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TriGirl

Zuiderdam 10/15-10/22 review

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This was my 8th Holland America cruise. I’ve been on Celebrity, RCCL, NCL, and Carnival. This was my fiance, Bob’s, first HAL cruise. He’d previously sailed on Carnival (one 7 day and one 4 day). Because he had only been on Carnival he wasn’t terribly excited about this cruise and really wasn’t a big fan of cruising. However, HAL won him over.

We started off on Thursday. We live in the San Francisco Bay Area and traffic is horrendous. Our flight was Friday morning at 8:30AM and we were worried about traffic and parking. So Bob booked the Marriott by the airport and I cannot tell you how glad I am we did that. For anyone who lives in the Bay Area-if you choose to do this make sure the hotel has a park and fly program. The Marriott does not but we managed to find great free parking!

 

We got into Ft Lauderdale around 6:45. I had booked the Wyndam in Ft Lauderale through Priceline. The hotel is close the airport and the pier, they also have a free shuttle that picks guests up at the airport. The shuttle was a little slow though, and the operator was rude. We waited about 40 minutes for the shuttle and the hotel is about 5 minutes from the airport. We had originally planned to go out somewhere nice for dinner but by the time we checked in and got settled we decided to just stay at the hotel and eat there. We had dinner & a couple of drinks at the bar, then went to bed fairly early.

I wanted to get to the pier fairly early Saturday morning because I was afraid if we got there towards the afternoon it would be crowded. I woke up early and used the gym facilites, we decided to skip a big breakfast and just had coffee. When I went to the gym I walked by the breakfast buffet and it looked very nice. We caught a taxi and were at the pier by 11:45. The lines weren’t terribly long yet and they moved fairly quickly. I did get annoyed with the HAL agents for barking at us repeatedly to have our documents out and completed. If someone gets past all the agents and ends up in line and still doesn’t have their doc’s out and completed, it’s really doubtful they ever will. After the third agent told me to take everything out I got irritable. I didn’t want to lose Bob’s birth certificate so I told the agent that they were completed, but she didn’t believe me and I had to yank everything out for the third time. I realize that having people in line without completed documents holds up the line, but come on after the second time everyone should have gotten it. Anyway, we checked in and headed for security and walked on the ship. The whole thing took maybe 30 minutes tops. Bob had a quick smoke and we headed up to the Lido which was PACKED already. We had to hunt for a table. Bob wasn’t really happy with the crowds or the lines and I was getting worried he wasn’t going to make the best of it. I told him that embarkation is always like this but it gets better. The cabins were ready right on schedule at 1:30, we had cabin 5107. This was Bob’s first verandah, he’d always had inside cabins so he brightened up some when he saw the cabin. We unpacked a little and headed up to the Lido deck for a drink.

We had at table for 2 at the 8:00 seating. The service was excellent, our waiter Santosa and busboy Hiryan were great. After the second day the bar waiter had a diet Coke waiting for Bob and a club soda for me. The food was very good, in fact too good! One of the things that made me laugh was on the first day Bob was complaining about how food seems to be the focal point of every cruise and he didn’t understand it. He said people just seem to eat mass quantities of food and it just baffled him. Guess what? He ended up eating a TON of food. He even joked about how much he was eating! :eek: He really did enjoy the food a little more than he should have but oh well! The pizza in the Lido is some of the best we’ve ever had. The only thing I didn’t care for in the Lido were the desserts, but it’s ok because I found PLENTY to eat. The selections in the Lido were very good, I can’t imagine not finding something to eat. The food in the dining room was always very good, and the selections were great.

The casino is only mediocre, it reminded us of the Indian Casinos we have around here. Bob played some Texas Hold ‘Em during the week, they only have on table so you have to sign up early. The game was very hard for me to watch, it moves incredibly slow and the dealers are still learning it. Plus the game grinds to a complete halt when they need additional chips. The dealers aren’t consistent, one said you couldn’t leave any money on the table, the other said you could. Then one said you couldn’t play with real money and another said you could. (In Vegas you cannot remove money from the table, and you can play with real money if you’re out of chips.)

We had one of the best cabin stewards, Mohammed, I’ve ever had. Bob likes things orderly and he loved how Mohammed lined all his stuff up. Bob left his t shirt out on the verandah to dry after we got back from Half Moon Cay and Mohammed brought it in and folded it up.

I had a spa treatment which was very nice. I told the girl who was doing my treatment that I didn’t want to buy anything, but she tried to sell me some stuff at the end anyway. She did a great job, but she lost her credibility with me. I have a scar on one of my eyelids and it’s sort of bumpy, she told me that the bumps were caused by using my regular facial moisturizer on my eyes.:rolleyes: I have a touch of roseaca and I use a topical prescription gel that my dermatologist gave me, she told me not to use it because it made the roseaca worse. :confused: I’m sure they have to try to pitch their ointments, but it takes away from the whole experience for me.

