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Zenith Bermuda review 10/7/06


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Our cruise to Bermuda on the Zenith has been ranked as our favorite vacation. Thanks to Cruise Critic, we researched our activities and didn't miss a thing on this beautiful island.


We were apprehensive about a small ship, especially one without an indoor pool, but we adjusted quickly and didn't miss the luxuries that are offered on larger ships. Our stateroom, an inside on level 6, showed signs of wear, but we expected this. As one cruise critic mentioned in a previous post, we weren't on this ship for all the bells and whistles... we chose it because it's small enough to dock right downtown.


I enjoyed a small ship immensely. We rose early each morning to watch the Zenith enter the cuts at Hamilton and St. George. I met my mother on deck one morning, and was surprised at how easily I could find her... this isn't possible on a larger ship. Evenings in Michael's or the Cova Cafe were relaxing as there were never any crowds... we usually sat in the same seats! Once again, this is something you cannot find on larger ships.


We encountered storms on our journey and certainly felt the Zenith's rocking and rolling for one night. Our television slid across the desk and crashed on the floor... an attendant appeared quickly to reposition it and it still worked! That night we chose to leave our warm beds to venture to the Cova Cafe... we were too uncomfortable to sleep. That evening we first heard the Los Hernandez trio, fell in love with their music and made a point to hear them every evening afterwards.


Warm staff, friendly people. Our room was always spotless when we returned, despite our messiness. The stateroom is the largest we've had on any ship and easily accommodated three adult women. We even had unused drawers and hangers. We appreciated the TV channel featuring a live shot from the ship's bow and would mute the set while tuned to this channel (another Cruise Critic tip) so we could wake with "sunlight."


While entering Hamilton early in the morning, one gentleman exclaimed the city looked like a fairy tale... it was all too perfect. I couldn't agree more.


We had read so much about Horseshoe Bay, we hit it immediately after docking in Hamilton. Go early! We rented chairs but there were no umbrellas available. Thankfully, we brought our own mini umbrellas and tied them easily to our chairs.


Horseshoe Bay is the most beautiful beach we have ever seen. Period.


On our second day in Hamilton, we went back to Horseshoe. Couldn't get enough of that beach! There is a snack bar that served the best veggie burger I have had in a long time... for only $5.


We did visit the Swizzle Inn, which was fun, and tried the Swizzle (very sweet, strong, and good!) We encountered a Cruise Critic member on our bus ride back and that was pleasant.


We missed the first Cruise Critic party because we forgot to reset our travel clock with the time change. The party was held a second time, which we attended, but it really needed some direction. There were no introductions, just people sitting in the same bar for a short time (most got bored and left). We could have used someone to organize this event better.


We had read about how efficient the bus system is, and it truly is.... but we hardly used it. We preferred to take cabs everywhere, for little expense (I'm from Chicago), because talking to our drivers offered such interesting education about their home. One driver returned us to the ship using back roads and charged us little... he just wanted to talk about his island. Another driver took us past his family home. We loved how polite and informative our drivers were and would do this again.


We went to Tobacco Bay in St. Georges.... go VERY early! This amazing beach has very little beach to it... it's mostly water. The beach itself is shockingly small.


We rented chairs, quickly made ourselves comfortable, then experienced the best snorkeling of our lives. Little blue and yellow fish float within kissing distance while you exhale underwater, dancing in your air bubbles until you do it again.


We brought lots of zip lock baggies for our trip, which were so useful for wet clothes, bathing suits, sunblock. We also made peanut butter sandwiches at the breakfast buffet each morning so we could eat them on the beach. I brought a 99 cent nylon tablecloth, which was great for our bags on the beach, and for covering them when we got hit by a rain shower. Everything stayed dry. We also brought cheap rain ponchos... another good thing to pack.


My sister and I also smuggled orange vodka in a water bottle on board and brought it off the ship every day (to mix with Sprite while at the beach) with no problems.


On our final day in St. Georges, we took a cab to shop in downtown Hamilton. Very expensive, but we found some nice items and trinkets.


We didn't want to end our vacation as 7 days just isn't long enough.


We enjoyed our table mates in the dining room but didn't eat there every night. We tried the casual dining in the Windsurf twice (do make a reservation) and it was great... very quiet and relaxing.


We had breakfast in the dining room one morning and thoroughly enjoyed it.... I wish we had tried more pre-dinner meals there. I am a vegetarian and never grew bored with the menu on the Zenith. There is also a light menu available (it's on the left side of your regular dinner menu).


While I love broadway shows, I'm not a fan of broadway revues. My family enjoyed the shows, however. We had also read about deck chair hogs, but didn't spend enough time sitting on deck to notice this. I have also read a complaint about the music on deck, but didn't notice this either. I did notice the music was much quieter than other ships I have sailed on, and I appreciated it. I often avoid the pool area as the music is way too loud for a public space.


We posed for a caricature one sea day and it is one of my favorite images of my family. We loved the music on the ship, with our favorite being the trio, as I mentioned earlier. The Zenith advertised Frank Sinatra music daily in Michael's, but we found an older gentleman singing Sinatra to a karaoke machine in a painfully flat voice.


