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sugnessie

Zuiderdam Review, May 21, The Good, The Bad,The Ugly

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Joe and I drove to Fort Lauderdale on Friday, and stayed at the Best Western Marina. It was very close to the pier, and we could see the Zui when it came in.

 

EMBARKATION:

We got to the pier at around 10 a.m. on Saturday, and security at the gate told us they wouldn't let us in until noon! After telling them we wanted to relax in the car and look at the hustle and bustle, they let us through. We parked in the parking garage, (it is $12 a day) and at 10:45 we walked our luggage across the way and handed it over to the stevedores, and tipped them $1 per bag.

 

The doors opened at 11 a.m. and we went through security and checked in and were sitting in the terminal at 11:20. The check in was very easy and fast. The hold up was that I sent off an alarm while going through security, and discovered it was my silver bracelet. We were on the ship at 11:40 and headed up to the Lido.

 

HUNKY DORY:

We met Hunky Dory there as he was handing out trays. He memorizes approximately 800 names a week. He learned ours the first day, and every time we saw him, he was singing and calling out everyones names. We noticed he is very serious when asking a persons name, as if it is very important to him to remember everyone. A special thing that endeared us to him was, one day at lunch a little girl who is hearing impaired was in line with her Mother. Hunky Dory signed and communicated with the little girl and she answered him in sign language. Hunky Dory is amazing.

 

CRUISE CRITIC GET TOGETHER:

Saturday evening some of us from the roll call at Cruise Critic met in the Crows Nest. It was fun to see everyone, however, I found it difficult to hear as we were sitting near the 5 Seasons band, and it was very loud. I spotted Connie a few times after that evening, but never noticed anyone else that had been there.

 

THE SHIP:

THE BAD:

I thought the ship was beautiful. I love those lively vibrant colors. Now for the Bad: Our cabin was #5116 on the Verandah Deck. The cabin was much smaller than the ones we have had on other HAL ships. There was no dresser. Also, the Lifeboats were sticking out and from our balcony we looked out at the tops of the lifeboats. That was a poor design of the ship. We could also see into some balconies if we looked to the side. That was the only bad thing we didn't like on the Zuiderdam.

 

THE UGLY:

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and to my eyes the ugly was the Mezzetini statue on deck 5, midship! That long pointed nose and pointed feet would give anyone nightmares!

 

THE GOOD:

 

FOOD:

Excellent! The food in the Lido was excellent. There are many stations and so many different items to choose from, and we never encountered any wait or any lines. At breakfast they had omelette stations, bistros for a full breakfast, fresh squeezed orange juice, express breakfast and continental stations. There were always servers coming around to pour your coffee.

 

At lunch there was a wok for Oriental dishes, Italian for pizza and pasta, A sushi Bar, deli bar, The Bistro where there were meats and veggies, a salad and soup bar, Ice Cream and pastry bar, and outside there was a grill for hamburgers, fries, veggie burgers, hot dogs, and tacos. There is no way anyone could go away dissatisfied as there were hundreds of items to choose from.

 

The food in the dining room was excellent. We only ate there in the evening. There were plenty of choices, different appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, and desserts.

 

We did not try the Pinnacle Grill at the Odyssey or the Windstar Cafe. The Pinnacle looked very pretty and very elegant, decorated in white, silver, and blue.

 

THE STAFF:

Excellent! Hunky Dory is amazing. The servers that helped in the Lido were all personable and efficient. Our room steward, Erwin, was excellent.

The cruise director, Dane Butcher, has heart. This was his last cruise, and he was very emotional during several talks and tributes. He had many activities planned, and he had energy and you could tell that he was well loved by the rest of the cruise staff and by the entertainers. HAL is losing an excellent man .

 

THE ENTERTAINMENT:

Excellent! We usually do not like the singers and dancers as they seem to be out of tune and boring, however, the shows they put on this week were anything but that! They were fabulous, and the costumes, special effects, were wonderful.

 

Alfreda Gerald performed. She is a featured vocalist with Yanni. She has a powerful voice and did a tribute to the Divas. She was marvelous.

 

Joel Mason performed. He came back to the ship as it was Dane's last week. He is awesome! He looks, sounds, and acts like Elton John. He was outrageous and very entertaining!

 

Julie Barr was the comedienne. She was quite funny and entertaining and she obviously cared for Dane very much and felt his emotions when he broke down.

 

THE WEATHER:

Perfect. The seas were very calm, and the Captain said he never had to use the stabilizers.

 

ACTIVITIES:

There was plenty to do and not enough time to do it in. There were activities for everyone and if anyone says they were bored, well, there's got to be something wrong there.

 

There were plenty of Bingo sessions, and raffles during bingo, and I even won on bingo once.

 

We tried out the casino but did not have any luck.

 

PHOTOGRAPHERS:

They took plenty of photos, but we feel the prices are too high. $20.95 for an Embarkation photo seems a bit much.

 

THE SHOPS:

They had plenty of raffles, and liquor tasting and a big assortment of souveniers. Prices were reasonable.

