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ORDPLATAA

Just Back from Zuiderdam - June 18-25

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Just came back lat last night from the 7-day Western Carib. on the Zuiderdam. We had an INCREDIBLE time (and a pretty profitable one as well!) on this trip. I'll catch up on a more detailed report later, but some of the highlights:

 

1. Ship is in good shape - some wear & tear but notjing outrageous. There was always somebody polishing/painting/varnishing/shampooing/dusting....you get the picture. After reading reading afew posts about the deck flooring issues (the concrete being cracked) I was expecting to see potholes like the Kennedy Expressway in February of pot bunkers from St. Andrews. These were minor divets that were easily handled by both my mother's wheelchair and electric scooter.

 

2. Crew was tremendous - by Day 2 it was Mama Laura and her family. Everyone knew us and our names (to the point of being a little creepy! ha ha) - even crew we had not met yet!

 

3. Food was always available and always very good (even now wondering where the 11:30am taco bar is in my house).

 

4. Pinnacle Grill - BY ALL MEANS HAVE DINNER THERE!!! Well worth the $20 a head.

 

5. Half Moon Cay - one of the prettiest beaches I have ever seen. Not sure if I would personally spring the $$$$ for a cabana (we had two clamshells for $18 and that was good enough for us). However, YMMV.

 

6. Cat SS Cabin - very spacious, great balcony and a HUGE bathroom. We really liked it but did not spend that much time in the room. It was only about $250 more per person when we booked it and I really would not have spent too much more for it. Great for a special occaission or a much longer trip (great closet space) but not sure it was worth it for 7 days.

 

7. Espresso Martinis - Drink of the Day - need I say more?!?!?!?!?

 

More to follow!

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Yes, we did. I missed reading the Chicago Tribune with my coffee every morning - but then again, I did not want to be surrounded by Mayor Daley's latest scandal! We had our next day's newsletter/activity sheet in our mailbox every late afternoon/early evening so we could plan out the next day.

 

Budi, our cabin steward, was awesome. Cabin was always made up and spotless! Pande, our waiter in the Vista Dining Room was also top-notch! And who can forget Jim Dandy up in the Lido!!!!!

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We're Zuidy veterans, and think Hunky Dory is like family, and we've met Burt Reynolds, but who is Jim Dandy?

 

...snip... And who can forget Jim Dandy up in the Lido!!!!!

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I am SO glad to read your happy review of the Z!

We are leaving on the same trip on July 30th.

Did you do any of the excursions?

 

We are too late, it seems, to even get a clam shell at HMC =(

 

Did you book your Pinnacle Grill dinner before boarding?

 

Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

 

Thanks,

Sheila

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Happy to read your review and see how much you enjoyed the Zuiderdam!

 

Budi was our cabin steward too, when we sailed last month. He is the best!

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Hi

 

Jim Dandy is a waiter in the Lido, quite a character, he told us he was going to be the next american idol. He likes to sing and guess where you are from by your acent, we are ex-South Africans and he sung us an old Afrikaans folk song... it was a roit hearing this coming fom an Indonesion he is a lot of fun.

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I am SO glad to read your happy review of the Z!

We are leaving on the same trip on July 30th.

Did you do any of the excursions?

 

We are too late, it seems, to even get a clam shell at HMC =(

 

Did you book your Pinnacle Grill dinner before boarding?

 

Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

 

Thanks,

Sheila

 

Hi Sheila,

 

Don't give up on the clamshells. We were on the waiting list for 2 clamshells when we boarded the Zuiderdam on June 11th, but were happy to find notes on our bed that night that we would have 2 waiting for us when we reached HMC the next morning.

 

I waited too late to book my Pinnacle Grill prior to leaving but was able to book it for that first night when we got onboard ship. The food was great but the atmosphere was a little stuffy for us so not sure we would go back given the chance. We had more fun with dinner in the Vista diningroom.

 

I want to go back to the Z!!!:(

 

~Chris

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Delighted to hear that your Zuiderdam cruise was wonderful. We, too, board on July 30th. We look forward to our week on this beatiful ship. It's our first Caribbean cruise and we are most anxious to see all the lovely islands!

