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Roz

Quickie Review - Zaandam Eastern Caribbean, December 11-18, 2004

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Hi guys. I'm working on a full review of my recent cruise, but in the meantime, I thought I'd post this mini-review.

 

This was my fourth cruise (third on HAL), and by far my best overall cruise experience. I chose this itinerary and ship (Eastern Caribbean on the Zaandam) based mainly on the low single supplement – 135%. The check-in and embarkation process at Pt. Canaveral was slow, but the lines kept moving. There were 40 children on this cruise, out of a total of 1,440 passengers.

 

Food and service were superior, with only a few minor misses. My favorite meal was dinner in the dining room on the last night. I chose hot crab and artichoke dip, conch chowder, Greek salad, osso bucco over risotto, and key lime pie for dessert. Yum! One day I tried lunch in the Pinnacle Grill for $10. It was OK, but the food and service was as good, or better, in the regular dining room. I had gingered carrot soup as an appetizer in the Pinnacle, and it tasted like cold Gerber’s strained carrots to me!

 

Two lobster tails were featured as an entrée on the second formal night. Our waiters offered on more than one occasion to bring us additional appetizers and entrees. Dutch Night is gone, much to my dismay, but Nasi Goreng was on the menu one night. My dining companions were totally enjoyable, and made dinner really something to look forward to. I was at a table for 6, but only 5 of us showed up. We had the 8:00 seating which worked out perfectly for me. Not too early and not too late.

 

The Zaandam is beautiful, and a cut above the Statendam and Maasdam that I cruised on previously. My inside aft cabin on the Dolphin Deck was clean and quiet, and my room steward Agus was attentive and friendly. The new mattresses and sheets are absolutely heavenly.

 

This was my first visit to Half Moon Cay. While not a sun and sand person, I thought it was the most beautiful beach I’ve ever visited. I did ship sponsored shore excursions on St. Thomas, Tortola, and Half Moon Cay. I’m a single woman and feel more secure on a group tour rather than going off on my own in an unfamiliar place. Plus shore excursions are a great way to meet other people.

 

There were 7 ships in port the day were in St. Thomas. I found the city to be hot, crowded, and filled with tacky, overpriced goods. It took me almost an hour to get from downtown Charlotte Amalie to the pier at Crown Bay. Tortola still has a lot of its local island flavor, with cows, chickens, goats, and pigs roaming freely. I would hate to see become overcommercialized like the U.S.V.I.

 

Captain Olav van der Waard is young, handsome, and personable. If I could meet an attractive, well-spoken, sophisticated man like him, I would definitely consider changing my marital status.

 

I met Jean from this Board, who was doing back-to-back cruises with her husband Joe. Both of them are lovely people. I also met Sharon and Marion from the HAL Roll Call Board, and they're lots of fun.

 

In summary, based on my experience, the tales of HAL’s demise and the decline in service and food quality are unfounded and greatly exaggerated. Or maybe I just have lower standards than the people who constantly complain and gripe. One morning , a cranky old f**t was bemoaning the fact that when he used to "cruise with mother" on the old Rotterdam, they were served lamb chops for breakfast. Get over it! Those days are gone.

 

Please feel free to post any questions, and I’ll try to answer them.

 

Roz

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Roz-

 

Thanks for your mini-review. My DH, our teen boys and friends are sailing on the Zaandam on 3/19 and I am happy to hear such a positive report!!

Look forward to your full review!:cool:

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Localady,

 

A couple of additional observations...of the 3 HAL cruises I've done, this one had the widest range of ages and "types" of people. I'd say the avg. age was 60, but the 20s, 30s, and 40s were well represented. There was a large group onboard that held seminars and mtgs. every day. They were secular humanists. My encounters with them were always pleasant and enjoyable. They in no way monopolized or took over areas of the ship. Their organized activities were pretty much limited to the Half Moon room.

 

Roz

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It's nice to read your report; I'm looking forward to the full work-up!

 

Sounds like you had a good time. I'm glad this cruise met (or exceeded) your expectations. :)

 

(135% single supplement? :confused: You done good!)

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Ruth,

 

Yes, that's right, 135% on an inside guarantee. Too good to pass up, for sure. One of my dining companions, also a solo sailor, got an outside guarantee for 150%.

 

The weeks after Thanksgiving and before Christmas are generally bargains. However, in checking the 2005 cruise fares, that isn't the case. I'm going to wait a little while and see what happens pricewise before I book again. Because I don't have children, those are ideal weeks for me.

 

Roz

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Roz .... Really enjoyed reading your mini-review!

 

Plus shore excursions are a great way to meet other people.

So agree that doing the ship's shore excursions is a wonderful way to meet fellow pax! Often, folks overlook this benefit!

 

Which excursion did you take in Tortola? Gosh, like you, love that island!

 

Happy Sailing! OCruisers :)

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Since I'd never been to Tortola, I did the "Tortola Highlights". Good overview of the island by a local tour guide. Between the narrow roads, hairpin curves, and driving on the left, I had several near heart attacks!

