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shmily

Back from the Zuiderdam June 11-18

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Hi Cruisers,

 

We are just back from the Zuiderdam and had a fabulous time there. "No worries" was the theme for the week.

 

HMC was gorgeous. We caught an early tender and staked out our clamshells farther down the beach where it wasn't nearly as crowded. Snorkeled with the sting rays which was fun but a little disappointing. HAL needs to invest in some new equipment for that excursion. My bite guards on my snorkel were bitten off and had friends who had never snorkeled before and just couldn't get a seal on the masks for anything. The lunch was very yummy. We had noticed that you could buy drinks in these insulated squirt bottles but didn't ask about them, assuming that they were too expensive, so bought my own at the shops for $5. Later, found out that the bottles with a drink in them were only like $6.50 so quickly bought a couple more, with the drinks ;) . Would love to have spent another day there later in the week.

 

Tortola has the most incredible houses built into the hills. We had been there before 10 years ago when on NCL and had taken the Virgin Gorda Baths excursion so went back for old time's sake. Was a little disappointed at how crowded it now is. They ferried you over to VG from the pier, bused you up the hill, then set you loose with a few instructions. It just seemed like there were people everywhere. We started off through the caves but got turned around and couldn't find the path that the guide had said was easy to find (yeah right) so stayed on the main beach. Was nice to have a bathroom on the beach but NCL included the snorkel equipment and a snorkel guide which we think HAL should have also done. You had to rent the equipment at the little bar there and with only one person working it, the line was long to rent and return. It's quite a hike back up the hill so if you can't handle walking up stairs for 15 minutes, please reconsider going on this one. Got back to the ship in time to clean up some and head into town to Pusser's Landing. It's a fabulous restaurant with a great atmosphere and even better "Painkillers", the famous rum drink. I strongly recommend it. Also try the jerk chicken, it's delicious. Stopped by Sunny Caribee on our way back to the ship but passed the venders along the street in favor of St. Thomas.

 

St. Thomas was busy downtown but seemed to have the best buys on clothing, necklaces and jewelry. Ladies, make sure you check out the reversable rings at Cardow's. DH bought me one for our anniversary (birthday/Christmas/Mother's Day/Arbor Day) and I am still glowing with the rave comments I've gotten on it. Found t-shirts for the kids at 5/$10 so make sure you shop around and don't buy them for more $$. Local necklaces could be bought for 4/$10 which was a whole lot cheaper than what I bartered for at Tortola for 2/$15, and they looked exactly the same! We went on the Turtle Cove excursion on the Castaway Girl Catamaran and had a ball. The sail over was breathtaking (needed another word for gorgeous), the snorkeling incredible and the trip back was just plain fun. They broke out the rum punch and didn't let your glass get below half full. Everyone was happy, friendly, and smiles were seen everywhere (except for the fussy mom with the 3 kids who started complaining before we had left the pier. It seems she doesn't like water. She spent the entire time on the boat....now why did she come anyway...but we just ignored her although I sure felt sorry for her DH. Her kids were great btw so her mood wasn't because of them). Thanks to Brooke, Sara, Mango....oh my Mango! and our skipper who's name escapes me at the moment. If anyone is going back to St. Thomas, make sure Brooke knows that Allan bought me the ring and thanks for her encouragement! ;)

 

Nassau was overprices and packed with 3 other ships in port at the same time(Carnival Fantasy, Disney Mystic(?) and Norwegian Dawn.) The excursions we were interested in were booked before we even got on the ship so braved the port. The jewelry shops were a lot more expensive than St. Thomas (IMO), the traffic was bumper to bumper so you had to watch yourself crossing the streets and we kept seeing men walking around with open bottles sticking out of brown paper bags.:( The straw market was like going through a cattle herd, way too much merchandise crammed into way too tight a space. If you made the mistake of slowing down or inquiring about a price, you were bombarded with merchants. But them we found our oasis....Senor Frogs! Just steps (literally) away from the straw market, we spent 3.5 hours there laughing, eating, drinking, and dancing on the bar. Yes, it would have been cheaper to go on an excursion, but I can't imagine having more fun on one. Go check it out...you won't be disappointed.

