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'Twas the Cruise During Christmas - Zuiderdam 2018


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Just now, rafinmd said:

Was it you who mentioned the new laundry return bags and wondered if they were reusable?  As I just boarded yesterday I can say very emphatically that is the intent.  The sheet we got that explains the laundry options says you can take one home for $10.

 

Roy

 

I'm not sure if they're talking about the blue bags you send out, or the sleeves in which hanging things come back. Both would be reusable, but my guess is that the bags you stuff with your dirty clothes get stolen more often and they're trying to dissuade people from doing that with a $10 price. Kind of like they did with the beach towels.

 

The return sleeve for hanging things is fine for its purpose, but it doesn't hold a candle to the kind of zippered bag you get when you buy things in a nice department store.

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16 hours ago, KY Deb said:

Don’t stop now!  Love your pics!   Just printed boarding passes yesterday for our cruise next month. This is our first HAL cruise.   So your descriptions are so appreciated.  

 

Sorry. Got a little tied up. Proceeding...

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You know... If it took as long to east breakfast as it took me to post these photos, no one would gain any weight on a cruise.

 

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There are usually two varieties of fritatta each day.  This day it was Denver & Vegetarian. You'll find the smaller, standard-sized sausage links, bacon and turkey bacon here as well. NOTE: This is where the hash browns were. Once I reported back on this, my father-in-law was a happy man.

 

 

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We're now at the part of the Lido that crosses through from starboard to port (still proceeding in a clockwise direction.) Here you'll find cereal again, but not as many varieties as you find in the middle of the line where the desserts usually are. If you want sugary cereals, you won't find them here. (Although I suppose we could argue over whether granola and frosted mini wheats are sugary.)

 

 

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Bananas, oranges and bananas. I don't think there was a difference between the upper and lower bananas. Maybe one's for shorter people and one's for taller folks?

 

 

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Your standard milks. Chocolate, lowfat, skim, 2%, and whole.  They do have a full selection of milks from things that don't moo, but you'll need to ask as they're not out on display.

 

 

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Yogurts: Plain & Fruit. I think I spotted Greek Yogurt, but I can't read the fine print on the lids in the photo. There's also grapefruit with a blueberry in the middle. (Except for two rogue grapefruit on the right with runaway blueberries.)

 

 

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Fruit plates. You'll also find the fruit available unplated elsewhere in case you don't fancy watermelon or honeydew or something.

 

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Prunes!! I gave them a close up. (This is part of a running joke from 2014.) The prunes are served with orange slices. I know not why. Perhaps to add a pop of color?

 

 

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More dried fruit. Apricots this time. Strawberry sections provide the pop of color here.

 

 

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Yogurt, Muesli,  and yogurt parfaits. There are also fruit cups here. I suppose this is for people who like their melon slightly elevated. In any case, it's nice to have choices.

 

Opposite this section is the coffee and water station.

 

The breakfast selections on the sport side are pretty much repeats of the starboard side. However, you'll want to make a full lap, because there is a a waffle & pancake station, breakfast sandwiches (Like Egg HALMuffins), and some other things that aren't obvious from the photos. Most stations have signage to tell you what is served there.

 

When we ate breakfast in the Lido, there were always servers circulating to bring you juice, coffee, water and other beverages. You don't have to juggle plates of food and your beverages. The servers were very good about offering refills on coffee, water and juice. Plates were cleared in a timely fashion the service was on par with a good diner. (Except none of the servers was named Midge, Madge or Mabel.)

 

 

 

 

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Just now, nanlaur said:

Don't forget the sticky buns over by the waffle station. Unless...horrors!...they are no longer offered. Well that would just ruin MY cruise 😵

 

They were there, in both plain and nutted varieties. There were also iced cinnamon buns. No need to panic.

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Just now, nanlaur said:

Whew, what a relief.

 

There were enough breakfast pastries to carb load before running a marathon or to induce a diabetic coma. The Lido is a very dangerous place to be. :classic_laugh:

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8 minutes ago, POA1 said:

 

There were enough breakfast pastries to carb load before running a marathon or to induce a diabetic coma. The Lido is a very dangerous place to be. :classic_laugh:

I agree. Hmm, maybe I need to go into training. Only a month until we sail. Plus there will be Panama buns in the mix.