I thought the attention we received while on board lived up to our standards of Celebrity... though my sister missed not having animals made from towels in our stateroom each evening.


We stood on deck while leaving St. Georges and were amazed at the number of people on land who stood and waved to us. They witness ships entering and leaving each week! A fire truck was on the road near our friendly, waving people, and we watched as the firemen parked their truck, then ran down the hill to join the others to wave us goodbye. It was a special note to a wonderful vacation.


We truly loved this trip and would do it again, onboard the Zenith, in a heartbeat!

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Hi from the Cruise Critic member you met on the bus!!!!

I really did enjoy your review and happy to see you rank it as your favorite vacation to date.


I posted my review in the Review section and seem more critical as

we had "our perfect" Bermuda vacation two years ago on Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas. We were so fortunate that they offered an 8 night itinerary to Bermuda from Bayonne in 2004 so we had 5 full days in paradise. We also had an unmatched Cruise Critic group that year and many of us still keep in touch with 9 of us booking the Zenith this time. Most shared the same opinion, that it was just not the same in many aspects. Not really bad, but just lacking variety, more quiet and a bit formal.


I have to say that the CC group for this trip, just did not really bond for some reason and the get togethers were almost awkward and not well attended.


Again, very nice to have met you and your family and one thing we do agree on is that Horseshoe Bay is the best beach we have ever encountered.

Do you plan on returning?

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I remember meeting you guys while standing in the rain, waiting for the bus!! So nice to hear from you!


I really enjoyed your review as well... and am so jealous about your perfect Bermuda vacation! An 8 night cruise??? Sounds so wonderful.


We are ready to go back RIGHT NOW. Just writing the review has put me in mourning for our wonderful vacation.


We'd love to book September of next year, but the prices are outrageous... three times what we paid. I did notice the price for the last cruise of the year on the Zenith went down to $800, but we paid $500. Still, it's better than the $1300 they are quoting for next year.


How about you? Does the Empress still have that schedule? It's difficult finding an itinerary that beats Zenith!


Would love to hear your plans and if you can find a good deal!

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Sorry to say the Empress now does only a 7 nighter from Phila. and doesn't arrive in Bermuda until noon on a Monday and leaves 8 a.m. on a Thursday. Not enough time and their 5 night cruise from Bayonne is DEFINITELY not a good itinerary for us.

In 2004 they alternated between a 6 night and then an 8 night and as I said, we will never duplicate that 8 night sailing, 5 full days on Bermuda, the ship's layout, friendly and happy crew and our CC group.


I am eyeing Norwegian for next Bermuda cruise and prices much better than Celebrity. We have only sailed NCL once and dining room food not good but buffets better than Celebrity in my opinion.


I also feel that a Bermuda cruise is more about the destination than the ship so I am really open to a lot but would choose a ship with the longest amount of time on the island.


Nice chatting and keep in touch. Maybe we will meet again next year!

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  • 5 weeks later...

Your trip sounds very much like ours. We did it Oct 11, 2003 and hit a tropical storm the first night out. Being from Maryland, the waves didn't bother our appetite, but sleeping was another thing. We had our feet above our head and then our right side higher than our left. We did both Horseshoe Bay and Tobacco Bay (what a hike up and down the hill). We were lucky enough when in St. George to see the regimental marching band which only comes out once a month and we just happened to catch it. We also took liquor in a water bottle and had it with us up on the deck looking over the pool. We did the "Don't stop the carnival party" on Hawkins Island which is cool if you've never done a Hawaiian Luau (we hadn't). We felt like a Survivor who was transported to a feast after winning a challenge. Tiki torches lit the island and a banquet was set out under a pavilion. I'm guessing I'm older than you since we were there for our 25th anniversary. We did the anniversary party given on board for anyone celebrating. One couple was married over 60 years. We also played a round of golf while in Bermuda at Port Royal golf course. Everything you said about the staff and ship and Bermuda is exactly as we experienced it. The only thing I found disappointing was the Perfume Factory. I expected a large building with loads of land of flowers. What I found was a small building (probably just a house at one time) with a hothouse in the back and a few rows of flowers. They gave us the grand tour inside which took all of about 5 minutes. It's nice, but just not what this American expected--big and highly productive. But that made it quaint. All in all a great adventure.


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  • 4 weeks later...
Sorry to say the Empress now does only a 7 nighter from Phila. and doesn't arrive in Bermuda until noon on a Monday and leaves 8 a.m. on a Thursday. Not enough time and their 5 night cruise from Bayonne is DEFINITELY not a good itinerary for us.

In 2004 they alternated between a 6 night and then an 8 night and as I said, we will never duplicate that 8 night sailing, 5 full days on Bermuda, the ship's layout, friendly and happy crew and our CC group.


In 2007, the Empress will sail to Bermuda from Norfolk. They have one 8-day trip scheduled, departing June 2. We booked it because we like the idea of an 8-day trip, rather than the usual 7. We sailed on the Zenith this past may and thoroughly enjoyed her. We expect we'll enjoy the Empress just as much!

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