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Friday, June 17th

 

Vacation Day is here!!! After almost a year of planning, it was time to head out. Called for a cab and headed out to O'Hare for our flight to Fort Lauderdale. We decided to come in the day before "just in case". The rest of our group would either be flying in from Jacksonville or driving in from Tampa. We were all to meet at The Westin Diplomat at 4:00pm for a kick-off cocktail. We decided to stay at "The Dip" because I used to work for Starwood and a friend of mine was able to cut me a deal on three rooms. We were able to stay there for the same price as staying at the AmeriSuites! It was a $20 cabride from the airport and only took about 20 minutes. The resort is just beautiful and I knew this was the start of a great vacation. After everyone got settled, it was off for drinks and dinner!

 

Saturday, June 18th

 

After coffee and strolling the resort, it was finally time to head over to Port Everglades and see our home for the next week. We arrived at the port right around 11:30am and were checked in and having lunch by 12:10pm. HAL does a tremendous job of moving people through check-in. As my mom uses a wheelchair, they ushered her into a different line and my partner, sister and BIL went to another line. We went straight up to a back corner booth in the Lido Restaurant and grabbed a bite to eat. That's where we met Jim Dandy - one of the best servers on the ship! Throughout the week he kept an eye out for "Mama Laura" - helping with her tray, getting coffee/iced tea refills and just being a total sweetheart to her. Food was plentiful and looked very nice. One thing you can not complain about is lack of variety. There was absolutely something for everyone!!!!

 

At 1:30pm we got the all clear to head for our cabins. We were all on Navigation Deck (8) in cabins 8032, 8034 and 8038. 8032 and 8034 were VA cabins and 8038 was an SS. The location was great - near the forward elevators and the balcony on 8032 was one of the angled cabins that allowed views to the side and rear of the ship. As this was also an accessible cabin, it was slightly larger. I will admit that it did not seem to use space to it's best potential but it certainly worked. We had rented a scooter from CareVacations and it was waiting for my mom in the cabin. Thank goodness for CC as we would never have thought to bring an extension cord as the only plug to recharge the scooter was on the other side of the cabin!! The flowers we ordered we waiting in her cabin (and stayed beautiful all week!). Our SS cabin was spacious with a great balcony. The balcony had a small cafe table with two chairs, two high back "faux" wicker chairs and ottomans and a small side table. Plenty of space for hanging out, coffee, reading and having people over. I also liked the fact that the railing had a sheet of glass from the floor to the railing so that your view was not obstructed while seated.

 

Our luggage arrived at about 3:20pm and that is when disaster struck. As we were unpacking, Dan let loose with a stream of cures words (and he NEVER swears) and I took one look at his face and realized what the problem was: we left his one and only suit hanging in the closet of the Westin Diplomat!!!! :eek: Dan called down to the ship's front desk to see if we would be allowed to get off the ship and retrieve the suit while I called the hotel on my cellphone to see if they had found the suit. The clock was ticking away when at about 3:45pm the hotel said they had found the suit and placed it in a cab for delivery to the ship. Dan then met with the front office staff and they escorted him to the taxi entrance of the terminal. The security personel said that, while Dan had to be back on board by 4:30pm (they had already pulled the main boarding bridge and were now using the little ramp used in port), he was able to be out there until 5:00pm and would make sure the cabdriver got paid and would bring the suit up to us. Luckily, just before the lifeboat drill took place, the taxi arrived, and Dan made it back onboard!:D

 

After the boat drill, we finished unpacking and then headed up to the Crow's Nest for a sail away cocktail! It was there that we had really the most disappointing - or should I say annoying - aspect of the entire cruise. It doesn't appear as though the cocktail staff have set stations in whatever venue they are working. So, you are constantly asked if you want something from the bar by several people - even if you have already ordered something.

 

Following drinks, we headed down to change for Dinner in the Vista Dining Room. We had Early Lower dining and sat at table #143. This is a six top located to the left of the front doors as soon as you walk into the room. Pande was our waiter and he and Dewa were just awesone. My BIL is a big eater and there were never any questions asked about bring him two entrees for dinner. Wine service was a bit iffy but got better as the week went on.