 

We had the 8pm main seating which was late for me, so with a full stomach I had a hard time staying away for the shows (I'm only 40..when did I turn into an old lady???). You did have to watch your daily schedule because there were a couple of times that they moved the show that normally would have been after dinner at 10:30 to before dinner at 6:30. We missed the first show and last (they moved that one on us) but enjoyed the Divas singer and the magican (I'm not into magic shows but the rest of our group enjoyed it). The juggler was amazing and totally hysterical, definately worth paying money to go see but glad he was included with the ship LOL. Julie Barr was funny with her late night adult comedy show but in all honesty, I had heard most of her jokes before. She was much more entertaining when she was talking with the audience members and joking around with them. The shows that were put on by HAL cast were entertaining and colorful. The dancers were very talented and singers had beautiful voices. The last show featured costumes by Bob Mackey and were out of this world. I'm a major non-smoker so the casino was too smokey for me, and hubby would have loved the nickel video poker, but all they had were quarter and up (yes we are cheap). ALL of the staff on the ship were so friendly with a hello and smile, and even though the infamous Hunky Dory was not onboard, another man named Donny on the Lido said "HI CHRIS" to me every morning and even asked about missing me on one day when we had room service. I made sure to seek him out the next day so he would know I wasn't neglecting my breakfast :rolleyes: . It was annoying having to face the masses of people who were getting out of the early seating dinner and checking out all of the photos in the photo gallery, but since that was the only way to get to the dining room from the front of the ship on the 3rd floor, we really didn't have much choice. I encountered my only other personal experience with a nasty cruiser there. Why is it that men over 80 are so rude?? Do they just not care about being polite when they get that age??

 

We loved our week on the Z. Sure, she could use a little face lift but who couldn't. We loved our balcony #5037 Veranda deck starboard. Herry our steward was attentive but not intrusive (no towel animals). No sewer smells for us, vibrations or such. Our dining room stewards were super friendly, remembered our likes for tea and extra rolls and butter, so had those waiting for us. My hubby took great pride in hearing from the chef on the last night that our cruise had set the record for the fewest people going through the most amount of food and judging from my scales this morning, I know where it all went to. For some reason though now DH seems to want 2 totally different entrees for dinner each night. Going to have to retrain him on that soon!

 

It rained a couple of times but the clouds just added more colors to the sunsets. The "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" group was a little creepy but they seemed busy with their own stuff. Overall, I'd give the Z a very solid B+ and would love to sail her again after her drydocking (I hear plasma tv's, dvd's and pillowtop mattresses are coming as well as new carpet...hopefully a little more subtle then the current. And why is it that with so many of her cruisers being American citizens do we have to deal with CNN International instead of CNN American version which has very little American news on it...even Michael Jackson.) Anyone with reservations on her in the near future, I'm very jealous. Enjoy your week. You are in vacation...smile..."NO WORRIES!"

 

~Chris:D

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Great Review. I'm leaving on the Zuiderdam in just 25 days!!! Thanks for the "No Worries" heads up.

 

We were there celebrating not only our 20th wedding anniversary, but my 40th birthday. It had been 10 yrs since DH and I had been away for any length of time, just the two of us and with 6 kids at home ages 2-16, the odds of us getting away for another week alone are pretty slim. It you go looking for negative, you will find it. But why would you want to do that???

 

Have a wonderful time. I'm ready to sneak aboard at any time.

 

:D

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I'll echo Shmily's review - excellent cruise all around. I'll add that if you don't want crowds at Virgin Gorda, you might consider taking a cab over to the west side ferry docks in Tortola, then catching a ferry to Jost Van Dyke. I think there were 20 people max on that island, and it's a slice of heaven on earth...stunningly beautiful.

 

We were in cabin 6123, a VB cabin on the starboard side. Nice cabin, though not as roomy as the category K inside cabin I had on my last trip on the Zuiderdam. But the balcony was very nice indeed.

 

I was talking with the assistant cruise director over a cup of coffee at the Windstar Cafe, and he mentioned that when the Zuiderdam goes into dry dock in December, all rooms will be getting Plasma TV's and DVD players, the Crows Nest will be redesigned, all cabins will have the new mattresses, and the carpets will be updated. I mentioned Hunky Dory, and he said that oddly enough, he always had trouble remembering the crews names, but never the passengers names.