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Saturday, December 22nd - Curacao

 

We knew that Curacao was going to be a late day, so we opted to make a reservation for the Pinnacle Grill. I made for, and paid for the reservation for the three of us before we left home. In years past, before the health police decided that the on-deck barbecues would KILL US ALL, Curacao used to be the night of the poolside barbecue. (Also known as "On Deck Cause I Got A Big Old Plate of Food."* 

 

Our reservation was for 7:00 PM. In a change from the past, my 4* Mariner Discount posted on the first day of the cruise. It used to post after we dined.  Our Pinnacle Menu was the standard one and is attached here.

 

pinnacle-grill-zuiderdam-2018-12.pdf

 

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We had a very nice table by the window, which was great because it was a full moon. It wasn't great for non-flash photography, so the photos aren't up to our usual standards of mediocrity. We typically use a Canon Digital Elph for the food photos, since it's a very compact camera. I have a Samsung smart camera with a bigger lens that would have been better for the low light situation, but it was back in the room. These photos were taken with a flash, so they're a little washed out.

 

Our starter was an escargot mousse. (It was shy so there's no picture.) Michelle and I thought it was quite good. Her dad, realizing it was chopped up snails in a creme based puddin', tried to pretend it didn't exist.

 

Michelle's starter was the Steak Tartare, finely-chopped beef, parsley, cornichon, capers, red onion. Very tasty.

 

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Both her father and I had the crab cakes. (I have to get out of my PG crab cake rut. If we only dine there once during a cruise, it's all I ever order. I like every other appetizer, but I don't want to give up my crab cakes.)

 

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For her main course, Michelle had the petite and delicate flower of entrees, the 23 oz. Porterhouse - medium rare, with a side of Bearnaise. (When we cruise with my sister-in-law, both she and Michelle will order the big, honkin' steaks. It's been their thing since 2003.)

 

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Her dad had the Broiled Alaskan King Salmon with a lemon garlic herb splash. He really liked it.

 

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I had the 10 oz Milet Mignon, also mid-rare. And also with Bearnaise.

 

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The photos of the sides turned out too dark, but we had Creaned Spinach, Sauteed Musrooms, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan and Pancetta, and a small order of the mashed potatoes. Michelle and her father had the Jumbo Baked Idaho Potato.

 

Michelle's dessert was the Grand Marnier Chocolate Volcano Cake with whipped cream, and orange zest. She was very pleased to see its triumphant return to the menu.

 

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My father-in-law and I had the Pinnacle Soufflé, a vanilla soufflé, mixed berry compote base, with molten Drambuie cream truffle in the center. (Note the nearly 5 berries on the left hand side of the plate, making this a healthy choice.)

 

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Michelle opted for the french press coffee, which sadly the waitress left sit too long before pressing. It wound up being overly strong and acidic. (I realize that we could have pressed the coffee, but we're trying to evaluate service as well as food.) I Grahma's Six Grapes Port.

 

The meal finished with chocolate truffles and apricot gelees, which are known to prevent hangovers.

 

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The Pinnnacle wine steward was excellent. Our wines came concurrent with our food and refills were offered. There was much rejoicing.

 

And, no set of meal photos would be complete without the "bear who dressed for dinner, but hung out in the room."

 

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* - A play on "On Deck for a Cause." Not sure that this joke is going to work, but I'm throwin' it out there.

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File this entry under "Moderately interesting. Maybe."

 

If you've been on a Holland America ship, you've probably noticed that there are quite a few lamps that look like Dutch hats. (Bring back Dutch night!)  But did you know that this lamp style was also outside the original HAL headquarters in Amsterdam?

 

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wayback-red.jpg

 

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The midship area on the Promenade Deck (#3) is relatively unchanged since we were on the Zuiderdam in 2003. The main bar area of the

 

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Ocean Bar - 2003

 

 

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Ocean Bar - 2018

 

The biggest difference is the bar stools and seating areas.  The bar top and the floors are a darker wood than they were before. The floor seats appear to be more generously sized than they used to be. The photos below are from the Christmas Carol sing-along held in the Ocean Bar on our first sea day.

 

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While the seats may have gotten larger, the hats are much tinier than the hats of 15 years ago.

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carols04.jpg

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12 hours ago, POA1 said:

 

We're now at the part of the Lido that crosses through from starboard to port (still proceeding in a clockwise direction.) Here you'll find cereal again, but not as many varieties as you find in the middle of the line where the desserts usually are. If you want sugary cereals, you won't find them here. (Although I suppose we could argue over whether granola and frosted mini wheats are sugary.)