 

After dinner, it was off to the Casino, Bingo and time to explore the ship. The ship was fairly easy to navigate, in very good order and lots of smaller venues which we really liked. You never really got the feeling that you were being herded from space to space - which was amazing because the ship was packed. We really liked the Crow's Nest, Explorer's Lounge and Sports Bar. We also tried to Ocean Bar when we boarded (and stood in line for our shore excursions to see if the waitlist had cleared). Finally, after a few cocktails and a full belly from Dinner it was off to bed.

 

The only downside to our cabin was hearing what sounded like people running on the Lido Deck (which was directly abouve us). That generally stopped around 11:00pm or so and wasn't too bad (I am a heavy sleeper). Just a word of caution for those of you who are easily disturbed when sleeping.

 

Coming up....Day 2 and Half Moon Cay!

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Wow, can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip. We were on the Z the week before you in the Eastern Caribbean. We had such a wonderful time. I'm so glad you got your hubby's suit in time. What a bummer that would have been. I agree that it is annoying that there doesn't seem to be wait stations or sections that servers have in the lounges because you will get several asking if you need a drink, but on the other hand if you are wanting a drink, there is never a long wait before someone is coming along asking you about it. IMHO...if that is one of the major disappointments on a cruise, then I have had a pretty good time.

 

Anxiously awaiting day 2.....

 

~Chris:D

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As late as last December, it used to be that when one lounge server approached you, they put a napkin down on the table as a signal to others that you had been approached. Do they not do that any more?

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Glad to here fellow Chicagoan had great time on Zuiderdam. Thanks for the review.

 

And I thought Jim Dandy was the lead singer for Black Oak Arkansas. (Those of us old enough to remember!)

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can't wait for the next installment. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and post about your trip. It is very appreciated. :)

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We're Zuidy veterans, and think Hunky Dory is like family, and we've met Burt Reynolds, but who is Jim Dandy?

 

I was in an elevator on the 6/11 cruise and a couple of waiters from the lido were taking some trays down to my floor - I noticed his name tag really did say "Jim Dandy". Very nice guy.

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Woke up on Day 2 and met the family for breakfast in the Lido. Lots of different b'fast stations and some "jostling" for position by some passengers. We waited too long to sign up for the horseback riding excursion so instead decided to just beach it. We reserved two clamshells for the 5 of us (mom was staying on board). After breakfast, we grabbed our stuff and headed to the Queen's Lounge for our tender number but was told there was no line so just head on down. I have to give it to HAL - they really know how to move crowds. After a quick 10 minute or so shuttle we were at HMC. WOW! This place is just beautiful. The best way to decsribe the sand was something like a dry cakemix - fluffy, soft and a golden/white mix. The water was absolutely crystal clear. We went to the Watersports Hut to claim our clamshells and, as we had not raced off the ship, we were directed down to the Watersports Hut #2. This was closer to the luncheon pavillion and was not as crowded as the first area we went to. Anyway, we claimed our clamshells and headed off to the water. As I looked around, I realized that I had a very different impression of the cabanas. I thought there were several of each color grouped together. Instead, there is only one cabana per color. We had a slightly overcast day with a little bit of a breeze so I wasn't regretting saving our money for the cabana. If it were direct sunlight - then I would have been wishing for the AC! We hung out in the watter and my sister treated us to some yummy Banana Dacquiris. At $5.95 including a reusable insulated squeeze bottle, we thought they were a heck of a deal. I will say that I would not want to be at HMC when there is more than one ship using the island. I can see where there might be a few bottlenecks and lines. Instead, we had a very easy afternoon there. Lunch was a BBQ with the usual suspects (burgers/dogs/chicken) as well as grilled mahi mahi and veggie burgers. Lots of salads and fixin's as well as easy to eat deserts (cookies and the like).

 

Both of my sisters had spa appointments booked for 2:00pm so we headed back to the ship at about 1:40pm. We met up with my mom near the Lido pool where she was having fun with the people watching. Again, the Lido staff too great care of her and we settled in for a corona and a dip in the pool. My partner Dan and I headed up to the FOD meeting and grabbed a drink at the Crow's Nest.

