the post! It's so nice to hear someone having such a good time!

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Thanks for your comprehensive review. I'm sailing on the Zui 4/16/05 and glad to hear that your expectations were met!

 

Lin

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Great review - and a wonderful memory! It must have made a very good impression.

 

I can remember travelling with our 4 kids when they were younger and I couldn't always remember what their names were, nevermind where we were that day! :rolleyes:

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Great Review! Thanks for sharing your cruise with us! We had the same feelings on our crusie last Aug. We had a wonderful time as well! Glad you enjoyed your cruise too!

 

So is it too early to ask, when and where is your next cruise hehehehe :)

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Thanks for the great review!

 

Makes me more excited to book our first cruise on HAL! Glad to hear your kids liked Club Hal. We'll have an 8 & 11 year old with us. What kind of room did you book? Did you find there was enough room for everyone?

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Thanks for the great review!

 

Makes me more excited to book our first cruise on HAL! Glad to hear your kids liked Club Hal. We'll have an 8 & 11 year old with us. What kind of room did you book? Did you find there was enough room for everyone?

 

I'm not the OP here, but we've cruised with our two children for years - they are now 16 & 12, but we started in 2000 and they have been on many cruises with us, so I hope I can help you too. We have had everything from outside deluxe (most of the time) to Suites. As you may know, cabin selection is limited for 4 people sharing. We have never found space to be a huge issue - there is usually enough for all of us. With an outside deluxe cabin, one of the beds is an upper berth, usually we assign it to my 12-year old, as she can climb up the ladder easiest. In the Suite, obviously there is much more space and we love it - the sofa bed folds out and it is pretty good sized. Our kids have never had a problem sharing it.

 

Hope this helps. :)

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Thanks for your review.

It won't be long and we will be on the Zuiderdam.

Dane Butcher - boy do we know him. In fact he was just on the Westerdam in January. Hope he is still on the Westerdam when we get on her.

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Thank you very much for this review. All the various little details from this and all the other reviews are giving me a lot of food for thought. We are leaving 5/21 (different itinerary) and I am very excited. With the heat, I wonder if I shouldn't have picked something with more sea days, tho, hahaha!

 

Did you play any onboard games? Trivia, bingo, etc.? How were they?

 

*Now, I have to ask a "serious" question about this bucket of beer. Is it available all day? DH likes beer. I think it's stinky, but want him to be happy.

Thanks again,

Scrumpy

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Thanks for the review! We are less than two weeks away from our own adventure. How did your teens like Club HAL? Did they participate in many of the organized activities?

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I REALLY enjoyed your review!! It's nice to hear from other 1st time cruisers as we were in September. We loved it so much we booked another as soon as we got back! Nancy:)

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Our teens did not participate in Club Hal. They found other teens on the ship to hang around and had a blast! Our 6 year old and 9 year old really enjoyed the Club Hal experience!

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