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Another Zuiderdam Review 3/26

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Let me start by saying that this is only my opinion and should be taken as such. I did a lot of research prior to my cruise, mostly on the message boards. I read a lot of stuff, some of it true, some of it not so true. Please don’t make a decision about cruising based on this review. Set your own expectations, don’t let the message boards set them for you.



My fiancé and I cruised on the Zuiderdam from 3/26 to 4/02. It was our first cruise. We are in our early to mid thirties. Here is my review of the experience:



The good:



- Half Moon Cay is a beautiful island. The beach is wonderful. The horseback riding excursion is one of the coolest things that I have ever done. Only wish that the day here was a bit longer.


- Tortola is likewise a beautiful place. The beach (Brewers Bay) was not crowded. The fish swim right up to you. The views from the top of the island are spectacular. The town is quaint and the people are very friendly.


- Our cabin (A Verandah room on the Navigation Deck) was great. We spent a great deal of time sitting on our balcony watching the sea go by. It was also a real treat to be able to be out there when we were arriving and leaving ports of call.


- The art auctions were fun. I even bought some artwork (although I don’t think the deals you get are really that special).


- Joel Mason, the Elton John impersonator was very good.



The bad:



- The management at the Pinnacle Grill. Was there with my fiancé celebrating the one year anniversary of our first date. About half way through my meal, a little black bug crawled out from under my steak. When brought to the waiter’s attention, he shrugged his shoulders, apologized, and offered me another steak or dessert. Asked to speak to the manager, he did pretty much the same thing. I told him we weren’t paying the service fee, and he then reluctantly said of course not. He also indicated that they had a similar problem with bugs from the greens that they were using as garnish earlier in the day. I understand that things like this happen, what I don’t agree with is the way the staff handled the problem.


- St. Thomas had 7 cruise ships docked the day we were there. Downtown was a mob scene and the beaches were worse. Went to Sapphire Beach to avoid the crowds. People were shoulder to shoulder and you couldn’t get into the water.


- The pools on the ship are ridiculously too small. On the sea days there were so many people that you couldn’t get near a pool, none the less get into one. If you did want to swim, the only thing you could do is stand in the pool because they were so crowded.


- The entertainment on the ship was mediocre at best (with the exception being Joel Mason). If you have ever been to any show featuring professional talent (comedians, Broadway, Vegas, Atlantic City, etc.) you will find these shows to be way below that level.


- The odds in the casino are horrible. The table odds favor the house (for example in 3 card poker a flush pays 3 to 1 where in Atlantic City it pays 4 to 1). The slots don’t pay at all.


- The food was OK, but certainly does not live up to all the expectations set on the message boards. If you frequent restaurants that serve high quality food you will find the food to be average. The set dining times did not work well for us. The Lido was good, but always busy, hard to find a place to sit and lines for food. For dinner we requested a table of 6 with a younger demographic. We ended up at a table of 6, but the other four were two couples that were traveling together. Talk about awkward. We only ate in the dining room a couple of times, mostly because of timing. The Lido, deck BBQ, Pinnacle, or room service covered the rest of our meals.


- The constant push for sales. It is understood that the cruise lines make their money on the extras. However, the non-stop aggressive push to buy drinks, excursions, stuff from the shops, wine packages, spa treatments, etc. was very annoying. The push to buy drinks was especially annoying. This ranged from offering a Pina Colada about 15 times during the deck BBQ to offering water as you got off the ship at port.


- The ship’s photographer. We had our picture taken about 15 times and only had one shot that was worth buying. Just as well I suppose because the pictures are quite pricy.



In summary, we had a good time, after all any vacation is better than being at work. The weather was fantastic, the views were spectacular, the beaches (on Tortola and Half Moon Cay) were nice. The ship was nice, well maintained, and the service was good. The people we met were friendly. But, we were bored on sea days, there were way too many people clamoring for the same deckchairs, pool time, food at the Lido, and seats at the bar. The time in ports is too short, for example Noon to 6 in Nassau is worthless. Half Moon Cay by the time you tender in and out is a very short day. A lot of the things that cruises offer that people enjoy such as the shows, the food, the gambling, the nightlife, etc, are all things that we have the opportunity to experience regularly and at of much higher quality. Although we enjoyed the experience, we don’t plan to cruise again.



Please feel free to post any specific questions and I’ll try to answer.

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Thank you for an honest and thorough review of your first cruise. Good to hear from another first timer. I still can't get over how many people are posting Zuiderdam reviews. As I asked on another post, are any of the other HAL ships sailing or are they all in drydock? :D



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I am glad you had a good time on the Zuiderdam. I was on the March 11th sailing and we found it to be wonderful. We didn't experience the long lines you did at the Lido, as a matter of fact, I thought it was less crowded than other cruises I had been on. We were always able to get a chair around the pool, Lido Deck aft, we did, however, find the pool under the dome was quite crowded, that's why we opted for the aft one instead. Unfortunately, most cruise ships do have small pools, enough to cool off in.


Half Moon cay is beautiful, I have always found ample time to spend there, after 5 hours there, I am ready to head back to the ship. I don't know what time you got off the ship to go to Half Moon Cay, but I am usually on the 9 am tender and by 2 pm, I find myself having enough sun and heading back.

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Thanks for sharing your experiences as a first-time cruiser. Your experience in the Pinnacle Grill is not one I'd expect after all the raves I'd read. How unfortunate.

Doesn't sound as if cruising is your type of vacation. It's not for everyone.

Sea days???? I love them!

Hope your next vacation is a great one!

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