The gym was practically empty all week. I felt a little bad for the aerobics instructors because I don’t think they managed to fill any of their classes up.

We missed Nassau because of Hurricane Wilma. The captain decided to stop in San Juan to take on fuel in case Port Everglades was closed. We were not able to get off the ship in San Juan though. We left St Thomas on schedule and stopped in San Juan at midnight and left around 5:30AM. We were disappointed but we understood. I didn’t hear anyone complaining, but then we didn’t go near the Front Office. Bob said he was sure people were there complaining, I like to think not but he’s probably right. I’m sure people were upset about not getting ‘compensated’ or who knows what else. We weren’t expecting anything. Our port charges were not refunded, I suspect because we had to stop in San Juan. Half Moon Cay was beautiful, I was really glad the weather was good enough for us to stop. Bob LOVED Half Moon Cay, he thought it was going to be cheesy (remember he was comparing this cruise to Carnival). We went to the Baths in Virgin Gorda, we didn’t bother getting off the ship again after we got back, so we didn’t see much of Tortola. We did some shopping in St Thomas and I really wish we had gone to the beach instead. There were five ships in port and the town was a zoo. Bob HATED shopping, I could tell it was just torture for him. We picked up some junk to bring home for everyone. Then it started pouring so we stopped and had a drink before we headed back to the ship. We were docked at Crown bay which was a bummer because I could have at least done some shopping by myself at Havensight if we’d been docked there. With the wedding coming up I can’t really justify buying any jewelry, but it would have been fun to poke around.

We peaked at each other’s comment cards and I was pleased to see he’d put his overall cruise experience as a 9. We really had a great time, I could nit pick about little details, but overall my experience was a 9 as well.

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TriGirl,

 

Thanks for the nice review. We were on Zuiderdam the week before and loved it. Glad to see your husband enjoyed it. HAL certainly is a different experience compared to Carnival. Too bad you missed Nassau, but honestly, you didnt miss much. Nassau is not much to see anymore. Seems like Atlantis is sucking all of the life out of Nassau.

 

I agree with your feelings of the agents at embarkation. They were pretty much a pain in the ...

 

Tim

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Trigirl,

 

Sorry we didn't meet up at the CC meetings, either on the first day or the Q and A day. We had a fantastic time, my review is upcoming.

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I was on this voyage and at the "LOW LIMIT TEXAS HOLDEM" Table a few times and I must point out that well over 50% or more of the "regulars" who played at least one session a day (two on sea days) were CONSISTENTLY bitching and whining about the about this "Low Limit Game" all the time, BUT THEY WERE ALWAYS THERE FOR THE NEXT SESSION ! Gee, if it was so bad, why did you keep coming back for more ? You could have just staqrted your own game elsewhere. This Low Limit Game is about two months old and yes, there were some problems with a couple of rules and getting two different answers from two different dealers. This game is really geared to novices who want to learn more about the game in a FUN and NON-CRITICAL atmosphere with low bets, not to people who are experienced, or who think they are experienced players. The rest of the Casino is yes a very typical shipboard casino with very tight slots and the standard games with a staff that has a couple of friendly dealers, and the rest are the usual cranky mix. Actually, for a HAL vessel, the casino was exceptionally busy, but then this was a Vista Class and not a Statendam Class vessel. The rest of the cruise was delightful and missing dumpy Nassau was no loss. I commend Capt Henk Keijer and his Staff with handling Hurricane Wilma very effectively. Pax were kept as informed as they could based on what the storm was doing. The info was conveyed by both Announcement and written word with the stress of course on Pax safety. The steps taken to be prepared for additional days at sea should that need had arisen were comforting to many. Surprisingly, the vast majority of the pax from Florida were the least freaked out about the storm. The other US Pax from states other than Florida were the most freaked out, and most of the non-US pax (about 600 or so) took it all in stride, with many stating at least it was not a terrorist event.

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TriGirl, thanks for a thorough and comprehensive report. It was a pleasure reading it.

So glad your boyfriend had a good cruise this time out. Now ya got him right where ya want him. ;)

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TriGirl

 

You mentioned that you were docked at Crown Bay. When we were docked there in March of this year, they seemed to be feverishly working on an area just off the dock that appeared that it was going to be another "Havensight" type area. Did you see this area and how it is coming, or am I imagining things again?

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WNYCRUISER

 

It looks like they are trying spruce the dock up. I noticed some new buildings being constructed which may end up being some shops, but there doesn't seem to be as much space as there is at Havensight. I was on the Zuiderdam with my mother in Sept and we docked at Havensight and it looked like they were in the process of expanding the pier.

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Wnycruiser,

 

The area is supposed to be finished in November or December according to the signs. I would say just before Christmas if I were a betting man.

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