 

PORTS OF CALL:

First stop was Half Moon Cay. It was a beautiful day and there was plenty to do. As Half Moon Cay is just like our beach, Fort DeSoto, only a half hour from our home, we did not go in the water. There are plenty of nature trails to explore, and wild chickens running around. The Horseback Riding by Land & Sea, looked wonderful and we are going to try that next time.

 

The BBQ along with the music was great.

 

The next port of call was Grand Cayman. We took the tour , Stingray City Sandbar Cruise. We boarded a bus after we were tendered from the ship to the pier. It was about a half hour ride, then we transferred to a boat. When we reached the san

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When we reached the sandbar, we went down a ladder and the stingrays were all around us! We could go underwater and touch them and feed them. They were so cute, and some ladies were screaming, but they soon calmed down. The stingrays were not hurting anyone.

 

I would definitely recommend this tour. I do not know how to swim, and the water is only chest high so there is no problem. It was amazing being able to see the stingrays under water, and there were hundreds of them all around us. It was also wonderful to walk on the bottom of the Caribbean.

 

The next port of call was Costa Maya, Mexico. It was extremely hot there. It was a very long hot walk from the ship to the end of the pier, and then we walked through a shopping complex to the waiting buses. We took the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins tour. I loved it. The buses were new, and very comfortable. We had an entertaining tour guide, Jose. Costa Maya is still undeveloped, and looked very flat and dry. When we completed our tour of the ruins, and were brought back to the pier area, we looked in the shops, but found everything was quite expensive. We collect masks. For instance, last year we went to Belize and Guatamala on the Veendam, and bought native masks there for $10 and $12. In Costa Maya, they were asking $70, and finally went down to $30. By that time, I was insulted, as I offered $25, but he was firm at $30, so we didn't buy one.

 

Key West was our last tour. It is a funky, fun, laid back town. As we live in Florida, we have been there several times, so we just walked around and walked some of the side streets and looked at old houses, etc.

 

DISEMBARKATION:

Very smooth, very easy. We were off the ship at 9 a.m. and were back home at 1 p.m.

 

Would we go on the Zuiderdam again? Of course! Only we would try a cabin that does not look out over the lifeboats, if there are any.

 

Theresa

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Glad you had a great time. We loved the Zuiderdam also and especially Hunky Dory:D . We did the Stingray snorkel tour but were in very deep water. Next time we will do the Sandbar to get more time with the stingrays.

 

We did try the Pinnacle and enjoyed it very much. Worth the extra $$. We have tried the alternative restaurants on every ship where it is available and have never been disappointed.

 

We were in cabin 6020, pretty far forward, but had no problems with motion etc and had a good view. Still smaller than the S class veranda's but OK.

We have since cruised the Westerdam and would do either again. Liked that class of ship.

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Great review, Theresa!

 

Wish we'd had more time to visit with you--we're still trying to figure out where the week went...:)

 

Hope we end up on another HAL cruise with you and Joe sometime!

Connie:D

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Thanks so much for the good review. I am very interested in the Western Carribean tour and am trying to figure out which excursions to take. Thanks.

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Is Dane Butcher leaving the Company or just going on vacation? He has been the Zuiderdam's Cruise Director for many weeks.

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On Half Moon Cay we did the Horseback ride.. best excursion of our trip!! They take you on a ride down the beach and back through the trees and then have you dismount, strip down to your bathing suit (which, hopefully, you've remembered to put on under your clothes) and then have you mount horses with special water saddles and then take you on a exhilarating ride in the water down the beach! The guides are mostly from Jamaica and are a lot of fun! They'll take your camera and take lots of pictures of you during your ride. They don't ask for tips but they do appreciate them.

 

In Grand Cayman we did the snorkel excursion with Capt Bryan on the catamaran. Our guide for the day was Javid and his helper Dolan. They were great. Took us to a nice sand bar to snorkel, then to the stingray area where they held the stingrays and showed us how to also. Took lots of pictures. They also had a photographer who scuba'd and videotaped the whole thing. My brother in law bought the dvd.. $60 I think. It was a fantastic day. No food sold on the boat but drinks were sold after the last snorkel which was to a fantastic reef area. Cost was $39 pp and $25 for the 10 year old with us.

 

We didn't do any excursions in Costa Maya. Went to Mahahual. I would definitely book the Beach Break next time, nice beach area, nice people running the place.

 

Key West we just meandered around and then ended up at the Wharf Bar. Listened to Michael McCloud play and drink buckets of beer.

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Dane Butcher is leaving the company. He is going on vacation for two months and then plans to move to LA where he will try to get into show business. He should do great at anything he tries to do, he has plenty of heart and true emotions.

Theresa

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Thank you, Theresa, for the information. I am truly sorry that he has decided to leave HAL, but hopefully he will find the position he is seeking.

 

I first met him on the Volendam's Asia Pacific cruise in 2002 when he was the Assistant Cruise Director. He did a great job then and, I agree with you, is a wonderfully warm and friendly young man. I was so glad to learn that he was the Cruise Director on the Zuiderdam when I boarded her in February. In talking with him at that time, he really seemed to love his job and particularly liked the Vista Class ships, like the Zuiderdam.

 

Holland America has lost a great employee. But, if things don't work out in show business, I imagine they would be happy to have him return!

 

If you happen to read this, Dane, best wishes and good luck!

 

Bob

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