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Ed Barkin

Age: 65+

Occupation:Retired

Number of Cruises: 8

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Zaandam

Sailing Date: March 7th, 2001

Itinerary: Caribbean Seafarer

The next stop was my all-time favorite, St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Isles.  Despite what another posting claimed, you cannot legally buy booze any cheaper!!  In addition, this is a paradise for home electronics buyers.  I was able to purchase a Panasonic Digital Camcorder for $370 dollars less than the best price back home.  There was of course, no tax.  There are several worthwhile tours available at decent prices.  I recommend that you take the Kon Tiki Party Boat cruise.  It is a blast --with unlimited rum drinks.

Our final stop was Nassau in the Bahamas.  I can best describe it as a flat pancake with a water tower in the middle.  We took a tour of the city and the Ardastra Gardens, where we were treated to a show of colorful trained flamingos.  Shopping is touted as being duty-free, but I wasn't impressed.

Accommodations--

Our cabin measured approximately 1,126 sq. ft.  It had a huge bathroom with a king-size jacuzzi, double sinks and a separate shower.  The bedroom had a king size bed, dressing table, mirror, and a 21 inch TV.  The living room had a full size wrap-around sofa, table and two additional chairs.  It also had a complete stereo system with a large collection of CD's.  There was a desk and a large TV.

The dining room had a table and eight chairs, a side bar, and came equipped with enough glassware for a banquet.  In addition, there was a separate pantry room with a sink, a full-size refrigerator, microwave, toaster oven and a commercial sized juicer.

The verandah had a round table with four chairs, and two chaise lounges.  We really enjoyed having breakfast or lunch out there, and especially so at night, for cocktails under the stars.

Suite amenities included complimentary laundry service, personalized stationery, hors d'oeuvres before dinner, a high tea served in your suite, a private cocktail party with the captain, plus a private luncheon and a dinner, also with the captain.

Dining--

In general, the food ranged from very good to excellent.  The variety and presentation was astonishing.  For some reason, our fellow travelers didn't seem to care for cheese, and we took full advantage of the large variety.

The Marco Polo restaurant was our favorite, and we ate there three times.  They served a Carpaccio that would rival any gourmet restaurant ashore.  I advise you to make early reservations, or you will be out of luck.

Unlike Princess, the ice cream on board is free, as are the cappuccino and cookies served every day in the Java Cafe.

On every sailing, there is a Chocolate extravaganza evening.  You can't believe both the endless variety and the quality of those chocolate desserts.

As any frequent cruiser knows, the captain usually greets you at his welcome reception with a somewhat limp shaking of hands.  Not so with Captain Jack van Coevorden of the Zaandam.  This man really enjoyed his work and relished meeting people.  It was a pleasure meeting and dining with him and his wife, who sailed with him on this voyage.

In summary, in spite of a somewhat disappointing itinerary, we gave HAL, this cruise and this ship, five stars for service, ambience and value received.  We have already booked another cruise with HAL to the Mexican Riviera this December.

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