 

We were scheduled for the 8:30 dinner seating, but I really don't like eating that late, so asked to be seated at 6:15, which they did, although they did tell us that the only table available was with a group from Holland, who spoke limited English. But we found them to be delightful, and their English was very good as it turned out (although the ladies were limited, the husbands were quite fluent). They had an assistant maitre 'd who was also Dutch, and she helped them out with any questions they might have had. They menitioned hearing about Hunky Dory, and Karin (the maitre 'd) told us that some higher ups with HAL were on the Zuiderdam not long ago, and were very impressed with him...so much so that there was some discussion of moving him to another ship, but Karin said that the Zuiderdam staff held firm, and he will be most likely returning to the Zuiderdam in September.

 

Our room attendant was Charlie - who never failed to greet "Mr. Paul and Miss Theresa" each morning. Room was always immaculate.

 

Embarkation was a breeze...especially when you are among the last to board. Our flight was delayed and we didn't get to the port until about 4:45 - the staff at the counter seemed lonely, as everyone had pretty much boarded. Since we were the only ones there, we were processed in no time, but the gangway had been pulled, so we were escorted by a sheriff to the crew gangway where we boarded. But...we were created by one of the ships officers, then two stewards took our carry ons and showed us to our cabin, where Charlie introduced himself immediately. Next time....we fly down the day before.

 

Disembarkation was too efficient. Our return flight wasn't until 3:00 p.m., and we were one of the very last to be called off the ship. We were off by 10:15.

 

Bottom line, it was a fabulous trip - I'd take the Zuiderdam again in a heartbeat - and just might have to after she returns from dry-dock. We enjoyed meeting the other CC'ers. If you are on the Zuiderdam - I'll pretty much guarantee that you'll have a wonderful time.

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Heartofamerica, that's always been my fear, missing the ship because of a delay flying in the day of sailing. I now fly a day ahead and that takes alot of pressure off. You certainly will enjoy doing it that way for sure.

 

We loved the Zuiderdam and Hunky Dory, I hope he's enjoying his well deserved vacation.

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Heartofamerica, that's always been my fear, missing the ship because of a delay flying in the day of sailing. I now fly a day ahead and that takes alot of pressure off. You certainly will enjoy doing it that way for sure.

 

We loved the Zuiderdam and Hunky Dory, I hope he's enjoying his well deserved vacation.

 

It's been my fear too...but it was a bone of contention between the wife and I on our last cruise (where we did fly in a day early). She told me that she now understands why I prefer a day early.

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Your right. I have flown in a day ahead for a few years now. I booked the Zuiderdam for myself and 4 of my friends and explained why we need to fly in a day ahead, they all agreed. We flew out on Friday, March 11th and sailed on Saturday, the 12th. Good thing we flew out on Friday, Saturday the Northeast had a major snow storm. I just said to my friends, and this is the reason we fly a day ahead. We would have missed the ship if we hadn't. I am glad things worked out for you this time, but fly a day ahead for sure next time.

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Hi Chris, Allan, Joe and Theresa!

 

Yes! Excellent week on the Zuiderdam. Lauren and I did a BtoB (sort of), matching the Caribbean Princess with the Zuiderdam. Even though the CP is a beautiful ship, with great entertainment, it's food was very much subpar compared to the Zuiderdam!!

Alan and Yan took care of us in the dining room, and Nai kept our cabin perfect. By the way, we were upgraded to an outside cabin equiped for handicapped passengers. Great room with a huge shower!

We did a Catamaran snorkel (Virgin Islands Sailaway) in Tortola--super! Lot's of fish! In St Thomas, we did a day sail on "High Pockets"--perhaps the best shore excusion we have taken in 20 cruises! Great crew, super food, open bar, great snorkeling, and only three couples max.

We had a great time, and hope to sail with HAL again soon. By the way, we have now cruised a R class ship, S class ship and a Vista class ship--the "Z" was right up there! Side note: we cancelled an upcoming Princess cruise and replaced it with Celebrity's Galaxy. Lauren and I are going to stick with HAL and Celebrity!!!

Thanks again to Bill and Brenda for the great "name tags" for our CC group!

 

 

 

Enjoy!

Kel:D

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Thanks for the reviews. I'm sorry to hear the Zuiderdam isn't going into dry dock until December. We sail on December 3 so I guess we'll be one of the last before the improvements. I hope they don't get lax about things on board since they know she'll be going into dry dock later that month!

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