 

Soon, it was time to dress for dinner. For those of you keeping track, we had (2) formal nights, (1) informal night, (3) casual nights and (1) tropical casual night. I was suprised by the number of men who did tuxes on formal nights (even high school and college kids were in them) and most everyone else was in a dark suit. For informal night, it was a sea of navy blazers and kahkis. For casual night, it seemed to be all the men shopped at the same store and bought the silk camp shirts in a vast array of colors.

 

Anyway, the whole point of this trip was to celebrate my mom's 70th B-day. We had made a reservation at the Pinnacle for that night and had an absolutely wonderful dinner. Herman, our waiter, was tremendous (playing it up with kissing my mom's hand - and her eating it up!). Dinner was absolutely worth the extra $20 a head plus a tip for Herman. We also ordered Champagne at dinner and it was, I must say, very reasonable priced - as were all the wines by the bottle. Finally, we had pre-ordered a strawberry shortcake (mom's favorite) for her birthday cake and it was delivered with a splash! The waitstaff sang to her and it capped off a perfect dinner.

 

After dinner we headed to the lounge to see Alfreda Gerald. Fair, not great and we wound up leaving the show a bit early. We then headed back to the casino and then the Crow's Nest for a nightcap.

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We leave in 5 days (but who's counting!) for our Western Carb cruise on the Z. Where should I count on doing the best shopping for trinkets and gifts...Georgetown or Costa Maya? This is our third HAL cruise and we recommend this line to everyone.

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Absolutely do your shopping in Grand Cayman. Costa Maya is pretty dumpy! Much better selection of everything.

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Day 3 was the one I was pretty nervous about. No, not that we were going to be in the middle of the ocean with no land around us but what would my family do for a whole day at sea? Well, my fears were truly wasted. HAL had a great schedule of events lined up. The key is you really have to get involved and do some of the wacky stuff (at least IMHO) to get into the spirit of cruising! The great thing about the Zuiderdam is that we could all go to different areas of the ship, do our own thing and then meet up for a meal or cocktail. There wasn't the feeling of having to be together every second of the day.

 

Anyway, some things to keep in mind for your sea day:

 

1. Midships Pool is full of kids - point blank. Finding a lounge chair was tough in this neck of the woods after 10:00am.

 

2. Aft pool was a bit more subdued (but in the afternoon this is where they did the pool games). Deck chairs were also a liitle hard to find. We actually went up to Deck 10 Aft and there was a huge stash of lounge chairs that were not packed in like sardines. Plus, the breeze up top helped cool you off when you were laying out.

 

After a bit of sun and a quick bite in the Lido, I joined my family for the ship's slot tournament. Yes, I come from a family of gamblers so this was a must! It was $20 to enter and the top 6 scores from the preliminary rounds made it to the finals. 1st place was $500 and 2nd place was dinner for 2 in the Pinnacle. We had a ton of fun laughing with each other and the other folks that were playing. My mom, BIL and myself made it into the final round and I managed to win! Needless to say, that helped cover the bar tab for the week!

 

After the slot tournament, we just all hung out in the Crow's Nest before dinner. This was the 1st Formal Night and the passengers really got into it. We had another great dinner in the Vista Dining Room but after all of the excitement from the casino, a day of sun on deck and a busy day in Grand Cayman tomorrow, everyone settled in for a good night's rest.

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I'm excited to hear about your trip - you're fabulous at relaying the details! I'll be on the Zuiderdam in a few weeks...and I feel like I'm already there! Thanks for your posts and I'll eagerly await the rest of them.

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OrdplatAA.....Thanks for sharing all the details on the Zuiderdam. We are going again in August for our second trip on the Zuiderdam. Glad to hear she is still a great ship. Loved your remark about the Kennedy Expwy Potholes. I remember that from my Chicago days.

 

The slot tournament sounds like fun. Glad to know how that works.

 

How was the new cruise director and staff?

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Ordplataa

Enjoying your commentary. I'm hoping to book my family of 4 today for the July 30 Zuiderdaam and I would learn more about your port experiences.

Cheers

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