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djludwig@prodigy.net

Zuiderdam - Yet another 4/16 - 4/23 Review !!

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My family is made of my Wife and myself ( in our 50's ) a Son (Age 17 ) We had our second cruise experience last week on the Zuiderdam. Our other cruise had been last summer on the Celebrity Zenith from NYC to Bermuda.

We had a wonderful time on our Bermuda Cruise and we had a wonderful time last week on the Zuiderdam. This review will probably sound like a repeat of many of the glowing reviews you have already read about last weeks Zuiderman cruise. Here goes my take:

 

Room: Had a Deluxe Verandah Stateroom ( #6031 ) which was very nice and very comfortable for three people. Had about a 6'X8' Balcony. Balcony had two chairs, small table and otterman. Very comfortable for two people, a little crowded when all three of us used the balcony. Room was very clean with very good storage space. Room was very efficient ( slightly better than the so called suite I had on Celebrity Zenith last summer ). Our room steward ( Ismail ) was outstanding !! On a scale of 1-10 are room was a 9+

 

Food: Breakfast we usually ate in the Lido restaurant it was very efficient, very good quality with many choices. We had room service one day for breakfast and that was very good. Lunch was similiar, good quality, many choices ( my family loved the pizza ). Food and deserts were availalble all day. While dinner was good it was not great most nights. We may have been spoiled by Celebrity last summer. Celebrity is generally considered the leader in cruise dining and while we found Zuiderdam evening meals to be more than adequate. The presentation, quality, service and atmosphere in my opinion did not quite match Celebrity Zenith when it came to dinner dining. However room service on the Zuiderdam was excellent ( much better than Celebrity Zenith ). We also ate at the Upscale Pinacle Restaurant and it was very good. It is especially good for Beef and Salmon ( even though my wife enjoyed her Shrimp Scampi). On a scale of 1-10 the food was a solid 8.

 

Activities / Entertainment:

On Sunday on Half Moon Cay we rented to Clam Shells and hung out on the beach until 1:45pm when we went on the Glass Bottom Boat Eco Lagoon tour.

Half Moon Cay is beautiful and is one of the hightlightso of our trip but the Eco Lagoon Tour was average at best. Not a lot to see.

 

Went on the Champagne Catamaran and Snorkle Cruise to St. John on Tuesday ( our day in St Thomas ). Nice time wonderful sail, nice crew, good drinks, average snokeling. We really enjoyed it !! Would recommend it !! But probably not for young children. Still left time for other activities ( such as shopping ). We left the ship at 9;00am and were back on board by 1:30pm. Ship did not depart St. Thomas until 9:00pm.

 

Wedesday our day in Tortola. We had visited Tortola for a week in 1995 and love the Island ! We had been to the baths previously ( a nice take ) and had snorkled previously on a wonderful Snorkle Catamaran ( the Patouche ). So this time we took a cab with other people from the boat to Brewer's Bay. This is a wonderful, scenic and sometimes scary cab ride ( you climb through and over the Tortola mountains ) to a quiet classic beautiful carribean beach with a little quaint beach bar and few people. We loved it and would recommed it for those people who don't want the crowds of Cane Garden Bay.

 

Entainment on the boat was plentiful and probably a 6 on a scale of 1-10. I went to both variety shows ( Monday and Thursday ). I was a little disapponted in the Monday show but was quite impressed with the Thursday Night Production. The male and female vocalists were average but the Dancer's and Costumes made up for it.

Also saw a comedian ( he was OK ), Used the Northern Lights Disco ( with it's Ode to the Holstein Cow Decor ). We danced and had fun but this Disco has definite design problems. Not enough seats and a disjointed design. However sound system was good.

While we all loved the Zuiderdam there were some imperfections that bothered us a little. The aforementioned Disco and the flow of the Main Decks of the ship that required you to fight your way through gift shops and the photograhy department to reach the dining room. Again small potatoes and we loved the boat but the flow of the boat on certain main floors seemd less than ideal.

The Gym was nice and large and never crowded. The pools were almost never crowded. The Aft pool that we used mostly is mainly for adults. I did feel the Hot Tubs were to small for a ship that size.

The Zuiderdam Shooping consultant (Chris ) has an excellent knowledge of the stores in St Thomas, Tortola and Nassau. Anyone considering a major jewelry purchase should attend Chris's seminar.

 

Conclusion, A great ship, a wonderful dedicated staff ( always seem to have a smile on their face ). I would love to sail the Zuiderdam again !! Was every thing perfect ?? No, but everything was pretty darn close !!

For any of you about to leave on the Zuiderdam, I am jealous, But I will predict you will have a great time !!

I don't know what the ship was like a year or two ago ( when the reviews were often mixed ) but it seems to me that in 2005 this ship is doing it right and has many very happy guests !

Sit back and enjoy it, we certainly did !!

 

Glad to answer any specific questions anyone may have !!

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I definitely agree with you about the cab rides in Tortola. They can be very scary.