 

Loving your tour of the Lido, but just wanted to mention the mini wheats. They are NOT frosted, which is very unusual, as they are no longer available in any market that I have checked. My husband loves them and evidently they are only available on cruises, and not only HAL. It is one of his highlights! Personally my favorite is the low fat granola, which I never have at home. :classic_smile:

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Sunday, December 23rd - Aruba

  

We were back in the dining room for Sunday's dinner.  A random tip: If you are using the Navigator intranet site while you're on the ship, make sure you look at the "Ship Time" in the upper right corner of the screen when you log in. If the time is off, there's a good chance you are looking at a cached copy of the app-not-an-app and your information will be out of date or out of sync. This happened to my father-in-law and he wound up looking at the wrong day's events. (This is a good reason to refer to the paper copy of the daily program. I may be a technology guy, but sometimes you have to admit that low tech is better. Also, the paper schedule never needs recharging.)

 

 

Poohby Joe seems distracted.

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We got our wine ordering down to a system. The wine runners were still a little confused by the fact the Michelle and I kept getting glasses while her father got none, but our wine steward Mario was with the program. (You'll note that my water in the background, on the left, is half empty. Always stay hydrated kids!)

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Michelle started with the Carpaccio Of Beef Tenderloin with Olive Oil, Reggiano-Parmigiano, and a Whole Grain Mustard Sauce

 

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Her father had the Honey Pineapple - Diced  Pineapple Dusted With Toasted Coconut

 

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I had the Hazelnut Crusted Brie with Huckleberry Compote, and Frizzled Onions

 

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I took an experimental high angle shot. I suppose it only serves to emphasize the wine.

 

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For her second course, Michelle had the Classic Caesar Salad with Parmesan Cheese, Garlic Croutons, & Anchovies from the every day selections.  I had the carpaccio. My father-in-law sat out the second course.

 

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Both my bride and I had the Filet Of Beef Wellington with Madeira Sauce, Duchess Potatoes, Green Beans, Sugar Snap Peas, & Carrots for our entrees. Very tasty.

 

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DFIL had the Baked Ziti With Sausage And Sun-Dried Tomato, Ricotta, Spinach, Mild Italian Sausage, and Sun-Dried Tomato, Marinara. The pasta was a little al dente for his taste, so if you prefer your pasta more on the well done side, you may want to tell your server.

 

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For dessert, Michelle selected the Nutella Cheesecake with a graham cracker crust

 

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Her dad chose the Passion Fruit Panna Cotta on a Rice Tuille, with Vanilla sauce. I had him pegged for the fruit crisp.

 

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As a "back up maneuver," I ordered the Peach Crisp. It came with vanilla ice cream by default, however there was Red Cactus Pear ice cream on the menu, so I had them substitute that. I had a few bites, then said I was finished. Low and behold, DFIL was able to bat cleanup. :classic_biggrin: If your friends and family kid you about not being adventurous, the cactus pear ice cream is a great way to prove them wrong. It's very mild, kind of similar to a honeydew melon only more subdued.

 

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The after dinner cordial was theB-52: Kahlua, Grand Marnier, Bailey’s Irish Cream. That's it on the right. Mine, on the left was what you get when you tell the wine steward to "surprise me." I never did ask what it was, so I suppose I'm still surprised.


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Before heading off to see the BBC Earth, "Inside Earth, Extreme Worlds" show in the main showroom, I engaged in one of my cherished and time-honored traditions: Standing outside the ladies room holding our drinks, waiting for Michelle. This is a treasured memory for both my sister-in-law and me. We've spent countless moments waiting outside the restrooms for Michelle and her brother. Countless. All. Over. The. World.

 

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And to all a good night.

 

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7 hours ago, PSR said:

 

Loving your tour of the Lido, but just wanted to mention the mini wheats. They are NOT frosted, which is very unusual, as they are no longer available in any market that I have checked. My husband loves them and evidently they are only available on cruises, and not only HAL. It is one of his highlights! Personally my favorite is the low fat granola, which I never have at home. :classic_smile:

 

Good catch!  I looked at the original, un-resized photo and they are indeed unfrosted. They do sell them in our market. Aisle 2 of the Publix on SE 17th Street (the one near Embassy Suites and Total Wine.) They also sell them in "mini bites" size - which should really be called "Micro Wheats" or "Tiny Wheats." Of course, that would mean they'd need another trademark.