 

Speaking of driving on the left, I was surprised that it was that way on St. Thomas. I thought since it was U.S.V.I., they would drive on the right like in the States.

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Thanks for your review. I will be on the Zaandam in March and have been looking forward to reading a recent review. I went to Tortola 17 years ago and they had lots of farm animals roaming the streets, glad to hear it hasn't changed too much. What excursion did you do on Half Moon Cay?

 

Happy New Year!

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Janice,

 

I did the Historic Nature Hike on HMC. Our guide pointed out plants that he and his wife use in their family as natural herbal remedies. We saw a baby boa constrictor and a curly tailed lizard. He held up the snake so we could take pictures, and we fed the lizard a graham cracker.

 

We also visited a small area of Arawak Indian ruins.

 

Roz

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Ruth,

 

Yes, that's right, 135% on an inside guarantee. Too good to pass up, for sure. One of my dining companions, also a solo sailor, got an outside guarantee for 150%.

 

The weeks after Thanksgiving and before Christmas are generally bargains. However, in checking the 2005 cruise fares, that isn't the case. I'm going to wait a little while and see what happens pricewise before I book again. Because I don't have children, those are ideal weeks for me.

 

Roz

Roz- Many of us "CC'ers" are booked on the Veendam for 14 days starting Nov. 26. Maybe you'd be interested in joining us. The price seemed reasonable but I have no idea what kind of single supplement you'd get. There is a very long sting about the cruise in the HAL "who's sailing" area here on CC. I do know, there would be dozens of friendly CC faces onboard though!:cool:

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Localady,

 

Funny you should mention that particular cruise. I've been considering it for a long time. Yes, there are some good single fares available. The downside for me is taking 2 consecutive weeks off from work, along with having a pet sitter come in for that length of time. I haven't ruled it out, but it does present some challenges. Oh to be retired....

 

Roz

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Thanks for the mini review Roz, can't wait to hear more. I'm glad you had a great time. We've been thinking about trying a cruise on the Zaandam - sounds like we'd enjoy it.

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Good review Roz. Fun reading. Keep you eye on those prices for post Thanksgiving cruises. They will likely come down later in the year. We usually book that time frame about 6 months out. Thanks again.

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Localady,

 

Funny you should mention that particular cruise. I've been considering it for a long time. Yes, there are some good single fares available. The downside for me is taking 2 consecutive weeks off from work, along with having a pet sitter come in for that length of time. I haven't ruled it out, but it does present some challenges. Oh to be retired....

 

Roz

Roz-

If you can overcome those obstacles, I think it will be a great cruise, and it will be so much fun to finally meet all the faces behind the names!! I will think good thoughts that you decide to join us! :cool:

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My experience on the Zaandam a month before you was identical. Very nice ship (although I liked the Veendam just as well last year) and excellent service. I never did find out what my single supplement was, since my jaw dropped at the price I was quoted by an online agency and rushed to accept it before they changed their mind.

 

The only rudeness I encountered was on the part of a few passengers -- never a problem with the staff. Some passengers seem to think the staff should be cheerful in spite of being treated rudely.

 

I don't do beaches and swimming, but I did "test the sand" at HMC and found it to be as amazing as everyone says.

 

I used to fly from Puerto Rico to St. Thomas in the late 60's and am very disappointed in what it's become. We used to go there to buy china, crystal, jewelry (and liquor of course), not T-shirts. I think the explosion in the number of cruise ships in the Caribbean has a lot to do with the decline.

 

SFJ

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Hi Roz, I`ve been trying to catch up with all of the CC posts since I came home and just found your mini review. I really enjoyed meeting you and it seemed as though we "clicked" right away, would have loved to have spent more time chatting with you....maybe another cruise. Looking forward to reading a full review from you....saves me the job of writing one! I`ll just jump in with any additions!!....jean :cool:

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Jean,

 

I've been away from the Board for 4 days. Glad you and Joe made it back. Did anything unusual/exciting happen on the Zaandam after I had to disembark? I really envied the people who got to stay onboard for Christmas. I got home a few days before the bad weather hit. Friends of mine in Dayton said they had 21 inches of snow.....aren't you glad you missed the worst of it?

 

I should be able to finish my review in another day or two. It's nice when there's been more than one CCer on a cruise, because it can offer another opinion/perspective and one person isn't going to be able to sample everything the cruise ship has to offer.

 

Enjoyed meeting you!

 

Roz

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Hi Roz, the only "different" thing that happened after you left was that we made an additional stop, at St. Croix. A passenger became ill and that was the closest American hospital to sail to. The Capt. said we might be a couple of hours late getting into HMC but he must have put his foot in the tank as we made it on time. I picked up a doozy of a cold that put me in the cabin for two days, still have the remains of it. Columbus got hit mightily with the storm, ice did an awful lot of damage and power was out several days, glad I was on a cruise....jean :cool:

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