 

Thanks for sharing your cruise with us, it sounds like you had a wonderful trip.

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Welcome Back.

 

Happy you had such a good time on Zuiderdam. Thanks for your nice review. It was fun to read.

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Great review, candid and objective...I enjoyed reading it. Sounds like the Zui has come a long way since the 2003 reviews, hopefully they can keep up the good work. I'm not fond of layouts that funnel passengers through the shopping and photo areas to get from A to B, but that's probably a fairly effective business strategy (is it possible to use the promenades to sneak around?). Welcome home, and thanks for posting!

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I am sure it was possible to avoid those areas. I am not quite an experienced enough cruiser to find my way around those design traps yet. I usually have a good sense of direction but the 2nd and 3rd floors of that Ship ( Zuiderdam ) I found somewhat confusing. It just seemed like they flowed you into or through the shopping and photography areas. As you stated that was by design it was no mistake.

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Thanks for the great review! How is the Upper Verandah deck? We are staying on the same level in one of the SS cabins in July - any advantages/disadvantages to the location? Thanks!:)

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Thanks for the great review -- well thought, easy to read and I definitely caught your enthusiasm for your trip. Which is a good thing: we'll be on the Zuiderdam next month!

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We liked the Upper Verandah Deck very much. We were only three floors below the pool and gym. And our balcony was high enough above the water that even in fairly rough seas we had no problem with sea spray. I would probably request that floor again.

For a big ship I was a little surprised how much I felt the sway of the ocean. Even on some of the lower floors. While this boat was considerably bigger ( 85K tons ) than than Celebrity Zenith ( 48k tons ) it appeared to be slightly more sensitive to rolling seas. Not a big deal but having some seasick medication with you is always a good idea.

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Glad you liked your cruise. We loved the Zuiderdam when we were on it a year and a half ago. Glad to see at least a few others liked it too.

 

-Ken

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The Champagne Catamaran Snorkle Cruise was fun, you leave in a van about 9;15am ( try to be outside the ship before 9am ) you have a 35 minute van ride across the Island. You have a nice sail to St. John ( 1 hour ), snorkle for about 1 1/4 hours and sail back ( 1 hour ) with variety of mixed drinks and snacks. Fun time you will be back at the ship by 1:40 and still have almost 7 hours to shop or hang out in St Thomas. Is the Snorkling great ?? No, but it is decent and you moor right near a beautiful isolated St. John beach called Honeymoon Beach so if you get tired of snorkling you can sunbathe. A nice relaxing excursion. The cabin ( who is orginally from Massachusetts ) points out famous houses that are or were owned by people like Barbara Streisand ( SP?) and Michael Jordan. Have Fun !!

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I am sure it was possible to avoid those areas. I am not quite an experienced enough cruiser to find my way around those design traps yet. I usually have a good sense of direction but the 2nd and 3rd floors of that Ship ( Zuiderdam ) I found somewhat confusing. It just seemed like they flowed you into or through the shopping and photography areas. As you stated that was by design it was no mistake.

Going by memory of the Oosterdam, there is NO way to get to the Upper Level Dining Room w/out going through the Photo Gallery. At dining hours traffic was backed up all the way to the Ocean Bar.

 

I think you can get around the Shopping Arcade itself, but if you ever enter that rat's maze it is entirely possible a search party will have to be sent in to find you.

 

Can you tell I far prefer the design of the S and R ships? ;)

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we were on the same curise... we had lower level dinning seating and didn't have the maze of shops and photo gallery to go through. DH is probably happy about that, had to make a special trip to shop instead of doing it every night before dinner. We have been on several carnival ship and never had that ship roll the way it did on saturday night. but just think we could have had a 60 ft wave hit the ship. so a little roll wasn't that bad. sometimes it's not the ship, her size, or stablilzers, it's the seas that are the deciding factor for how much you feel the ship moving. also i see you had the same issue my DH had with the food. that was the only thing he could say that carvinal did better than holland america.

 

i do see that you had the same wonderful experience we did with holland american and the zuiderdam.

 

also one last comment if you like to play trivia games check out a couple, you will love the assistant cruise director who mc's them. the zui's dam australian.

a little tidbit of info if you add anything austrailan to your team name or answers he'll give you extra points.

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Seems you've done a bit of snorkeling before this cruise. How would you rate the snorkeling at Brewer's Bay on Tortola?

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People tell me it can be good, but on the day we visited I screwed up and left our snorkle masks back on the ship. People from the ship were with us and did snorkle and said they were disapointed. There were some waves that day and the gentlemen that runs the Beach Bar said that would normally hurt the snorkeling ( cloudy visibility in the water ).

I have been to Tortola before. If Snorkeling is important to you I would consider making reservations on the Patouche Catamaran Snorkle Cruise, while you are in Tortola ( they sell out in advance, you can book online ) that was the best snorkle cruise I have ever been on.

Brewers Bay was a wonderful quiet Caribbean Beach with a nice Beach Bar and we had a great day there, but the particuliar day we visited apparently the snorkeling was not very good.

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