 

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2 hours ago, POA1 said:

The after dinner cordial was theB-52: Kahlua, Grand Marnier, Bailey’s Irish Cream.

I realize that I am old and semi-senile but the B-52 confused me.  I didn't see any dark liqueur in the glass.  I ordered a Baby Guinness and they said it is now called a B-52.  It was Kahlua and Bailey’s Irish Cream but no Grand Marnier.  Is there another name for the Baby Guinness?

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wayback-orange.jpg

 

Speaking of Traditions....

 

In my previous post, I mentioned the my sister-in-law and I have spent a lot of time waiting for Michelle and her brother to "finish up." When we were on the Zuiderdam in 2003, we got the bright idea to turn this into a photo opportunity. The Crow's Nest was the late night bar at the time, so we waited outside the door to catch them coming out of the loo.  It's possible that they heard our alcohol-fueled snickers, because they both came out and "struck the pose." Bear in mind that they didn't have a chance to tell one another that we were there, so this is probably spontaneous. (Accounting, of course, for DSIL and I laughing hysterically in what was an otherwise quiet corridor.)

 

Thus, a Tradition Was Born

 

2003 on the Zuiderdam, our first group cruise. Michelle and her brother Mike.

 

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2009 on the Westerdam with DSIL

 

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2014 on the Noordam, to close out our sailings on the Vista Class

 

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This behavior is not limited to ships. Michelle and her father at Castillo San Felipe del Morro in San Juan, Puerto Rico when we were on the Nieuw Amsterdam in 2014.

 

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Nor is it limited to the earth's surface. On the Goodyear Blimp, Wingfoot One in 2017. We originally had the blimp ride scheduled for a few days before our 2016 cruise on the Eurodam. I had hoped to pass it off as a pre-cruise excursion - just to mess with people's heads. Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate and we had to reschedule for several months later.

 

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In case you were wondering, the blimp does have a bathroom. It's only on the NT (New Technology) blimps built by Zeppelin AG. The old airships did not have restroom facilities. We asked the pilots what they used to do when covering sporting events that required several hours of flight time. "Bladder control" and "Have you ever been camping?" were their answers.

 

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Over the years, we've roped a number of our fellow cruisers into doing the hands up pose, and almost all of our friends.

 

Michelle decided that the gangway in Aruba would be a great place for a photo op.  That's her dad, to her right, in the gray cap. He looks confused... like he wasn't expecting this.

 

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Then I realized that he was only confused because the wording on the ship was wrong. Now it's all better.

 

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2 hours ago, 65 Gator said:

I realize that I am old and semi-senile but the B-52 confused me.  I didn't see any dark liqueur in the glass.  I ordered a Baby Guinness and they said it is now called a B-52.  It was Kahlua and Bailey’s Irish Cream but no Grand Marnier.  Is there another name for the Baby Guinness?

 

A Baby Guinness is two layers: Bailey's over Kahlua. The B-52 is supposed to have three layers, adding Grand Marnier as the top layer. Now that I've looked it up, this doesn't really look like a B-52. (Named after the band by a Georgia bartender.)

 

Not being a connoisseur of oh-so-tiny drinks, I didn't really think about it at the time. I just tipped it back and drank it. Probably not a really wise nor safe way to go about things, but I didn't want to hold everyone up.After all, we had to head off to our evening of clean, bright entertainments.

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7 hours ago, POA1 said:

They do sell them in our market. Aisle 2 of the Publix on SE 17th Street (the one near Embassy Suites and Total Wine.)

 

Re: Unfrosted Mini Wheats

Darn, that's a little far for me to go from California...and I'm pretty sure I've been near that market on a previous cruise! Thanks again for this whole review of the Zuiderdam.:classic_biggrin:

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18 minutes ago, PSR said:

 

Re: Unfrosted Mini Wheats

Darn, that's a little far for me to go from California...and I'm pretty sure I've been near that market on a previous cruise! Thanks again for this whole review of the Zuiderdam.:classic_biggrin:

 

Amazon pantry has them if you have a Prime membership. You can refer to them as "your special cereal that I have to order for you."

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